Thoughts Sparked By Too Much Ice Cream and Tequila
Set late season five after The Body, before Forever. Imagine there were a few weeks in between, where things were quiet. A girls' night in for grieving, remembering, and forgetting sparks an unusual thought for Buffy.
Author's note: A short one shot that's mostly silly. Consider it Easter candy of the written variety.
Author's second note: If you haven't seen Ghost or Steel Magnolias, some references are going to seem obscure, but they don't detract from the (minuscule) plot.
Disclaimer: Nothing of Buffy belongs to me, except my sincere admiration. However, this story is all mine.
"I think we used an entire box of Kleenex. Each." Willow sniffled heavily.
Anya turned off Steel Magnolias, blowing her nose violently. "I'm sorry, but I don't understand modern movies. Why would they make all these movies about death and dying and heartbreak? I thought this was supposed to be entertainment, but now I just feel confused and miserable."
"With you there." Dawn hiccuped. "Need more ice cream now."
"What movie do we put in next?" Willow got to her knees, lifting her head from Tara's snuggly bust. "We have Love Story or Ghost."
"Those sound happy. Or scary." Anya looked perkier.
"They're not." Buffy stayed slumped against the couch, pale, hands clasped loosely over her midriff. "They're tearjerkers."
"Movies guaranteed to make you cry." Tara explained.
"Why are we watching those?" Anya demanded in a confounded screech. "Haven't we all cried enough? With the death and the burying and the- the big empty space in life?" She bit her lip and sank back against the couch as well. "We should be watching comedies. They make you laugh. Or- monster truck rallies. I don't understand the premise, as it seems like a waste of goods and cars that could earn you a lucrative income from scrap dealers- but there's something about the sight of big cars smashing the smaller ones that makes people get a primal adrenaline rush. That'd cheer you up."
Everyone stared. "Did they not have some sort of grieving rituals when you were alive?" Willow asked incredulously.
"I forgot a lot in a thousand years, okay? But we sure didn't sit around and watch fictionalized deaths to cheer ourselves up."
"We're not trying to cheer Buffy and Dawn up." Tara explained gently, looking at the Summers sisters. "We're being comforting."
"Oh. There, there." Anya awkwardly patted Dawn's shoulders. Dawn sighed.
Buffy sat up. "You know what? I'm all for a ban on the sob stories." She hadn't cried. No one really noticed. She was frozen inside. As she watched, she kept thinking to herself, That's fake. That's fake. They all got up after that scene. She won an award later. Fake death. Gets you red carpets. Sparkly dresses. Limos.
"Good! Monster truck rallies? Are they televised?"
"If you have the totally bad bad cable package, maybe." Dawn mumbled. "I don't want an adrenaline rush."
"What about a sugar rush?" Buffy smiled. "Tara? How much ice cream did you bring?"
"Well, I didn't know what kind of flavors you two would want so I-" Tara chewed the inside of her cheek. "Six cartons, I think."
"That's one for everyone, and one to spare. I call the chocolatiest." Buffy hauled herself off the couch and marched into the kitchen. "Grab a spoon, ladies."
"No fair! Not all of us have Slayer metabolism!" Anya cried, patting her hips.
"And why do you get the chocolatiest? I'm as big a chocoholic as you!" Dawn raced after her sister.
Willow and Tara exchanged a glance. "People grieve in different ways." Tara shrugged.
"I wanted to see Ghost." Willow pouted.
"We'll watch it later, Sweetie."
"I wish there was something more we could do. A spell or a charm or-"
"All we can do is be there for each other and listen." Tara said wisely, then hugged her girlfriend tightly. "We all miss her."
An hour later...
"So she marched right into the dressing room after her and said 'I'm sorry, my daughter said she saw it first!', took it right off the hanger and ran. What was the lady going to do, she was half dressed?"
"Your mom was so cool." Willow smiled fondly.
"I don't remember that!" Dawn protested.
