“I’m so glad you came over tonight,” said Dawn, smiling at her friend.
“Been difficult lately, what with this being Grand Central ‘n all. I’m not exactly Mr. Popular,” Spike replied, looking over the shelf to pick a video. “So,” he asked, “What ya want to watch, Evil Dead again? Bloody hell,” he exclaimed, pulling a box off the shelf, “You didn’t actually buy a copy of Idle Hands?”
“I like it,” she replied.
He picked a frame off the shelf and looked at the photograph. Joyce was holding a baby, standing beside a sandy-blond haired man. The little girl beside them must be Buffy. “I’ve never seen this before. This your dad?”
“Yeah. I found that with Mom’s things. Buffy says she must have packed it away when he left. She said I could put it out.” Dawn looked at the photo. “I wonder where he is now?”
“You don’t hear from him?” Spike was angry, though he didn’t show it. How anyone could abandon the Summers women…
“Oh,” she answered, “He calls sometimes, to see how we’re doing. Sends cards with a cheque on our birthdays, stuff like that. He’s really busy, I guess. Besides, I don’t think his girlfriend likes to share him.”
“I’d like to share a few things with him,” he muttered under his breath. “So, pet, decided on a vid?”
“Come here, William,” called his father. The little boy ran to him and climbed on his knee.
The tall, dark-haired man wrapped his arms around the child. He held out his fists. “Pick a hand, Will.”
William pointed to the right hand, and watched with glee as his father opened it. “A ha’penny. Ooh!” The child grabbed it and scooped it into his pocket. “What’s in the other hand, papa?” he asked. The man opened his other fist to reveal a candy. “A sweet!” the boy exclaimed. “Can I have it too?”
The man smiled and tousled his son’s brown curls. “Of course, my boy, my pride and joy.” He pulled another sweet from his pocket and handed it to him. “And give this one to mommy.”
William handed the candy to the young woman standing beside them. “Here mamma. This is from papa.”
“Why, thank you, William,” she said formally, then swept the boy from her husband’s lap and into her arms. “My dear, generous boy.”
“He looks more like you every day, darling,” said her husband, doting on the pair.
“Ah, my love,” she replied, “but he has your heart.” She put the child down and gently patted his behind. “Now run to nanny and let her put you to bed.”
William hugged and kissed both his parents and headed out the door. At the study entrance he turned back to see his parents embracing. He smiled and ran up the stairs to the nursery.
Willow was in the magic shop, working on her laptop. She was frustrated by the length of time it took to do everything manually, but she had promised not to use magic casually, and she was trying to keep her word, at least in places where others might see her. She was startled to look up and see Spike standing beside the table.
“I didn’t hear the bell ring,” she said to him.
“I didn’t come through the front door. Bit bright out.” He looked over her shoulder at the computer screen. “This internet thing,” he said, “you can use it to look people up?”
“Sure,” she answered, “Why? Someone owe you some kittens?” She laughed to herself at the ridiculous nature of demon currency.
He didn’t smile back. “There’s somebody I want to talk to. I don’t want to ask Buffy for the number. It’s Hank Summers.”
“Her father?” she asked. “Why in the world would you want to speak to Mr. Summers? Oh, goddess, you don’t want to ask him for her hand…”
“That’s not funny, Red,” he replied. “I want to talk to him. It’s my business. Can you get me his number?”
She saw that he was serious. “Sure. Shouldn’t be a problem. I think they said that he’s living in San Diego…”
William and his parents were walking home from the art exhibit. It was too lovely a night to waste riding in a hansom. The moon was high in the sky and air was warm. As they walked they passed a man and a woman arguing. He was twisting her arm, and she was crying.
“Oooh, Pete, don’t hurt me. I didn’t do it, really I didn’t. We were just talkin’, that’s all it was.” He slapped her across the face.
William’s father left his wife and son and walked briskly to the couple. “That’s no way to treat a lady,” he said to the man.
Pete growled at the intruder. “Stay out a this. It’s no your business.”
“Please, sir,” the woman cried, “Help me.”
William’s father tried to pull Pete away from the woman, but the angry tough reached into his boot and pulled out a knife. With a fluid motion he stabbed the good samaritan through the heart, then ran off down the road. “I told ya it was no your business,” he called back over his shoulder. The threatened woman ran after him, calling his name.
“James,” screamed William’s mother, as she ran to her husband’s body. She cradled it in her arms, her white blouse soaking with his blood. He was already dead.
William threw himself on his father’s chest. “Wake up, papa. Wake up,” he cried.
