Buffy felt just as sick as Spike, when she had heard what Drusilla had done to their family portrait. She knew Spike was very rattled but she had been the longest living slayer for a good reason. She was good at what she did. She slayed vampires and at the end of the day, Drusilla was only another vampire and she had threatened her babies and there was no way she was going to let that lie. She had no luck so far, so that had to mean she was due some. God, she hoped that was true. Spike was right and she knew they had to all in Angel to see if they could help. Spike was incredibly frustrated at not being able to help and she was dissatisfied at not being able to manage achieving anything on her hunts for the vampire so far. She decided not to make the call too early. Angel wouldn’t able to leave until it was dark anyway. There was someone she could call right now though: Willow. Then she remembered her friend would be in her work and she sent a text message instead.
“Call me asap,” she wrote.
She took a look around the house, which looked gleaming, and that was of the bad, because she needed something to keep herself busy, to turn her tormented mind away from Drusilla and her evil plans. She envied Spike being able to go into work for the day to keep himself busy. The kids were in school and she knew they were aware something was going down. She knew that her being a Slayer meant that her kids would see or hear things other kids wouldn’t, but she had been hoping to keep that aspect of her life separate and she had been successful so far. Her kids had a normal life: school and friends. They were happy and loved. However, the fact that she and Spike were their parents meant that they were now targets. She wondered if they had been selfish in bringing them into the world. This was why Slayers used to be emotionally detached and died young, because to love meant that you brought danger to others. It was one of the main reasons why she took so long to decide to start a family.
It was a half hour before Willow called and Buffy felt relief course through her at the sound of her best friend’s voice.
“What’s wrong, Buff?” Willow asked.
Buffy gulped feeling a lump forming in her throat. “Drusilla’s been hanging around and I’m terrified she’s going to hurt Emily or Tommy.”
“Oh Buffy,” she said.
Buffy had been concentrating so hard on keeping strong especially when Spike had wigged out earlier. The sound of the concern in her friend’s voice undid her and she burst into tears.
“I’m trying to be strong for them, for Spike, but it’s hard. Spike is wigging big time, blaming himself for not being a vampire anymore and for Drusilla.”
“How about I call over when I’m finished work?” Willow suggested.
“Please, Will. I thought I could manage all this by myself, but after last night and this morning, I know my best isn’t good enough.”
Buffy longed for the chore of doing homework with her children. When they were around, it was easier to concentrate on the here and now.
Spike had called several times during the day to check in on her. She bit her tongue to prevent a snide comment escaping her lips. He had insisted on speaking to the kids as well. His behaviour was worrying her. The fact he felt that way was perfectly normal but she was afraid he was going to do something foolish. Willow called over straight after work as she had promised, but there was no sign of Spike and it was starting to get dark. She didn’t want him out in the dark alone with that skank on the prowl. The dinner was almost ready and she picked up the phone and called him.
He picked up his cell promptly. “Hullo, Buffy. Is there something wrong?”
“Yeah, there’s something wrong,” she barked. “Where are you?”
She could hear the sharp intake of breath on the other end of the line. “I’m with Bob. We’re checking out a lead for a case.”
Fury swept through her but somehow she managed to keep her voice level. “This better have nothing to do with Drusilla.”
He didn’t answer the question. “I’ll be another half hour. See you, love.” Then he hung up on her.
Buffy replaced the handset angrily. “You dumb jerk,” she mumbled.
She turned to Willow, who had been sitting on the sofa listening to the whole exchange. “Buffy, go easy on him. It’s got to be hard for him to sit it out. He spent most of his life as a vampire.”
“Will, we had the conversation about this years ago and I thought he accepted things were different now.”
“You’re both terrified harm is going to come to your kids. It’s natural for him to want to be able to protect them.”
“Well, he’s got to accept that none of that comes natural to him anymore.”
“Just be careful how you put it,” Willow advised her.
