Author: Kain

Title: With You There to Help Me

Disclaimer: Aside from a few Original Character's I created I own nothing. The character's of Buffy, Angel, and any other show that happens to be unforunate enough to wind up being used here belong to other people.

Spoilers: AU ending to season 7. From there it goes even further afield with still maintaining the season 4 & 5 plot line.

Summary: Spike averts the apocalypse at the cost of his own life. Buffy wants him back, but she gets isn't what she was expecting.

Pairings: B(D)/S, X/A, W/T, S/F, B/F, F/S/B, D/F

Rating: R. Adult language, graphic violence, and strong sexual content.

Feedback: Is always apprectiated. Just try to keep it construtive.

Email: Kain6639@yahoo.com

Archive: If you like it that much, sure. Just be sure to let me know where it's going, and give me the credit, good or bad, for my work.

Prologue: Goodbye to You

The wind blows across the vast sea of shoulder high, golden brown grass, whipping it about without a care. There was some concern among the villagers that their homes, which were mainly straw huts, would not survive the raging fury of the wind storm. Large dust clouds sprang up constantly among the huts. The sudden dust storms make being out doors, exposed to the ravenous wind driven sands, a dangerous task. Only those with vital purpose to be out of doors were.

Tun was one such. The lanky, dark skinned villager, dressed in thick hides, was doing his best to gather up as much of his families belongings as he could before it was blown away by the wind storm most of the villagers thought was called down upon them by their god. A punishment for allowing the stranger to enter their holiest of holy places. It had been after his arrival that the great winds had begun to batter their homes with far more regularity then ever before.

At first he thought the person he saw at the edge of the village was a mirage, a trick of the wind, or some kind of apparition. He shields his eyes, squinting against the harsh driven sand, as he tries to see if the person was really there or just a figment of his over wrought imagination. It doesn't take him long to realize the person is really there, walking forward with powerful strides that eat up the ground in front of them at an impossible rate. Before their purposeful steps the wind, that threatens to topple sturdy huts, might be nothing more then a light breeze. The sand, driven with enough force that can rip open a man's flesh seconds, is like a gentle spring rain.

In a matter of moments the stranger is close enough for Tun to see her clearly, or as clearly as she could be seen with sand obscuring everything. She was a small girl, her eyes probably no higher then Tun's lowest rib, with long, dark blonde hair whipping around her head. The black leather duster she wore billowed around her as she strode forward, the bottom of the long coat almost scraping along the ground.

All Tun needed to know to stay out of the small girl's way was one good look at her face. A mask of fury and rage so pure the storm he and his fellow villagers faced was nothing in comparison. The storm was nothing but a pale shadow in the face of the sun. For a moment Tun wonders if she has come to kill their god, or if the devastating storms they had face all year was just the harbinger of her arrival.

Buffy was glad that the villagers had stayed out of her path. She didn't feel like having to force her way to her destination, the cave at the far end of the village. She wasn't much in a talking frame of mind, not since her friends, her watcher, her sister had abandoned her, kicked her out of her own house, and left her with nothing. She been in more of a beat it until it stops moving, or begging for it's life, mindset since then.

The village itself, while not very large, only a couple hundred feet around, was a good hundred or so yards away from the lone cliff that housed the demon she was looking for. A demon that a year ago had granted Spike his greatest desire. Returning his soul so that she, a self-centered little bitch, would be able to love him. Things hadn't worked out quite the way Spike had planned, but then again when did anything Spike ever do work out the way he had planned it.

She steps inside the cave. The wind, that had been battering her all day, vanished as if it was too afraid of whatever lived inside these dank tunnels to enter. For the first time since beginning on this quest of hers she begins to doubt what she is here to do. Snarling at herself she pushes the emotion down, not giving it even the slightest chance to take root.

She was here to accomplish one thing and one thing only. Return to life the one man who had proven time and time again that he loved her. The one man who had never abandoned her. The one man she had truly loved, but had been fool enough, to push away every single time he had proclaimed his love for her, through either word or deed.

Taking a few steps into the dark, cavernous tunnel. She feels a cool, dark breeze caress her exposed flesh. It was like the touch of something repugnant settling over her skin. Brushing her disgust away she walks further into the darkness. "LURKY!" She shouts after only a few more steps inside the tunnel, "I know you're here! I can feel slithering around!"

