Part Nine: Recall
“Dead, long dead,” came the whispered reply.
“How did he die?” Spike asked.
Buffy gave him a tortured look. He just wouldn’t give up. “Painfully and too soon.”
“Good,” Spike replied.
Buffy hissed in disgust at his callous answer.
“No, that’s not what I meant. He didn’t leave you...he stuck it out,” Spike explained.
“A lot of good it did him, this place destroyed him, destroyed them all...eventually,” Buffy sighed, looking down at her manacles. Her wrists were raw from rubbing them against her chains and Spike leaned forward to pour cool water over the abraded flesh.
“Dawn too? Those pictures upstairs say otherwise...” Spike prompted, a patient look on his face.
“No...not Dawn. She...” Buffy swiped angrily at a tear running down her dusty cheek. “Why do you care? This is all ancient history.”
Spike grabbed a handful of gold hair and guided her eyes up to his. “Because somewhere in all that pain is the reason you don’t remember me an’ I need you to.”
“I’d rather you used the knives,” Buffy said, jerking away from his grip.
“I know pet. But this is worse,” he said. “Dawn...”
Reluctantly, Buffy replied, “Dawn...I sent her away.”
*Buffy pushed open the door to her apartment. It was empty. Dawn had gone back to school at Stanford. There was no one to see her stained clothes, the blood stuck in her hair from where she had laid her head on Xander’s chest. She walked into the bathroom and stared at the spectre in the mirror. Grey skin, stringy hair, a hollow look in her eyes. How had this happened? A month ago she was happy, friends and family, now...now there was only Dawn.
The phone rang in the other room. Its shrill cry barely registered with a near catatonic Buffy. The machine picked up.
“Buffy? It’s me, pick up the phone. Did you find Willow? I hope you’re okay...” Dawn’s voice sounded in the silent apartment.
Buffy picked up. “Dawn... she rasped.
“Buffy? What’s wrong? What happened?” Dawn replied, a note of worry in her voice.
Buffy struggled to keep her voice even. “I...didn’t find her.”
“Buffy...something happened...is it bad?” Dawn persisted, knowing her sister too well.
“Xander...he got hurt.” Buffy wished she didn’t have to do this.
Dawn sounded panicked. “Oh God...not him too...Buffy hang on, I’ll get a flight out tonight and...”
“No...no you won’t catch a flight.” Buffy focused and her voice hardened.
“Why not? You need me,” Dawn argued.
“You aren’t coming back here, Dawn. Not now...and not ever.” Buffy raised her voice to drown out Dawn’s protests. “Dawn...listen to me. Finish school, marry that nice guy...the one who adores you, have a life...a happy life. You deserve it and Sunnydale...it will kill you just like it kills everyone else. I don’t ever want you to ever set foot here again, understand?”
There was a momentary silence on the other end of the line. “I’ll still see you...right Buffy? I mean you’ll come to me...” Dawn was nearly crying now.
Buffy picked up a picture off the same table the phone rested on. Buffy and Dawn, heads together, big smiles on tanned faces. Dawn’s graduation from high school. Buffy had been so proud of her baby sister. Graduating with honors and Stanford in her future. The wooden frame warped under the pressure of Buffy’s grip, the picture slipped from beneath the glass and floated to the floor.
“Yes, of course I will, Dawn. Can’t get rid of me...” Buffy lied convincingly before laying the phone back in its cradle.
She knew she would never go to her, never leave this place. Xander was right, she had a calling. To hold back the evil...so Dawn could have that happy life...*
Buffy surged against her chains, the bolt in the wall creaked as the stone around it cracked. Spike leapt back to avoid her murderous swing.
She wasn’t going to do this, live out her most private pain for his voyeuristic pleasure. Either he died or she did, either way it would be over.
“No more...I can’t keep doing this, it hurts too much. Just kill me!” Buffy snarled as she yanked as hard as she could on the bolt. It was loosening, she could feel it.
Spike dodged another desperate swipe. “No!” he shouted back as he delivered a stunning blow to her jaw with doubled fist.
Buffy stumbled but recovered quickly. The drugs were wearing off; her reflexes were returning. She threw out a length of chain, trying to tangle the vampire in it so she could draw him close enough to attack. Spike just laughed and sidestepped the links.
“I’ve seen all your moves pet. Show me something new...” he mocked her efforts.
Buffy gave one final pull and the bolt flew loose from the wall and sailed across the room. One wrist was still chained but she was free from the wall. The vampire looked surprised.
“How ‘bout that one, vampire?” she gave him a grim little smile.
“Not bad Slayer...not bad at all...” Spike opened his arms and beckoned an invitation to battle.
Slowly swinging her chain, Buffy moved forward to accept.
The pair circled each other slowly in the confined place. Buffy trying to maneuver past the demon to reach her table of weapons but he seemed to know what she was thinking and stayed stubbornly between her and her goal. He was quick, she thought. He was unlike the vampires she remembered. They were always hampered by their need for blood; it distracted them from the battle. This one didn’t show any signs of that craving. In fact, Buffy wondered when he had last fed. There was no blood in the manor except hers and she had no bite marks. She ventured a kick to his shin but he just skipped back, an intense little smile on his face.
Tiring of the games, Buffy rushed him and they began to fight in earnest. The vampire’s smile just grew wider. He was enjoying this. She got a shot in which landed squarely on his nose. His head snapped back and a delighted laugh burst from him. He shook off the pain and gave her an approving look. She didn’t even see his fist as it hit her, so busy was she trying to figure out why he would be happy that she nearly broke his nose.
