Summary: The monks’ spell to create the Key goes wonky.
Timeline: Season 5 AU
Rating: R for (highlight to view) language, graphic violence and character death.
Word Count: ~14,000
Author’s Note: The beginning dialogue in the prologue is lifted from the BtVS episode No Place Like Home and one line borrowed from Spiral—all the rest is my own. The title is French for “courtly love” or, to be more accurate, a “fine love”. This story is my feminist spin on a chivalric epic. The concept for this story was inspired by discussion with flake_sake where the question was raised: how can a story express a great and abiding romantic love without the sexual expression of love? Fin Amour is my answer.
Thanks: To penny_lane_42 and ladyofthelog for the amazing beta work (banner also by ladyofthelog ). You ladies keep me sane and forever motivated—love, love, love. Thanks also to enigmaticblues for keeping this community alive. ♥
- John Donne
“I’ll be right there,” Giles tells her and the line clicks dead. Buffy stands with the hard plastic receiver still pressed to her ear, listening to the dial tone.
“Miss Summers?” a man asks from behind her and Buffy turns, phone receiver still in hand. The man is tall with sandy brown hair and kind eyes, a clipboard in one hand, a stethoscope hanging around his neck. The blue scrubs bring out the color in his eyes.
Blue. Her mom always loved that color. The ocean is blue and the sky is—
Buffy blinks and refocuses on his face. “Yes?”
He smiles and it’s impersonal, but still kind and sympathetic. “I wanted to give you an update on your mother’s condition. She’s been taken to get her arm x-rayed. Standard procedure. Your mother also has some severe blunt force trauma—”
“She hit her head,” Buffy murmurs, her gaze losing focus. She imagines Glory throwing her mom across her living room.
“Right,” he nods, “which is why she’s going to need a CT scan. It’s going to be a few hours before we have the results.” He glances down at the phone clutched in Buffy’s hand. “Is someone coming to wait with you?”
“Someone’s coming,” she repeats, the words simple, slow and measured.
“Okay, good. Look if you need anything”—he reaches to touch her shoulder, then stops and lets his hand fall—“just let me know. My name’s Ben. Oh, and congratulations.”
Her forehead screws up and she stares at him, confused.
Ben’s smile wobbles and he fills the silence with an awkward laugh. “How far along are you?”
“Oh,” she blurts out, laying a hand on her stomach. “Uh, far. A few more weeks.”
“Right, well, if you need anything…” He’s still smiling, waiting for her to respond and all she can think to say is she needs to kill something with her bare hands, but she doubts he’s offering that as an option.
The muscles in her face feel stiff when she forces a smile. “Thanks, I’ll—uh, let you know.”
Buffy watches Ben walk away, then moves to sit in one of the plastic chairs in the ER’s waiting room, only the metal cord jerks her arm and she realizes she’s still holding the phone. She hangs it up with a quiet click and sits down. The background chatter plays in the distance: computer keys click, a phone rings, double doors swish open and shut, shoes squeak on the white linoleum tile, a drop of coffee plops into the pot, a wheelchair’s spokes whir and hum, murmuring voices are interrupted by the occasional loud cough.
She sits quietly, perfectly still, and waits. That’s what the room is for, right?
That’s what rooms are for. Places are for specific activity. She trains in her training room. She sleeps in her bedroom. She slays vampires in graveyards. She researches demons wherever Giles is and Giles is almost always at the Magic Box aka research central. Her mom cooks in the kitchen and then Buffy puts the dishes in the dishwasher. The laundry goes in the laundry basket. Her weapons go in the weapons’ chest at the foot of her bed. Everything has its place.
Only Glory doesn’t belong in her living room and living rooms aren’t places where you make death threats. There’s a time and a place, but the rules keep getting broken.
“Are you all right?” Giles asks, and Buffy lifts her head, surprised to find him sitting next to her.
“Where is everybody?” she asks instead, unsure how to answer his question.