Spike looked at the phone number on the piece of paper where Willow had written it. He wondered if he were doing the right thing, or making it worse. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, he thought. He picked up the receiver and dialed.
“Mother,” said William, “I’d like to go out with my friends. They’re playing a game of rugger, and they want me to join.”
His mother looked at her twelve year old son and frowned. “That sounds dangerous, William. Besides, you haven’t practiced your piano lessons yet.” She reached into the top drawer of the bureau and pulled out a package wrapped in brown paper.
“Here,” she said, “I have a present for you.” She handed it to him and watched in pleasure as he unwrapped the book.
“Goblin Market, by Rosetti. Thank you, mother.” He threw his arms around her and hugged her.
“There, now,” she said, “Go and practice the piano and read your new book. It will do you much better than playing with those rough boys. You know I couldn’t stand it if anything happened to you.”
“Yes, mother,” he said, kissing her forehead. “I understand.” He flipped open the book. “She really is a marvelous poet. I shall enjoy this.”
His mother patted his hand. “She’s no better than you will be someday, William. You will make your mother proud.”
“Hello,” said a male voice.
“Hello, is this Hank Summers?” asked Spike.
“Yes,” Summers replied.
“My name is...William. I’m a friend of Buffy and Dawn.”
“Are the girls okay? Is something wrong?” their father asked.
“No,” Spike replied. “There’s nothing wrong. Nothing except that they miss the father who has virtually abandoned them. Other than that they’re fine.”
“Look here, Mr. Williams. My relationship with my daughters is none of your business. I don’t know who you are, but I’ll thank you to stay out of it.”
Spike ground his teeth. “Mr. Summers, your girls need you. Buffy is depressed, and none of her friends can get through to her. Hell, I’ve tried. And Dawn is on the verge of getting into serious trouble. I do what I can, but I’m not her father. You are.”
Summers voice rose. “I’m a very busy man, Mr. Williams. I keep in touch with the girls. Buffy is a grown woman. I’m sure she is doing a fine job with Dawn. I have my own life here. Joyce made it quite clear that I was not needed there.”
“Joyce is dead,” said Spike. “What she thought isn’t an issue any more.”
“I’m well aware that my ex-wife is dead,” Hank responded.
“And you couldn’t even make it to the bloody funeral,” said Spike coldly.
“That’s enough, Mr. Williams. If and when I come to see the girls in Sunnydale, it will be my decision. I don’t need some man I don’t know meddling in my family’s affairs. Goodbye.”
Spike pulled the receiver away from his ear at the sound of the phone slamming down. “Idiot,” he said to himself. “Doesn’t deserve them.” He turned away from the phone booth and walked down the sidewalk. “If it wasn’t for this chip…”
“Please, Drusilla, I have to go in there.” The fledgling vampire pulled away from his sire and headed towards his mother’s door, the black wreath reminding him of her recent loss.
“Oooooh, William, not nice. Mommy knows you’re dead and buried. Give her a nasty scare, coming home all moving, after she put you in the ground.” Drusilla smiled. “That might be fun. Only, my love, you can’t go in. She hasn’t invited you. No going home for William.” She twirled her finger in her hair as she lost interest in the conversation. She turned to see three small children with their faces pressed against a toyshop window. “Oh, dollies. Drusilla wants to play.” She wandered over to the children, forgetting her childe.
William seized the opportunity to climb the side of his mother’s house. He looked into her bedroom window. With horror he saw her lying on the bed, eyes wide open, a bottle of laudanum laying on its side on the nightstand. “Mother!” he cried. He pounded on the window. She lay still. He pulled up the sash and tried to jump into her room, but an invisible force held him back. “Mama,” he sobbed.
Spike knocked on the Summers’ front door. Dawn answered and smiled. “Two nights in a row,” she said. “So cool. I’m glad to see you.”
“Hey, Little Bit,” he said. “Want to go to a movie? My treat.”
She grinned. “Sure. I’ll ask Buffy.”
Spike was surprised. “I thought she’d be out patrolling.”
“Nope,” she answered, “She said she was going to stay in tonight. She’s been doing that a lot lately.” The teenager ran up the stairs and knocked on her sister’s door. “Hey, Buffy,” she called, “I’m going to a show with Spike. Want to come?”
“I don’t think so,” her sister replied.
“Come on, love,” he called up the stairs. “Just me and the Summers girls.”
Dawn ran back down to the front door and grabbed her jacket. “Just you and me, I guess.”
“That’s all right, pet,” Spike said, chucking her under the chin. “Buffy will see me when she’s good and ready. No matter, I’m happy to spend time with my favorite girl.”
Dawn took his arm and they walked out into the Sunnydale evening.