Buffy – Family Therapy

I hate it.

This bloody, soddin’ chip. I hate it. Can’t hurt a damn thing. I’m goin’ stir crazy. Sure, the Watcher finally loosed me on the world, but not much I can do. Pretty soon, I’ll be heading back and knocking on his door again, and I hate myself for it. In fact, I can’t decide if I hate the chip or myself more. I’m starting to think that I can just go greet the sunrise tomorrow morning, and end it all. What am I supposed to do? HELP people? Actually HELP the bloody Slayer and her pals save the world? I mean, sure, I’d love to get a spot of violence here and there. And I KNOW I can hurt demons and the like, but… Well, I guess I’ve already been labeled a traitor. Not much more I can do about it.

I need someone to talk to. Someone who understands, without judging. Rupert won’t do. Don’t get me wrong, I’m startin’ to like the Watcher, just a little, but he’s not exactly the ‘lay all your troubles on me’ type. In fact, there’s only one person I know who’s anything like that, and that’s the Slayer’s mum. Joyce. Now there’s a wonderful woman. How she could give birth to the bane of my existence, I have no clue. I’m beginnin’ to think that the Slayer’s adopted. Either that, or she really takes after her father, whoever that is. Joyce never really mentions him much durin’ our talks.

You know, that’s just want I need right now. To talk to Joyce, I mean. Slayer’s probably patrollin’, or havin’ a research night with the rest of the soddin’ Super Friends. Which means Joyce is probably alone.

Wouldn’t want her gettin’ lonely.

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Spike walked up Ravello drive cautiously. His intention hadn’t changed, he was going to talk to Joyce… If Buffy wasn’t home. If she was, he’d have to do one of two things. A: Come up with some clever story and tap dance out the door quickly, or B: Make with the fancy footwork and run for his unlife. In his current mood, the second one would be easier.

As he made his way up the sidewalk, he caught a scent that allayed his fears. Buffy, and probably Xander and Willow, from the scent of it. A trail that said they’d left about an hour earlier, without a return trail. Still, Spike reasoned, they could’ve come back through the BACK door, and not left a trail here. So he’d still have to be cautious.

He moved up onto the porch, and, drawing in a deep breath, he knocked. If Joyce didn’t answer, he’d leave.

Joyce blinked when she heard someone knock. Who could be visiting at this late hour? She picked up a stake that had been sitting on the end table (benefit of having a Slayer for a daughter), and carefully made her way to the door. “Who is it?”

“Spike.”

She lowered the stake, a smile finding it’s way to her lips as she opened the door. “William. Good evening. And what brings you here so..” She gave a small laugh, gesturing for him to come in. “I was going to say ‘late’, but I guess it isn’t for you.”

He let out a soft chuckle, and smiled at her as he entered, ignoring the use of his human name. He was feeling better already. “Not really, ducks. But, I accept human terms.”

She smiled and motioned that he should follow her into the kitchen. “I must be turning slightly psychic. I didn’t even know you were coming, and yet I already have cocoa on the stove.”

He grinned. “Whyever you did it, pet, I’m certainly grateful.” He settled on one of the stools around the kitchen island. “Uh, you do have the-”

“Of course I have your little marshmallows, William.” She pulled the bag out of the cabinet as she spoke, eliciting another huge grin out of the vampire. She smiled at him. “You didn’t think I’d forget my favorite vampire when I go shopping, did you?”

He smiled hugely, looking a bit like a kid in a candy store. “I should’ve known better, Joyce.”

She poured two mugs of cocoa, putting a generous amount of marshmallows in both, and sitting one in front of the vampire. “Now, why don’t you tell me what you’ve got on your mind?”

“How much time do we have?”, he asked with a small chuckle.

Joyce shrugged gamely. “All night, and most of tomorrow, actually. Buffy, Willow and Xander are over at Mr. Giles’ for the night. Something about a ‘Research Sleepover’. And she told me not to expect her home till after sundown tomorrow. So we have plenty of time, William.”

