Part 18 - Bad

Joyce was exhausted. She'd lain down on the sofa a little after dawn but she’d found sleeping impossible with Spike in the next room and the smell of blood clinging to her hands. When Giles called to say there would be a meeting tonight Joyce found herself thinking nostalgically of how Original Giles and Buffy had gone out of their way to keep her out of the loop, even after she was allowed into the super-secret Slayer club. Still, she really didn’t have a choice. “I’ll be there.”

Cordelia gave her a ride over to Giles’ and talked the whole way, mostly about herself. There was still no sign of Cordelia’s parents beyond a couple of quick phone calls. She knew Cordelia wouldn’t appreciate pity, but what kind of parents could simply abandon their child like that?

Joyce was surprised to hear that Angel was still living at the Chase home.

“Rosa no aprueba es, but not that much since he’s sleeping out in the poolhouse and it’s not like anything’s going on anyway. I mean, he’s cute but the whole undead thing is just not a turn-on even if there weren’t Angelus issues.”

Joyce nodded, and tried not to yawn. She could feel herself slipping away, lulled by the smooth motion of the car.

Yellow eyes, inhuman and compelling as an owl’s. My what big eyes you have…

“We’re here,” Cordelia announced, not for the first time judging by her tone. Feeling old and worn out Joyce got out of the car and followed Cordelia into Giles’ apartment complex.

Oz answered the door. “Hey.”

As they came in Giles gave her a little wave and went back to quietly talking with Larry. Angel, who had been lurking near the staircase, straightened up. Cordelia smiled and made a beeline for him. Nancy pursed her lips and didn’t say anything.

Joyce dropped gratefully into the nearest chair praying that the meeting would be over quickly.

“What the hell is he doing here?!!” Buffy’s angry voice brought Joyce’s head up with a jerk. Her tiny daughter was looming menacingly at a seated Merrick. When had he come in?

Giles quickly intervened. “Buffy, please. I asked him to come. Despite his behavior he is still a Watcher and we can’t afford to simply ignore his expertise.”

Buffy snorted, but stepped away. “Fine, then can we get this friggin meeting started sometime soon?”

“Yes, of course. Everyone, please take a seat.”

Buffy turned her back on both Watchers and sat down next to Joyce. “Hi. Are you O.K.?”

Impulsively Joyce covered her daughter’s hand with hers. “I’m fine, a little tired. How are you?”

Giles cleared his throat. “I called this meeting because there has been an important development. Thanks to Larry we now know that the Master has taken refuge in Restfield.

Angel nodded. “Yeah, makes sense: there’s a lot of tunnels and caves under there and it’s out of the way.”

“Good job man, how’d you do it?” Nancy asked.

The bulky young man looked as though he’d rather be anywhere else. “Xander told me.”


“He didn’t hurt you did he?” Joyce asked.

Larry studied his hands. “No. He found me last night, after I dropped off you guys. He gave me this map that shows the crypt the Master’s using.”

“Obviously it’s a trap.”

“Can you say: Trap?”

Merrick and Buffy spoke almost simultaneously. Merrick deliberately picked up his pencil and wrote in his leatherbound notebook, while Buffy turned her wrath on Giles.

“Why are you even wasting my time with this bullshit Giles?”

“Because I don’t believe it is a trap. What would be the point of such a stratagem? The Master could hardly expect us to trust Xander and go rushing into battle without a thorough reconnaissance.

“But it’s Xander! Him and his girlfriend were the Master’s pets!” Nancy said a little shrilly.

“Not anymore.” The humans looked surprised by Angel’s intervention into the conversation. “Willow’s dust. And Xander probably blames the Master.”

“I don’t get it,” Buffy said. "Oz dusted her. Right?"

“Doesn't matter. The Master wasn’t just Xander’s boss, he was his God, he was supposed to be unbeatable. Able to keep anything bad from happening to his believers.” A gleeful spark flashed in his dark eyes. “Then you guys kicked God’s ass.”

“In other words: Xander knows he got played, and wants to get even,” Buffy said.

Angel nodded.

“Oh.” Nancy said.

“That’s a rather thin basis on which to risk action,” Merrick complained.

