A Hell God. A fucking Hell God.
If this is the universe’s idea of a bloody joke, I’m gonna find out whoever’s in charge, hunt them down, and kill the lot of them.
“The good news is, not only does Giles have his job back, the Council’s actually paying me!” Buffy tells me, a big grin plastered across her face. Christ, she’s adorable when she’s happy. “I’m still gonna go to college, but it’s good to know I won’t be stuck flipping burgers if I flunk.”
“Good on you, pet,” I say. I’m leaning against the crypt wall opposite her, and I take a sip of blood. “Surprised you got those wankers to pay up.”
She shrugs and takes a seat on my sofa. “The gang said I looked pretty scary when I told those guys I’m willing to do anything to make sure my baby has the best life. I also reminded them that since I’m over eighteen and being forced to work for them against my will, I’m technically their slave, and they looked really horrified at that. Which was weird. Didn’t you British guys like, invent slavery, or something?”
I stare at her. “How the bloody hell did you pass history in school? Slavery’s been going on for thousands of years, long before England even became a sodding country.”
“Oh.” She frowned. “But you guys invented the Atlantic Slave Trade, right?”
“No. Portugal started that,” I tell her. “Us Brits took part in it, I won’t lie to you, but slavery wasn’t really a popular thing on the Isles themselves. Eventually we outlawed it and even went as far as blocking other slave ships – while you Yanks had a bloody war over it.”
“Hey! Stop acting like you have the moral high ground here!” She points a finger at me. “Besides, we’re getting way off-topic. My point is, we won. We got the information we needed, and the Council’s paying me.”
“They gone?” I hope so. That Lydia bird was getting a bit too interested for comfort. And I couldn’t exactly tell her I’m a one-woman vamp, and that woman in question is the Slayer she was asking me about.
“Yep.” She nods. “They’re gonna call Giles if they find out any more information on Glory and those Knights of Hack n’ Slash that attacked me outside the Magic Box.”
My head snaps back to attention.
“What?!” I fight every urge in my body that’s screaming at me to run to her and check her over for injuries. The last thing she needs is a creature she loathes getting in her face. “When did this happen?! Why didn’t you tell me?! Is the Bit alright?!”
Counting on her fingers, she answers my questions in order. “It happened last night before the meeting with the Council. This is the first time I’ve seen you since them, so I’m telling you now. And yes, she’s fine. How about you stop calling our daughter ‘Bit’ or ‘Nibblet’? She’s not an appetizer!”
I raise my hands in defence as I cross the room and take a seat next to her. “Sorry, pet. We haven’t discussed names for her yet, remember?”
She shrugs. “Point. I’ve gotta nada on the name front. Mom won’t let me use hers. Oh, and I wanted to carry on the tradition of using Anne as a middle name, if that’s OK with you?”
“Perfectly fine, pet.” I don’t tell her Anne was my mother’s name. She might refuse to use it if she knew that.
“And Mom also suggested I go with an old, English name,” she continues. “And I told her that my baby already has a dad who’s old and English…”
“Ha bloody ha.”
“…so she doesn’t need a name to reflect that. But I looked it up and I thought some of them were nice. Like Boudicca.”
I bark out a laugh. “Not gonna happen, luv. I can see you inherited your mum’s taste in names.”
“My name isn’t silly!” She shoves my shoulder, but not very hard. “And neither is Boudicca. She was a British warrior queen, or something. She sounds cool. Wasn’t she, like, your Queen’s twenty-times-something great-grandmother?”
Actually, whoever’s in charge of the universe should just strike me down. It’ll be less painful. “I’m starting to see the bloody problem here. It’s the sodding American school system, teaching you all this rot! That settles things. Our kid’s being home-schooled.”
Buffy frowns. “So… Boudicca wasn’t a Queen?”
“She was a warrior Queen, yeah,” I tell her. “No relation to our current Royal Family. England as a country hadn’t even been founded when Boudicca was around. But I’m not here to give you a sodding history lesson, even if you desperately need it.”
“If you think I’m stupid, I can’t believe you put up with Harmony for so long.”
“I was lonely,” I admit with a shrug. “And even then, didn’t take me long to stake her. Too bad she was wearing the blood Gem.” I then move a strand of hair out of her eyes. She doesn’t flinch away, and my heart soars. “I don’t think you’re stupid, pet. Harris is proof that it’s the school system at fault.”
She giggles. “Having Snyder as a Principal didn’t help, either. Besides, I’m taking World History at college, so I’m learning more about it. I’d probably be more excited about it if the Professor wasn’t a big meanie.”
“I can eat him for you, if you like?”
“No – as tempting as that offer is,” she says. “But as I was saying before you rudely interrupted me, I was fixated on old English names when that lady from the Council gave me something. I think her name was Lydia?”
Well, this can’t be good. “What did she give you?”
The Slayer smirks. Definitely not good. “I was merciful and didn’t show the rest of the gang…” She opens her bag and pulls out what looks like an old picture…
Oh no. Sodding, bloody, buggering fuck, no.
“Tell me that’s not what I think it is.”
She turns it around, and oh fuck, it is. “Your school photo! I didn’t even know they had cameras back then.”
“Photography was invented in the 1820s, over fifty years before I was turned.” There’s no need to panic. She probably doesn’t even know which kid is me…
“Lydia says this one’s you!” She points at me. Bloody hell. “You were so cute! Standing there looking all smart…”
“I’m not sodding cute!”
“You were!” she insists. “There’s no need to be ashamed. Our baby has good genes. She’s gonna be the cutest kid!”
Well. When she puts it like that…
Still… “Maybe we should put the picture away, pet…”
But she doesn’t let me take it. “Who’s the boy standing next to you? Do you remember their names?”
“Yeah. They boy’s called Okay.”
She stares at me. “You can just tell me the truth and say you don’t remember.”
“I swear on my life, Slayer, that’s his name. Okay Johnson,” I tell her. “Names in Victorian England got a bit… strange. Probably a combination of poor families having too many bleeding kids and only half of them surviving past the age of five.”
“That’s just… sad.” She looks down at the picture again. “But surely one of these kids had a normal name?”
“Yeah, that one would be me. William,” I reply. “As for the rest…” I point to a girl, “Raspberry Lemon,” a boy, “Lettice Burger,” another girl, “Never,” I point to a pair of twins, a boy and a girl, “Toilet and Baboon,” a girl, “Happy,” another girl, “Princess Cheese,” a boy, “Evil,” another boy, “and Scary Looker. And the teacher,” I point to the woman, “was Miss Farting Clack.”
Buffy’s looking at me like I’ve gone bleeding mad. “You’re making fun of me.”
“I’m not! Ask your Watcher. I’m sure he can confirm it,” I say. “Better yet, ask that Watcher lady who gave you the picture. If she managed to figure out that was me, then she’d know the other names of the kids.”
Just saying that seems to confirm it for her. “Their parents must be evil.”
“No, that’s Evil there.” I point to the boy again.
She giggles again, before sighing. “I think I might wait until she’s born. Mom says she didn’t know what to name me until she was holding me in her arms. She said I felt like a ‘Buffy’. And it’s a better name than her other two options.”
“Gertrude or Hortense. Apparently, she thought I was gonna be born as a permanent old lady.”
I burst out laughing.