Author's Note: Just a slight change in the story. I cut the last part of the last chapter and tweaked it a little bit. This is the result.Interlude
“What do you mean you won’t?” Spike asked Buffy over the phone.
“Exactly what I said. I will not take care of your kids while you go on your business trip. Not after what you said to Willow.”
“After what I said to Willow? Buffy, that was a week ago; I was hoping she’d get over it by now. Anyway, she was the one who said more. Not me.”
“Oh, I think she’s over it. It’s just that I’m not. She is my best friend and she was only trying to help. If I was as brave as her, I would have told you all of that stuff ages ago. You know I love your kids, but I am not going to help you until you apologize to Willow.”
“Until I apologize to Willow?”
“Yes, and please stop repeating everything I say. You need her help, but you’re just too manly to admit it. So drop the whole I’m a man I can handle it attitude and do the right thing. For once.” Buffy said before hanging up.
Spike growled, staring at the phone in his hand. He slammed it onto the holder and took a cigarette out of his pocket, lighting it. Breathing in deeply, he picked up the phone again.
“Darla, hey. Listen, I need a favor...”
Four hours later, Spike was gripping the steering wheel in his Mercedes tightly. His jaw was clenched and his knuckles were turning whiter every minute.
It was seven o’clock and he was driving home. Ever since he had fired Willow, he had had to get out of work early to get home and prepare some sort of dinner for his kids. They would all eat together silently, unless he tried to make some kind of small talk about school. It was evident they were angry at him because of Willow.
Even though he would never admit it out loud, he realized he had done a mistake. He really did need Willow to be at home and cook and do all those things. Plus the kids adored her.
“Dammit!” he said, punching the wheel.
After he had called up the whole family that afternoon and had been declined every time, he knew he had no choice but to get rid of all his pride and apologize to Willow, maybe even beg. Just so she could take care of his kids for a whole week, while he was away on a business trip.
He pulled into the driveway and stepped out of the car. Slamming the door behind him, he walked to the front door, opened it and stepped into the hallway. The house was quiet as he made his way upstairs. The doors to the bedrooms were closed and no sound was coming from them. He opened Dawn’s room only to find it empty. The same with Wesley’s and Faith’s. Beginning to get a little bit worried, he looked into their garden but it was also empty. He walked to his office...empty. His bedroom was also empty. More than a little worried now, he ran back downstairs and into the living room. It was empty. As he turned to go into the kitchen, he heard noises coming from the basement. Taking a deep breath, he opened the door and looked down. There were his three kids. Faith was sitting behind the drums, playing for all she was worth. In front of her, their mouths hanging open, sat Dawn and Wesley. None of them seemed to notice his presence as he looked down at them, relief flooding him.
Pride be damned, he thought as he closed the door again. Where did I put Willow’s number?
He walked to the living room and picked up the phone. He risked a chance at reaching Willow at her and Buffy’s apartment so he dialed his stepsister’s number.
“Buffy, hey. It’s me, Spike.”
“Spike, I was waiting for you to call. Willow is right here, hold on, I’ll get her for you.”
Spike closed his eyes and took a deep breath.
On the other end, in Willow and Buffy’s living room, Buffy giddily handed the phone to Willow. Willow just smiled devilishly and turned it to speaker.
“Evening William.” She said.
“Willow hi. Um, listen pet, I need your help.” He said with great difficulty.
Willow’s eyes widened comically. Buffy tried to stifle her giggles.
“I’m sorry William. There must something wrong with the connection. What did you say?”
Spike growled. She was making fun of him. He knew she could hear him clearly.
“I said, I need your help.” He said carefully through gritted teeth.
“You need my help?”
“And why exactly should I help you William?” Willow asked.
Very good question. Why should she help him after all the things he had said to her? If he was her, he would probably tell himself to get bent.
“Um, because I’m sorry. I was a selfish bastard. I had no right to say the things I said and I need your help. Also, the kids miss you. I miss you. ” He answered.
Willow shared a look with her best friend. Judging by the look on her face, Spike didn’t apologize very often. She smiled.
“Alright, I’ll help you. What kind of help do you need?"
"First off, I would like to ask you to tutor Wesley and Faith again. Second, as I'm sure Buffy has told you, Im leaving this Friday to go on a business trip to England and I need someone to watch the kdis while I'm gone. None of my family have time, so..."
Willow thought about it for a second.
"Alright, I'll help you. On one condition."
“What's that?” Spike asked nervously.
“You promise to tell your children you love them right before you leave. Oh, and also, tomorrow, ask Faith about her day. And ask until she tells you everything.”