“Perhaps. But as I said before, we won’t act until the information has been checked out. Angel –“

“I’ll check out Restfield, see if there’s any activity. Talk to a few—people.”

“And I’ll check with my sources as well. By tomorrow we should know something, one way or another.”

“I can hack into the SPD database, check out if there’ve been more ‘animal attacks’ than usual near there,” Oz offered.

“Surely he’d have better sense than to hunt near his lair?” Merrick said.

“Not necessarily…”

Buffy frowned. “No way am I going in there without knowing how many vamps he’s got in there.”

Joyce sighed as the others started to wrangle over whether they should believe the Xander’s intelligence and how to confirm it and what to do if it turned out to be true. She wondered what the point was of her being here? It wasn’t like she had anything to contribute. She didn’t know anything about tactics, or demons or anything helpful. She was bored. And tired. Very, very, tired.

No-one was paying attention to her anyway. She closed her eyes, just for a minute.

They’re in an old-style movie palace, soft velvet seats, gilded moldings and an indigo ceiling filled with stars and centered by a smiling moon. The silver movie light washes over them as the curtains open and the movie begins.

Spike sits beside her, leather clad arm across the back of her seat. Since it’s only a dream she lets herself relax into the leather and smoke and iron scent of him. Slowly, his hand creeps down to her breast. Ooh, it’s a 1980’s flashback sitting in the back row of the Rialto with Hank, only Hank never had moves like this, never could have brought her nipple to full attention with an expert flick of his fingers and thumb that sent a jolt straight to her yoni. She wriggles, uncomfortable. “Stop it,” she hisses.

He ignores her and pulls her closer, caging her breast in his strong fingers.

She doesn’t remember this movie. It’s black and white. A shiny new Kirk Douglas with his spit-colored eyes walks down a white-picketed street. He’s a bible salesman conning his way across the threshold of Jean Simmon’s neat white-curtained house. In the parlor, under the disapproving eyes of her parents, he shows her the big white book, the color illustrations, the gold lettering, the woven bookmark. Filled with tales of God and love and fate.

He opens his mouth against the side of her neck and she feels blunt teeth and a cool tongue tracing a path from the base of her neck to the dip behind her ear. She feels a delicious chill as he blows deliberately on her skin and a whimper escapes.

The man in the seat in front of her turns around to glare. “Ssssh!” Spike’s growl shivers through her as he glares back. The man’s eyes widen and he sits back down in his seat.

“Behave!” she tells him. Suddenly obedient, he abandons her breast. Damn. She forces her attention back to the screen.

Pretty Jean argues with her parents and open-faced fiancé. She goes upstairs and lies on her moon dappled bed, face mutinous, eyes shining.

Spike’s fingers ghost along her leg and under the hem of her skirt, sliding it up and up till his hand cups her sex. The feel of his cool finger rubbing her through the thin cotton of her panties makes her feel like a fish on a hook.

If she was home, watching this she’d be talking to the T.V. screen. Warning the girl about the dangers of a pretty face. But Jean couldn’t hear her anyway. She climbs out of her window and goes to meet him for a picnic by the lake.

One hand between her legs, the other pulling her closer. Spike’s face looks white and flawless as marble in the silver light. He kisses her face lightly, everywhere but her mouth, working his way to her neck again. Soft cool pressure on her neck and the barest hint of teeth, as he licks and sucks.

Jean sits with her white skirt a neat circle on the checked tablecloth, the black lake water lapping at the shore. Kirk kisses her under the full moon. As he bends her backwards, the strong curves of his back, the arc of her lovely throat are in perfect harmony. It’s just a kiss but her misgivings melt away and she thinks maybe it might be worth it for a kiss like that….

“Mom?” Joyce woke with a start and found herself looking up into Buffy’s concerned face. She’s shocked again by the scar. As soon as the money came through they were going to do something about that.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t get much sleep last night. Did I miss anything?”

Buffy grinned. “Pretty much the whole meeting – but that’s O.K., I’ll fill you in.” She looked at Giles. “We’re done here, right?”

“Yes. For now. We’ll finalize the details tomorrow.”

Buffy nodded and turned her attention back to Joyce. “C’mon, I’ll take you home. In my new car.”

“You have a car?” A feeling of cold dread settled in her stomach.

Posted 12 April 2004

Oni's place: