Chapter Six: The Fire Still Burns

The night air was still cool as she makes her way towards Giles' apartment. She wasn't sure if her time with Faith was going to pay off in the long run, but at least she felt better doing something beneficial for someone and not just killing whatever she comes across. Faith deserves a chance at a real life, or at least as close to a real life as she can have being a slayer.

She had given Willow a second chance after she had killed Warren. There had been no questions asked, no reparations demanded from her best friend that had tried to destroy the entire world. True, Willow had been in the middle of a grief stricken rage because of the lost of her lover.

Faith on the other had coolly gone over to the enemy. She wishes Faith would have talked to her during their brief re-association just before the apocalypse, but like always the two of them just couldn't be around each other without the sparks flying. If it wasn't one thing, Faith deciding to pick a fight with Spike her first night back in town, it was something else, like Faith deciding to screw Principal Wood on her bed.

She could feel her body reacting to Spike's presence as she nears Giles' apartment, that electric like spark that tingles it way down her spine. Briefly she considers turning around and heading somewhere else, but she doesn't have anywhere else to go right now.

Pushing the door open easily she marvels slightly that the door had been repaired already. She hadn't thought Xander would have gotten to it for a couple of more days. With a quick glance towards the counter she spots both Spike and Giles ther hovering over what looks like a chess board. She vaguely remembers something that might have been a chess board on one of Giles' book filled shelves on her many visits here during her collage years.

"Good evening Buffy," Giles calls out as she crosses the room without another glance at the two of them.

Spike cranks his head around as she reaches the stairs. He would have said something but he instinctively knew she wasn't going to say anything to him. That while on some deep, almost primal level she might want him more then anything else. On another level she wants nothing to do with him what-so-ever.

He still watches her as she silently climbs the stairs. It was something that her younger self didn't do. The Buffy that belongs to this time made noise when she moves, she still thought and acts human where as future Buffy made no such pretense. She was the slayer, a predator, a killer and she moves with the silent deadly grace of what she is. When she struck there was no warning. It was a quick death that you never saw coming.

"Well," Giles says returning his attention back to the chess board. He had been slightly surprised when Spike had shown an interest in the game. He was even more surprised that he had yet to win one of their matches since the vampire plays with such a reckless abandon. "I suppose that could have gone better," he adds looking the board over carefully. He had the feeling that there was something different about the board since he had taken his eyes off it just a few seconds ago.

Spike turns back around, "could've gone worse as well," the blonde vampire replies with a smirk. He picks up his coffee mug full of blood asking, "so Rupert. You move or are you ready to admit that I've bloody whipped you again."

Giles stares up indignantly, "you haven't whipped me yet."

"Don't you mean you haven't won yet?" Spike mocks the ex-watcher.

"There is a fundamental difference between losing and getting whipped," he explains.

Spike shrugs as he murmurs indifferently, "so long as you got the cash to cover the wager."

It disturbs him slightly that Spike had actually suggested placing a bet on the game, but he had been desperate for a good game that he had agreed to the small wager. Now three games later he was he has yet to win. He was beginning to wonder if it was a good idea. So far seventy-five dollars wasn't that large of a sum but it was soon going to be a hundred and he really couldn't afford much more then that. At least not in a single night.

Buffy closes the door behind her. It was incredible. She had spent the last few hours in a meditative trance yet she felt empty. Completely drained. She couldn't ever remember feeling so wiped out before, not even when Giles stripped her of her powers, or when her friends had kicked her out of her own house. This was an utterly new low for her.

Seeing the duffel bag full of clothes on the floor she briefly contemplates changing before collapsing on Giles' bed, but decides against it. She was far too tired to drag off one set of clothes just to pull on another pair. That didn't mean however that she was planning on sleeping in the dirty clothes she was wearing right now.

Slipping Spike's coat off her shoulders she tosses it onto the bed as she kicks off her shoes off. Grabbing the hem of her blood red blouse she lifts it up over her head before undoing the clasp of her jeans and sliding them as well her plain white cotton panties over hips and down her legs.

Free of any clothes she picks Spike's duster up from off the bed and wraps the cool leather around herself as she topples daintily onto Giles' bed. Her mind fills with images of her and Spike's last night together. Him pulling her back from the edge of the abyss she had been teetering on. She could feel his strong arms engulfing her, steadying her, his cool lips kissing her, setting her body ablaze with her need for him. She could feel him filling her completely like no one ever has before.

Dawn wakes up with a soft gasp as she opens her new eyes. Her skin felt like it was burning up, her heart was beating away in her chest, and her lungs had been straining for oxygen. Going by the last few minutes of Buffy's dream she had been privileged enough to experience she was hardly surprised at the sensations coursing through her sister's body. She had never imagined her sister as the type of person to have erotic dreams, but the last couple of nights had been rather eye opening for the young girl.

She wonders what Buffy had been up to while she had been... Sleeping, she'd have to call it. Before reaching the dorm she had felt worn out. Which she didn't find all that surprising once she took into consideration the fact it had been nearly two days since the last time had any sleep. So she closed herself off from Buffy, sort of like locking herself in her own room.

Only with Buffy going to sleep she suddenly found herself in charge of the entire house. Everything except for a little spot she thought of as Buffy's room. She wonders if this was some weird side effect to them sharing the same body. That one of them was going to be awake at all times.

Shifting slightly Dawn realizes Buffy had gone to sleep nude, except for Spike's duster wraping her up. It was an extremely strange sensation. She had never slept in the nude before and she was use to her body. It had taken her sixteen, three, years to get use to her body, but she was. What she wasn't use to was Buffy's body and she definitely wasn't use to waking up without any clothes on in Buffy's body.

That being the main reason she decides on a course of action. Get dress, take a shower- because she smells really bad- get something to eat- because once again Buffy decided to run herself around all day eating nothing.

Dawn felt a little perturb by that. She figures if it was somebody's job to protect the world they would at least have the common sense to maintain a well balanced, nutritious eating plan that didn't include long periods of starvation. It was something all superheroes did. At least the ones with major motion pictures under their belts anyway.

Slipping out from underneath the coat she wavers slightly as she feels a wave of dizziness sweep through her. She wonders absently if Buffy had gone out and picked a fight with a hell god while she was sleeping.

