Little Ladybug

All right, all right, come have your story, Bug. It's quite late already, and if I had known your mother would let you wait up, I wouldn't have promised I'd tell you a…what? Yes, you're right, I suppose I should have called. Yes, I know Mummy worries. Yes, I… look, Bug, we've only got so long for this story business, do you really want to spend it on what held Daddy up at work? Well, all right then. Climb up here, that's a girl. Now, here's your blankie and your bear…what story would you like to hear tonight?

Oh, THAT one? Yes, yes, I know it's your favourite. And…what? Yes, I suppose it is my favourite too, after all, it is about how I met your mother. What's that? Well, yes, I suppose you're right and 'met' IS the wrong word. I mean, I had known her for eight years by that point, but I hadn't…I hadn't KNOWN her, in the sense of...in the sense of…well, as a…hmmm? No, I am not going to use that word. I don't care if your brother thinks it's funny, he still should not be speaking of his mother in that way, and he certainly should not have taught YOU to…oh, all right, very well. But don't ask me to say it again, because it makes me feel ridiculous. What? No, I am not at all saying that she ISN'T 'yummy,' you know I think she is, I am only saying that the term itself is…look, it's late, Bug. Can we…?

Good girl. Now, you know how this one starts. I was living in London…yes, this London, that's right, Bug. This one. I…what? Yes, I know there is another one. Hmmm? Well, when you put it that way, I suppose it IS awfully snobby of me to assume that the ones I've been to are the only two, but I don't…what? No, I don't think so. So I was in this London, see, and I had been working on the council. We'd just had a large apocalypse, and…yes, I mean the Sunnydale apocalypse. No, the FIRST Sunnydale one. Well, the first one that worked, anyway, and…what? No, no, darling, that one didn't happen until 2015, and Aunt Willow wasn't even on the same continent. Yes, I know continent is an awfully big word. You're right, I shouldn't put it in there next time. Oh, and darling, I've already told you, it isn't polite to tease about Aunt Willow even if she IS your brother's favourite auntie. I know it can be awfully entertaining to get him cross, but you are my little ladybug, and I expect you to rise above such things.

Now, where was I? Oh, right, London. The council. It had been virtually destroyed by the First Evil, but there were a few who got away, and there were the trainees at the academy… Mr. Robson and I had gone to round up the surviving upperclassmen and graduate them early so we could start collecting the slayers. And…oh? Yes, you're right, I suppose he does smell funny, but he didn't always, and Bug, it isn't nice to tease Mr. Robson either. Anyway, I was in London, and…yes, that flat, and your mum is right, is really was rather squalid. But you have to understand, Bug, we had lost everything we owned in a giant vortex that was sucked into the flaming maw of hell, and…hmmm? Well, yes, I suppose that's true. Life does have to go on, and it was wrong of me to allow mine to go to pot just because the world almost ended, because that does happen fairly often, and that's no way to…hmmm? No, I'm fairly confident we have awhile yet until it the next one. Yes, yes, certainly long enough for the next Princess Diaries movie to finally come out. Now, Bug, you already know this part. Shall I continue?

Very well. So I was in London rounding up slayers, and your mother was in Rome actually being one. Well, for the most part. There was this one vampire, there always was in those days, and…what's that? No, no, that one's true, your brother is right, she really did have the most appalling taste in men, and…hmmm? No, I'm sure he didn't mean me also. Anyway, your mother had done this sort of thing before, fallen in with a demonic harbinger of evil who swore he had changed his ways, and kept her hanging on until the inevitable temptation from the forces of evil turned things south, as things are eventually nearly always doomed to turn. Oh, I don't mean you, Bug, don't fret! Your brother and you are blessings, and there is nothing wrong about that, not now, not ever. Just remember what I told you about staying careful, and…oh dear. I really hadn't meant to turn this into another VampSafe lesson, it's supposed to be the charming adventure of how your mother and I fell in love. But…you do know the rules…? Yes, stakes and invitations, that's what it's all about, I'll move on now.

Your mother was in Rome, along with Aunt Dawn, Andrew and a loathsome creature of doom called The Immortal. Now, you remember the bit about Aunt Willow and how she made all the potentials into actuals? Yes, Bug, I know the scary parts make you fret, but darling, this was years ago, was it not? Clearly, we all survived? All right, very well, a small sip of cocoa to get us through this part. You may have a sip of mine, it is far too late for you to be having one of your own.

Better now? That's a dear little Bug, come cuddle now, we're nearly done. Right. So we had done a little spell…well, all right, a big spell, and when Buffy first got to Rome, we were still waiting for the dust to settle on it. A big magic like that, you won't always see the consequences straight away, and…hmmm? Yes, I do realize that is another awfully big word. Oh, yes! Good memory, Bug, they did have it in your Vampsafe colouring book. The page involving the vorluk demon, the Bengal tiger and the hedge maze, that's it. And do you remember what the word means? A consequence is something that happens as a result of something else happening, and it is something one always, always has to be mindful of with magic. Big spells like this one with the potentials, there are always consequences you can't foresee.

