All About Spike - Print Version
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He rested in the basement now—cold and dark—the
only place fit for him. And I tapped my boots against the deck, the lone sound
under the late-night sky.
The house was finally quiet. No nervous
soon-to-be slayers chattering away about the indestructible monster—they didn’t
have to worry about him anymore.
I smiled to myself. Been a long time since I’d
made like a queen and killed all off-with-his-head-like. I drew in the cold
night air, and the chilling air in my lungs reminded me of him.
They wanted to chain him—Xander and Giles—but
one glance from me and they gently laid his broken body onto the blanket before
marching obediently back upstairs. I watched his face wince, but he didn’t
open his eyes. Like he was afraid to.
I sat on the step and tapped my foot again,
glancing around the backyard. All the Bringers had left? Could’ve used a
little fight to get this anger out of me. Where was all this anger coming from
anyway? Was I this mad about what It did to him?
I hugged myself. Cold tonight. Bitter night. The bad and bitter
kind of cold. I watched my breath twirl in the air as I spoke to myself.
“Then what the hell am I doing out here?”
But I knew as soon as I had said it. I was
waiting for him. I was waiting for Spike to wander up the grass and sit next
to me. Waiting—wanting—to tell him about all what I had done, and all that was
going on. But he wasn’t going to come.
He knew I was next to him. Underneath the puffy
bruises I saw his tiny smile. It made me smile, too.
He sucked in air, and my smile grew. He didn’t
need that air, he just wanted to smell it—smell me in it. Yuck. I just got
done cutting off Supervamp’s head, don’t smell it!
But he reveled in it—holding the air tight in
his chest. My eyes wandered down his body, squinting at the sliced patterns in
his skin. I bit my lip, floating my hand just above the wounds, not daring to
His hand crossed over mine, pressing it down
into the middle of his chest. He let the air out as I touched his skin. I
couldn’t look at those wounds, so I faced him.
He was peering up at me, barely able to see
through his puffed face. The slight smile faded, and he smoothed a finger over
my bloodied knuckles.
My eyes wandered back down to his chest, where
his hand still rested on mine. I heard him swallow, followed by quiet
“C-can you…feel it…there?” he exhausted himself
“Feel what?” I looked at his face again, gently
tracing my finger over the pattern.
His mouth parted as he tried to finish. The
whispers were too soft for me to understand, so I brought my face closer to
his. He hissed, and stopped trying to talk, closing his eyes and breathing me
again. His hand pressed mine harder into his chest, as if he had to force this
out of him.
“The…the sp-spark?” he uttered, closing his
mouth into a smile again.
I let air out of my tense body, and my parted
lips opened into a comfortable smile. His hand slid back to his side, leaving
my tiny fingers alone to trace his wounds. I brushed them around the triangle
before I lifted my hand and stood.
He sighed and sank into the pillow, begging for
me to stay. He knew I was already gone.
My sleep was quick—the short hours filled with
visions of shattered buildings and burning streets, and me, standing alone at the
center of it all. And I couldn’t move.
I clenched the bathroom doorknob. Locked. I
heard two of the girls in there. I certainly don’t remember being so damn vain
at that age. I peeked in the kitchen, seeing three more girls with Willow and
“He did.” Dawn sat with two of them, eyes
focused and voice intense, “And after that, he—Hi Buffy!” she scooted off her
stool and fidgeted.
I nodded, and walked towards Willow and the
third at the stove.
“Mm.” I sniffed. “Blueberry?”
Willow smiled. “Kennedy knows how, even though,
you know, she used to have her own cook and everything…”
This one was Kennedy. Thought it was Chloe. So
hard not to mix them up.
“It’s not like it’s that hard to learn.” Kennedy
scraped the pan with a spatula. “Except…well, it’s kinda hard to flip’em when
they’re like this.”
The misshapen pancake flopped onto itself.
“Funny shapes.” I said.
Willow smiled. “Just the way I like’em.”
“Hey, you guys, or…girls, have you seen Giles
“Oh, I did!” the perky one called out. “He took
his tea ’round to the front.”
I stepped down the hall.
“Hey, Buffy.” Kennedy stopped me. She was still
holding the spatula.
“Hey, Kennedy,” I smiled. “How’d you sleep?”
She nodded. “Better than ever. Even better
than back in my old bed. But, look… I just wanted to tell you—” she tapped the
spatula. “You really kicked his ass.”
I smiled. “So will you. Just give it some
Her eyes lit up as she bit her lip.
“Kennedy!” Willow shouted from the kitchen, “We
need the spatula!”
“Did you see them, on his chest? Those
markings, Giles, what are they?”
Giles sipped his tea. “Y-yes, I saw them Buffy,
but I don’t know what to make of them yet.”
“We need to find out. Giles, they might give us
“And we will, Buffy.” He assured me, then after
a pause added. “You can’t think I just jump into the books first thing in the
“God, no. Especially not the books I’m going to be looking into.”
“Big dusty Watcher’s Council ones?”
“No, I’ve…I’ve got somewhere else I plan to look
“Well, if you’re planning to leave the house,
don’t even plan on using the shower! Two of them locked up in there right
now…even though some of us are coated in Big Bad dust!”
“Indeed.” Giles sipped his tea.
“Dawn?” I asked.
She gasped and slammed the basement door shut. “Jeez,
Buffy! Did you take lurk-lessons from Spike or something?”
I shrugged, peeking around her. “What’re you
“Nothing.” Her wide eyes told me different. “I
just wanted to see…if it was as bad as they were all saying.”
“Dawn, could you do something for me?”
“Go to the butcher shop and get some blood for
She started to pout. “Buffy—”
“Take some of the slay-girls with you. Show
them around. They need to get out of this house—and not just when they’re
running for life.”
She jogged up the stairs. I opened the basement
door and walked down.
A sheet was draped across him. He lay
motionless with his back to me. I stepped closer, focusing on the lashings
across his spine. Some were still red, but others had already faded to scars.
A muscle in his shoulder twitched, and I backed away as he rolled over.
His open eyes squinted at me, one still too
puffy to open all the way. “Don’t go away.” His voice came easier now.
“No, just…” he closed his eyes. “Just, a little
I stepped towards him, keeping my eyes on my
“No shower this mornin‘, love?”
I laughed almost inaudibly, but he
could still hear it. He smiled, waving me closer.
“Did you talk to Dawn?” I asked
“Think she came halfway down the
stairs before she packed it back up.”
I was standing alongside him now.
“She’s just scared.”
He broke eye contact. “Got quite a
bit to be scared about, doesn’t she?”
I shook my head. “Not down here.”
He nodded towards the dryer.
“Watcher set the chains down over there.”
“Spike, I’m not—”
“No,” he faced me again. “I’m
not. Not again, Buffy. C’mon, put’em on me. They’ll stop me from it.”
“I’ll stop you.”
He chuckled, “Spose you have the
upper hand at the moment.”
“I always have the upper hand.”
“Not this time,” he became
concerned. “Buffy, we’re weak…and It knows that. It knows that too bloody
“Then I’ll stop It.”
He clamped his mouth shut. Always
holding back. Just say it, Spike. Say it.
“You don’t think so?” I asked.
We were quiet for a long time—and
still, very still. After the pause, I turned my back on him to go back
His deep voice halted me, and I
turned from the third step. He struggled to sit up, and tried to make our eyes
meet, but I fixed my gaze to the beams above.
“You’ll stop it. I believe in you,
The pavement was shattering under
my feet—burning, and quaking. But the rumble of the ground could not compare
to the sky. The clouds battled, smothering each other and striking bright red
lightning across the violent heavens.
A hoard of Bringer-bodies piled
around me, their black cloaks torn and stained as they slipped into the cracks
in the ground. A high scream sounded in the distance, and I closed my eyes as
all fell silent.
My body was shaking. I sat up on
the sofa. Xander’s wide eyes relaxed. I caught my breath, and settled back
down. “I’m okay.”
“God, Buff,” he sat down next to
me. “When I heard you screaming like that, I thought,” he looked away, “I
thought maybe he was…”
Oh, Spike. Of course you would
think that, Xander. The sun crept through the open door, warming the cold
sweat on my face. If Xander heard me scream, I bet Spike…
He was pulling himself up the
stairs. His feet dragged behind him, and his head fell after I stepped through
the basement door. I pulled him up, and he groaned once his feet were under
him, leaning heavy against me. He braced himself against the banister as I
walked him down the three steps. Once at the bottom, his arms fell limp to his
sides and strained to hold him up as nearly all strength left him.
“I thought something…I had to try…”
I didn’t answer, taking it slow
across the floor before setting him back on the bed. He had just started to
raise his arms as I backed away from him. They dropped into his lap.
“The ankle’s out.” He stared at
it. “I figured it’d be alright, but…”
“You made it worse.” I knelt to check on it.
“Couldn’t stand it…you carryin‘ on
like that—screamin‘ like that.” He fell back onto the bed. “I’d never heard
you…like that. What happened?”
“Me…resting.” He shook when I
touched his ankle. “And you wanted me to wrap chains around this?”
He winced as I lifted it onto the
blanket. “I wanted…” he closed his eyes, then slightly opened them, “Don’t
fret yourself about what I want, love. Got bigger things to fret ’bout.”
I was at the sink now, washing him
off me, scrubbing soap up my arms. The clearing of my skin felt smooth and
relaxing...And all the slay-girls are out of the house.
“I’ll be back.”
He gave no answer, asleep. I crept
up the stairs.
“How is he?” Xander was leaning
against the fridge.
“Xander, let’s talk about this
after I…” I nodded my head upstairs.
“Oh, sure.” He sniffed. “I’ll just
be down here…well, unless you, uh…need any help?”
“I’ll manage.” I smiled. He looked
like old Sunnydale-High Xander—all playful with the big goofy grin-like. Felt
good to see him like that again.
I took my time. The hot water
relaxed all my sick and tired muscles. I intended to relax completely, so I
forced myself not to think about stuff. Didn’t last nearly as long as the
Hot water stung inside the cut on
my cheek. That was gonna scar, Slayer-heal or no. Just what I need, a big
nasty scar across my face. Real come-and-get-me look I’ve got going on lately.
But, as I scrubbed my shoulders, I
pictured all the marks on Spike. There would be so many scars after he had
healed. I felt my body tensing up, and I dipped my head under the water. I
ran my fingers through my hair, and the thoughts rolled off with the warm
“Any talk of more slayer-wannabes?”
“Nah,” I told Xander. “We’re probably getting
close to the last of’em.”
“’Cause I was thinking, you know, they’re not
really…fighty.” He put his feet up on the table. “I mean, I don’t think I
could take’em, but they definitely need some work.”
“Some real work.” I agreed. “Think I should make’em
patrol with me tonight?”
“I dunno, Buff. We don’t know how many of those
Trekkies are roaming the streets.”
Xander’s hands flew into the air, “What? What’d Giles call that
“Turok-something.” I answered.
“Turok, Trekkie…” Xander’s spoke quieter, “Same
“And that attitude is why Giles is doing
research without you.”
“Oh, yes. I still can’t believe he went to the
big library full of dusty, fat, and boring books without me!” Xander looked
around the empty house, “And, speaking of Trekkies, where’s Andrew? And, you
I looked out the window. The sun was going down
and Dawn was still out with the slayers-to-be. “I gave’em the day off. Guess
Andrew went with them.”
“Kid makes me all kinds of nervous,” Xander
wiggled his shoulders. “I mean, Jonathan…he…”
“He killed him.”
“They were best friends, Buff. If this thing’s
powerful enough to turn best friends on each other…”
“I’ll stop it.”
Xander’s face lifted, and his mouth turned up
into a smile. “I’m with you, Buff. No matter…I mean, even if…even if Spike…”
I smiled. This was so hard for him to say.
He clapped his hands together. “Spike and me,
we’ve fought side-by-side before…and, we can do it again.”
His words came as a sudden relief to me. It
felt good to have friends behind me again. I could see how he got to Willow
that day. “Thank you.”
He patted my knee and smiled. “Plus, you know,
I’m kinda likin‘ the whole save-the-world persona. Chicks really dig it.”
“We do.” I hugged him.
They devoured the pizzas. Giles had just placed
them on the table seconds ago, and boxes were already opened and emptied. I
picked a mysterious-looking mushroom off my slice before taking a big bite.
“So, any luck with the books?” I watched Giles
remove his glasses. Probably didn’t want to watch me chew my food. I
swallowed the pizza. “Sorry.”
“Yes, that’s quite alright.” He wiped them clean
and replaced them. “I found…something. Although, I’m not quite sure it’s
going to be of…of use to us.”
“So what do we got? Stuff on the markings?”
“Well, yes, I found them…Buffy, I was really
focusing more on you.”
“On me? Why?” I sat down, blocking out the
chatter and laughter from the living room. “What did I do?”
“Well, we’re not sure if it is you, Buffy. I
just want to go over all areas.” He could see my discomfort, and lifted his
tone. “And, Spike? How is he?”
I sighed. “He twisted his ankle up pretty bad
when I…Oh, God. The dreams. I forgot all about them! Giles, I’ve been having
He sat down next to me, intrigued, no doubt.
“They’re…vivid. More real than the others. And
it’s like I’m not even really there…like I’m just watching it all happen, and
there’s nothing I can do. Places are burning and…”
I clamped my mouth shut as Dawn bounded into the
kitchen. She grabbed a box off the table and skipped back out.
“And I heard a girl scream.”
“Dawn?” he asked.
“I’m not sure. I—I don’t know.”
“Well, it’s quite obvious that it’s an apocolypse
you’re foreseeing, Buffy. Quite natural, seeing as we are flying head-on into
I shook my head. “They’re different.” After a
moment of silence, I tossed the crust into the trash and stood. “I’m off to
“Can I come?” a girl’s voice asked.
“God, this is great!” Kennedy sniffed the night
air in. “I’ve never gone out hunting before!”
“Patrolling.” I corrected her. She glanced at
me. “We aren’t doing this for sport—it’s our job.”
She nodded, clenching her hands tighter on the
crossbow. “Sure is a big cemetery.”
I smiled. “Yeah. That happens at the Hellmouth.”
“I’ve only been in a cemetery once…” her voice
grew softer. “For my mom’s funeral.”
My heart ached, and my stomach started to
churn. Mom. So quickly her image came up in my head. I nodded to Kennedy.
She stopped before a tombstone.
“I mean, I was younger then…” she traced the
letters in the stone. “And she—my new mom—she’s great. My step-sister’s
great, too…” her arms dropped. “Really great.”
“Do you miss them?”
She turned to me. “I miss a lot of things. But
this is my job.”
We started walking again. “You know, I was the
first Slayer who actually had friends? And family? They—the Council—they were
bigtime against it. But they didn’t know. They don’t know. What it is…to be
I felt her eyes on me again, but she was silent
as I spoke.
“But you do.” I looked at her. “You feel it. Inside
you. The good…and the bad. You know it. Because it is who you are.”
A chill ran down my spine and I froze. Kennedy
stopped as well.
“Did you feel it?” I whispered to her.
“Close your eyes. Feel it out. Find it.” I
smiled, “It’s more fun this way.”
Her eyes were closed, and her face crinkled.
She took deep breaths and began to take slow steps.
I stayed put. “Quietly. Slowly. Don’t forget,
they have power too.”
She raised the bow, creeping around the
tombstones. I knew exactly where he was. I gripped my stake and crossed my
She stopped, and quickly turned around. Her
wide eyes looked past me. I smiled.
“Buffy! He’s behind you!”
The vamp grabbed my shoulders and pulled back.
I whipped him over my head with ease. He slammed on his back at my feet. I
looked back at Kennedy, “Now, he’s not.”
I pinned him down. He struggled, growling and ew,
stinking. Kennedy came up alongside me.
“I’m gonna let him up. Get ready.” I handed her
She dropped the crossbow and got into fighting
stance. I rolled off the vamp. He jumped up, quickly knocking the stake from
her hand. She blocked a punch and swung, but he grabbed her fist and twisted
“That one’s easy!” I yelled, “Just flip it
back around on him!”
She looked back at me. The vamp moved her arm
against her back and brought his teeth towards her neck. She struggled and whimpered.
For a second I looked in her eyes and thought she was too scared, but I knew
what that kind of fear would build up inside her.
Kennedy closed her eyes and thrust him off her,
grunting as she pushed him to the ground. She sat on his back, yanking his
hand to the back of his neck.
“Grab the stake. You can hit the heart through
The vamp cried out as she leaned forward. She
placed the point square into his back and shoved. He crumbled beneath her.
She scooped up some of the dust and blew it into the cold air. She did good. Big
smudge across her cheek. She looked stronger.
“Not bad.” I helped her up. “How’d it feel?”
Kennedy twirled the stake. “Not bad.”
I picked up the crossbow, aimed, and fired at
the vamp behind her. Dust poofed around her back. She looked over her
shoulder, then back at me.
“Why didn’t I feel that one?” she coughed.
“Because you weren’t alert. You weren’t
ready.” I started to walk again. “It’s okay. It happens. Just don’t let it
happen enough. Because one night…” I stopped and faced her. “One night, when
you alone are the Slayer…I won’t be here.”
Cold air pushed into the house, and
I jumped up off of the comfortable couch. My blanket landed on the coffee
table. “What is it? What happened?”
“That stupid vampire damn near killed me!” Rona
held her shoulder and rushed into the kitchen.
Willow and Spike stepped through the front
door. As I approached them, Spike’s sheepish eyes drifted to the floor.
“Some vamp got her?” I asked.
Willow took one of her nervous breaths as Spike
“Well…yeah…” Willow motioned to Spike, who bit
his lip in a grin. “Some vamp…”
My eyes fell on Spike. Willow sighed and went
in the kitchen.
He scratched his neck, glancing up and down
again. “It was…I didn’t mean for it.”
“You staked her?” I smiled, closing the door.
That was definitely going to get him…
He turned around shaking his head. “No, no.
She was…he had her by the throat, real tight grip…so, so I shot…and…” he ran
his fingers through his hair and sat on the couch. “And then she moved.”
I sat next to him and shuddered. His body froze
the air around us. I pulled my blanket off the table and relaxed into the
warmth. Spike scratched at his hands, and scooted further away. He lifted his
eyes to the book-buried table and sat up to look at them all.
I shrugged. “Couple of the pages had some words
I could pronounce.”
He chuckled and selected one. I watched him
thumb through it, carefully turning the tender papers over. His cold fingers
ran down the spine…
I pulled the covers to my chin. Stupid sleepy
His attention moved from the book to me, as if
he was listening to my stupid sleepy thoughts. He closed the book, and gently
laid it back on the table.
Rona stormed out of the kitchen seconds later, a
nasty glare thrown in the direction of Spike. She muttered something on her
way up the stairs.
Spike shook his head and stood. His eyes fell
on me as he backed away. “Just a thing…always…just that.” He turned his back
on me. “G’nite Slayer.”
I watched him leave. Willow stood at the
hallway, and he darted past her. Her face softened as she spoke to me. “You
didn’t yell at him, did you? I saw the whole thing, Buffy, it really was an
accident.” She sat down where Spike had been, and picked up the same book he
had held. She flipped through the pages. “And I got really scared, too. I
thought that…that I was gonna have to do something.” Her body seemed to quake
and she closed the book. “And, I don’t think I was ready…not tonight.”
I reached out to pat her shoulder. “It’s okay,
Will. We’re all scared, but Will…we are ready.”
She half-nodded. She doesn’t believe me.
The lightbulb swayed, flinging shadows past my
steps. I caught a glimpse of him by the sink, the light dancing off the scars
on his back.
“Something on your mind, Slayer?”
Damn! I thought I was being quiet. I dropped
down the last few steps. I stood at the foot of the stairs, setting my eyes on
He splashed water over his head
before turning the knobs. After a short sigh, he pulled his shirt over his
head and faced me.
I smiled. He didn’t. What? Why?
He shook his head. “You shouldn’t
be down here.”
“Okay.” I looked away, “Sorry.” I
turned to go back upstairs. What the hell was that? Don’t look back, just go
upstairs. I was about halfway up when I paused. No, don’t pause. All the way
up! My mind fought with my eyes, begging me not to look at him.
I turned. Amazing. Two words and
he won the battle. He was looking up at me. I drifted back to the night I
died, then shot forward to the night I came back. His sad face, staring up at
me in both memories.
“It’s not…it’s not that I don’t
want you here…” he kept his eyes on me. “I do… because…you make the air soft,
and I feel…” his eyes closed, “But it’s deja-vu, that’s all it is. We’ve done
“I don’t think so.”
“How?” he moved up the stairs, his
hands clinging to the banister. “How is this any different? You used me then,
and now…” He stopped several steps away. “You don’t want it, Buffy. I know
it. I got it wrong, I know that now.”
