"I can't breathe," Buffy said into Spike shoulder as she gripped him and his black button-down shirt.
The teleportation spell had worked. Buffy recognized the coolness of the air with the deadness under it. They were back in Sunnydale. The town she had sank to the ground, or Spike had really. And now here they were again, both back from the dead, again. Only now Buffy had one more dead boyfriend to add to her collection. Only Reg could never put his arms around Buffy again. It was Spike who had his arms around her now. They had left England and were in front of The Bronze. They were here. It was real, like Reg and England never existed, like she never got rid of this town.
"I can't breathe," she said again. Was this a panic attack or a spell side affect?
"Sorry," Spike said and let her go, "Willow said to hold on to you tight and we know I can get a bit carried away with that."
He stepped away from her looking sheepish. At least Buffy had him here and Willow too. Even though Willow currently look distracted which was probably part of pulling off a big teleportation spell.
"No, it's not you. I- I'm kind of freaking out," Buffy said to Spike.
She felt all wrong, not depressed or numb like the last time, a different kind of wrong. Like she had shown up naked-wearing-a-chicken-hat-for-a-final wrong.
"You're right," Willow said and startled her because she was busy staring at Spike's concerned face or staring past it.
"Something is wrong. You can feel it to? Oh goddess, I hope I didn't put us in another universe. If I did I'll fix it. Hang on. I'll be right back."
Willow ran off, literally. She left Buffy still staring at Spike.
"Maybe it can be a universe where it's 3 months ago and Reg is alive and no one is going to be mad at me that I didn't tell them I've been in England forever," she said.
"C'mon, let's have a drink. You've just had a trip. You can wait a few more minutes before the guilt one," Spike said and took her arm before she could object.
The Bronze looked wrong too, like everyone in it was in high school, which was possible actually. She used to think most of the people in The Bronze looked her age or older.
"Is it kindergarten in here?" Buffy said as she sipped her Madori sour on a bar stool next to Spike.
Reg introduced her to Madori sours. She was surprised they even had them here. Reg would think The Bronze was a cheesy small town dump.
"Sucks getting old, yeah?" Spike smiled and his eyes crinkled in a sexy way.
He looked different. His hair was short and the bleach on it looked harsher. He looked humbled or something. Maybe it was just the way he was now that he had a soul and had nothing to get riled up about.
"Like you'd know," she said.
"Hey, I'm still older than you alive. I mean, you know what I mean. The Bronze may be on its way out for twenty-somethings. When we left a new place just opened The Sink Hole," he said.
"Oh, well at least things change in this place. I sunk it into the ground, or I guess you did, and it pops back up. It just seems all kinds of wrong. The least of all kind of wrong thing in my life. Spike, I think I really screwed up whatever I was supposed to do. All I did was run away and get a good man killed."
"You didn't run away," he said jutting out his chin looking like The Spike she knew.
"You were with Giles. I don't know why you're here but I know its gotta be for us white hats. This world just loves you too much. As far as your boyfriend, well there's nothing I can say to make that better, but you didn't kill him, an angel did. A piss evil buggering angel. Damn wings and harps my ass, if people knew how they really were-"
"I think I was falling in love with him. Spike, he was killed while we were—She came right into our—his bedroom and I didn't even—I—I shouldn't be thinking of him. I'm back now and if this inter-dimensional war is coming I have to get everyone ready to fight. It's not like when I came back before and I felt dead. In fact, at the moment I kinda miss feeling- It's just hard. It's so hard."
What was happening? Buffy had just felt happy that Spike looked like himself again and now she was blurting and almost crying. In The Bronze filled with 12 year-olds and alcohol and what was this weird music? She hoped they were in the wrong universe.
"So, it won't be easy, but when have you ever done easy, Slayer?" Spike said with his hands on her shoulders, "And don't say 'Well, I did do you, Spike,' because seducing you was the second hardest thing I ever did and I've fought legions," he said.
He was right and he looked like himself when he was trying to be good and comforting, but something was missing.
"That just means I was hard. You'd still be easy," Buffy felt herself smile.
Why was he looking at her like that?
"Uh, I mean not that I was hard. I—I just meant I wasn't.-You were hard. Oh, I just said the thing I didn't want to say—" she bit her lip and looked at him.
She realized what was missing.
"Where's your coat?" she asked.