Everything stops as she realizes she was going to come face to face with Glory within half a year at most. That people were going to be expecting her to fight a hell god bent on destroying the world, well getting back home. That the world was going to be destroyed in the process wasn't even a blip on Glory's radar

Could she? Would she be able to stand up to Glory? Confront her? Fight her?

What was she going to do when she looks at herself through Buffy's eyes. Or would she? Would the monks even make her this time with her already existing. Would they be able to sense her. Did she exist?

Or was she like Buffy considers her? A split personality that she created to cling to her pass.

"No," she growls out hoarsely.

Lurky did this to her, somehow. Somehow manipulating Buffy's desires to shove her inside her sister's head. Anya had said the demon was powerful, but was he powerful enough to do something like this.

She didn't know but in a few days she was going to find out. That was something she knew with certainty.

Giles looks up as a somewhat somber Buffy bounces down the stairs whistling an unfamiliar tune, which didn't surprise him that much since almost all of the music she listens to was unfamiliar to him. The tiny blonde had the heavy black duster clutched in one hand and the duffel bag that Buffy had brought over in the other.

Dawn sees Spike quickly move the white rook over one place just before turning around as well. "Well now if it isn't miss sunshine herself," Spike murmurs his greeting.

"Hey guys," Dawn says just as she reaches the foot of the stairs.

"You seem in a better mood," Giles remarks as she tosses the duster over the back of his still broken sofa.

She gives a little shrug and dips her head to one side slightly as she walks towards them. "Guess what they say is true. A little sleep can make anyone seem like a whole new person," the tiny blonde finishes as she comes to stand next to Spike as she looks the board over. "That wasn't a very good move," she informs the bleach blonde vampire. "Giles will have you in check in three moves, check mate two moves after that."

"What move?" Giles inquires asks he glances back down at the board. Once again something was out of place but he couldn't for the life of him see what it was.

Dawn picks up the rook and shows Giles while saying, "this move."

Spike gives Giles a light smirk as the librarian scowls at him for a moment. "Yes, well. Nobody ever has claimed to have figureed out why Spike behaves the way he does."

"That's simple," Dawn says with a light grin. "Spike either does what he wants to, or what he has to. If its all right with you I'm going to go take a shower?"

"By all means," Giles says politely.

"Thanks," she says walking towards the bathroom.

Giles watches the young girl as she disappears around the corner and into the bathroom. "Well that just about confirms it," he comments as he turns back around to face the vampire. "That definitely is not Buffy."

"Did you catch how she was taunting us with it," Spike agrees. "Guess what they say is true," he starts off in a bad female voice. "Bollix," he spits out.

"Well actually I missed that one," Giles replies as he takes off his glasses and begins wiping them down.

Spike's a little confused by that. "How'd you figure it out then?"

Giles slips his glasses back on his head, "simple really. Buffy doesn't know the first thing about chess. She couldn't tell you the difference between a pawn and a knight, or as she would call it a horsy, let alone see a complex strategy like this," he adds with a pointed glare at Spike. "Cheating," he accuses.

"No," Spike responds indignantly. "Just making the game a bit more interesting is all. Wanted to see if you could catch me," he smirks lightly as he pulls out a cigarette and lights it. "If it wasn't for the bint coming down you never would've and you know it."

Giles glowers at the vampire as he asks, "and were you planning on giving me back my money."

Spike gasps at the older looking man as he chokes on a lungful of smoke, "I won that fair and square."

"You cheated," Giles counters.

"But you didn't know that," he responds with a grin. "Tell you what one game winner takes all. Can't get any fairer then that, now can it?"

The ex-librarian scowls at him as he asks, "and are you going to be cheating?"

"Only if you catch me," Spike tells him with an exceedingly evil grin parting his lips slightly.

Nobody even seems to notice her as she walks into the kitchen after finishing her shower. Both men were bent over the chess board studying it closely. Dawn ignores them for the moment as she gets herself a soda out of the refrigerator. As she turns back around she sees the move Giles is about to make and says, "I wouldn't. Spike would have your queen in two moves," she informs the watcher.

When she had been in junior high she had belonged to the chess club for a little more then a week. She had a real talent for the game but normally she found it extremely boring. For some reason though looking at the chess board through Buffy's eye she could see the game for what it was.

Strategy, playing out a war. Your intelligence, cunning, and skill at deceiving your adversary. She didn't know if it was part of being a slayer but she suddenly found the idea of proving herself better then somebody, at anything, very exciting. "Here," she says moving the bishop back to where it had come from, quickly scanning the board she slide her rook all the way down in front of Spike's knight, but doesn't take the piece. "There you go," she adds popping open the can of soda.

Spike stares at the board in wonder as Giles mutters, "I did have a strategy."

Dawn smirks mischievously as she says, "one that was going to be having Spike winning in a matter of a few more moves." She places her elbows on the table as she watches Spike watch the board. Suddenly Spike makes his move, then Dawn makes hers, which Spike counters rapidly. Dawn counters his counter almost as quickly and Giles stands back in awe as the two play the game at a speed his eyes have a hard time following. A few moments later Dawn calls out, "check."

"Bloody hell," Spike mutters as he makes his move.

Dawn frowns as she gives the board a quick once over again before making her move. Then again its the fast pace of an instant before. "Check," Spike informs her.

Dawn smiles taking the piece and declaring, "Checkmate," with a joyful little smile over her lips. "Whoop, there it is," she says as she begins doing a little victory dance circling her hands one way and her hips the other as she turns in a slow circle. The entire time saying, "whoop. There it is."

Giles stares at his slayer from the future wondering what kind of juvenile adolescent entity has managed to gain control of her.

Spike couldn't care less about the blondes little victory antics. His only concern was the board he was staring down at, constantly turning around as he continues to mumble, "bollix. Bloody buggering balls." He looks up at her beaming face saying, "that just ain't right."

Dawn stops her mini celebration to grin at Spike. "What, don't like the fact you lost to a girl?" She teasingly inquires of him.

"No. I don't like the fact I lost to you," he informs her hotly. Then the next instant he asks, "so you want to go kill us some demons or what?"

Dawn, if possibly, brightens even more at the invitation then she did at her victory. "Sure. Anyplace in particular you want to do a sweep of?"

"Figure we could just do one of those walk about things those pygmy blokes do down in Australia," Spike tells her as he puts on his duster.

"You mean the Aborigines?" Dawn questions as she walks over to the couch to pick up her own matching duster.

