Buffy eyed her surroundings, dubiously. She picked herself up from the white tiled floor. She realized that she was in a kitchen. Stools were placed against a green wrap-around counter. The sink was embedded into it, dishes and pans piled inside. It looked like someone had just got done baking. On the other side were the appliances. Wooden cabinets were placed on all sides of the room. It was clean and stylish. Buffy grabbed onto a stool to keep herself from toppling back to the linoleum.
"Oh, good, you're here. You can convince him to go home," she heard 'herself' say. "I really couldn't handle two Andrews in this t-dimension. One is enough, thank you very much."
"Hey!" protested Andrew.
"No offense." She patted the man on the top of his head.
The words came at a distance. Buffy didn't want to look over. It was too freaky. She forced herself to acknowledge the double after she had composed herself with a few hearty breaths. The other Buffy sat with a smile at a wooden round table beside Andrew. She seemed younger somehow. There were no circles under her eyes and her green eyes sparkled with delight instead of murk. Her skin had a natural light tan. Her face was rounder, her arms less bony, and she had a little extra weight in the rest of her to expel the rough edges. Buffy felt a tinge of jealousy. This Buffy appeared to be healthy and happy – and a pleasing cook because Andrew finished another cookie and went for another one.
The second Buffy gave him a half-serious stern look. "That's your last one. I made these especially for Wesley."
"You made cookies for our ex-watcher?" Buffy, the Buffy-Buffy, said without thinking it over.
The other Buffy burst out laughing. She held her stomach, the giggles coming out freely. Buffy couldn't remember the last time she was able to have such a fit.
"No no no," the care-free Buffy said. She wiped away the tears that formed in her eyes from amusement. "Wesley, my son."
Buffy froze. What came out was a simple, "Oh."
Her eyes traveled past the table to a sliding glass door that led outside to a hill. At the bottom stood a blue swing set in a patch of sunny grass. She was a mommy . . . well not her, but the other her.
"Sorry about the shock factor," she heard herself say.
"Where am I?" Buffy asked.
"My house," Buffy number 2 replied. "Well, not 'my' house. My husband pays the bills. My name is just written beside his."
"You're married?" Andrew said. "Wow."
Buffy wanted out of here now! She couldn't stick around to find out what other jollies this Buffy had stolen from her. Okay, she knew she was thinking irrationally. But wasn't there a rule or something that said that if one dimension gets something another had to do without?
Buffy went over and snatched up Andrew by his left arm. "Come on. We have to get back somehow."
"I don't wanna go!" Andrew whined. "You never give me cookies."
"I'll buy you a whole box."
"They won't be all gooey and warm."
The other her fought not to giggle. Why was everything so damn hilarious to the other slayer ('if' she was a slayer at all in this place)? This was a serious matter. Didn't she have any compassion for the dimension hopping double?
"I'll call Dawn," the second Buffy offered.
"I don't think I need to meet another Dawn. I need to get back," Buffy said.
The second Buffy took up the receiver of a mounted phone. "That's why I'm calling. She can set up a portal in no time."
Buffy frowned. "Your sister can make portals at will?"
The other Buffy nodded. "Why don't you sit down and have a cookie? I'll do the work. You relax."
Buffy slowly sat down. It felt good to take the weight off. Andrew glanced at what he thought of as the good Buffy. When he saw she was preoccupied with the call, he grabbed another chocolate chip cookie.
Buffy put her head down. Maybe she could block it all out.
"Okay, she's on her way. It'll be a few moments. She lives across town," second Buffy stated.
Just then the door next to the table, which probably led to the garage, flew open. Buffy lifted her head. A small boy with dark brown hair charged past her without a glance and flew at the second Buffy. He held her legs.
"Mommy, we home!"
"I see that." The other Buffy leaned down and hugged her son. "Did you have a good time?"
He nodded with enthusiasm. "Uh huh! We gots to see the planes." He held something small up. "Daddy buy this for me."
"Oh, he 'bought' you a little model plane."
"It can move. Look." Wesley got down on the floor. He rolled the plane across the linoleum floor.
"I like your shirt," Andrew blurted.
Wesley turned to the table for the first time. He wore a blue shirt with a picture of a flying Spiderman.
"Thanks, Uncle Andrew."
"Uncle?" Andrew muttered. He looked over at Buffy. "Uncle?"
Wesley spotted the mother-look-alike and backed up. He looked behind to his real mommy. "Why there two of yous?"
"It's okay, Wes," Buffy number 2 assured. "Remember when Uncle Xander told you that story about how there were two of him?"
"Well, the same thing happened now. Meet mommy and Uncle Andrew the second. Auntie Dawn is coming over to take them home soon."
