Summary: Nineteen years after leaving Sunnydale, Spike encounters a startlingly familiar young woman fighting vampires in the alleyways of London – a young woman who holds the key to both his past and his future.
The walk back to her campus dorm that night was an unsettling one for Willow. After Spike had left her, she had scrounged around the alley, looking for another makeshift stake. She had found half a broken two-by-four and carried it with her all the way home. As she walked, she couldn’t help but wonder about the mysterious man – no, make that vampire – whom she had met in the alleyway.
He was, without a doubt, the most beautiful man she had ever set eyes on. She didn’t normally think of vampires as beautiful, no matter what Anne Rice or Stephanie Meyer had to say on the subject. Until tonight, every vampire she had met had looked pretty normal, ordinary even. But not Spike. He was beautiful, angelic; with crystal blue eyes, bleached blond hair, and the most impossibly high cheekbones she had ever seen. If she’d been any less sensible a girl, she’d risk falling in love with him. He was like something out of a gothic novel, and Willow couldn’t help but be intrigued.
And he knew her mother?
Willow shook her head absently, trying to make the thought sink in as she entered her dorm room. She couldn’t believe that her mother had ever been friends with a vampire. Of course, if she really thought about it, he probably hadn’t been a vampire then. He had said before she was born, so that had to have been at least eighteen years ago. No doubt he was just a nice guy who had been in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Willow shrugged out of the clothes she was wearing and slipped into bed, without bothering to turn the lights on. She was lucky. She had her own room and didn’t have to worry about waking a roommate with the strange hours she kept. But hunting every night – or, patrolling, as Spike had called it – was really taking its toll on her. She had classes during the day, workstudy in the evenings, and then patrolling at night. She was beginning to feel like the walking dead herself. Plus, it wasn’t exactly easy living in a foreign country. Even if she did speak the language. She was always terribly homesick.
Just as Willow was about to fall asleep, the phone rang. She groaned as she peered at the digital alarm clock on the nightstand – 1:30am. Willow groped for her cell phone and answered on the third ring. “Hello?”
“Hi sweetheart. Did I wake you?”
It was her mom. Willow pushed herself up in bed and leaned against the headboard. “No, I was just getting to sleep now. Do you have any idea what time it is?”
“It’s only 5:30.”
“Maybe in Sunnydale. But it’s after one here.”
“Oh, I thought it was late. I didn’t realize how late. I figured you’d be awake though. I was a college student once myself, you know.”
“Yes, I’m well aware.” Willow sighed, trying not to be frustrated with her mother, but failing miserably. “Is there a reason you called this late?”
“No. I just miss you, that’s all. I just got home from work and I’m not really used to the house being empty. I thought I’d give you a call, just to hear a friendly voice.”
“I’m sorry mom. I know how hard it is for you since I left and Aunt Dawn and Uncle Xander moved to New York.”
“It’s all right. I get by. I don’t want you to worry about me sweetheart, I’m fine.”
But Willow knew that she wasn’t fine. Her mother had lived her entire life for her family, always sacrificing for their happiness. She had never tried to find happiness for herself. Now that they were all gone, she was lonely and unfulfilled and Willow wished there was something she could do for her.
And then she remembered something.
“Mom, can I ask you something?”
“Sure, Will. You know you can ask me anything.”
“Did you ever know a guy named Spike?” Willow waited for her mother to reply, but there was no sound on the other end of the phone. “Mom? Are you still there?”
“I’m sorry, what did you say?”
Willow paused for a moment. She knew her mother had heard her. It may have been an international call, but the reception was superb. Why did she sound so strange all of a sudden?
“Spike. Do you know anyone named Spike?”
“Spike?” Buffy laughed. “That’s a funny name. Almost as funny as Angel or Cordy or Giles.”
“Giles isn’t a funny name. Besides, it’s a last name, so it hardly counts. So, do you know him?”
“Spike. Let me think about it. Um . . . yeah I seem to remember someone named Spike. Yeah, he was some guy I met when I was in high school. God, I haven’t heard that name in years.”
Willow wasn’t buying it. Even if it had been twenty years since her mother had laid eyes on this guy, there was absolutely no way she could ever have forgotten him. Willow had only known him for an hour or so, and already she knew that Spike was the kind of guy you simply couldn’t forget.
“Do you want to try that again?” Willow prompted, refusing to let her mom just blow it off.
“Try what again?” Buffy asked, putting on her best dumb blonde act.
“Spike. How do you know him? And don’t tell me he’s just some random guy you knew twenty years ago, back when you were in high school. He said you saved his life once.”
“Only once? More like half a million . . .”
Buffy trailed off and Willow knew that she had her.