Her blood burns in her veins, pounds in her skull as she runs with everything she has, trying desperately to reach Spike. Every breath she pulls into her lungs was pure agony, every step she takes was the greatest torture. It felt like she was dragging a pair of fully loaded greyhound buses along behind her. The harder she tries to run the heavier her legs feel, the heavier her legs feel the harder she tries run. It was a viscous cycle that she couldn't break herself out of.

She knows in her head that she is never going to reach Spike in time. She knows it, but her heart refuses to believe it. So she does the only thing she can do. She hopes, she prays, she demands that she be granted just one last miracle. That this time she wouldn't be forced to sacrifice the man she loves more then she thought she could possibly love someone. That there was another way to stop the events she had unwittingly set in motion.

She rounds the final corner, her blonde hair streaming out behind her, Spike's coat flaring around her as she runs. A thousand yards more before she'd reach Sunnydale High School, and the hellmouth within. Hope surges in her chest. She wasn't too late. She would be able to stop Spike and together they would find another way to keep hell from being released into the world.

White light flares from within the school. Buffy throws her arms in front of her eyes as she slams her eyelids shut while she throws herself to the ground. The light builds until its so bright it makes the sun seem like a flickering candle. Buffy feels the intense heat, like a thousand raging fires, wash over her, pressing her even deeper into the ground.

Time passes, minutes maybe hours. Buffy doesn't know, nor does she care, how long she lays on the ground before pushing herself back to her feet. The high school was gone, nothing stood there except for the grassy knoll it had been built upon. Numbly she begins to walk forward, forcing her exhausted legs to work through sheer force of will alone.

As she climbs the small hill the slayer knows she should be overjoyed. The hell mouth was gone. Never to be reopened again. To never be used as part of some plot to destroy the world. She knew she should be happy for that, and in the back of her mind she was, but the only thing she truly felt was a numbing sense of loss.

It was like the most vital piece of her had been ripped out. Left, discarded somewhere in the world for her to find. The only problem being that she had no desire to search for it. The most important person in her life, the one she never fully allowed in her life was gone. Along with him went her reason to care about the world he had saved. None of it mattered to her now that Spike was gone.

She reaches the top of the rather tiny hill. She felt Spike deserved a bigger memorial, something more befitting of the devil may care attitude he exuded throughout his unlife. In the center of the summit, at it's very apex sat a single blood red rose standing proudly above the short grass.

That was like the Spike she knew. Buffy can't surpress the smile that turns the corner of her lips upwards anymore then she can stop the tear that falls. As the first tear falls from her cheek she drops to her knees, the soft ground rushing up to meet her as more tears, a never ending flood, pour from her tightly sealed eyes. Throwing her head back and she screams at the sky letting emotions she had been damming up crash over her. Its a wail as wild and primordial as the world has ever heard before.

"What do you wish here, girl?" The large scorpion like demon known, by those who know of him, as Lurky demands in a sibilant whisper that causes a chill to dance its way down Buffy's spine. He was a blackness darker then the shadows he gathered around himself, his jade eyes glow banefully from out of his dark void. Spike had told her what Lurky looked like, what it felt like to be in his presence, but his words hardly did the actual feelings justice.

Buffy grinds her teeth remembering that she had to show this demon at least a modicum of respect. "I want Spike back," she answers hoping he took her loathing of him for deference.

The demon makes a kind of gurgling, hissing noise. "So this is the woman our dark champion lost himself to," it says with the same kind of sound emanating from his mouth. "A self-involved, impetuous, mortal, that has no idea what she desires."

Buffy has very little problem picking up on the disgust in his voice as he sneers at her. "I'm here to take your god damned trials," she spits at him. Stepping closer to him she doesn't bother to hide the disgust she feels at being in his presence. If he wasn't going to show her the respect she deserved for being the slayer then she wasn't going to bother with showing him the little she had been planning on. "That is what I desire," she growls at him.

"You have no idea what you desire..." he hisses shifting slightly.

Buffy cuts him off angrily, "if you don't start you test about now then my desire is going to be seeing your heart in my hand," she responds moving still closer to him.

