Chapter Forty Eight
: Seo gets extremely
cute in this chapter! Massive awwwww moments.
Overall, it's just a very funny chapter. Seo's World chapters are usually pretty funny and light and stuff. This one certainly is.
"What? No, course not!" came the voice from the Doctor's trainers, as he shoved himself further beneath the central console of his TARDIS. "I'm fine with Riley. Completely fine. No problems."
"Which… is why you're hiding in here," Buffy said. "Refusing to come out."
"Think I've worked out what can fix her," the Doctor said, his voice sounding even more muffled, as he hoisted himself even further beneath the TARDIS console. "Inter-Axofixio Zenologribus drive needs some recalibrating. Certain of that."
How much more uncomfortable did this situation need to make him, before he actually got swallowed up by the TARDIS, completely?
Buffy leaned back against the closed double-doors of the TARDIS. "I thought you said you were cool with the whole Riley-being-the-father deception thingy." She sighed. "And Riley's being here is kind of the best thing that could have happened. For both of us. I mean, if Riley's going around, telling everyone Seo's his baby, there's a way better chance Glory will believe it."
"Absolutely!" the Doctor agreed. "Best thing."
Buffy waited a moment. Then another. Then another.
"You're still not coming out, though, huh?" she checked.
"Told you," the Doctor said. "Inter-Asfixio Beetlejuice drive needs recalibrating."
"You said it was a Zenolongbus drive, or something, before."
The Doctor said nothing for a long while.
"Vital repairs," he called back to her.
Buffy shook her head.
And left the TARDIS.
Looked like the whole Riley thing was down to her, now.
As uncomfortable as the Doctor was by the whole situation, Mom was loving it.
Mom was clearly still having trouble figuring out what, in her memories of the Doctor, was real. And what the Monks had implanted to make her hate him. And Buffy hadn't wanted to give her too much grief about it, for fear that the Monks had been the ones to trigger this tumor in the first place, and that her talking about the memories would somehow make it come back.
Even if Willow said that was impossible.
But Mom loved watching Riley and Seo together. Spoke to Riley with that soft, supportive voice. Seemed almost proud, as Riley spoke baby-talk to Seo — Riley jabbering gibberish at her, pressing on her nose and saying, "Beep!" and trying to play little baby games by tickling her feet.
"I wish you could have had a baby with someone like that," Mom mused, later that day, as she watched Riley bundling Seo up in an adorable little winter coat. "Someone responsible. Fatherly. Affectionate."
Buffy wanted to hit her head on something. Very hard.
"I mean, when does the Doctor ever do the baby-speak thing to Seo?" Mom asked, pouring herself a glass of orange juice.
"He doesn't need to do baby-speak," Buffy sighed. "He speaks actual Baby!"
"I'm just saying," Mom continued. "If you'd been with Riley, when those Monks did their spell, instead of the Doctor, we'd all have had a much easier time of it."
Buffy gritted her teeth.
Biting back a retort that, if Riley had been here, instead of the Doctor, Seo might never have been born in the first place!
"Well, who would you rather have raising your kid — from a completely objective standpoint?" Mom asked. "Someone with a job, who's responsible, who wants to help, who has money, who—?"
"With Seo?" asked Buffy. "Honestly? Her origins being what they are — I'd way rather have the Dalek-killing superhero."
Mom just raised her eyebrows at Buffy. Then sighed, and seemed to accept that Buffy wasn't backing down on this one.
Riley scooped Seo up into his arms, with a final little cry of, "Awoogawoogawoo!" in her face, and then brought her outside, to play.
As they stepped out the door, Buffy could hear a very puzzled Seo saying, "Woo… ga?"
Because when the Doctor spoke baby-talk to her, it actually meant something. As opposed to this. Which was definitely just Riley making up words.
"Maybe… you could pretend that Riley is her father for the rest of her childhood," Mom proposed. "Even after you defeat this… 'Glory'."
Buffy buried her face in her hands.
If she did that… the Doctor would probably retreat full-scale into his TARDIS, never to be seen or heard from, again. Leaving her stuck up here, with Mr. Ex Boyfriend.
Oh, this was such a disaster.
Riley had visited the Magic Box with baby Seo. Buffy had started out being with them, but in between dealing with her duties as a Slayer, the Doctor's slight melt-down, her mom's sudden idea that Riley should get some kind of custody over the kid, and the constant Glory look-out — Buffy had to split pretty fast. Then, Riley had to head off for a short time, asking the Scoobies to look after Seo, while he took a very important call from the US military.
And stepped out.
For a moment, no one in the shop could utter a word.
"You know, last year, Riley was never this stupid," Xander pointed out.
"Yeah, I mean, can't he tell?" Willow agreed. "Seo acts nothing like him."
"That… and she's got two hearts," Xander replied. "That's… kind of a giveaway."
"I think… Riley just… really wants to be a dad," Tara proposed. She stared off, into the distance, where Riley had vanished. "Enough so that he overlooks everything that proves he isn't one."
Seo squirmed. Then began kicking and fussing in her bundled up form, giving a scream.
"Oh, geeze, her face is all red," said Willow, racing over, and stripping layers off of Seo. She checked the kid's forehead. "He's bundled her up so she's at normal human temperatures."