"It was the dress I wore to the freshmen Fiesta Dance. Before I started choosing my wardrobe on the basis of how well it concealed stakes." Buffy pushed her half empty carton of double fudge brownie ripple away. "Okay. Who's turn is it?"
"I'm out of awesome Joyce stories." Tara said sadly. "I didn't know her as well."
"I already told the one about the pie." Dawn said sleepily.
"Xander would have some great stories." Willow mused.
"And Giles." Anya added.
"Spike would have some doozies." Buffy laughed. Noises of hesitant agreement followed. "Oh- Dawn do you remember that summer we went to-" Buffy stopped speaking abruptly as Dawn's hand slid into her carton of rocky road. "Someone needs to go to bed."
"Nn-nn." Dawn grumbled, clumsily wiping off her hand. "I'm just a little tired."
"You had the sugar rush. Now you have the sugar crash." Buffy said sternly. "Go. Upstairs. Bed now."
"I don't wanna."
"Come on, Dawnie." Tara rose and guided her from her seat. "I'll tell you a story." She bribed.
"Where the secret princess is really the youngest sister and the older sister was secretly an old dwarf in disguise or something?" Dawn stuck out her tongue at Buffy, but then leaned in, none too steadily, and hugged her.
"Or something." Tara smiled indulgently and led her upstairs.
After Dawn was safely out of ear shot, Anya whispered conspiratorially, "Now that all the underaged people are out of the room..." She walked to the hallway and rummaged around by the front door.
"What are you doing?" Buffy asked worriedly.
"Tara and Willow are not the only ones who bring comfort food in times of crisis." Anya said in a muffled voice under the crinkling of paper bags.
"If you have a pepperoni pizza with extra cheese in there, I will love you forever." Buffy was suddenly ravenous. She belatedly realized she hadn't eaten much in the last week or so.
"Better." Anya reentered the dining room with a bottle in each hand. "They say tequila makes you forget, so..."
"We don't want to forget!" Willow cried.
"Well, then it helps you remember." Anya said pettishly and plunked the bottles down in front of Buffy. "I know it'll either make you chatty, or pass out."
"I could use some sleep." Buffy stared thoughtfully at the bottle.
"But you don't drink." Willow reminded her.
"I've been meaning to start." Buffy joked. Willow looked worried. Buffy sighed. "Anya, you bring glasses. Willow, put in Ghost?"
"Okay!" Both friends cried eagerly.
There. Another day of making everyone happy. Buffy flopped back down the couch, sprawled out this time, and decided it was her turn to have a night off from the "I can handle it" brigade.
Anya unceremoniously picked Buffy's feet up and sat under them. Buffy rolled her eyes. Only Anya. Or Xander. The couple with the strangely flexible personal space boundaries. No wonder they're so perfect together. She watched as Willow made a nest of cushions for her and Tara as she cued up the movie. The other perfect together couple. Why am I not coupled? Why do I think about these things? To stop from thinking about other things. Like Mom being gone. Must stop thinking.
"Hm?" Anya was carefully dropping small glasses onto the coffee table as best she could while being locked onto the sofa by Buffy's outstretched legs.
"Stop me at three, okay? I don't want to be wasted. I just want to stop thinking for a little bit."
"I think we should stop you at two." Willow said nervously. "Remember the 'beer good foamy' incident?"
"The what?" Anya looked curiously between them.
"Nothing!" Buffy blushed. "That was cursed beer. Anya- you didn't buy this off a warlock, did you?"
"Hey, just because Jimmy at the liquor mart is a part demon is no reason to-"
"This isn't cursed, is it?" Buffy interrupted in a loud, fatigued voice.
"Oh. No." Anya shook her head. "It's Jose Cuervo."
"I don't know what that means, but pour me a little bit." Buffy sighed and sat back.
Two hours and two shots later...
"I have to go see Xander. Now." Anya wiped her eyes and drained her drink. "He needs to know that I love him and I would love him even if he were a psychic black woman!"
