“Buffy, are you alright?”
I sat up quickly. Principal Wood. Oh no. Boss.
Say something! “Sorry.”
“Just making sure you’re alive.”
Alive. Right. I nodded. “Don’t I look like the model employee?”
I straightened my hair.
“Seems like you have a lot on your mind…”
I’ve got the weight of the world on my mind,
pal. Don’t say that. I managed a slight smile and nod instead.
He had crossed into my cubicle now, pulling the
chair out as he spoke, “So, is the schedule too hard for you? The job? Do you
stay up all night worrying about the students? Because, no offense, you look
like you haven’t slept in days.”
Great. Thank you very much, Mr. Tactful. I pulled my sweater on
to hide all the bruises on my arm. I fake-shivered.
“Everything okay at home? With Dawn? Must be
hard for the two of you...”
“Oh no, nothing like that.” I answered. “We’re
He waited. What’s he waiting for? Does he want
me to talk to him about… stuff? What stuff? Why is he staring like that? He
snapped out of it then, glancing at his watch.
“I’ve got a meeting,” he stood, then
said with a smile, “Get back to work.”
“Sorry. I didn’t know you were out
here.” I knew he was. I had been looking for him. I had the whole speech
planned since noon, and had spent the entire rest of my working-day trying to
memorize it. Still, I backed inside again… I had to make it look believable.
He looked back, “You don’t have to go.”
I paused, then came back out the door. He had
turned away again, and was looking up at the moon in the otherwise empty sky.
I stepped behind him.
“You can sit,” he scooted over, still not
looking back. “I won’t bite.”
I sat with a smile, “You can’t bite.”
“Can’t I?” he kept still, but his eyes glanced
in my direction.
“Oh,” I moved away a bit. Right. Forgot about
He brought his hand to his mouth, and looked at
the ground. We didn’t say anything for a while. I listened to the crickets,
and his other hand drumming against his knee. He found words first.
“Watcher tell you about our beastie?”
I nodded, “Big waste of time, is what I heard.”
I glanced over at him, “How’s your… um, are you okay?”
His eyebrows perked up as he faced me, “Fine.”
Okay. Start it off. ‘Look Spike,’—that’s how
it starts. Go ahead. No better time. It’s quiet again. I took a deep
breath. Here we go.
“Buffy, I have to tell you
Oh no. The speech. How did it
go? I took panicky breaths as Spike went on.
“I saw someone today… while I was
waiting for the Watcher.”
That caught my interest. Alright
Spike, you’ve got full attention now.
He looked away, taking a deep
breath before speaking again, “She… she didn’t say anything. I just saw her…
for a short second. Might not have even been there.”
God, get on with it, Spike. “Who?”
He rubbed his hands together,
“Either way it’s not good, Buffy. If I’m seeing… seeing ghosts again, it’s bad
I pulled my sweater tighter, hugging my knees. Don’t push him.
He’s freaked. Don’t push, just wait. He’ll say it.
“Only for a moment, though. And
she didn’t say anything. She was just there… then she was gone. Like that,
you know?” he snapped his fingers.
Who? I wanted to shout at him.
Okay. Just wait a little longer.
He bit his lip, looking at me
again. “She was crying… I think… I think she was crying…” his hand came to
his face, fingers pressing into the spot between his eyes.
“Spike, who was it?” I couldn’t
wait any longer.
His hand fell, and he squinted at
the grass. “The bird…” he sighed, “Willow’s girl… she was there… in the cave…”
He nodded, rubbing his hands together. “She was only there a
second. I’m not insane again. She was gone so fast, I wasn’t even sure…”
My hands tucked between my legs to
His hands slid over his head,
“’Cause before she came, it was… the chip was… again, and I must’ve just been
thinking about her.”
I frowned. Thinking about Tara? Why? I didn’t think Spike ever
thought about her… I never thought they were close enough… for him to grieve
over or something. Maybe the soul… He stood now, pacing in front of me on the
grass. He chewed at his fingers, staring at his feet, mumbling nonsense to
himself. Then he focused entirely on me.
“Do you think it was real?” his
eyes were wide.
I looked away. He was certainly
sounding and looking like Crazy-Spike. “I don’t know, Spike. The First has
never been Tara before…”
“You think it was all in my head,
then?” he was kneeling in front of me now. “Think I’ve lost it again?”
