Caught Between Two Lovers
Pattyanne 's Fic
Kings of Mercia
LoobyLoos' Fic
Jen's Fic

                                    Part Forty-four...
                                    As Long As You Love Me
                                    "Although loneliness has always
                                    been a friend of mine,
                                    I'm leaving my life in your hands
                                    People say I'm crazy and that I am blind
                                    Risking it all in a glance..."
                                    William watched as Joyce carried the teacups
                                    back to the kitchen, then leaned over and
                                    spoke quietly in Buffy's ear. "Don't give up now,
                                    luv. We're almost through the first phase."
                                    Buffy had sagged back into the sofa cushions as
                                    her mother left the room.  She would have liked
                                    a little time to savor her initial success, but knew
                                    she wasn't likely to get it.  Unfortunately, the nerve
                                    and bravado she carried so effortlessly about on
                                    her nocturnal jaunts was fast deserting her.
                                    "Do we have to do it all in one night?" she whis-
                                    pered, keeping her fingers crossed and trying to
                                    look as appealingly earnest as she could manage.
                                    "Why don't we save something for tomorrow night,
                                    or...or maybe next weekend?"
                                    But he just shook his head. "Baby, listen to me...your
                                    mother deserves to know it all. It'll be a lot easier on
                                    you if you just get it over with now."
                                    "I don't think so," she fretted. "Besides...I haven't
                                    even thought of the right way to tell her. I mean....this
                                    isn't the sort of thing you just casually mention."
                                    He caught her chin in his hand and made her
                                    look at him. "You can do this, slayer," he said
                                    firmly. "You  can do anything you put your mind
                                    and heart to. Remember who you are....remember
                                    WHAT you are."
                                    "I'm trying."  She brought her hand up and placed it
                                    over his. "But I'm afraid. She's...."
                                    "No, you're not." He shook his head and spoke over
                                    her. "You don't have a cowardly bone in your body!"
                                    **Oh, if only THAT were true then life would be a lot
                                    easier..**   You just keep telling me that," she said,
                                    steeling her spine as well as she could.
                                    "I will."
                                    That tiny infusion of confidence instilled by his
                                    brief words was exactly what she needed. It
                                    gave her the courage to turn and face her mother
                                    as Joyce walked back into the room.
                                    "Mom...there's more," she blurted, jumping to her feet
                                    and trying for a brisk, matter-of-fact attitude by placing
                                    her hands on her hips and assuming a determined
                                    "More what?" Joyce asked, glancing from Buffy to
                                    William, then back to Buffy.
                                    "More....more to tell you." Buffy swallowed hard. "And
                                    you'd better sit down....'cause it's big. Majorly big. Oh,
                           it big."
                                    Joyce lowered herself into her armchair, visibly trying
                                    to prepare herself for what sounded like it was going to
                                    be a nasty surprise. "All away."
                                    Buffy's hands were freezing cold, but she could still
                                    feel sweat beginning to trickle down her back, making
                                    her itch. "Okay,'s like this....You see, you
                                    maybe want a drink or something?"
                                    Her mother stared at her, eyes widening with alarm. "Is
                                    is THAT bad?" Joyce asked softly, hoping like hell she
                                    was going to be able to take whatever it was her child
                                    was finding so hard to say.
                                    A thousand horrible imaginings raced through her mind
                                    at once, ranging from previously undetected illness to
                                    expulsion from school  to the possibility of law enforce-
                                    ment showing up at the door.
                                    Lacing her fingers together, she shook her head,
                                    declining Buffy's offer to bring her something alcoholic
                                    to cushion whatever blow was coming her way.
                                    "Just tell me what you need to tell me, honey," she
                                    said, attempting to look enencouragingly maternal,
                                    with fortitude enough to take anything. "I don't
                                    need a drink."
                                    "And how you got me blind is still a mystery
                                    I can't get you out of my head
                                    I don't care what's written in your history
                                    As long as you're here with me..."
                                    "A little more?" William asked, holding the
                                    scotch bottle over Joyce's quickly emptied glass.
                                    The ice tinkled against the crystal clutched in her
                                    shaking fingers. "Maybe....just a drop."
                                    He poured another finger of scotch into the glass,
                                    then sat down with the bottle still in his hand, ready
                                    to refill should she require it.
                                    Buffy was back on the sofa, her small fingers
                                    digging into the throw pillow her grandmother had
                                    hand embroidered and her teeth sunk painfully
                                    into her lower lip....waiting.
                                    Joyce tossed back the scotch, then placed her glass
                                    carefully on the coffee table. Folding her hands to-
                                    gether, she finally turned to face her daughter.
                                    "All right," she said calmly. "Let's take it from the
                                    top. You're a...?"
                                    Buffy's voice was a bit wobbly, but audible. "A
                                    vampire slayer."
                                    "You mean vampires really...exist?  With teeth
                                    and blood on?"
                                    "And you....."
                                    Buffy waited a moment, then filled in the blank
                                    again. "Slay them."