Spike shrugs, "what's the difference between on indigence people and another? They all look like food to me."

"Aren't you forgetting something?" Giles inquires as the two of them head to the door.

Spike thinks for a moment before saying, "nothing comes to mind."

"You lost," Giles says reminding him of the wager.

"But you didn't beat me," Spike replies as he jerks his head towards Dawn. "Like always it took a slayer to do what you humans can't."

"Fine," Giles responds, "then give Buffy the money. Since she beat you she more then deserves it. Besides it would be nice if she could actually pay for her meals."

Dawn's cheeks go beat red as she realizes Spike must have told everyone about what she did last night. The vampire shrugs pulling out a wad of cash and passing it over to the blonde standing next to him. Dawn takes the money almost in a daze. Looking back up at her sister's watcher she says, "I promise Giles. I'll pay you..."

"Nonsense," Giles cuts her off. "You earned it beating Spike, besides I would've paid twice as much to see that smug look wiped off his face. Go on, get out of here, and be sure to have a good time."

Neither Dawn or Spike need to be told a second time as they quickly exit Giles' flat. Once their gone Giles stops as he begins picking up the chess board. He closes his eyes and drops his head slightly unable to believe he just encouraged Buffy to have a good time with Spike. "I must be losing my bloody mind," he mutters softly as he continues on with his chores.

"How the hell did we lose her?" Craiger questions hotly. They had been trailing after the Summers girl, whatever kind of creature she was, when she seemingly vanished without a trace over an hour ago. She had simply been wondering around the graveyards doing nothing aside from looking bored to tears. It almost looked as if she had been planning on meeting up with someone, but no one had shown.

"Keep it silent unless you have a contact," Style orders through the head set. "We know most of these HST's have hearing superior to humans. We have to assume the same holds true for her."

"I got her," Bevens tells them quietly. "It looks like she went back to change," he says. "Plus she's got Hostile Seventeen with her."

"Damn," Style growls. He had been hoping to take her tonight, but the two of them together were too much. Even if they did manage to take one down the other would know they were under attack and be able to respond to the threat.

For seventeen that meant getting reinforcements. From the reports he read on the Summers girl that probably meant a painful death for him and his men. When they took her down she had to be alone, isolated. Nobody could know she had been taken until well after the fact. "Observe. Do not engage," he orders. "And this time lets not lose her," he suggest sarcastically.

"I'm so sorry," Dawn apologizes for what felt like the millionth time to the young girl as her and Spike make their way to the Bronze. Spike had a craving for an order of the spicy buffalo wings and a flowering onion. "I was just so busy with that one Dreeee`lipsh that I didn't even see the second one until it was already flying through the air."

Spike smirks at the tiny blonde that was just about the complete oppisite of the person she was pretending to be. "Slayings a contact sport slayer. If you're going to play the game gotta be willing to pay the price. Figured after four years of killing all us nasties you'd of learnt that by now."

"Well yeah, but nobody's ever gotten hurt while they've been patrolling with me," Dawn responds with a lot of fake confidence.

"You mean to tell me no little monsters ever sunk his teeth into you tender flesh?" Spike inquires suggestively which Dawn doesn't understand so doesn't react in the way he thinks she would have.

Instead she simply replies saying, "not a one."

Spike pulls open the door filing away the fact that whoever was wearing Buffy's body had surprising gaps in what she knew and what she didn't. "Then what you call that," Spike asks tracing Angel's bite along her other wise flawless skin.

Spike's touch sends an almost electric jolt through Dawn. For a moment she forgets about everything else as something deep inside of her stirs. She swallows hard as she tries to reassert herself. "That was just Angel," she says breathlessly. "He would've died otherwise."

Spike shakes his head, "your life for his," he scoffs. "Isn't even close to being a fair exchange if you ask me."

Dawn quickly ducks through the door to keep Spike from seeing her coloring at his remark. She knew he was referring to her sister, but still the tone, the words themself had made her knees weaken dramatically.

Spike follows after her with a slightly confused smirk creasing his face. A direct sexual innuendo does nothing to get her knickers in a twist but pay her a simple complement and she runs away as fast as she can. Figuring out what makes this Slayer tick was going to be a job and a half.

Finding the girl inside the semi crowded club wasn't a problem for him. His nose lead him straight to her. Even without it he still thought he could find her wherever she went. Though with two of them running around it was a little easier. He just wasn't sure if he would find the one he was looking for.

Dawn pulls out the wad of money Spike had pushed into her hands back at Giles apartment. "Here," she says handing it to him. "Get whatever you want, just make sure to get lots of it," she tells him.

Spike looks at her skeptically. "Since when did you start trusting me with the culinary decisions?"

Dawn shrugs as she replies, "don't know. Were you planning on feeding baby entrails and pig brains?"

Spike scrunches his face in disgust. "Bloody hell slayer. Watch what your saying. You could bloody ruin a blokes appetite with talk like that."

She quirks her eyebrow at him as she remarks, "this coming from the man who dips Hershey kisses into his blood."

"That's different," he objects sternly.

"Why just because it's you doing the grossing instead of be grossed?"

"Well. Yeah," the blonde vampire answers with a slight shrug.

"Would you just go get the food," she says. "I'm hungry enough I think I could eat the entrails and brains." She manages to hold off the laughter at his face until after he had left but by then it was more then she could do to hold it in.

By the time he gets back she was sitting at the table with the straightest face plastered on that he had ever seen. "So, you have yourself a good old belly laugh at Spike's expense did you?" Dawn nods as Spike sits down. "Its all right. Even without vampire hearing a would of heard you clear across the room, probably the bleeding twon as well," he tells her.

Dawn lets her serious face fall. A broad, open grin replacing it in a heartbeat. With the clarity of a struck bell Spike realizes that's what so different between Buffy, either one, and this entity in her body right now. It was her openness. The fact that she didn't seem to hide anything from anyone. He felt rather stupid that it had taken him this long to realize it.

"The food will be here in a minute," he tells her. Wanting to get her talking he asks the first thing that comes to his mind, "so what's the future like?"

Whatever openness had been there vanishes like water in the Sahara. "Bad," was all she says as she looks beyond him. "Everyone I cared about died..."