“Alright, I'll do that. Thanks pet.”
"You're welcome. I'll see you on Friday. Bye."
They hung up, both of them smiling. Spike walked to the basement and opened the door.
"Kids! I have something to discuss with you. Plus, I kind of need help with dinner. Could you come up please?"
* * *
Angel walked into the cafeteria the next day and the whole room fell silent. He gulped and looked at Willow, who was standing next to a fairly scared looking Faith. The whole room watched him. Some people were sniggering, others were glaring. It seemed that some of Faith's close friends knew about what he had done. Including a very angry looking Gunn.
He took a deep breath, swallowed all of his manly pride and started talking.
She nodded her head in answer.
"Um, I owe you an apology for my behaviour on Saturday night. It was way out of like and I am very, sincerely sorry. I don't know what go into me. I had no intentions of hurting you. I realize that I'm scum, I'm nothing. But I really hope that you will be able to forgive me. And even though I know I don't deserve it, I hope I can have your friendship." He finished.
Faith cocked her head to one side, looking at him with a emused expression on her face.
"I'll think about it." She said and turned to Willow, indicating that the discussion was now over.
Sighing, he turned on his heel and left the cafeteria, hoping against hope that her father would not hunt him down like a dog.
* * *
It was Friday evening and Willow rang the bell beside the front door to Spike's house. The door was opened by a very excited Faith.
"Willow! Hey! Oh God I am so glad you're going to be our babysitter for this week! Aarrgghh!" She shrieked, hugging her.
Willow just smiled. She looked over Faith's shoulder and saw Spike eyeing them with amusement.
"Hello pet. Glad you could make it." He said in greeting.
Willow smiled back at him. They had reached an unspoken agreement not to mention what had happened two week ago. What's done is done. No use dwelling on the past was Willow's theory. That, and siezing the moment.
"No problem. I guess you have to get going then?" Willow asked, letting go of Faith and picking up her duffel bag that was on the floor. She walked into the hall and Faith closed the door behind her.
"Yeah, should be off in 'bout half an hour. Thanks again for coming and doing this." He answered. He took the bag from her and walked upstairs. Willow and Faith followed him and found him in his bedroom.
"Since we, um, don't have a guestroom, I was thinking you could stay here, in my room." He explained off of their puzzled looks.
Willow just nodded, looking aorund. The master bedroom wasn't that much bigger than Faith's room. It had a king-sized bed set against the middle of one wall. Across from the door was a wall covered with windows and glass doors that led to a balcony. Closets and wardrobes lined the other two walls. It was a nice room.
"Are you sure? I mean, I could just take the couch. I wouldn't mind." Willow argued.
"I insist that you sleep here pet. And no arguments." He answered and looked at his watch. "I have to get going. My plane leaves in an hour and I should be there at least a half hour before hand."
They walked back downstairs and that was when Willow noticed the luggage in the hall. Dawn and Wesley stood up from the couch and joined them. Spike opened the door and turned back to them. He looked at Wilow, who just smiled at him.
His eyes then fell on Faith and he felt a pang that was very familiar to him. He got it every time he thought of his deceased wife. Even after two years, he still mourned for her. He wished she was here, with him, with them. He was so very sad that she would never see their children grow up, that she couldn’t see them now.
Without a second thought, he pulled Faith into a tight hug.
“I know that Willow is technically in charge from this moment, but I want you to help her out, ok?" He said.
"I love you. you know that, right?"
Willow saw Faith’s eyes widen in shock, before she smiled happily.
“I know. I love you too, Dad.” She answered and pulled back from the hug.
Next on his list was Wesley. He hugged him too.
"I love you too. Don't you ever forget it."
"Ok, I'll try not to." Wesley answered.
Spike pulled back and looked at Dawn, who was smiling up at him. He picked her up and kissed her cheek.
"And you. You behave yourself, you hear me? Love you, honey." He told her and put her down.
He turned to Willow, who was smiling happily as well.
"Do you love me too?" She asked jokingly.
"Well, that depends on what kind of love you're talking about, luv." He answered before picking up his bags and walking out onto the porch. “Thank you again Willow.”
“Don’t mention it. You have a safe trip, ok? We’ll see you in a week.” She answered.
The driver honked. William nodded and with a last “Goodbye,” walked toward the taxi. After putting his bags into the trunk, he turned around and waved at them. Waving back, they watched as the taxi drove away into the night. After it rounded the corner, Willow closed the door, the smile still on her face.
There was hope for him yet.