“Spike, what are you talking
He threw his arms in the air. “The
soul! You don’t want it!”
I searched for
something—anything—to say. Nothing. My mouth hung open, with the words
stretching on my tongue. Say them! Say something!
He watched me, backing down the
steps. “You don’t want it…” he pulled the cord and the basement fell dark. “I
know you don’t. I don’t blame you for it.”
I closed the basement door, and the
words finally came. “I do.”
The wind was powerful. I had to fight just to
stand. My hair whipped across my face and sand scratched into my eyes. Tears
fell down my cheeks, and when I tried to call out, the gusts sucked the air out
of me. I gasped for air, like the night I had clawed out of the ground. The
debris blocked away all the light, and I fell to the hard ground in search of
My throat was dry when I woke—probably not from
dream-dust, but from screaming. I sat up in bed. No one had come in to check
I came downstairs and passed into the kitchen,
where I was surprised to find a light on. I was even more surprised to see
Spike sitting with one of the slay-girls.
He stopped midsentence, gazing up at me. The
slay-girl turned around in her seat. Which one was that? I stared at her, trying
“Hi Buffy.” She smiled. The accent—it was
Molly. She stood, and nodded to Spike. “Think I’ll just crawl back into
bed.” She left us alone.
Spike stood, filling a glass with water. “Rough
“What are you doing up here? And what were you
He grinned, handing me the glass. I gulped it.
The cool water tickled my throat. I squeezed my eyes shut, feeling his eyes on
me. He placed the glass in the sink and leaned against the counter, his eyes
I yawned, settling onto a stool.
“What was it, then?”
“What was what?”
“Something got you up outta bed, love. Wanna tell me what it is?”
“Oh, I…” I rubbed my forehead. “Just…a dream.”
He straightened up. “You have a lot of them
I nodded. “Too many.”
He stepped closer, but was still at a distance.
“You never had them when…”
I looked up at him, but he shot his eyes away.
“I just mean…I don’t recall you ever cried
out—in your sleep, I mean. You were always…” he smiled, eyes fixed on the
countertop. “Always peaceful…quiet.”
“Never in here.” I rubbed my head, then tucked
my arms together. Too cold. I need my blanket back.
“No,” he shook his head. “You wouldn’t let me
I sighed. I don’t want to do this…not now…not
at “Three a.m.?” I said aloud.
He looked at the glowing microwave clock, then
I stood. I’ve only got about three more good
hours left. Then my eyes fell on Spike. He was doing that thing…where his
body gets all wriggly and uneasy. I screwed something up again.
“Hey, Spike?” I turned around before leaving.
“Up for patrol tonight? Just me and you?”
His brow furrowed, and he did the wriggly thing
Don’t do that, Spike! “Been a while since we’ve
gone…I just thought it…”
“I’ll be there.”
The day was slow. Don’t teenagers have problems
these days? I could’ve bored a young sexy counselor for days about my problems
in high school. I put use to my hours of non-work, scribbling thoughts onto
the yellow notepad. Thoughts about The First, about training the girls, and a
few Spike-related sentences.
God, that’s the last time I act on impulse at
three in the morning. Not a good time to be throwing out suggestions. What
was I thinking? Would this lead him on—make him think that I want him again?
Do I…want him?
Frustrated with thoughts, I ripped the pages out
and started on a fresh page. Blank. Be blank. Stop thinking. Hours later,
when blank paper was covered with sketches from my recent dreams, Dawn wandered
up to the desk.
Uh oh, puppy-dog face. She wanted something.
“You know how people, like, date?” she bit her
“Actually…no. I don’t.” I said with a sad
She turned to pout-face. “Okay, well, it turns
out that Scott McMann, he does… With me…” her bottom lip slipped out. “If—if
you let me…please?”
That begging smile, I’m such a sucker for it
these days. Little Dawnie, boys fighting over her…evil undead boys… “Does
Scott meet the requirements?”
Dawn returned a blank stare.
“You know? Cute butt, half a brain, and…I don’t
She smiled. “Yes, yes, and yes! He’s right
outside, in the sun and everything. He came to meet you, ’cause he didn’t want
to be disrespectful. Isn’t that so mature?”
I shrugged. “Doesn’t sound too bright.”
“But you…you don’t really want to meet him, do
you?” her face was covered in concern. “Because…”
“You can go.” I nodded. “But you’re home by
ten, and if you’re so much as two minutes late, Mr. Man loses an appendage.”
She nodded, turning to leave.
“I’ll be patrolling, but I’ll know if you’re
“I won’t be!” she jumped for the door. “You’re
“Let us come with you!” Kennedy begged.
“Not tonight. I want you girls to get some
sleep.” I tucked a stake into my back pocket. “Giles said The First is gonna
lay off for a while, so I want you to rest up tonight. Trust me, you’ll all be
begging me to let you stay home next week.”
“But we…” Vi piped up.
“No buts! No slaying tonight.”
“Just make sure he knows that.” Rona held her
wrapped shoulder, glaring across the room at Spike. He looked at the floor,
then stepped out the front door and let it slam shut.
I herded them all under Willow’s watchful eye,
then went after Spike. He was leaning against that tree, like he always did
back then. He watched me come down the steps before standing up straight.
“They sound more like you every day, you know?”
he walked alongside me.
We walked in silence all the way to the
cemetery. His boots skudding against the dirt, then brushing against the
grass—all I heard for some long minutes.
Once amidst the stones he cleared his throat.
Oh God. He was gonna start it. I’m not ready yet, Spike. Don’t say anything
about it yet.
“Watcher’s overseas now, huh?”
“Yeah.” I breathed a sigh of relief.
“He’s…there were more girls…for him to find.”
He nodded. “They’re getting good…the girls.”
I glanced at him, looking away when he looked
back at me.
“Well, they aren’t that good. Not good enough
to stake me yet.”
I grabbed his hand. “I haven’t gotten that good
yet.” Oh my God, why did I grab his hand? And what did I just say? My eyes
wandered to our hands as he squeezed mine, then dropped it.
“Don’t do that,” his voice quiet, his hand
tucking into his pocket.
“What? Why not?”
“Look, you don’t have to…” he stopped, turning
his face to mine. “It’s enough for me…to be around you…”
I tried not to look hurt. “You don’t…want…me to
His eyes were watering. God, don’t cry in front
of me Spike. But then he caught himself, blinking it away. He let out a
“Buffy,” he stared at the blades of grass, “I
know it…it can’t ever be how I want it. It can’t even be how you want it.” He
glanced up. “And after I…it wasn’t your fault. I thought I saw it…the last
night, when we were…your eyes, they said it to me…” his eyes closed, and he
started to walk again.
I followed him through the tombstones. He
finally settled against one. I stood behind him, waiting to hear him out.
“I thought you loved me…” he whispered. “And I
wanted to…because I didn’t deserve then…” his shoulders hunched and he dropped
his head. “I still don’t deserve…”
My eyes stung, and I quickly wiped them dry. I
took two deep breaths, trying to turn my voice normal again before I spoke.
“Alright, Spike.” I walked around to face him.
“Now, it’s my turn.”
He raised his eyes. They looked past me, then
his head shot up. He stood, pushing me to the ground.
I heard his deep-throaty growl and quickly got
to my feet. We were surrounded by Bringers. Spike pulled a knife out of his
side and muffled his pained yowl. His face vamped and he tossed me the knife.
And we went to work.
“Don’t! It’s fine, leave it!”
“See? This is what I’m talking about. Let me
see!” I reached for his side.
“No!” he stumbled down the stairs to escape me.
“I bloody told you it’s fine! Now, sod off!”
I chuckled. “You always get all English when
“Not mad,” he turned around. “Just don’t need
you being all touchy.”
I followed him to the floor. He crossed to the
“I can help.” I told him as he began to lift his
“Don’t want…” he froze halfway up, obviously
I stepped closer, and he yanked the shirt off.
I couldn’t see his face, but I knew it had hurt. He threw the shirt and
clenched his hands hard to the sink, mumbling nonsense I couldn’t hear. I
stepped behind him.
“Slipping…” he muttered. “Can’t keep up. Drag
you down. Make you weak.”
“You don’t, Spike…turn around.”
He shook his head. “Stake me.”
God, I am getting sick of this. “Spike, you
need to listen to me. Now turn around and face me.”
“Now, if I stake you, you think
it’s gonna make things better? With you, or me? Or between us?” Oh God, I
hope that came out right.
He didn’t answer, just stared back at me.
“I was gone, Spike. I was gone, for
months—dead, for months. Did that help you?” I watched him open his mouth to
speak, but he held back as I continued. “It didn’t help, Spike. Every night
you saved me, remember?”
His eyes fell. “That is different.”
“How? Tell me how—”
“Because I love you.”
He said it again. How many times would I have
to hear him say that before I die…again? I couldn’t say anything back—my mouth
clamped shut. Nothing short of those three words said right back at him would
work, and I was not going to say them. Over my dead body…the final dead body.
Any man—or vamp—I said those words to was gone. And I don’t want Spike to go.
I need his help. Besides, I don’t love him…so I shouldn’t say it…right?
He was looking into my eyes now as he spoke. “It’s not the
same…not like it was with him.”
I realized who he was talking about and sighed.
“Spike, please don’t bring him into this.”
“He’s always bloody in it, Slayer!” his eyes
closed and he stepped past me, holding his side. “Always! Just then, I could
see him in your eyes. You never let him out…and you never will…”
I started past him. No way I was sticking
around to hear him tell me what I think and feel. But he grabbed my arm, his
cold fingers digging into me.
“He’s the one who makes you walk away now.”
I wrestled for my arm, but he held strong. “Let
His eyes met mine. “Why don’t you see?”
I felt my heart burn. Why does he have to look
like that? Doesn’t he know how hard this is? “Let go!” I slammed my fist
into his side, and he cried out, crumbling to the floor.
Guilt singed my eyes as I watched him fall. Why
did I do that? He balled up at my feet, coughing. What now? God, just get
out of here. He was struggling to his feet as I struggled up the stairs.
“Sweet dreams, Slayer.”
I slammed the door shut.
“At least you’re sleeping more these days.”
It was her. I opened my eyes, and her gentle
eyes stared back at me. Her warm smile, and a flowing white gown. She looked
“What’s going on?”
“You’re having a well-deserved rest.” She
smoothed my hair. She felt like warm air—smelled sweet. It was her.
“Mom?” I tried to touch her hand, but passed
through it. “I know I’m being all nosey and big-sistery, but…what did you tell
Her eyes saddened. “The truth.”
“Okay, but…could I get the actual words?”
She leaned forward and whispered, “You're weak.
I gasped, her words all too
familiar. I tried to place them as she continued.
“Maybe this evil power did bring
you back, but if it did it's because it needs you. And that means you can hurt
It hit me then. Those were my words…to… “Angel?”
And Mom stood, smiling.
I sat up to my empty room.
“C’mon Buff, or you school-girls are gonna be
late.” Xander warned.
“Just a second…” I stepped down into the basement.
Spike was stretched across the top of the
blanket. His side was wrapped. Poorly. Stubborn…should’ve let me help him.
He kept his eyes closed until I was next to him.
“Don’t talk. Just listen.”
He squinted up at me, stretching his arms over
his head. He winced, bringing them back down again quickly.
I took a deep breath. “Last night...can’t
happen again. Do you understand me? We can’t talk like that anymore.…”
He was going to say something, but probably
remembered my warning him not to talk. He nodded, urging me to keep going.
“It makes us weak, Spike…Takes away our
strength.” I looked at his bandages. “When we…talk…like that, we don’t pay
attention to what’s going on around us, and…”
A slight smile crossed his face, and quickly disappeared.
“And we lose control of the power.” I finished.
He sat up slowly, biting his lip as he bent his
middle. It was quiet for a few minutes before he spoke, “Can I say something
“You sure? Not gonna punch me in the gut now,
“Okay…” he sighed, “So, here goes…” he placed
his feet at mine and stood, moving his body close—too close.
I stopped breathing. God, what is he doing? I
closed my eyes.
He tipped his head towards my ear, cold air
brushing as his words came out, “You prefer the fighter to the lover, then?”
Something inside of me shivered, and I gave him
a slight nod.
His quiet eyes watched me, pulling himself
away. He stared in silence for a moment, biting his lip, before he seemed to
find his words. “Right then. There’s something I need you to do…”
I stumbled down the stairs. Dust pillowed up
around my head, choking in my throat. I glanced around when I reached the
dirt-floor. Something is seriously wrong with this basement. I clicked on the
flashlight and began to tiptoe through the halls.
It wasn’t long before I found some
crates and boxes. I rummaged through the wood. Nothing. A screeching rat
scurried across a lid as I went to pick it up, and I jumped back. Ew. That
box can stay open.
I wandered down more dark hallways,
shadows passing over the weak walls. I came to another opening—a more familiar
one. The light flashed over the bloodied rack that had held Spike…tortured
I ran my fingers across the dirt
where Supervamp was born. It was hardened now. I stepped to the stained wood,
touching where the beams met. Blood began to pour down the wood. This isn’t
it. Isn’t where I need to be. I backed away and turned, and two Bringers
waited for me.
They charged. I threw the
flashlight at one, but he must’ve blocked it. They still came at me, so I
rolled across the floor. The continued past me and vanished into the wall.
I felt my heart in my throat. It’s
okay…nothing to worry about. Just get it and…
“GET OUT!” a dark scream boomed in
my ears, pushing me to the gound.
Oh God. I felt it all around me. Just like
that night with Miss Calendar…when she changed into that…
Run. I pushed out of the room, or the fiery air
pushed me out. I didn’t look back at it. What if it’s the Hellmouth? What
was I thinking? Coming down here all by…
But then I saw it, out of the corner of my eye.
Draped across an old bookshelf. Just get it. Run over there and get it!
I sprinted towards the shelf. A beam fell, pushing dirt up into
the air. I jumped and finally reached it. Spike’s lousy leather jacket! I
clenched tight, pulling it up the stairs. Boiling wind smoldered around me
when I reached the door. I went to yell as I pulled the knob, bolted or locked
on the other side, and the wind pulled the air from my lungs.
I fell to the floor, pulling the coat over my
head. The wind swirled around, trying to lift it away, as the dark voice
roared and echoed in my head. My hand deep buried into a pocket, where I found
the cold metal of Spike’s lighter.
Spike stepped into the living room. I was at
the weapons chest, pushing stakes and holy water aside for my axe. I grabbed
it out, and looked to Spike.
“See you’ve got what you want…” he nodded to the
axe. “What ’bout me? Do I get what I want?”
I gripped the axe and went towards the door. He
followed, stopping with me at the closet. I pulled the door open.
There it was. His Big-Bad leather duster.
I watched his face. His eyes seemed to gaze in
wonderment before he lifted his hands to pull it out. “Thanks,” he said
“Alright,” I said as he pulled it on. “Ready to
kick some ass?”
A playful smile popped up. “After you, Slayer.”
I turned, smiling with my back to him, and
He shut the front door. “So, was it hard to
My boots clicked against the steps. “Nope. Not
hard at all.”
The stake landed dead on, and the vamp poofed
out of sight. Getting late, probably should get home. I headed towards the
“Had enough?” Spike jogged up next to me.
“Yeah. Looks pretty dead.”
He half-smiled, following me back to the house
in silence. Not next to me—behind me. Wonder why he’s back there… what if
he’s looking at… Oh, God!
“Spike!” I turned and his brow rose. What was I
going to say again?
We stood still, waiting for me to finish it.
Nothing came. He sighed, stepping ahead of me. I followed him all the way to
the steps, but he turned, stopping me there.
“I need to…” his hands fled to his pockets. “I
need to say something before we go back in there…”
Oh no… this can’t be good. My breath fell
uneasy, and soon stopped altogether. He knew he was making me uncomfortable,
but he just took a deep breath and stepped down. He’s got those remorse-eyes…
God, this isn’t going to be good.
“It’s about… earlier…” his body was shivering,
“Last night… when, when I…” His shaking hand lifted now, fingertips brushing
against my arm.
I didn’t move—I still wasn’t even breathing.
Hurry Spike, say it and let’s go in.
He sighed. “I’m sorry for it… what I did… what
It flashed back to me, the second I pushed all
my strength behind my fist, ramming it into his side. And he had fallen. I
had to say it back—because I am sorry. He didn’t deserve that… even if he did
I lifted my arm to his side, and he slid away
from me, drawing his arms his body. I pulled my hand away, tucking hair behind
my ears. “Sorry.”
His stone-face seemed to melt like a candle, no doubt realizing
that I wasn’t trying to hurt him. He had every reason to believe that I
would. I rose my eyes to his, trying to see past the color of them… trying to
see what Anya saw—what I hadn’t seen before.
Nothing. Just his eyes. They’ve always looked
I stepped past him and into the house. He
hesitated before following me in.
“Buffy!” Xander shouted out. “Just in time!
Ready to hear the latest great news?”
I came slowly into the living room. All the Scoobies—even
Anya and Andrew. All the SITs—were there always this many? And Giles is
here? Looks like more bad news for Buffy. The basement door closed. Spike
wasn’t going to hear this?
Giles stood, “Yes, well… indeed. It seems
things are getting a little bit…”
“Sacrificial!” Anya piped up.
I glanced around at the worried faces. Xander’s
looked more… annoyed.
“Meaning?” I asked.
“To offer something as a homage—usually involves
slaughtering of some kind.” Anya answered with a smile.
“It doesn’t say anything about pig-slaughter…”
Andrew’s whiny voice emerged, and grew quieter as he finished, “Does it?”
Giles glanced at me before blinking away.
“According to this passage…” he lifted a book and read from it, “The First will
send Bringers to… well, bring… four items for a, um… some form of ritual…”
“Ritual?” I placed my axe in the chest. “So
what’s the sacrifice?”
“The text says… Breath of Fire, uh…” Giles shrugged as he read on,
“Heart of Strength, Ghost of Passion, and…” he paused, blinking furiously at
the page. “Eye of Toad? Egg of Turnip…”
“It’s written in hideously condemned text,
Buffy.” He dropped the book, which gave a loud thud. “And I… I haven’t figured
“Yeah, but… Giles… Breath of Fire? Where is
that? What is that?”
“We, um, haven’t gotten to that part yet…” Anya
My eyes looked to the ceiling, then back to
Giles. “Well, what about this ritual thing? What’s it for?”
Giles glanced around the room. I followed his
gaze to Anya.
Anya rubbed her fingers. “We, um, haven’t
gotten to that part yet…either…”
We all sighed together, and the room stayed
silent for some time. I checked out all the girls, each looking back and forth
at each other—like cartoon characters. Xander and Dawn were standing, both
pairs of eyes on me. And Willow stared at her computer, as if she wasn’t even
I rubbed my eyes. “Maybe Spike knows
“I don’t know anything…”
I had just opened the door when he spoke from
his place on the first step.
I closed the door behind me and sat next to
him. “You could have been in there.”
His eyes rolled, and he turned his head from
me. “Not one for crowds.”
“That crowd is all you have.”
He snorted. “Angry eyes and jeering mouths…
Reminds me of the old Angelus days.”
Now I rolled my eyes. “Do you have to keep
bringing him up?”
His eyes searched me for a moment. Then he
stood, breaking the gaze, and went down the stairs.
I sighed, standing. “Now what?”
He was sitting on the bed now, his head in his
hands. “I don’t know.”
The silence was sickening, and I walked down the stairs only to
break it with the sound of my boots clicking softly against the wood. He
didn’t move. Just held his head as I reached the floor.
Then he chuckled, and it grew into a whispered
laugh. His head bobbed up and down. I smiled, but it quickly faded when I
realized this wasn’t his funny-laugh.
There was a strained smile on his face when he
lifted it. “You know, sometimes I think I think about him more than you ever
Angel? I wanted to ask him, but something kept
“How he helped you… and hurt you…” his head fell
into his hands again, and his words became muffled, “How he… survived… you.”
His fingers scratched into his skull. “And it stings… the thinking… it stings,
and I… if I could just… stop.”
Survived me? What is that supposed to mean?
Again, I kept my thoughts to myself. My silence seemed so golden—bringing out
whatever it was that kept him at such a distance.
But he seemed to catch on, and also fell silent,
pressing his palms against his temples. We could only hear muffled words
upstairs, until he fell back onto the bed, seemingly pushing words out of him…
again with the laughter.
“I forgot…” he said between chuckles, “You want
the fighter.” He lifted his legs onto the bed and stretched out. “Right then,
Slayer! Come talk to me when you know what the hell is going on.” He kicked
his boots off, “When there’s something I can kill for you.”
“Alright, Spike. Those mood swings are way too
regular nowadays. I stood here and listened, and it’s still not enough. I’m
out of ideas.” I turned to go upstairs.