"Not Joyce," Spike cuts her off. Out of all the humans he had meant over more then a century she was one of the toughest he had ever come upon. He knew that from the first moment he saw her just after she hit him over the head with an ax. In a lot of ways she reminds him of his own mother. There were a lot of differences between the two woman, but they were similar enough in the fact that they both love their children beyond anything.

"She was the first," Dawn answers quietly.

Spike's eyes glow for a moment as he says, "well your not going to let it happen this time."

"There's not really anything I can do. She had a tumor. In her brain," Dawn tells him without raising her voice. "The doctors got it, but something else went wrong. No one knew it at the time but she developed an aneurysm and one day it just... Burst I guess. Its what the doctors said," she adds with a shrug. "Bu... I found her on the sofa one day after fighting some robot."

"That's bollix. Whatever bloody moron told you that didn't have the brain power to light a candle," Spike spits out viciously. "There's plenty that can be done. I still have plenty of contacts, granted must of them don't like working on humans, but I'm fairly sure with you and me twisting their respective arms, horns, tentacles... Whichever, we'll have your mum in tip top shape for the next hundred years."

Dawn looks over at Spike. There was an extremely determine set to the vampire's jaw that she remembers seeing on any number of occasions. Especially the months that Buffy had been dead and he had taken the task of raising her into his hands. "Thanks, but I really don't know how mom would feel about being alive for another hundred years."

"You know what I mean slayer," he growls threateningly.

She gives a slight up and down jerk to her head, "yeah. And well, thanks."

"Well what the bloody hell are we waiting for?" He demands looking crossly at her.

She shakes her head forgetting just how impatient Spike could be. "It's okay Spike," she tells him. "They don't even find the tumor for almost a year," she explains.

Spike scowls slightly. He didn't like knowing something and not being able to do something about it. Preferably right then and there.

The food and drinks shows up then preventing him from leaving. He smirks lightly as the slayer sniffs her drink warily. "So exactly what did you get me?"

"Thought it didn't matter, that you were hungry enough to eat baby entrails and pigs brains?" He mocks.

"That's food, this is my drink we're talking about," she replies.

Spike shakes his head at her, "don't worry your pretty little head slayer. It's simply an ice tea."

Dawn looks at him skeptically as she says, "it doesn't smell like ice tea to me."

"Its how they make them in Long Island," he responds.

Not trusting the master vampire completely she takes a small sip of the ice tea. It had a slightly bitter flavor but it wasn't entirely bad. Given a little time she might even get use to it. Putting the glass down she turns to what she was really looking forward to.

Spike watches with amazement as the slayer falls to the food with a ravenous appetite he hadn't seen since he watched her eat yesterday. She was practically inhaling the flesh right off the bone as she devours everything in her wake. He was almost afraid to put his hands anywhere near the food for fear the slayer would mistake his fingers for one of the chicken wings. He wasn't about to let her get all the food so using his own supernatural speed he darts his hand in and out of the platter of spicy wings grabbing up several wings at a time.

The blonde vampire was grateful he had decided to triple the order. It only took the two of them several minutes to clean off the platter leaving nothing but gnawed on bones sitting on top of it.

Dawn finishes off her drink in one long swallow. Wiping her hands and face clean of any evidence of what she had just eaten she feels a warm flush spread throughout her body. An indescribable sense of confidence seems to suffuse her entire being.

"Come on," she says grabbing Spike by the hand and pulling him towards the dance floor.

Spike unable to resist her death like grip is forced to follow along behind. "Now listen here slayer," he begins to complain.

"Oh hush up Spike," Dawn says with a little giggle. "It's not like anyone here's gonna make fun of you if you can't dance good... Beside if they do just tell me and I'll beat them up for you," she adds unable to help herself.

"Just what I need. I sodding, bloody protector," Spike mumbles to himself.

Dawn reaches a spot on the dance floor that she likes. Instinctively she allows the music to wash over her as she begins to move her sister's body to the hypnotic beat.

Spike can't help but to feel himself pulled along in the wake of the slayer's child like, care free attitude. Soon he finds himself moving as well. He doesn't move to the music though.

His body attune with the woman standing before him, his movements in sync with her gyrating body. His hands gliding over her soft flesh, steel cable like muscles moving just below the surface of her flesh, hidden by the soft feminine body.

He knew they were there though. He had felt them before. When they clashed in the past she had brought those well honed muscles to bear on him.

Her body begins to take on a soft shine as a light bead of sweat glistens her soft skin. Her scent fills his nostrils as they begin to move closer. Drawn towards each other as their bodies begin acting on impulses at the core of their beings.

Dawn feels a soft energy tingle through her body as Spike's hands glide over her skin. Like a tiny electrical current that sets every nerve in her body racing with a cold blazing heat. Scorching her and freezing her all at the same time.

Unconsciously moving closer still she presses her lithe body into his. Her body reacting instinctively to Spike's closeness, a desire to claim what it believes belongs to her. She runs her short nails over his sensitive flesh causing Spike to groan softly as he grinds into her. His pelvis sliding along hers.

Dawn gasps softly at the sensations running through her body. She wants more. Needs to feel more.

Grabbing hold of the back of Spike's head with one hand she crushes his mouth to her lips. Her tongue darts out demanding entry into his mouth which opens automatically for her as his tongue rushes out to duel with hers for dominance. With a taste like an alluring elixir of tobacco, alcohol, and blood. It was a combination she was becoming use to tasting living in her sister's body. While one hand pulls, almost painfully at his hair, her other hand continues to punish his upper body as her nails dig soft furrows in his flesh.

Spike's hands where busy sliding over her cloth covered skin. His hand gently cupping the soft swell of pert breast, his thumb grazing over her hardening nipple causing the young girl to gasp into his mouth.

Dawn feels Spike's thumb press of her nipple and suddenly everything comes crashing back. Her head clears with the suddenness of a lightening strike. She pulls away shoving Spike back slightly as she quickly tries to smooth her rumpled clothes. "I'm sorry. I..."

A soft clapping starts from someone in the crowd that had been watching the display the two of them had been putting on. It quickly rises to an ovation complete with whisteling and catcalls. With a start she looks around having completely forgotten about them being in the middle of a crowded dance floor. Her face flaming as she takes in the several dozen smiling, grinning, leering faces of the patrons.

The world feels like its spinning around her. Shoving her way through the crowd, tossing several people out of her way. She rushes out the door bursting into the cool night air. Once out doors she breaks into a sprint heading for the only place of safety she has at the moment. Giles apartment.