“You wanna explain that?”
Again there was silence on the other end of the line. It took a full thirty seconds before Buffy replied. “He was a friend. A very good friend. We got into a couple of scrapes together, and we were always there to bail each other out. I didn’t really realize it at the time though. He was there for me a lot more than I was there for him.”
“Were you ever . . . involved?” Willow wasn’t sure she really wanted to know. If her mom had ever dated Spike, it would mean she couldn’t even think of having a crush on him. But she had to know.
“We . . . were . . . briefly involved,” Buffy managed. “It wasn’t serious.”
“How not serious was it? Did you guys ever—?
“You said you saw Spike?” Buffy asked, cutting her off. “Where? When?”
“And he approached you?”
“Yeah. We . . . um, met at a club. You know, saw each other across a crowded room, that kind of thing. He noticed my accent and I told him I was from Sunnydale. And well, one thing led to another and—“
“I hope one thing didn’t lead to anything!” Buffy interjected, a surprising note of panic in her voice.
“No, eww mom. Do you think I really would go with some guy that you dated? That’s just gross.”
“Well, we didn’t exactly date.”
“Nothing. The point is, you didn’t know any of that until just now. Please tell me that nothing happened. That absolutely nothing happened.”
“Absolutely nothing happened. Geez mom, you know I’m not that kind of girl. I don’t just hook up with random strangers in clubs you know. I’m not Aunt Faith.”
She heard her mother try to stifle a laugh on the other end of the phone.
“Look Will, I’m just trying to look out for you. Spike can be incredibly persuasive when he wants to be. I just need to know that you’ll stay away from him. That’s all.”
“Why do I have to stay away from him? He’s your friend after all. Is it so terrible for me to have a friendly face to talk to every once in a while? I haven’t made too many friends here. And Spike’s kind of nice.”
Now Buffy did laugh. “If Spike’s passing for nice now, then you really do have to worry.” Buffy sighed. Suddenly her voice grew very quiet. “Did he say anything about me?”
“Not much. Just that you had once worked together and that you saved his life. That’s it.”
Was that regret she heard in her mother’s voice?
“Did he say where he’s been for the past twenty years? What he’s been up to?”
“No. He wasn’t very forthcoming with annoying little things like facts. Mostly it was just a lot of posturing and flirting.”
“Yeah, that’s Spike alright. All swagger and seduction.”
A small laugh escaped Buffy’s throat. “Trust me, you’re not old enough to know.”
“Even when you’re a hundred and two you won’t be old enough. Trust me.”
“That good, huh?”
Willow laughed. It was fun scandalizing her mother. Nothing ever really fazed her, so it was nice to finally find something that did.
“Promise me you won’t see him again.”
“Of course you can. Just say the words and then don’t go near him again.”
“I doubt it’s going to be that easy. He kind of strikes me as the type of guy who doesn’t know how to take no for an answer. Even if I don’t seek him out, he’ll find me.”
She heard her mother sigh.
“Promise me you won’t sleep with him.”
“Willow Joyce, promise me.”
“Alright, I promise.”
“Good. Well, I guess I should let you get some sleep. I’m sure you have classes tomorrow, don’t you?”
“Goodnight then, sweetheart.”
“Goodnight mom. I love you.”
“I love you too.”
Willow slid her phone closed and put it back on the nightstand. She sat for a very long time, staring out into the darkness of her room, wondering what was really going on. So her mom and Spike had been more than coworkers, considerably more than friends even. He wasn’t . . .?
Willow shook herself. No. There was no way that this Spike guy was her father. She would have heard about him, if he was. Someone, somewhere, sometime would have let the name slip. Aunt Dawn or Uncle Xander; neither one of them could be trusted with a secret. Surely someone would have said something.
Willow pushed herself off the bed and turned on the lights. She shuffled over to the mirror above her dresser and peered at herself curiously, looking for any resemblance between herself and the vampire she had just met a few hours before.
Her hair was a little darker than her mother’s, but her mom was always dying hers different shades of blonde anyway, so that was no way to tell. Spike’s hair was bleached too. So there was no way to make a comparison on his side either. She had her mom’s hazel eyes though, and her pert nose, there was no doubt about that.
Willow trailed her fingers over her lips and wondered, if perhaps, they resembled Spike’s in any way. She couldn’t tell. She certainly didn’t have his cheekbones. Maybe she was just fooling herself. She had no idea how many men had been in her mother’s life before her father had come along. It was something they never talked about. All she knew was that there had been no one since, and her mother had lived a very lonely life.
Willow turned off all the lights and returned to bed. She’d see Spike again in less than twenty-four hours. Maybe then she’d get some answers.