This time, he started to correct her about his name, but shrugged it off. It didn’t sound so bad when she said it. Almost like… his memories of his own mother. He blinked hard, and sipped at his cocoa carefully, enjoying the feeling of it warming him from the inside out. With a sigh, he glanced down at the mug, watching the marshmallows as they floated around.

“Alright, William. Spill. What’s wrong.”

“In short? Everything.”

Joyce gave a small laugh. “Really? Now, I refuse to believe that it’s all that bad.”

“It IS!”, he insisted. Sighed. “Joyce, you have no idea what it’s like. I’m an outcast. I’ve already been cast as a traitor to my species. Demons all over this soddin’ town are out for my head. And the only thing I CAN do is try to help the bloody Scoobies, and none of them will even have anything to do with me.”

He tried to sound nonchalant, but Joyce could hear the hidden pain in his voice. He felt so alone, abandoned by humans, turned on by demons, there was no where he could turn, no one he could talk to. Except her. She reached across the kitchen island, patting his arm gently. “I want to have something to do with you. If it would help, I could talk to Buffy about you.”

A humorless chuckle. “I doubt that would help, pet, but thanks anyway. She hates me, you know.” Again with the falsely nonchalant tone.

“She does not hate you. If she hated you, you’d be dust by now.” Joyce considered. “Personally, I believe that she enjoys you, in a strange way. You’ve always been her equal when you two were fighting, and now she really doesn’t know what to do with you.”

He gave a small smile. “Her equal, eh? Joyce, you have no idea the complement that you’ve just bestowed on me. But thanks anyway.” He sipped at his cocoa again.

Joyce took a long drink of her own, and gave him a small smile in return. “I’m not helping much, am I?”

He smiled and chuckled. “On the contrary, pet. It’s really helping me to talk.”

She drank the last of her cocoa, and considered him carefully. “You know what I think you need?”

He finished his mug as well. “What would that be, Joyce?”

“You need to laugh more. You’d be surprised how much better you’ll feel after a nice, long, belly laugh.”

He raised an eyebrow. “Sorry, pet. I’m not much for laughing hysterically. A smirking laugh, or a chuckle, that I can do. Belly laughs, not my thing.”

She smiled benevolently. “We’ll see.” She got up, and washed the mugs carefully, humming quietly.

Spike, meanwhile, had his head cocked, watching her inquisitively. What the heck had she meant by ‘we’ll see’? And why was he suddenly nervous?

Joyce smiled to herself. She had a plan, but she’d have to try part one, first. “William?”

“Yeah?”, Spike answered without thinking.

She smiled, looking over her shoulder at him. “How about some funny movies?”

He shrugged, slightly relieved. “Oh. Okay. Sounds good, pet.”

Joyce smiled again. The movies were really just a means to an end. He needed to be relaxed for part two of her plan to work. Something that she’d used to relax Buffy on several occasions. Of course, she had no guarantee that this would even work. No promise that vampires were even sensitive when it came to this sort of thing, but, it was worth a try.

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Monster’s Inc. I’d never seen it before, actually. And it was quite funny, for a cartoon. Especially that bit with the doors and stuff. And when the kid first came through and was grabbin’ the big blue guy’s tail. Imagine, freaking out over a two year old. I mean, please. You’d never see me gettin’ attached to some human kid. No way in hell. Not the Big Bad.

Then we watched What’s Up Doc. Now that I’d seen before, but that didn’t make it any less funny. I came pretty close to laughing hard enough to cry once. When the woman was out on the balcony in a towel, and the guy’s fiancĂ©’ is bangin’ on the door, and he panics and pulls the cable out of the wall, and starts a fire… oh, that sequence always gets me.

And Joyce keeps looking at me funny every now and then. I don’t know WHAT she’s doing, but, to tell the truth, she’s startin’ to freak me out. Starin’ at me like that. We’re sittin’ on the couch together, with me about three feet from her, but I’m seriously considering movin’ to the recliner, and now she’s saying something.