Spike stares at the slayer's retreating back for several slow moments. A slow burn quickly rising to the forefront. "Sodding blighters," he growls at the humans stupidly standing around him. Some of them still clapping or congratulating him.

There was something oddly familiar about the entire scene that triggers his anger, it was like re-watching a piece of his past. He had shown them exactly what happens to people who cause him pain, and while he might not be able to shove railroads spikes through their heads there was still plenty that he could do to get his point across.

"Can't hurt a bloody fucking human," he murmurs walking towards the balcony's support beams. "We'll see about that," he adds shifting to his game face.

Putting everything he has into one solid kick the beam crumples under the force of his blow. The upper level teeters with one of its supports taken out. Before anyone can react to the first blow he takes out the second one even as he dives out of the way of the falling balcony.

Screams fill the club for a brief instant as everyone realizes just how much danger their in. Most people quickly flee into the night. A few lie injured, bleeding, possibly dying. Spike really couldn't care less. It was nowhere near what he really wants to do to them, but right now it was all he was capable of doing.

Happiness seems to blanket the dorm room as Willow practically glides around as if her feet float several inches off the ground. A small smile tugs at the corner of her lips as she moves about getting ready for her day. Her effort to keep the jubilant grin from forming on her face are futile, at best, as her mind slips back to images of; Tara as the two of them walk down the road sun glittering in her blonde tresses, Tara a soft smile playing on her luscious lips as a light, musical laughter floats from her mouth to hang on the air, Tara's face shining brightly as she leans forward to capture her lips for the very first time.

A mischievous gleam lights the tiny slayer's eyes as she watches Willow bounce all over the room while trying to suppress the smile that constantly slips over her face. Buffy thinks her best friend might not want her to see how ecstaticly elated she is all because of her gloomy, decidedly not happy status, and she has had about enough of it. "So?" Buffy's demanding inquiry breaks Willow from her revere of Tara's finer quality which was all of the blonde witch.

Willow turns toward Buffy hardly able to hide the silly looking grin, or the laughter shinning in her face. "So," Willow parrots innocently.

"Come on," Buffy pleadingly begs. "You got yourself a girlfriend now," she points out the obvious. Her face falls slightly as she asks, "you do have a girlfriend now?"

Willow reddens slightly as she nods replying in the affirmative saying, "yeah."

"Details," Buffy encourages, "what's she like, well I kind of know what she's like... But what does she make you feel like? Butterflies, loop de loops? Butterflies and loop de loops. Have you kiss... Oh my god. You've kissed her," she gushes rapidly as Willow's blush brightens dramatically. "Dish girl," she pleads again. Her face becoming serious as she adds, "you know if I had a girlfriend I'd be telling you all about it," in a stern voice.

Willow expression turns serious as she questions Buffy asking, "you're not freaked about me being attracted to girls?"

Buffy shrugs slightly as she says lightly, "as long as you promise to let me know if I ever start looking like Barbara Bush I promise not to be freak." She banters causing Willow to smile. "Seriously though, a little at first, but there was that thing last year with your evil vamp twin and you saying you thought she was kind of gay, so its not like it comes totally out of the blue or anything." She hops up off her bed as she proclaims, "beside you're still my Wills," pulling her into a tight hug. "Nothing's ever going to change that."

As Buffy steps back Willow gives her hard look. "Wait a minute," she says a little anger etching her voice at of Buffy's explanation. "Because I said she was kinda of gay you automatically assumed I was as well?"

Buffy shakes her head saying, "no. Angel told me later that becoming a vampire frees a person of their inhibitions."

"All that means is every person who gets turned becomes bisexual," she points out heatedly.

The tiny slayer sighs slightly. The last thing she had wants to do is argue with Willow. She wants to enjoy the redhead's happiness, live vicariously through her so to speak, not ruin it. "I'm just going to say one more thing on the subject then can we just get back to the whole sharing the joy?"

Willow shrugs slightly with a little dip of her head saying, "only if I get a rebuttal statement."

"But then I'd have to rebut your buttal, then we'd just be butting our butts and not being able to sit down for at least a week and a half," Buffy finishes with a confusing expression creasing her face as she tries to figure out exactly what she said.

Willow's expression was equally unreadable as she stares at her friend. She sits down on her bed as she gives into Buffy saying, "go ahead."

"They'll only go bi if their already harboring same sex tendencies. Becoming a vamp doesn't make them that way it just releases their inhibitions. If they're completely straight as a human then they'll be straight as vamps," she explains.

"How would Angel know..." The sudden dip of Buffy's shoulders as she finds something very interesting in the floor tells Willow all she needs to know. "Oh my," she gasps. "No," she adds almost incredulously.

"You can't tell anyone," Buffy says quickly. "Angel made me promise not to..."

"But you just told me," Willow points out.

She shakes her head saying, "you guessed. Major difference there," Buffy finishes triumphantly. She spins the chair around so its back is facing Willow she then sits down straddling it with a dreamy little smile playing at the corner of her lips. "Now about Tara. How good of a kisser is she, did your toes curl up? Did you get that tight little knot right..."

"Buffy!" Willow gasps going crimson.

"Not that knot," Buffy says gaining a little color herself.

Willow stands back up, a pleased smile sliding over her lips. "We decided to take things slow. Lots of dates."

Buffy looks slightly disappointed. "That can't be it," she prods. "you're missing all the gushy, smoochy moments."

Willow didn't think her skin could get much redder the she was so she decides to turn the tables on Buffy by playfully inquiring, "what about you and Riley? I thought you mentioned something about butterflies there."

"Only the kind that want to migrate to Burma," Buffy answers.

Willow still couldn't understand Buffy's sudden shift in attitudes where professor Welsh's TA was concerned. A couple of days ago all she could talk about was Riley Finn. It had gotten to the point were it was seriously reminding her about when Buffy was hanging out with Faith all the time last year, just before the brunette went evil. Almost every word that had been coming out of Buffy's mouth at the time had been Faith this and Faith that. In fact the way Buffy went on about Riley was nowhere near as intense, or consent as how she had gone on about Faith.

It was almost like a light going off in her head as the pieces fall into place.

It didn't make it true or anything. It could have just been that the two slayers had a lot in common at the time, with the whole saving the world and they just clicked. Just because Buffy was always talking about the brunette didn't mean she had a crush on her or anything like it.

