COUSIN ARABELLA

by Lilachigh

Author's Note: I do hope you will like this rather light-hearted story. It is set in Season 6 - Buffy is back from the dead, having an affair with Spike - and all she wants is a little fun in her mundane life of work and caring for a little sister. There will be vampires, a party, jealousy, sex and a great deal of pink champagne. Oh and a bright green, seven foot tall demon who is one of my favourite characters to write! And before you all write to tell me that Spike doesn't have any family, I'll refer you to the episode Goodbye, Iowa in season 4. Spike tells Buffy "...you do have bleedin' tragic taste in men, Goldilocks. I've got a cousin, married a regurgitating Frovlax demon who's got better taste than you..." This cousin is never referred to again and I thought I would rectify that with this story! Enjoy!

Chapter 1 - The Invitation

"You've got cobwebs all over your ceiling," Buffy murmured dreamily. Lying on your back on top of a stone coffin was a really good way of spotting all the little housework details that Spike had missed, she decided.

"Hello! Vampire. Crypt. Spiders. Deal with it," came the muttered response from beneath the ruffled white blond curls buried against her breast.

"I could buy you a feather duster. One of those really long ones on a pole – "

Spike's head jerked upwards. "Listen, missy, if you buy a feather duster, I can think of a thousand other uses for it."

"Promises, promises," she giggled and felt herself blushing. She must get out of this habit of flirting with Spike. She was here for one thing and that was...well, to feel and not think and he was convenient and useful and doing something to her now with his fingers that was going to make her - 'oh god, oh god, don't let him stop, please don't let him stop,' she screamed inside her head.

And he didn't.

When she came back from the swirling red and black place he sent her to, he was sitting cross- legged at the end of the tomb, looking at her. She glared at him. "You've got dressed," she said, taking in the jeans with a frown.

"I've got a favour to ask, Slayer."

"And you have to have clothes on for that?"

"Do you want to come out with me tomorrow?"

"What?"

Spike sighed. "Exactly which words in that sentence don't you understand? You, me, tomorrow ?"

"Are you asking me on a date?" She didn't know whether she was pleased or horrified. She slept with Spike, they had sex - OK, mind blowing, heart racing, body shaking sex, but that was all it was; she had convinced herself of that. In fact she convinced herself of that every time she saw him! But they weren't dating.

"No. Yes! Look, I've got to go somewhere tomorrow and I need to take...the invite said..."

"Bring a friend! And you haven't got one!" Ignoring the fact that she was naked, Buffy sat up, eyes sparkling with glee. "You've got a invitation and need a date! Hey, how come you get mail? Don't tell me you've got a mail box. What does it say on the envelope? William the Bloody, third crypt on the right, Sunnydale Cemetery!"

"Ha, bleeding ha, Slayer." Spike looked uncomfortable. For one glorious moment Buffy thought he actually looked shy.

"I heard on the grapevine. And I just thought you might like the drive."

"So, not because you don't want to look like the big no-hoper loser who turns up on his own?"

"I took Dru to a party once," Spike said, reaching out absentmindedly to stroke her foot.

"Ummm…"

"She killed most of the guests."

Buffy jerked her foot away. "Oh gross, Spike!"

"It was sort of business. I'll tell you about it some day. But this is a bit different. This is family."

Buffy stared at him in silence, then pulled on her jeans and shirt. Obviously the fun part of the day was over. "You haven't got any family, Spike. You told me you killed them all."

Spike shrugged. "Vampire, luv, can't help the nature of the beast. But this is my Cousin Arabella. I told you about her once when you were mooning around after GI Joe. She married a regurgitating Frovlax demon, name of Div'vid. Nice bloke, as far as Frovlaxes go. Which isn't very far usually, as they're home bodies on the whole."

Buffy balanced on one foot, trying to pull on her boot. She had a sudden flash back to when Willow had cast her spell on them and she and Spike had become engaged. She could recall Xander standing there with an astounded expression on his face and knew exactly how he'd felt. She decided to concentrate on one point at a time. "You've got a cousin?"

"I had lots of cousins," said Spike cheerfully. "Big families in those days, pet. Not like the ones and twos today. So I had first cousins, second cousins, cousins once and twice removed. We called them 'kissing cousins'."

"And you, what, forgot to kill this one?"

"I turned her," Spike said calmly. "She was the only one of my family I could stand. Wankers, the rest were, the whole lot of them." He got up and prowled restlessly around the crypt. How could he ever explain to Buffy that he'd been the laughing stock of his family since childhood. The butt of every joke. Bullied unmercifully at school - roasting, they'd call it, being held over a roaring fire till you screamed for mercy - called Mummy's boy and other names he refused to remember.

But he couldn't help picturing some family gathering when his cousins had found him upstairs on his own, reading. They'd twisted his spectacles and torn pages from his book and thrown them on the fire. Then they'd laughed as he tried to fight back, ineffectually swinging fists that never connected because he was weak and pathetic. And the only person who hadn't laughed was Cousin Arabella. Of course he'd turned her when he'd had the chance. Killed all the others but not her. She was his favourite. He'd felt it was only fair.

He hadn't told Dru right away, though. He'd had just enough brains, even in those days, to realise that Dru wouldn't take kindly to a 'kissing cousin' vampire being around. They'd met up later. There was the puppy incident….

"So – " Buffy decided to steer clear of the kissing scenario. It made her uneasy to think of Spike and kissing together, although she didn't understand why. They'd done enough of it recently. "So - she married this David?"

"Div'vid," Spike repeated patiently. "Big guy, over seven foot tall. Bright green. Looks like a rather mournful cow. Froflaxes are regurgitating demons. They sort of bring up the contents of their stomachs and chew it again. Like cows."

Buffy sat down abruptly. "And she married that?" she said faintly, wondering how on earth they coped at meal times. Watching Spike drink his packets of blood was bad enough, but this sounded just - euwwwwh.

"Hey, family here! He's a good bloke is Div'vid. Apart from the fact that he supports Manchester City and not United. Born on the blue side of town not the red. But then no one's perfect. Clem prefers basketball to soccer. No, Div'vid's been a good husband to Arabella."

"Oh." Buffy fell silent. She pulled a can of coke out of Spike's fridge – where did he get the electricity from? - and popped it open. Where good husbands were concerned, she was no judge. Her own father had flown off as soon as he'd had a better offer. And all the men in her life so far had upped and left her. Even the love of her life had gone to L.A. because he couldn't bear the pain of them being together. She dragged her thoughts back to the present. "So, what's the invitation to?"

"Bloody hell, Slayer. Can't you just say yes or no?" Spike followed her to the fridge and took out a mug already filled with pig's blood. "They've been married for a hundred years. It's a party."

Buffy froze, her can of drink half way to her lips. The enormity of what he'd said had just hit home. The dread that every girl feels when the man - or thing - she's going with invites her out rushed over her.

"Spike, I haven't got a thing to wear!"

to be continued