"You've got to be kidding!" Spike yelled, pacing along the floor of the factory. "You really expect me to believe that that's why you reek of slayer?"
The other Spike nodded, making no effort to console his younger self.
"I just can't believe this! Me, William the Bloody, fighting alongside the Slayer! It's ridiculous! It goes against everything I stand for!" He yelled, outraged. "Though I suppose it could be worse, we could be friends," he said, his face twisted into a mask of disgust.
Spike had to stop himself from laughing at the idea of telling his younger self that he was actually married to Buffy, deciding that he would definitely not take it well, and going for a safer option instead. He had also avoided mentioning anything that could cause him to stay away from Sunnydale in the future, such as the chip, in case it affected his future with Buffy.
"Sorry mate," he said, unsympathetically. The younger Spike just sighed, shook his head and continued to pace.
Everyone continued to stare at Buffy, wondering what Spike was so worked up about.
"What is it?" Younger Buffy asked, frowning. She wouldn't admit it, but she was worried to see what had rendered Spike speechless.
Buffy blushed, not wanting to announce something so personal, when she knew she would be criticized for her actions, but also not wanting to hurt Spike's feelings by disregarding something so important.
"It's, uh," she was stopped from answering by a pained grunt from Spike. Buffy immediately thought back to the time the chip malfunctioned, but quickly realised that that didn't happen for another two years. She frowned, unsure of what could be causing this, rushing forward to gently grab his arms. "Spike what is it?" She asked, receiving no answer other than his laboured breathing.
Suddenly he stopped, and would've slumped to the floor unconscious if not for Buffy's firm grip on his arms.
"What's wrong with him?" Dawn asked. She considered Spike a friend, though she would never admit it to her sister, scared that she would ban her from hanging out with him, and it worried her to see him in so much pain.
Buffy frowned, just as oblivious as everyone else. "I don't know," she murmured, noticing her sister's worried expression. "It's okay, he's not dust so he'll be fine," she assured her. Dawn, nodded, still wary.
Buffy lowered Spike onto the floor as gently as possible, not wanting to cause him more pain, and thought about what to do.
"Okay, I'll wait here until Willow and the girls get back, and you guys go to the Bronze for Tara's party. We'll keep an eye on Spike and make sure this was a onetime thing, and then maybe meet you guys later."
Xander raised an eyebrow. "You want to bring Spike to Tara's birthday party?" He asked, incredulous.
"Yeah, Buffy, maybe he's different in the future, but right now, I don't think it's best to have him around." Willow added.
Tara looked around nervously before speaking up. "I-I don't mind," she said quietly, not wanting to anger anyone after they had been so forgiving about the spell she had cast on them, but not wanting Spike to be cast out after he had helped her too. Buffy smiled.
"Then it's settled," she smiled. "You guys go have fun."
Everyone shrugged, not wanting to argue with that command, and headed out of the door, just as Willow returned with Anne and Alice.
"What happened to Spike?" Willow asked, after seeing him on the floor.
Buffy sighed. "We don't know, he just passed out. We're going to stay here a bit longer to make sure it doesn't happen again, and then we can go to the Bronze. Do they let kids in the Bronze?" Willow shrugged.
Buffy gasped, a thought occurring to her. "Will, where are we going to stay?" She whispered, not wanting the girls – who were currently playing eye spy - to hear her and worry. Willow frowned.
"Well, you should probably check with past you, but you and the girls could stay at your house, and I'm pretty sure Xander has bought his apartment by now, so I could probably stay with him and Anya." Buffy nodded, relieved that at least one problem had been solved.
"What would I do without you?" She smiled.
"Crash and burn?" Willow suggested, smiling. Buffy laughed, making a vague sound of agreement.
"So what are you going to do about Tara?" Buffy asked. The mood immediately turned somber.
"I dunno, I mean, I don't want to let her die, obviously, and I don't want to go all evil and accidentally end the world…"
"But, what if it changes the future for the worse? I don't know how, but things like that tend to happen to us scoobies, you know?" Buffy smiled sympathetically and gave her friend a one armed hug.
"For what it's worth, I don't think anything bad could come from saving Tara," Buffy said, hoping that they could avoid losing her. Willow gave a watery smile in return.
Their conversation was cut short by a groan from Spike. Anne and Alice immediately went over to see if he was okay.
Spike opened his eyes to see two faces peering down at him. He frowned when both girls grinned.
"Girls, give him some space," he heard Buffy say. Once he knew he wouldn't head-butt anyone when he sat up, he pulled himself to his feet, grabbing a shelf to steady himself when he saw black dots swim across his vision. "Bloody hell," he muttered, closing his eyes briefly.
"Need anything?" Buffy asked, wanting to make sure he really was okay. He shook his head. Buffy sighed – it was obvious that Spike was uncomfortable around her after learning about the claim. "Do you know what caused that?" He shook his head again in reply. "Right, well, we're going to the Bronze now, its Tara's birthday, you sure you can walk?"
Spike ignored the last question, and frowned. "We? As in, I'm going?"
Buffy rolled her eyes and smiled. "Yeah, Tara wanted you there. Besides, we need to make sure you don't pass out on us again." He nodded, avoiding eye contact with everyone in the room.
"Right then, let's go." The five of them headed to the door, and Buffy sighed, missing her Spike – the one that was comfortable around her, and loved her. She just wished that they would be able to bring him back soon.