The Bronze vamp did lead us to more vamps. A
lot more vamps. Not too many… never too many… but a lot. I glanced around the
room. Most of them were in the middle, but there were some on a balcony… about
Okay, maybe this could be too many.
“That’s her!” Bronze-vamp pushed through the
crowd. “She’s right there! I told you I’d get her here!”
“The Slayer!” another vamp cried out.
“Spike,” I looked behind me, “You take the
Spike wasn’t back there.
I stared at the empty spot—the spot Spike was
supposed to be, “Spike?”
“So!” a snarling voice made me face forward
again, “This is the Slayer?”
I straightened up. This vamp wasn’t from around here… had a thick
Hispanic accent. His red robe reached the floor… Okay, lame much?
“So, this is… I’m sorry, who are
He showed a toothy grin, “I am Raphael Ortíz.”
I gripped the stake, “Correction: You were
The door behind me slammed, but before I could
turn I was wrapped up in familiar arms. One leather-clad arm had me in a
chokehold, while the other twisted my arm behind my back.
“Bloody gotcha now, don’t I Slayer?” Spike
growled as his hand twisted the stake from my own.
What the hell is he doing? The
First? No… if it was the trigger, he would’ve sunk his teeth in by now…
“Amigo!” Raphael and his gang stepped forward, “She belongs to us.”
Spike chuckled, pushing me forward, “You know
how long I been trackin‘ this girl?”
“That is no ordinary girl,” Raphael folded his
hands, “That is the Slayer.”
“Damn right it is,” Spike had vamped now, “Think
I don’t bloody know that? Don’t you know who I am, mate?”
Raphael squinted as a protégé whispered in his
“William the Bloody…” Raphael mused. “I’ve
never heard of you.”
“And I’ll bet this is your first attempt at killin‘ a Slayer, eh
ponce?” Spike’s tone was confident… bragging. His hand dropped mine, and he
wrapped an arm around my waist. A sudden flashback shot shivers through me. I
forced my eyes open again to stop the flashes, and focused on three vamps that
were ready to fight.
Okay… all part of the act… nothing to get all
shaky about, Buffy… Spike must have sensed my discomfort, because he eased up
on his grip. Raphael had backed up, and the rest of the vamps followed his
lead, allowing Spike and I to move towards the middle… doesn’t seem like the
greatest plan, Spike.
“Fact is, she’s not your ordinary Slayer, mate,”
Spike pushed us through the crowd, until we finally reached the middle. Spike
halted us in front of the ratty pool table dead center. Two pool-cues lay
crisscrossed over the top. One of the three vamps roared as my eyes went from
them to the table. He crouched low.
“Special, this one…” Spike
finished, and gave me a tight squeeze. He was warning me… almost time. Or
maybe he was just… squeezing…
“Nothing special that I can see,” Raphael stood
alongside us now, eying me closely, “Dígame, señor. Mira viejo y cansado a mí,
señor… Mira muerto.”
Spike’s elbow cracked Raphael’s nose. The vamp
hit the floor, and Spike flung me towards the table.
“This Slayer’s always got backup, mate,” Spike
pounced on Raphael.
I rolled onto the table, collecting up the two
cues. I knocked away two vamps before they could get to Spike. The third
grabbed at the poolstick. I swung the other rod down fast, cracking it over
his shoulder. The wood splintered, giving me all that I needed.
The three vamps went poof as another two jumped
up onto the table. One threw a quick kick, landing it on my stomach. I bent
over, and then forced the stick straight up through his chest. The second vamp
pushed through his dust and grabbed the wood. I pulled back and the vamp fell
off the table.
Raphael went flying over my head, and then
crashed hard against a beam under the balcony. It started to sway.
I looked down at Spike, who offered his hand. I
grasped it, and hopped down off the table.
He picked up the second cue from the ground and
broke it over his knee, “Robe-idiot’s mine.”
I twirled my very long stake, “Then you better
dust him fast.”
He nodded, quickly jabbing just above my head.
I didn’t have to look… the dust rained down over us. He stood there with his
arm alongside my cheek. I could feel the soft leather brush by when he pulled
back. He placed the second cue in my hands.
“Amigo said some stupid words… needs a good
beatin‘ before he’s dust… you just watch my back.”
I hurled a cue, sticking it through the vamp
behind him, “Not a problem.”
A quick smile showed, and then he took off
It had been about ten minutes, and I had dusted
more vamps than minutes gone by. Most of them had retreated to the balcony,
and I was so busy slaying, I hadn’t seen Spike or Raphael at all… until now.
