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.
“No, no. Oh bloody hell,” Spike sighed. “You don’t wanna do ‘em in so fast.”
Willow wiped the fresh vamp dust off of her jeans and glared at Spike. “And why not? If the goal is turn him into a big pile of dust then, hey, goal accomplished.” She stuck her stake in her back pocket and then swiped her hands together a couple of times for good measure. “So, how about we call it a night?”
Spike flicked his cigarette out into the darkness and jumped off the tombstone he’d been sitting on. He gave Willow a disapproving look. He felt like he was playing watcher, and he hated it. The more trouble she gave him, the more he felt like Rupert Giles running after Miss Buffy Summers. Bloody hell.
“The goal, luv, is to train you,” Spike countered. “Not to finish off your sparring partners as soon as they push their way out of the ground. Granted, London has its fair share of vamps, but this ain’t the bleedin’ hellmouth. Don’t exactly have an endless supply here.”
“What’s a hellmouth?”
“Wouldn’t you like to know?”
“Yes I would,” she said brashly, as she straightened her shoulders and met his gaze head on.
He was struck by how vibrant her eyes were. They sparkled with challenge, just the way her mother’s always had. He had to fight to keep his emotions in check and his mind focused on their training.
“Well,” he rejoined, as if nothing were amiss, “maybe if you do some actual training tonight, I’ll tell ya. If you actually do some training. You got that?”
“Yeah, I got it. But I don’t see any more vamps around, so what am I supposed to do?”
He smirked at her. “Why, fight me of course.”
And before she could react, Spike grabbed her, the same way he had the previous night. He held her close and bared his fangs against her neck. Her heart was beating fast, but he could tell that it was just the adrenaline pumping through her veins. The fear that had been present the previous night was gone.
“If I wanted to kill you right now, I could. You’re defenseless. No one’s ever taught you how to fight. I’m going to teach you. I want you to do everything I say.”
She nodded her head obediently, like a little girl taking instruction from a parent. A pang of something oddly uncomfortable stabbed at Spike’s chest. Was it jealousy? Was it loneliness? He wasn’t this girl’s father. She had a father somewhere. But it wasn’t him. He’d have to stop thinking of her as his charge, as a little girl who needed his protection. She was a full-grown woman and he was just showing her the ropes. That was all.
Spike swallowed the uneasiness in his chest and focused on instructing her. He led her through some of his favorite moves; showed her how to get the upper-hand, even when she had been rendered virtually immobile. She caught on quickly, and before he knew it, they were sparring on pretty even ground.
“Like mother, like daughter, huh?” Spike said as he stopped to catch an unneeded breath.
“What was that?” Willow’s head shot up and she stared at Spike as if he’d just grown six heads.
“Uh, nothin’. Nothin’ at all pet. Let’s get back to work.”
Spike prepared for battle once more, but he could see that Willow wasn’t having it. She was staring at him.
“What?” Spike spluttered in exasperation.
“What do you mean, like mother, like daughter? Has my mother ever done . . . this?”
Spike tried to wave it off. “Nah. You’re mum’s never done anything like this. Doesn’t even know that vampires exist. That wasn’t what I meant.”
“What did you mean?” Those eerily familiar hazel eyes narrowed in on him and he had the unholy urge to crawl out of his skin.
“Things weren’t always so good between your mum and me. We fought. A lot.”
Willow shook her head. “It’s not the same thing. Not by a long shot.”
“Wish that were true. Your mum has a violent streak, whether you’ve seen it or not. Maybe she’s over it. Maybe it was only ever reserved for me. But I’ve seen her at her worst. Buffy Summers can fight.”
Willow was quiet for a moment, and Spike silently prayed that she wasn’t putting two and two together. There was no reason for her to know that her mother was the Slayer. If Buffy had chosen to keep that from her, perhaps she had good reason. Then again, if Buffy had just told her the truth from the beginning, she wouldn’t be in danger now. She’d have been prepared since birth to fight demons. She wouldn’t have to undergo this trial by fire. Her life would have been a lot different and she would have been better prepared for the truth.
“You wanna get back to training, huh?”
“I . . . I think I’ve had enough for one night, if that’s all right.”
She seemed pensive, morose even. Maybe she was just unhappy to find that she really didn’t know her mother at all.
“Fine then. Tomorrow night? Same bat time? Same bat channel?”
“Huh?” She seemed a million miles away, but quickly remembered herself. “Yeah. Tomorrow.”
“Why don’t I walk you home pet.”
Willow nodded absently and began walking toward the entrance of the cemetery. Spike quietly fell in step beside her.
“I didn’t mean to make you question your mum,” he said, feeling the need to ease her confusion somehow. “I’ve nothin’ bad to say about Buffy. Nothin’ at all. Don’t think I hold anything against her, ‘cause I don’t.”
“Were you in love with her?”
The question surprised him and he stopped dead in his tracks. Willow stopped a few feet in front of him. He looked up to meet her eyes. He knew there was no denying the truth. When it came to his feelings, when it came to love, he was a terrible liar.