As expected, another mood swing. He was behind
me in a second. “Wait! Don’t go. I’m sorry, Buffy. I just thought…”
“Thought what?” I crossed my arms, “What? I
can’t understand? I don’t know how it feels? That I can’t feel anything?”
He was blown back by my words. His speechless
mouth hung open.
Might as well finish it up, now. “This is hard
for me, too.” I felt my voice weaken, and quickly gulped away the lump in my
throat. “Don’t you get that?”
He was taking air in slow and unsteady now, lowering his eyes to my
stomach. I could see it—that he wanted to hold me, maybe even kiss me, but was
fighting himself from it. Am I so terrifying? Is he so afraid?
The lump came back to my throat, and I felt my
face grow hot. The image of Spike became blurry, and I blinked. A salty drop
slid down my cheek, and Spike came into clear view again. His eyes followed my
tear. He lifted his hand to it, but brought it away quick with wide eyes. He
dropped to the step in an instant and placed his palms over my boots.
“Buffy…” he rubbed my feet and up my ankles,
burying his face into my knees. “I’m so sorry, love…”
Another tear fell down.
He looked up, and in seeing it he
hugged my calves. “What a monster I am…” he groaned, and bent lower. He spoke
between gentle kisses, “Make you cry… make you weak…” he kissed my ankle one last
time before he dropped his head against the wooden stair.
I looked down at him—crumpled at my
feet, sobbing or shaking. I stepped down behind him, then crouched alongside
him. I drew my arm across his back and hugged him close.
He didn’t hug back.
This is a dream. The glow washed
over me. The warmed surrounded my arms and body. So warm. So smooth. I was
back. Back in my peace.
The mist flowed freely as I began
to move slowly and aimlessly. The quiet was empowering, strengthening my every
silent step. The peace. So right. So long. My place.
It came fast then. The glow ripped
itself apart, and tore a hole through the peace, chilling my spine as it sucked
out all the warmth. The silence was gone, too, and the wind screamed all
This is a dream. This is over.
Wake up! I pushed myself, trying to wake. But my arms just flailed helpless
before me. Then the wind swirled faster, and wrapped cold fingers around my
wrists, pulling me into the angry hole.
And all the light was gone. It was
cold, and dark, and I was powerless.
I clutched the mug, staring out the
kitchen window. The warming tickle from the sun graced over my pounding
flesh. But again the cold chill returned to my spine, and all the warmth fled
He didn’t say anything. I knew he
was there. He knew that I knew, and he still tried to hide it—standing so
silent and still in the entrance. I sipped, and the warm drink flowed through
me, taking away the chill. At least, I thought the sip took away the chill,
until I turned to see that he was already gone.
“If you please… Put that down!”
Giles’ voice grew quieter as he had moved away from the phone. “That’s not to
be toiled wi—” a loud crash interrupted him, and I could hear several of the
“Giles?” I finally called him back.
“We’re going to move downstairs,”
he had picked up the phone again, “Everyone to the basement.” He spoke
directly into the phone now, but quietly, “Silly, strong, and stubborn…”
“What was slain? A lamp?”
“No… Vase.” I could hear the glass
shifting. Giles must’ve been cleaning it up.
“Bummer.” I said, not really caring
much about flowers or destroyed vases that had held them. “You had something
to tell me?”
I glanced up. Principal Wood peered over my cubical wall.
“Something about… that boy? The
boy who… broke up… with you?”
Principal Wood smiled.
“Boy who broke up… Buffy, what in
God’s name are you talking about?” Giles asked.
My eyes widened, “Because, you
know, there’s plenty of fish in the sea. You just have to find them. Better
yet, you could find, like, four of them…”
Principal Wood looked confused,
then shook his head and smiled before he walked away.
“Buffy, are you suggesting that I
find some sort of—”
“Giles!” I whispered frantically
into the phone. “Ritual! Get on with it, will you?”
“Oh, yes… the counseling, forgive
me.” He cleared his throat, “We’ve translated what we believe may help locate
one of the ritual… ingredients.”
“Um…” he stuttered, “Breath of Fire burns within the one who combats
What? How was this helpful? I
fell back into my chair, exhausted. “Giles, that doesn’t tell us anything. I
mean, what the hell does it even mean?”
“Well, I haven’t a clue, Buffy.”
“Couldn’t you have called me when
you had something a little more… solid?”
“Spike… Spike has an idea on what
it could mean. Says there’s a demon in Sunnydale that fits such a
“Then we wait.” I hung up the
Rain fell as I stepped onto the
grass, matting down my hair. Spike closed the door.
“Pretty far from here, Slayer.” He
didn’t leave the shelter, “Think maybe we should ask the boy for a lift?”
I didn’t slow at his
suggestion—just kept walking. “Nope. Don’t want to worry about protecting him
if things get ugly.” Soft rain flattened into my skin and clothes. “Besides,
nice night for a walk.”
“Humph,” he sniffed, opening the door again. I turned to watch him
disappear inside. He returned having shed his duster. “Nice for you.”
We crossed Revello, heading away
from the graveyard. For the first couple miles the air was filled with
silence. My head was filled with noisy thoughts.
Should I talk to him about last
night? About Angel? He thinks I still love Angel. Crazy, because I don’t
think he still loves Dru. Not like he did. Not like he loved me. Or he did…
or does… love me. I know it. Accepted it. It wasn’t the right kind of love
before, but now, I don’t know. He’s all soul-having. But does that really
change it? Angel was souled when he broke my heart. Didn’t stop it from
happening. Why am I bringing it back to Angel, anyway? This isn’t the same.
It’s different. He did it for me… Spike fought for that soul… for me. Even if
it wasn’t what I wanted, it doesn’t make his intentions any less noble.
Noble? Is that what he is?
I glanced over at Spike, and he
quickly returned it. Rain dripped off his cheek. His face looked nervous from
the silence, or he was uneasy that I might end it. I couldn’t tell.
I wonder how it feels… to suddenly
have part of you that was gone for over a century. Does he know why it’s
there? Do I? I placed my hand over my heart, feeling the steady beat. Is
this it? The beat? At least the heart feels… you know that it’s there. With
the soul, it was harder to feel it. Hard to find it. Spike had gone halfway
around the Earth to find his.
“Left ahead,” he pointed. “Gonna
run outta road soon.”
Great. Dark forest with Spike.
This was such a bad idea.
He sighed. Too quiet. Say
something to him.
“So what’s this Breath of Fire
“Big. Nasty. ” Spike chewed his bottom lip. “Should be right
Fun? “And we’re going to… Did
Giles say to kill it?”
Spike shrugged. “Way I figure it,
we poke around his pad first. See what he’s got.” His eyebrow rose. “Gives us
trouble, we give him the axe.”
Rain pinged against the axe as I
held it up to look at it. “What if we… need him? Maybe we should just… cage
it up… or something.”
Spike chuckled. “Don’t count on it, pet.”
The trees sheltered out most of the rain. Spike
bent over and slapped the water off his head. He whipped his head back up, and
his hair curled. Naturally-curly Spike. I chuckled. He glanced over at me.
“Hold still,” he came next to me. Shivers. He
moved his hand to my ear. Oh, God, he can feel my shivers. Stop it!
His fingers pinched a lock of my hair, and
slowly dragged a leaf from it. He twirled it before my face, and water
sprinkled off onto me. He dropped it, watching it fall to the ground. His
gaze rested on my body. I was soaked. The clothes stuck to me. He could
probably see right through them.
Shivers, again. What is he doing? What am I
He lifted his hand, stopping it inches away from
Don’t touch me, Spike. I don’t know what I’ll
do. I don’t know what I think of this. But it would feel so nice… to feel a
gentle touch again after… And the decision was made. I slid my hand out
towards his and pulled it to my waist.
He clung to me, moving closer. Oh
no. I started it. Can I make him stop? Do I want him to stop? The other
hand slid around me now, and I looked at his face. Still lowered, looking down
at his careful hands. They moved up my arms—rubbed my arms. God, I can’t
breathe. My eyes closed, and I sucked air in as I spoke, “Spike…”
Scared. I scared him. I lifted my
eyes to his, letting air out and quickly drawing more in. His eyes met mine.
We stood like that, until finally he brought his face closer.
No, no, no. Don’t do it. Don’t
kiss him. But my tongue still jumped across my lips. He closed his eyes, and
I closed mine.
And then his forehead rested
against my own, but his mouth was far from mine. It was open—I could hear his
panting. Quick, frightened panting. My heart beat to the pace of it. And
again, we stood like that.
I opened my eyes and watched him.
His eyes still closed tight, his face wincing and worried. He looked hurt. I
moved my head back, and his fell forward slightly. His eyes gazed back at me
“Are you…” I thought about moving
out from his hands, but they felt so good. “Are you okay?”
Still open-mouthed, he nodded.
“Because you look…”
His eyes closed again, followed by
“… hurt.” I finished.
He pulled his hands from my sides
and over his head. They clutched at the top before resting at the back of his
neck. He blinked, then looked at me again.
“It’s…” he scratched at his
shoulder, “It’s gone now.”
“What? What was it?”
He turned, walking further into the forest. “Chip… it stings…
sometimes it stings.”
I followed him, grasping my axe
with cold fingers. “The chip? Were you trying to… were you going to bite me?”
He swung around. “No!”
“Then why did it zap?”
His fists were clenched. “It
wasn’t you, Slayer. It just… sometimes it just does.”
My arms lowered the axe, “That’s
He sighed. “Yeah. That’s it.”
He walked away again, and I moved
quick to catch up. I stumbled over a dip in the ground just as he turned.
“Does the Watcher know? About it?”
“The soul. Did you tell him about
I hesitated, confusing thoughts in
my head. Why doesn’t he ever call it ‘his’? Always ‘the’ soul. Never… ‘my’
soul… but my soul? Does he think of it as mine? I glanced at him, realizing
he was still waiting for an answer. I quickly ran over conversations with
Giles in my head… remembered the time I was going to tell him once… Something
came up. Doesn’t matter really. Xander or Dawn or Willow must’ve said…
“I’m sure he knows,” was all I
He scowled, “It really is nothing
to you, isn’t it? Doesn’t matter that I… Doesn’t change… You still think of me
No I don’t! My head screamed in my
defense. Why couldn’t I say it? I don’t know what I think, I wanted to say
that to him. But I could only stare at him in silence.
He approached me again,
outstretching his hand, locking our eyes. His hand rested against the middle
of my chest. Oh no. He held it there for so long. Oh, God. I felt my heart
pounding. He could feel it too. What is he thinking? I stared into his eyes,
trying to figure him out.
He spoke in a low voice, “It’s not
hard… you know… to find it.”
I didn’t break eye contact, even as
I felt his cool fingers tapping my skin.
“I see yours now, you know? So
clean, and strong. I can feel the strength. I don’t need proof of it. I know
it is there.”
I shuddered as his hand slid down
to my stomach, reaching my wrist and grasping it. I dropped the axe and he
pulled my hand up. He held it to his chest, focusing on my eyes.
“Can’t you know it? It’s there,
love. Can’t you see it? Feel it?” He dropped his hand.
I lost myself in the depths of his
eyes, searching for it. I pressed my palm hard into his chest, desperately
trying to feel it. His eyes squinted, and tiny raindrops dripped softly off
I don’t. I don’t see it. Why
can’t I see it? I could hear Spike already asking it.
But he didn’t ask it. He sighed.
“I can’t make you see it, Buffy. You can’t trust… you don’t believe it.”
I do. Tell him I do! God, Buffy,
say something… he’s waiting. He’s fading… he’ll turn his back. Walk away hurt
again. Do I want to hurt him again? Trust him? Should I…
“Believe?” the rest of the thought
whispered over my lips.
He blinked, giving a slight smile.
“Believe me, Buffy. Believe… in me. Don’t just say it to me… do it.”
My hand fell. So wrong. How can
he be so wrong, and so right?
His smile faded as he bent down to
grab the axe. I stood speechless… thoughtless… powerless.
He held it out, “Not far now. Off
I took the axe, and followed him
deeper into the forest.
“Should be that one, there.” Spike
motioned to the cavern ahead, “What’s the plan?”
We’ve had hours to think up a plan,
but no. We had to go all talky again. I sighed, “Dark. No flashlight. You?”
“Left my lighter in my jacket,” he
muttered, glancing up at the branches. “Don’t fancy just a casual stroll in
there. Won’t see a damn thing without a torch or somethin‘.”
God, we’re stupid. “Should’ve
brought Willow. Bet she could’ve done a spell or something.”
“Yeah, or we could’ve just brought
a torch,” Spike shrugged, “Wicca’s spells always seem to go all wonky, if you
“Not anymore,” I ripped at one of
the lower branches. “And no one’s asking. Now find some rocks to spark this.”
“I’m not a bloody caveman, Slayer.”
“Just find two,” I strained, tugging
hard at the branch. “Stop wasting my time.”
I heard him chuckle, fumbling
around the ground. The branch came loose, and I pulled the bark away, fraying
a driest corner. Spike handed me two stones.
He did so, and I placed one rock close
to the frayed side. I clacked the rocks together a couple of times before a
spark ignited. The branch began to burn.
“Well, well, well…” Spike smiled. “Something
new every day, Slayer. Never stop surprising me.”
I raised the axe. “Let’s go.”
Serious business now, Buffy. Stop
looking at him. I have work to do. I told him to stop with the mooneyes, now
all I have to do is… stop… with the… mooneyes. He walked in front, holding the
torch up towards the wall. God, I can’t even focus. I don’t even know which
way we’re going.
Spike disappeared behind a wall,
the glow from the fire still easy to see. He hadn’t said a word the whole time
we’ve been in here. Just scenting and walking. Good. I liked it that way. Easier
to focus. It’s what I asked him to do anyway—stop with the talking when things
were serious. And they are. Focus. Work to do. I rounded the corner, and
“Bloody hell, Slayer!” Spike spoke
in a low whisper. “Awfully jumpy tonight.”
“Spike! This demon, you know what
it looks like?”
“Sh!” he turned around. “We’re
getting close, you wanna lose a limb?”
I pulled him back down the other
hall. “Don’t you think we should plan this out a little?”
He smiled—that mischievous smile. God, I hate that smile… a
little. “Don’t want to wing it? Think it’d be more fun for you if we did…”
I yanked the torch from him.
“We’re not going any further until you tell me what we’re up against.”
“Nothing we can’t handle, Slayer.
You know I wouldn’ta brought you here if I thought otherwise,” a slight smile
I glared back at him.
He sighed. “Big beastie. Lots o‘
fire, lots o‘ muscle.”
“So how do we kill him… it?”
Spike pointed to the axe.
“That’s it? That’s your plan?”
He nodded. Shadows stretched over
“What?” More shadows, big
shadows. “You got a better idea, Slayer?”
My eyes opened so wide I thought
they might fall out. Whatever was rushing up behind Spike was more than just
‘big.’ The flames licked the cave’s ceiling. I pushed the torch into Spike’s
hand and grabbed his arm.
We turned back down the other
corridor, and then I let go of Spike’s arm and sprinted faster. Outside. Get
outside. Too big. Spike’s footsteps were behind me, and then we could hear
the demon’s steps: shattering slams against the rocky floor. The walls shook
around us. I rounded another corner. Then another. More corners after that
one. I stopped, staring at the three passages in front of me. I don’t
Spike came to a scudding stop at my
side, breathing heavy. My thoughts sidetracked. He’s always doing that.
Why? What’s he trying to prove? He has no breath to be out of…
“Slayer,” he said between gasps, “I
think you took a wrong turn.”
The walls shook with a thundering
smash. Spike looked behind us.
“I think you took a lot of wrong
“Well, I didn’t know!” I kept
staring at the three choices. “You should’ve said something!”
He sighed. “I think we should go
“I think right.”
“Right, left then?”
“No! Right. Go right!”
“Let’s compromise: Middle?”
I shook my head, and began stepping
forward. “We’re going right.”
“What if I want to go middle?”
Spike protested. A large crash sounded nearby, and he eagerly followed me to
I rounded another corner and
stopped, pushing Spike back as he came around it. He fell on his back,
dropping the torch. “What the bloomin‘ hell was that for?”
I stepped over him. “Big? Nothing
we can’t handle? Are you insane?”
He shrugged. “Guess he grew up…”
I leaned against the wall. “This
is the stupidest goose-chase I’ve ever been on.”
He struggled, using the wall to
help himself up. “Been fun though, hasn’t it?”
I rolled my eyes, but a smile came
“Been a long time since we had fun…
together.” He leaned next to me.
It had. Everything so serious all
the time, especially with all The First’s latest antics. And the year before,
with Willow… and Spike… and everything. It had been a long run for hard
times. But this was fun… he’s right. I smiled.
“I miss that.” I said.
“The fun? The innocence, that’s
what it was, pet. The chastity… the virginity…”
I glanced at him, and he was quick to reply.
“I mean, you were naïve then.
Things weren’t so complicated, because you didn’t know any different.”
“No.” I looked at the ground. “It
was… it was hard then, too.”
A pause. A long pause.
“Before I came along?”
I nodded. “Long before. I may
have been naïve, but I was learning.” I looked over at him, “Learning fast.
Hard lessons, Spike. The life-changing kind.”
“I get that,” he looked at the
ground, probably regretted bringing it up. “That’s why… It’s something I
wanted to change. Make it easier...”
The wall behind us shook, and we
both stood away from it. Spike slipped into another passage, and I followed.
“Never did, though,” his words
echoed slightly in the air, “It’s why I left. To get it… do the right thing.
It’s what you’re all about… the right things.”
“Perfect Buffy died a long time
ago.” I sighed, glancing his way.
The torch lit the wall behind him,
forming a bright glow around his head as he murmured, “Always be perfect to
God. Is he serious? Is he trying
to make me cry? Who knows what he’ll do if I cry again… here, in this dark
hole. God, he’d do… that thing. I bit back on my expression, and a laugh
pushed its way out.
“Perfect to you? Is that some kind
of joke?” I chuckled harder. “Because it’s funny. I mean… Spike, I’ve treated
He looked surprised at my reaction,
and stopped walking. “After everything I’d done to you? Pfft, don’t even
bother ’bout my forgiveness, pet.”
What’s that supposed to mean? God,
he’s a bad liar. What does he think I am? “What would you say if I asked for
He shook his head, turning his back and walking again. “Don’t ask
“Why not? You beg for mine every
He pointed the torch, “I think we should go left up ahead.”
I stopped, crossing my arms. He
stopped walking, knowing I had stopped walking. He dropped the torch and faced
“I think you can’t forgive me.
That’s why you can’t answer me.”
His face crinkled, eyes staring
like I was upside-down. And he stood, silent and staring, as I found more to
“It’s true, isn’t it? You can’t
forgive me.” He’s right not to. I was wrong. I needed to hear it, and he
didn’t need to say it.
He kept his eyes on me, moving closer.
Oh no. Not again. Too much contact already tonight, Spike. He set his hands
over my shoulders. Oh no. Bad, bad. No, no. Forget it, Spike. Forget I
He blinked, and his lips twitched.
A hand fell against the back of my neck. So familiar. So comfy. It settled
into place, rubbing a cool finger across the top of my spine. I strained to
keep my eyes open. If I close them, it’s over.
I closed them.
Oh, bad. Oh no. Please don’t.
Fire monster, Xander—anything turn that corner right now and stop this.
His cool lips pressed against my
forehead. My thoughts melted away, as if his chilling touch was too hot to
bear. He held there a short moment, and it was over so fast that I had to
fight not to pull him back.
I opened my eyes. His fixed in
them—entranced them. I couldn’t look away if I wanted to… I didn’t want to.
Say it please. I need to hear it.
He brushed his hand across my
cheek. “There’s nothing to forgive, love.”
There is! God, there is! Why
won’t you? He turned again, and was picking up the torch. No! That’s not
what I wanted! Tell me what I need to hear you say, Spike! I stood there,
begging him with no words. Forgive me.
He turned, motioning me in front of
It came to me then as I stepped
forward. Things really are different. Not long ago I could’ve said all those
words to him, and he would have said it all right back… in any language I
wanted... as many times as I wanted. But not now. I couldn’t even bring the
words to my tongue. They didn’t taste right.
God… I’m still naïve.
“I… I don’t want to wander like
Spike shrugged. “Like to stay here forever, then?”
No. I want to fight. I need to
fight. “Where’s the demon?”
Spike glanced about the hall. “Not
sure. Smell’s harder to pick up. Must’ve given up on us.”
I looked at him, not showing any expression. “We’re going to kill
He stopped, and began walking the
other way. I followed.
“You sure ’bout this, Slayer?”
Oh God, yes. I’ve never wanted to
kill anything this badly. Well, maybe equal to how much I used to want to kill
you, Spike. “Just… get me to it.”
His eyes closed, and brow rose.
“You’re the boss, pet.”
God, I need to kill something.
