Appearances are deceiving

Disclaimer: I own Liza, but I do not own Spike or any other mentioned characters.

Author notes: This story came from a roleplay I participated in last year. For the purposes of understanding the situation, know that basically, Faith married a god and produced a demigoddess daughter who is eternally five years old. Spike, at this point, was staked by Buffy after Angelus and he briefly corrupted Buffy into doing acts of terrorism (including torturing Faith and killing Connor). Through a tear between universes he has been resurrected and is trying to again find his place in the world.

Spike still didn't know what it was that brought him back from the dead- yet again- but then, he wasn't questioning it. It had been over a year now since his body had apparated without warning, into the middle of a rather disgusting bog in no location he could identify, and he had since been lying low, making his way throughout the world attempting to keep as low a profile as possible while attempting to discover just what the hell had happened, exactly, and where he stood now in the world.

The last he remembered was seeing the short end of Buffy's stake, just before it pierced his heart, the stoniness in her eyes as she let them meet his own. Even with her face so expressionless Spike liked to think that she had grieved in that moment, that she had regretted finally doing what she had so long threatened. It was his own fault, of course; somehow or another, and he couldn't for the life of him remember why, exactly, when Angel had lost his soul to Angelus yet again, he had gone along with him willingly, doing what he could to draw Buffy into Angelus's evil deeds and to aid them in their torture of the other Slayer Faith. Blackmail from Angelus? Jealousy over Buffy's attraction to both him and Faith, and her seeming indifference to Spike? Or had he just been so drawn to the thought of Buffy finally giving in to the darkness he had only partially drawn out from her before that he could not resist helping to nudge her further along?

The details of all of this were rather vague in his mind, as were those of exactly where and what he had been doing all this time that he was dead. He was also rather unsure of how much time, exactly, had passed since his second- well, third, technically, if he counted being made undead- death and resurrection, but then, none of that mattered. What counted was that the Big Bad was back, and with enough of his charm, he was sure he could win Buffy over again. Good, evil, whatever she was now, and whoever she was with, if anyone, it didn't matter. Spike would be whatever it was Buffy needed him to be, and he would make sure she realized that she really did need him too, even if she still didn't realize that it really would be best for her if she would just love him too. What was a little staking between lovers, after all?

But as Spike had worked the underground societies of the vampires and demonic, subtly seeking out any information on the whereabouts of Buffy and her mates, he had soon discovered that his optimistic plans were not to be established…for Buffy, and all of her gang except for the Nibblet and the other Slayer, Faith, were all dead. Murder across the board…and from what Spike had discovered, the bitch who had killed his Slayer was so deeply feared that none dared speak her name- or perhaps that was merely a cover for their not knowing it.

The discovery of Buffy's death had shaken Spike to the core; for weeks he had torn through the underground, savagely demanding answers of Buffy's death from every vampire and supernatural being he came across. He had been horrified to learn that even impending death drew forth no new details…that Buffy's death mattered so little and made so little impact on the world, and so much time had passed since it had occurred, that few even knew of it, and those that did conflicted in their details provided. Some claimed she was killed by a resurrected mayor, some by zombies, some by an evil vampire goddess…Spike could not piece together when it was that Buffy had died, how many times she had done so, and how, or whether each story was true but merely recalled in different orders. With so little to go on, it was impossible to know how and when to go about avenging her.

Once he had eventually come to this conclusion, Spike fell into a deep depression for what to him felt like years. He holed himself into a dilapidated abandoned home, not eating or sleeping, utterly tormented at the thought of existing in the world as he had now found it to be. It was when he was so sick and weak with lack of feeding that he could barely stand that he finally came to a conclusion, his renewed sense of purpose in his new world.

He had always had a woman at his side and residing within his heart…if not a woman who loved or at least engaged sexually with him as well, then a woman that he had set his sights on to win over. Spike had always acted, for as long as he could recall, with the goal of winning a woman's approval of him. He had never before stood alone, as his own man, with no other person guiding his behavior, with nothing to prove to another person. Drusilla, Buffy, even Angel…everything of his former lives had been about them and their interactions with him. Making them happy, in the women's case, making them love him, proving himself worthy…and in Angel's case, just pissing him off and showing him up. Spike had never had to think about what it was that he himself wanted.