More sniffling. Tara and Willow seemed to be having a hair stroking competition. Buffy looked at them through foggy eyes and thought, "They'll go bald. But they'll still be in love. Nice for them."
Tara and Willow stopped abruptly. "What, Buffy?" Tara asked, head tilted to the side, blinking teary eyes.
"Did I say that out loud?" Buffy clapped a hand to her mouth.
"It's okay." Tara smiled, and stopped petting Willow's hair.
"No. It's not." Buffy sat up, dislodging Anya from the couch in the process. "Life is very, very..." The blonde looked heavenward and groped for a word.
"Unpredictable?" Anya suggested from her new location on the floor.
"Full of tragedy and triumph?"
"Sucky. Crappy. Crappy and sucky." Buffy settled on those two. "Death is stupid."
"And scary." Anya rubbed her sore tailbone as she pulled herself upright after her abrupt departure from the sofa.
"You know what else is stupid and scary?"
"Spiders?" Tara winced.
"Hey!" Willow seemed to take that as offensive.
"Not all love, obviously, just certain kinds of love. 'Cause, I was thinking about boyfriends during this. Tried not to think. Tequila helped. But still. Patrick Swayze isn't such a bad guy, right? But he dies and that's bad, and he loves the girl and that's good, and he loves her even after he's dead, also good- in a ghost or vampire way, I guess. But death... bad."
"Anya, are you sure that guy didn't curse the tequila? And don't tell me about the brand name!" Willow hissed.
"Maybe this is just how she sounds when she's drunk." Anya hissed back.
"Not drunk! Thinking!" Buffy said petulantly. "I miss my mom."
"Oh, Honey, we know." Tara was instantly up, arms outstretched to comfort.
"You are great." Buffy hugged Tara, then surprised Anya and Willow be giving them big, clingy hugs as well. "You are all so great. Great, great friends. But you're not boyfriends." Buffy plopped down on the coffee table, pulled herself into the lotus position, and promptly fell off as she tried to get her balance.
"Um. Maybe we better get her to bed." Tara suggested.
"Not done thinking." Buffy remained on the floor, on her back, legs still folded but now in the air. "I've figured out what's wrong with boyfriends of mine. I like good guys. Maybe a little mysterious, but good. And then they go bad. Then they leave. Which is why when you need them, they're not around."
"Okay, we can agree on that." Willow bent to pull her friend into a sitting position, but Buffy lazily tucked her arms under her head and stared at the ceiling.
"See, first there was Angel. Good. Good vampire. That's pretty freaking good, right? Because he was soooo bad, and then he got a soul and he was good."
"Did she hit her head when she fell?" Anya asked out of the corner of her mouth. Tara mumbled something about flashlights and pupils dilating before hurrying off to the kitchen.
"But- there's always a but." Buffy sighed. "I sleep with him, bye bye good boy, hello psycho killer. Then I kill him. Then he comes back- good again- but being with me might make him bad so he leaves. Not here when I need him. You know, he'll visit, but then he'll go away. Not here when I need him."
"Buffy, I want you to look right at this light for me, okay?" Tara was back, shining a light in her face.
"Ow. Stop that." Buffy neatly unfurled her legs, and used one pointed foot to send the flashlight into space. It came down with a crash several feet away. "Next serious guy? Parker. Who was very not serious. Unserious. Inserious. Willow, is one of those a word?"
"I'll get the vacuum." Willow stared behind them at the newly broken flashlight and a shattered vase that had held a bouquet. Puddles of faintly brown water were forming on the floor. "And some paper towels."
"He was nice. Philosophical. Talked. Gentlemanly. Then sleep with. Bad. Jerk. Jerky Parker." Buffy continued talking in somewhat unfocused voice.
"He was jerky before you met him!" Willow hollered from the kitchen.
"Yeah, but he pretended to be good!"
"Buffy, I think maybe you need to lie down. Not on the floor, upstairs." Tara insisted more firmly.
"There's only one more." Buffy pouted.