He stopped. “This is it. You hear
it? Right through this wall.”
“So why isn’t it busting through?”
“Breathing slow. Must be asleep.”
Perfect. I gripped the axe tight.
The lair was open, and empty except
for the demon. Lots of running room. Not a lot of high points. My eyes fell
on the demon, resting in the far left corner. The scaly back moved up and down
slowly. I glared hungrily. You are so dead.
“Got a plan, Slayer?” Spike
whispered from behind me.
I shrugged, and stepped lightly
towards the demon’s back. I pulled the axe back, and the blinding rage inside
took over. I swung down, hard and fast, chopping right down the spine.
The wound exploded, forcing me back
in a rush of heat. Spike caught me, but the force pushed us to the ground.
Then the roar came, shaking my insides with the walls. The ground vibrated as
it struggled to all fours, favoring its back. Then it turned to us, the face
twisted in bloodlust. The golden eyes burned through me as I got to my feet,
pulling Spike up. I heard him pull a knife… from his boot? Didn’t know that
was there. I lifted the axe, sidestepping. The demon’s glare followed me.
The mouth—more like a
beak—stretched open, releasing a deep growl. Spike had moved to its other side
now, crouching slightly, the long knife held before his face.
I moved in quick, spinning the axe
over my head for more power. The demon crouched, and sprung forward at me. I
dove under it, the sharp beak catching my shirt. I got to my feet again,
touching the rip over my shoulder blade. The ground shook as the heavy body
“Fire, Slayer!” I could barely hear
Spike shout over the deafening screech of the monster. “Get down! Buffy!”
I fell to my hands and knees, the
fire rushing just above me. I rolled to my right before I stood. The demon’s
back was to me now, the face focused on Spike dancing in front of it. I ran at
it again, winding the axe before landing it hard into the hind leg.
The demon squealed, lunging forward
at Spike, who leapt out of the way. I pulled the axe out, and the demon’s head
turned to me. The piercing screech started again, and I sprinted away from
it. I heard the fire rushing behind me—felt the heat building up, and dove
face-first against a wall, pressing my body hard against it. The wave pushed
past me, singeing the torn fabric on my shoulder. Then it stopped, and the
demon howled, shaking the wall I was up against. I blinked to clear my blurry
eyes, and then was able to see it again.
Spike had pushed his knife into an
eye, and a massive front claw lifted and knocked him away. He flew across the
lair, crying out before landing hard on his back.
The demon lifted the front claws,
scratching at its face. I stepped into the open again, ignoring the pounding
sounds as the paws slammed into the ground. I crouched low as a claw finally
scratched out the knife. A deafening roar again, and it turned to me.
I took a deep breath as the demon
screeched again. The bloody head lifted high, then pushed forward with a
fierce shriek. The smoldering flames flew at me. I still crouched as it came,
faster and faster. Louder and louder. Focus. Wait. Wait. Almost…
Then I felt it. The surge of
strength as the flames came too close. I pushed my legs up, rolling to my
right. The blaze fed past me, devouring to the back wall. I regained my
footing, stood fast, and gave a tiny yell as I heaved the axe across the lair.
The blade spun at the demon’s neck, still stretched out to scream the fire. It
landed with a sick thud, forcing the demon to its side. The chamber fell
silent, and the fire burned out. All was dark except for the torch near the
entrance that dimmed by the second.
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.
“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.
This part contains spoilers for The Killer in Me
My door swung open, and I sat up
straight in bed.
It was Spike. He stood tall in the opening, blinding light
stretching his shadows
to the foot of my bed.
Something’s wrong. Unless
something isn’t wrong. Except, wait…
Spike… in my bedroom… in the middle of the night… is wrong.
gulped as my eyes adjusted. “What’s
He slipped quietly into the
room then, shutting the door behind him.
The room fell dark as he drifted to my bedside. I watched him move slowly... his dark eyes
avoided mine; never leaving the sheets I was clutching… the outline of my body
and then he was on top of me. The
sheets were gone, along with our clothes, and he pressed his hard, cold body
I tried to
push him off, but watched my arms wrap around his shoulders instead. I went to scream his name, but my voice
never came. I felt my nails scratch
hard into the skin on his back as he slammed into me, and I cried out in
disbelief that he could still feel that good.
Then he lifted himself away, his yellow eyes glaring down at me, blood
painted on his sneering lips.
God! What did he…
My hand lifted to my neck, where I
felt the hot blood trickling down onto my fingertip. I gasped, closing my eyes.
When I opened them, he was gone.
I flipped him off the bed. “Get
He landed hard on his back, a
surprised grunt came as he hit.
I pulled him to his feet. “I said get up! You think you can do that to me?”
He rubbed his eyes, opening them up
into mine, “Buffy… what is it? What’s
I shoved him against the wall,
“What’s the matter?” I pulled out the stake.
His eyes popped open. “Buffy!
What are you—”
No talking, Spike! I pushed the stake to his chest. That shut him up. “It’s not gonna work… Soul or no soul… you’re dust.”
He sucked the air in, gazing up
with those stupid, bruised eyes. Then
he closed them, as if he had been waiting to hear that—waiting for this moment.
The anger burned through me, “You
bite me and…”
His eyes shot open. He glanced from my neck to my eyes several
times. His face switched from terrified
to confused, and back to terrified again as he softly shook his head. Somehow he got hold of my empty hand and
pulled it to my neck.
There was no blood. What?
No blood? No blood. No wound.
Nothing. I dropped the stake,
and it clanked to the floor. No
blood? What? I rubbed my neck. Oh
God. What happened? It was a… Spike was…
His eyebrow rose, “It was just a
I closed my eyes tight. No.
It wasn’t. It was real. It was too real. I felt him coming closer, and I backed away, not daring to look
at him or touch him. But he still
scooted forward, one arm reaching out towards me.
“God…” I finally looked him in the
eyes as he slipped a hand over my shoulder, “Spike, I’m sorry.”
He pulled me closer, and held
me there. “It’s alright, love. I know.”
“I just… I was so scared.” I let him hold me, but I fought back my
tears. Don’t cry. Things get too crazy when I cry.
His mouth was against my hair. His head lifted slightly as he spoke, soft
whispers brushing my hair, “I know.”
His body was warm when I backed
away from him. He shivered, opening his
eyes, fingers sliding off my back and to his sides. His gaze followed me up the stairs. He didn’t move, and he didn’t speak. Just watched me go. Let
I woke up to reality that
morning. Oh God. I tried to stake him. Weirdness.
Again with the weirdness. He’s
gonna be all rejecty again. Why did I
do that? That dream. That stupid dream.
I sighed, tying the scarf around my
not-bitten-by-Spike neck. I’ll go down
and talk to him. Now. No, not now. After breakfast. What day
is it today? Oh, right. Retreat day. Giles is taking the girls to the desert. Thank God.
I walked down the empty hall,
passing the empty bathroom to go downstairs into the empty kitchen… and filled
an empty mug with coffee. Then the
frenzy surrounded me. I could hear
Giles at the door, his timid voice begging orders. Xander rushed in and out of the house with bags. Dawn, Molly, and Amanda came into the
“So, Buffy,” Molly asked as Dawn
packed up various foods, “What’s the retreat like? Is it dangerous?”
I chuckled, “Only if you don’t
like the hokey-pokey.”
“That’s what it’s all about!” Dawn
turned with a pleased smile, and then shrugged. “That, and, you know, muddy-killer-First-Slayer-ghosts and
The girls’ eyes widened with
Dawn’s smile. She looked at me with her
“See? Look what I did!” face. Then she waved a bag of marshmallows before
tossing them into the supplies bag.
Then they cleared out, and I was
left alone to stare at the basement door.
Oh no. Okay. I can do this. Just go down there and… and what? Tell him ‘Sorry’? ‘Sorry for trying to stake you… again…’? Oh no.
I can’t do this. I have to do
this. Go down there and see what he
says. He deserves that… at least
that. After they go. Yes, after everyone goes.
They were gone too soon.
I took a deep breath before opening
the door and stepping down. Here we go.
I never should have gone into that
basement. This never would have
happened. I wouldn’t even know about
Spike’s chip going all wonky… unless I had heard Spike scream, which I probably
wouldn’t have. And I wouldn’t be in
this stupid cave, and that top-secret military guy wouldn’t be trying to rush
me into a decision like this. And did I
just think ‘wonky’?
I crossed my arms. Just this morning, coming down into the
basement to find Spike in chains. In
chains because of last night. Definitely
my fault. Locked himself up because I
dreamt he bit me. Good going,
Buffy. Real leadery, aren’t you? General Buffy’s army chaining themselves to
My hands pressed into my
head. Stop thinking about this
morning. Now. Think about now, please.
Military-guy wants to know what to do with Spike. Remove it or repair it. All decisions regarding Hostile 17 are mine
What about Spike? God, doesn’t he get to make a decision? No, of course not. Spike’s fate is always in my hands. Always. I determine his
existence. Everything that he is. When have I ever made the right choice
My eyes fell on him then. He was resting on that cold metal stretcher…
a gurney. That’s what it’s called. And the bright light shone over his
face. His eyes were closed, and he
looked patient. Well, he kinda is a
patient... But, waiting. Just… calm and waiting… for me to decide.
I came closer then, trying to
explain this to him without words.
Last time you were down here Spike,
you were desperate to get that chip out… desperate to kill me… over and over
you’ve tried. I’ve lost track of how
many times you’ve tried. And now that
man’s staring at me, trying to hurry me along.
Like he knows the situation.
Like he knows anything about me.
Or about you.
But I remember more than just how
many times you tried to kill me. I
remember how you saved me. I do. I remember that night… God, that night was
so long ago. When you offered to help
me… the night I stabbed Angel. You
didn’t even have the chip back then…
And when Glory… had you. I remember that too, Spike. I haven’t forgotten it. I told you I’d never forget it. What you did for us. Saved us.
And after that, you were always there.
Right up until… the end. And
even then, you fought so hard… tried so hard to help me… to save Dawn. And you didn’t even have the soul back then…
“Miss Summers,” Military-guy said
as I placed my hand over Spike’s. “Miss
Summers, we can’t wait here all night.”
He was cut off by a brief but loud
wail from Spike. I jumped back a bit,
lifting my hand away.
“And neither can he…” Military-guy
I didn’t answer, watching Spike’s
face as I brushed my hand up his arm.
He trembled, and his eyes blinked open.
“Sh. I’m right here.”
I held my breath, focused on his
mouth. His bottom lip curved slightly
at a corner—a definite smile. I let the
air out, stopping my hand at his elbow.
His eyes lingered there before he
bent his arm, taking my hand in his.
I squeezed his hand then, trying to
push all my tenseness away. Push away
all that decision-making tension inside me.
“You don’t have to…” he started.
He let out a pleading sigh, but
closed his mouth. Then his eyelids
I came closer; so I could whisper
to him, “Don’t worry.”
His eyes opened again, surprising
me enough to move back a little. He had
that tiny smile again, and he silently begged me to finish.
“I haven’t forgotten, Spike.”
“Chains…” he muttered, “Chains,
“Spike, no.” I lifted his feet onto the cot, “Besides, you can
“Buffy…” he started to sit up.
“Sh.” I placed my hands on his
chest. “Just rest here for a minute. Okay?”
He fell back against the pillow.
“Melts like butter, you know?”
His eyes opened, “Like butter; not
scalding. Make me cry at the moon… to the stars…”
What the hell? “Spike?”
He shook his head, closing his eyes
again, “Sorry, pet… it’s just… harder to keep everything in place.”
“Because… the chip?”
“Or lack of, I reckon,” he settled,
resting his eyes on me. “Feels a little… funny is all.”
Funny? Like, ‘wrong decision’
funny? God, it was supposed to be better without the chip…
Spike frowned, obviously seeing the
concern in my face. “I’m alright, Buffy… I’m… I’m not sure why you—”
“Why I what? Did the right
thing?” Been so long since you’ve seen me do that, Spike. It’s no wonder you
don’t know it when you see it.
He sighed. “That what you think it
“I think…” what? What do I think?
That the chip never really mattered. Never stopped you from biting me. You
stopped you from biting me, Spike. Every time, you… Oh, God. What? Why is he
staring at me?
His lips sucked in, and his eyes
widened with a nod… That’s his ‘please, go on’ face. His ‘talk to me’ face.
‘Say it’ face.
Say what? What, Spike? Tell you
what I think of you? No. I don’t… Not the right time…
“Silence her weapon… her only
defense, it is…”
What? His whispers fell almost
silent. I came closer to him, listening harder.
“Hides behind it… only time she’ll
hide.” His lids never opened, even as I came inches from his face. “But she’ll
brave all others… all odds. Clean and safe.”
I lifted my hand to his mouth, but
didn’t cover it. Something told me to keep listening. It was like reading a
journal. All these thoughts… that were just supposed to be… thoughts. Things
he never said; things I shouldn’t hear. All these thoughts just running free.
I couldn’t stop him. I want to hear more. Don’t stop, Spike…
“She’s the heart of it… the
center. Of the moon, and the stars. Or the sun. They all turn to her. Need
her...” his eyes blinked open.
I lifted my face, watching him
watch me. He swallowed.
“I… uh, should…”
I nodded, standing up. “Get some
He stared a moment, taking quick
breaths, before dropping his head.
I slammed the basement door.
“Willow, hi, I… Willow!” I watched her settle onto a stool. “Willow? How
“Hey, Buffy!” Kennedy lifted a
kettle off the stove. “Did you want some tea?”
I eyed Willow. More tea, huh? “Um, no thanks. So, Willow? How
did you… fix you?”
Willow shrugged, “It was, um… like
a… a fairy-tale thing…”
“Fairy-tale thing?” I looked at
Kennedy smirked, picking up a piece
of paper off the counter. “Um, Buffy, there’s a note here…” Kennedy stopped
reading and pushed it into my hand.
“‘We think Giles is The
First—Anya.’ What the…” I stared at the paper.
“Here, lemme see.” Willow snatched it away. “Well… maybe this is…
maybe it’s old.”
“I don’t think so. Unless… did
everyone know that Giles was The First already?”
Kennedy shook her head.
“Um, maybe Spike knew?” Willow
The basement door slammed behind
me. It’s okay. Be calm. Be tactful. Use a quiet, slow voice.
He shot up. “God! Buffy, what is
“Is Giles The First?”
Spike still struggled to breathe, “Is Giles the… who told you
Spike blinked, looking away. “I
don’t… I mean you’ve… you’ve touched him, haven’t you? Hugged him?”
No. Oh, crap! No! I ran up the stairs, slamming the basement
door behind me again. Kennedy and Willow followed me upstairs to my room.
Crap. Pack, and get out there. All those potentials… alone with The First… Oh
“Buffy, it’s alright. Xander left
a message on my phone, see? He says Giles isn’t The First.” Willow waved to
phone towards me.
Kennedy sidled up beside Willow, “Well, unless The First killed
Xander and is pretending to be him now…”
“Listen, you guys stay here and
watch Spike. I’m going to—”
“Don’t worry, Buff.” Xander came in the room, “Giles isn’t The
First, and neither am I.”
He glanced at Willow and Kennedy,
who took turns poking fingers at him.
“Hey! Easy with the pokes,
“Xander!” Willow hugged him. “What
“It’s a long story.” Xander backed away from her. “We’ve got
another potential on the way. Giles took Dawn and went to pick her up.”
“And…” I dropped my bag, “All the…
the girls are back?”
“That isn’t fair! They were
supposed to be gone for two days!”
Three pairs of wide eyes stared
back at me.
Spike was sleeping. Maybe not
sleeping, but not really awake either. Somewhere in-between. I sat on the
steps to listen... for a while. He never stopped talking, of course. Always
talking. Always has something to say… Eventually I stepped next to him, but
his words were muffled and I couldn’t make them out.
I crouched alongside him, watching
his lips barely move. He muttered senseless words, and then his muscles
tightened and the lips froze. Something’s wrong. Something hurts. His eyes
closed tighter and he broke the silence with a tiny gasp.
I lifted my hand to his head,
stretching my fingers through his hair. I moved slow as I scratched around to
He shuddered, opening his eyes.
“Sh. Let me help.”
His eyes closed again and he
swallowed hard when I reached the back of his head. “Don’t…”
He gasped again as I circled my fingers, “Don’t help?”
His eyes opened again, and he lifted his hand to mine. “Please…
don’t.” Then he pulled my hand away. “Don’t… it… melts…”
I crossed my arms. Okay. It melts. I melt? What is that
supposed to mean? So, no touching Spike. This is so unfair. Why won’t you
let me help? I felt myself glaring at him.
His hand fell with his eyes.
The basement filled with the noise
from upstairs. The girls stomped through the kitchen. Spike’s eyes closed
“The girls… they’re alright?”
I nodded. “Yeah. I’m taking some of them out for patrol.”
“Just rest. I have to go.
They’re… They’re waiting for me.”
This part contains spoilers for First Date
Here we are. Just the two of us
again. Sitting on the couch. Dead silent. Serious. ‘Time to get serious,’
that’s what Giles had said. It’s not fair. Things just got un-serious. I
glanced over at Spike, who was—of course—all serious-looking.
“I, uh…” he rubbed at his neck.
“Did you have a nice time?”
Yes… I think. Why am I not saying
that to him? Because I don’t want to… to say that. Time’s running out. Say
“Well, you know, dates are always
fun when there’s a buncha demons involved.”
He smiled… a small smile. Okay. I think that’s good. Wait,
smile’s gone now.
He faced me, looking me right in
the eyes, “I don’t… like him.”
I nodded, “Well, I don’t think he
likes you either.”
“Take off points for that, love…
pretty unoriginal to dislike me.”
“Hey!” I scooted lower, “Does that
make me a freak?”
His face lit up, and his eyes
wandered over me. Puzzling over me. What? Like that’s so unexpected? Yeah,
so I like you, Spike. So what? He blinked at my internal questions, and the warmer
smile came up… I felt my heart beat rise. A second later he was aware of it,
and immediately looked away and dropped the smile. He shuffled around a bit
before settling further away.
Always going away. Every guy…
every time. I still can’t believe he thought it was a good idea for him to
go. Why do they all think that? ‘Things are rough; I better run!’ Things
would only get harder if he left now. I’m not sure how… or why… but they
would. I need us all together right now. All around me. Why don’t you see
that? God, you see just about everything else.
His fingers gripped his other arm,
“Missed most of the fray tonight.”
“She wasn’t much of a fight,” my
hands clenched each other, “And you’re still kinda recover—”
I sat up, “You just got the chip out, Spike… It’s alright if you—”
“If I what?” he glanced over.
“Fail? If I don’t care? That’s not… it’s empty. If I can’t help… I’m
I shook my head. “It’s not like that.”
“Yes, it is.”
Roll the eyes and tell him he’s
wrong... That always solves it. Tell him he’s wrong… always used to solve
it. But I can’t do it anymore. He’s not wrong. I won’t do it again. So what
do I say instead? My hand was reaching out to him, and my whole body leaned
closer. I don’t know where the words came from.
“Believe me, Spike…” I rested a
hand on his knee, “It’s not.”
“Giles, it’s not like that!”
“I must say your decisions of late
have been all but inspiring.”
“You’re still mad about the chip?”
I followed him outside, “That’s what this is about? You think I’m against you,
“I believe you’re hiding things from me.”
“What? Giles, why would I—”
“I don’t know why, Buffy. Would
you care to tell me?”
He was leaning against the banister, staring at the setting sun. I
sighed at his back. “Look… you left… to make me stronger. You… you made me
like this. You pushed me up here, and now—”
“For God’s sake, Buffy! Do you not
recall what happened while I was away?”
“It’s different now.” I crossed my
arms as he turned around, “I know what I’m doing.”
His glasses were off. “There is
work to be done. We don’t have time for this… this nonsense.” He brushed past
I dropped onto the step. I felt
like I was sixteen again. Taking orders… Giles felt like I was sixteen again.
That’s why he’s acting like this. Looking after all those girls… he’s
forgotten that I’m not a girl. Not some potential… I’m the Slayer. I make the
rules. I’ve been the one doing it for years now… running things.
I hate that I yelled at him. I
hate when I have to get like that… all defensive with Giles. So why can’t I
just tell him? Because he doesn’t believe me…
“You alright, Slayer?”
I hadn’t realized it was dark
already. I could hear him step behind me and the click of the door.
I glanced over at the empty spot
next to me. Sit, Spike. Sit and listen to me… talk to me… help me.
But he didn’t sit. He stood right
behind me, and I could feel his eyes burning through my back. Finally, he
spoke; his words hushed, “Watcher makes a point. Time to get serious, yeah?”
Silence settled before I replied,
“I’ve been serious since I was a teenager.”
He sat now… close… and heaved a sigh. His shoulder touched mine,
and his head turned to watch me. He bit his bottom lip, careful not to speak.
