A/N: Thanks to all my readers and reviewers, and here is the much-awaited mom talk! And the book world I refer to is that of The Black Jewels Trilogy, which I really recommend. Fabulous books. Anyhow, a big thanks to my beta, Molly. Hope you all enjoy this chapter.
Joyce Summers had spent the quiet evening at home, ready to relax after a busy day at the gallery. They had received a shipment the day before, so the paperwork and heavy moving and organizing and cataloging had piled up. It didn't help that Danielle, one of her hands, was out sick. Especially since Danielle knew the most about these particular pieces from Central America as she studied there during her college years. But they would get by. Usually Joyce would continue to shuffle through paperwork at home, but tonight had dismissed the idea tonight in favor of her favorite pasta dish, a nice glass of red wine, and the novel Nicole had lent her.
Before discovering the nightly escapades of her only daughter, Joyce had not understood the appeal of the fantasy genre. But lately, due largely to the talks she often found herself having with Nicole over lunch, the fictional worlds contained in books called to her. Now, she was hooked. This specific tale was particularly engaging, full of magic, strange creatures, romance, ancient lore, and war.
Folding her legs beneath her, Joyce settled into the corner of the couch in the living room. Half an hour passed, but her position had not moved. The empty dish and silver fork lay forgotten on the coffee table, her third glass of wine – half empty – resting beside it on a coaster. Just when she was ready to turn the page, a knock on the door yanked her from the world of Jaenelle and Daemon.
Reluctant to put down the book, Joyce walked over to the door with her pointer finger keeping her place, just in case it was a quick, two-second pause. She laughed silently to herself; usually, one did not wish for solicitors.
Okay, not solicitors.
"Buffy! Spike!" Joyce's eyes widened with surprise for a moment before moving aside to let them inside, making a mental note as she did so to not speak so loudly, or at such a high pitch. "What a surprise! Do make yourselves at home."
Joyce followed the two of them back to the living room, swiftly noting her page number and putting down the book next to her wineglass. Her daughter's visit surprised her, but she couldn't say she wasn't pleased. Ever since her eldest and only had moved to the dorms on campus, Joyce felt like she never saw her. The house was empty and lonely at times, so the company was refreshing. It had also been a while since she had spoken to Spike; she did wonder how he was doing, in addition to what had brought him again to her home. Curiously enough, her daughter and the peroxide blond seemed not only to be getting along in each other's presence, but enjoying themselves. They sat next to each other on the couch, bumping Joyce from her previous spot to the comfy chair across the coffee table, and were both grinning broadly.
"So… can I get either of you anything? A drink perhaps?" she offered.
"Thanks, Joyce, but I'm good."
"Me, too, Mom."
Unsure of where to start the conversation, and wondering if perhaps it wasn't such a good idea after all to pour that third glass of wine, Joyce sat silent for a moment. Then she noticed her daughter's peculiar actions: she was nibbling on her lower lip, playing with her fingers, and shooting glances at the vampire next to her.
"Buffy…" Joyce began in her mom voice, head tilting to the side.
"Mom," Buffy interrupted breathlessly. She lifted her eyes and Joyce was in awe at the sparkle of happiness that danced within. "I have something to tell you."
Uh oh. Was she failing college? Was she leaving? Was it the end of the world? Was she pregnant? Was sh-? Joyce shot her gaze to her eldest's left hand.
"Actually," Spike corrected, weaving his left hand with his fiancée's right one once again, "We have something to tell you."
Joyce gasped in shock.
"You're getting married?!" she squeaked. Buffy nodded, a smile taking over her face. Joyce froze in shock, able to nothing but stare dumbly at her only daughter. Slowly, she shifted her gaze between the two smiling blonds. Was this really happening? When had this happened? Where was she? Then again, it wasn't like Buffy hadn't kept things from her before. And they both looked so happy…
"Isn't it wonderful?" Buffy gushed, the bright smile shining on her face the only thing Joyce could see as she reached for her wineglass and downed the remaining liquid. Then, with the super-human speed only mothers had, Joyce was on the other side of the table, hugging her daughter.
"Yeah," she managed with a forced smile. Inside, she was frowning. Another vampire? "Sweetheart, when did this happen?"
"Tonight," Buffy replied, still smiling widely.
"But when did you and… Spike even get together?" Joyce pried, digging for information, plastic smile still in place on her face. "Last I heard, he was out of town and you two didn't exactly like each other."
Spike smirked. "Well, I came back to Ol' Sunnyhell – I mean, Sunnydale, sorry, Joyce – around September, and ya know, things happened. We just connected," he grinned at Buffy and she giggled.
Oh, she would need more wine. Tilting her empty glass and head, she asked, "Spike, could you…? Bottle's in the kitchen."
"Sure thing, Joyce," he immediately responded, ever the gentleman.
"Have you told the others?" Joyce asked, "I can't imagine Rupert being excited about Spike being a vampire, I mean, even if he is a wonderful person. You know how he is with these things. All work, no room for life."
Spike came back in with a nearly empty bottle of wine in his hand. Joyce smiled broadly as he refilled her glass. At once, she took another sip, nearly sighing in contentment.
Over on the couch, Buffy welcomed Spike's kiss on the cheek by searching out his hand again before answering, "Yeah, actually, we have. But he's blind right now – some sort of spell gone wrong – so he hasn't seen my ring yet."