“I don’t care about his ego right now.” Buffy threw hands in the air. “I’ve no time to massage his pride, when I’m busy trying to ensure the safety of the kids.”
Willow sighed. “That’s what I mean. You’re not exactly tact girl.”
Buffy took offence to that remark. “I can do tact, but Spike doesn’t need tact. He needs the truth.”
She walked over to the sofa and flopped down beside Willow.
Willow patted her hand. “Don’t let the skank get between you. It’s what she wants.”
“I’ve got a right to be angry, Will,” Buffy pointed out. “He’s just got to accept that his pride has got to take a second place to his safety.” Buffy could see Willow open her mouth. “Don’t worry I won’t put it quite so harshly, even though he deserves it. I just-”
“-worry about him,” Willow finished. “Of course you do.”
“Why are you so understanding, Will?” Buffy leaned into her friend and rested her head on her shoulder. “Maybe I should be a lesbian?”
“Well, if I were single I’d snap you right up,” Willow joked. “Although, I think Spike might have something to say about that.”
Buffy knew she was being a little unfair to Spike, especially considering he had suggested bringing Angel into the picture and that had to be a big blow to his vanity. That reminded her she had another call to make.
“Can you turn down the food?” she asked Willow. “I’ve got to call Angel.”
Buffy found Angel’s number in her phonebook and dialled the number. It was at least a minute before there was a response from the other end.
“Hi, Angel’s phone,” came the answer from an unfamiliar voice.
“I’m looking to speak to Angel,” she said. “Can you tell him Buffy Summers is calling?”
“Sorry, Buffy. Angel’s not here. I don’t know if you remember me, but I’m his son, Connor.”
“Of course, I do,” she replied. “When will he be back?”
“He’s gone on vacation actually,” Connor said. “He should be back the weekend.”
“Huh?” Buffy scrunched her nose trying to imagine Angel loosening up enough to go on a vacation.
“Yeah, I know.” Connor laughed. “He has a new girlfriend and I think he’s totally besotted, because she managed to convince him to take her to Europe.”
Buffy’s heart plummeted. Europe was a long way away.
“Ok. Can you ask him to call us when he gets back?”
“Is there anything I can help you with?” he asked.
“No, Connor, but thank you.”
She replaced the receiver, feeling disappointed.
Buffy asked Tommy and Emily to set the table shortly before Spike was due to arrive home. She was keeping an ear out for the phone, worrying about Spike. She was thankful Willow was going to stay for dinner, as she was distracting her with gossip from work.
When Spike finally walked in the door he looked nervous. Emily and Tommy came tearing out of the kitchen to greet him.
“Hi Dad,” Tommy said and Spike ruffled his hair.
Emily just leapt into Spike’s arms as was her usual custom.
“Hey Spike,” Willow said drawing his attention.
“I didn’t notice you there, Red. You staying for dinner, then?”
“Yup - if Tommy and Emily will help me serve the dinner.”
“Can I have dessert if I help?” Tommy asked cheekily.
“Sure,” Spike said and Buffy nodded.
Tommy punched the air. “Come on, Willow,” he called. The pair of them went into the kitchen.
“How about you?” Buffy asked Emily. “Do you want cookies and milk for dessert?”
The little girl nodded and Spike let her down gently. “Go on help Red and your brother in the kitchen.”
The door slammed behind her and Spike looked at Buffy. He appeared to be bracing himself.
“I’m sorry, but-“ he began.
Buffy put her hand to his lips. “Stop!”
She closed the distance between them and hugged him hard. “Don’t get too comfortable, mister. I’m going to have words with you, later.”
She felt his wince and lessened her hold on him. She couldn’t resist saying, “You jerk.”
He kissed her cheek. “You’re mad at me.”
She rolled her eyes. “What do you expect? Let’s have this conversation, when we don’t have company though.”
She surveyed him with beady eyes crossing her arms. “Well? What did you find out?”