He was waiting for me to say more.
I took a deep breath, “I’ve lived
longer than any Slayer. I’ve made choices… good and bad choices. I’ve… I’ve
Spike shut his eyes.
“And… if that doesn’t mean
anything… I mean, if that’s all that I am… Slayer. Choice. Death. Over and
“’Til it’s over…” his arm was
around me now. He didn’t pull me any closer… just draped the arm around my
back… fingers barely touching my sides.
We sat there a moment before my
thoughts blurted out, “I’m not backing down. No one is backing down.”
Spike’s arm dropped as he slid
away, and we both turned. Dawn stood in the doorway.
Spike stood outside, looking
stunned, “Just us? I thought Giles was—”
“Giles is busy with the books and
the potentials. Anya filled me in on where we’re going.”
He walked alongside me, “And, where
are we going?”
“Anya talked to a demon the other night. He told her The First was
preparing to start a ritual in the school basement.”
“We’re going there… tonight? Just
the two of us?”
“Apparently you’re the only one that’s worried.”
He pulled me to a stop, “Buffy, we don’t know what’s down there.”
“Spike, we were just down there last night!”
“We’re just gonna barge in on The
First’s ritual and kill us some Bringers?”
“We’re gonna kill us all the Bringers
“Alone? What about the witch?
Something she can—”
“She’s afraid to use her powers
against The First. Look, Spike, it’s just us. We have to do this.”
He sighed, following me again.
What’s he so worried about?
“What about the principal? Gonna meet us there? Let us in?”
A scowl, “Gonna bloody die.”
This time, I pulled him to a stop, “Don’t talk like that.”
He frowned. God, he really is worried. “I just can’t… can’t get
goin‘ like I used to, pet.”
Can’t get going? Spike, please.
You can take out a group of Bringers with me. Don’t be ridiculous. I pulled
on his arm, but he crossed them, stopping me again.
“Let’s go get the Watcher, then
we’ll head down.”
“I told you he’s busy!”
Spike stiffened. I tightened my
grip, but he didn’t budge.
“Fine.” I pushed him. He stumbled
back. “I’ll do it myself.”
I turned my back on him then,
heading for the school. Don’t look back. You know he’ll follow. He always
follows. It wasn’t until I stepped on the school’s lawn that I realized he
I stood in the darkened hall, listening through the door. Something was moving down there, but not a lot of noise. I pressed my palm flat against the door and pushed. It didn’t budge.
Okay. Locked. Kick it down. Sure, it’s not stealthy… but it’ll get the door out of the way…
I took a step back, and lifted my foot.
I stumbled to regain my footing, facing down the hall again. Giles jogged up to me, Spike stepping soft behind him.
"What are you doing here?" I asked Giles, but glared at Spike.
Spike lifted the blade of an ax, and then tossed it my way.
"Your intentions were to run down alone and unarmed against the ultimate evil? God, Buffy, I know you know better…" Giles shook his head.
I lifted the ax. "I am armed…" I glanced at Spike, "And I’m not alone."
Spike looked at the floor.
Giles rolled his eyes, placing his glasses on his nose, "Yes, well… a plan, then?"
I shrugged, "Kick down the door and start beheading… Spike, you help with the fighting. Giles, you run for the ritual stuff."
They both gave stunned looks back at me. I smiled. "Ready?"
Spike took Giles’ ax away.
"Oh, really now! You’ve got vampire-strength, here!" Giles pouted, pulling the ax back.
Spike let him keep it.
"I don’t care which one of you fights, just… somebody stop the ritual."
And with that, I kicked the door down.
"We’ve been walking around down here for ten minutes, Spike."
"Just… hold on… I think we’re close."
I gripped the ax, glancing back at Giles.
"Are we sure the ritual is on the seal?" Giles tried to help.
"No… but, where else would it—"
"Here." Spike pulled me to the left. "It’s through here."
I stared at the wooden door before us. A light flickered through the cracks.
"Okay, everyone knows what to do." I whispered.
Spike smiled, stepping forward. "I’ll get the door." He vamped, and Giles lifted his ax. One swift kick and the door was down.
The first Bringer went down fast—one swing from the ax. I caught the whole layout then: about twenty Bringers gathered around the seal, and a couple heading towards us.
The closest one swung his ax, and I easily ducked under it. Giles swung his ax over my back and swiped off the head. I grabbed his falling ax and swung up fast, knocking away the second.
"Spike!" I threw the Bringer-ax to him before picking mine up again. "Get to the seal!"
He gave a quick nod before batting another Bringer out of the way. That Bringer was up quick, and running at me. My foot struck him between the eyes… or, the no-eyes. Giles was behind me, and I could hear him struggling. I whirled the ax around, striking another Bringer in the back.
I turned to see Spike against a wall... unvamped and… losing. A Bringer held his ax up. He’s gonna…
"Spike!" my call came from nowhere, and I did a quick cartwheel, kicking away the Bringer. I pulled him forward, staring into his eyes. Wake up, that’s what I’m telling you, Spike. He gave me mooneyes back. Oh, that’s it Spike. C’mon. I pulled him with me into the circle of Bringers.
We pushed them out of the way until I finally saw the middle. Three stones circled around a table… and bright glowing lights twirling to the ceiling. What’s dripping? I looked up. Blood was dripping from the ceiling… from the center of the lights… down to… the seal! Another Ubervamp!
I rushed forward, but was forced aside. Three Bringers circled me.
"Spike!" I dodged one and kicked another, "Get the rocks! On the seal!" Another Bringer charged, "They’re gonna raise up—" the Bringer knocked me to the ground. My eyes widened when I saw the seal light up.
Spike struggled towards the glowing seal as I crawled for it. Another Bringer pulled at my foot, but fell dead when Giles landed his ax. I jumped to my feet, then flipped the table over onto two more Bringers.
The seal slammed shut, and I stepped on top of it. The ceiling was back to normal. A Bringer slammed into my back, and pain jolted down my legs when I slammed against the opposite wall.
"Buffy!" Spike swept up next to me, pulling me to my feet.
"I’m fine! Go help Giles!"
Spike looked hurt… not just Bringer-hurt, either. He tackled a Bringer behind Giles.
I rolled across the floor, picking up two of the stones. A Bringer beat me to the third. I stood slowly, never taking my eyes of his hand. He clenched it, and then threw it across the room. I watched it land, then felt a sharp pain in my neck. The Bringer’s feet tangled with mine and I fell to the ground, dropping both the stones. A kick to my side sent me flying, and I hard onto the seal again. My shoulder popped.
Spike was next to me again, helping me up again. This time I let him, because every inch of me felt sore and tired. I took a deep breath and sprinted back towards the two stones. I dove and grabbed up one, and again a Bringer beat me to the second. He held his hand high… is that a smile? I glared up at him from my hands and knees. His arm moved to throw, and I swept an ax from the ground and sliced him good.
The stone fell to my feet, along with the Bringer’s body. I bent over, grabbing the second stone. "Not so funny now, is it?"
"It was fun!" the excitement was still pumping through me, "C’mon, Giles… you know you had fun!"
"We’re all lucky to be alive."
"Um…" Spike lifted his hand.
"Oh… right." Giles removed his glasses, "I’d like to look at the stones, Buffy. Do you have them?"
"Nope! Left’em all in the basement."
Giles’ face looked horrified. Oh, right… no more jokes. Serious time. I pulled the stones from my pockets and handed them over. He lifted one close to his face. His pace slowed as he examined it, and soon he was walking behind Spike and me.
"Good fight tonight, Slayer… bit of slicin‘ an—"
"Yeah. My fight was great. Don’t know about you two."
His eyebrows got all furrowed… frustrated. Spike’s frustrated face. I almost giggled.
"Oh, come on… You saw you."
"I saw you."
There wasn’t anything about that sentence that was sexy, but I suddenly felt everything tingle. I tried to hide it, taking a deep breath… trying to slow my racing heart. It must not have been what he said… it was how he said it. I kept taking deep breaths.
He eyed me, "You alright, Slayer?"
He did it again. More tingles… and the heart raced again. Oh, God… Oh no. It’s all that slaying… that’s what does it! God, he’s staring! Say something… anything…
"Fascinating, really." Giles muttered from behind us. Oh, thank you, Giles!
"What is it?" I turned around, pretending to be interested.
"Well, this one should be the Breath of Fire stone… triangle-shape for a flame… nothing very special about it," his voice got all excited, "At least, it appears that way to us. But it is, indeed, fatefully important. I’m… I’m much looking forward to further research!"
"What’s this one here?" Spike pointed to another.
"I can only assume that is the Ghost of Passion." Giles held it up. The carving in the center looked like a stick-person.
Spike shuddered, backing away. He turned around, trying to get us to walk again. I jogged up to him.
"Hey, what’s wrong?"
He shrugged, "Just looked familiar, is all."
His fingers raked through his hair, "Later, Slayer."
"Okay," I stepped down the last stair, "Tell me."
He turned the water off and faced me. "Tell you what, pet?"
"About the stick-person." I stepped closer, "You’ve seen it before?"
He was looking everywhere but at me… breathing quickly. "I, uh… I’m pretty tired, Slayer."
He crossed over to the bed, lifting his chains. I was at his side when he clicked the first cuff around his wrist.
"Tell me." I placed a hand over his wrist.
His eyes were closed. Why won’t he look at me? Why won’t he tell me? I unlocked the shackles. His arm lingered towards mine, then dropped to his side.
I stepped back as he began tugging at his shirt. He pulled it off, and every part of me jumped. Then my eyes settled on his bare chest. Scratched into his pale skin were all the markings from the stones. Scars from when… when The First had him…
He took slow, deep breaths… the patterns heaving up and down again. Rhythmic… dancing… hypnotizing... I couldn’t look away from them. My hand was rising now, drifting near them.
"It doesn’t… doesn’t hurt. They’ve all healed now. Scars’ll go too…" he kept his eyes on my hand, "Don’t scar easily…"
Our eyes met then. I was supposed to be looking at his scar… that eyebrow-scar that he’s always had. I was supposed to make some comment about it, but words had run off and left me. And now we were just staring, and my hand was just drifting.
His eyes glanced down before returning to my gaze again. He blinked, as if… what? Give permission? I rested my hand to his chest, over the stick-person scar. He let air out, but kept his eyes open… focused in mine.
And I saw it then… at least, I think I saw it. Something past the lashes… past the deep blue, and the promising look of his swollen eyes… Something sparked.
I think… maybe something sparked.
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This part contains spoilers for Get it Done.
I couldn’t sleep. Nothing but visions of
Ubervamps every time I shut my exhausted eyes. God… not enough. It’s not
enough. I wandered aimlessly around the house, tiptoeing past sleeping bodies…
dead bodies. Could be dead. Would be dead. Because I turned it down. Why?
Why did I think I knew what to do? The whole reason I jumped through that
portal was because I don’t know what to do. God… what are we gonna do?
I was stepping down the basement stairs before I actually realized
what I was doing. Going to Spike… for what? To cry? Should I tell him what I
saw? He’s… he’s probably still mad about what I said. And, if anything, now
I’m going to be even worse about it… now that I know what’s coming…
I saw him when I reached the bottom. I could
smell the cigarette smoke rising to my nostrils… dizzying me a little. He’s
smoking again? He was crouched in the center of the basement, shiny
leather-clad back to me, thumbing through a book. Smoke billowed up as he
flipped a page.
“Bad dream, Slayer?”
I stepped closer, noticing blood dripping down
his ear. My hand stretched over it on instinct, “Are you okay?”
His head jerked away, “’m fine, Slayer.”
Okay, only a couple words so far and Slayer’s
been two of them. Something is wrong with him. Great. Mood-swing much,
Spike? I ran a finger over his ear again.
I jumped when he slammed the book down. He
stood, whirling around, “God, Buffy! Don’t bloody touch me!”
My jaw could have just slammed to the floor like
the book… and if I opened my eyes any wider, they could hit the floor too. The
hand that touched him was now a tight fist, clenched hard to my side.
“Don’t… touch you?”
The cigarette drifted to his lips again and he
nodded, blowing smoke my way.
“Why not?” My voice cracked, probably from
anger… maybe sadness… maybe from cigarette smoke.
He backed up, leaning against a pillar, hands in
his pockets, “That’s how it all started, isn’t it?”
I didn’t say anything… partly because I didn’t
have anything to say, and partly because I wasn’t sure about what he was
“Isn’t it?” he stood straight up now, “The
touching… made me soft, didn’t it? The warmth of you… obsession with you…
started it all.”
“So, everything is my fault?” I knew it was a
childish thing to say. I wasn’t even sure why I said it.
“Damn right it is!” he flung the cigarette to
the floor and stomped on it, drawing himself closer, “One day it’s ‘not ready
for you to leave, Spike!’” his foot scraped against the wood, but his eyes
never left me, “And the next it’s ‘go ahead and go, Spike.’” His eyes
I couldn’t look at him. My eyes fell to the
floor. I’m sorry, Spike. It’s been so hard. Everything’s just so… I have to
make all the decisions, and I think I just made the worst one. The girls… it’s
all my fault. Everything is my fault. My thoughts ran like railroad tracks,
intersecting each other. They never formed into words… instead they piled
inside of me until I felt hot tears in my eyes. They rose to find blurry
The hardness was leaving his face, and he
stepped back a little. “See? I don’t know what to do with tears, Buffy, I
don’t know… dunno if you want me to… to hold you or… to kill you.”
It didn’t help that he said that. Why did he
say that? Tears slipped out, stretching warmth down to my chin. Don’t
do that. Rub them off. It doesn’t help to cry like this. Doesn’t make pain
or bad decisions go away.
His cool fingers began to brush them away,
finally cupping over my cheek. His stare fell into my eyes just as I started
to clear away the stupid crybaby feeling. He dropped his hand.
“Whatever you want…” his voice shook, and he
gulped before speaking again, “I’ll do as you ask…”
I focused on not crying, even though every word
pierced my heart. I don’t know what to ask for. I don’t know what I want.
“I’ll always do as you ask of me.” He hung his
duster on a nail, “I’m yours.”
Hold me. Be strong. Help me. Save me. I
don’t know… So many words flushed over my mind, trickled over my tongue.
Nothing came out. Just silent pleas to his silent back.
I was up the stairs in a flash. I slammed the
door so hard I was sure it woke up every potential in the house. I splashed
water over my face, trying to cleanse off the feeling. The feeling of guilt…
of failure… of desperation. I’m the Slayer. I need to be stronger. I have to
“I mean, they never stop!” Xander glanced away
from the road, “Giles just picks up more girls anywhere he goes... He’s like a
rock star! That’s what it is!”
“He’s not bringing anymore girls, Xander,” Dawn
spoke up from the back seat.
“See, that’s what he says, but I’ll bet he’s
already got four new push-Xander-over-the-edge teenage slay-girls on the way!”
“You’re on.” Dawn sat back in her seat, “How
Xander glanced into the mirror, “What? How
much? It’s a gentleman’s bet, Dawnie.”
“Spike once told me gentlemen’s bets were for
tightwad money-grubbin' po—”
“Could you just, like… not do Spike quotes in
the car? We could end up in a ditch.” Xander sighed, “Besides, what does Spike
know about being a gentleman?”
The conversation drifted out of my head. I
stared out the window. At least Dawn and Xander think about Spike, too. Maybe
everyone’s in a think-about-Spike phase. Maybe it’s not just me.
Spike... Spike. Just… all I can think about. I
have outdone myself this time. I’ve screwed him up so much with orders and
requests and actions. I just string him along… I think. Just keep him around
until he’s gone. Because he will be gone. He can’t live forever. Well… he
can, but he can’t stay with me forever. He won’t… stay with me forever…
And the night I told him to just go… if he was
gonna keep holding back, he might as well go. His face just twisted when I
told him he was better then… more useful to me without the soul… more
convenient. I shuddered, just the thought of the words chilling my spine.
“You alright, Buff?” Xander asked. “Been kinda
“I, uh… just feel a little…”
“Yeah, I get that. Traveling millions of years
through time’s gotta take some kind of physical toll... even for our Buffster,”
his hand patted my shoulder.
That’s not even it, Xander. It’s what I saw.
It’s what I know. It’s what I did. I closed my eyes. Gnashing teeth opened
wide, crying out, swallowed me whole.
Then we pulled up next to the Hellmouth.
Principal W—Robin sent me home early. ‘Get some
sleep,’ is what he had said. Get some sleep? Yeah. Great idea, Prin—Robin.
‘I’ll just get right home and start dreamin‘ up our apocalypse! Hey, I
might’ve even helped start it! Go me!’ That’s what I should’ve said back to
I could hear the girls in the backyard. I went
in the house, heading for the kitchen. The basement door was open, and I could
hear girls down there too... training. I had just started to walk away when
the girly shriek came from below.
“What is it? What’s wrong?” I bolted
Spike was crouched in a corner and turned his
head when I reached the bottom. The girls were huddled together near the
stairs. Vi’s shocked face turned to me.
“Buffy! Did you know you have rats in this
My heart stopped racing, and my hand rubbed my
eyes. “Rats? Uh, no. I didn’t know that.”
“Pretty nice-sized one, Slayer.” Spike stood,
dusting his hands. “Ran behind those boxes there. Can still smell ’im.”
The girls made a combined, “Ewww.”
“Okay, girls. Go outside and practice with
Kennedy.” I huddled them upstairs, “Spike and I will take care of the rat.”
He half-smiled, turning back to the boxes.
“Look tired, Slayer. Must be runnin‘ on empty.”
“Yeah,” my eyes wandered across the floor, “Not
much with the sleep lately.”
“Anything you’re sharing?” Spike glanced back
before sidestepping quickly.
“Oh, it’s… it’s nothing really.” Nothing
really? It’s enough to keep my eyes open every second… why didn’t I tell him?
“Right,” he nodded, like he had expected my
non-answer, “He’s back there. Behind the shelf.” He stood across from it,
“You pull out the shelf, and I’ll catch him when he darts out.”
I grabbed the front of the shelf, “You sure you
can catch it?”
He chuckled, “Had enough practice, love.”
I yanked out the shelf, and jumped back when the
brown fur scurried across the floor. Spike dove on top of it. I heard him
grunt, and his bones shifted. I heard his teeth sink into the squeaking rat.
My stomach turned, and I felt the air catch in my throat.
He must’ve heard me, because he stopped seconds
later, throwing the rat to the floor… either that or he had… drained it
already. He stood, wiping his mouth on his sleeve before turning around. His
face was soft again.
“Sorry, love… force of habit.”
Oh, God. That was just disgusting. “It’s
okay.” I tried to lie, “I, uh… I think I better go upstairs now.”
He nodded, looking embarrassed. He stepped back
towards his bed.
As soon as I closed the
bathroom door I lunged for the toilet. God, as long as I live, please don’t
let me ever see that again…
“Dunno why I did that, you know?” Spike was
leaning against the tree, waiting for me like he always used to, “The rat…
drank it up like that. Worst kind of blood there is… tastes like poison.”
We headed for the cemetery, “Maybe you wanted
“The rat’s blood… the poison… maybe you wanted to drink it.”
He shrugged, “Didn’t taste as I
“Like poison?” I gulped, trying to
keep my stomach from bubbling.
“Little sweeter… not so rancid, you
We were among the gravestones now,
“So, why do you think it would taste… non-ratty?”
“Not sure,” Spike lit his
cigarette, “Could be me. Could be that any living thing in the Summers’ home
Bad, bad words. Not the greatest
Smoke whistled from his lips,
“Seemed strange, is all.”
We fell silent then, both of us
picking up on the nearby vamp.
“Six vamps… busy night, eh Slayer?”
I pocketed the stake, ready to go
home and snuggle into my blankets and pillows. Nightmare or not, I could tell
tonight I’d be too tired to see them.
Spike nudged me, “Did you see?”
“My dance?” his eyes were low, and
his bottom lip sucked between his teeth.
I tucked my arms over my chest,
trying to hide the bit of excitement that was obvious in my heartbeat.
“Are we near him yet, Slayer?”
The words touched my skin like
ice. I felt frozen… numb, and speechless. We walked by a tomb and I imagined
him slamming me up against it. Fighting for my life against him. Then the
thought of him pressing against me… I shuddered. His wicked smile showed up
then. God, he’s just pulling out all the stops… I felt myself squirm as he
came closer… too close.
My phone rang, making the both of
us jump. I flipped it open as Spike slid away. “Hello?”
“Buffy!” Willow’s voice rang in my
ears, “You have to get back here now!”
“Will?” I pushed through the door,
“Buffy!” Dawn sprinted from the
kitchen and jumped in front of me, “Oh my God, Buffy, you are not going to
She pulled me back into the kitchen,
leading me to the top of the stairs where Willow and Xander stood. Their eyes
were wide at the bottom of the stairs.
