Summary: Continued on sometime after 'Showtime'. Buffy reaches Spike and takes him home to heal. Together, along with the Scoobies, they fight The First as the army they intend to be.

A/N: Thanks a bunch for all the kind words and your encouragement to continue on. Just wish I didn't get whammied with this wall of writer's block. Sorry for taking so long but enjoy it anyway...see author's note at end!

MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS FOR UPCOMING EPISODES Please read and let me know what you think. I'll absolutely adore you.

Disclaimer: None of the BTVS characters belong to me but to the creator Joss Whedon and his Mutant Enemy partners. Curses!

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Buffy knew she would have a barrel of trouble trying to get to sleep; she just knew it. Of course not three minutes after her head hit the cool, soft pillow, she was off in dreamland. Not quite a pleasant dreamland but one none the less.

The familiar scene that unfolded in front of her placed her back in the cave where she had previously crossed the turok han and deeper within that said cave, rescued a badly beaten Spike from his captor's bindings. This time, however, when she reached the spacious room, he was being dragged across the cave floor by the super vamp. Great, now this time when she rescued him, she would have to use physical force. No matter, because she soon found out that she was there only as a spectator. An invisible barrier was keeping her out at the entrance to the grand interior room. She stood and watched helplessly.

She quickly noticed the other Spike, the not so friendly Spike, Firsty- Spike. A chill ran up her spine at the familiarity of First-Spike. She recalled the first encounter with Spike all those years ago at Parent- Teacher night. Coy, cunning, cocky in an evil, blood-sucky way.

Drusilla appeared quickly. Interesting that The First chose her form to use to try and weaken the souled vampire. Buffy wasn't really certain what Spike's real feelings were towards the insane vampiress anymore. She suddenly felt a bubble of jealousy erupt from deep within her, but decided it best to push it back down. The creature kicked a now conscious Spike and Buffy could actually hear a few ribs cracking under the assault. She cringed and shot forward but hit the invisible wall instantly. Her anger rose when the ugly beast did something, something she couldn't see that caused a piercing scream to reverberate off the cave walls. She had never heard Spike yell out in pain like that before and was glad she didn't get to witness the brutality of the attack.

Drusilla giggled insanely at the whole episode. The ubervamp picked Spike up and held him like a rag doll. With a command from First-Dru, it dragged him over to what seemed to be a flat rock from her line of view. How quickly that changed when she saw the ubervamp shove Spike into it, water splashing all around as he struggled. It was drowning him, but unlikely, she thought. He was a vampire and vampires don't breathe, she told herself.

Fear struck her though as it tossed a limp Spike down onto the cavern floor and First-Dru made a comment about being hard to kill. Spike must have panicked, Buffy thought, and took a lungful of air when he shouldn't have. He began to sputter and cough, forcing the water back out and Buffy let out a breath she didn't realize she was holding. She could only stand and watch the abuse the vampire was receiving as he was dunked back under.

She found herself pacing the floor of the cave outside of the room she was barred from entering. Silent tears fell as she let her eyes rest on his swollen, bruised and bleeding face. She heard Dru telling him to pick a side, to pick their side. Buffy grinned when she heard Spike's cocky reply to First Dru's, but the grin disappeared when she had to witness more beatings from the turok han and had to look away. She was quite ready to wake up; she had seen enough.

Why wouldn't she wake up? She didn't want to watch anymore of the torture The First planned on putting Spike through. First-Dru, sounding less insane than before, seemed to try a different approach with Spike. When she told him that she wasn't done with him, Buffy feared he would give in, but relief swept over her at hearing him tell The First to give it up, he was out. Didn't surprise Buffy that First-Dru became angry, berated Spike, put him down. A smile spread across Buffy's whole face when she heard him.

"She does, cause she believes in me."

He was holding onto her words. That was what was keeping him grounded, keeping his head above the water so to speak. First Dru was angry as she motioned for a couple of her cronies to tie Spike to the cave wall, then left in a huff, the turok han following close behind her. Everything went completely dark for a few seconds and when the light came back up, she saw him sagging being held up by his wrists which were wrapped with leather ropes and tied to the wall. If he had the strength, she thought for sure he would have been able to break them.

He woke suddenly, and Buffy wondered if he had been dreaming. The First had taken a different form.

"Dreaming of me again, aren't you? Poor Spike." Who is that? Buffy wondered. It sounded like...oh my...it was her. The First was her. She leaned closer, trying to hear as much of the conversation as she could.

"I'm sorry Spike, but you need to accept this. You know it would never work out. It's time you let go so we both can move on. I promise soon it will all be...."

It stopped talking. Buffy realized that Spike was mumbling incoherently. The First-Buffy walked towards him. That's when she heard him clear as day.

"She will come for me."

Buffy gasped. He knew. He believed that she was coming to get him. The First reached out her hand and Buffy all but threw herself at the barrier. It uttered three words which caused Buffy to swallow hard as tears flowed freely.

"No, I won't." She saw Spike's face fall.

"Yes, yes I will Spike. Don't give up. Believe. I will come for you. I did come for you."

At that exact moment, The First turned to look at Buffy, for the first time acknowledging her presence. It smiled evilly.

"I'm not finished with him, yet."

Darkness enveloped her again. She heard familiar voices floating up to her from familiar surroundings. She was in her bed in her room in her house. She had fallen asleep, not much of a restful sleep but she did feel slightly recuperated. She slid out of bed and out of her room. At the top of the stairs, she could hear the girls talking, asking questions. His voice answered. He was being interrogated by the bunch. Buffy had to laugh quietly. The Spike she had known before, the souless Spike wouldn't have lasted five minutes in the room with the bunch of curious teenaged girls. However, Spike was enduring this more pleasant form of torture. She sat at the head of the stairs and listened.