"What? Why?" She asks suddenly.

"I caught him looking at me," Buffy answers.

Willow was extremely grateful Buffy couldn't read her mind right now or else she would know that wasn't what she was asking about. Quickly deciding to let it go since it was probably nothing like what she was contemplating she sputters asking. "And, I thought that would be of the good?"

Buffy shakes her head as she gets up from her seat. She paces slightly as she chews on her bottom lip. "Not like this," she starts as she comes to a stop. "It was like I was a new specimen, or maybe a piece of meat, but the minute he noticed me watching him watching me his entire attitude changed. Suddenly he was good old Riley Finn from Arkansas, or someplace like that, again."

"You sure you're not reading to much into it... I mean a lot of guys look at you like they'd like to eat you," Willow says as a soft not knock sounds at their door.

Buffy moves to answer it already knowing who was on the other side. "Yeah," she says to Willow, "then they normally try and I have to kill them," she finishes pulling open the door for Tara. She invites her saying, "morning Tara. I take it your here to see Willow," she adds as the delicious aroma of two freshly baked blueberry muffins waters her mouth reminding her she hasn't eaten yet this morning.

"Thanks Tara, you're a real life saver," she says while her hand lashes out grabbing one of the muffins while the tall blonde walks by her. Turning towards Willow she teasingly remarks, "slow as in morning breakfast dates." She smiles broadly as both girls go red to their roots. "Anyway I gotta go. I need to ask myself some serious questions about the future." Raising the muffin to her mouth she takes a tiny bite savoring the flavor. "Thanks," she says again as turns through the open doorway pulling it close behind her.

Tara stares for a few seconds at where the force of nature that was known as Buffy just vanished from. "I don't th-think I've ever met someone w-with so much umph."

"Umph?" Willow questions with a smile.

"Get up and go," Tara replies as she turns to face her girlfriend. A bright lopsided grin breaking out over her face as her eyes drink in Willow's beauty.

Willow moves forward cupping the back of Tara's head with her right hand pulling her down to her as she leans up slightly to capture the blonde's full lips with hers. Only a few seconds pass as they exchange a heated, yet relatively chaste kiss. Breathlessly they break apart.

"I can't believe how much I missed you last night," Willow confesses as Tara rest her forehead against Willow's. The redhead's nimble fingers trace little swirling circles on the back of Tara's neck.

"I would've been here earlier, but I didn't want to seem pushy," she admits.

Willow smiles up at her as she replies saying, "be pushy. Be very, very pushy."

Tara brings her right hand up to Willow's cheek, her soft fingertips lightly caressing her lover's smooth, flush flesh. Leaning forward she recaptures her love's silken lips. This kiss, unlike the last, is not so chaste as Tara's tongue slips inside Willow's partially parted lips. Slowly, it builds as they explore the confines of each other's moist mouths, trying to draw the other deeper into themselves. Minutes, an eternity, pass before they break apart gasping for oxygen.

More time passes as the two gaze, lost in each other eyes as they breathe heavily. Finally, reluctantly Tara pulls her eyes out of Willow's gaze as she looks down at the lone muffin in her left hand. "I think we're going to have to share," she murmurs heatedly.

"Curling..." Willow mumbles softly.

"Huh?"

"...and knots with loop de loops," as she answers Buffy's question.

Giles bedroom had taken on a completely different air in the few days since Buffy first started using the room. The few times she had been in here previously she was able to feel Giles' presence permeating the room. Now as Buffy sits in the room Buffy was using as her sleeping quarters for the present she thought it had temporary, or transient feel to it.

Swinging her legs slightly, her shoes scuffing back and forth across the rug, Buffy waits for her slightly schizophrenic future self to get back from the shower she was taking. A brief conversation with Giles, held at the foot of the stairs, had enabled him to give her an update on the events of last night. The tiny slayer wonders if this almost obsessive need to shower she was displaying might not be another quirk to her personality.

She didn't have to wait long before she heard Buffy's bare feet padding up the stairs. A few moments later she pushes the door open. Buffy knew that Buffy knew she was in the room even before open the door yet the older slayer, with the towel wrapping her head and wearing a too large, borrowed bathrobe, ignores the younger blonde. Stepping inside the room Buffy pushes the door close with Buffy watching her closely.

The older girl still looks haggard, not as much as before, and was far too thin in her opinion, but she was missing that glint of nearly murderous rage gleaming in her eyes that had been there the first night. She plucks the white towel from her head and tosses it on to the bed as she moves to the thick, black, ancient looking dresser and begins brushing out her hair. It was shorter then her own, darker as well, but it was also wet. Despite that it still looks reedy, almost brittle.

It was a small thing but it shouts to Buffy that her future self thought she had more important things to focus her attention on then proper hair care and maintenance.

Deciding to be helpful Buffy grabs the duffel bag she had brought the other day and pulls out a dark assemble of clothes she thought would best accentuate her reticent, moody demeanor. Super black jeans, close to the style that Faith wore, a deep sea blue spaghetti strap top along with a sheer black, long sleeve, lace blouse. These plus a light blue bra and panty set and a pair of white socks finishes off the clothes she had chose to lay out.

By the time she was done Buffy was watching her with the same critical eye she had been watching her with. She was finding it disconcerting to have those hard, unblinking eyes staring at her. Measuring her, weighing her, judging her. "What?" She demands, her voice sounding defensive to her own ears.

"Shouldn't that be my line?" She inquires tersely.

Buffy shrugs at her as she plops back down on the bed. "Hey I was just trying to be helpful."

She shakes her head lightly, "you were trying to butter me up, don't know why. Don't care either." She shrugs, that same small little hitch of her shoulders as her younger self. "You forget... I've already been you. I understand you a hell of a lot better the..."

"Something's taking control of your body at night," Buffy tells her hoping to shock the older woman, at least enough to get her to shut up.

"I know," Buffy replies without the barest flicker of emotion crossing her face. The clues had been there the past couple of days. Waking up with clothes on when she had stripped before wrapping Spike's duster around herself in an attempt to feel closer to him. Minor aches and pains that hadn't been there before. The feeling of having just eaten a good, hearty meal. But more then anything were the almost waking dreams she was having of rather mundane things. Mostly doing things with Spike.