And now he decided with renewed determination that this was to be his new goal, to stand on his own, to be the sort of man he was meant to be, without needing the approval of anyone else, even a woman like Buffy. And what he was meant to be was the worst Big Bad the world had ever seen. It was time to get back to the basics…time to show the world that William the Bloody was no nancy boy, no whipped pansy or shrinking violet. It was time to bring back the slayer of the Slayers.

As he set forth into the early evening with lifted chin and a confident swagger, a renewed eagerness for causing death, destruction, and of course, widespread blood loss quickening his strides, Spike could feel himself smiling for the first time. He would rip the whole town apart…the whole country! The whole continent…he would wreak havoc on the entire world.

What he didn't count on, of course, was the five-year-old goddess daughter of the last remaining half of the original Chosen Two Slayers…and she just happened to be the first person he happened to cross paths with.

Spike came across the little girl in the middle of a darkened city alleyway; normally, he would simply pass her by, because even a Big Bad like he was going to make himself out to be wasn't going to stoop to the level of draining children, even if he was rather peckish. They posed no challenge, after all, and it wasn't like their shrimplet little bodies had enough blood to more than barely whet his appetite anyway.

But in this particular case, with this particular child, he just couldn't pass her by. For one thing, seeing a child who looked about seven years old by his estimate wandering around alone in an alley at this time of the night was odd enough as it was- weren't most children long asleep safely tucked away and journeying through dreamworlds by this hour? And she didn't look like a typical street urchin or an abandoned child- she was a bit young, for one thing, and for another, she was clean and well dressed, even if the clothes she was wearing, what looked like boys' Batman pajamas, weren't exactly typical streetware for most children, as far as Spike knew anyway. He never had been exposed to children often enough to know for sure, and what with the gap of time between his death and resurrection, he wasn't exactly up to date on any fashion trends.

And of course, there was the matter of the child's demeanor, as she practically skipped along, humming cheerfully to herself, seeming not at all bothered by the fact that she was alone in an area where any number of wannabe Big Bads could take her in a red hot second. But it was what she had with her that cinched it…in one hand, she held a battered teddy bear by one paw, swinging it back and forth. In the other, she carried an elaborate and clearly genuine sword, which was nearly as tall as she was.

Any child who carried a teddy bear in one hand and a sword in the other and went skipping solo without fear through an alley in the dark was a child that Spike simply could not pass by.

He paused, staring at her with raised eyebrows, one hand in the pocket of his trenchcoat, but it was the little girl who addressed him first. Stopping a few feet away from him, still swinging her bear back and forth in one hand, she waved, smiling up at him in a friendly fashion and displaying dimples in both cheeks.

"Hi!" she said cheerfully, and Spike found himself waving back with a self-conscious jerky motion before he hurriedly lowered his hand again, looking down at it as if it had moved of its own accord.

"Hello," he said hesitantly, his eyes narrowing as he studied the child more closely. She was slim, with long dark hair tumbling down her back in messy waves, and her dark brown eyes glinted brightly as she smiled up at him, apparently entirely at ease in his presence even from the first few moments of seeing him. There was something familiar about her, as if Spike had seen her somewhere before, but that was ridiculous. He hadn't been around children in…well, he didn't know since when, exactly, but this child, judging by her age, would have been much younger or perhaps not even born when he last saw a child at all, let alone one anything like her in appearance.

Still, a nagging familiarity about her pricked at him restlessly as the little girl adjusted the oversized sword in her hands, and he decided it was worth pursuing his curiosity at least temporarily with her before moving on. He had all the time in the world to be a Big Bad, after all. Five minutes wasn't going to make much of a difference in a head start.

"Bit late for a little nipper like you to be out alone, isn't it?" Spike asked her, nodding towards her. " And what with a weapon that outweighs you, what sort of sorry mum have you got to let you out like this? You're going to bloody cut your foot off if you drop it, you will. Best give it to a grown-up who knows how to handle dangerous weapons like you've got there."

He stepped forward, reaching out his hand to take hold of the sword; of course, his concern wasn't so much for the child as for after getting a second look at the sword, he was starting to see that it was clearly expensive and quite impressive, and he wouldn't mind taking it for his own from a kid who couldn't possibly actually use it anyway.

But the child didn't placidly agree with him and hand her sword over. In fact, she stepped back, holding it close to herself protectively, and shook her head, scowling up at him slightly.

