I claim to own nothing but my own imagination and the charachters not connected with BtVS, which will be presented in this work of fiction. All praise to Joss Whedon, creator extraordinaire, and to all the incredible actors and actresses of the series who bring the charachters life, body and soul.

This story is set post Normal Again, season6; it picks up after that episode, but is further on not linked to season7. I hope some of you might enjoy it as much as I've loved writing it. To all who supported it from day one at ff.net, thank you and a huge hug to y'all. Thanks to Richess for hosting it on OGL. You rock, girl! Thanks to all the readers who might begin to put their time into this story, you are all in my heart, k?

A.M.L, Annie.

New Horizons: Chapter One

By Annie


She drew a breath of the night air; she had lost count how many she had taken in since she began patrolling. The thoughts swirling in her head were maddening, even more so because now she couldn't even pretend to see them clearly, as she sort of had been able to before she drank the antidote which brought her back to the 'real' world.

She was sometimes so sure that it had all been a bad dream, and then the faces of her mother and her father, together, would come back in her dreams and continue to haunt her after she woke. It hadn't been more than six days, and still it felt like a lifetime.

The worry in her mom's eyes was what kept the few pictures she still had clear in her mind there. Yes, she was still feeling some insecurity since the whole asylum situation.

Most of the time she wished she couldn't remember anything, but in the next moment that felt like saying she would rather forget about her parents than even give them a chance to make them selves heard.

She had really thought that the antidote would take everything away, make her feel at home in her own body again. But the pieces just didn't seem to want to fit.

She was thoughtful about what her future could have in store for her. She couldn't bring herself to BELIEVE that Sunnydale and its habitants was all in her mind, but still there was that awful shred of a doubt that just wouldn't really crawl out of her thoughts.

The feeling had kept her unfocused all week and she had messed up with two vamps, enabling them to get away.

She sighed, looking up at the stars.

At least she had been able to avoid Spike.

Suddenly a cry of surprise or pain or both, followed by a loud thud right behind her, made her twirl around, staring at the two creatures wrestling on the ground, the shadows embracing them. She squinted, trying to make them out as she started to approach them, but the battle was already over and she stopped as there suddenly was nothing but silence.

She couldn't believe she hadn't noticed someone was sneaking up on her! She really needed to get a grip on herself!

She was much too used to the whole fighting mystique thing for her heart to race; still, she felt a small tingle in her stomach nonetheless, wondering whom her savior might be.

Then he stepped out of the shadows, the long black leather coat dully reflecting the moonlight, and she shook her head a little at herself.

She should have known.

"Ah. Spike to the rescue," she said as he came to stand before her.

"Waiting for somebody else, are we?" he asked, a sarcastic gleam in his blue eyes.

She ignored it.

"Vamp?" she asked instead, and he nodded slightly, eyeing her in that incredibly annoying getting-under-her-skin kind of way.

"He's dust," he then said, shrugging.

"Great! .Now, run along and let me patrol," she urged, turning around to walk away.

"Drop the attitude, Slayer, I don't have time for it," he retorted, grabbing her arm and making her stop.

"What do you want, Spike?" she moaned tiredly.

"Weeell." he started, but the look in her eyes made him think twice about going there and instead he said: "At least a 'thank you' might be missing here?"

She smiled faintly before meeting his gaze and then said, rather sincerely:

"Thank you."

She pulled her arm out of his grip and turned around to once more start walking.

She could feel his eyes on her back and as always it stirred up emotions in her that she wished she could just lock away.

Then he drew a breath and seemed to hesitate a moment before saying:

"Do you remember what I said?"

She stiffened considerably as she yet again came to a halt; she closed her eyes, expression on her face remorseful. She had hoped he would just let it slide, but of course she could always count on him NOT to.

Spike waited for an answer, patiently. Opening her eyes she turned towards him.

"The ridiculous demand you threw in my face at a time you knew I couldn't possibly deal with it? Yeah, I remember that, I just didn't think you were serious," she said, trying to make her voice as cold as possible.

He stared at her, seeking the clue to whether or not she meant what she had just said or if she was just trying to escape the subject. She stared back, her expression serious. He started to realize that he had lost; she wouldn't do what he had demanded a week earlier. And that just proved the fact that everything she had said before was what she wanted, that whatever they had had was over. Then she suddenly looked away, and in that small gesture redeemed him his confidence.

"Buffy." he began but she cut him off, now starting to sound slightly mad:

"Spike! Just forget about it, okay. It's OVER between us, why would you want me to tell them? WHY is this so damn important to you?"

He looked at her, now growing angrier himself.

"How the hell can you ask me that?" he almost yelled at her, taking the steps forward that were dividing them. "You KNOW why," he continued, now looking down at her, "and don't pretend you don't 'cause I swear, then I'll."

"What?" she interrupted. "What will you do, Spike? Try to hurt me? Hit me? Well, we've been there, done that, and we both know I can take it."

"Yeah, and we both know where that leads so maybe I SHOULD!" he cut in.

She grew silent, once more looking away before shaking her head and then said:

"I can't believe you would make me tell them, Spike. I CAN'T tell them."

Their eyes met and he drew a deep breath.

"WHY can't you tell them? Please, explain that to me." he said, now sounding tired.

She looked at him, a little more softly.

"They wouldn't understand, Spike."

"Right, they only supported you with. Angel." he said, pain fluttering in his eyes to be gone faster than it had appeared.

"It's not the same thing, and you know it's not. Angel. He." she trailed off.

"He had a soul." Spike filled in the missing part for her.

He took a few steps back, away from her.

"I guess you're right, Slayer." he said, the look in his eyes filled with sorrow and hurt, she looked back at him, the expression she held that of plain head-fastness (she couldn't buckle now.)

Spike continued:

"Why should they believe in me, believe that I'm capable of loving you.when YOU don't?"

Then he turned around and was soon swallowed by the shadows.

She looked at the spot where he had disappeared, fretting over the amount of pain she must keep causing him. Then she shook her head and took a hold of herself.

"I can't believe in it," she said, turning around and walking on to keep patrolling.