Buffy's mouth drops open at the admission. That response had been nowhere near the realm of possibilities her and Giles were discussing downstairs. Denial, anger, a fit of indescribable fury. They had all been a part of their discussion, but this calm acceptance that there was a force capable of taking control of her body and the most she could manage was an indifferent I know.

She found it infuriating.

Before she can formulate an appropriate response however Buffy slides the too large robe she was wearing off her shoulders and lets it fall to the ground revealing her stark, nearly alabaster skin. Buffy's eyes graze over her body before shifting to the floor, her cheeks coloring softly. She didn't know why she felt embarrassed looking at her body. After all it was her body.

Bringing her gaze back up she sees that Buffy has at least gotten the bra and panties on. She can barely repress a gasp as she runs a critical eye over her physical appearance. She had thought she was thin with the robe on.

Without it she thought Buffy was doing a good job of starving herself. She could count ribs and her collar bone was prominent. The muscles on her arms and legs had shrunken considerably. Her breast were even smaller. Granted she wasn't the most well endowed woman when it came to the size of her chest, but they were still pert and well rounded and could pass for a fully developed pair of tits.

Buffy knew how hard it was to cause even the most superficial changes in her physical appearance. It was like whatever made her the slayer kept her exactly as she was once she was called. She thought it was possible for her to literally eat a horse and not gain so much as a pound, but, by the same token, she could also go days without eating and hardly feel the slightest hunger pang and never lose an once.

About the only way she could see herself coming to this state was if she was running herself into the ground. No food, no sleep, no stopping for anything. Just go, go, go until finally collapsing from exhaustion.

And then getting back up and doing it all over again.

Jumping up off the bed she grabs hold of Buffy and forces her to face her. "What the hell have you been doing to yourself?" She demands with a voice filled with horrified dismay. "Have you taken a look at yourself lately?"

If you think this is bad wonder how you would've reacted to me two days ago? Dawn ponders to herself. Personally I think I'm starting to fill out quite nicely, she adds feeling a little odd that she had been admiring her sister's body.

Buffy brushes Buffy's hands off her as she snarls, "you try dealing with being responsible for the death of the person you love more then life itself."

"I have," Buffy snaps back remembering the summer spent in LA after sending Angel to hell.

Buffy shakes her head, a small sad smile creeping across her face as she picks up the black jeans. She had just about forgotten how naive she was now when it concerns matters of the heart. "Angel was a flash in the pan, a school girl infatuation that we blew out of proportion because he was our first and we felt responsible for unleashing Angelus on the world and how it all just had to mean something. That all of that misery we suffered had to be for some greater purpose then a tense pressure filled situation and a hormonal teenager," she smiles mirthlessly as she adds, "Faith was right. Slaying does make us hungry and horny. Usually more horny then hungry."

Buffy stands there flabbergasted by what she was hearing. She loved Angel. Still loves him. Everyday apart from him was like learning how to breath again. Or geting her heart to beat again.

Buffy slips her pants on while Buffy's thoughts churn inside her head. Sitting down on the bed she quickly pulls on the socks and her boots. She hates doing this to her but she knows if she can just force Buffy to admit that she is in love with Spike then she can save herself from years of pain, misery, suffering, and humiliation.

"You're wrong," Buffy hisses as Buffy slips the spaghetti string top on. "I love Angel. I will always love Angel!" She finishes fiercely.

She pulls the lace top on as she turns and gathers up Spike's duster. Slipping it on she pulls out her pack of cigarettes and Zippo as she replies saying, "right." Popping a cigarette into her mouth she lights it, inhaling deeply she allows the flavor to wash over her. Looking back at Buffy she slowly exhales saying, "just until you found out what love really is. What sacrifice and commitment are all about. All before one person comes along tossing his heart, his hope, his love at your feet all because he believes in the image you show the world." She shakes her head, remorse or maybe regret shining in her eyes, "stupid fool that he was. Or maybe just a blind idiot that couldn't see you had sealed yourself off from every feeling love again."

"I told you..."

"Where is he?" Buffy demands as the cigarette burns almost forgotten in her fingers. "Where is your precious Angel?"

"You know as well as I do where Angel is," Buffy hisses.

"Why? If he loves you so much why did he leave you to face everything all on your own? We could have found a way around that clause, with the resources we had, have avalible to us."

"What about us having a normal life?" She growls at her older self.

"Because we would ever have to worry about having a normal life," Buffy scoffs.

"Because it was better this way," she responds hotly.

"Better, or easier?"

"What's the difference?"

Buffy takes a final drag off her cigarette before crushing it out and turning back to Buffy. "Want to know who Angel loves in the future? Cordy. Want to know another funny little tidbit about the love of your life's life? He's got a son, granted the kid can't stand him, but who can really blame him. Wanna take a wild guess who the mother is. Come on, it'll be funny."

She can see the tears beginning to form in the blondes eyes. Hardening herself isn't that big of a problem. After everything she did to Spike in the three years of their pseudo relationship she had gotten quite good at feeling something close to nothing as she tore him down. And she had actually cared deeply for him unlike what she feels for her younger self.

"Why are you doing this? Do you really hate yourself this much?" She questions in a small voice.

"Yes, I hate myself that much. More then you can comprehend." Squeezing her eyes shut tightly she goes on in a soft, terse voice. "I've done things you can't even begin to image," she opens her eyes and Buffy can see the loathing in them. "All because I couldn't believe what was right in front of me until it was too late." Grabbing hold of Buffy, forcing her to look at her she continues in a strong confident voice. "But you don't deserve to suffer like I did. Your life is going to be hard enough as it is. You need to grab hold of it, squeeze it with everything you have, and live each moment to the fullest."

Buffy growls as she breaks the older woman's grip as she turns away. None of this was anything she would ever want to hear. She didn't need to know that Angel was going to fall in love with Cordelia, or that he was going to have children. Obviously with somebody other then Cordy or else why would Buffy bring it up. And herself, what could she have done in the future that would cause her eyes to look almost haunted, only worse.

Turning back around she faces Buffy. A hard, determine look in her eyes as she says, "who is this person I'm suppose to fall madly in love with, and if you even dare think about saying Riley I'll beat you to a pulp, and just so where clear I'm not guaranteeing anything because if you tell me its Jonathen," she shudders slightly at that image.

Buffy grins at herself despite the look of irritation that flashes in her eyes at the mention of Riley's name. There was another thing she had shoved out of her mind, or tried to. There would be time enough to deal with Adam and the Initiative after she comes back from Africa.