"My mama isn't sorry. Well when she gets mad at me she's sorry but she's not sorry right now 'cause she didn't do nothing wrong. And I'm not gonna cut my foot off. That would hurt and then I couldn't walk. Plus also I won't neither hurt myself and I bet I can use my sword way better than you can anyway. 'Cause I can fight with it you know. And I can do the kung fu. I bet I can even kick your ass, probably. So you don't even need to take my sword, I can keep it."

Spike's eyebrows rose almost to his hairline, and he snickered, startled, and shook his head. Yeah, this little wench was definitely worth a bit of a delay on his Big Bad mission.

"Oh, is that right? You're a big talker for such a little girl," he smirked, crossing his arms as he eyed her down his nose. "The day a second grader kicks MY bloody ass is the day I know I'm in one very twisted hell dimension, or else one of Angel's wet dreams."

"I'm not in second grade, I'm in kindergarten. I'm only five!" she giggled. "And your ass isn't bloody," she added reasonably, craning her head to look, as though to make sure. "Unless it's under your pants…did you get bit? I heard my mama, she got bit by Sheena Legs, but Sheena Legs couldn't even help it so she's not mad. I'm not even supposed to know that though."

There was no good response to that kind of statement, and Spike wasn't about to let the little wench start inspecting his ass for bloody bite marks, though the way she was coming closer and looking at his backside made it seem as though she had a mind to. He backed up a step quickly, holding out his hands as though to hold her off.

"Let's not get so touchy feely before we've even introduced ourselves, Little Bit, all right then?"

The little girl giggled, her dimples flashing again, her bear hugging against her chest as she grinned up at him. In spite of himself Spike tried not to smile; the kid was a strange bird, but she was a right cute one when she looked up at him like that.

The moment he thought it he tried to change his thoughts immediately, shaking them off of himself with some horror. How was he supposed to be the ultimate Big Bad if a little GIRL, not even a full grown woman, could make him soft again?

"You talk funny," the child declared, then attempted to imitate him in a dreadful English accent. "Leeets nawt get toochy fee-lay befoooorrre we intro-du-us arrrrselves!"

She collapsed into giggles, dimples digging more deeply into her cheeks, and Spike stared at her, feeling his face redden somewhat as he muttered to himself, somewhat defensive. How was he bloody supposed to be taken seriously if even little girls laughed at him?

"That's right, go on and laugh, Little Miss Giggles, but if I were you I'd be a little bit more wary about who it is you laugh at. Old Spike here isn't always one to play so nice," he warned, some resentment as well as defensiveness in his voice now. "Used to call me William the Bloody, they did, and it wasn't because my own ass was bloody if that's what you're about to ask. No, funny-talking Spike here drained the blood of thousands, so if I were you I'd be a bit more leery of who it was I called funny."

"You made people bleed?" the little girl asked with sudden solemnity, her dark eyes widening as she tightened her hand on her sword, staring up at him. "Did you tell them you were sorry? That wasn't very nice of you. You oughtta tell them you're sorry and then heal them up 'cause bleeding hurts."

Spike could see that the child was dead serious, and he couldn't decide whether or not he should laugh at her. Instead he just shook his head, smirking more deeply, and it wasn't long before she had more to say anyway.

"Your name is Spike William Bloody? That's a funny name. You and Sheena Legs both got such funny names," she giggled again, shaking her head. "My name's not funny though. My name is Liza. Liza Kathleen Cord. And this is my bear but he don't got a name. My sword don't got a name either. My name, that's my mama's middle name kinda and my daddy's last name and my middle name I don't know where it's from but it kinda sounds like my aunt's name and my other aunt's name only it's not really the same and my other aunt is dead now anyway. I miss her. She said she was my mama but she wasn't really 'cause her husband was bad. Do you miss anyone who died?"

At that casually asked question, Spike's chest tightened, and a vivid pain compressed itself around his unbeating heart. He was not able to meet Liza's eyes or answer her question as an image of Buffy's gently smiling face came to his mind's eye. Liza, watching him, her brow furrowing in concern and empathy, came closer, adjusting her sword into the arm holding her bear as she hugged his leg, pressing her face against his outer hip in an effort to comfort.

"You're sad," she said softly. "You miss someone who dies and you're mad and you're sad 'cause she's not here no more. It's okay, Spike William Bloody. I miss people too."