They came into view under the
balcony. Spike had somehow gotten his hands on a crowbar, and was swinging
down at Raphael. I watched Spike drop the heavy weapon to the floor… I heard
the clang from the metal. Dust was billowing up, but I could make it out when
Spike slammed Raphael into the final pillar
The balcony started to fall, and Spike disappeared
behind the crashing pieces of wood. I moved closer to the disaster, driving
the stake into anything that moved.
There was another crash, and I
heard a howl come from Raphael.
I jabbed a couple more spots, but then there
were no more… a lot of them must have been killed in the fall.
“Please!” Raphael shouted, and then screamed. I
began to follow it.
“Please?” Spike roared, and another scream
sounded. “Don’t you mean ‘por favor,’ mate?”
There was another smash, and I turned a corner
and finally saw them.
Raphael was bloody, disrobed, and kneeling in
front of Spike. Raphael looked powerless, and fell back against the broken
pillar behind him.
Spike’s fists were clenched tight
around the crowbar again, and he stood menacingly before the begging vampire.
Raphael’s eyes opened, and he began to crawl
towards me, “Oh, thank you…”
“Thank you, thank you,” Raphael lifted his hands
in the air, “For the love of God, stake me!”
I took a deep breath, then stepped closer to
them, lifting the cue higher.
But Spike beat me to it, clutching Raphael and
lifting him to his feet.
“No! Please, no more!” Raphael was in tears.
He exploded into dust as Spike slammed him on a
The room went quiet, and I waited for the dust
to settle before I spoke.
“So much for not ‘relishing in the kill…’”
Spike sighed, “Should’ve remembered his
“They never do.”
He shook his head, “Still it… doesn’t feel right
somehow…” he turned to me, motioning to the dust that was Raphael, “Feels like
I should be...”
I looked down at my broken cue, gripping it with
both hands. Why does he think that? Am I the only one who can see what Spike could be?
“You’re better than them.”
I couldn’t see his face, but by the sound he had
made I guessed he was smiling.
I tossed the wood to the floor, looking up at
him. He had dropped the smile. He couldn’t just let things go… Spike can
never just forget the past… he’s so wrapped up in it that he can’t see now.
“It doesn’t matter what you were,
Spike. It’s now that matters.”
“And what am I now?” his fingers tapped against
his leg. I honestly believed that he didn’t know himself… there’s no way he’ll
ever know unless I tell him right now.
What are you, Spike? The dusty floorboards creaked under my feet
as I came closer. Not too close… “You’re fast, you’re strong,” I looked him
right in the eye before finishing it, “And you’re good.”
I can’t believe I got that out…
He blinked, “That’s what you see now, is it?”
I looked around the broken building… God, this
is just like our… why do we keep wandering around places like this? Places
where I treated him like an animal… and why do I always have to repeat my—my
eyes fell onto a dusty silver platter buried in rubble. I could see my tiny
reflection in it.
And I didn’t look pathetic. I actually looked
sure of myself… like how I looked that night with Dawn. Strong… confident… If
there was ever a time to tell Spike these things, it should be when I look like
“I know why you don’t believe me,” I said it plainly,
with no shakiness at all.
He didn’t move.
“It’s because you can’t see yourself, Spike.
You can’t see how you’ve changed.”
He shrugged, “Another downside to being a
“That’s not what I mean,” I picked up the
platter and dusted it off, “I’m not just talking about reflections like this,”
I held it in front of his face, then pulled it away again, “Because that
reflection says you’re nothing, Spike. It’s not true.”
I threw the platter down, and Spike blinked
“Do you know what my reflection has told me?” I
asked him, “Do you know what I’ve seen in my eyes? I’ve seen fear… and anger…
parts of me that you had to face every day.”
He dropped his head, “It’s wasn’t—”
“It was, Spike,” I was getting too close now,
“It was my fault. Do you know why?”
He shook his head, not lifting his eyes.
“Because I used to believe what I saw in my
reflection… I believed I was evil… and cold… and dead. I believed I could
never be happy again.”
He glanced up, eyes full of confused remorse… he
still doesn’t get it.
“But I’m… I think I’m happy now.”
His head tilted, watching me search for anything
left to say. Silence fell, and he focused on the floor again. I found the
“You don’t need a reflection to know what you
A moment of silence passed.
Spike’s head rose, and he finally
looked like he got the idea.
“And I’m good?”
I smiled, and then nodded, “Yeah. You’re good,
He was smiling… his mouth… his heart… his soul…
they all wore that slight smile.
I took a deep breath, trying to shake away the
sudden warmth swelling inside my chest… suffocating me.
“Not too bad yourself, Slayer.”