“Oh my God…” fell out of my mouth
as I gazed at the moving floor. The squeaking was horrible as hundreds… maybe
thousands of rats crawled over each other, covering every inch of floor in the
“Bloody hell.” Spike brought his
head down, glancing down across where his cot was home to several rats.
“Will, what happened?”
She glanced over, “I’m… I’m not
sure where they came from.”
“Spike probably left some crumbs on the floor, didn’t ya?” Xander
“They’re…” Dawn screeched as one
scurried up a few steps, “They’re starting to climb up here, Buffy.”
“Well… what do we do?”
“I’m thinking exterminator-time.”
“I could… I could do a spell to…” Willow
trailed off, “Wait a minute…”
She left, heading for the living
room. We all followed, Dawn slamming the basement door tight before she came.
Willow pulled a book from the
shelf, “I know this, I…” We waited, each of us settling in separate spots
around the room. Willow flipped another couple pages before, “Ah ha!”
“’Ah ha’ what, Will?” Xander asked.
“It’s a curse. An old… Egyptian
curse. It’s… believed to be the cause of the Black Death,” she glanced at
Spike, who was nodding. “You know, in like the 1300’s, all of Europe became
infested with these rats, and… didn’t you two pay any attention in high
“Hey,” I tried to defend, looking
to Xander, “I remember it!”
“Yeah, me too!” Xander tried to
sound annoyed. “Big English Black Death… of course I remember it…”
Dawn shrugged, “How about a lesson
for those of us not done yet? So, this ‘Black Death,’ what’d it do to people?”
“Uh, swollen lymph glands…” Spike spoke up, “And these big, red,
diseased spots form all over the skin.”
“Oh my God!” Dawn pulled up her
sleeve, “I totally have a spot on me! I saw it today at school!”
Xander was already lifting his
shirt, “Does that… does that look like a disease-spot to anyone else?”
“The point is,” Willow laid the
book open on the table, “Somebody cursed us.”
“With rats?” Dawn was poking at
Xander’s not-spot now, “Who would curse us with—”
“Amy.” I answered.
Willow nodded. “I can do a
reversal, but I’ll need you to get some supplies.”
“Sure you want me taggin‘ along,
“Oh, I’m sorry, did you already have plans? In the basement… with
He chuckled, “It’s like an all-you-can-eat buffet down there.
Reckon I could take care of them given the…” he bit his tongue when he saw my
disgust-face, “Certainly explains why they tasted funny… magic rats, you know?”
“Guess so.” I stepped down one of the alleys, “You sure this place
will have everything?”
“Cat’s eyes and such? Sure.”
I scrunched my face up, “Why does it have to be
cat’s eyes? Why can’t it just be like… a little bitty kitten? A
not-sacrificed little kitten?”
He chuckled, “Kittens are worth a lot more than
cat’s eyes, love.”
I rolled my eyes. Demons are so weird. “Still,
I’d rather see a spell that didn’t involve dead-animal parts. Makes me think of—”
A hard shove cut me off, and I slammed against
the alley wall, landing hard onto a garbage can. Ow, and ew.
Spike’s hand found mine, and he pulled me to my
feet. I brushed myself off, ready to fight the attacking vamp. I glanced
behind Spike, who pulled a cigarette from his pocket.
“Somethin‘ on your mind, Slayer?”
“Where did…” I stepped past him, “Where did he
go?” God, Spike, if you let him get away…
Spike slid the cigarette between his lips, and
then stepped over to the other side of the alley. He bent over, scooping up
dust in his hands and presenting it before clapping it back to the ground.
“You… he’s dust?”
Spike eyebrows jumped, and he pulled out his lighter, flicking fire
over his cigarette.
“Oh…” I tried to unwind from slay-mode, “Let’s
get moving, then.” I walked past him.
“‘Let’s get moving?’ That’s it?” he caught up to
me, “Surprise you, Slayer?”
“No, I just… I just…”
“You are surprised,” smoke swirled as he spoke,
“You don’t know how serious I am, Buffy…” he tapped away at the ash, “When I
say… that I’m yours… when I say I’d do anything…”
Would you just stop talking, Spike? That wasn’t what came out… “I
“Gimme some time… I’ll do right by you someday,
This time I couldn’t even say ‘I know.’ It was
like my tongue stopped working… but my heart was just pounding with words.
“We’re close now,” he sucked the night-air deep
into his useless lungs, tossing his cigarette to the ground, “Just up ahead.”
“Oh, thank God!” Xander met us at the door,
pulling up the back of his shirt, “Do you… can you see anything there?”
“Oh my God!” I stared at his skin. Spike
glanced towards Xander’s back and smiled.
“What?” Xander freaked, “You can see one, can’t
you? I knew it. I’m always the guy who ends up diseased!” he turned to face
us, scratching at his back.
“Xander, there’s nothing there.” I said with a
“Are you… are you sure?”
“You’re one-hundred percent sickness-free!”
“Really?” he followed us into the kitchen, where
Willow was preparing for the spell. Spike set the jar on the counter, then
placed the bag of eagles’ feathers and tiger claws next to them.
“Okay. I’m not… I’m not really sure what this
is going to do, but it should get rid of them.” Willow began sorting through
her ingredients. “It has to be totally silent, or else it won’t work.”
“I’ll take scratch ’n sniff here to the other room,” Spike yanked
Xander out of the kitchen with him.
Willow knelt, and then looked up at me, “You
should probably get behind me.”
I did so, watching her spread the feathers over
the tile. She placed the claws in a foursquare, then placed two eyes in the
middle. Then she sprinkled some kind of shiny powder over everything and began
I couldn’t make out what she was chanting… and
all I could think about was whether or not this spell was going to burn a hole
through the floor. Please, no.
The air around us began to glow, and Willow’s
chant changed languages as she got louder. Her hands lifted through the glow.
Glowing is not a good sign… glowing means fire…
fire means big black hole in the middle of the kitchen…
A deafening roar interrupted my thoughts, and
Willow stood up. I closed my eyes, feeling the air swirl all around me. When
I opened my eyes again, I couldn’t breathe. Standing in front of Willow was a
shimmering white tiger… with pure white wings tucked to its sides.
I stared at the blurry image. Willow only
stared too as it turned, spreading its wings, and then swooped down the
basement stairs. Rats screeched as Willow closed the door, breathless.
I caught her, and she leaned against the
counter. “That was… did you… that was…”
“It was amazing, Will,” I steadied her,
listening to the wind rush beneath us, “What happens after it…”
“It’s supposed to disappear after they’re
gone.” Willow was starting to catch her breath.
I squatted, rubbing the dark spot in the middle
of the kitchen floor. I looked up at Willow with a sigh.
“Oops…” she made her pout-face and cringed,
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.
I left work early. Xander stood in the school
“You betcha.” I got into the car.
“I mean, tiles can be hard to find, Buffy,”
Xander had begun, “I can’t believe I found the same style.”
I nodded, only half-listening. Hardware-talk,
not one of my favorite kinds of talk. What is my favorite kind of talk? It’s
not pep talks. I hate those. I hate droning on for ten minutes… but someone
has to say that stuff. I’m the someone. The Slayer always has to hide behind
“…Pick up a putty knife while we’re there. And
maybe a chainsaw… have you ever thought about slaying with a chainsaw?”
“Uh, not really.”
“I mean we could all get’em… like a ‘Sunnydale
Chainsaw Massacre’ thing. For the… Ubervamps…” he turned us into the parking
He hadn’t finished the sentence before I gave
him the look. He nodded.
“Alright, maybe not the best idea…”
We walked down another aisle full of screws.
“Xander, do you really need all this to replace
a couple tiles?”
His hands were motioning with his words, “Well, no… but you know…
good to be prepared.”
I picked up a doorknob and began to twist it, “I
don’t like hardware stores… they’re… too manny.”
“C’mon now, Buff… you could beat up any man in
“Yeah… I guess…”
“Check-out time… sure you don’t want that
I nodded, tossing the doorknob into a basket. “Xander?”
He stopped at the end of the line, “What is it?”
We’ll never make it… “You talked to Giles?”
“Yeah, looks like more girls are on the way…
Looks like Dawnie loses our bet... knew I shoulda bet her some cash.”
A sigh. More girls… to protect, and then
lecture. “I’m… I don’t know what to do with them, Xander.”
“It’s alright, Buff… we’ll think of something.”
“Bloody hell! What’s a bloke gotta do to get
some sleep ar—oh, it’s you.” Spike stopped at the kitchen counter. “You’re home
“Yeah.” I muttered from my knees, tugging back on the crowbar.
“Hard time? Where’s the carpenter?”
“He couldn’t get it loose… we think the magic might’ve…”
“Lemme help you, then?” It was a question, and
he stood behind me, reaching around my shoulders.
I nodded, and I controlled it. For once I
controlled the shudder. I gripped the crowbar tighter instead, taking my
frustration out on its cold surface.
His arms were wrapped around me now, and he
brought his face up behind me. His low words whispered in my ear, “Ready?
Count of three… one… two…”
We both yanked back, and the tile gave. I tumbled
backwards, knocking Spike to the floor underneath me. His hands gripped tight
on my hips, then quickly loosened. “You alright?” his hands didn’t move.
I couldn’t control it again… too
familiar… too close. I stood. Everything was shaking. God, he’s shaking
too. He stayed on the floor until I offered my hand. He took it, steadying
himself to his feet. He was inches away from me, and I had to step back. Too
close… I couldn’t handle him that close.
He bent, picking up the crowbar and the tile and
holding them out.
“Thank you.” I took them.
He gave a little nod, “Glad to help…” A silent
stare, and then he blinked, cocking his head to the side.
“Um… listen, Spike, about last night—”
“Hey!” Xander made us both jump,
“Got it up?”
Spike sucked his lips in, “Uh… pretty beat… think I’ll go... down…
“Hey, yeah, great idea Spike.” Xander knelt before the tile.
“Could you hand me that adhesive off the counter, Buffy? Buffy?”
I closed the basement door behind me.
“Didn’t think you’d come down…”
Spike stood at the bottom of the stairs, eyes fixed on me.
Yes you did, Spike. I stepped down
in front of him.
He drew in a deep breath, and the
room fell silent. I fought myself not to take his hand and lead him to the
bed. Part of me came down here for that. The tumble upstairs was too much…
too overpowering… but too wrong.
We’re wrong, Spike. I’m wrong. I
walked past him, keeping my monologue to myself. I can’t give in to you,
because it won’t last… it won’t. It never does. Doesn’t matter what I do…
With Angel, I gave everything… with Riley, I gave some things… with you… I gave
nothing. I took… I took everything from you… and never gave.
He still hadn’t followed me, but I
felt his eyes watch me. I stopped in front of the punching bag.
And then you left… like the rest of
them… you left. But you came back… with something more to give… something else
for me to take. Like it’s why you’re here… for me to use. I don’t want it
like that. You make it so hard for me not to just use you…
I swung hard, knocking the bag to
Spike was fast behind me, “Slayer?”
You’ll never know that… because I
can’t say it. I glanced over at him. It’d only be more abuse if I told you it
hurts to think of you sometimes…
“Buffy, what is it?” his hand
snuggled against my shoulder, “You can tell me…”
No, Spike… I can’t. I shook my
fist, loosening my body. Spike’s hand dropped away. “We’ve got another
potential coming tonight. I’ll be down to get you when it’s time.”
I was halfway up the stairs before
he stopped me, “You called last night…”
I turned. What?
“You called me… in your sleep…” he
shook his head, looking away, “Do you remember it?”
Stupid useless words were gone, and
all I could do was nod slightly.
Just a tiny smile before he stepped
down again, “I heard you.”
I stared at my feet. God, my
feet. Yes. Feet. Move them. Go upstairs. Please, before I say something
dumb. Just move away from here…
“It was bad…” he spoke before I
managed to, “Wasn’t it? It was just a dream, though, right? Not a vision?”
“I, uh…” yeah, there’s a good start, “I don’t think it was a
He nodded, “Shook you up, still,
“Yeah.” I stared at him wide-eyed,
forcing my eyes open… if I close them, I’ll… I’ll see it again.
He backed away, across to his bed,
where he lifted his chains. “Better rest up if we’ve got fightin‘ tonight.
Didn’t wear’em last night… still awake when you…”
You don’t have to, Spike. My feet
betrayed me, stepping back down the stairs. No, no. Up. Please, up. Before
I could stop myself, my feet had led me right behind Spike. Okay, now stop him
from putting those chains on. It’s wrong for Spike to chain up.
“Spike, I…” I jumped as the metal
He turned fast, eyes to mine, “What
I looked at his hands so fast I
nearly fell from dizziness. I took the chain from him and began unraveling it
from the hook on the wall.
The cold metal scratched against
itself, clattering out anything I might’ve said. I pulled up the last link, “I
don’t want it like this anymore…”
“Well, what if I wan—” he paused,
“Doesn’t matter what I want, now, does it?”
I sighed, letting my shoulders drop
at the weight of the chains, “Spike, it matters, but…” I lifted my eyes with
the chains, “You don’t need them. You have enough strength insi—”
He shook his head, looking away.
No. No, listen to me Spike! I
grasped his chin with my free hand to make him look at me, “You are strong
enough to fight it. You don’t need a leash.”
His blue eyes blinked, then closed
as his skin warmed to mine. I let my knuckles slide across his cheek, but
stopped myself from tracing a finger around any lips. His eyes drifted open,
and his lips drifted down to the back of my hand, softly pressing against it.
His hand lifted, and his eyes watched intensely as he lifted my hand away.
“Get some rest…” I pulled my hand
away, shaking the chains, “We’ll leave at nine.”
The air outside the Bronze seemed
noisier than usual. Probably because the entire walk there had been silent…
Spike and I hadn’t said a word. Now even our uncomfortable silence was gone. I sighed, and glanced at the long noisy line out the Bronze door.
Spike moved closer as he spoke in
an almost whisper, like what he had to say was secret, “You’ve got somethin‘ to
“Don’t you?” his head turned, “You
haven’t made a peep since we left… that means you’re thinkin‘ about something… plottin‘
out your words…”
My chilled fingers wrapped around
my arms. Never any fooling him… unless he’s so blind that he starts to see
what he wants. Then he’s fooled… dangerous fool, that’s what you are, Spike.
So am I, of course…
“Figured it might be about the
My head lowered. A strand of hair
stuck to my lip, and I smoothed it back.
“You saw something… you can tell
me, unless you can’t. Either way… your decision.”
“It’s not—” I stopped, lowering my
voice, “It’s not like I want to keep things from you, Spike.”
Tonight is just way too
conversational, “Of course it’s not!”
Spike stopped. A couple Bronze-ravers
glanced our way, and Spike fished his cigarettes out.
I took a deep breath, “Look, the
other night I… the three men… one of them showed me a vision of what’s coming,
The flame flickered in his eyes
before he clicked the lighter closed.
“It’s bad.” I stepped closer, “I’m
talking thousands-of-ubervamps bad.”
He pulled away the cigarette,
taking a step forward. Smoke trickled off his lips and into the air, “I’m
The scent filled my nostrils… filled
my senses. The old-Spike scent… the bad-Spike scent. His fingers slid around
my hip. Oh, bad Spike. Please don’t do that… please no more touching. I
dropped the weapons bag.
His mouth opened as my eyes begged
him to stop, and he tightened his grip on me. I gasped, closing my eyes. No,
no, no… I could feel his lips at mine. Just tickling above mine, a soft
whisper of wind and cigarettes I could almost taste. Then his head tilted, and
the lips moved to my ear.
“You’re afraid?” his other hand had
dropped the cigarette, and now rested on my shivering shoulder.
I opened my eyes to the shining
duster and his pale neck. I backed away, but he stepped with me, and I kept
moving until I bumped into a wall. He backed his head away from mine then.
“You don’t have to run…” he said,
lifting his hand to push my hair back, “Too strong to run.” His eyes twinkled,
“Too stubborn, you are…”
My hands had met his at my waist,
where I pushed him off.
He dropped back a couple steps. He
chuckled, and then pouted. “See? Stubborn. Didn’t let me finish…”
“We don’t have time—”
He was up next to me again, “I’ll
be quick,” his eyes locked mine as his hands held me in place.
“Just… let me say it, will you?” he
begged. His voice was almost desperate.
He sighed, smiling slightly. It
quickly faded as he searched for words, “I’ll… I’ll be here… when it happens.
I’ll follow you to that battle, Buffy, and I’ll fight however you want.”
Spike… “I already know that.”
“No,” he blinked, looking down,
“This isn’t a promise… don’t act like it’s a promise.”
Not a promise? “Spike?”
“It’s a surrender, Buffy…” he
lifted his eyes to mine, “The vow of a warrior. Your warrior…” he blushed a
little, stepping back, “If you’ll have him…” he stared at my feet.
I smiled, my hand sliding around
his arm. It was all I could do. ‘I’ve always had him,’ or ‘If he’ll have me,’
just sounded so lame compared to his words… I couldn’t bring myself to say
anything. I hoped my actions said enough.
His smile told me they had.
We were early, and I slipped away
from Spike to wander around the trees surrounding the bus stop. Spike sat on
“Seems to me those blind blokes
should be here by now.”
I pulled a sword from the bag,
“Potential’s name is… Melody… I think.”
Spike stood, rummaging through the
weapons, “Melody, eh?” he pulled away with a crossbow, “Slayers always got the
wackiest names…” he trailed off when I glared at him. “I didn’t mean you…”
“Right… because when you’re talking
about Slayers, you couldn’t possibly be talking about the actual Slayer.”
“Right,” he crouched and loaded the
bow with a teasing smile, "But I guess I’m really not one to talk
I leaned against the bench, “One
more thing you and I have in common, eh pet?”
He blinked up, his face sincere.
It didn’t last long, and he was digging through the weapons again, “Besides,”
he set a knife on the sidewalk, near a whisper, “Love your name…”
“Oh, please…” I turned around,
rolling my eyes.
I heard him stand, “This makes how
many potentials, now?” he scowled, “Might be time to start lookin‘ into hotel
“You’re right,” I twirled the
sword, watching the moonlight beam off the blade, “We’re running out of
“Gotta stick’em somewhere…” he was
in front of me now, “’Fore you know it, house’ll be just like that Council
I glanced at my watch and sighed,
“Still another twenty minutes.”
He bounced back and forth in front
of me, “Up for a dance, Slayer?”
I couldn’t hide my smile, “What?”
“C’mon,” he lifted his fists,
“Nothing heavy… just a warm-up.”
I pressed the sword into the grass.
“That’s it…” his fingers flickered,
“Wow me, Slayer.”
I sprung forward, flipping off my
hands and landing a foot to his chest. I regained my footing just above him.
His eyebrows perked up, “Not bad…”
I bent to grab him by the duster,
but his legs tangled mine and twisted me to the ground. He rolled me on my
back before pinning me there. My blood rushed through me, every inch of my
skin begging for his lips.
“Now, that was bad…” his tongue
teased from between his teeth.
I flipped him off easy, quickly
relieved to have my jumpy nerves calmed. He flew to my right, landing against
a tree. I snapped up to pin him there.
His breath came uneasy as I pressed
his wrists against the bark, twisting his hands behind his back. His arm
finally fell into place, and I found myself strapped against his body, holding
his arms to the tree-trunk.
He took three short breaths, and
then dropped his eyes to mine.
My sword had been out of the ground
for ten minutes, and there were still three Bringers to be slaughtered. Spike
got the potential, and she stood behind him with the crossbow as he beat down
I ducked under a blade and slid the
sword into the last Bringer. He plopped at my feet, and I wiped the blood onto
his cloak before walking towards Spike.
“More than usual,” Spike panted.
“Yeah. The First must be gettin‘
“Could be,” he stepped away,
motioning for the girl to go to me. She didn’t move, still holding the
crossbow up. She was trembling.
I stepped forward and smoothed her
blond hair, “It’s alright. You’re safe now.”
“Safe now?” Spike said when the
girl went upstairs.
I shrugged, “Safer, I guess.”
“Start her up tomorrow mornin‘,” Spike settled
on the couch, “Actually, morning’s only a couple hours away… better make it
“I’m, uh, gonna go get a glass of water… did
you…” I shut my mouth when his eyes opened up at me, “Are you… did you want me
to get you some blood?”
He gave a heavy sigh and stood.
What? Spike? “You don’t have to get up, I’ll
“No,” he marched past me, “I’ll take care of
I followed him into the kitchen, “Look, I wasn’t
trying to make you uncomfortable…”
“You didn’t,” he opened the freezer, frosty air
surrounding him, “Don’t worry.”
I pulled a glass from the cupboard, and handed
him a mug, “I’m sorry.”
The ceramic mug dinked against the counter,
“Don’t say that.”
I paused, and then stepped past him to open the
fridge, “Is there anything I should say?”