He makes that gurgling noise again and Buffy finally realizes he's laughing at her. "It does not matter Slayer. Even if I wished it so, you could not take the trials."

Buffy glares at him becoming more irritated by the minute, "why?"

"You are human," he says putting as much disgust as he felt in the word. "Humans, by laws older then you can comprehend, are never allowed to take the trials." Buffy begins laughing at the hulking demon. "What do you find so amusing Slayer?"

"Slayers might appear human, but we're not. Not fully anyway," she says quietly having never told anyone before what she had seen in the land of the shadow men. "Our power comes from a source as dark as your own. If you don't believe me read my mind. See what I've seen," she finishes in a voice far calmer then she feels.

Buffy can almost feel thin, sponge like tentacles slithering around inside her skull as Lurky does little more then stare at her. She wants to nothing more then run and hide as he rummages around inside her head, sifting through her memories. She feels more exposed, vulnerable then she has at any other time in her life. It is not a feeling that she likes. It makes her queasy, like she wants to empty her stomach all over the cave floor. Lurky chuckles again, "very well Slayer. Your trials shall begin now," he says with his cruel laugh.

A solid fist strikes her in the back of the head sending her smashing into the floor. Buffy rolls with the punch coming to her knees. She pivots slightly just barely managing to slip the kick that came at her head Buffy gets her first good look at her opponent. If not for the dark yellow skin, the little golden flares that flash within his eyes he could've passed for an almost eight foot tall human that spent his days lifting weights and waiting to kill people. She grabs the leg, attached to the foot that had just tried to kick, and rolls to the side causing her nearly human looking foe to crash to floor as she continues to roll to her feet. "That does it. You're off my Christmas card list now," she quips before sending her foot into her opponents ribs.

Buffy could feel them drawing closer to her. She didn't want to deal with them. She never wanted to deal with them again. For as long as she lived, however much time remained to her, she wanted nothing to do with her so called friends. The people who supposedly loved her unconditionally. So long as she did what they wanted, acted the way they thought she should act, behaved how they would have her behave.

Still, no matter how she bent, twisted, or tried to squeezed herself into their perfect little slayer mold, they abandon her as soon as things took a turn for the worst. When the darkness appeared poised to overwhelm them, to simply brush them out of it's way like the gnats they appeared to be. Sure they might be annoying but they were hardly dangerous.

So she knelt here on Spike's hill, in front of Spike's rose, with hot tears streaming down her cheeks, hoping beyond hope that they wouldn't find her. That somehow they just couldn't find her. That they simply wouldn't think to look for her here. At the mouth of hell where everything important always seems to happen. Her mouth quirks into a cold smile as she imagines them all becoming blithering idiots who couldn't find their way out of their own shadows.

Unfortunately they were here already. She can feel, hear, sense them as they all rush towards her. She doesn't know how, but somehow Giles is the first to reach the summit of the hill. Gasping and choking for air as he was, he had managed to beat everyone else to her.

Buffy didn't turn around, didn't want to acknowledge his presence. The presence of the man who had cost her everything she had ever wanted even if she had denied wanting it with nearly as much vehemence as he ever had. She didn't want her little fantasy interrupted.

Spike's head rested upon her knees as she gently ran her fingers through his platinum blonde hair as he recited poetry he had written just for her. While he was reading to her she would suddenly, spontaneously profess her love for him. She would use the big flowery words that he seemed to enjoy so much. She would beg his forgiveness for every cruel, viscous thing she had ever said, called, or done to him. He would sit up kneeling across from her, with a single tear trickling down his cheek because of how moved he was by her impassioned plead. He would pull her into his arms. Gazing deep into her eyes he would see her sincerity, something she had never once before shown him. For the first time ever they would meet as equals. Spike slowly, almost terrified that this is just another one of his delusions, Buffy nearly as hesitant trying her hardest not to rush him, not wanting to force him into anything he was not ready for. Not wanting to take advantage of him in any way. Wanting this to be as much about his needs as it is about hers. When their lips finally meet, several long drawn out seconds later, it surpasses everything she has ever experienced before. It would be like comparing the heat from a flickering candle to the roiling heart of the sun. One burns. The other incinerates in a thousandth of the time it takes an eye to blink. Death before you even realize you are dead. The kiss would go on forever as their bodies began grinding, writhing together. Moving as one to form an even more intimate, more passionate...