“Nothing,” he confessed. “It was a waste of time.”
It seemed neither of them had made any progress.
She sighed. “I called Angel.”
He looked up at that. “What did he say?”
“He wasn’t home. I spoke with Connor and he told me Angel is in Europe.”
“Fuck!” His blue eyes were haunted. “I hate this. What are we going to do, Buffy?”
“We’re going to kick her ass.” Buffy had a steely glint in her eyes as she hooked her arm in his. “Let’s go get dinner.”
All the way through dinner, Buffy clutched Spike’s hand as much as possible under the table. She was still pissed at him and she hadn’t any chance to let rip just yet. That could wait until Emily and Tommy were in bed and Willow had left for home. Once they had finished, the three adults remained in the kitchen, while the two children went into the living room to watch TV for a little while before bed.
“Tea, ladies?” Spike asked.
“Yes, please,” they replied.
Buffy watched him fondly as he made the tea just so. “The one thing I never managed to accomplish was make the perfect cup of tea.”
Spike turned around to smirk. “Never you mind, love. None of you Yanks know how to brew a cup of tea.”
“In case it escaped your notice your children fall into that category,” Willow pointed out.
“The poor little mites,” Spike said. “At least they have English blood in them.”
He brought the tea over and three mugs, Buffy fetched a jug of milk from the fridge and some biscuits from the drawer. Dinner had been a cheerful affair, but Buffy knew it was time to get down to business.
Buffy worried her lip. “Willow, have you any ideas to help us with Drusilla?”
“I could try a locater spell, but that would only work if we had something belonging to her.”
Buffy and Spike’s eyes met, both remembering the doll.
“We had something but Spike decided to throw it in the garbage,” Buffy said.
“I didn’t want that damn thing in my house,” he retorted. “You would have done the same thing.”
Buffy shrugged. He was right.
“Any other ideas?” Spike asked. “We need all the help we can get since Mr. Tall, Dark and Brooding ain’t coming to the rescue.”
Even Willow couldn’t miss the self-flagellation in that sentence.
“Leave it with me. I’ll get some research done.”
The mood had turned dark and Spike seemed to realise he was the cause.
After Willow had left and the children were sent to bed, Buffy knew it was time to talk to Spike about the day’s events.
“I’m worried about you, Spike, and to be honest it’s the last thing I need.”
“You’re over reacting, love,” he huffed. “I’m not stupid, you know. I’m not trying to get myself killed here.”
Could have fooled me, she thought.
“Although,” he continued. “Since we’re short a vampire, it might not be such a bad idea.”
“Don’t joke about things like that!” She barely restrained herself from punching him in the nose.
Instead, she closed the distance between them and glared at him. “I need you, and your children need their father. Your self-pity is really starting to piss me off.”
“Is that what you think this is?” He shook his head. “No, Buffy, this is blind panic. I don’t know what else to do and I have to do something.”
Her anger started to wane at his words. He put his fingers to her chin and gazed into her eyes. “I know you’re trying to be strong, but you don’t have to be with me. I know you, love, and there’s no need to protect me. “
She melted under his intense stare. “I’m scared, Spike. I’ve never been so frightened in all my life.”
She clutched at his arms and drew him to her.
“Me too, Buffy,” he whispered.
Her eyes welled up with tears and she could feel them dripping down her face. He rubbed circles into her back and she closed her eyes taking all the comfort she could from his close proximity.
“Oh, Buffy,” he began, “I know I’m not coping well and I’m letting her get to me.”
Spike sounded like a broken man and that was so unlike him. He had always been strong. All the terrible and life altering things that had happened to him and yet he always adapted. Buffy was really going to enjoy kicking Drusilla’s ass and she was going to win.
“I love you so much.” Buffy planted small kisses on his face before making her way to his lips. She could taste the salt of tears and she knew she hadn’t been the only one crying. He kissed back feverishly like a starving man. Their kisses got deeper and more desperate as they try to find solace in one another.