This just was not going to happen. He was NOT going to go soft here, not so bloody early in the game, and at the hands of a child. He was NOT going to keep that lump rising in his throat or let loose the tears unwillingly pricking his eyes. And he bloody well was NOT going to stand here and be embraced by a kindergartner with her bear and her sword pressing up against him as well in an alley way as she emphasized with him being SAD! This just bloody well was not going to happen.

Spike pulled away from Liza roughly, his voice rough as he deliberately didn't meet her eyes, starting to back away from her rapidly.

"Listen here, nibblet, you ought to be getting on home to your mum and your…whatever this bloody Sheena Legs you keep mentioning is. I bet she's having a right fright, trying to find you-"

"No she's not, she don't even know I'm gone. She thinks I'm asleep," Liza countered, continuing to follow him, practically backing him up against the alley wall as he hurriedly continued in his efforts to stay apart from her. "She's takin' care of Sheena Legs and I'm not even allowed to go around Sheena Legs no more 'cause she's doing bad things even if she can't help it. So she don't even-"

"Well, what with this…Sheena Legs…she's got to worry about and all, it's right wrong of you to be out worrying her some more," Spike blustered, his voice rising. "You ought to just get yourself home like a good girl, and-"

But Liza was undaunted, and she backed Spike directly against the wall, then when he had no further place to escape without breaking out into a full on run away from her, she hugged him again, nuzzling her head against him.

"It's okay to be sad Spike William Bloody. I'll make you feel better, okay?"

This bloody well was NOT okay, Spike thought with some genuine desperation as he stared down at the little girl attached to his leg, panic as well as sorrow now combining to choke his throat and compress his chest. It bloody well was not okay….there was a living human being this close to him, a warm, healthy human being whose blood he could plainly smell, whose pulse he could hear quite steadily so nearby…a living human who clearly had no fear of him whatsoever. And yet he had absolutely no desire to throw her down and drain her dry, as he should, even if she WAS a child…he had no desire to hurt her at all. He wasn't even thinking of the child, so much as Buffy, and the look in her eyes as she saw him for the last time. He had no desire to harm Liza, no desire to even push her away…the only real desire he had with the child hugging him in that moment was to break down into tears.

This just could not happen.

It was not an urge to hurt her, or even an intention to do so, but rather a desire to chase her off, to protect himself from what she was making him feel, that made Spike shove her away from him, allowing himself to shift into his vampire facial features and then to bend over her with fangs bared, snarling into her face. He expected Liza to scream, to back off rapidly and run away as fast as her little legs could carry her. He expected to be left alone to pull himself together and set out once again to be what it was he had been determined to be in the first place…which was EVIL.

But Liza was apparently not a child that would ever meet his expectations. Because within half a second a little fist had socked him in the solar plexus, then kicked him in the shin, with much more strength than he would have even imagined possible, to the point that Spike hurt his bones cracking audibly as they broke from the contact. Then little hands were picking him up and flipping him over onto his back; there was a loud clap of thunder, a blinding light lit up the entire sky, and scorching pain seared through Spike's body from head to toe before he found himself flying forward, smashing into the alley wall across from them and sagging onto the floor.

As he lay there in shock, eyes open wide as he attempted to process what had just happened and how the hell it was possible that the dimpled, teddy-bear-toting five year old little girl who had been hugging him moments before was responsible, intensely agonizing pain continuing to surge through him as his body wafted clouds of smoke, the said little girl came to stand over him, holding her sword over his heart. It was not tipped with wood, and so could not kill him, but that didn't mean Spike looked at her with any less fear.

"That was MEAN!" she said with a scowl that showed not fear, as would be the logical reaction of most children to a seemingly normal man turning into a monster and apparently trying to eat her, but rather with injured indignation. "Vampires don't GOTTA eat people you know, and I was being NICE!"

Spike was not at all concerned about her injured feelings. All he could focus on was gawking at her as she held her sword to his chest, sputtering for some sort of logical reply.

"Bloody hell! What the hell ARE you?" he blurted, almost yelling, and Liza continued to scowl.

"You shouldn't say bad words, Mr. Spike William Bloody!"

As the sword's tip dug further into Spike's chest, piercing through his shirt, he decided maybe it was best to appease the child before she got REALLY upset…he was in quite enough pain as it was without her getting madder.

"Okay, I apologize, my most sincere apologies to the little lady, now can you PLEASE give me a hint about what exactly you ARE to almost fry me to a crisp here?"