Giles hand touching her shoulder snaps her out of her vivid dream. She could still feel Spike moving around her, his ghost like fingers grazing her skin, sending shivers burning along her entire body. She rises to her feet, twirling on the man who, at one time, she had thought of as her father, Spike's duster flaring around her as she faces the watcher. Giles stumbles back a step as he sees the blinding fury twisting Buffy's face into a mask of rage. There was no real way for him to describe the anger, hatred, and animosity he saw burning within her eyes.

In a move she picked up from Dawn watching far too much WWE Buffy slams the eight foot tall, yellow skinned demon down on her knee snapping his back as easily as she would a maple two by four. Tightening her grip on his ankle she spins around as she rises to her feet. Swinging him much as a baseball player would swing a bat, she bashes his head into one of the caverns granite walls, his head explodes like a rotten watermelon hit with a baseball bat. As Buffy finishes her spin she releases his ankle and the now headless demon sails down the tunnel until he finally crashes into a wall somewhere.

"Come on!" Buffy shouts into the caverns as she uses the back of her hand to wipe blood off her upper lip. Weather its her blood or the demon's she doesn't really know, nor does she care. "Spike said these trials were suppose to be tough! Something to really get the blood pumping! Back in Sunnydale that wouldn't even be classified as a light workout ," she gloats. Granted touching the demon was like keeping her hand inside the heart of a raging blast furnace, but that was nothing compared to the rage she felt boiling inside her. "If that's the best you got you might as well give me what I want now and save yourself the embarrassment!"

Giles places his glasses back on over his eyes as Buffy continues to stare at him. Since rising to her feet she has yet to make another move. She simply watches him, still as a statue, much as a rattle snake watches a mouse, waiting for the slightest movement before finally striking with deadly precision killing it's prey.

The old watcher doesn't know how long they've stood were the high school had been less then an hour ago. All he knows is that since Buffy turned those hard, blazing eyes on him he has felt like a man literally living on borrowed time. Clearing his throat seems to snap himself out of the spell he had been under, as if the sound somehow set the world in motion again.

"The First is gone," he says softly. Buffy flinches slightly at his words, a barely perceptible move that Giles spots. Not truly understanding the significance he simply assumes Buffy has broken out of her funk and was now ready to get down to the business at hand. "It seems that you've somehow managed to avert yet another apocalypse." He continues as he glances around at where the school had been, "you really must tell me how you pulled this one off."

Because he's not looking at her he doesn't see Buffy almost crumple at his words before she hardens herself, giving the rage she feels a place to blossom and grow within her. Not her heart because her heart belongs to Spike. It will always belong to Spike for as long as she lives. No matter what happens Spike will be the only thing that will ever touch her heart again. There are other places inside her though, places dank, dark, and devoid of everything that her rage will feel right at home growing within. Consuming everything else within her.

"I assume Spike is gone," Giles states turning back towards her.

For the first time Buffy notices a dark bruise decorating his right cheek. Not that she cares, but for some reason she thinks it should be important. "Yeah," she says in a voice barely heard above the soft breeze. "Spike's gone."

Giles nod, relived that Buffy had been able to bring herself to kill the blonde vampire that had tried to bring the world to ruins. "There are still other's out there, minions of the first that are more then willing to sacrifice everything to bring the First back. We have to put everything we have into hunting them down and obliterating them while they're still in disarray. Before they have time to reorg..."

He hits the ground as if he had just parachuted out of a plane and forgot to put his parachute on. His entire body aches as he tries to draw breath, his head spins, the force of the impact seems to have driving him deep into the soft earth as he wonders what had happened to send him crashing to the ground with such force. A minute, maybe more pass before his eyes focus in on Buffy towering over him. Once again he realizes that despite her diminutive size a power like the world has never known before rages inside her. From the look in her eyes she has judged him and found him wanting.

The three demons Buffy had been fighting for several minutes were like nothing she had ever faced before, and she had faced quite a lot in her time as the slayer guarding the Hell Mouth. The green skinned demon whose hide was like steel plate towered over his two companions, thick bone crushing pincers had replaced his hands and forearms and a whip like scorpion tail, that snaps out faster then a bolt of lightening and with nearly as much warning, made him more dangerous then she'd like to admit. On a good day in Sunnydale he would have been enough of a challenge for her. Today he had friends.