“You were, weren’t you?” she whispered, a curious tone to her voice.
“That was a long time ago, but yeah.”
“But you said you loved a slayer, didn’t you?”
The air caught in Spike’s lungs and his chest hurt painfully. Yes, he had said that, hadn’t he? Oh bollocks.
“It’s possible for a man to love more than one woman in his lifetime. Especially a vampire. Your mother was not the only woman I have ever loved.”
“Oh,” was Willow’s quiet reply. She almost sounded disappointed.
Spike didn’t feel the need to clarify that the love he felt for Buffy surpassed all others. Willow didn’t need to know that. It was better that she think Buffy was just one among many. It was safer that way.
“Do you still love her?” Willow asked from out of nowhere.
This time, Spike casually averted his gaze and started walking again. If he wasn’t looking her directly in the eye, he could definitely lie to her. “Nah. That’s ancient history. Been a long time since I even thought about your mum. It’s just seeing you that brings it all back again.”
“Are we very much alike? In your opinion?”
Spike smiled. “Yeah. Too much alike. You’re practically her spittin’ image. Especially at that age. How old are you, anyway? About eighteen?”
“Yeah. How’d you know?”
“Just a guess,” Spike said somberly.
“So, you knew her when she was my age?”
“Yeah. Met her when she was sixteen.”
“How old were you?”
Spike tried to do the math in his head, tried to figure out what an appropriate answer would be. He decided that an answer of “Eighteen” would do quite nicely.
“So how old were you when you were turned?”
This question he could answer honestly. “Twenty-six.”
“Wow, so you lived a pretty full life and then one day, zap, you get turned into a vampire. That sucks. No . . . pun intended, of course,” she added awkwardly.
“You’re wrong about that pet. Bein’ turned was the best thing that ever happened to me. I wasn’t living until I was dead. You don’t want to know what kind of man I was before.”
“But you were the man who loved my mother, so you couldn’t have been all bad.”
Spike felt another uncomfortable pang in his chest. Yes, it was William that loved Buffy, wasn’t it? That sappy, pathetic part of himself that loved wholeheartedly, even at the expense of his own happiness. Yes, she was right. Damn astute girl.
“Is there any chance . . . well, that you’re my—?”
“Don’t say it.” Spike instantly broke out of his private musings. “It’s not possible. I can’t have kids.”
“What are you, impotent?”
Spike nearly choked. For the very first time since he’d met her, he felt the overwhelming urge to strangle her. “The word is ‘sterile.’ Not ‘impotent.’ Don’t go throwin’ that word around. It’s liable to get you in a lot of trouble where men are concerned.”
She smiled mischievously, obviously proud of herself for having been able to rankle him. “Oh, I think my mother would kind of like that idea. She’s always warning me about men. I think she’s secretly happy when my relationships fall apart even before they’ve begun. You know, she warned me about you.”
Spike gave her a sidelong glance. “Did she now?”
“Oh yes, she even made me promise I wouldn’t sleep with you.”
Willow’s smile grew wider and Spike again found his feet failing him. He stopped dead cold.
“Mm hm,” she mumbled, nodding her head. “She made me promise.”
“You told her about me?”
“Of course. You didn’t tell me not to and I don’t keep secrets from my mother.”
“Oh right, except for the big, whopping one about being a vampire slayer.”
“Hunter. Not a slayer. I still don’t know what a slayer is.”
“Hunter. Slayer. It doesn’t matter. You shouldn’t have told her.” Spike ran a hand through his hair in frustration. “Bollocks. What am I going to do now?”
“Nothin’.” Spike inhaled a girding breath. “I know I’m gonna regret this but, did she say anything about me?”
Willow laughed to herself, as if she took some special kind of glee from his question. “Um, not much. She just asked if you had said where you’d been for the past twenty years, that’s all. And then she made me promise not to sleep with you. She was emphatic about that, which is why I thought maybe you were my—“
“Don’t!” He held out a hand in an unconscious effort to stop her. “Don’t say it. It’s not possible. I told you that already.”
“I know. What man would admit to being impotent—“
“Sterile,” he corrected through gritted teeth.
“Right. Sterile. What man would admit to being sterile unless he had to? Unless it was the truth? I have to admit, I am a bit disappointed though.”
She started walking again and Spike followed suit.
He eyed her curiously. “Disappointed? Why?”
“I don’t know. I think it might be kind of cool to have a vampire for a father, that’s all.”
Spike refused to comment. He walked Willow back to her dorm, said goodnight, and got out of there as fast as he could.
So Buffy knew. What the bloody hell did that mean? Should he run? Should he get out of London as fast as he could, before she hopped a plane and decided to give him a piece of her mind? Or should he stay put, and face up to the demons that had been haunting him for the past nineteen years?
For nearly two decades he had been traveling the world, doing penance, trying to make up for his crimes. At least, that’s what he had told himself. The truth was, he was running from her. He didn’t want to know. He didn’t want to see her. He didn’t want to know how wonderfully happy she was without him. He was a selfish bastard, but that was okay. He had every right to be. Being selfish was just about the only thing he had left.