Cold air pushed into the house, and
I jumped up off of the comfortable couch. My blanket landed on the coffee
table. “What is it? What happened?”
“That stupid vampire damn near killed me!” Rona
held her shoulder and rushed into the kitchen.
Willow and Spike stepped through the front
door. As I approached them, Spike’s sheepish eyes drifted to the floor.
“Some vamp got her?” I asked.
Willow took one of her nervous breaths as Spike
“Well…yeah…” Willow motioned to Spike, who bit
his lip in a grin. “Some vamp…”
My eyes fell on Spike. Willow sighed and went
in the kitchen.
He scratched his neck, glancing up and down
again. “It was…I didn’t mean for it.”
“You staked her?” I smiled, closing the door.
That was definitely going to get him…
He turned around shaking his head. “No, no.
She was…he had her by the throat, real tight grip…so, so I shot…and…” he ran
his fingers through his hair and sat on the couch. “And then she moved.”
I sat next to him and shuddered. His body froze
the air around us. I pulled my blanket off the table and relaxed into the
warmth. Spike scratched at his hands, and scooted further away. He lifted his
eyes to the book-buried table and sat up to look at them all.
I shrugged. “Couple of the pages had some words
I could pronounce.”
He chuckled and selected one. I watched him
thumb through it, carefully turning the tender papers over. His cold fingers
ran down the spine…
I pulled the covers to my chin. Stupid sleepy
His attention moved from the book to me, as if
he was listening to my stupid sleepy thoughts. He closed the book, and gently
laid it back on the table.
Rona stormed out of the kitchen seconds later, a
nasty glare thrown in the direction of Spike. She muttered something on her
way up the stairs.
Spike shook his head and stood. His eyes fell
on me as he backed away. “Just a thing…always…just that.” He turned his back
on me. “G’nite Slayer.”
I watched him leave. Willow stood at the
hallway, and he darted past her. Her face softened as she spoke to me. “You
didn’t yell at him, did you? I saw the whole thing, Buffy, it really was an
accident.” She sat down where Spike had been, and picked up the same book he
had held. She flipped through the pages. “And I got really scared, too. I
thought that…that I was gonna have to do something.” Her body seemed to quake
and she closed the book. “And, I don’t think I was ready…not tonight.”
I reached out to pat her shoulder. “It’s okay,
Will. We’re all scared, but Will…we are ready.”
She half-nodded. She doesn’t believe me.
The lightbulb swayed, flinging shadows past my
steps. I caught a glimpse of him by the sink, the light dancing off the scars
on his back.
“Something on your mind, Slayer?”
Damn! I thought I was being quiet. I dropped
down the last few steps. I stood at the foot of the stairs, setting my eyes on
He splashed water over his head
before turning the knobs. After a short sigh, he pulled his shirt over his
head and faced me.
I smiled. He didn’t. What? Why?
He shook his head. “You shouldn’t
be down here.”
“Okay.” I looked away, “Sorry.” I
turned to go back upstairs. What the hell was that? Don’t look back, just go
upstairs. I was about halfway up when I paused. No, don’t pause. All the way
up! My mind fought with my eyes, begging me not to look at him.
I turned. Amazing. Two words and
he won the battle. He was looking up at me. I drifted back to the night I
died, then shot forward to the night I came back. His sad face, staring up at
me in both memories.
“It’s not…it’s not that I don’t
want you here…” he kept his eyes on me. “I do… because…you make the air soft,
and I feel…” his eyes closed, “But it’s deja-vu, that’s all it is. We’ve done
“I don’t think so.”
“How?” he moved up the stairs, his
hands clinging to the banister. “How is this any different? You used me then,
and now…” He stopped several steps away. “You don’t want it, Buffy. I know
it. I got it wrong, I know that now.”
“Spike, what are you talking
He threw his arms in the air. “The
soul! You don’t want it!”
I searched for
something—anything—to say. Nothing. My mouth hung open, with the words
stretching on my tongue. Say them! Say something!
He watched me, backing down the
steps. “You don’t want it…” he pulled the cord and the basement fell dark. “I
know you don’t. I don’t blame you for it.”
I closed the basement door, and the
words finally came. “I do.”
The wind was powerful. I had to fight just to
stand. My hair whipped across my face and sand scratched into my eyes. Tears
fell down my cheeks, and when I tried to call out, the gusts sucked the air out
of me. I gasped for air, like the night I had clawed out of the ground. The
debris blocked away all the light, and I fell to the hard ground in search of
My throat was dry when I woke—probably not from
dream-dust, but from screaming. I sat up in bed. No one had come in to check
I came downstairs and passed into the kitchen,
where I was surprised to find a light on. I was even more surprised to see
Spike sitting with one of the slay-girls.
He stopped midsentence, gazing up at me. The
slay-girl turned around in her seat. Which one was that? I stared at her, trying
“Hi Buffy.” She smiled. The accent—it was
Molly. She stood, and nodded to Spike. “Think I’ll just crawl back into
bed.” She left us alone.
Spike stood, filling a glass with water. “Rough
“What are you doing up here? And what were you
He grinned, handing me the glass. I gulped it.
The cool water tickled my throat. I squeezed my eyes shut, feeling his eyes on
me. He placed the glass in the sink and leaned against the counter, his eyes
I yawned, settling onto a stool.
“What was it, then?”
“What was what?”
“Something got you up outta bed, love. Wanna tell me what it is?”
“Oh, I…” I rubbed my forehead. “Just…a dream.”
He straightened up. “You have a lot of them
I nodded. “Too many.”
He stepped closer, but was still at a distance.