"Oh, may I see it?" Joyce asked, forgetting that she didn't like this quick engagement at the idea of an actual ring. She didn't think a vampire would actually do something so… traditional.
Buffy extended her left arm and let her mother examine the piece.
"Oh my, Spike, this is amazing! Where ever did you find this? I've never seen anything like it before…" Joyce marveled at the fantastic colors of the jewel and adored the faint glow that seemed to emanate from the silvery-ring. Her wine-filled head goggled, the art gallery owner immediately appreciating the workmanship.
Buffy giggled again, looking at Spike, who was grinning.
"Got a friend, nice chit, see…"
"Oh… oh! OH!!!"
Xander jumped to his feet.
"Where's that evil caterpillar?!" he yelped, blinking his eyes awake.
"Wha's 'appenin'?" he mumbled.
"You interrupted Willow's 'oh, oh's with your crazy sleep talk," provided Anya, idly flipping over another page.
"Can we move to Willow's news?" Giles pleaded, rubbing his useless eyes once again. The redhead had managed to steal his scotch away, so he had nothing to do but listen to the children flip through the endless pages he coveted to see. He had already had three doughnuts and had also contently drifted off like the boy when what was perhaps the end to the search was announced.
Everyone turned to Willow.
"Oh, well, see, or, I guess you can't, Giles, I'm so sorry. Have I said ho-" Willow started babbling.
"Yes, yes," the hopefully temporary blind man interrupted impatiently, waving his hand in the air. "I know."
"I found this potion that just might work," she exclaimed, eyes lighting up. "It's not exactly for blind people, but it's about people seeing things, so I'm thinking it'll do."
"Thank goodness," Giles sighed in relief, looking forward to being able to see again. Without his sight, the ex-Watcher felt completely useless. He couldn't help research, couldn't help out, couldn't even get around his own house properly. "When can we start?"
"Well," Willow ran her finger down the list of ingredients. "Most of these items are fairly standard. Between what you have here and what I have back at my dorm, we should have everything we need. But I think we should wait for Buffy… and Spike to come here before we make the trip back. Wouldn't want to miss them in crossing."
"Sorry, G-man," Xander said, not sound like it, "Guess you'll have to wait to start researching again."
"What else do we have to research?" Anya whined, dropping her shoulders before letting her head fall into her cupped hands, elbows resting on the long forgotten books.
"Hello?" Xander gestured wildly. "Remember Spike and Buffy earlier? Makin' with the crazies?"
"Oh dear. So I wasn't hallucinating?"
"What if that's not fixable?" Anya suggested, not wanting to do any more research, especially if it was unneeded.
Everyone else stared at her.
"No," Xander denied the possibility. "No. Will can do, uh, a spell… of some sorts…"
"What is it again that you had them do?" Giles directed towards Willow.
"Um, I just said Buffy should go marry Spike," Willow muttered, a light red tinge coating her cheeks.
"What about a delusting spell?" Xander suggested.
Anya shook her head. "People don't necessarily get married just because they're attracted to each other," she pointed out. "It won't stop the wedding plans."
"But it might help my sanity," Giles murmured, unpleasant memories of earlier that night reappearing in his head.
"What about a de-loving spell?" Xander suggested again.
"Same thing," Anya shook her head again, tired of dealing with this spell deal and wanting to go home already. "People can get married even if they don't love each other."
For a moment, Xander was stumped. Then another thought weaseled into his brain. His eyes widened and his mind whirled at a blinding speed with its connotations.
"Whoa, whoa, whoa – but if people don't need love and lust to get married, why are Buffy and Spike acting that way?!"
Willow froze. She hadn't thought of that. "I, uh… My spell shouldn't have done that…" she mumbled.
"Well, obviously, your spell just played on emotions they already felt," Anya pointed out matter-of-factly.
"But," Xander protested. "That would mean that Buffy… and Spike… No, that can't be it!"
"It does make sense, if it wasn't, well, them," Giles admitted.
"But, Giles!" Willow bit her lip. "Buffy would never… and Spike's like, her mortal enemy! They wouldn't even want each other, much less…"
She left her sentence hanging, but everyone in the room squirmed, the words not spoken echoing in their heads.
Except Anya. She merely shrugged. "Why not? Maybe they do love each other."
"Ahn! That's ridiculous!" Xander denied his seldom-working brain that claimed it was logical voice.
"Dear Lord." Giles rubbed furiously at his useless glasses. "Another vampire? Figures my Slayer would have to be different that all her sisters…"
"Don't say that, Giles!" Xander half-commanded, half-pleaded, "You make it sound like she really does love Spike!"
Silence reverberated through the room.
"Will! Help me here!" Xander begged, turning to his best friend, who refused to meet his desperate gaze.
"I don't know, Xan. The spell… what I said…" Willow struggled to find words as she admitted to what she didn't want to say, "It shouldn't have created love. So if they do… it's not me. Or the spell."
"Maybe they don't love each other! Did you ever hear them say that?!" Xander spun back towards the blind Watcher.
"It is a possibility," Giles started slowly. He didn't recall the two blonds ever proclaiming actual love for each other during the time they displayed whatever affection it is they shared, so he grasped the hope that they did not.
That could be explained by a young girl's hormones, Angel's departure, and her current lack of a steady boyfriend.
That one would be impossible to explain.