She turned around. "Angel?"
"Want some licorice?" He thrust a pair of long twists into her face. "I like red, myself, but I'm figuring you'd prefer the black."
She stepped backwards. "I don't like licorice."
"Your loss." He bit into the twist and it spurted with red, onto his face and into his mouth. He wiped the dripping excess from his chin and licked his thumb. "Yeah, you were always a chocolate girl, weren't you? He liked chocolate too. Hot, with little marshmallows. Wuss."
"Course, on his best day, he was never more than a little terrier, nipping around at my ankles. Pitiful lap dog."
"Six of one, half a dozen of the other. He's a loser, Buffy. Good thing you cut him loose. He's drowning in you. You like to skim the frozen surface on silver skates. And if you ever admitted some feeling, and melted the ice, you'd crash through and never get out." He smiled. "I guess that makes you both losers. Good thing I cut you loose."
"Why are you saying this?" she cried.
"Because it's true," said a voice from behind her. The candy shop was gone, engulfed by lush green tropical tendrils. "You are a loser. That's why Angel left. And Parker. And your dad. And me."
"Face up to it, Buffy. Nobody wants you. Nobody can live with perfection. Right honey?"
He pulled his hidden arm from behind his body. Samantha had her fangs buried in it. Her yellow eyes glared at Buffy. "Right, baby," she mumbled, without letting go.
"No. That's not fair. I'm notů" She was standing in an alley, Spike pleading with her, kneeling before her. "Put it all on me."
So she hit him. She hit, she pounded, she beat mercilessly. "You're a thing. An evil thing. I can't love you."
She looked at the face below her, bruised and swollen. Her face.
Gasping awake, her eyes were wet. Her room was dark, and cold, and as always, so empty.