I tried to be reassuring. “Spike,
I think you just imagined it.”
“Because Giles showed up right
after, and she was gone again… like the last…” he stopped himself, terrified.
His looked so worried. So concerned. What was he afraid of? Has he…
I felt my throat tighten before the
words came out, “Spike… have you seen her before?”
He closed his eyes, probably
thinking they had given it away. He nodded, opening them again as he spoke,
“But it was before… right before I got it. And she didn’t cry then, she just
showed up… smiling. And I talked to her, but she didn’t say anything… she
He placed a hand on my knee.
“’Cause I didn’t wanna go back…
come back here, I mean. Even if I did get it… the soul… I thought it would be
better if I just… stayed away from you. Make it right, you know? But after I
saw her…” he squeezed his hand tighter around my knee, making me draw in a deep
breath. “I had to. She was telling me to… to come back to you…”
I closed my eyes, sitting up
straight. This isn’t right. I should have said my speech…
I felt him come closer, “Because
you needed me…”
I let air out, opening my eyes.
Cold air overpowered me… his air, and my unclenched sweater letting it in. He
was so close, staring at my bare collarbone. His hand hovering just below
it... where the scar was… Warren’s scar. Oh, God. Don’t, Spike. Please.
He ignored my silent cries, placing
his hand over my heart. His eyes closed, and he sighed heavy against me. He
leaned in closer, and I closed my eyes when his lips whistled silently,
brushing cool air against the scar.
Oh, bad. Again. Why do I keep
letting this… I whimpered at his chilling fingers slid down to my stomach,
wrapping around my side. Stop him. Time to stop him. My eyes opened, staring
wide up at the moon. I sighed, placing my palms into his chest. He lifted his
lips away, opening his eyes up into mine.
“I’m sorry…” his eyes were wet, “I
didn’t mean to—”
“It’s okay.” I didn’t want to crush
him. Just… stop him. “It’s okay, Spike.”
He looked down at his hand, quickly
pulling it away. His eyes fell on the scar again, and he closed them, sliding
back down to the grass.
“Should have been here…”
I pulled the sweater closed as he
stood. The scar was pulsing… throbbing… begging me to let Spike at it again.
“It’s better that you weren’t.”
He nodded, eyes red and swollen.
“Right. Better that I was gone…” he wrapped his arms together. “Why she came cryin‘
today... ’cause it’s better when I’m gone.”
I blinked up at him. He wants to
go? Where is he gonna go? Not tonight. That’s enough for tonight. I stood,
heading for the door. I turned to him as I opened it.
“Time to come in, Spike.”
He came up the stairs, wiping his
eyes clear. He stepped inside, and I closed the door behind us.
Spike had gone into the basement when I started
looking for Xander. He had just gone out the door to go home, and I stopped
him at the tree.
“You told Spike about Tara?”
He shrugged, “Yeah. I’m sorry if
it… I thought I was helping, Buff…”
“When? What did you say to him?”
“When he was leaving wet towels on
the bathroom floor,” Xander answered, “One night he brought up Tara… he asked
about her. Where she was; if she was still into the witchcraft stuff.”
“And Warren… you told him about the
He nodded. “I told him all of it,
Buffy. You know how I get about my saving-the-world story…”
“He took it pretty hard… when I got
to the part about you and Tara, he was just about in tears…” he shuddered,
“Have you ever seen that, by the way? Uber-creepy.”
Have I ever seen it? I inspire it
“He already knew about Willow—said
he heard about it when he was traveling. But what really freaked me out was
after I told him about my saving-the-world speech. He gave a shocked look
first, but then he kinda smiled at me… like he was proud or something.” Xander
made a face.
Xander frowned, “That’s the smile!
I laughed, hiding my smile. “It
was nice of you to tell him, Xander.” I stopped laughing, “With all the stuff
going on… I forgot… that he didn’t know.”
He shrugged. “What can I say?
Guess I can’t afford to be the critic these days…”
We stood in silence for a minute.
Xander finally broke it.
“Okay, long enough awkward silence
for me. See you tomorrow, Buff.”
I washed my face and went out into
the hall. I could hear Willow and Kennedy in her room. I went to mine,
pulling back the sheets and sliding into them. I sighed. I never got to say
the speech, and now I’d forgotten the whole thing.
Better work on a new one tomorrow.
Continued in Part 10