"Let her talk. You said talking was important to healing." Anya argued, although she made a point to slip the bottle of alcohol under a sofa cushion out of Buffy's sight line.
"Riley. Riley was the goodest good boy of them all. He was- he was respectable and respectful and responsible and a good guy, as in actively fighting of the bad guys. He was polite and clean and had biiiig shoulders. Something about big shoulders makes the guy seem even better. Sweet. Thoughtful. My mom liked him! How often can you say that about a boyfriend?"
Tara and Anya kept quiet on that one.
Buffy sat up suddenly, looking deeply and intently at her friends. "And he leaves me. Because I'm not good enough for him. Or to him. Just not good."
"That is ridiculous. You are wonderful and you are way better than that- that toy soldier." Willow took her best friend duties seriously. As she sponged up the spilled water, she prepared to launch into a list of all the faults Riley possessed. Buffy looked grateful, but shook her head.
"It doesn't matter anymore. Because I understand now. I do." She nodded sagely, and wondered why the room bounced with her. She decided it was funny and smiled broadly. "Good guys turn into bad guys and disappoint you."
"That's not true." Anya hated to burst her bubble. "I am queen of the male bashing, Buffy, but some good guys just stay good. Sometimes they do bad things, but they're still okay people. Not the three you've just mentioned, but in general."
"You're ruining my revelation!" Buffy whined.
"Don't upset her." Tara shushed.
"This ish only relevant to me. Because I have a curse when it comesh to dating." Buffy explained.
"She's slurring." Anya stated the obvious.
"I am not, I had brownie in my teeth and I was trying to work it free." Buffy snapped. "Here's the secret. Find a bad boy. And then sleep with him. And he'll become a good guy. Like Snow White but in reverse. With sex."
Willow stopped trying to plug in the vacuum and just stared. "What?"
"Not all bad guys obviously! 'Cause there are bad guys who are just waiting for you to become a big sleaze and then they'll go 'Haha, I'm still scum.' Just the right bad guy. With potential." Buffy sprang to her feet, making her three companions gasp.
"Women have been trying to 'redeem' the bad boys for centuries. Doesn't work. I know. So many vengeance house calls start with that thought." Anya argued.
"But it makes sense! Like when you get lost, you have to retrace your steps and go back to the last place you remember. Or like fixing screws. Righty tighty, left loosey." No cries of sudden understanding greeted her. She sighed. "If I fall for good guys, with or without bad boy ingredients already present, they turn into jerks on me. So obviously if I start with a jerk who has some of the good guy stuff, I can turn him into someone who won't leave. It's simple. It's like opposite day simple." Buffy rolled her eyes.
Anya's eyebrows raised. "Oh. I get it."
"You get this?" Willow asked skeptically.
"That's worrisome." Tara breathed.
"She means Spike. Spike likes her, but he's obnoxious and evil. If she sleeps with him, he'll turn into a good guy. He just needs a kiss from the prince to wake up. using your Snow White metaphor." Anya inclined her head to Buffy. "Also, we should probably say princess so we don't confuse anyone."
"You are so wise." Buffy nodded gratefully.
"I'm still confused." Tara whispered hesitantly.
"You are both so drunk!" Willow came over and shook Buffy's shoulders gently. "You can't seriously consider... Spike! Bad. Bad, bad, bad news. Scarily obsessed with you bad news."
"Hello, that's the point of finding the bad guy!" Buffy brushed off Willow's hands.
"Stalker tendencies aside, he's already started helping on occasion. He does like Dawn and Joyce. He obviously 'likes' Buffy. He's got some sort of positive material in him." Anya spoke up, playing devil's advocate.
"Then why don't we just leave him alone and see if that turning into a good guy thing happens on its own, okay?" Willow said in a patient, "trying to reason with a crazy person" voice.
"He's already started." Buffy blinked, then pushed Willow's arms off. "I have to hurry!"