Smaller then the other two, only a few inches taller then Buffy herself was a double katana wielding ninja demon garbed in dark red Pajama like clothes. His eyes, the only part of him that was visible, glowed with a dull red fire. For short periods of time he was able to move so fast he seemed to blur. It was only through a vast amount of luck that Buffy wasn't already dead by his blades. She already bore a shallow gash, just under her right rib cage. It stung, but she had gotten worse during her time in Sunnydale.

The last demon was bulky blue skin humanoid looking creature that moved with all the speed and grace of a plodding hippopotamus. His bulk and lack of maneuverability didn't make him any less dangerous then the other two. Stream rose from his hands. Not the warm kind of steam. This steam rose from the frigid cold that he exuded, a cold that froze whatever he managed to put his hands on.

Setting aside whatever fears were plaguing her Buffy allows her rage to fuel her just as she had been doing for these past two weeks. Her most dangerous opponent, out of the three, was ninja demon. With his speed and the skill he had with his swords, he could kill her before she knew she was in trouble. He had to be her primary objective while at the same time avoiding the other two members of the demon version of the nerd trio.

Shifting to the side slightly she avoids the stinger as it lashes out at her. She smiles seeing how Giles was trying to drive her into the waiting clutches of Giles. She moves in the same direction again and as the stinger continues to strike out at her again and again. Suddenly she rolls forward directly at Giles. As he strikes down at her in attempt to crush her with his heavy pincers her feet kick outwards propelling him the length of the cavern where he crashes into the far wall.

As she flips back to her feet, she just barely sees Giles move out of the corner of her eye. Blurring in too fast for even her eyes to follow. Using her instincts she knows she has time this perfectly. She knows she's going to take another injury but it doesn't matter as long as she can get her hands on him.

Instead of going in for the quick kill Giles decides he wants to play with her. She feels sting as the blade slices open a gash along her left shoulder just below collar bone. At the same time the other blade slides through her right thigh, the bloodied blade sticks out the back of her leg. She screams, more in rage then at the searing pain she feels at her new wounds. Her left hand grabs hold of Giles' right forearm turning the bones to powder with a savage, crushing squeeze of her hand.

Her right fist smashes into Giles' face knocking him off his feet. Maintaining his grip on the hilt of his sword he pulls the blade back out of her leg. She barely feels what would ordinarily be mind numbing pain as her fist smashes into Giles' chest shattering ribs. Giles tries to swing his sword at her in an attempt to drive her off. Its a feeble attempt as Buffy grabs his left arm and pulls him up as she drives her head down. Her forehead slamming into his face pulverizes the bones within turning them to mush. Her hands reach down, grabbing him by the chin and back of his head. With one quick tug she rips Giles' head from his shoulders. She snarls, in disappointment, as the head in her hand reverts back to it's true appearance. Ignoring the blood that has splattered over her she tosses the head into the corner of the chamber as she turns to face the two remaining demons.

With a savage snarl Buffy hauls Giles' battered body out of the indentation her fist had caused him to make. Holding onto the lapels of his jacket she keeps the old man from collapsing to the ground. "It's over, I'm done!" She screams at him while he shakes in her grip. "Maybe if you's had helped me, helped us, none of this would have happened. Instead you turn your backs me, abandon me, betray me, left me alone and isolated. If I had had your support, your trust maybe I wouldn't've been susceptible to the First, maybe Spike would still be here. Instead all you gave me was your disdain, your contempt, your scorn." She sees the confusion in Giles' face at her comment and remembers he doesn't know anything that transpired between her and Spike during their last encounter. Hauling him closer to her, bringing his ear within inches of her mouth. "You wanna know what stopped the apocalypse? Why we aren't being over run by hordes of demons at this very moment? Hugh, do you? Do you really want to know?" She hisses into his ear with a voice full of venom.

Giles terrified like he's never felt terror before feebly nods his head as he croaks out his answer, "yes." He barely manages as he still has problems drawing oxygen into his strained lungs.

