It was so dark. Stupid torch had
burned out the second I got to Spike. His hand found mine. He whimpered as I
tried to pull him up, so I knelt.
Muddled words came quietly, and I
was certain he had said, “Just go.” I wrapped my arms under him gently, and
lifted him to his feet.
And now, he was draped over me
again—just like the night I had saved him. The night I had saved him. Like
I’m some big hero. Yeah, that’s reason to think he’d forgive me. After what I
made him think? What I made him do? My thoughts were so loud I glanced over
at him, positive he could hear them. How could he not?
But his bruised face was lowered, watching our invisible feet kick
up dust as we wandered down another dark hallway.
God, we need to get out of here.
Those claws had shredded his shirt, which still clung about his neck. But it
wasn’t his neck or shirt I was worried about. It was all the blood seeping
through the shredded shirt. I felt cold air against my forehead. An opening?
“Spike, here…” I stopped him against
a wall, then let him go.
He slid back against it.
“Don’t sit. It’s too hard to stand
you up again.”
He grunted to hold his footing as I
I followed the breeze. Again,
Spike was hurt… unable to stand because he was with me. I don’t get it. We
weren’t talking this time. We were both focused. Or was he? I lifted my hand
above my head, trying to feel more air. Nothing—it had come and gone. I
walked back to Spike. Maybe he tried to go to me, after the demon spit that
fire. I should ask… no, wait. I shouldn’t. I don’t want to know, anyway.
If he was, and he tells me he was, I’ll yell at him… and we’re stuck in this
cave. Okay. Not now.
His arm found its way around me
again, and we started down another dark path.
My feet were throbbing when he
finally muttered something.
I jumped a little. It was creepy
hearing him whisper that in the dark, when I couldn’t see his gentle eyes to
soften the word, or that smirk across his face to lighten it. The way it
sounded in the dark made my skin tingle.
“What is it?”
His arm dropped heavy onto my
shoulder, and he pulled us to a stop.
“I have to tell you something.”
I nodded. Stupid. He can’t see a
nod; it’s pitch-black. I went to answer aloud, but he began talking again… as
if he had seen my nod.
“Won’t get mad? Won’t run off and
“Spike, you can’t even stand.” I faced his
direction, “What is it?”
He leaned in closer, his face inches from mine—the chill of his
skin cooling mine. Does he know he’s this close? Too close. Again. I
shivered. He knows.
“Could’ve walked on my own for the past hour.”
My mouth dropped open. His head fell against my
shoulder, and he let out a soft laugh. I started to back away.
His arm slid down mine, hand
tugging at my wrist, “Don’t get mad, love… You said you wouldn’t run off.”
I slipped out of his grasp, able to feel his
hands waving at the empty air. “I never said that.”
I heard him slump to the ground before he
spoke—almost singing, “Slayer? Oh, Slayer? Where have you gone?” His feet
were dragging—still on his knees. “Over here? I think you are…”
I gave him an amused smile, that turned into a
quiet giggle as I sensed him come to a stop right in front of me. He stayed
there, inches away from me. Close enough to touch, but still not touching. I
strained to see him there, and made out his hair. He was looking up—straining
to see me.
I felt a chill up my body as he stood. I
grabbed his hand, pulling his arm over my shoulders again.
“Let’s get out of here, Spike.”
“Oh, crap!” I squirmed out of Spike’s hold and
sprinted for the mouth of the cave. Sunlight beamed through the trees and into
the first few feet of the cave.
“Yeah. It’s been up for ’bout ten minutes now.
Been thinking ’bout what I’m gonna do stuck in this cave all day.”
“And?” I walked back in his direction.
He smiled, tilting his head slightly, “Think of
I rolled my eyes. “I’ll call Giles from the
school. He’ll get you back to the house.” Where you can still think of me, if
He nodded, “Thanks. Better be off soon,
Slayer. Gonna be late for work.”
I rubbed my eyes, “What time is it?” God, I
want a shower.
“I’d say a little after six.”
Good-bye, shower. I looked down at my ripped,
bloody, and burnt clothes.
“Should run to the Harris’ first… get yourself
I looked up at him. Right, Xander! Shower
there and change when we get Dawn for school. Oh, mother of all good ideas,
thank you Spike. I smiled at him, and he stretched against the wall before
slipping to the floor. My smile left. I forgot how hurt he was. I took a
couple steps forward.
