It was too late… I was too late. The wooden piece splintered
through Spike’s back. His blue eyes blinked at me, as if he couldn’t believe
it had actually happened. Eyes so sad… and then his lips curled, forming a
I ran for him, but he had already shattered…
down to the ground. The feet of Ubervamps trampled him as they made their way
to Dawn and the potentials.
They clamored past me… not one of them attacking
as I knelt in the pile of dust. I slid my fingers over his remains. All that
was left… nothing. He’s gone. I pressed my hand to my face, smearing his dust
with my tears.
Then I stood, holding the broken ax that had
taken him from me. I whirled it over my head, hacking away at anything that
came close. A girl screamed. Dawn! I swung harder, almost sprinting through
the mess. I have to get to Dawn!
“Buffy!” the next cry was further away, and I
pushed every bit of me to get there. To save her. It’s why I’m here. Dawn,
the potentials… everyone. They’re all the reason I came back. The reason I
crawled out of the ground.
I caught a glimpse of her then, just as another
scream rose above the crowd over Ubervamps. Then there was a loud crash, and a
bright white light sent several vamps flying. I ran past all of them. Willow
stood at the top of the hill. Her eyes were as black as the sky, and everyone
was crowded behind her.
Lightning flashed over us all, striking down
vamps all around me. Willow fell to her knees, and the light faded. One of
the vamps lunged for her, slamming her to the ground.
“Willow!” my strength was gone, and I was slow
getting to her. The vamp clawed at her viciously as her arms flailed at it.
By the time I reached them, her arms had fallen to her sides.
I swung the ax, taking the vamp’s head off. He
vanished… to reveal Willow’s body. She… she… so much… I couldn’t look. I
couldn’t touch her.
“I’m sorry, Will.” I wiped my eye, standing
again to follow the vamps.
Only Wood and Xander stood in their
way now, both hurling back and forth trying to fight them off. I sprinted past
them, knowing Dawn was back there. Knowing that I had to protect her. I heard
Xander scream, but forced myself ahead.
Dawn stood in front of me. All the noise
disappeared when I looked at her.
“This isn’t right, Buffy…”
“It’s okay, Dawnie…” I tried to catch my breath,
“I’m here… I’m—”
“Buffy, you’re not supposed to choose me!” Dawn
cut me off.
“Dawnie?” I reached out for her, but she ran
behind me. “Dawnie, no!”
The vamps surrounded her, and she turned to look at me. Our eyes
met. And then she began a shrill scream.
“Shh, Buffy…” a cool hand pressed over my mouth.
I sat up, the hand falling away. “Dawnie!
Dawn! Willow…” my open eyes fell on the hand that settled on my shoulder, “Spike?”
“Shhh,” the hand pushed slightly, trying to coax me back towards
the pillow. “Just a dream…”
My head shook as it hit the pillow, and I turned
to see Spike. He was there, kneeling alongside the bed… his worried eyes
watching. His hand wandered to the back of my neck, where he rubbed gently. I
fell back into it, closing my eyes… letting him take away the tension. My
heart slowed. His hand moved up then, smoothing my hair.
“I… I don’t…” Words were lost in blackness, and
I forced my eyes open. Maybe if I’m more awake I’ll know what to say.
“Sh, it’s alright, Buffy…” his words closed my eyes, “Just rest…
you don’t have to say anything.”
I felt his knuckles brush against my cheek.
They didn’t chill me… just cooled me… a relief to my burning face. I blinked
my eyes open again. “I think I… I messed something up…”
He paused, then slid his fingers through my hair
again, “Think you should rest now…”
My eyes closed, visions of Ubvervamps clouding my head again. I
shook my head, looking up at Spike, “I can’t, I…” all common sense left me
before I continued, “Can you… will you help?”
His hand lifted away then, reaching back behind his shoulder, “I…
uh,” he rubbed at his neck, keeping his eyes off me, “I should… go…”
No, don’t… please stay. The words refused to
come out, but tried to meet his eyes… tried to tell him that way. He closed
his eyes and stood.
“Don’t… belong…” he whispered, turning his back,
I sat up, begging him to come back. Just hold
me, Spike. That’s all… just until I fall asleep again.
The door clicked softly, and I wrapped the
blankets tight around me.
“Is he… afraid of you?” Dawn sounded almost too
scared to ask it.
“I… I don’t know… Sometimes I think…” I paused,
trying to voice my thoughts… voice them well. I never do it right. They
always come out… not sounding like my thoughts, “I think he is trying to be
good… a good man…”
“But he’s not a man…” Dawn shook a little at her
own words, showing in her face that she wished she hadn’t said it.
“It’s okay, Dawn…” I flashed back to the time I
said those words to him… nothing regretful about my face… nothing to try to
ease his pain… God.
Dawn woke me from my memory; “It was… intense…
when he said that… in front of everybody. About the soul… why he got it. I
mean we all knew why he got it, but, to hear him say it…”
I nodded, “Most Spike-related things are
intense…” I glanced towards my bedroom door, making sure no shadows were
listening, “But I couldn’t… I couldn’t tell him that I…” that I what? That I
know why he got the soul… I know what he had to do. That part of me… melts
about what he did… for me… “I had to be strong that night. I had to be the
“I know… I get it.” Dawn nodded, “And I’m gonna
try harder, Buffy…”
I smiled, and then looked away from her… out the
window. The sun was up, warming the world… the harsh, cold night long-washed
away. I watched the leaves dance outside my window. Leaves are always
dancing… dancing and changing… and then they fall. Spiral down to the earth…
where color fades, and life dries up and shrivels away…
“We’d better get going, Buffy…” Dawn stood.
I stood fast and hugged her close. God, Dawnie…
I can’t lose you.
Continued in Part 17