“This is so cool! You have the best timing ever! Can I ask you some questions about your everyday life? I have this huge paper to write for Euro History and you could help me out so much! Can I hug you, just for a minute? Is that okay?”

“Mrs. Pratt, meet Dawn, my enthusiastic little sister.” Buffy kept her back turned as she spoke. “Since you have trouble understanding me, you’ll think she’s a hoot. She speaks in a foreign language we call: American teenager.”

“Oh, that won’t be a problem. I’ll cut back on the slang and stuff, I promise,” Dawn replied to Buffy and to Mrs. Pratt she said, “I’ll teach you the license plate game and I Spy with My Little Eye. Oh, I’ll show you my phone! That’ll expose you to just about everything hip and modern: music, TV, my Smurf Village game. We’ll be great travel buddies!”

“God, I hope so,” Buffy grumbled. “You’re our last resort. Kennedy won’t let Willow out of her sight and the last thing we need is them smooching and groping in the backseat of the car. We can’t let Mrs. Pratt be too scandalized. Of course that automatically rules out Faith. Not like she was an option anyway. I want to be on the road before she’s home from work. I cannot deal with her today.”

“Can Xander come with us? I think you’d like Xander, Mrs. Pratt. He’s goofy and hilarious. He lost an eye not to long ago so he has a ton of pirate jokes lined up. They are so funny. Do you like pirates, Mrs. Pratt?”

“I doubt she knows what they are,” Buffy remarked as she repacked her suitcase. “Not unless they were featured on one of her cereal boxes.”

“Cereal boxes?” Dawn laughed. “I’m not following.”

“I believe my future daughter-in-law is speaking of serial novels, as in Dickens’ Pickwick Papers for example. I am aware of piracy, and I did enjoy the pirates in Robinson Crusoe when William and I read it together.”

“Buffy is your future, what now?”

“Well, it is too bad that Xander has to stay behind,” Buffy said. “But he’s a single man and we don’t have a suitable chaperone to accompany us. Right, Mrs. Pratt?”

“It’s only proper,” Mrs. Pratt agreed from her seat on Buffy’s bed.

“And keeping up with propriety is so number one on my list.”

“What the heck is going on?” Dawn whispered. Suddenly she was standing next to Buffy as she tore through her closet. “Did you hear what she called you? And why are you so cranky? Spike is alive. You were right. Shouldn’t you be happier?”

“I can only handle so much right now. My head is spinning with questions. Like why is Spike in Los Angeles? Why is he anywhere near Angel? Why wasn’t I told anything?” With each pause, she yanked another garment from its hanger.

“I’m sure Spike can explain--.”

“Yeah, and I’m sure Angel can too. Just like I’m sure one of them could’ve called, emailed or sent me a freaking text. It could’ve said: “Hey, you know how you’ve been obsessing over Spike’s death for weeks? Stop it, because he’s in Los Angeles with your ex. See ya around!” I thought I had everything figured out. All I have now are questions.”

“Okay, so your crankiness is justified. But do you really think it’s best to bring his mom to Los Angeles with us?”

“If our mom came back, for any reason or for any amount of time, wouldn’t you want to see her?”

“Totally, but Mrs. Pratt thinks you’re marrying Spike. She called you her future daughter-in-law.”

“Don’t remind me.”

“Buffy—God, will you stop it with the clothes already? You’re up to your seventh outfit! Chill out! Isn’t this just a weekend trip?”

Buffy looked down at the mound of clothes in her arms and then she noticed her very full suitcase on her bed. “I’m losing it, Dawnie, and she isn’t helping. Here she’s in the future and it barely fazes her. All she cares about is getting her son married off. She’s a crazy person.”

“She’s old,” Dawn shrugged. “In her day, marriage and having babies--.”

“Don’t! Don’t say a word about babies! She’ll hear you!”

As her sister cackled, Buffy forced more clothes into her suitcase. “With bathroom breaks, it’ll take four hours to get to LA--.”

“Wait, you’re driving?”

“You heard what she said, it isn’t proper for Xander to come with us.”

“What about Andrew? Or—or Robin? I know you and Faith have a rocky relationship, but she’s a girl and a good driver--.”

“I’m driving.”

“And if we make it there in one piece, you’re marrying Spike?”