He glanced up, “What’re you waiting for? Run
But I kept walking towards him, until I was
standing at his tired legs. Spike, Spike. Old Spike wouldn’t have let that
scratch happen—would’ve moved out of the way. Something is bothering you. You
really are slipping… and it’s my fault. I knelt next to him. How can I help
He sat straight against the wall, rising a knee
to stop me, “Don’t.” His eyes followed my hand in fear as I lifted it to his
chest. “Buffy… don’t.”
Why? God, Spike, just let me help you… or thank
you. Let me do something. I watched more blood seep out of the wounds as my
hand hovered over them. He was breathing hard, pushing the blood out by
working his lungs. His eyes shut tight, but his mouth sucked air in and out.
His bloodied bottom lip started to tremble a bit.
Why? What is so scary about this, Spike? You
have to stop it. Being afraid like this. Don’t you want to help? Do you
think this helps?
But I didn’t say anything, holding my thoughts
as he held the air now. He stopped breathing, biting his bottom lip.
Fine. I don’t need you to look at me when I say
it. I pulled my hand away and stood, shoving it in my pocket. “See you
He hissed out the air.
What? I started to walk away. No, I was
supposed to tell him thanks. Where did those words come from? I made it to
the sunlight, expecting him to call out to me. He didn’t. I wouldn’t have
heard him over my noisy thoughts anyway.
“Are you sure?”
“Buffy,” Giles’ voice was concerned, “I’ve done some reading on
that demon... in one of the books I read about Glory. Very common in her
dimension. Apparently the creature was spawned when Glory…”
“When the portal opened. I get it. Was it our guy?”
“It’s doubtful, if it came from Glory’s dimension, that it was what
we were looking for. Of course, I would like to see it up close to make sure…
And dead. You are quite certain you killed it?”
“Giles, it’s dead.” I assured him. “But if
you’re planning on going back into the caves to look at it, bring weapons and
flashlights. Something else could be in there.”
“Not likely. If this demon is, indeed, as big as you say… probably
scared anything else out.”
“It is that big.” I gave a restless sigh,
wishing I could leave and meet Giles at the cave. Spike would be there. Oh,
wait. “Giles, Spike’s hurt. If you want him to take you back through the
cave, bring him some blood.”
“Kinda,” I replied, more important ideas popping
into my head, “And you should take the girls with you too. And Willow. It’d
be a good—”
“They’re not all here, Buffy.” Giles
interrupted, “Kennedy asked Willow something about her craft, and the both
left. Snuck out, now that I think about it.” Giles sounded irritated.
Another sigh. “Well, take Vi, and Rona, and
whoever else is there. I’m sick of this take-them-under-my-motherly-wing
stuff. It’ll do them good to see the type of creatures a Slayer is up
“Well… a Slayer and her brooding vampire.”
“Well, I’m sorry to be the one who has to say
it, Buffy… Spike’s delusional and bursting with self-loathing and pity. I can
nearly smell it.”
I had no answer. Probably because Giles is
right. Spike is still all broody. After I told him to stop, too. How dare he
ignore me like that!
“I’ll take your silence as an agreement.” Giles
got his smarter-than-you voice on, “Something should be done about it… the
brooding, I mean.”
“I’ve tried, Giles. I’ve tried to talk to him
about it. It doesn’t get through to him. What should I tell him?”
Giles chuckled, “Tell him he’s the spitting image of Angel… should
disgust him enough.”
Angel. He’s all anyone ever talks about these
days. Oh look, another vamp with a soul, just like Angel. Back to start. Am
I the only one who sees a difference? Even Spike doesn’t know it. It’s not
My thoughts wandered as I walked down the halls
of Sunnydale High. Back to start. Back to high school. Souled vamp, fifteen
year-old Slayer-girls, and the end of the world. This is square one. Why?
I stared at my reflection in the mirror—remembering the girl who
once walked these halls. The girl who lived then. Starry-eyed teen and her
star-crossed lover. Regular friends who didn’t have dates… let alone a fiancé
to leave at the alter, or a soulmate to lose to a hate-filled bullet. We are
all back at square one. Alone. Taken all the way around the board, complete
circle, only to wind up back where we began. Just us… with the Hellmouth under
I splashed warm water up my arms, soothing the
bruises and aching muscles.
What am I missing? What’s been added? Another
battle coming, and how will it end this time? Who will be lost this time?
My thoughts were racing—connecting—stringing together like
I was back in my chair now, scribbling with my
thoughts. Mom. The dream. What had she said? Everyone fails. Why? Why
tell me that? Will I fail? Fighting-The-First kind of failing, or am I going
to fail someone? Dawn? Giles? Spike? The Slayers-to-be? It didn’t make
sense. She could have said more… she should have said more.
I rested my head to the cool desktop.
Continued in Part 9