He sighed, stopping all his movements and closing
his eyes. His hands dropped to the countertop.
I lifted the pitcher and the silence was broken
by the sound of the water filling my glass. Then came the noise as he placed
his cup in the microwave. He beeped a few buttons. The whirr began, and he
stood palms-down in front of it. His head fell forward.
I took a drink, the cool water soothing my tired
muscles. I stood there waiting. Say something, Spike. Talk to me. What did
I do wrong? But he didn’t say anything. Only the whirr of the microwave
filled the room. I took another sip.
Finally, the microwave dinged, and he popped it
open. He still kept his back to me as he lifted the mug. He paused, moving
his head slightly, “Say goodnight, Buffy.”
I stood behind him a little longer before dumping
my water into the sink.
“Do you see that?” Anya paced
around her kitchen, “It’s hideous! It’s
the most meanest, cruelest thing anyone’s ever done to me!”
looked away from the roomful of bunnies.
the meanest, cruelest thing regarding bunnies.” Anya corrected herself, “If
this is another curse from that Amy girl, there will be strong repercussions…
not like how you all were about the rats!”
picked up a white bunny, stroking its neck, much to the disgust of Anya.
eat that,” Anya suggested, and then backed away when Spike glared up at her,
“If you want to.”
you think D’Hoffryn could’ve?” Dawn piped up from behind her.
Anya turned, “I think his idea of vengeance is just a little bit more
dead—AH!” She shrieked as Spike held his
bunny out towards her. She ran from
him, and he chuckled, moving after her.
she screamed, lifting up a chair to fend him off. “Hello? Protector of the
Spike,” I stopped them, “Anya, do you have a box or something we could put them
slamming the chair down, “Yes, I’ll get one.
And you,” she glared at Spike, “I hope the First makes you kill
eyes widened and he frowned, and Dawn and I followed it.
Anya looked at the three of us, then gave a bright smile, “I’ll be right back
with that box!”
stepped into the bunny-filled room, and I turned to follow her.
I wanna ask you…” Spike stopped me with his whisper.
it?” I came closer to him.
lower, “Later… when the bit’s not around… we can talk?”
I can hear you anyway,” Dawn called from the other room, “Now or later… I’ll
still hear it.”
rolled his eyes, and then followed me into the room.
gonna go check into who could’ve cursed Anya with those bunnies,” Dawn said,
heading upstairs, “And now you’ll be free to talk about whatever it is I’m not
supposed to know you’re talking about.”
sighed, “How long before she grows up?”
for my age!” Dawn yelled from the top of the stairs.
slammed shut, and I watched Spike silence himself. His fists knocked against his hips, and he bit his lower lip.
up, “Just… I’m…”
my arms. “You know better than to beat around
the bush with me, Spike. Spit it out.”
stopped fidgeting and fell onto his hips.
He looked at me, “I wanted to ask you about your mum.”
fell open… it had to. I was going to
say something, but only managed to open my mouth.
He took a
step back, “Look, you don’t have to tell me if you don’t want—”
you want to know about her?”
sitting on the bed now, and nodded me to sit with him.
bad idea. Too physical with you lately,
Spike. I’m not sitting there. I’m not… I was sitting next to him now.
she was sick for a while, yeah?
Before…” his hands gripped at each other, as if fighting over which one
got to touch me.
watched his hands, “Before she died.”
clenched his knees now, “Did you… did you want to do something about it?”
My shocked face met his, which
had already winced at what he said, “Of course I wanted to do something about
he stammered, trying not to look at me but failing, “Something… anything… to
stop it? To keep her with you…
I don’t know what you mean… I
felt my head start to shake.
he swallowed, looking right through me, “Even if it wasn’t the right thing?”
and in the flash saw Mom lying on the couch… saw Mom brushing her hair. The air suddenly smelled of her, and I stood
standing next to me fast, “I’m sorry. I
away from him, his words barely interrupting my thoughts of Mom. Her smell… her touch… her voice… it all took
over inside me. It had been so long
since I’d thought of her… since I’d remembered her like this… I’ve been so
busy. I’ve forgotten her. What have I…
words fell out, and I could hear Spike gasp from behind me. His arms wrapped around me, but I pulled
away from them. Can’t think about you
now, Spike. I have to think about
Mom. God, Mom. I’m sorry, Mom. I’m so…
sorry…” Spike’s words came with my thoughts, “I didn’t mean to…”
mean to hurt you…” he was very quiet now, like he didn’t want to disturb me
with what he was saying. He didn’t care
if I heard it or not. “Just… wondered…
shouldn’t have asked…”
I turned to
him then, my blurry eyes unable to really make him out. I blinked.
It’s the only way I know how to stop the blur… just blink. Spike had his eyes to the floor, and he
have asked…” he whispered again.
“Why did he
ask?” Dawn cuddled into her blanket, “I don’t get it.”
I don’t know…
probably has to do with the soul…” Willow shrugged, “Right?”
nodded. “Nightmares or something…”
why Mom?” Dawn sat up straight, “When Angel was having his soul-nightmares, he
wasn’t dreaming about Mom, was he?”
“No,” I told her. But Spike’s not Angel… it sounded in my mind
like an alarm.
“I think it
will get better… once Giles is back.”
“It has to.”
nodded and stepped out.
“Nothing… just… all of us
talking like that…” she started to get out of bed, “It was nice.”
gonna talk to him about it some more?”
“I, uh… I
never really answered…” Dawn picked through her clothes, “I mean, maybe you
should tell him?”
“I wouldn’t know what to say.”
you’re thinking,” Dawn faced me, “You know that’s really all he wants to hear.”
suddenly remembering my plan for today, “Listen, I need you to tell Wood I’m
taking today off. Anya had an idea on
the demon that could’ve—”
him,” she stepped towards the bathroom, “But we both know the real reason why
you’re taking the day off.”
been gone ten minutes before I realized how right she was. I was already at the basement door. My stupid fingers couldn’t stop fidgeting. I don’t know what to say to him. Just say what I’m thinking? I can never do that right.
swung open, and I was suddenly terrified of his mere presence.
you,” he said. His voice is more
terrifying than his presence.
I managed out.
gone at this hour,” he stepped past me, “Thought it might’ve been one of the
usually come down this early?”
“No,” he muttered, fixing his
blood, “That’s why I came up.”
Awful silence fell between
us. I struggled onto a stool and he stood
in silence as the microwave heated. The
entire kitchen felt like one big microwave.
spoke, “No counseling today, then?”
was eager to break the tension, but couldn’t find any more words.
“Principal make you mad?”
and he turned to show his little smile before the microwave beeped.
trying to think of a way to help Anya.”
“Right,” he crossed towards
the basement again, “The bunny thing.”
I have to tell you what I’m thinking.
at the door, his head tilting a little.
The mad silence fell again and I shrugged.
“I knew it
was him!” Anya’s shout echoed off the walls of the apartment, “He warned
me. He told me not to tell anyone about
the ritual, but look what I did!”
were helping. Now I’ll help you.”
what? Clean up all the little bunny
pellets all over the floor?” Anya scowled, “I always suspected it was him, but
this is absolute proof.”
picked up the pair of glasses.
nodded, “Even demons need to see, Buffy.”
“Guess he’ll have to retake the eye exam.”
I can’t believe he left them,” she squinted at them, “He’s so stupid like
where can I find this guy?”
Contains foreshadowing for episode 17.
“Any idea how much further?”
“Why? You getting tired, Spike?”
“Probably not much longer.”
“Long way for a walk, don’t you think?”
I turned around now, “Xander’s moving
potentials. It’s not like we had a choice.” I faced forward again and
quickened the pace, “And you don’t care anyway.”
“You’re right,” he stepped up next to me, “I
don’t. Not really.”
“So what’s with the big are-we-there-yet?”
He shrugged, “Like to have a smoke.”
I felt my face scrunch, “So have one.”
“Right. Repulse you. Like I need to do more of
“You don’t repulse me.”
“You know I do.”
God, he’s talking a lot tonight. “I think you
“You’d think right,” he muttered low, thinking I
“Stop it.” I crossed my arms and looked at him,
“I thought you hated pity, Spike.”
He glanced over, “Exactly. I hate your pity,
and I hate my self-pity.”
“So stop it.”
His teeth clenched, “I’m trying.”
“No, you’re not.” I almost laughed at him,
“You have no idea what it’s like!”
He must’ve picked up on the laugh anyway…
“Buffy, you went wrong for a couple of months…”
he shoved his fists into his pockets, “And you still try to repent.” He looked
up to the stars, “I’ve been wrong for centuries.”
My eyes followed his to the sky. The bright
lights twinkled for us like fireworks. I sighed, “But you don’t see the
“No,” he pulled out a cigarette, “You don’t.”
This time I did laugh, “I think I know that
we’re different, Spike.”
He’d already lit the cigarette, and sucked in
the smoke, “I don’t think you do.”
Silence took over then, and I listened to the
trees rustle, and his smoke hissing from his lips. We walked like that for
“She said she liked Poe,” he suddenly said.
“One of the girls…” he fixed on his boots, “A girl I killed… we
were talking about Poe.”
“Isn’t that a Teletubby?”
He frowned, “Edgar… old poet. Wrote a lot of
horror stories…” he trailed off, then glanced over, “How do you know names of
I shrugged, and he let it go. “So you talked
about Poe? So what?”
“And she liked the Grateful Dead… and she loved
“Spike?” I searched for a point to all this
“She’d be alive right now if…” he brought
another cigarette to his mouth.
It got quiet again, and for once I decided to
say what I was thinking.
“My mom, she always used to say ‘If ifs and buts
were candy and nuts, oh what a Christmas it’d be.’”
“Yeah, I never really got it either…”
More quiet, but I knew both our minds were deafening.
“Never heard it before.” Spike muttered.
“She said a lot of stuff I never really got…”
Dead quiet. Long quiet. More suffocating than
just a pause.
He broke it, “Sometimes… kids make mistakes, I
“Yeah,” I sighed, “But we all make mistakes.”
My clicking heels bugged the hell out of me, and
I fought to make them stop without slowing down.
“Am I one of your mistakes?”
I could feel his eyes on me, prying for the
answer. Always searched for it in my body language and facial expression if I
didn’t answer him directly. Doesn’t he see how unfair that question is? But I
kept silent, and tried to hold in any reaction.
And I let him guess from that.
“Here’s our spot?” he peeked through a window,
“Don’t see any lights on.”
“Maybe he’s out getting new glasses.”
“I’ll get the door.” I readied for a kick, “You
get my back.”
“Pleasure,” he stepped behind me.
The door crashed down and the lights flicked on.
“Slayer…” Spike whispered, “Tell me you see
“Ooooooh,” Drusilla danced around the demon in
the middle of the apartment, “We can have our picnic now!”
I nodded, “I see her.”
“Not her.” Spike muttered.
“But it is, my Spike…” she hissed, “And his
I felt Spike stand up straighter, and we both
listened. I eyed the demon as she spoke.
“But where has my Spiky gone…” Dru wiggled her
fingers in the air, coming closer, “To bring nothing more than this shadow?”
Anya’s demon never spoke… it growled, in the
middle of the room, waiting for the action to start. I know how you feel,
pal. I felt like if the fighting started now, Dru would still only talk to
“Broken. Beaten. Bitter.” Dru smiled, “Like
smashed dollies with no arms and no homes… forgotten and—”
She glared at me.
“It’s not her, Slayer.”
“Oooooh, naughty words! Bad
“Shut up!” I turned to Spike,
“Buffy, it’s The First.”
“No! Nasty lying soul!” Dru
shouted, “I’m the last!”
Real easy way to figure this one
out. I lifted a lamp and threw it at Dru. It passed through her and smashed against the wall. The demon seemed
to wake up, watching it shatter to pieces.
“You’ll pay for that, Slayer!” he suddenly
“You know—the last time I checked—I think you
demons owe me.”
He charged, and I tripped him into a table. It
smashed underneath him and he pounded the floor with his fists.
“Clumsy Slayer follows glasses…” Dru chuckled,
pointing at the window, “Bites the hook.”
“Bringers…” Spike muttered, “Whole lot.”
I glared at The First as I snapped the demon’s
“You alright?” he took my hand, pulling me off
He dropped my hand and waved his in the air,
“Right. Saving my life. That’s nothing.”
“I didn’t save…” we made our way out the door, “You would’ve been
I flinched, clutching my hand to my side. Please, not a broken
“Think it’s broken?”
“I’m not sure.”
“Let’s have a look?”
I stopped walking, raising my eyes to his. He
kept his eyes focused in mine… and concerned, lacking any look of lust or…
intention of sliding hands…
I stepped behind the trees, gasping as the pain
shot up my body while lifting the shirt.
Spike crouched low, studying my side. He shook
his head. His hand slid around my stomach, pressing in soft spots that jolted
pain to my spine… and other parts jolted in the good way.
The hand slid up my side then... close to… to
that place he needs to stay away from. My heart raced, and he dropped his
“Think you broke one.”
I let the shirt drop as he stood, “Thanks, doc.”
He let some air out in a smile, and blinked up
“So, um…” I looked him over, “How about you?”
His eyebrows jumped, “Fit as a fiddle.” He bit
his lower lip.
I slid my hands over his stomach. His head
tilted, and then he closed his eyes. I ran my fingers around his sides, and he
winced slightly when I pinched him. I brought my hands back. His eyes opened.
The rest of the walk home, I heard nothing but
“Big guy with flamin‘ fists…”
Spike’s hands flew up in front of him, “Hit faster and hotter than anyone… ’cept
you, of course.”
I smiled. I didn’t think Spike would want to talk about the
soul-getting. Thought he’d be all guarded and secretive… yet here he was,
talking my ear off…
“So, he got in a couple good shots first… you
know, catching me off-guard and all that. Even grabbed his fist once.” He
shook his head with a chuckle, “Felt like he damn near burned my arm off.”
My smile faded. Way to turn your soul-getting
into a bad topic, Spike. I should ask him to stop… before it gets too bad, and
I get all uncomfortable and guilty. Maybe I should feel guilty. Does he want
me to feel guilty?
“Flipped him right quick… twisted his head like
a doorknob.” Spike was still explaining.
“And then what?” Why am I asking that?
His hands fell to his sides, “Well… then, there
“Another fire-guy?” Shut up, Buffy…
“Trial,” he corrected, “Another trial.”
“What was that one?” Fine… keep asking
His hands disappeared into his pockets, “Don’t
I wanted to argue with him. I know you remember
it all, Spike. You fought for your soul, for crying out loud. I know you
recall burning skin and broken bones. But I gave him a break, and I let it get
quiet as we neared the house.
He spoke not long after, “Feelin‘ any better?”
Less than an hour ago the Bringer’s foot had
smashed my low rib. It hurt like hell then, but slayer-healing had kicked in
just as Spike started talking about how he got halfway around the world. I
“Thought we could poke by the cemetery before…
only if you’re up for it. We haven’t patrolled in a while, eh?”
“If I’m up for it?” I rolled my eyes.
“I just meant—”
“I mean, I’m the Slayer, Spike—”
“Yeah. I didn’t catch that the fir—”
“Then don’t act like—”
“I don’t act, Buffy.”
I stopped walking. That’s not fair. I didn’t get to cut him off.
He moved next to me, “I don’t pretend. You
What? Where the hell is that coming from?
Where the hell is he going with that? “I… don’t. I don’t pretend.”
“You know you do…” he kept at a distance, and
lifted his eyes, “Don’t pretend with me.”
What? I could only stare. Pretend? You never stop, do you
Spike? Always think you know me… what I’m thinking… just by what you’ve heard
me say. You never really know, though. Because I never say what I’m thinking.
I’m doing it right now, and you don’t even know it.
“You’re right.” I said finally.
His forehead crinkled, studying me. Trying to
read my thoughts again… how about I just say them this time, Spike?
“I don’t want to patrol.”
He took a step back, and I took a step forward.
“And don’t talk to me about pretending, Spike,
because you don’t want to patrol either.”
He looked away, another step backwards. I still
stepped after him.
“Because you pretend, too, Spike.”
He backed into a fence then, his eyes focused on
the grass below my feet. We stood there for a long time, both of us waiting
for the other to do it. To jump and tear and moan, just as we were an hour ago
under the trees. But just like then, he didn’t budge, and I watched him not
“I want to go home.” I said.
He didn’t lift his head as I left.
It was a short, quiet walk back.
Spike kept behind me the entire time, as if making up for all his rambling
earlier. I reached the front door.
I sighed, and turned. “What?”
He didn’t move up the steps, and I
knew he was trying to find his words.
I don’t have all night… “What,
He glanced up, “Sorry for… for what I said.”
I rolled my eyes, “Great,” and
turned to go in.
“Great? That’s all you’ve got to
say?” he pulled me to a stop with his words.
“What am I supposed to say?” I
didn’t turn around.
“Bloody hell, maybe that you’re
sorry too? Maybe that you didn’t mean what you sa—”
“I meant all of it.”
He growled, “On quite a roll
tonight, aren’t you? Hell, I’d rather have a heart-attack than listen to—”
“You can’t have a heart-attack,
Spike. Your heart would need to, like, beat first.”
He stormed past me, throwing the
door open and going in without a glance my way. I heard the basement door slam
the second I stepped inside.
“Hey,” Dawn came downstairs, “I
thought I was the only one who could do that stuff.”
I nodded, “You should go lecture
him about that.”
“Sounds like he’s had enough
lecturing,” Dawn followed me to the couch, crammed with slayers-to-be whose
wide eyes darted around at all the commotion. “What happened?” Dawn asked.
I sighed, moving from the crowded living room to the empty kitchen,
“The First… was being Dru. I think it got to him or something.” I opened the
“Are you hungry?” Dawn asked,
“Because there’s nothing in there.”
I peered in the vacant fridge, remembering
the place Princ—damnit!—Robin had taken me for dinner. Just one bite sounded
so good… I spotted a lonely string-cheese. Dawn choked back on a laugh when I
I pulled off a strand, “What?”
She stifled it, “Nothing.”
Rona stepped into the kitchen, “Hey
Buffy, we were thinking maybe order a—oh my God, Buffy… what are you doing?”
“If Kennedy saw you eating that…”
I stopped chewing, “What?”
Molly’s horrified face popped up next to Rona, “You ate her string
“Excuse me,” I opened the fridge,
“You girls eat me out of house and home… but what, Kennedy thinks her cheese is
off limits? What is it, magic cheese?”
Molly’s head turned, then she
whispered back with wide eyes, “Kennedy’s coming!”
I took another bite of cheese, “Let
Dawn shook her head, pulling me
towards the basement door.
Oh, no way, Dawnie. I’d rather
stand on the Hellmouth than go down there right now.
“Just until she’s gone, then we’ll
call you back up.” Dawn swung the door open and pushing between frantic
whispers, “Buffy, she’s going to flip out.”
The basement door slammed behind
me, and I found myself staring down the black stairwell. The next noise was
enough to make me jump and tiptoe down the stairs:
“WHO ATE MY STRING-CHEESE?”
I snuck to the bottom of the
stairs, knowing Spike was there… knowing Spike knew I was there. The light was
off, and I stumbled over equipment.
“Christ, Slayer,” I heard him
mutter from his bed, “Sod off, will you? Not in the mood.”
“I would, but I guess I’m not in
charge of the house anymore.”
He grunted, “So they sent you down
to the pits, eh? That it?”
I sighed. He’s still pissed.
Okay, make a joke fast. That works sometimes. Only nothing came to my mind.
No joke, anyway.
“Want a bite of Kennedy’s forbidden
string-cheese?” I ventured. Please let that be good enough…
He snickered, and I heard his
“Kinda dark down here, don’t you
think?” I gained confidence.
“Creature of the night here…” he
muttered, “Plus, you know, sleeping.”
It fell quiet again. Dark and
quiet… and all my confidence became as scarce as the light. God, how did I get
down here? Dawn. Oh, you are so dead, Dawnie… I know you planned this all
out somehow. I glared at the ceiling.
“Lemme know if you plan to stand
there all night, Slayer,” Spike muttered, “’Cause there’s nothing quite like
the threat of death looming over me while I sleep.”
I plucked another piece of cheese.
Does everything have to be so eternally dramatic with you, Spike? Could you
just once let it go? God, it’s only string-cheese…
“Turn on the light, then,” he
groaned, “Can’t sleep with you here. Might as well—”
“You’ve slept around me before.”
I could hear his anger, “Well, this
is after, isn’t it?”
After what? The sex? The soul?
What was he trying to say, that he doesn’t want to… no, he wants to be around
me. I know he does. But he can’t sleep around me. But he could just fine
before… before I realized how hurtful I was. So now, after… after I changed
from that—learned from that—and now I’m not as hurtful. And now he won’t sleep
That doesn’t make any sense, Spike.
