Rating: PG13, this chapter
Word count: 1140
Summary: A few years after Sunnydale’s spectacular demise, Buffy and her crew are getting on with their lives in San Francisco. A not entirely unwelcome blast from her past blows into town, but he’s brought more than the generally allowable amount of baggage with him.
A/N: This half-chapter takes place the morning after the events of Chapter 1. Alas, it's just a couple of gals sitting around talking, but more plot is coming soon (tomorrow?) on my journal. I'll link from the bottom of this chapter when it's up.
Palm Sunday/Vernal Equinox
“Hey, Buffy! Spring break next week! Woo hoo!” chirped the entirely too cheerful voice on the phone.
“Woo and hoo to you, too, Dawn. Tell me all your plans. If I don’t respond, just keep going. Don’t give a thought to the fact that it’s before 11 a.m. on a Sunday.”
“Pfft. You’re not fooling me. You’ve been up for at least 15 minutes. I can hear Mr. Coffee in the background.”
“You never know. I might’ve had a rough night slaying. Or a date,” grumped Buffy, who still hadn’t actually drunk any of the coffee that was indeed dripping noisily into the pot right in front of her. Any second now, she’d be able to get that first cup…
“Good one! Oh, wait. Did you finally take pity on that poor guy from the dojo?”
“I’m not in the business of pity dating. Or any other kind of dating, apparently,” she admitted with a sigh. “Is dating really a ‘business’ anyway? That sounds sorta dodgy.”
“You said it, I didn’t. Anyway, I’m thinking I’ll spend Easter weekend with my big sister in her glamorous big city apartment. What do you say?”
“You mean the dining hall is closing and you’ll take the 20 minute BART ride from Berkeley to come mooch groceries off me?”
“Yup. That about covers it. Oh! And, I’ll be bringing my laundry.”
“I can’t think of anything better,” said Buffy. She meant it. Dawn was just across the bay, but their schedules made getting together all too rare. The prospect put her in a nostalgic mood. “Hey! You want to dye eggs? Maybe watch The Ten Commandments?”
“Sure. I don’t have classes on Friday, so I’ll come over whenever you’re done with work. How’s the slaying going?”
“Oh, you know. A little light dusting now and then. Nothing too strenuous. No hellmouth equals a well-rested Buffy.” She poured out a cup and took a first, fortifying sip. That hot coffee burn was a welcome friend. The fog in her brain began to lift. “Oh, hey! Weird thing last night. It seems that Drusilla is in town and she’s got a brand spanking new soul. They’re giving ‘em out to anybody, these days.”
“Cross my heart and hope to, well, make a whole bunch of vampires die. Spike’s with her.” She tacked that on the end, hoping that it would maybe go unnoticed. Like that ever worked.
“You are kidding.”
“Not so much.”
“Oh. My. God. Buffy! I thought he was dead!”
“Again, not so much. Still undead, though, so the jury’s kinda out.”
There was an ominous silence on the other end. “How long have you known?”
She’d known this day would come. She’d hoped for a fun girls’ night out, maybe when Dawn turned 21. She’d imagined slipping the new info about Spike’s status into the middle of a string of amusing “where are they now?” stories. They’d have a laugh about his amazing ability to land on his feet. Or how many lives souled vampires had. Or some other cat-related analogy. No such luck. She briefly wondered if she could get away with a “bad connection” sign off.
“Just tell me.” Dawn’s tone allowed for zero wiggle room. Buffy sighed.
“A few months. Nine, I think.”
“And you didn’t tell me because…”
“I didn’t think it was important! He wasn’t around. You two hadn’t been friends for a while. I figured it would come up when it came up. It’s come up. I’m telling you now.” Buffy was starting to feel aggrieved. She put her mug on the counter so that she wouldn’t accidentally crush it.
“That is such bull, Buffy! You just didn’t want to talk about it. You’d rather let me keep thinking our friend was dead, than talk about it! You’re the Slayer, for crying out loud! How can you be such a chicken? You’re such a big chicken you’re an ostrich!”
“Fine. Yes. I am defective. Thanks for pointing that out,” huffed Buffy. This was exactly why she hadn’t wanted to, well, talk about it.
Dawn relented. “Okay, fine. I get it. I’m glad you told me. Finally. How’d it happen?”
Buffy relaxed. She could do the facts. Facts were good.
“After that whole deal in LA, Willow ran into Harmony, who let slip that Andrew was in touch with Spike, and then it all came out. There was a bunch of mystical stuff. Blah blah blah. He wasn’t pulled out of heaven, though. I made her double-check.” She picked up the mug, drained it, and poured another.
“Jesus,” murmured Dawn. “Our life is really strange. Wait. Andrew knew, too? And he didn’t tell me? I’m gonna make that little weasel suffer.”
“Yeah, no. I think Willow already got to him.”
“We’ll see. So, how’s he doing?” asked Dawn.
“I dunno. You should ask Giles.”
“What? No, not Andrew! Spike! How’s Spike?”
“Oh. Right. Well, he seemed okay. He knocked me down and yelled at me for trying to stake Drusilla, but other than that he seemed good. Hasn’t changed much. Vampire, you know.”
“That’s it? Your long-lost vampire boyfriend shows up and all you can say is ‘same ol’, same ol’?”
“He’s not my boyfriend,” said Buffy. The words sounded so familiar and so hollow as they came out of her mouth, she was positive there was an echo somewhere. She could feel a lump in her throat, but swallowed it down with another mouthful of bitter coffee.
“Sure he’s not. C’mon Buffy, give me a little credit. It was obvious how you felt about him.”
“Well, it wasn’t obvious to him! Or else I finally managed to shut him down for good when I got him killed. Gee, if I’d know that’s all it took, I’d have killed him years ago just to stop him from dogging me.”
“You don’t mean that.”
“No. I really don’t. He’s a good guy, you know? A champion. He’s just not my guy. Not anymore." She took a deep breath. "He’s been back for years, Dawn. Years. Since right after Sunnydale.”
She heard Dawn hiss on the other end of the line. She couldn’t bring herself to say the worst part out loud. That he’d never come to her in all that time. That he was as over her as any of her other exes, including Laurence, the watcher wannabe who’d lasted two dates before fleeing back to England. She didn’t have to say it. Dawn was a smart girl. There was a final piece of information that might stop the discussion for good, though.
“Besides, I think he’s back together with Drusilla, now that she’s all soulful.”
Dawn’s squawk told her that the subject was anything but closed. She moved to the couch with her third cup of coffee, and got comfortable while Dawn worked up a full head of steam.
Continued in Chapter 2bc