"Mr. Spike?"

"Please, don't call me that. Brings back some horrid memories of a certain toothsome loan shark. It's just Spike. Nothing more."

"Sorry...Spike. How long have you known Buffy?"

"Hmm, it's been over five years going on now."

"Wow, and you're still alive? Didn't she ever try to kill you?"

"Oh, yeah, plenty of times, as well as I with her. Don't know really."

"Maybe it's because you both are equally strong."

"No, she's much stronger than I am. Quicker, agile on her feet and fast with the thinking. In fact, I've learned a few things from her. Be sure to watch her at all times and you will learn a thing or two. I can guarantee it."

"Would you say you two are friends?"

Buffy heard Spike chuckle. "I hope that we are. I wouldn't want to be on her bad side ever again. She's a tough bird, that one."

"How did you become friends? I mean you're a vampire and she, well, she's the slayer."

"Yeah, I kind of noticed that. I don't rightly know really. To go from being mortal enemies to, um, friends? Maybe she saw something in me that no one else did. Or maybe we're more alike than either one of us cares to admit to."

Buffy smiled as she stood up to make her way down into the forum of slayerettes. She was sure Spike had had his fill of playing twenty questions with the group of slumber party teens. She heard one of the girls ask another question.

"How did you get your soul back?"

The air was thick with silence as Buffy stopped at the doorway to the living room, crossed her arms and leaned against the doorframe. Spike looked up at her and something fleeting passed between them.

"As I told Buffy, I went to see a demon on the other side of the world."

"You wanted to get your soul?"

"Well, yeah. Thought I could be a better...man, because of it. I was not much of anything before it, not with this chip in my head. I lost the ability of being a vampire because of the piece of metal they put in my head. And I couldn't be a man because the demon was still a strong force in me, though I tried to change. I really did. Just things got a little out of hand."

"Okay, girls," Buffy interrupted before anymore soul related questions were asked. "I think it's time we let the defense rest. Tomorrow we will start on intensive training. You won't know what hit you when I'm through with you. So get your sleep." She motioned her head to the kitchen, as Spike rose up from his position on the couch.

"Goodnight, ladies."

"Goodnight, Spike. Goodnight Buffy," the all chimed in at the same time.

Willow and Dawn were sitting in the kitchen, Dawn doing her homework, Willow working on the computer. Willow smiled when the two walked in.

"Thank you, Spike, for keeping them busy. I always thought I would become a teacher, but after spending an hour with that bunch of squabbling girls, I think I have resigned from the field of education. I can't believe how you got them to calm down so fast. What did you do to them?"

"Other than giving them the look?" He demonstrated to them the look he apparently used on the unsuspecting girls and a quiet snarl came out from deep within his chest. "The growl was an extra incentive. Either way, it worked. They shut their gobs. Of course I had to suffer the onslaught of questions it seemed they all had for me. I think they conspired to corner me."

"You did a good job with them. You're a good babysitter." Willow smiled sweetly. Spike rolled his eyes and Buffy giggled.

"I can vouch for that," Dawn piped in. "For a whole summer of it."

"You were easier to sit with, bit. Believe me."

Dawn smiled as she stood and stuffed her books back into her book bag. "Thanks. I'm gonna turn in. See you all tomorrow."

Willow shut her laptop and yawned. "That's my cue to say nighty-night."

"Goodnight, Will."

"So, slayer, you get your beauty rest?" Spike chided with her as she leaned into the fridge, scavenging for anything decent to nibble on.

"Yes, well at least the dark circles under my eyes have disappeared. Of course, you can't call it rest when the whole time you're asleep you dream. Dream about things in the past, in the present and in the future." Buffy sat down on a stool and placed her head in her hands.

"Was it a slayer dream?"

She sighed. "No, I mean, I don't think it was. I just...I don't know if I can do this. I don't know if I can protect everyone. I don't know if I can defeat The First."

"First off, slayer, you're not alone in this fight. We're all here with you; you're the glue that holds us all together. The leader and a damn good one at that. Those girls, they all look up to you. I have confidence that you will teach them everything that you know. It's up to them from that point on to know what to do with all of it. You can't coddle them Buffy. Yes, some of them are going to die, but it will not be your fault. As for me and the Scoobies, we know we take a chance everyday when stepping into the battle."

He heard her sniffle and placed a finger under her chin, pulling her face up so he could look into her eyes.

"You gave me strength when you told me you believed in me. I'd like to give you some of that strength back. I know it may not mean much coming from me, but I believe in you, Buffy. I believe in everything you do."

Buffy reached out and took his hand in hers. She smiled through the tears.

"Thank you, Spike. It means so much more than what you think. I'm so happy you are on my...on our side. And I still believe in you...will always. No matter what happens in the future. I will fight harder knowing you're there fighting by my side."

Spike squeezed her hand gently. "Me, too, Slayer. Me, too."

The End

Big thankyous to Skyz, aleksa, sglanton, Cate, LoganAlpha30, elizabeth, sj, candy, pokey, undefined, Jenny Rose, babe, scruffy66, amy, spikeslittledevil, spikesoul666, Rachel, x ta c iz gud 4u (geesh-that's fun to type), Tiger and our pal Spike, darklover, Cynnamon Flakes, Michelle, Maggie, samson, chosenone, Haley Teague, soleildarkskye, Anne, garcrahen03, cyanide, spuffygirl and spikes lady. Without your extremely nice reviews, I wouldn't want to write. Thank you again from the bottom of my heart!! 8)