“Anya’s minding the shop, I left a message for Xander at work, and Willow and Tara are in class, but coming over as soon as they can. Any word on your mother’s condition?”
“Still waiting. X-rays and a CT scan,” she recites. “Just standard procedure stuff.”
Giles nods and lays his hand on her shoulder, squeezing gently before sliding down to rub her back. She breaks down at the comforting touch, her throat tightens, and she forcibly swallows the ball of emotion threatening to spill out. She takes a deep breath, then another and manages to say, “You said you wanted to talk strategy.”
Hands now resting on his thighs, Giles shakes his head. “We can do that later.”
Buffy turns to look at him, eyes clear and grave. “I think we should do that now.”
There’s a patch of moss climbing up the side of the crypt and she’s never noticed the crack in the outer door before. Did she put that crack in the door? Maybe the last time she slammed through it. Or Spike busted it open in a fit of rage. Or he got into a fight with some demons and they vandalized his crypt—cracking doors is pretty weak in terms of demon vengeance, but maybe they're the more cuddly sort of demons. It also wouldn’t explain the moss unless they were Moss demons. Algae demons?
“You planning on coming inside or is this payback loitering?”
She whips around to find Spike standing at arm’s length, a paper bag full of groceries tucked in the crook of his elbow. He lifts an eyebrow.
“What?” she snaps and crosses her arms over her chest.
He nods at the crypt behind her. “You coming in or not?”
“No, I’m not coming in,” she retorts, already feeling a scoff imminent. She feels her body go loose and suddenly she’s absurdly happy for the normalcy of being annoyed with Spike.
“Suit yourself,” he says with a shrug, walking past her and disappearing inside, the crypt’s heavy door slamming shut behind him.
She stares at the door, incredulous, then darts forward, throws the door open and stomps inside. “I shouldn’t have even come here,” she tosses the words across the room at him where he’s bent over, stacking pints of blood in his small, corner refrigerator.
“Probably right,” he agrees, glancing at her over the refrigerator door, “but since you came all this way, risking life and pregnant limb, might as well state your business. To what do I owe the pleasure of your uptight, holier-than-thou, know-it-all, self-righteous, bugger-all-sense company?”
She flinches, raises her arms and crosses them just beneath her breasts, then turns her head to side. Her throat feels tight again, probably because her chest feels like it’s being squeezed in a vice. She opens her eyes extra-wide hoping the stuffy air will dry them out.
“Oh, great. Silent treatment. You gonna scowl at me all night? Got better things to do, love. Not that I don’t appreciate your disapproving looks—actually I don’t, but—”
“Can you just not?” she whispers, and hates her voice for wobbling.
He stops, closes the refrigerator door and walks to stand in front of her, head cocked to the side. “What is it?”
She breathes deep, calms the jumping in her stomach, and faces him. Quiet and grave, she tells him, “I have to leave Sunnydale.”
He squints at her. “And you came to say goodbye?”
She takes a deep breath. “And I want you to come with me. I—I need you to come with me.” As soon as the words are out, she lowers her gaze, stares past his shoulder to the dusty corner above the refrigerator and starts noting the pattern of the cobwebs.
“All right,” he agrees readily. Then his expression turns curious. “Go where exactly?”
“Where?” she echoes, then lets out a dry laugh. “Elsewhere. Someplace not here.”
“Sunnyhell get a bit too lively for you? Right, then. Just you and me and the open road. Gonna need to round up some wheels first. When do you wanna leave?”
“Tomorrow. And it’s not just you and me. That’s the whole point. I need you to help protect my family. My friends.”
“So, not a romantic getaway?”
“No!” She pushes away from him and paces, only to spin around and throw her hands in the air. “I’ve got an angry hellgod and an army of bad coming after me and you think I wanna take a romantic getaway? With you? God, is that all you think about?”
“Well, I’m in love with you, so yeah, pretty much. All goddamn day and all goddamn night.”