That night, Buffy spent another wasted night on patrol searching for Drusilla. The vampire didn’t want to be found. Spike was pacing the living room when she arrived back with a scowl on her face.
“No sign of the bitch, but I did dust a couple of fledges,” she announced.
Spike frowned. “Do you think Dru sired them? That could be why we’re not hearing much of her. She could be using minions to do her dirty work. It wouldn’t be the first time.”
Buffy was taken aback at the question. She hadn’t thought of that. Her face fell.
“Never mind, love,” Spike said. “What’s done is done. They probably wouldn’t have told you anything anyway.”
Cursing her stupidity, she vowed not to make the same mistake again.
“I was thinking while you were out,” Spike said. “And there’s one thing we haven’t tried.”
Buffy wasn’t sure she liked the sound of this or the calculating look on his face. “Go on,” she prompted.
“This is all about me. I reckon if I was out slaying with you, she would show her face.”
Buffy shook her head. “No, Spike!”
“Have you got a better plan?” he asked angrily.
“Anything is a better plan than that,” she retorted. “Are you insane now?”
His eyes were like chips of ice. “No, but I think it’s the best plan we’ve got.”
Buffy got right into his face. “And what if we both ended up getting killed? Could you really do that to Emily and Tommy?”
“You could stay home,” he pointed out. “There are plenty of other slayers that could do the job.”
“I said no, Spike,” Buffy snapped.
“Are you even going to hear me out?” There was desperation in his voice and it gnawed at her.
She shook her head.
“It’s nice to know my opinion matters,” he said. “I’m going to bed.”
This man was so unbelievably dense sometimes.
She caught him by the sleeve. “Of course it matters. It matters so much. I can’t risk losing you, Spike.”
He put his hand to her face and stroked it. “You’re the most insufferable bint I ever met. “
“Maybe I’m coming across as a bitch. The thing is this is my job and I was born to do this. It’s not yours anymore. I know you want to do whatever you can to protect Emily and Tommy, but you can’t be putting your life in danger.”
He didn’t look happy. “I’ll do what you want for now. “ She noticed he’d used the words “for now” meaning if he thought it was necessary he would do it anyway. “If we run out of options promise me you’ll think about it?”
“Only if you promise me you won’t run off half cocked,” she challenged.
Her met her gaze and nodded. She just hoped it wouldn’t come to it.
The following morning, Spike offered to drive the children to school, leaving Buffy to have a lie in. She knew they would be safe in school in the day time and she really did need a good long sleep. She was utterly exhausted after spending her nights patrolling and then twisting and turning lost in thoughts of Drusilla. Spike had asked Buffy if she wanted to come into work with him and take a look at some of the files. She had never been book girl, but between her and Spike they would get through a lot more. She promised she would drop by about lunch time and they could get some food, then head back to his office. Buffy stayed in bed until eleven, managing a couple of hours. She was eating a quick breakfast, a cup of coffee and some toast, when the doorbell rang. She let it ring assuming it was a sales person. The buzzer continued to go and she reluctantly went to the door. Her little sister stood there.
“Dawn?” Buffy exclaimed.
Dawn walked in and made her way to the sofa, where both women sat down. “Spike told me about Skankzilla turning up. We just arrived back from New York this morning and he thought we should know she was on the prowl.”
“Oh? Yeah – of course he did.” Buffy had forgotten Dawn was due back. “I don’t have a lot of time. I’m meeting Spike for lunch.”
“I know. He said, but I needed to see you. How are you?”
Buffy answered honestly. “Overwhelmed. Terrified.”
“And Spike? How’s he taking it?” Dawn asked.
Buffy sighed. “He’s blaming himself and I’m afraid he’s going to do something reckless. I don’t think he has ever missed being a vampire so much.”
“What’s her deal?”
