Duty Or Destiny - (20) Catching Up - Part 1
Chapter Summary: A bit of chatter between Joyce and Buffy about why Joyce is okay with everything. Giles thinks about the progress they've made for translating. Marie and Clem show up with some concerns.
Disclaimer and Distribution notes are listed on the Index page of this story.'Single' quote marks surround thoughts in this story. "Regular" quotes are around spoken words.
(Buffy and Joyce on the way home from the Gallery)
"I can't believe how cool you are being about this, Mom." The two Summers' women talked back and forth in the car from Joyce's Gallery to the Summers' residence. Buffy's life seemed more complicated every day, but in some ways it couldn't have been any better.
"You have repeatedly said that for the last week," Joyce said with a hint of amusement and exasperation in her voice.
"Maybe because I still don't get the reason why you are being so cool about it." Buffy was thrilled to have her Slayer duty revealed to her mother. The Mother/Daughter relationship between them was steadily growing stronger. Buffy kept worrying about what the item could be that would finally be her mother's breaking point of acceptance.
"But I already explained most of it once," Joyce groaned.
"Please Mom ... just one more time," Buffy pleaded with her mother. "I don't want to lose you or Spike because someone goes over the edge."
(Summers' living room when Spike answered the door)
Rupert Giles lightly tossed his glasses onto the living room table. He was tired and the words blurred on the tome's pages instead of being further deciphered. He knew his current search wouldn't be easy, but he was frustrated at the various dead ends and inconsistencies between sources.
There were so many texts, scrolls, grimoires and tomes made over the centuries by scholars, charlatans, and eccentrics. Some sources focused on specific types of lore, traditions and rituals. Others focused more on prophecies and portents. Unfortunately a good number of the resources were from biased and subjective points of view. Sometimes he got a headache just thinking about all the time he spent sifting through biased points of view to reach the real facts.
One of the problems with texts about portents and prophecies was that many of them weren't revealed until right before the events themselves. Not enough time was usually given to find and decipher the information to prepare for what was coming. For example, after Sunnydale survived the "Harvest" and Buffy later defeated the Master, Giles uncovered a counter portent to the Codex prophecy on Buffy's death. It inferred that a "true Warrior of Light" would pull back the veil of death to "become what was needed" to defeat the Master from ascending.
Even with all of the new information as his disposal, Giles still felt lost and frustrated. Thankfully today seemed like a more productive day in Giles' mind. Although there were many complications translating and deciphering their newly acquired documents, Spike had proven himself an adequate linguist. Giles admired the vampire's retention and acquisition of knowledge over the centuries that he'd been undead. Several archaic and/or demonic tongues appeared within the same document. Some symbols and languages had no starting reference point for interpretation either. Without Spike's help the night before, and the last few hours, they would never have uncovered so much information about the Slayer, her original purpose, and her future.
Giles underlined a sentence from the written translation of a new section and repeated it out loud, "One body. One soul. Forever united ... whole." He looked up from the book when he heard something bounce off the barrier spell. He stood up and made his way to the entryway.
"Is everything all right, Spike?" Giles walked up behind Spike. He'd been worried when he heard the reaction of the barrier spell forcing someone back, but he hadn't heard Spike kicking up a fuss over whoever was there. He figured that it had to be someone he knew, or Spike would have called out the warning to the others in the house.
"Yeah, it's fine, Watcher." Spike motioned his hand out towards Marie. "This is Marie. She is the one that Buffy told you about." He directed his hand to point at the wrinkly skinned demon standing next to Marie. "This is Clem. He is a very peaceful demon unless in his own self-defense. He's been helping me for a while now. Marie ... Clem ... this is Rupert Giles, the Slayer's Watcher."
Clem offered a smile and waved at Giles meekly. Marie smiled brightly and waved as well.
(Buffy and Joyce in the car)
"Fine dear, if it will help." Joyce sighed. "The fact that Slayers die so early scared me. I know that your friends try to help, but they really aren't strong enough to be all that you need."
"Spike told me that he thinks I've already lived longer because I have my friends and family to live for." Buffy smiled. "Now that I don't have the stress of trying to hide it from you, I've been much more relaxed and focused too. I'm not worried about you being disappointed."
"That is good, but having someone as strong as Spike to fight by your side is an even bigger plus. If you trust him to protect you that is," Joyce said it like a question, but she felt she already knew the answer.
"Of course I trust him, with my life and all those I love," Buffy answered without reservation. "I never could have allowed him to feed from me otherwise. I knew he'd stop before taking too much. Somehow I know that if I die, it will kill him too."
"From everything I've read, at least from the book I believe to be correct, a Slayer's demon is like a vampire's. A vampire is not solely a solitary being. A vampire lives longer in a pack of familial unity. I think that is a reason why taking a Slayer's family and friends away from them is detrimental to a Slayer's survival. Instead of helping their Slayers, the Council was killing them by keeping them all alone."