“I think this counts as during,” I
said, “Like a middle-spot.”
He didn’t answer.
“Because, you know, we’re not like…
More silence from him, and more
words from me.
The basement had never been
quieter. I ate the last of the cheese.
Finally his bed creaked, as if to
wake him up, “I don’t… want to be.”
Now it was my turn to be silent.
The bed creaked again, and I knew he was getting up.
“Buffy, I…” his voice gave way, and
was so small I still couldn’t place him, “I love you.”
Oh God. Oh no.
“You think you’ve been selfish…” he
was moving, but I didn’t know where, “But you’re not. It’s me… the selfish
one. Because I can’t stop…”
“Even though it hurts you, I’ll
Somebody make this stop…
“Love ’til it kills you,” he
paused, “And then I’ll love you dead.”
Stairs. Get upstairs now. My mind
pushed, but my body wanted to hear more.
“You see that now, right?” he was
getting closer, “That it doesn’t matter if you love me… wouldn’t change me…
wouldn’t make me any stronger, or more loyal… wouldn’t make me love you more
’cause that’s bleedin‘ impossible.”
Finally I could make him out—his
feet appeared in front of me… at the floor I couldn’t look away from. Part of
me wanted to look up at him, but the smarter part knew better and focused more
intently on his feet. Love. Dark room. Tension. God, I’m tired. Just fall
into him. Take comfort. Spike. What if… what if…
“What if I said it?” my throat
scratched out in a whisper.
“What?” he asked like he didn’t
think I had listened.
“What if… I said I loved you?”
“Buffy… don’t do that.” Spike
I pulled the cord above me, bringing enough
light to make shadows behind him. I focused on him… even though he was
shirtless, and his eyes were sleepy, and his hair had that disheveled look that
I love… or, used to love. But if I told him I loved him?
What if I said it, Spike? Wouldn’t
make you any stronger, right? That’s what you told me, and you were right. Because
it wouldn’t make you stronger. It’d only make you weaker. You’d fall, crying
on your knees, wouldn’t you? Chain up to the wall again, maybe? Don’t you get
it, Spike? It doesn’t matter if I want to say it… I can’t say it. There’s too
much at stake.
“Doesn’t matter…” he straightened up, “Right?”
The light bulb swayed in circles, and I watched
Spike’s shadow grow and fade. I focused on that shadow. That shadow is
Spike. Talk to the shadow, not the vampire. The shadow can’t touch you or
He stepped in front of the shadow.
“But we’ll never know,” he paused,
and lifted a hand to my chin, “Buffy, look at me.”
Bad idea. I slammed my eyes shut when he lifted
my face, but a sudden terror of me looking kissable came to mind, so I opened
them. He was staring right back at me… shirtless… sleepy eyes… disheveled
hair… looking kissable. Worse idea…
“You can’t love me…” he whispered.
I jumped, and Spike backed into the punching
bag. He glanced up the stairs and rolled his sleepy eyes.
I turned, and Dawn spoke from the top, “You can,
um, come back up now.”
“Be right up.”
“Hit the light first, eh Slayer?” Spike pulled
back the sheets.
I clenched my fist, ready to break that bulb…
but tugged the cord instead. The light went out.
I look dead.
I stood in front of the bathroom mirror, staring
at a stranger’s reflection.
This can’t be me.
I let my palms rest on the cool
sink, bringing my face closer to the stranger’s. She was so tired… so sad… she
Is that how they see me?
Is that how Spike sees me?
I always thought he was the
desperate one… but looking in these reflected eyes I can see down into that
girl’s soul… I can see her despair… and she’s scared.
And she’s alone.
And she doesn’t know what to do.
And she’s me…
The quick knock on the door
surprised my hand, and I knocked three toothbrushes to the floor. I knelt to
pick them up.
“Buffy?” it was Dawn, “Buffy, can I
But the door was already half-open,
and then quickly shut behind Dawn.
“You’ve been in here for awhile…”
she stepped closer, “I…we were getting worried.”
“I’m fine,” I stood with the
toothbrushes and placed them back on the sink, keeping my eyes off that strange
girl in the mirror.
Dawn snuck behind me, “What
“In the basement… with Spike…”
What happened in the basement with
Spike? It sounds like such a simple question. It sounds so plain… like the
sentences teachers would write on the board, and then underline the nouns, and
circle the verbs…
“Did he…” Dawn interrupted my
private English lesson, “Are you two…”
I lost focus and looked up at the
mirror. I saw Dawn standing behind the stranger… I saw Dawn watching my back.
And Dawn looked at me like I was a stranger, too. Like she doesn’t know me
“It’s okay if you don’t tell me,”
she added, “I just… want to help.”
I must look really desperate. My
eyes drifted towards the stranger in the mirror again. I stared at her… hard
at her… almost through her. Then the words just came out.
“I think I said something wrong.”
“What did you—”
“I…” I wasn’t sure why I stopped
her, or what I was going to say when I did… but I knew that I had to stop her,
“I’m really tired.”
Dawn was hurt now. She was hurt
that I didn’t tell her. And she was trying to hide it, but I could see her
eyes starting to swell up.
“I’m sorry,” I watched the stranger
tell her, “I can’t say… because I don’t know.”
Dawn nodded, straightening herself
up. And I watched her stand taller, and she looked so pretty. So alive and
aware. She looks strong.
“It’s okay,” Dawn smiled a little,
and then she wrapped her arms around my shoulders. Her head fell against my
And I lifted my eyes to the mirror
again… and finally saw my true reflection.
Contains spoilers for
I didn’t cover the seal after
Andrew cried on it. We just left it, Andrew and I. With all the dead
Bringers-to-be lying around it. Because it didn’t matter if it was covered… we
beat The First tonight. We won a battle, and it was hard. And it will only
Andrew didn’t stop shaking all the
way up the stairs. When we reached the top the door opened, which made Andrew
jump with a squeal.
It was Spike, who held the door
open with a smile, “Got it done.”
Andrew zipped through the door
“Break his heart?” Spike asked.
“Been crying,” he motioned to Andrew.
“Oh, yeah,” I paused, wondering if it was that
easy for him to know when I’ve been crying… “His, uh, tears… closed the seal.”
“That right?” we followed Robin and Andrew down
the hall, “Get it on film?”
“I don’t think we’ll see much of that camera after tonight.”
“Because I’m going to break it.”
Spike nodded, and then smirked when Andrew
looked back, “Likely she means that, by the way.”
Robin held the door open, and we all left the
“So,” Robin locked the door… like it matters if
a trashed school is locked… “Go ahead and take the next couple of days off,
I nodded, “Sure you don’t want my help fixin‘ up
“Swings an ungodly hammer…” Spike took the lead, pulling out a
Robin glared at Spike’s back. Alright… I can
relate to that. I’ve glared at him before, too. Usually to his face, but…
“I really don’t think it’s fair to break the
camera,” Andrew came up next to me, “I mean, it could be useful for, like,
family occasions, or holidays, or… um, weddings?”
I plucked it from his hands, “No more camera.
And no more weddings… they’re very…”
“Catastrophic,” Spike murmured, blowing smoke
above his head.
“I was going to say demony… and it’d just be
more footage of me slaying stuff.”
“Bet that sets the newlyweds back a pretty
penny.” Robin said, “But then, which is more important in a wedding, anyway:
the cake or the bride and groom?”
I smiled, and Spike gave an annoyed glance.
“I think what’s most important is… remembering
the good times,” Andrew reached for the camera, “And looking to the future…” he
reached again, and I lifted it up higher, “And…” he jumped, “Come on, just one
more night. I won’t film you at all, I swear.”
We reached Robin’s car, which Spike was already leaning against.
“Alright,” I handed the camera to Andrew, “But I
want it back first thing in the morning.”
Andrew nodded, tucking it into his jacket.
“Sorry, Spike, no smoking in the car.” Robin’s
eyes were slits.
Spike took a long drag, tapping the ash when he
finished, “Come put it out, then.”
Robin’s fists clenched.
Spike tossed the cigarette at
Robin’s feet, “Bugger it. I’ll walk.”
Robin crushed the flicker of light
and opened his door.
“I, uh… think I better go with
him.” What? Why?
“What?” Robin almost barked, “Why?”
“You know… just don’t want anyone to—”
“Well, yeah, but I don’t think Spike would—”
“Right. The soul. Almost forgot.”
I nodded, very nervous about his
tone, “Besides, it’s been a while since we patrolled…”
Robin started the car, “Is that
when you hunt vampires?”
“Well, not really hunt, per se,
“I’d like to go one night, if
Okay, why does he keep cutting me
off? “Sure.” I looked past the car. Spike was already out of sight.
“I know you’re back there,” I
called down the dark alley, “I can see the light from your cigarette.”
“Aren’t you bloody clever?” the
light flickered, “Don’t ’spose anyone else in this town smokes.”
“No one else in this town calls me
‘bloody clever.’ Come on, we’re going by the Bronze.”
He was coming into view now, and dropped the
cigarette, “What for? Look like I’m in the mood for drinkin‘ and dancin‘?”
“No,” I said as he stepped onto the sidewalk,
“But you do look like you’re in the mood for a good fight.”
“Soddin‘ principal of yours…” he walked alongside me, “Why can’t
you ever make a friend I like?”
“You like you,” I crossed my arms, “Isn’t that enough.”
He looked surprised, then stared down at the sidewalk. It got quiet.
Ah yes, the old shocked-that-Buffy-cares look. Shocked-that-Buffy-understands.
I sometimes think that you really don’t believe in me at all, Spike. Sometimes
think that after everything I’ve done, you just don’t have any faith left in
“Good fight…” he muttered, “Like any o‘ the wankers
we stake tonight are gonna come close to a good fight,” that dark tone of his
took over, “Close to a good…”
It got quiet again.
And this time it stayed quiet… on the outside.
But my insides were ripping at each other.
What were you thinking? Alone, just you and
him, after what happened last night? Don’t you remember? What happened in the
basement with Spike? Do you remember that question at all? Are you insane?
Yes, I am insane… because only
insane people have mind-arguments with voices like this. Only insane people
follow Spike to a dark alley. Only one insane person. And that’s me. Insane
Spike lit another cigarette, oblivious to my
And just what did happen in the basement with
Spike? He’s obviously okay with it. He’s walking right next to me, isn’t he?
If he had been upset about it, he would’ve shown it by now. He’s terrible at
hiding that kind of stuff.
Besides… we’ve been through worse. A little
talk in the basement is a cakewalk compared to our worst times…
We walked past a smashed building. The roof had
caved in, and the walls were falling down. One of the windows framed a broken
lamp. It was familiar. It wasn’t the place… it wasn’t the house we smashed…
together. But it was close. Close enough to send shivers through every bone
in my body… to bring back flashes of memories shattering into each other… close
enough to make me catch my breath.
Spike was looking at it, too.
“They should knock that place down.” I looked
away from it.
“Probably still means something to somebody…”
I looked over at him.
He shrugged, “I mean… Magic Box’s still
“Barely,” I thought of the old store… the jingly
bell… the weird customers… Willow slamming me into hundreds of books, “I don’t
think I like what it means to me anymore.”
“Still means, though. Still important. Shaped
you,” he paused, “Part of you?”
He’s not just talking about the Magic Box…
“Spike! He went left!”
He backed up, then followed me to the left, “You
know, maybe you should try not tellin‘ every vamp you’re the Slayer…” he
panted, “Try to play the victim, lure’em in and stake’em up close and
personal…” we rounded a corner as he finished, “Save you a lot of bloody
“If they run…” I gasped, “They could… lead me…
“Or too many.”
“No such thing.” I sprinted faster, “C’mon, he’s
We raced down the alley, turned right and raced
down another. The vamp disappeared into a door on the left.
I slowed to a walk, and Spike jogged up next to
me. I pulled out a stake.
“What’s the plan?” Spike caught his breath… for
“Kick the door down. Slay.”
“That’s all there ever is.”
The door crashed to the ground.
The Bronze vamp did lead us to more vamps. A
lot more vamps. Not too many… never too many… but a lot. I glanced around the
room. Most of them were in the middle, but there were some on a balcony… about
Okay, maybe this could be too many.
“That’s her!” Bronze-vamp pushed through the
crowd. “She’s right there! I told you I’d get her here!”
“The Slayer!” another vamp cried out.
“Spike,” I looked behind me, “You take the
Spike wasn’t back there.
I stared at the empty spot—the spot Spike was
supposed to be, “Spike?”
“So!” a snarling voice made me face forward
again, “This is the Slayer?”
I straightened up. This vamp wasn’t from around here… had a thick
Hispanic accent. His red robe reached the floor… Okay, lame much?
“So, this is… I’m sorry, who are
He showed a toothy grin, “I am Raphael Ortíz.”
I gripped the stake, “Correction: You were
The door behind me slammed, but before I could
turn I was wrapped up in familiar arms. One leather-clad arm had me in a
chokehold, while the other twisted my arm behind my back.
“Bloody gotcha now, don’t I Slayer?” Spike
growled as his hand twisted the stake from my own.
What the hell is he doing? The
First? No… if it was the trigger, he would’ve sunk his teeth in by now…
“Amigo!” Raphael and his gang stepped forward, “She belongs to us.”
Spike chuckled, pushing me forward, “You know
how long I been trackin‘ this girl?”
“That is no ordinary girl,” Raphael folded his
hands, “That is the Slayer.”
“Damn right it is,” Spike had vamped now, “Think
I don’t bloody know that? Don’t you know who I am, mate?”
Raphael squinted as a protégé whispered in his
“William the Bloody…” Raphael mused. “I’ve
never heard of you.”
“And I’ll bet this is your first attempt at killin‘ a Slayer, eh
ponce?” Spike’s tone was confident… bragging. His hand dropped mine, and he
wrapped an arm around my waist. A sudden flashback shot shivers through me. I
forced my eyes open again to stop the flashes, and focused on three vamps that
were ready to fight.
Okay… all part of the act… nothing to get all
shaky about, Buffy… Spike must have sensed my discomfort, because he eased up
on his grip. Raphael had backed up, and the rest of the vamps followed his
lead, allowing Spike and I to move towards the middle… doesn’t seem like the
greatest plan, Spike.
“Fact is, she’s not your ordinary Slayer, mate,”
Spike pushed us through the crowd, until we finally reached the middle. Spike
halted us in front of the ratty pool table dead center. Two pool-cues lay
crisscrossed over the top. One of the three vamps roared as my eyes went from
them to the table. He crouched low.
“Special, this one…” Spike
finished, and gave me a tight squeeze. He was warning me… almost time. Or
maybe he was just… squeezing…
“Nothing special that I can see,” Raphael stood
alongside us now, eying me closely, “Dígame, señor. Mira viejo y cansado a mí,
señor… Mira muerto.”
Spike’s elbow cracked Raphael’s nose. The vamp
hit the floor, and Spike flung me towards the table.
“This Slayer’s always got backup, mate,” Spike
pounced on Raphael.
I rolled onto the table, collecting up the two
cues. I knocked away two vamps before they could get to Spike. The third
grabbed at the poolstick. I swung the other rod down fast, cracking it over
his shoulder. The wood splintered, giving me all that I needed.
The three vamps went poof as another two jumped
up onto the table. One threw a quick kick, landing it on my stomach. I bent
over, and then forced the stick straight up through his chest. The second vamp
pushed through his dust and grabbed the wood. I pulled back and the vamp fell
off the table.
Raphael went flying over my head, and then
crashed hard against a beam under the balcony. It started to sway.
I looked down at Spike, who offered his hand. I
grasped it, and hopped down off the table.
He picked up the second cue from the ground and
broke it over his knee, “Robe-idiot’s mine.”
I twirled my very long stake, “Then you better
dust him fast.”
He nodded, quickly jabbing just above my head.
I didn’t have to look… the dust rained down over us. He stood there with his
arm alongside my cheek. I could feel the soft leather brush by when he pulled
back. He placed the second cue in my hands.
“Amigo said some stupid words… needs a good
beatin‘ before he’s dust… you just watch my back.”
I hurled a cue, sticking it through the vamp
behind him, “Not a problem.”
A quick smile showed, and then he took off
It had been about ten minutes, and I had dusted
more vamps than minutes gone by. Most of them had retreated to the balcony,
and I was so busy slaying, I hadn’t seen Spike or Raphael at all… until now.
They came into view under the
balcony. Spike had somehow gotten his hands on a crowbar, and was swinging
down at Raphael. I watched Spike drop the heavy weapon to the floor… I heard
the clang from the metal. Dust was billowing up, but I could make it out when
Spike slammed Raphael into the final pillar
The balcony started to fall, and Spike disappeared
behind the crashing pieces of wood. I moved closer to the disaster, driving
the stake into anything that moved.
There was another crash, and I
heard a howl come from Raphael.
I jabbed a couple more spots, but then there
were no more… a lot of them must have been killed in the fall.
“Please!” Raphael shouted, and then screamed. I
began to follow it.
“Please?” Spike roared, and another scream
sounded. “Don’t you mean ‘por favor,’ mate?”
There was another smash, and I turned a corner
and finally saw them.
Raphael was bloody, disrobed, and kneeling in
front of Spike. Raphael looked powerless, and fell back against the broken
pillar behind him.
Spike’s fists were clenched tight
around the crowbar again, and he stood menacingly before the begging vampire.
Raphael’s eyes opened, and he began to crawl
towards me, “Oh, thank you…”
“Thank you, thank you,” Raphael lifted his hands
in the air, “For the love of God, stake me!”
I took a deep breath, then stepped closer to
them, lifting the cue higher.
But Spike beat me to it, clutching Raphael and
lifting him to his feet.
“No! Please, no more!” Raphael was in tears.
He exploded into dust as Spike slammed him on a
The room went quiet, and I waited for the dust
to settle before I spoke.
“So much for not ‘relishing in the kill…’”
Spike sighed, “Should’ve remembered his
“They never do.”
He shook his head, “Still it… doesn’t feel right
somehow…” he turned to me, motioning to the dust that was Raphael, “Feels like
I should be...”
I looked down at my broken cue, gripping it with
both hands. Why does he think that? Am I the only one who can see what Spike could be?
“You’re better than them.”
I couldn’t see his face, but by the sound he had
made I guessed he was smiling.
I tossed the wood to the floor, looking up at
him. He had dropped the smile. He couldn’t just let things go… Spike can
never just forget the past… he’s so wrapped up in it that he can’t see now.
“It doesn’t matter what you were,
Spike. It’s now that matters.”
“And what am I now?” his fingers tapped against
his leg. I honestly believed that he didn’t know himself… there’s no way he’ll
ever know unless I tell him right now.
What are you, Spike? The dusty floorboards creaked under my feet
as I came closer. Not too close… “You’re fast, you’re strong,” I looked him
right in the eye before finishing it, “And you’re good.”
I can’t believe I got that out…
He blinked, “That’s what you see now, is it?”
I looked around the broken building… God, this
is just like our… why do we keep wandering around places like this? Places
where I treated him like an animal… and why do I always have to repeat my—my
eyes fell onto a dusty silver platter buried in rubble. I could see my tiny
reflection in it.
And I didn’t look pathetic. I actually looked
sure of myself… like how I looked that night with Dawn. Strong… confident… If
there was ever a time to tell Spike these things, it should be when I look like
“I know why you don’t believe me,” I said it plainly,
with no shakiness at all.
He didn’t move.
“It’s because you can’t see yourself, Spike.
You can’t see how you’ve changed.”
He shrugged, “Another downside to being a
“That’s not what I mean,” I picked up the
platter and dusted it off, “I’m not just talking about reflections like this,”
I held it in front of his face, then pulled it away again, “Because that
reflection says you’re nothing, Spike. It’s not true.”
I threw the platter down, and Spike blinked
“Do you know what my reflection has told me?” I
asked him, “Do you know what I’ve seen in my eyes? I’ve seen fear… and anger…
parts of me that you had to face every day.”
He dropped his head, “It’s wasn’t—”
“It was, Spike,” I was getting too close now,
“It was my fault. Do you know why?”
He shook his head, not lifting his eyes.
“Because I used to believe what I saw in my
reflection… I believed I was evil… and cold… and dead. I believed I could
never be happy again.”
He glanced up, eyes full of confused remorse… he
still doesn’t get it.
“But I’m… I think I’m happy now.”
His head tilted, watching me search for anything
left to say. Silence fell, and he focused on the floor again. I found the
“You don’t need a reflection to know what you
A moment of silence passed.
Spike’s head rose, and he finally
looked like he got the idea.
“And I’m good?”
I smiled, and then nodded, “Yeah. You’re good,
He was smiling… his mouth… his heart… his soul…
they all wore that slight smile.
I took a deep breath, trying to shake away the
sudden warmth swelling inside my chest… suffocating me.
“Not too bad yourself, Slayer.”