                                    "With a.....?"
                                    "Stake. Usually."
                                    "Yeah....sometimes I....I cut off their.." She drew her
                                    forefinger across the front of her neck. "That works,
                                    Joyce was silent for a moment, then asked, "And how
                                    did you get this job?"
                                    "Well, I didn't apply for it," Buffy mumbled. "It just
                                    sort of....found me.  It's not exactly a job," she added.
                                    "It's more of a...kind of a...."
                                    "Calling," William supplied.
                                    "Yeah. That."  Her gaze met his for a moment,
                                    then rested once again on her mother. "I was
                                    sort of...chosen for it."
                                    " whom?" Joyce asked, wondering
                                    briefly if she was in the middle of some preposterous
                                    dream and whether there was a possibility of waking
                                    up from it anytime soon.
                                    That hope died hard after digging her nails rather
                                    painfully into the palms of her hands and coming
                                    to the conclusion that she was definitely awake.
                                    Unfortunately, this was all too real.
                                    Buffy opened her mouth to reply, then looked a
                                    bit perplexed. "I'm not...totally sure. I should
                                    probably ask Giles. He would know."
                                    Joyce frowned, recognizing the name. "Mr. Giles
                                    from your school? The school librarian? THAT Mr.
                                    "Um, yeah....that's him."
                                    "What does HE have to do with all this?"
                                    "He's my Watcher?"
                                    "Your watcher?  You mean he watches you when
                                    you...when you go and.....?"
                                    "Slay vampires," Buffy said. "But that's not ALL
                                    he does," she went on quickly, feeling a sudden
                                    need to beef up Giles' participation in the fun and
                                    games that made up her life.
                                    "I see. Well, what else does he do?" Joyce asked,
                                    massaging her temples to keep her head from
                                    "Oh....lots of stuff. Research"
                                    Her mother gave her a speculative look, waiting.
                                    "Well, research is important," Buffy stressed. "It's
                                    a very key element in the whole slayer...thing.
                                    Really very....VERY key."
                                    William, who'd been silent to this point,
                                    added, "He trains her, teaches her how to fight,
                                    how to use her weapons. You might call it hand-
                                    to-hand combat."
                                    "Yes! Yes, he does all that, too."  Buffy eagerly
                                    jumped on to his explanation, smiling a little too
                                    brightly. "Thank you."
                                    Joyce wasn't quite ready to move on yet. "But if
                                    he can train you...teach you all these...well, Buffy,
                                    he's a grown man. You're just a sixteen year old
                                    girl. If he can do it, why isn't HE know?"
                                    "Because they didn't choose him," Buffy said. "They
                                    chose ME. Slayers are girls, they always have been."
                                    "How many of you are there?" Joyce asked.
                                    "You mean at the moment?" Buffy looked
                                    down, picking at a loose embroidery thread. "Just
                                    one," she said softly, silently praying that her mother
                                    wouldn't force  her to reveal the reason there was
                                    always a new slayer waiting for the present one to
                                    exit stage left.
                                    The threads were unraveling in Buffy's fingers as
                                    she shot  William a pleading glance.
                                    He smiled so slightly that the expression wouldn't
                                    have even registered with anyone but her.
                                    Small as the gesture was, it helped her to remember
                                    exactly why she was finally fessing up to her mother
                                    about her nightly activity.
                                    "I don't care who you are
                                    Where you're from, what you did
                                    As long as you love me..."
                                    Joyce turned to William. "Did you know about
                                    "I did, yes," he admitted.
                                    "And you approve?"
                                    "It's not my place to approve or disapprove.
                                    This is what she is," he said simply.
                                    As he sat there, he was beginning to wonder if
                                    it might not be better to hold back HIS particular
                                    surprise for another day, to give her time to adjust
                                    and get to know him.
                                    If he could show her by words and deeds that he
                                    wasn't precisely the same vampire he'd been
                                    before meeting her daughter, it could quite
                                    possibly win her to their side when it was time
                                    to break the news to Buffy's watcher and her
                                    He cared less than nothing for their opinions,
                                    but he knew  that Buffy was going to need all
                                    the help she could get, and support from her
                                    mother would no doubt go a long way.
                                    "Joyce....Buffy isn't like other girls her age," he
                                    said. "She has....abilities. It's part of what makes
                                    her a slayer, and it's what makes her so good at
                                    "But isn't it dangerous?"
                                    "For the vampires?" He permitted himself a small
                                    grin. "Very."
                                    "Every little thing
                                    That you have said and done
                                    Feels like it's deep within me
                                    Doesn't really matter if you're on the run
                                    It seems like we're meant to be..."
                                    Joyce felt like she was foundering in a sea of con-
                                    fusion and disbelief.
                                    Vampires!  Vampires actually existed somewhere
                                    other than in books and on movie screens.  It was
                                    a difficult concept to wrap ones head around, and
                                    all she had to fall back on was the scanty knowledge
                                    she'd picked up from those books and movies.