Wesley studied them for a long moment, especially Buffy. He stepped over, a little unsure. He stopped just before Buffy's seat. "You look just like my mommy. Very pretty."
Buffy parted her lips.
He shoved the toy plane in her face. "Look what Daddy buy me."
A warm tear slid down Buffy's face. The other her noticed and then showed the compassion Buffy had been seeking earlier. She took her son's hand, gave Buffy an apologetic look, and gently tugged him toward the kitchen/dining room exit.
"Come on, Wes, I think your cartoon is on."
Buffy had no time to recover before the door opened again. What she saw made her close and open her eyes a few times. She had to be seeing things.
"Buffy, I'm home!" he called in a 'Lucy' fashion.
The other Buffy came in, rolling her eyes. Spike swaggered up to her, dipped her like they were doing the tango, and gave her a kiss that was all gone with the wind. He set his wife back on her feet, but she swayed a little. She playfully hit him in the chest.
His hand went to her stomach. "How are my girls?"
"For the last time, might be a boy."
"Nah, Summers always have girls. Good thing we got Wes the way we did or I'd never have my strong strapping boy."
"Oh, that's why Buffy is chubby," Andrew said in inappropriateness.
The married couple turned. Spike met Buffy's eyes, realizing she was there for the first time. His blue gaze bore into her. She took in his tanned skin, the way his chest rose with air. Too much, too much! Buffy jumped to her feet. The chair scooted back and made a loud scrape against the floor.
Spike took a step toward Buffy. He tilted his head curiously. "Buffy?"
There was only one way out. Buffy bolted for the sliding glass door. She ran down the hill, almost loosing her balance and tumbling down. She made it to the slide of the swing set and settled down at the bottom. The sun beamed down, encasing her in bright warmness. This whole place was blinding white, where her world was gray. She was like Dorothy stepping into Oz. She never got that movie. How could Dorothy go back to a place that was so drab after she'd seen the color?
She slumped over, putting her face in her hands. She let herself go, sobbing. She remained like that for who knows how long. Then she heard footsteps, and two black boot tips stopped before her in the freshly mowed grass.
"Times like these make me regret giving up the smokes."
His voice was deep, full of emotion, accented, rich, powerful, and just the way she remembered. His vocal chords seemed to let out his entire essence. It was like climbing out of the deep chasm that had separated them for months. She wanted to reach out, to touch him, pull him to her, and take him in. But he wasn't hers.
Buffy wouldn't look up, she decided. He'd look the same as her Spike- but not. This Spike was human and husband to another her.
"I get the waterworks, pet. Sorry for rubbing in the marital bliss. I take it you aren't all rainbows and sunshine where you come from?"
"Try total badness with an added touch of doom and gloom."
"Come now, slayer, can't be that grim."
He moved over to the swing. She lifted her head, keeping it forward. She saw herself spying from inside the house.
"How would you know? From the looks of things I bet you guys were love at first sight. My Spike denied my love and then he died. I waited too long to realize it. I had my friends make me feel like I should be moving on lickedy-split. So, I fake it. And then I hear through evil creature of the night gossip that he's been back all this time and didn't care to tell me. It isn't a picnic seeing you two love birds when my Spike clearly doesn't love me anymore." She stared at her clasped hands.
Her hands began to shake. She clasped them tighter.
"Impossible not to love you, pet. . . No matter what version."
She turned her head to find his vision glued at her. He drank her in. She saw the love her Spike had displayed back in Sunnydale. Was he right? If she tracked down her own Spike, would she find those eyes, or ones of indifference?
They just stared at each other for a moment.
Finally Spike cleared his throat. "Probably scared is all. Afraid of rejection. Rather keep his distance to be safe. Better to live in the dream that you meant it instead of finding the truth if it told otherwise."
Hope. He was offering her an explanation that gave her something to hold onto. With that, he got to his feet and held out his hand to her.
"Dawn arrived right before I came out here. You ready to go home and make right what's gone wrong?"
She examined his hand. "Did you have to work at it? Was it all boom like lightning, or did you have to earn your happiness like building a bridge to get there?"
Spike smirked. "Bridge. Piece by bloody piece. Went through a lot that I figure you did."
"And now you're here. All human and a daddy."
He grinned with pride. "Won it all fair and square. Git of a grandsire still workin on his ever after. May take him another century or two."
"You think I can build a bridge to where you are?"
He paused. "Well, I can't answer that. Your destination is your own. But if you got your heart on building a bloody bridge . . . God, slayer, you and your analogies." He chuckled. "I bet my life that a bleached blond vamp will be right there to hand you materials."
She nodded and took his hand.