Author’s Notes: Special thanks- to my beta suzy, you are the best, and kumi, for without her, you would not be able to read this. Love you gals.
“Buffy!” Joyce cried. Her mother’s voice held its usual amount of relief and fear. Relief that she had called, fear that this could be the last time.
“Mom.” The word was said with a hint of warning.
“I’m sorry. Anne. How are you?” Joyce asked quickly. Anne couldn’t help but smile.
“I’m fine. Really good, actually. How’s the Hellmouth?” She asked with a nervous laugh. She vaguely wondered if their monthly phone calls would ever get better. Somehow, she doubted it.
“And Matt?” The hint of longing rang across the miles, making it seem as if her mother was right there in front of her.
“He’s good. Did you get the package I sent?”
“Oh, yes. He’s so beautiful. I wish I could see him.” Joyce told her. Anne closed her eyes against the wave of guilt that crashed over her.
“I. . .I know mom.”
“Baby, why can’t you come home?” Tears flowed down Joyce’s face, the ache in her heart nearly unbearable.
“You’ve seen the pictures mom. You know why.” Anne wiped her own tears away, and twisted the metal chord of the payphone through her fingers.
“Honey, you know it doesn’t matter to me. . .”
“I know it doesn’t matter to YOU. Or Giles. That’s not what I’m worried about.” Anne interrupted, feeling the hold on her temper strain just a little tighter. “Maybe when he’s older. Not now.” She listened as her mother sighed, the older woman’s disappointment thick.
“Whatever you feel is best, honey.” she conceded, finally.
“Yeah.” What was best, she echoed in her head. For not the first time, she found herself wondering just what that was. “Look, mom. I gotta go. Give Giles my love.”
“Of course. Do you want me to say anything to Willow, or Xander?”
“Tell Will I said Hi.”
“Anne, you’re going to have to forgive him someday.”
“Who says?” came the reply, her voice cold. She heard Joyce sigh again, but her mother let it drop.
“Alright. I love you.”
“I love you, too.” She whispered, quickly hanging up the phone. Resting her forehead against the receiver, she took a moment to collect herself before leaving the booth and getting into her car. With a squeal of rubber, she pulled into the light afternoon traffic, and headed towards home.
“Uhn.” Xander grunted as he hit the side of the crypt. He watched as the leather clad blond stalked over to him.
“You know, whelp. This would be a lot easier if you would just tell me where the bint is.” Spike snarled, yellow eyes flashing.
“It would also go easier if you would just listen when we tell you that WE DON’T KNOW WHERE SHE IS! We’ve been telling you that for the last four years.” Willow huffed from her spot by a tombstone. Spike glowered over at her, wondering briefly when exactly he had stopped scaring them.
“Do you think,” Xander started, pushing himself to his feet. “That since this seems to be an annual thing, that maybe we could. . .I dunno, schedule it or something? It’s very inconvenient to have to carry bandages around ALL the time.” He finished, glaring at the vampire and wiping blood from his lip. “And, anyway. You were the last one to see her before she left. How the hell do we know that you didn’t kill her?”
“Oh, and this is just some big ruse to cover my tracks?” Spike asked sarcastically, then pulled out a cigarette. He knew things were bad when beating on the loud mouth wasn’t fun anymore. “I’ve killed two Slayers, boy. Why would I lie about the third. And WHY would I keep coming back to this pit of Hell?”
“Nostalgia?” Willow offered, crossing her arms over her chest. Spike leveled a look at her that had sent many a mortal skittering away screaming. The witch merely arched a brow. With a sigh, he shifted back into his human face, then took a drag from his cigarette.
“You’re trying to tell me, that in the past five years, she hasn’t come back? ONCE?” He growled.
“No, she hasn’t.” The look on the boy’s face was so full of guilt and remorse, Spike knew that there was something more behind this than the Slayer fleeing the place that had caused her grief.
“Fine.” He spat, flicking his cigarette away. He wasn’t going to get anywhere here. Turning away, he stalked into the night, his duster flowing behind him. “Goodbye, kiddies.” He called over his shoulder as he disappeared.
“Why didn’t we stake him?” Xander asked, rolling his arms to assess the damage. Spike must’ve been slipping in his old age, since he only felt a slight twinge in his shoulder.
“Because Joyce told us not to.” Willow reminded him, falling into step with him when he turned to start home. Xander snorted, wondering once more about the mental stability of the older Summers. “Do you think we did the right thing? Not telling him to go see Joyce, I mean. She did want to see him.” Uncertainty clouded her green eyes, as she scanned the darkened grave yard, looking for him. She didn’t like to be deceitful, and now she was wondering if Xander had been wrong to talk her out of telling Spike.
Xander’s gaze was hard and cold when it met hers, causing her to shiver.
“Trust me, Will. Nothing good can come from a conversation with Spike.” With that, he turned away, leaving Willow to scramble to catch up.