Summary: Spike, the Scoobies and the Slayer know something evil is coming to Sunnydale. Over time the bonds they form with one another will give them all the power to defeat the bad and balance everything out once again. Some Season 7 Spoilers May Come Up

A/N: Originally posted back in August last year, this was my very first fanfic that I have decided to revise and repost under the same title. The sequel to this that I started a while back seems to be stuck in a rut and I felt I needed to go back and fix a few things. So I would love to hear what you think of this new and improved version so it would be terribly nice of you if after reading it you'd review it. I'd love to hear your comments and know it will help me continue with the sequel.

Disclaimer: Joss is the evil mastermind of Buffy and its characters so they don't belong to me.

XXoXX

The summer after all the badness, seemed to carry on normally as normal can be on the Hellmouth. Buffy kept her promise to Dawn and with some training had indeed showed her the world of a slayer. Giles had taken Willow back to England to heal properly. Xander, who finally came out of his guilty stupor of leaving Anya on their wedding day, was slowly becoming fun-loving Xander once again. Anya, with the help of everyone, was getting the shop back in order. She and Xander were becoming friends in their own time. Everyone seemed happier.

School was starting very soon. Buffy was offered a job on the school staff after Dawn had showed to have made a complete 180 in her attitude and schoolwork. (Summer school was no surprise to the younger Summers after her ridiculous Freshman year.) Buffy was very proud of her. Everything was looking up.

Dawn and Buffy hardly brought up Spike's name in conversation. They both sincerely missed his presence though. It was hard not to, even if both of them were angry at his sudden departure without any word. Although deep in Buffy's closet hung a rather familiar article of clothing that her once adversary often wore but had left out of haste, it seemed to lessen the degree of anger. Buffy couldn't figure out why she had indeed kept it. Probably in hopes he would come to retrieve it so they could actually talk. But did she really want to talk to him? She, in her heart, had forgiven him, but the forgetting part was still impending. Dawn, on the other hand, had a harder time dealing with his actions and thought him a coward for taking the easy way out by parting. So they never talked about it.

"Good morning, Dawn," Buffy sing songed.

"Morning, Buffy," she replied.

"So one week left of freedom before school starts," Buffy stated. "Are you feeling ready for a brand spanking new year to begin?"

"As ready as I ever will be," she smiled. "This year will be so much better and I'm kinda looking forward to it."

"Good, so am I, lil sis, so am I."

Not quite a week later on a dark road leading into Sunnydale, a motorcycle pulled up in front of the 'Welcome to Sunnydale' sign. The vampire sitting on it, cigarette dangling out of his mouth looked at it forlornly. He chuckled under his breath and shook his head slightly as he revved the engine and continued on down the road.

The following evening, in the dark basement of the newly built high school, Spike had set up a makeshift residence. He had dreaded returning to the crypt. He hadn't wanted to see anybody, much less talk to anybody. In fact, he wasn't quite sure why he had really even come back to this hell or even why he was now residing at the school. But something had drawn him back, or someone and he knew it. He just wasn't in the mood, or the mind, to face her just yet. So much he wanted to do and to say to her and to his lil bit, but it would have to wait. Sleep was what he wanted at this very moment. He wondered if they, any of them, had even missed him.

"That's right, Spike, thinking about yourself again. Poor, pitiful, lonesome me. And why in fact would any of them miss a thing like you?" he mumbled as he drifted into restless slumber.

XoX
One Week Later

"Dawn, are you up yet?" Buffy yelled up the stairway.

"Yes, I'm up," she yelled back. She peeked around the stairs at Buffy. "And I'm already dressed, thank you very much."

"Wow, I'm impressed," Buffy tilted her head slightly and gave her a wink.

Dawn bounced down the stairs. "You look nice, Ms. Professional, for your first big day," she commented to Buffy as she headed towards the kitchen.

"Why, thank you. I'm kinda nervous. I hope I can live up to the expectations they seem to have of me," Buffy worried out loud.

"Oh, Buffy, you will be a great counselor. I know from experience, "Dawn replied, scrunching up her nose and giving her a smirk as she turned to fix her breakfast.

XoX
Darkness enveloped him, but he could still hear them. People talking, a lot of people, a lot of voices. Some were yelling, screaming, some whispering. Loud noises, chains, banging doors. They were coming for him, surrounding him. They wanted to hear him beg, plead for forgiveness. So many tortured faces. Ones he should recognize. They were victims. His victims. A loud ringing noise and all vanished except for one. It was her, his light, his one and only, crying.

"William---why?"

"Buf..Buffy!" He sat up quickly, falling off his makeshift cot. "Dammit all to bloody hell," he mumbled as he rubbed his eyes.