His fist connected with her solar plexus and the air rushed out of her lungs. Gasping for air she stumbled backwards and felt the wall at her back. The vampire just stood in the center of the room and waited for her to recover. She shot him a disbelieving glance. This wasn’t right. He wasn’t even in demon face. What was going on?
* “Who are you?” A young girl asked the figure standing in the shadows.
“You’ll find out on Saturday...” a sardonic voice replied, platinum hair glinting in the orange glow of the back alley’s light.*
Buffy ran straight at her opponent and ducked around to finally reach the table. She snatched up a knife and spun, holding it at the ready.
The vampire’s smile faded and he grew serious. He slowly backed away from her, out of range of his death. She was the one to laugh now. The upper hand at last. She stalked forward; eyes focused on his bare chest. The injuries she had already dealt him were fading. The slash across his lean stomach was just an angry red scratch. Time to give him a new one.
* A spectacled man, Giles? He was speaking, “Spike has fought two Slayers in the last century, and... he's killed them both.”*
Giles had told her about this one? Why was she only recalling it now? He killed Slayers, did he? Buffy feinted right and slashed left. A thin red line appeared on the vampire’s chest. Blood ran down.
* “Spike had a little trip to the vet and now he doesn't chase the other puppies anymore...” came the familiar voice.
He was huddled in a doorway, a smoking blanket over him. She was there...*
Buffy raised one hand to her head. These things in her mind...were they real? It was like the holes in her memory were suddenly filling with him. This fighting...they had done this before.
*“You think we’re dancing?”
“That's all we’ve ever done.”
An alley...maybe the same alley. He had a pool cue. The hair...white not black.*
“You know me,” the bleeding vampire said again.
Buffy finally believed him. He was telling the truth. She pressed on, knife weaving the air in front of her. He wasn’t trying to fight back anymore; he was just avoiding the blade, waiting...waiting for what?
“We’ve done this before...fought like this?” she said wonderingly. “You tried to kill me.”
“Yes...but that’s not th’ whole picture pet. Keep going,” he prompted, narrowly avoiding another vicious slash.
* “I love....” the vampire began, standing in an abandoned warehouse, uncharacteristically dressed in shades of brown instead of black. Where was the duster?”
“Don’t!” a horrified younger Buffy cried.*
Buffy stopped abruptly. “You loved me? How? You’re a thing, vampires don’t love.”
“No one told me that, Buffy. I loved you then...an’ I still do,” he replied.
Buffy looked at him, really looked at him. This was...Spike. The name clicked with the face. He was different. The hair a little longer, it looked odd so dark. No black pants...tan now, filthy with the dust of this dungeon but still tan. Different but still so familiar. Her gaze roved over his naked chest. She knew how it would feel to touch it. Silky skin over hard muscle...and cold...so cold.
* “I’m counting on you...to protect her.”
“”Til th’ end of the world...even if that happens to be tonight,” replied the man at the base of the steps.*
“Dawn...you knew Dawn. You protected her...” Buffy gasped at the pain in her chest. Where was this all coming from?
“Yes, I protected Dawn...or I tried at any rate. A spell Buffy...or a curse. Someone made you forget. But now its breaking down...you’re remembering,” he said persuasively.
Buffy shook her head. “No...you laid the spell, you’re trying to make me trust you...”
*“I wasn't planning on hurting you...Much,” a mocking voice and smirking face hovered near.
“You haven't even come close to hurting me,” her younger self said in a voice dripping with scorn and repressed feeling.
“Afraid to give me the chance?” Spike waggled a scarred eyebrow at her.
Crumbling plaster rained down on them, Buffy forced him up against a wall, attacked him with her hands, her mouth...*
The knife slipped from her limp hand. Chills swept through her as she gaped at him.
He walked forward and pulled her unresisting into his arms. He looked down into her confused face, silently pleading with her to remember.
“It’s a lie...” she tried to deny what she recalled.
His head dipped down and he kissed her hard, forcing a response. She found herself opening her mouth against his, moving her body closer. She had been here before. She felt a familiar clenching in her stomach and lower.
“No...” he growled against her mouth, his hands shoving beneath her ragged shirt to make contact with her skin.
They’re so cold...she thought. Why did that feel right?
“Not a lie...keep going Buffy. Remember it all.” He continued to kiss her, nothing gentle just raw need and force. His hands pushed lower now...the waistband of her jeans impeding their progress.
She thrust him away with all her strength, a trembling hand against her bruised lips. He stumbled backwards; eyes still trained on her, an almost predatory look in them.
*”I’m using you....I can't love you. I'm just ... being weak, and selfish...and it's killing me. I‘m sorry...William.” Those were her words as she looked into his shattered eyes.
“Why don’t you go? It would be easier...for you...and me. You could go anywhere...anywhere I’m not.” The last thing she ever said to him.*
Buffy crumpled to her knees in the dirt, tears falling freely from glazed eyes.
“Spike...William,” she gasped.
Spike approached her again, kneeling in front of her...a hand reached out to touch her face.
She could hear the fragile hope in his voice. “Buffy?”
She reached up and laced her fingers with his. Her chest heaved convulsively as he drew her into a crushing embrace. She sobbed into the hollow of his shoulder. Hot tears falling on cold bare skin.
“Willow...what did you do?” she whispered.
Continued in Part Ten: Together