“You never had them when…”
I looked up at him, but he shot his eyes away.
“I just mean…I don’t recall you ever cried
out—in your sleep, I mean. You were always…” he smiled, eyes fixed on the
countertop. “Always peaceful…quiet.”
“Never in here.” I rubbed my head, then tucked
my arms together. Too cold. I need my blanket back.
“No,” he shook his head. “You wouldn’t let me
I sighed. I don’t want to do this…not now…not
at “Three a.m.?” I said aloud.
He looked at the glowing microwave clock, then
I stood. I’ve only got about three more good
hours left. Then my eyes fell on Spike. He was doing that thing…where his
body gets all wriggly and uneasy. I screwed something up again.
“Hey, Spike?” I turned around before leaving.
“Up for patrol tonight? Just me and you?”
His brow furrowed, and he did the wriggly thing
Don’t do that, Spike! “Been a while since we’ve
gone…I just thought it…”
“I’ll be there.”
The day was slow. Don’t teenagers have problems
these days? I could’ve bored a young sexy counselor for days about my problems
in high school. I put use to my hours of non-work, scribbling thoughts onto
the yellow notepad. Thoughts about The First, about training the girls, and a
few Spike-related sentences.
God, that’s the last time I act on impulse at
three in the morning. Not a good time to be throwing out suggestions. What
was I thinking? Would this lead him on—make him think that I want him again?
Do I…want him?
Frustrated with thoughts, I ripped the pages out
and started on a fresh page. Blank. Be blank. Stop thinking. Hours later,
when blank paper was covered with sketches from my recent dreams, Dawn wandered
up to the desk.
Uh oh, puppy-dog face. She wanted something.
“You know how people, like, date?” she bit her
“Actually…no. I don’t.” I said with a sad
She turned to pout-face. “Okay, well, it turns
out that Scott McMann, he does… With me…” her bottom lip slipped out. “If—if
you let me…please?”
That begging smile, I’m such a sucker for it
these days. Little Dawnie, boys fighting over her…evil undead boys… “Does
Scott meet the requirements?”
Dawn returned a blank stare.
“You know? Cute butt, half a brain, and…I don’t
She smiled. “Yes, yes, and yes! He’s right
outside, in the sun and everything. He came to meet you, ’cause he didn’t want
to be disrespectful. Isn’t that so mature?”
I shrugged. “Doesn’t sound too bright.”
“But you…you don’t really want to meet him, do
you?” her face was covered in concern. “Because…”
“You can go.” I nodded. “But you’re home by
ten, and if you’re so much as two minutes late, Mr. Man loses an appendage.”
She nodded, turning to leave.
“I’ll be patrolling, but I’ll know if you’re
“I won’t be!” she jumped for the door. “You’re
“Let us come with you!” Kennedy begged.
“Not tonight. I want you girls to get some
sleep.” I tucked a stake into my back pocket. “Giles said The First is gonna
lay off for a while, so I want you to rest up tonight. Trust me, you’ll all be
begging me to let you stay home next week.”
“But we…” Vi piped up.
“No buts! No slaying tonight.”
“Just make sure he knows that.” Rona held her
wrapped shoulder, glaring across the room at Spike. He looked at the floor,
then stepped out the front door and let it slam shut.
I herded them all under Willow’s watchful eye,
then went after Spike. He was leaning against that tree, like he always did
back then. He watched me come down the steps before standing up straight.
“They sound more like you every day, you know?”
he walked alongside me.
We walked in silence all the way to the
cemetery. His boots skudding against the dirt, then brushing against the
grass—all I heard for some long minutes.
Once amidst the stones he cleared his throat.
Oh God. He was gonna start it. I’m not ready yet, Spike. Don’t say anything
about it yet.
“Watcher’s overseas now, huh?”
“Yeah.” I breathed a sigh of relief.
“He’s…there were more girls…for him to find.”
He nodded. “They’re getting good…the girls.”
I glanced at him, looking away when he looked
back at me.
“Well, they aren’t that good. Not good enough
to stake me yet.”
I grabbed his hand. “I haven’t gotten that good
yet.” Oh my God, why did I grab his hand? And what did I just say? My eyes
wandered to our hands as he squeezed mine, then dropped it.
“Don’t do that,” his voice quiet, his hand
tucking into his pocket.
“What? Why not?”
“Look, you don’t have to…” he stopped, turning
his face to mine. “It’s enough for me…to be around you…”
I tried not to look hurt. “You don’t…want…me to
His eyes were watering. God, don’t cry in front
of me Spike. But then he caught himself, blinking it away. He let out a
“Buffy,” he stared at the blades of grass, “I
know it…it can’t ever be how I want it. It can’t even be how you want it.” He
glanced up. “And after I…it wasn’t your fault. I thought I saw it…the last
night, when we were…your eyes, they said it to me…” his eyes closed, and he
started to walk again.
I followed him through the tombstones. He
finally settled against one. I stood behind him, waiting to hear him out.
“I thought you loved me…” he whispered. “And I
wanted to…because I didn’t deserve then…” his shoulders hunched and he dropped
his head. “I still don’t deserve…”
My eyes stung, and I quickly wiped them dry. I
took two deep breaths, trying to turn my voice normal again before I spoke.
“Alright, Spike.” I walked around to face him.
“Now, it’s my turn.”
He raised his eyes. They looked past me, then
his head shot up. He stood, pushing me to the ground.
I heard his deep-throaty growl and quickly got
to my feet. We were surrounded by Bringers. Spike pulled a knife out of his
side and muffled his pained yowl. His face vamped and he tossed me the knife.
And we went to work.
Continued in Part 4