"No wonder she's been so well-behaved and sluggish," said Tara, helping Willow strip off layers. "She's usually way more hyperactive than this."
Giles frowned, tea cup in hand. "Much as this charade with Riley might help conceal Seo from Glory," he said, "we… don't want to kill her, either."
Seo, finally free from the excess layers, had stopped screaming, and was desperately trying to crawl away from them. Tara caught her before she had the chance to crawl right off the edge of the table.
"Riley hasn't been letting her crawl around a whole lot, either, I'm guessing," said Tara, putting Seo down on the floor. "Just carrying her. We know she hates that."
The moment they set her down, she began crawling forward, babbling in her happy-baby babble, looking at everything around herself. She crawled over to Xander, and grabbed hold of the bottom of his pants, trying to pull herself up to her feet.
"Zazazazaza!" Seo said, looking up at Xander, trying to point.
Then fell backwards, losing her balance.
Seo looked around. Frowning. And crawled over to try again.
"Oh, my God!" Willow cried, dropping down to her hands and knees. "You guys! These are her first steps!"
Tara's eyes glowed, as she scurried around, trying to get a better view. "You know, her baby teeth are coming in, too," she added.
"I know!" Willow enthused. "She's becoming a whole real mini-person!"
Xander, keenly aware that he was supposed to be the immobile object in this whole thing, stood stock still, afraid to so much as breathe. As Seo used his legs to pull herself up onto her feet.
Seo, precariously balancing on two legs, took a step forward. Then another. Then let go of Xander's pants leg, and tried another. But toppled to the ground.
The Scoobies all broke into serious applause-mode.
"Someone should get Buffy!" Tara said.
"Or a video camera!" Willow added.
"I… can adjust the anti-theft security cameras," Giles offered, climbing up on a nearby chair, and trying to take it down, so he could use it as a portable real camera. Problem was, the wires kept getting in the way, and Giles was not very good with a screwdriver.
But, in the end, it didn't really matter.
Because Riley re-entered the shop.
And the moment Seo saw him, she stopped trying to walk, instead scuttling as far under the table as possible.
"Sorry about that," Riley told the Scoobies. "Army calls." Then squatted down, peering under the table. "Hey, there, little Seo. You ready to get some fresh air?"
The stray book Seo threw into his face was answer enough.
"Ow!" shouted Riley, rubbing his face. "That… ow, that…" He frowned, in confusion. "That really
The next book hurt more, and Riley dodged for cover.
"Uh, I think this means Seo wants some alone-time," Xander proposed.
Riley got up, with a sigh. "Yeah. I got that one."
As far as Buffy could see, Seo was making it her personal mission to bug the hell out of Riley.
She'd pretend to be asleep in his arms, and when Riley leaned over to coo in her face, she'd suddenly spring up, screaming.
Or, when Riley cuddled her while feeding her a bottle, Seo would grab the bottle, rip the nipple off the top, and dump the contents across Riley's shirt.
Once, when he got in her face to do the baby-talk thing, Seo had poked him in the eye.
"I don't think she likes people clinging to her," Buffy told Riley.
"She's been very abandoned and forgotten, so far," Mom added, with a sigh. "Someday, when she gets older, you'll have to pay a psychologist big bucks to solve her abandonment issues."
"She does not have abandonment issues!" Buffy shouted, spinning on her Mom. "Mom, she
crawls away from me.
I'm not the one who—"
"You and the Doctor are always running off to save this or that," Mom replied. "And guess who gets left behind?"
So this was Mom's way of trying to show Buffy just what she was missing, by not having a normal baby in a normal way with a normal guy.
"Thanks, Mom," Buffy muttered.
"I'm just saying Riley has a point," Mom argued. "You two should take better care of Seo. At least make her wear a sweater outside."
The last time Riley had wrapped Seo in a sweater, she'd overheated, which led to hours of serious Seo-screaming-temper-tantrum type things.
Riley hadn't stuck around for that
"Okay, okay!" Buffy snapped. "I get it! I'm a terrible mother, and should just stop with the parenting and get back to the vampire Slaying. But it's not like I had a choice in this, okay? I'm just doing my best!" Her eyes narrowed. "And Seo seems to like me."
"It's not you, Buffy," Mom said. "You're
doing fine. But if you don't get that child a better father-figure, she's going to have massive psychological issues, when she grows up."
Buffy figured Seo would have psychological issues when she grew up. After all. She was created as a biological weapon to kill someone.
You couldn't blame that one on the Doctor.
"Buffy," said Riley, very softly. "I know you love the Doctor. I'll respect that. But if Seo's my child… I want to do something for her. Either in terms of help raising her… or just money for childcare… or…"
Oh, that was just…!
"No!" Buffy said, stepping back. "Look, Riley, that's great and sweet and nice of you, but… if you don't want to get yourself killed, you should stay out of Seo's life."
Riley seemed confused. "What are you and the Doctor doing to—?"
Yeah. Buffy was way too finished with this conversation. Super finished with this conversation. And if she had one more person telling her she was a sucky parent…
She'd say to hell with it, and hide inside the TARDIS.
It seemed to be working fine enough for the Doctor.