"Spike stopped your bloody apocalypse!" She snarls at him, "he walked in there knowing he was going to die. He stopped what I started. I don't know how, but he stopped it..."

"Dawn's blood," Giles says into her tirade.

She grabs hold of the Giles' whip like tail as the stinger shoots past her head. A large, bloody scrape decorates her forehead just below her hairline. There's a immense purple bruise along her right cheek. She twirls the rope like tail like a lasso as she redirects the venomous point. Buffy grins mirthlessly as the stinger pierces Giles' left eye. The orb pops as the razor sharp tip puncture it's thin surface. It oozes a viscous, milky white substance that flows with the speed of tree sap in January. He howls, like a wild beast, in pain and rage as his massive, freezing hands clasp around the thin tail turning the delicate flesh to ice in an instant.

Giles roars as the brittle ice shatters as his tail retracts. Giles drops to one knee as his right hand covers his eye. A harsh cracking, popping sound emanates from under his hand, like a tremendous chunk of glacial ice breaking away from the main body. When Giles removes his hand from his head the ruined eye has been frozen over.

Buffy grimaces at the display before she rolls forward. Grabbing the two katanas that were lying on the ground she comes up to one knee hurling the sword at Giles' chest. The blade flies true slamming into his heart. Unfortunately the wound froze over almost as soon as it was made. She leaps up and over Giles twisting in midair to land behind his back but facing him. With one quick, clean sweep of the blade she severs Giles' head from his shoulders. As the creature hits the ground it shatters like an ice-sculpture dropped from an incredible height. Buffy looks down at the now bladeless katana hilt that she holds in her hand. Shrugging she drops the useless weapon.

"Wouldn't you have felt like the biggest fool in the world?" Buffy malicious voice mockingly hisses into Giles' ear. "If you had actually managed to kill Spike like you and Wood planned. Who would've stopped your bloody apocalypse then? Who would've been able to stop me? You, Wood?" She snarls feeling her anger reaching levels within her that she never knew existed before. "None of you's would've stood a chance against me. Spike was the only one that had never betrayed me, he was the only one that could bring me back from the abyss everyone left me in, and now he's gone. He died so the rest of us can live. Don't you ever let me hear you say his name like he's the filth you wipe of the bottom of your shoes again!" She shouts, spittle flying from her mouth as her temper threatens to sweep her over the edge. "In fact don't ever let me hear you say his name again," she finishes tossing him to the ground. Without a backward glance at her one time friend she strides down the grassy hillside intent on finding some way to take the pain away, Spike's duster billows around her even though the very bottom of the coat drags across the ground.

Using Giles' left pincer arm like a club Buffy bashes away at his head. After nearly half a dozen minutes of pounding away his steel like flesh with no visible damage inflicted despite her phenomenal preternatural strength Buffy had decided on another approach to killing Giles. Rip off a limb and beat him to death with it, which was exactly what she was now doing. She felt it was poetic in way. After all when he was younger he had been known as Ripper.

"You lousy, self-serving, impertinent bastard," she growls at Giles. "What the hell gives you the right to tell me how to live my life? Who the hell do you think you are that you can lecture me about tough choices? You've never had to make a choice in your entire life. The council decides everything for you. Do this Giles, do that. Don't do that, it's not permitted. No, you cannot think for yourself. You must fellow council doctrine. Human good, demon bad. There is never any variation, so decrees the council of idiots who managed to get their tweed clad asses blown to hell."

After every statement the heavy, rock like arm smashes into his face. Each strike is harder, more forceful then the last. Each statement more rage driven then the one before. Each time her statement comes closer and closer to sounding like an animalistic snarl then actual human speech.

"It is over," Lurky's voice booms throughout the vast cavern.

Buffy gasps slightly as she looks down at Lobster Hand's cracked body. "That's it?" Buffy questions as she drops the heavy arm next to the now dead owner. Swiveling her head around her eyes lock on Lurky standing in a crevice in the wall she was sure hadn't been there earlier. "Your calling it quits, after that?" She inquires suspiciously. Spike made these trials out to the hardest thing he had ever experienced, next to being in love with her. "I couple of lousy fights and you're giving up? Doesn't sound like the Lurky I've heard about."

Lurky laughs at her again, "the battle is done tiny slayer. Your trial, however, has yet to begin."

