Disclaimer: Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the associated characters and whatnot are not mine.
Setting: After Season 5, and at least the first few episodes of Season 6. After that, not so much.
No one told Hank his wife died. Ex-wife, that is. He stood, staring into the pale face of a man who, although he didn’t look that strong, was holding him up by the front of his shirt. It was really pretty impressive. I really shouldn’t have taken that last pill
“You bloody stupid pillock! I’d kill you right now, but they demanded that I leave you alive. They just want to know why you never came back. Never called. How could you leave your family like that?”
Spike let Hank’s feet touch down. It was taking everything in him not to fang-out, but Dawn had made him promise.
“I … dead?”
Spike dropped the idiot to the ground and started pacing in the small space. “Dead! Yes! She’s dead!”
“But that can’t be. I mean – I spoke with her last Christmas. No, maybe it was the Christmas before last. Or the one before? I don’t know.” He started sobbing, his legs spread out in front if him, his ass in the muddy grit of his own unkempt back porch.
Spike looked at him side ways. “You mean to say you honestly didn’t know she’d died?”
Hank shook his head. “I was - she said I had to stay away. Said I wouldn’t understand anything. Said I didn’t deserve to know what they were doing, who they were becoming. She didn’t want my money anymore. And she said – she said …” The sobbing took over again.
“Joyce cut you out of their lives?” Spike thought a moment. “Well good on her. You were a right prat to go off with your bloody secretary. That’s even more cliché than Dracula’s cape.”
The wind had gone from Spike’s sails. Hank was still a prat, but that’s pretty cold – getting locked out of your kid’s lives like that. Even if it was half for his own good anyway. An idiot like Hank would have been vamp-fodder long ago otherwise.
Hank calmed a bit. “What happened?”
“Joyce got sick. Normal human shit. Buffy had to take care of Dawn, pay the mortgage, everything. T‘was rough.”
“They didn’t call me.” Hank was dazed. “And you? Are you Buffy’s boyfriend or something?”
Spike snorted. “Pretty sure you don’t get to ask about her love life right now.”
Hank nodded. That made sense. He’d fucked up – he’d known that for a lot of years now. “She left me, you know.”
“The infamous secretary.” He chuckled despite himself. Too many damned drugs. “She met a guy in Rome. Stayed there. I never met anyone else. I wanted to go back to Joyce, but she couldn’t forgive me. Not that I blame her.”
Spike sat on the ground next to Hank, their backs to the wall. He pulled a cigarette from his pocket and lit up. “You know, Buffy might not forgive you either.”
“But she might. If you put in a bit of effort.”
“You think so?”
“Not sure. But she has some serious daddy issues so it’s worth a shot.”
Spike backtracked a bit “No – I just mean – you can tell that she was always a daddy’s girl. She’s … strong.” At a loss for words, he continued smoking, not sure why he was there, if not to scare the shit out of a dead-beat dad.
After a minute of silence, Hank asked, “And Dawn? Do you think …”
Spike looked at his face – a man earnestly asking after a daughter that he’d never actually met. He looked back at the cig. “She’s been wanting to see you.” Meet you.
“Really?” Hank smiled for the first time in a long time. Then he looked down at himself, ran a hand through his hair. “I have to clean up first.” He didn’t just mean his clothes.
“I can smell 4 different drugs on you from here – ‘ you need some kind of rehab for that shit?”
He shrugged. “Never tried to quit before. No family. Shitty, stressful job. No future. I come home, pop a pill to calm down, pop another to wake up, drink till I’m tired again. Can’t sleep without the sleeping pills though. Those’ll be tough to stop.”
Spike thought for another minute while Hank obviously contemplated how much his next few weeks were going to suck. He took mercy on the guy, mostly for the sake of a girl who’d never really met her own dad. Decisively, he said, “I’ll be back in a month.”
Spike stood up and looked down at a man who’d respected his ex-wife’s wishes even though it estranged him from his own blood. Spike wasn’t sure if that was noble or cowardly. “I’ll tell the girls I couldn’t find you. I don’t know – I’ll think of something. But when I come back – if you’re not 100%, you ain’t getting’ another chance. You got it?”
Hank nodded eagerly. “Yes. My god, yes. You’ll see! Please. Please, I just want to be there for them. To let them know… that I love them.”
Spike nodded once, then turned to go.
“Wait.” Hank stood. “You said Buffy’s paying for everything? Is she – do they need … money? Anything?”
Spike turned his head. Then turned back. “Not from you – not yet.” He hopped over the porch wall and disappeared back into the night.
Hank yelled after him. “I’ll be here! I’ll be ready! I swear – I won’t let them down again.” He finished in a normal tone and a small smile. Once inside, he began to clean. He dumped the alcohol and all the drugs. Then he cleaned the bathrooms, the kitchen, the whole condo.
When Spike came by one month later, Hank was sitting in a clean suit with three bags full of gifts and a packed suitcase. He looked tired and thin, but clean. And the happiest he’d been since the day his little Dawny was born.
A/N: Thanks for reading! Do you like it? Not?