Buffy shook her head. “I have no idea and that scares me. It’s like she’s a step ahead all the time. We can’t find her; she is covering her tracks really well.”
“She’ll slip up,” Dawn reassured her.
“I hope it’s soon, because Spike is trying to convince me to use him as bait.”
Dawn’s eyes widened at that. “The idiot.”
“Tell me about it.” Buffy sighed, before looking at her watch. “I think it’s time for me to leave.”
Dawn kissed her on the cheek. “Give my love to Spike.”
Buffy smiled. “I will.”
“If there’s anything I can do?” Dawn offered.
“Would you mind picking up the kids from school and keeping them for a couple of hours? Spike or I will come over and collect them.”
“Emily and Tommy are always a pleasure,” Dawn replied. “I’m dying to see them and I’m sure they’re looking forward to their presents.”
“You shouldn’t spoil them,” Buffy chided.
“That’s the prerogative of being an aunt,” Dawn replied. “Now, you get going and don’t worry about the kids.”
“Thank you, Dawn.” Buffy squeezed her hand.
It was dark by the time Buffy and Spike had finished up and despite all the hours spent they had very little information to go on. They had nailed down a few possible sightings of Drusilla and narrowed down an area of the city, where she appeared to be staying. It was somewhere to start with at least when she would go on patrol later. She was feeling a little optimistic now that there was some progress at least. Spike dropped her at Dawn’s door to pick up the kids.
“I’m going to run to the store and pick up some smokes,” he said. “I’ll be back in a couple of minutes. Let you ladies have a little natter.”
“And Xander,” Buffy corrected him.
“Everyone knows Harris is a woman,” Spike joked.
She smiled despite herself. “And does that mean my sister’s a lesbian?”
Spike chuckled at that and the sound of his laugh warmed her heart. She got out of the car and walked to the door. She heard Spike’s car pull away. She felt a tingle on the back of her neck. Vampire. She looked around expecting to see Drusilla standing there. There was nothing there. Maybe she was just being paranoid? Nevertheless, she vowed to keep a close eye out for Spike’s return just in case. Buffy didn’t even get a chance to ring the bell when the door swung open revealing little Emily.
“Hey, Emily,” she said.
Buffy walked through the hall and into the living room with her daughter trailing after her.
Emily tugged at her hand. “Mommy! I got a present from Aunty Dawn and Uncle Harris.”
Buffy smiled down at Emily. Spike called Xander Harris had led the kids to thinking it was Xander’s given name and it had stuck. Her little girl was such an exuberant little thing. “Why don’t you show me in a minute? Daddy’s just gone down to the store and he’ll be back soon and we can go home.”
“Do we have to?” Tommy moaned from where he was playing a video game with Xander.
Dawn was sitting at the table with her laptop in front of her.
She looked up from the screen. “Are you sure you won’t stay for coffee?”
“Positive,” Buffy said. “Emily, Tommy, I want you to be ready to go when your Dad gets back.”
“Oh, my present,” Emily declared. “I must get it.” She rushed out of the room no doubt in search of her toy.
Tommy was wearing a scowl, similar to one Spike wore when Manchester United lost a soccer game. He made quite the performance of putting down the game console. Suddenly, a shriek pierced the air. Buffy would know that voice anywhere. Her baby.
“Emily!” she screamed.
The door was wide open and Buffy ran out the door, almost tripping over a soft toy that lay on the ground. Her heart thumped in her chest and she looked desperately around trying to decide which direction to run. As if in answer to her question there was another scream. Buffy ran as fast as she could in the direction of the scream. She could hear Tommy’s fearful call of “Mom!”. It took Buffy only moments to find the source of the noise in an alleyway. She got the feeling Drusilla wasn’t trying to hide.
“I met your Daddy in a place just like this,” Drusilla was saying to the shaking girl. “I made him a monster just like me and oh what a blood thirsty boy he was. Now, he’s ruined and it’s all your Mommy’s fault.”