"I'm a goddess," Liza replied simply, as though it were a very common answer, but Spike wasn't listening to her response. No sooner had the words left his mouth then it dawned on him….as he stared into the child's familiar features, then at the weapon in her hands, it dawned on him exactly why it was that she was so recognizable to him…and why it was that she could kick his ass so readily.

"You're the other Slayer!" he blurted out loud, almost forgetting his continuing severe pain in his astonishment. "You're Faith! What did you bloody do, go back in time, come across some whacked spellbook to make you all pint sized all over again?"

But the child just shook her head, sighing loudly, as though she was beginning to think him quite stupid.

"Noooo, I'm not a Slayer. My mama is. Faith is my MAMA, silly. I'm her little girl. I comed outta her head. You know my mama?"

This was somehow even more astounding to Spike than the thought of the Slayer shrinking herself back to a child again…Faith Lehane, a mother? Faith Lehane, with a CHILD?

And then another idea occurred to him…if this was the Slayer's child he had threatened, he was almost certainly a walking dead man, and he wasn't talking about being a vampire.

"You're the Slayer's girl?" he repeated with sheer disbelief, and more than a little rapidly developing alarm. "Bloody hell! Look here, Liza, you tell your mum I didn't mean anything by it, alright? You just tell your mum- well, actually you don't' tell your mum anything, and we'll just part ways as friends, understand?"

He attempted to push Liza's sword away and roll to his feet, but the intense pain he felt when he tried to do so stopped him cold…but what completely froze him was when Liza bent down beside him and touched him, a cool sensation spreading forth from her fingers and entering through the rest of his body, immediately taking his pain away. He could feel his burns closing over, his insides reforming, and knew, to his utter unbelief, that the child was healing him.

"What the…why are you…" he stammered, and Liza crossed her arms, eyeing him sternly.

"THAT is what you're supposed to do to be nice to people. Not try to eat them. You make them feel better! All you had to do was say you were hungry and I woulda got you some food. Cookies even. That was so bad of you to try to eat me like that and you know what, you better say you were sorry. Just because you're sad, that don't mean you get to eat me."

For a few seconds Spike considered seriously bursting into uncontrollable laughter at the unbelievable situation he was finding himself in. But one look at the seriousness of the little girl's face and the sword still in her hand and he rethought this, deciding humbleness was the better approach.

"I'm sorry, nibblet…Liza. I won't do it again, alright? So why don't you just let me up, and…"

"You need lessons," the child declared, and she hauled him to his feet with such strength and confidence in the movement that again Spike could only gawk at her. "You're not a bad guy. You just act bad. I can tell you know. You are sad and mad and you wanna be bad but being bad is wrong so you shouldn't be. You should be good. 'Cause that's what Aunt Buffy would want, you know."

At this Spike stumbled, almost falling down entirely…had she just said Aunt Buffy? She knew Buffy…she knew that SPIKE knew Buffy? What exactly did this little wench know…what exactly could she see?

And if she could…was she right?

"I'll teach you," she continued helpfully, still eyeing him sternly. "I'll show you how to be good. We can be friends even if you won't try to eat me. Mama won't mind too much I don't think 'cause she's teaching Sheena Legs so I can teach you, okay?"

There was yet again no reasonable answer to this statement. Spike continued to stare at her, entirely unable to come up with a reply as Liza held out her hand to him, tilting her head.

"Come on, Spike William Bloody. I'll teach you how to be good and then you'll feel better, okay? And I won't even have to kick your ass again. Probably."

This was the stupidest thing he had ever heard…to take lessons on good behavior from a child, from a child who had almost killed him no less…a child who was the daughter of a Slayer, of FAITH, who he had repeatedly tortured right before she and Buffy brought about his own death? What about being the Big Bad? What about making his own way and setting out to set the world on its head? What about vengeance and blood-wreaking and death, beautiful, glorious death?

But all Spike could think of was Buffy's intense face as she drove the stake into his heart, her gentle smile as he held her in his arms…and all he could see in the child's dark eyes was the other Slayer looking out at him. And for no other reason he took the child's extended hand, following her out of the alley as she continued to talk to him helpfully.

"Okay, first off, you can't drink no blood from no people 'cause that's bad. And not no animals either. So maybe if you just get some water and dye it red…"