                                    And who knew if that could really be depended on?
                                    Vampires bit people's necks and drained them of
                                    their blood, she knew that much.  They seemed to
                                    be uncommonly strong and in possession of the
                                    ability to mesmerize their victims into compliance.
                                    Sometimes, instead of just killing their prey, they
                                    instead made them into vampires as well, although
                                    she seemed to remember that it took more than a
                                    mere bite to accomplish it.
                                    There was more, she knew. Something to do with
                                    crosses and holy water, and hadn't she heard some-
                                    thing about garlic, too?  Coffins. Mirrors. Transmog-
                                    rification into wolves and bats and chill mists.
                                    So bizarre. So unimaginable. So inconceivable,
                                    that such things truly existed.
                                    But as strangely impossible as all that surely was,
                                    it was outweighed by the stomach churning notion
                                    that Buffy....her five foot nothing, 98 pounds soaking
                                    wet daughter...was some sort of supernatural
                                    If it WAS all true,  the world was in a pretty
                                    sorry place. But if it WASN'T true, then Buffy's
                                    choo-choo had definitely jumped the track.
                                    At the moment, she couldn't decide which of
                                    those two choices was preferable.
                                    "What are these abilities you have?" she
                                    The fully opened rose stitched into the pillow
                                    was becoming a bud beneath Buffy's destructive
                                    touch. "Well," she said, "For one thing...I'm really
                                    "How strong?"
                                    "Oh...I'm pretty strong," Buffy replied, going to
                                    work on the rose's stem. "I could lift this couch
                                    over my head if I wanted to....."
                                    Joyce's jaw sagged.
                                    "....and toss it....oh, maybe twenty feet or
                                    so."  Buffy peeked up through her bangs. "I can
                                    run really fast, too, and I can jump a ten foot
                                    retaining wall from a dead stop. Oh, and I can
                                    hit a bullseye with a knife from about a hundred
                                    feet away."
                                    "You throw knives?"
                                    "Um...yeah.  Sometimes."
                                    "Are they made of wood?"
                                    The unexpected question threw Buffy for a
                                    moment. "No."
                                    "Then how do you slay vampires with them? I
                                    thought they had to be.." Joyce swallowed
                                    hard. "...staked through the heart with wood."
                                    "Well, that's true," Buffy said. "But I slay other
                                    things, too. Other kinds of demons."
                                    Joyce closed her eyes for a moment, shaking
                                    her head. "How many 'other kinds' of demons
                                    ARE there?"
                                    "Oh, gee....too many to count."
                                    Upon hearing that, Joyce picked up her glass and
                                    held it out to William. "I'll say 'when'. "
                                    "I don't care who you are
                                    Where you're from, what you did
                                    As long as you love me
                                    Who you are, where you're from
                                    Don't care what you did
                                    As long as you love me..."
                                    "So, aside from the things you've already
                                    mentioned, do you have any other special
                                    abilities?"  Joyce asked.
                                    Buffy thought for a moment. "I know seven
                                    different martial arts." She counted on her
                                    fingers. "I can use a sword, a crossbow, a
                                    quarter staff, axes, staves, daggers, spears,
                                    and a bullwhip."
                                    William turned to look at her. "A bullwhip?"
                                    he asked softly.  "Really?"
                                    She nodded earnestly. "Mm-hmm."
                                    "I don't suppose I can just forbid you to be
                                    'the slayer', can I?"
                                    "Well, you COULD," Buffy said, "but I'd still
                                    have to do it."
                                    Joyce pondered the reply. "I can lock you
                                    in your room and nail the window shut."
                                    Knowing exactly what Buffy was about to say,
                                    a small smile tugged at the corner of William's
                                    "Yes, but I can break the lock and pull the nails
                                    out," Buffy said seriously, completely missing the
                                    resigned and slightly amused tone in her
                                    mother's voice.
                                    Weaving only a little, more from a lingering
                                    shock to her nerves than the alcohol she'd
                                    consumed, Joyce rose to her feet.  "Maybe
                           can show me. This is obviously
                                    a big part of your life, and I should see just
                                    exactly what you do."
                                    Buffy stood up, wiping her clammy palms on
                                    the seat of her jeans. "Oh, good idea," she said
                                    cheerily, while inside she was screaming 'no'
                                    so loudly that the blood was pounding in her
                                    "I've tried to hide it so that no one knows
                                    But I guess it shows
                                    When you look into my eyes
                                    What you did and where you're coming from
                                    I don't care, as long as you love me, baby..."
                                    Behind Joyce's turned back, William also stood
                                    up and met Buffy's gaze. He smiled at her, lifting
                                    the scotch bottle in his hand to acknowledge
                                    her courage, telling her with his eyes that he was
                                    proud of her.
                                    The battles still to come could be fought another
                                    day.  His beautiful and brave little slayer was all
                                    worn out.
                                    Maybe it was time for her to have a little fun.
                                    "I don't care who you are
                                    Where you're from, what you did
                                    As long as you love me...."