Chapter Two: Looking
Disclaimer: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Hatter M, and Anita Blake belong to their respective creators, Joss Whedon, Frank Beddor/Liz Cavalier/Ben Templesmith, and Laurell Hamilton.
Chapter Two: Looking
I think maybe we need to call a plumber.
The new apartment is nice. It's a lot closer to my university than the Council building was, and it's kind of a relief not have to share a bathroom with nearly twenty people. Also, Chinese takeout? A whole lot easier to get up here.
Except there are an awful lot of puddles. Like, everywhere
Rupert is the most perfect baby ever. He only cries when he's hungry or needs to be changed, he sleeps like he's in a coma through the night every
night, he never screams, and he laughs when you hug him. Buffy actually has people volunteering to baby-sit, and I think she's afraid the old lady from next door is going to steal him. I'm a little more worried about Giles, who I think I caught online the other day trying to order something tiny and tweed.
Buffy looks really good. I don't think she gained more than five pounds during the whole pregnancy, and that was Rupert. This even after Willow and Faith spent the whole nine months feeding her everything they could get their hands on. I swear, she came out of the hospital looking healthier than she has in ten years, with her glowing skin and shiny hair. I thought the doctor was going to propose to her on the spot.
I have to say, I didn't think Edward was a good idea. He just…he just doesn't seem her type, you know? But I can't deny that he's been good for her. She looks…happy. Well, happier
He's been staying over a lot, lately. I know it's selfish of me, but I'm kind of afraid they're planning to move away together, by themselves. Now, when things are just getting good again, now that the Council is restored and I'm in school and everything is almost back to the way it was before—well, before everything.
Edward doesn't like me. Of course, I don't think he likes anybody, or that he even can
, except Buffy. I think that's the main reason, that Edward doesn't like anybody except my sister, and he hates having to share her with me and everyone else. I don't think he's ever liked anybody as much as he likes Buffy (he is such
a freak), so it makes having to share her really hard, since he's probably not used to sharing anything.
Not that you know any of that to look at him. He's just so, so, I don't know, cold. Distant. Unfeeling. A killer without conscience or remorse.
Willow was the one who spilled the beans. I don't think Buffy wanted me knowing she was involved with a hit man, but Willow did some digging, Giles found out, then Willow told Xander, Xander let it slip to Faith, and that was that, because no one can tell Faith what not to do or say.
There were pictures, photos. Some of them are hysterical—I don't think I've ever seen anyone who belongs less under a cowboy hat than Edward—but other ones, not so much. Especially the ones with bodies.
To be honest, we tried to talk her out of it. Not openly, because not even Faith wants to really tangle with Edward, no matter how much she blusters, but with a lot of those casual, insinuating conversations that I suck at so much. Giles tried hardest, with Faith coming in an unexpected second, and for a while I was sure I was going to come home one day and find either Edward or Faith dead on the floor.
Buffy ignored all of it.
The thing is, I think everyone expected me to have the most problems with Edward. I mean, Buffy, she's had such bad experiences with men, and after what happened with Riley and Spike, I'm sort of protective of her, you know? Especially after—the other stuff. And Buffy is too used to taking care of me to stay with a guy I can't stand. The first test a man has to pass to get to Buffy is me.
And yeah, maybe I don't like Edward all that much myself. Maybe I don't really like that she's with a guy who shoots people in the head for a living—and I don't care what anyone says about lycanthropy or anything else. And maybe it's not exactly my cup of chai to watch her get closer and closer to a guy who's so messed up inside that it's really almost anticlimactic that he's only a sociopath.
But you should see him when he's with her. When he reaches out to touch her, against his own will, like he can't help himself. Like he's helpless to resist.
And they weren't there. They weren't there for those five days, almost fifteen months ago, when I thought I was going to lose my sister. They weren't there when she got lost and almost died, and instead just came back pregnant.
They don't know about him.
Neither do I, really. I'm not supposed to. But it's hard to miss certain things, like your sister crying herself to sleep at night, waking up screaming from her nightmares, lying in bed pale and vulnerable, and the whole time pleading—in whispers, in sobs, in screams—for someone named Madigan to help her, to come back, or to just please, please stop. To please not leave her. To please not abandon her, like everyone else did.
It's not like I didn't see how paranoid she got, how quiet she was those few days before she finally told us she was with pod. I'd come home to our rooms in the Council building and all the curtains would be drawn, the mirrors turned to the wall. I don't think anyone but I noticed how she seemed to avoid puddles wherever she went, no matter how small or big. Or how she burned my hardcover copy of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
, the same one she bought me last year.
She never said anything to me.
That all stopped when Edward showed up, though. I still don't know the details of how they met—except that it was bloody. Apparently she impressed him enough that when we got home that night, me with my paper to write and her covered in entrails, he was sitting on our couch, waiting, a gun pointed at Buffy's head.
OK, I admit that was really sharp of him, to threaten Buffy and not me. Not many people would have understood in barely more than a glance that with Buffy, aiming a gun at me would have been the point of no return. So instead he aimed a gun at her, and that's how he won.
I still can't explain how he managed to get her to fall in love with him. I mean, have you met my sister? She's the Moral Queen of Morality, country of the righteous. Or, at least, she used to be. I don't know exactly how she's managed to fit Edward into everything, what with his killing and murdering and (we have reason to suspect, though no proof of) torture. She told me that he's a bounty hunter, and that the things—note the word choice—he kills usually have it coming. I was speechless for days.
Maybe all those things about him that I don't like, those things that Willow and Xander hate and that are driving Giles and Faith up the wall—maybe they're real, and they're problems, and sooner or later they're going to come back and bite us in the tokhes
But, really, all I can think about is how she doesn't wake up screaming in the night anymore.
He makes her feel safe. It's insane and completely heartbreaking, but there it is.
Not even Angel did that.
So, I don't say anything. Because, for once, it's more important to me for Buffy to be happy. If it takes Edward to make her happy, I can grin and bear it. I think about the way I treated her, what we did, everything that happened—oh, God, I can bear it.
Except, lately, I'm beginning to think that the worst is yet to come. Because Rupert, my nephew, Buffy's son—and not Edward's—is not entirely human.
Because, sometimes, I look into Rupert's black eyes and think I see someone else looking back.
Because even though there are no leaks, even though I can't find a single dripping faucet, there are puddles everywhere in our apartment.
Because I look into the mirror, into any of the few mirrors we have left, and I think I see more than just my reflection.
Because there is a new ring on Buffy's finger, shining gold and luminous blue, and the old ghosts fill her eyes.
Someone is watching. I have to be ready.
I'll protect her. Edward will protect her. Between the two of us, we'll keep her safe, keep her here, keep her ours.
No matter who comes.