“William?”

I studiously ignore the name… to tell the truth, I’m starting to like it when she calls me that. “Yeah, pet?”

She’s got this… almost EVIL grin. “Are vampires ticklish?”

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Spike’s eyes grew wide. “Why are you asking, Joyce?” Open suspicion in his tone.

She smiled disarmingly. “Just curiosity. Are they?”

He relaxed slightly. “Well, it depends, pet. If you were when you were human, then you will be when you’re a vamp. And it gets marginally worse.” Kept on, getting into the explanation, the warmth from the cocoa in his stomach, and the relaxed feelings from the movies getting the best of him. “Take me for example, I’m horribly ticklish. Always have been. My Nanny, back when I was human, she’d take advantage of that all the time.”

“Really tortured you, huh?”

He chuckled. “Naw. I loved it, to tell you the truth. I’d even goad her into attackin’ me sometimes. Right up till I was about.. eight, I guess. Got kind of embarrassed about it, then.”

“But you liked it?”

“Yeah.”

Joyce smiled. “Buffy does, too, really. I use it to cheer her up even to this day.”

He gave a small grin. “Slayer’s ticklish, eh?”

“If you tell her I told you, I’ll stake you.” Her tone said she was kidding.

He chuckled. “Don’t worry. Secret’s safe with me. Just as long as you don’t tell her, either.”

“Lips are zipped.”

Spike chuckled, and started to go back to watching the movie. That is, until Joyce suddenly attacked.

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I didn’t even know what hit me. Joyce just POUNCED me, and started ticklin’ my ribs and stomach. I’m relatively sure that the first sound I let out was a rather embarrassin’ squeal. Man, you’d think that, with all my fighting experience, I’d be able to fend off a middle aged female human. But… this isn’t too bad… Actually.. I’m enjoyin’ it…

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Joyce laughed right along with Spike, as he thrashed on the couch, laughing hysterically. She gently dug her fingers into his sides, making him squeal and squirm even more. She smiled at him, continuing her playful assault as the vampire squirmed beneath her, until he literally gasped out a plea for her to stop amid helpless giggles. She sat back on her end of the couch, chuckling slightly. “So, William, how are you feeling?”

He was panting unnecessarily, but grinning. Chuckled softly. “Two things. One, pet, promise me you’ll NEVER do that again. And two, thanks. I think I needed that.”

“In that case, you’re welcome, and I can’t promise the first one.”

“Why?”

“Because, if you come to me, and are depressed again, I just might have to resort to drastic measures.” She smiled and flexed her fingers at him.

He chuckled, scratching his stomach a little. “Bloody hell, pet. Alright, fine. I’ll just never act depressed around you again.”

“That might work.”

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I’m bloody tired. And yet, the… malice from before doesn’t seem to be here. Joyce did say that the Slayer wasn’t gonna be home till after dark tomorrow… so technically, there’s nothing wrong with me catching a little nap here, now is there? I lay on my side and curl up slightly on the couch.

At the far end, Joyce is obviously almost asleep, herself. But she gets up, and brings me a warm blanket, sort of tucking me in before she heads up to bed.

I’m really close to being asleep, now, and yet, somehow I’m awake enough to notice that Joyce has come back downstairs. To my surprise, she gives me a little kiss on the forehead, smoothing out my hair gently, before pulling the blanket up around me again, and leaving.

Did she really come back down just to give me a kiss goodnight? Did I really just allow myself to be tucked in like a five year old? And, more to the point, did I enjoy it? Yes, on all counts.

Curling up in my blanket, I sigh happily. Joyce really is something, to be able to find a place in her heart for a misfit like me. I was wrong, earlier. I’ve been rejected by the demon world, sure, but I haven’t been totally abandoned by the human world. As long as Joyce cares about me, as long as someone cares, I won’t be greeting that sunrise anytime soon.

THE END