Buffy begins to walk towards him, "so this was what, prelims? Something to entertain you?" She demands highly provoked by his words.

When her foot hits the dust covered floor on her third step: intense, excruciating, agonizing, mind numbing pain explodes around her. In her. Encompassing her entire being. Every single millimeter of her body feels as if it dying the most horrible, ghastly death she has ever envisioned and many she has never dreamt possible, over and over again at the speed of thought and so slowly they take an eternity.

"Now your trial begins little slayer," Lurky's voice says from inside her head. "All you need do to have your desire fulfilled slayer is reach me," he mocks.

Pushing aside as much of the pain as she can. She once again locks her eyes in on Lurky. He becomes her entire world. Nothing else exist except for him and her need to get to him. She screams, howls, with every fiber of her being. A sound of pure primordial fury that while not be denied. With that she takes a single step forward.

Buffy brushes her way past Willow, Xander, Wood, and a handful of potential slayer without a care over their shocked gasps or incredulous stares. She was tired of their questions of having to listen to their nonsensical, disjointed rambling of how Spike had gone evil, beaten them and drank enough blood from Dawn that she had almost died. She was tired of all of it and she was tired of caring about what anybody thought.

She had spent too much of her life caring about what everyone else thought of her. It was time she started doing things for herself. Besides she knew if she didn't get away from Xander as quickly as possible she'd take his other eye then end his life because he opened his mouth and words came out of it.

It was time she started living for herself. Only with Spike she didn't really have much of a reason to do anything. What she wanted was Spike, but Spike was dead, but it didn't stop her from wanting him. If there was only someway she could get him back.

With the suddenness of a lightening strike she remembers a conversation she had with Spike only a few months ago. He had told her a story about a demon in Africa that granted wishes, gave people what they truly desired. The problem Spike claimed was most people didn't know what they wanted so they normally didn't get what they thought they wanted. Plus the life and death trials usually kept Lurky from having to actually give the person what they wanted on account of them being dead.

A smile spread over her lips as she realized she was going to be getting her Spike back. There was absolutely nothing in the world that was going to be able to prevent her from getting to Africa. There was no trial Lurky could throw at her that she wouldn't be able to defeat.

It was then that she saw Dawn rushing towards her having broken away from Faith. She stiffens as the younger girl crashes into her, throwing her arms around her sister and squeezing for all she was worth. "Oh my god," she cries not noticing Buffy's reaction.

She wishes she could embrace Dawn like the younger girl deserves, but she can't. Dawn was family. She had died for her, would've died again and again to keep her safe. Dawn had repaid her love by kicking her out of their home, by sending her away when everyone else had turned their collective backs on her.

"I was so worried about you," she rushes on. "What, with Spike attac..."

"I'm leaving," Buffy cuts in coldly as she easily breaks Dawn's grip on her.

Dawn blinks, surprised at Buffy's statement. "Where are we going?" She asks skeptically.

Buffy shakes her head. She hated having to hurt Dawn like this, no matter how much she might deserve it, but there was no way she could take her little sister with her on a perilous quest to Africa where the chances of her dying were quite possibly better then even. "We're not," she finally answers. "I am," she adds turning frost blue eyes on her sister. "You made your choice, now live with it," the slayer finishes viscously rationalizing her actions as being in the best interest of Dawn. It was better for her sister if she hated her. She'd be able to get on with her life faster that way.

Buffy's face twist into a snarl as hundreds of thousands volts of electricity course over and through her body. Every single step she took was a grand tour of more pain then she ever thought she could possible experience and still live. Her bones felt as if they had been ground to powder ages ago, her flesh seemed to be eating it's way off her body from the inside. She had long ago given up on trying to push the pain away from her. Instead she was embracing the agony that was making its home in her body, using it to further fuel her fury.

Between one step and the next everything vanishes. The pain, the energy, everything was just gone as she staggers forward, almost collapsing onto the hard rock floor of the cavern. Smoke still rose from her as she leant her shoulder against the tunnel wall. Gasping for breath, like she had just finished running a thousand miles at full speed, she pivots her body putting her back to the hard surface.

"So does the tiny slayer still think my trials the stuff of jokes?" Lurky whispers as he shifts from one side to the other in front of her. His darkness gliding with him as he moves.