“Possibly,” Buffy said through clenched teeth. “Keep it up, I’ll leave you here, and you won’t be invited to the wedding.”

“God, I wouldn’t miss that for anything.”

“Then get your bag,” Buffy said, lifting her suitcase. “We’re leaving in five minutes.”

Buffy had to admit that bringing her sister with them to Los Angeles was a good idea. Dawn’s endless chatter seemed to keep Mrs. Pratt occupied and at ease. Although she spoke of William often, the topics of love, marriage, and childbearing never came up. And Buffy was thankful for that. It was three and a half hours into their car ride when Dawn stopped talking. Tightening her grip on the steering wheel, Buffy looked through the rearview mirror at Mrs. Pratt.

“She’s asleep. The poor dear went out like a light.”

“We’ll be stopping soon, but you can take a quick nap. You’re probably suffering from an information overload. Dawn got a little carried away this afternoon. She talked your ear off.”

“Oh, she’s an absolute delight. Once my son and I are reunited, I trust I’ll be able to make more sense out of this entire situation.”

“We’ll see about that,” Buffy said, rolling her shoulders.

“Does working this contraption pain you, my dear?”

“I’ve never driven this far on my own. The dark and the LA traffic… It stresses me out. I tense up. I’m also pretty sure we’ll get lost before we even reach downtown. I hate downtowns, with their one-ways, overpriced parking, and hobos. Instead of relying on my super Slayer sense of direction, we’ll have to trust the GPS. I hope Angel’s law firm keeps late hours.”

“May I ask, how long have you been acquainted with my son?”

“About six years.” Buffy waited for another question or comment, but there was only silence. She looked through the mirror again and sighed. “He hasn’t said a word to you about me, I know. And I’m sure he isn’t the type to keep secrets from his mom. You’ll just have to trust me. I’ve known William for a long time.”

“You and your sister call him Spike on occasion. Why is that?”

“It’s a term of endearment, a nickname.”

“I find it hard to believe that anyone would want to be called something so unusual.”

“It’s strong,” Buffy shrugged. “It’s powerful. He was called William the Bloody. It was short for William the Bloody Awful Poet. The name Spike distances him from that. Spike suits him. He’s changed, Mrs. Pratt.”

“Yes, I imagine he that he has. He has love in his life, and I have you to thank for that, Miss Summers. Knowing he’s found love…it’s all I’ve wished for.”

Buffy shifted in her seat again. At the same time, the lights of Wolfram and Hart’s high-rise building came into view. “I can’t take credit for the man he’s become, Mrs. Pratt. Sure, his actions have been dictated by love, but he’s accomplished so much more than just landing a girlfriend. I won’t give you the hairy details, but you should be proud of him. He’s amazing. He’s done incredible things. Heroic things that have stopped a lot of people from getting hurt.”


“He saves damsels in distress and on a regular basis.”

“My William?”

“Yeah,” Buffy answered with a laugh. “When you see your William again, his hair and clothing will look really different. His skin will be kinda pasty. He’s a lot like Robin Hood. That was an old book or something before it became a movie, right? He’s like a Robin Hood that protects powerless people from evildoers. He just doesn’t work with money…or in tights. Spike wears all black; Robin Hood wears all green…in the Disney movie. Okay, maybe Robin Hood isn’t a great example, but it’ll have to do. I can’t come up with anything better under duress.”

Buffy stuck her arm out the car’s window. She hit the button to get a metered ticket for Wolfram and Hart’s underground parking.

“You’re still you feeling anxious, dear? Aren’t you looking forward to seeing him again?”

“Yes, so much I can’t stand it,” she mumbled, answering both questions at once. “Mrs. Pratt, I need go in here alone. I’m sorry, but I won’t be long. I’ll bring William to you. Can you keep an eye on Dawn while she sleeps? It’s really busy in this parking lot for a Friday night, but you’ll be safe. I’ll lock you in with a window down. If you need me, have Dawn call me, okay?”

“Okay,” she said again, getting out of the car. “I’ll be right back.”

“Miss Summers?”

“Yeah?” Buffy answered, turning her head.

“I would like to you know, I don’t understand much about this place, but I can see why William chooses to be in your company. I’m wishing you and my son only the best.”

“Mrs. Pratt, I--.”

“There will be more opportunities for us to talk later, dear. Go on, please. Go find my boy.”

You must login (register) to review.