It was one of these consequences that eventually sent me to Rome. We were having some difficulties with a few of the potentials. Now, you realize, over the centuries there have been thousands of potentials who never did become slayers. Some of them simply missed the window---too young, for example, or too old, so that when there was an opening, the fates did not consider them the best choice. But some were passed over because, potential notwithstanding, they were simply unsuitable in some innate way to inherit a burden such as this one. Well, the problem with the spell was simply that it did not discriminate. All potentials, whether suitable or not, were endowed with super-powers. And in this one case, the individual in question already HAD super-powers. It was a rather a mess, really.

No, no, I haven't forgotten about him. I'm getting to that part, because the girl, she was…an acquaintance of his. Yes, yes, all right, she was a child of his, a vampire child. I was trying to be tactful, Bug. Yes, I know you prefer me to be clear, but Bug, there are some topics I would prefer you not have full knowledge of at this stage. Yes, I do realize you have an older brother and he tells you things. But I should like to think, in spite of that, that I do my best to…hmmm? Very well, I'll skip to the good part. The very night we did our spell, this girl was being eaten by the Immortal---and her heart did not stop until about five minutes after the spell had taken effect. In other words, she already had the slayer powers by the time the vampire powers took effect. Yes, I know that is a rather dire circumstance. That's why I went to Rome, to track her down and neutralize her. Yes, I realize how that sounds, and no, I am not sorry. In spite of what Mummy may have told you about Angel and Spike, vampires ARE evil, Bug. They are evil, and innocents like your brother, like you, need to be protected from them, and no, being clever and careful and doing the VampSafe colouring book is not enough. Now, I know you don't want anything to do with that. Hmmm? Yes, of course, you're right, the world does need more ballerinas. That's frightfully important too, of course. But just like Daddy wouldn't be a good baller…hmmm? Oh, it's lovely of you to say that, Bug, but however handsome you might feel I would look in a tutu, I simply can't dance. So this is the way of things, we have little ladybugs like you to be the ballerina and we have grown-ups like your mother and me to keep you safe. There, that's a girl. Better now?

Right. Now, obviously, as you know, you do have a fairly strong and fit Daddy, and I can hold my own against your average vampire just fine. But a vampire with slayer powers…oh, you want to tell this part, do you? Yes, I like it too, the smoochums part is rather nice, but that doesn't happen for awhile yet, we have to get through the fight bit first. Right. So I get to Rome, and I immediately call a task force of all available slayers. And your mother, of course, she comes. She was furious, of course, when she learned just who was responsible for this little problem, not that I hadn't warned her before about vampire boyfriends, because I most certainly had, and…hmmm? Yes, you're right, one really shouldn't say I told you so, but in this instance, I felt I was rather justified in reminding her that leopards really can't change their…what's that? Well, that's true too, it did make it easier to get the problem solved, having the inside track on the Immortal, such as it was, and…oh, very well. I will concede that both of us had our unique talents in this particular situation, and let's leave it at that.

So, the taskforce. Brilliant success, I don't mind saying. I knew Buffy best of all, so I made her lead, and spent countless hours huddled over latte at these fabulous cafes plotting troop maneuvers with her. Hmm? Well, ALL the cafes in Rome are like that, Bug, there really isn't ANY place that isn't at least a little bit romantic in Italy. And most of the girls were still being trained on basic combat, Buffy was the only one who was capable of sensible, strategic conversation at that point. We logged so many hours together…over pastry, over candlelight, and…well, one thing led to another, I suppose. Yes, yes, the smoochums, that's now. And she did wind up getting rid of that Immortal chap in the end, not killing him as I might have preferred but at the very least booting him to the curb, sending him packing, writing him a one-way ticket to…hmm? Yes, I suppose I am sounding rather gleeful. You're right, that is rather insensitive, I suppose. But she did wind up with me, didn't she, and I'm...hmmm? Well, I'm sure he did have more superpowers than me, but I do have my redeeming attributes too, you know. Yes, that's a very good example, Bug, I am fairly sure I do tell better bedtime stories.

Well, that's that, then. We stayed in Rome until your Aunt Dawn was finished school, then we came back here and I worked for the council and we had your brother. And then you, yes, that's right. We had you, my little ladybug, and we made you cocoa, and we told you your bedtime story, and we put you to bed because it's very late. Well, I don't care if you are not sleepy. I certainly am, especially after a story like that. Can I have my kisses now? There's a good girl. If there's one thing I have learned in my years with your Mummy, it's that one should never, ever go to bed without their kisses. Goodnight, Bug.

The end