"Spike," she replies simply.

"Spike," Buffy mimics bursting into a soft laugh. "You've got to be kidding me. You seriously think I'm going to fall in love with Spike?"

Buffy shakes her head as she says, "not fall in love with. Are already in love with."

"You're insane, you know that? You got some kind of alternate personality living in your head that you don't seem to care about and on top of that you think I'm in love with Spike."

"Then explain Willow's my will be done spell. She only said we should get married not be almost drunk on giddiness."

"We did nothing but fight," Buffy shoots back.

Buffy grins at her, "should've found a little alone time. Would've done a lot more then fight then."

For a moment Buffy's eyes glaze over as her imagination plays over a few of the heavier make out sessions her and Spike had managed to sneak in during the spell. While she had to admit the skill Spike had displayed was impressive, love was about more then just wild, passionate sex. "We barely even get along, and there's still that whole Spike wants me dead thing he has going. If it wasn't for the chip in his head..."

"The chip wouldn't stop Spike from killing you if he really wants you dead and you know it. And as far as the other thing, passion. It isn't suppose to be cold, dead and lifeless. Its suppose to be fiery and wild and sometimes volatile. Its suppose to explode, make you feel alive, because what's the point of living if you don't feel alive. Trust me, I've been dead, I've lived feeling dead inside. Its a hell of a lot better feeling alive," she says her lips slipping into a pleasant smile.

It's only there for a moment before disappearing, but it's the first time Buffy can recall seeing anything close to joy touching her face. Most of the time the emotions there are either sardonic or maybe sadistic sometimes bordering on outright evil. "I don't suppose you could give me some example of this fiery passion."

Buffy frowns slightly at the request. There was one thing she had with her from Spike other then his coat and his Zippo and his flask. One thing Spike had left for her that had never been anybody else's. Only it was extremely personal, something that Spike had left just for her. But this was her younger self and if showing her Spike's last letter would help prevent her from making the same mistakes she had made then it was well worth sharing his final words.

"I do have one thing, a letter he wrote just before he..." again she closes her eyes as she feels the pain well up inside her, "...saved the world." She reaches into her pocket where she always keeps the note and frowns as her fingers don't brush up against the parchment. Quickly she reaches into her other pocket, pulls out her cigarettes and Zippo and shoves them back in. Her hand darts to the inside pocket and jerks out the silver flask and pushes it back inside. "Where is it?" She growls as her eyes dart around the room. "Its got to be here," she states desperately.

"Where the fuck is it?" She rages at no one. Buffy can see the frantic light burning in the older woman's eyes as she grabs the duffel bag dumping it's contents onto the rug, then kicks them around scattering the clothes over the floor. The next thing Buffy knows Giles' bed is heaved against the wall smashing into it with a loud crash. "Where!" She screams as she begins to frantically fly through Giles' room tearing into everything in sight. Tearing everything in sight apart.

Giles hears the incoherent scream a moment before the thunderous crash. A few seconds later there's another crash from his room. Without hesitation he rushes up the stairs, stopping just short of his door. A moment later the remnants of his dresser comes flying through the door and he is very glad he stopped where he did.

Suddenly duster clad Buffy tears out of the room. Spike's letter was gone, she had lost it somewhere. She desperately needs to find it and she doesn't care if she was to turn Sunnydale over stone by stone to do that.

"What's wrong?" Giles asks the young girl as she brushes past him without so much as a glance. As Giles turns his head to follow her she is already down the stairs and halfway to the door and moving fast. The heavy door bounces off the interior wall and swinging back hard it slams shut behind her.

With a heavy sigh he turns and finishes climbing the stairs all the way to the top. Looking inside the room he stops dead in his tracks as he takes in the wreckage. Not a single stick of furniture was still attached to another one. It was almost as if a bomb had gone off in the room destroying only the furniture while leaving the walls, ceiling, and floor unscathed.

Standing in the middle of the room, looking shell shocked by what she had just witnessed was Buffy. She turns her head to gaze at him with wide eyes, "it happened so fast. I-I barely even saw her."

"What..." He sputters slightly before stopping to gather himself. "Do you know what it was that set her off this time?"

"A letter," Buffy answers as her body begins to calm down. It had been like watching a tornado whip up in the room, destroy everything, and disappear in the blink of an eye.

Giles face falls slightly as he realizes what letter Buffy is talking about. He had seen it the first night Buffy had slept here. Out of curiosity he had read it and then promptly forgot to put it back.

"You have it don't you?" Buffy asks her watcher after seeing the knowing look on his face.

He nods saying, "it was an inspired piece. Angel must still love you very deeply in the future."

Buffy feels her hope rise at what Giles just said. "It was signed?"

This time Giles shakes his head. "It was written by a vampire with a soul and since I only know of one vampire cursed with a soul I made the obvious assumption," he responds in his normal almost lecturing tone of voice.

Buffy's mind continues to replay one part of what Giles just said. Vampire with a soul. Buffy had said Spike had a written the letter. Spike had a soul in the future. Why? How? Is that why he fell in love with her? Because he had a soul. Or did he love her first and then get the soul? Did he do it because of her? To prove his love for her?

Suddenly she had more questions then she knew. They just wouldn't stop flowing into her brain. "I need to read that letter," she tells Giles.

________________________________________________________________________

The Fire Still Burns - Twisted Sister

You thought it was gone
But the fire goes on
And I thought you knew me
I told you before
Til I settle the score
That I'll never run free
I have enough pain and anger in my brain
To last many lifetimes
Yet still it grows, and the more that it shows
I won't have peace of mind

The fire, the fire still burns
The fire, the fire still burns

I have a dream
And as strange as it seems
There's no embers glowing
The fire's gone out and there's no need to shout
Cause no anger's showing
But it's not true, nothing I ever do
Seems to ease my fury
Get out of my way
I'm the hangman today
And the judge and jury

The fire, the fire still burns
The fire, the fire still burns
The fire, the fire still burns
The fire, the fire still burns

Fire, fire, still burns
Fire, fire, still burns
Fire, fire, still burns
Fire, fire, still burns
Fire, fire, still burns
Fire, fire, still burns
The fire, the fire still burns
The fire, the fire still burns
The fire, the fire still burns
The fire, the fire still burns
The fire, the fire still burns
The fire, the fire still burns