He remembered where he was suddenly; still living in the school basement. He was smart enough to figure out that today was the first day back for the juveniles. So, what to do now? No ideas, thinking was not on his "To Do" list. In fact, there was nothing on his list. He felt so stir crazy. He wanted to do something, but, god he wasn't ready to face Buffy. What would he say to her? Apologize, beg for forgiveness? Why would she forgive him? He could act like nothing happened. Yeah, right. He should just be himself. He wasn't a poofter like his grandsire. He wasn't going to beg her for forgiveness even though he should. No, he wasn't and if she was willing and ready to stake him on the spot, he was willing and ready to be staked. Oh, god, what if Dawn knew and she hated him? It was hard enough to realize Buffy should hate him, but the bit?

"Bollocks, this is such...ggrraargh," he growled while pulling at his hair and sliding down the wall to sit on the floor. He started to lightly bang his head against the brick wall, the banging then becoming harder. He felt like he was losing it, losing his grip. 'Sleep, going back to bed, can't handle this right now', he thought. He crawled back onto the cot and restlessly fell into another bout of fitful sleep.

XoX

Early evening came around, and Buffy was sitting in her office still. The day went as well as could be expected. She really wanted to stroll around the new school. So stroll she would.

She walked the hallways peeking into rooms as she walked by them. The building was really beautiful. Xander and his company did an excellent job rebuilding the school, she thought. Not too many people wandering around at this time of day, either, just a stray custodian or staff member. She ended up in a deserted hallway on the opposite side of the school. That's when she heard something. Soft, like music, barely audible, but it sounded like classical.

Where was it coming from? The music room was not on this side of the building so she vowed to find it. Besides, it seemed eerily familiar, a sad but beautiful song. Not coming from anywhere on this floor, though, she thought, looking through door windows and around corners.

"I'll try downstairs," she mumbled. As a matter of fact, as she descended, the music did get louder. There were rooms down here, too, and it was much darker. Yes, the music was louder now. She felt a familiar feeling. Someone or something was down there with her and very close by...hold up, was that crying? She rounded the corner and found a door ajar. Yes, definitely someone whimpering. Someone was in pain, whether physical or something else.

"Excuse me, are you alri...Spike? Spike!?! Oh god, are you..?"

"Slayer---Buffy---go away!" he hissed and retreated to a darker corner of the room, huddling into it.

"What are you doing here? Are you hurt?" she desperately asked him.

"No, no I'm fine, just go, please---go away, please", he begged of her.

"OK, I'll go," she hesitated.

"Thank you," he murmured as she left. He waited for her to retreat fully.

"Great, just bloody wonderful," Spike sniffed. "Ironic how she finds me in the middle of one of my---whatever this is. How long is this bleeding torment going to last?" he sniffled again. "And I hate sounding like a bleeding wanker, all this sniffling and snuffling. When will it end?"

Buffy was amazed and astonished that she ran into Spike, of all people, at the very same place she was employed. But then again why should she be? 'Should I tell anyone? And why did he seem so distressed?' she silently asked herself as she made her way out the front doors. No, she thought better of it. He would show himself soon enough and she would find out then.

XoX
A few days later, Dawn and a couple of her classmates stayed after school to do some extra credit work. After finishing up, they walked around to check things out.

"I heard that the school is haunted, that they built it on some burial ground," the girl said.

"Actually," Dawn replied, matter-of-factly, "it's built on the Hellmouth!" The two looked at her like she had grown a horn out of her head. "But that's just what I've heard," she conceded while looking away.

The boy that tagged along laughed at the both of them. "You both are off your---wait, did anyone else hear that?" All three stopped and waited breathlessly. An odd noise filtered through the halls, a combination of peculiar music, shuffling, clanging, and moaning sounds.

"Did you see that?" the girl gasped.

"What!" the other two exclaimed in unison while turning to look in the same direction.

"It looked like---people, but---I swear I could see right through them." she whispered. "They went down that hall, 3 or 4 of them." The trio slowly inched to the corner to peek around.

"Whatcha' doin'?" All three bodies jumped and gasped as they turned and growled at Buffy, who was standing there, hands on her hips with a sly smile playing at her lips.

"Buffy!" Dawn rolled her eyes. "Guys, this is my sister, Buffy. Buff, Kit and Carlos. My lab partners. We heard some strange noises and Kit swore she saw what looked like ghosts. Down that way." Just then the hall lights flickered and went out.

"Well, how 'bout we get on out of here. I'll do some investigating tomorrow. I'll find out what kinds of "ghosties" are haunting the school."

'Or what little naughty vampire is playing tricks on us', she mused to herself.

TBC