Summoning what little reserves she has left Buffy pushes herself off the wall. Taking one hesitant step after another she walks up to Lurky. "When we're done here, if you don't give me what I came here for I'm going to kill you," she softly threatens the ancient and powerful demon. "Are we clear on that?"

"As clear as your own heart," Lurky responds with his harsh hissing laughter echoes loudly throughout the cavernous tunnels. "It shall be as you wish it Slayer." With those words Buffy vanishes from Lurky's cave.

"What the hells wrong with you B?" Faith demands of Buffy as she steps in front of the older slayer. "Trashing your friends, cutting into your sister like you just did. This isn't like you."

"I quite," Buffy says quietly as she looks up at the taller girl. She isn't too surprise to see shock in the brunette's eyes. "I'm done, saving the worlds your job now. Hope you have better luck at it then I did," she continues placing her hand on Faith's shoulder. "Don't let it destroy you."

Faith shakes her head, "you can't just quite," she argues. "You were called just like me, sacred birthright and all... That," she finishes disconcerted by Buffy laughing. "What the hell's so funny B?" She questions angrily.

"You're the slayer Faith," Buffy responds ignoring her question. "Keep the world safe or do whatever the hell you want I don't really care. Now if you don't get out of my way one of those unfortunate young girls back there is going to be the Slayer."

Faith takes a hard look into the blondes ice blue eyes. Once upon a time looking into those eyes was like seeing all the hope of the world. Now there is a hardness more frightening then anything she has ever seen before. She takes a step to the side to give Buffy what she wants.

Buffy takes a step forward coming even with Faith. Stopping she turns to catch the brunettes dark eyes, "take care of her," she says turning her head just a little bit farther back to see Dawn staring at the two of them. Faith's eyes follows Buffy though she makes no outward sign of looking at Dawn. "She needs someone and so don't you, and... I could never give you what you needed, what you deserve, but she can. She can love you like... Just take care of each other," she finishes.

With that she takes another step forward, then another, and another quickly follows. From behind her Faith shouts, "where're you going?"

"There's a demon I gotta see," she whispers.

______________________________________________________________________________

With You There to Help Me - Jethro Tull

In days of peace --
sweet smelling summer nights
of wine and song;
dusty pavements burning feet.
Why am I crying, I want to know.
How can I smile and make it right?
For sixty days and eighty nights
and not give in and lose the fight.
I'm going back to the ones that I know,
with whom I can be what I want to be.
Just one week for the feeling to go --
and with you there to help me
then it probably will.

I won't go down
acting the same old play.
Give sixty days for just one night.
Don't think I'd make it: but then I might.

I'm going back to the ones that I know,
with whom I can be what I want to be.
Just one week for the feeling to go --
and with you there to help me
then it probably will.

______________________________________________________________________________

Goodbye To You - Michelle Branch

Of all the things I've believed in,
I just want to get it over with,
tears form behind my eyes,
but I do not cry,
counting the days that pass me by.

I've been searchin' deep down in my soul;
words that I'm hearin' are starting to get old,
it feels like I'm starting all over again,
The last three years were just pretend,
and I said...

Goodbye to you,
goodbye to everything I thought I knew,
You were the one I loved,
the one thing that I tried to hold onto.

I still get lost in your eyes,
and it seems that I can't live a day without you,
closing my eyes,
and you chase my thoughts away,
to a place where I am blinded by the light,
but it's not right.

Goodbye to you,
goodbye to everything I thought I knew,
You were the one I loved,
the one thing that I tried to hold on to.

Ooh whoa....
and it hurts to want everything and nothing at the same time,
I want what's yours and I want what's mine,
I want you,
but I'm not giving in this time.

Goodbye to you,
goodbye to everything I thought I knew,
You were the one I loved,
the one thing that I tried to hold onto
Goodbye to you, (goodbye to you)
goodbye to everything I thought I knew, (goodbye to you)
You were the one I loved,
the one thing that I tried to hold onto,
(the one thing that i tried to hold onto)
the one thing that I tried to hold onto.
(the one thing that i tried to hold onto)

Oh, oh whoa, oh, oh (one thing that i tried to hold onto)
and when the stars fall I will lie awake,
you're my shooting star.