"Before he's not a bad guy anymore. I have to start before he's one of the good guys, because it doesn't work out between me and good guys! Weren't you paying attention?" Buffy hopped over the broken glass and hopped around on one foot, pulling sneakers on. "If I don't kiss him by midnight, one of us could turn into a pumpkin! Or- or get diabetes!" Buffy fled the house.
"Oh wow." Tara put both hands to her mouth.
"You stay with Dawnie, I'll get her." Willow told the other two, grabbing her keys and her coat.
"I think you should let her try." Anya said after a second.
"He can't physically hurt her. She's got Slayer metabolism. The alcohol is going to be burned out of her system by the time she runs around town looking for him. Also- she has chocolate lips and she's wearing sweatpants and a teeshirt with a hole in the shoulder."
"What's your point?"
"By the time she gets there, she's going to be sobered up, had a little time to think, and realize she looks pretty ratty. If she still wants to kiss Spike- it's cause she wants to kiss him."
"What the hell happened to you?" Spike opened his door to a thoroughly disheveled creature.
"I- I ran. And I ate a lot of sugar. Had a lot of alcohol. Or at least- my head thinks it was a lot." Buffy collapsed into his arms, panting. "Also- I'm cold. I ran too fast and I have that- weird pain- in my side. Ooh. And maybe a delayed reaction freeze brain from the quart of double fudge brownie ripple."
"Who's after you? Where's the little bit?" Spike helped her in, looking out past her into the night.
"Home, sleeping. And no one." Buffy straightened up and licked her lips. Chocolatey. Oh God. I have a chocolate mustache going on.
"So why'd you rush over here to see me?" Spike asked, plainly puzzled, and quite pleased.
"Because when I watch too many sad movies, eat too much sugar, and throw in alcohol, I get really weird thoughts." Buffy explained, wiping her mouth- and then smoothing her hair. Windblown didn't begin to describe her look. Her hands hit a mass of blonde tangles and stuck. She sheepishly lowered her hands.
Spike nodded. "I see. What's this weird thought then?"
"Oh. That- that good guys leave me. Bad guys hate me. If I could find a sort of bad to begin with going good-ish guy, and I kissed him before sunrise- then I could live happily ever after. Or at least not die of diabetes."
Spike blinked, but kept his cool white features stoic. "I was with you until the diabetes part. Although I hear you should go easy on the sugar if it's a concern."
Buffy rolled her eyes. "I knew I wasn't making sense."
"You made perfect sense." Spike blocked her as he could see she was about to leave. "You know- I've had the same theory. What with me bein' your basic evil villain type, but havin' this strange urge to be helpful and keep on the good side of a certain slayer and her little sis. She won't give me the time of day."
Buffy remembered the last time she'd been in his home. "There's a reason for that."
"I screw up. I'm sorry for it. But I know, bad as I am, I wouldn't hurt her as much as the 'heroes' have."
Buffy stared, listened. A tiny smile caressed her lips, then faded. "I'm doing something stupid."
"Don't blame you. This world is pretty effin' stupid sometimes. Makes sense. Take a stupid chance, just to see what happens if you go with the flow." His lips tugged up into a confident grin, but his eyes were wary. Hopeful. Scared.
Life is scary. Death is scary. "Just don't hurt anyone. And don't leave. Or turn into a pumpkin." Buffy whispered.
It didn't even faze him. Nothing she could do would make him look away now. "I swear. On all counts." Spike bent his head. She raised hers.
"There's no happily ever after though. Is there?" She whispered.
"There's just happily." He brought his hand slowly up to her neck, thumb on her pulse, fingers on her cheek. "I'll stay until forever comes to get me, and stay like I am. You want that?"
Something sort of predictable. Something sort of happy. "Yes." She pushed forward and mouths met.
It was good. Sugar highs, tequila shots, vampires who'd lead a crappy existence near you rather than go anywhere else...Buffy kissed him harder and his arms wrapped around her waist. Sometimes the bad things are the best things. Or at least what you need. Buffy pulled the door closed behind them.