"I have no doubts about how my Slayer side feels about Spike. She knows what we need." Buffy thought about Spike's injuries and recuperation. "She knew what had to be done to protect and heal Spike. Without my Slayer side I wouldn't have known what to do." She twisted her hands in her lap. "That's a big reason why I want to find out all I can about Slayers. I need to know what I'm capable of. I know I'm not a big book girl, but I don't want anyone to die because I didn't know something I should have."
"Rupert and I have talked about how attuned you and Spike have become with each other." Joyce never took her eyes off the road as she talked. "The two of you are binding on other levels as well as the connection of your "demons"."
Buffy glanced over at her mother with confusion evident on her face. "What do you mean?"
"It's nothing bad, Buffy," Joyce rushed to reassure her daughter. "Do you realize that you and Spike will work through tasks together and randomly complete or get what the other person needs without even saying a word?"
"We do?" Buffy questioned in shock.
"Sometimes you aren't even on the same floor. It all looks effortless without words. Rupert considered a telepathic connection between you, but neither of you have mentioned anything beyond an Empathic bond of the other's well being."
"I don't think we can hear each other's thoughts." Buffy thought about how much closer and connected she felt to Spike's presence every day. "I've had a lot on my mind with all the changes, but I think I'd realize if someone else added their two cents worth into my thoughts as well."
"It is something to explore the possibilities of. It could be a big help in times of trouble." Joyce smiled. "Sometimes I ask myself how I can accept that my daughter has a vampire for a boyfriend."
"And what is the answer?"
"I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that he does not act like a monster or treat me like his lunch," Joyce answered simply and honestly. "I've talked with him a lot this last week, and I find him to be a very intelligent and well cultured man. Despite his accent, I believe he came from an aristocratic family that had their own share of troubles. Sometimes his accent slips out of his roughened drawl without him realizing it. I would enjoy getting to know him more."
"Thank you, Mom. That means a lot to me." Buffy reached over and squeezed her mother's hand on the steering wheel. "We'll beat Angelus. Somehow I know we can do it together."
(Summers' residence, on the porch)
"It seems quite rude of us to leave you standing on the porch in the dark, but I'm afraid that we can't invite you inside yet," Giles apologized. "There is much we should discuss, but I'm afraid it would not be wise to speak about it in the open."
"We understand, Mr. Giles," Marie said. "The phrase "the walls have ears" has an even broader application in Sunnydale."
"Buffy and Joyce Summers should be home shortly. Joyce had a special delivery coming in late. I'm sure you both realize how dangerous it is to be out at night in Sunnydale." Giles continued after both of the visitors nodded, "Buffy will be happy to actually meet you, Marie. She happened to be near one of the times you met with Dalton.
"Speaking of deliveries, that's why were here," Marie offered a partial explanation for their presence. "Dalton missed the Tuesday and Friday pick up at the hospital. Missing one wasn't overly unusual. Missing two was unheard of for him to do. I know my previous delivery wouldn't have been enough to feed everyone for that long."
Two car doors slammed. All heads turned in the direction of the driveway. Buffy quickly made it around to her mother's side of the car. She sensed a new demon in the area, and she wanted to be sure her mother was protected. Her battle stance relaxed at the sight on the porch. Giles and Spike were safely on their side of the barrier, and the new demon appeared to have Marie in his company.
Clem briefly tensed. He too relaxed when he noticed that the Slayer no longer looked like she was on the warpath. He exhaled softly.
Buffy walked up the porch steps and held out her hand to Marie. "Hello, I'm Buffy Summers. You are Marie, right?"
"Yes." Marie shook the offered hand. "This is Clem. He helped me to track down Spike after Dalton missed a couple deliveries."
Buffy and Spike both frowned and sighed.
Marie, still holding Buffy's hand, noticed the crestfallen looks on the vampire and the Slayer's faces. "Something happened to him, didn't it?"
Buffy looked up and Spike. Without saying a word, Spike knew that Buffy was double checking with him about trusting them. He nodded slowly. Buffy walked into the Summers' house, reached out to take Clem's hand as well and murmured something softly. "If your true intent is not to harm any in this house or our allies, then you may come in. If your intent is otherwise, you will be punished by the powers that protect this entry." She took a couple more steps back, waiting for the two newcomers to follow or turn away.
Clem and Marie followed Buffy through the archway of the home without worry or reservation. They both felt the distinct tingling of magic wash over and through them. They stopped on the other side of the doorway with smiles on their faces.
Buffy let out a breath of relief when Marie and Clem were able to enter her house without a problem. She let go of their hands. "Welcome to our home."