"Gave it to Faith before I left," he said, "Speaking of which, she'll want to know—
He went into his pocket and she thought he was going to pull out his lighter, but he pulled out a phone. It looked weird and wrong, William the bloody holding a little rectangle that was a phone instead of a cigarette.
"This can't be right," he said.
He stood up as if the phone was an important person telling him something. He was looking at it like he would a person. A person he had feelings for. People get so attached to their stupid phones, and Spike was a person. Buffy just didn't think he was that kind of person.
"Is your phone broken? Maybe they don't do teleporting well," Buffy said.
"This—this isn't—It can't be," Spike paced and stopped and laughed, "Saucy little- Oh-"
Buffy realized he was reading texts. She wasn't a text person. If someone had something to say why would they rather type it?
"Spike, what is it? Is everyone okay?"
"Fi," he whispered to himself.
"Shhh!" he shushed her angrily. He tried to call someone, and it didn't work. So, he tried it again and again. She wanted to tell him maybe he should go outside or maybe they just weren't answering but before she could do any of that he threw the phone and it smashed into one of The Bronze's wooden posts. She was pretty sure it shattered but she really couldn't see it in the bar lighting.
"Give me your phone!" he demanded.
"Give. Me. Your. Phone," he said as if she was some person who he could talk to in a threatening way. Then his eyes softened and he looked so desperate "Buffy, please."
"I'm not going to give it to you until you tell me what's going on," she said.
"We haven't been gone for two weeks we've been gone for almost four months," he grumbled.
"What? But, the spell took-"
"Willow took four bloody months to get us here, and Faith—Faith has been alone," he said.
"Oh well, I mean I'm sure she could handle…Oh god. What happened? I thought there was this new fighter and Willow did a spell to give Kennedy power and what happened?"
Buffy would have to do damage control. She could clean up whatever mess Faith had made and Kennedy too. Wow, Faith with no power along with Kennedy who got some. How could anyone think that was a good idea? Buffy would be too busy to think about anything other than fixing things, she was sure.
"Nothing happened. Well, a lot of things—She thought we were dead. When you died she became The Slayer again. She has her powers. Kennedy doesn't have hers anymore."
"Oh, well that's—good, right? I mean, it might not be bad that Kennedy lost…Actually, it might be good Kennedy isn't a Slayer. I mean, it was a spell, it wasn't natural; and speaking of unnatural I thought Faith removed her powers, like forever, to save your life. Not that I—I mean, the more the merrier. Good ol' Buffy is always happy to die to help."
Buffy's head was spinning. She had just gotten her head around the fact that Faith had given up her Slayer powers to save Spike's life, and now she had to forget that because Faith had her powers again. It was hard enough to get her head around the fact that Spike and Faith seemed to be dating, still. Now Spike looked so upset.
"Something else happened. Is she dating someone else?" Buffy asked.
Four months was a long time to wait…for Faith. Buffy was sure. It also meant Dawn and Xander had been waiting for Buffy for four months. It meant Buffy had lost yet even more time in her life.
"She saved the world, and she was forced to kill her sister and she …Can I you're your phone please?"
Spike looked like he was going to dive into Buffy's pockets but she handed him her flip phone that seemed to be really outdated before he could.
"Answer your phone, girl! Answer your—" Spike muttered and then grumbled and began texting at the speed of a twelve year old girl. His emotions were also changing at the speed of one. He was laughing and angry and torn up as he was getting texts on Buffy's phone. Spike and Faith were dating and texting each other. The world was changing at warp speed, and Buffy felt stopped in the middle.
"Well, I guess she's okay. It sounds like she did okay she saved the world and, wait, what did you say? Faith killed her sister. Faith has a sister?"
"We have to go. There's a Sluggothine worm," Spike said.
"A Sluggothine worm, at least I think it is. Worm demon. It's a cousin of the worm Sluggoth Demon that went extinct in the middle ages. Smaller. Nastier. More venomous. It can shoot of spores, other worms, and they bite you. One bite would kill a regular girl your size. You gotta kill the big one. They can't kill me but they like to bore into a vampire's body and live off our feeds. We're gonna need axes. I hope they left some at the house. Are you up for a fight?"
"Worm demon, biting, boring, feeding, gotta kill the big one. Finally something I can understand. Yes, I can fight! Please, show me to your weapons!" Buffy said rising.
Her feelings of wrongness would have to wait.