She tosses up her hand, holding him off. “Stop. Don’t say it. I don’t wanna hear it. You don’t even know what that means,” she nearly snarls, feeling her voice turn bitter and hateful.
His eyes are blazing and insistent. “I know what love is.”
She scoffs like she always does. “How could you?”
The fire in his eyes dims, no longer blazing, just soft and warm, a single focused light. “How could I not?” He laughs at himself, softly, bemused. “How could I not love you?”
“I told you I don’t wanna hear it. I can’t. So stop. Just stop.” Her voice breaks and she closes her eyes. She crosses her arms again, hugging herself, head bowed. Then, she looks up and continues harshly, but quietly, “I don’t have time for your games. Do you understand? Tell me you understand. Tell me I can count on you to do what has to be done. To protect them. And if you tell yourself you’re doing it ‘cause you love me, that’s fine. I don’t care why. Just do it.”
He’s the first to lower his gaze. Then he nods. “I keep my promises.”
“Good.” She walks past him, pauses at the crypt door and turns back. “Just don’t say it, okay?”
He’s half turned away, his profile to her. He doesn’t turn to face her, just stands still as a statue when he says in a dull voice, “Right. Nothing to say.”
Hand braced on the door, she says, “I’ll see you tomorrow,” and lets the door slam shut behind her.
“So the plan is to run away?” Anya asks, then nods approval at Buffy who’s pacing the living room of Xander’s apartment. “That’s a solid plan. Nice to see you talking sense. Many women at your late stage in pregnancy are prone to hormonal mood swings and emotional fits. Maybe it’s your Slayer genes kicking in.”
“Right, because you can’t trust the women folk to use logic when they’ve got buns in the oven,” Willow snarks, rolling her eyes.
“Speaking of buns,” Xander announces, closing the front door and holding up a white rectangular box. “I’ve got Cinnabuns fraternizing with glazed and jelly donuts. Gotta carb up for the cross-country fleeing.”
“Guys, keep it down. My mom’s resting in the other room,” Buffy says, still pacing the room. “And dibs on the chocolate glazed.”
“Don’t eat all the jellies,” Giles mutters, peering up from inspecting a highway map spread out on the kitchen table, his glasses dangling on the tip of his nose. Tara swipes a jelly donut from the box, lays it on a plate, carries it over and rests it on the table next to Giles’ elbow. “Ah, thank you,” he murmurs, smiling and taking a bite as he continues plotting course.
“So what’s the what?” Xander asks, chomping down on a classic glazed donut. “When are we hightailing it? Isn’t it time to hit the road, Jack? Gotta get outta Dodge, pals? I’m just gonna keep going until someone answers.”
Anya smiles and pats Xander’s knee, her mouth busy chewing on a Cinnabun.
“We’re…” Buffy sighs. “We’re waiting for Spike.”
“We’re what?” Xander spits, then begins to choke on a piece of donut caught in his throat.
“We’re waiting for Spike to show up with a stolen vehicle large enough for everyone,” Anya explains, pounding Xander on the back.
A loud horn honks repeatedly from down below. Buffy opens the living room window, waves, then rolls her eyes when the horn keeps honking. Realizing the sun is out and Spike won’t be looking up to see her, she grabs a donut, aims, and lobs it at the windshield of the battered Winnebago. The horn stops honking.
“Okay, guys, downstairs in five minutes,” Buffy orders, heading to the back room to wake her mom.
“Time to pack your bags and get gone,” Xander quotes.
“You’re gonna stop doing that once we’re on the road, right?” Willow asks, slinging a bag over her shoulder and helping Tara lift a suitcase upright on its wheels.
“Sure. Once we’re on the road, I’m gonna start ninety-nine bottles of beer.”
“Oh, I know that one!” Anya jumps in. “And then we can sing '‘Enry the Eighth' like Patrick Swayze in Ghost.”
“God help us all,” Giles mutters, shaking his head.
Willow leans in close to Giles. “I thought we were getting out of town to avoid the violence?”
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