“Leave my daughter alone,” Buffy said.
Drusilla turned away from Emily and looked at Buffy. “I knew you’d come.” She clapped her hands together.
Buffy walked towards and Emily ran over to her. Buffy bent down to hug her, never keeping her eyes of the vampire all the while.
“It’s ok, Em,” Buffy tried to reassure her. “Now, I want you to run back to your aunt and uncle’s.”
Emily shook her head. “No, I’m not going without you Mommy.” Buffy stood in the front of her daughter.
Drusilla threw her head back laughing. “I have no interest in the girl.”
Buffy knew now this was never about Emily, just a way to get to her. She needed to get the little girl out of the way. She shouldn’t been seeing this.
“Emily, go stand by the wall, okay? I want you to stay out of the way in case you get hurt.”
Buffy didn’t see her moving, but she heard her footfalls. She briefly looked back making sure she obeyed her. Emily shrank back against the wall and started to sob.
“Now, I going to take you down,” Buffy announced to the smirking vampire.
She threw a punch determined to make her sorry she ever messed with her family. Buffy’s fist connected with Drusilla’s jaw. The vampire stumbled slightly but recovered quickly. Emily was still sniffling nearby and it broke Buffy’s heart to be leaving her crying instead of comforting her. Drusilla took a swing at Buffy, which the Slayer managed to dodge. The vampire used her other hand to pull at her hair. Buffy winced as she tore a clump from her head. That was dirty. No matter, Buffy could fight dirty too. They both fell to the ground in a tangle of limbs, punching and scratching. There was a sudden sound of car brakes screeching and the sound of footsteps. Buffy didn’t dare look away. Drusilla was a better fighter than she would have given her credit for. A scream filled the air and Buffy turned her attention briefly to the daughter. She roared as she saw another vampire, most likely one of Drusilla’s minions, entering the alley and approaching her trembling daughter. “Run!” she ordered Emily, shrugging off Drusilla to get to Emily, her maternal instincts overriding any sense. Buffy threatened the minion with the stake and he growled before retreating.
“Are you ok, Emily,” Buffy asked.
Drusilla took advantage of Buffy’s distraction and jumped at her. They both toppled to the ground and Buffy found herself face down in the dirt. Drusilla was on top of her and Buffy’s arm was pinned beneath her. She had landed awkwardly on her ankle and she felt a sharp pain. She bit her tongue to avoid crying out in pain. She struggled to gain the equilibrium, but Drusilla had her knee her in back, keeping her down and her trapped arm prevented her from getting her stake out. She was filled with the realisation she was going to die in front of her little girl and there was nothing she could do about it. She closed her eyes waiting for the end, when she heard the sound of approaching footsteps and a yell of “Daddy! Uncle Harris!”
Spike had a stake in his hand and he looked like a man possessed. His features were contorted in anger as he aimed for the vampire. Buffy struggled in Drusilla’s grip and managed to free herself of the vampire’s grip and fell to the ground.
“That’s what you get, you bitch,” Spike roared, but his stake missed Drusilla’s heart by inches.
Drusilla pulled the stake from her chest with a whimper and it clattered to the ground. Buffy tried to get to her feet to fight, but she had twisted her ankle and collapsed to the ground in pain. Drusilla sent a poisonous look her way before fleeing into the night. Spike started to run after the vampire.
“Spike!” Buffy called after him and he quickly turned back and took her into his arms.
“Oh, Buffy,” he said. “I thought I was going to lose you, that I was too late.”
“No, you saved my life,” she murmured.
“I didn’t dust her. I should have dusted her.”
“You saved me and that’s what’s important.”
Buffy looked up and saw Emily in Xander’s arms. Spike helped Buffy get to her feet. He put one arm around her waist and she leaned heavily on his shoulder. Emily jumped out of Xander’s arms and rushed over to her parents, hugging them both.
To be continued....