DISCLAIMER: "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" is copyrighted to Warner Brothers and Mutant Enemy Productions. I retain rights to the plot, but not the characters. This story is meant for enjoyment purposes only. No infringement is intended.


SYNOPSIS: B/S Fic. Answer to a challenge number 8 on Kantayra's site. Buffy doesn't die at the end of S5's, The Gift, but Spike feels he's completely failed as Dawn is hurt. Just as Buffy discovers her newfound feelings for the vampire, he distances himself from the Scoobies because he feels unworthy. Will Buffy be able to prove him wrong or will the new Evil in town prove him right?


Buffy Summers ran up the steps of the tall tower as fast as her legs could carry her. Her Slayer strength combined with determination, anger and a healthy dose of fear spurred her on, pushing past her aching limbs and shortness of breath as she finally reached the top and came to a shuddering halt.

Within seconds, she had taken in the scene before her and was on the move again, striding purposefully towards the couple at the end of the gangplank. An old man stood with his back to her but she ignored him, concerned only with reaching the young, dark-haired girl that stood in front of him, tied between two poles. The mystical Key that could open the doorway to Hell with just a drop of her blood. So powerful and yet so innocent.

As the Slayer, Buffy was sworn to do whatever she could to prevent the ritual from taking place. Even go so far as to kill the Key should she be too late and the ritual had begun. As her sister, however, she knew she'd never be able to do it.

"Dawn!" she called out, causing the young girl to lift her head and stare back at her.

Her tearful face a mixture of fear, relief and hope, Dawn desperately acknowledged her elder sisters presence. "Buffy!"

At that moment, the old man turned away from Dawn to face Buffy and her stomach dropped sickenly as she saw the small smile on his face and the large, bloodied knife in his right hand. She couldn't be too late. She wouldn't. Not now. Not when she was so near.

Quickening her pace, she barely registered the old man speak to her as she shoved him out of her way causing him to fall off the tower to the ground, and his death, below.

"Buffy, it hurts," Dawn sobbed as her sister came up to her.

"Don't worry, Dawn. Everything's going to be OK," Buffy assured her as calmly as she could while checking her sister's wound. It was a shallow cut, but the blood was already starting to form into drips that would fall within seconds if she didn't act fast.

Almost in anticipation of the event, lightning suddenly flashed across the night sky followed quickly by a low rumble of thunder.

Buffy briefly glanced upwards, then returned her attention back to the wound. "Sorry, no opening of portals and demon dimensions today, thank you very much," she muttered as she grabbed a handful of skirt from Dawn's dress, bunched it up in her hand and held it fast against the cut.

Her sister immediately shut her eyes and gasped sharply, biting her bottom lip against the pain.

"Sorry, Dawnie, but you know we can't take any chances, right?" the Slayer asked in concern.

Dawn opened her eyes and nodded slightly, a trembling smile making its way onto her lips. "I know. Thank you for coming to get me."

"Not about to lose you," Buffy replied as she gave her a reassuring smile in return. "Now," she said abruptly, turning businesslike as looked up at the ropes binding her sister's arms, "Let's get you untied."


Down below, the Scoobies paused as a mighty crash of thunder echoed around them.

The two witches clung to each other as they looked up at the raging sky in dismay fearing that the ritual had begun. Willow Rosenburg had only just recently cured her wicca lover, Tara Maclay, after the Hell God, Glory, had taken her mind and as she gazed from the sky to her girlfriend, she wondered if these were going to be their last minutes together.

Tara looked back at her and smiled softly before another loud boom filled the air and they moved closer, drawing comfort from each other's contact. If they died, it would be together.

Hidden away from prying eyes, Buffy's Watcher, Rupert Giles removed his hand from Glory's alter-ego, Ben and tried to ignore the pang of remorse he felt at killing another human being - even if said human being was sharing his body with a psychotic Hell God. Always casualties in war, he told himself firmly as he slowly stood up.

Another flash of lightning lit up the sky and he stared up at the tower. His earlier conversation with Buffy fore front in his mind, he knew what he had to try and do now that the ritual had started. The Key had to be destroyed. Dawn and Buffy were like the daughters he never had and it was with a heavy heart he walked over to the tower's steps and began to climb.

Nearby, Xander Harris and his fiancée, Anya, stood together looking up at the storm. Suddenly, a fork of lightning streaked down towards them, hitting a part of the tower. Seeing some of the structure collapse, the ex-vengeance demon shoved Xander out of the way just as wood and brick came hurtling downwards knocking her to the ground unconscious.

"Anya!" Xander yelled, fearing the worst when he sat up and saw his love laying prone on the ground a few feet away. He scrambled over to her and desperately clawed away the debris. "Anya…Hon," he said, reaching out and laying a hand along her cheek. "Speak to me," he pleaded. "Please".

His concerned frown turned into a relieved smile as she finally moaned. His relief was short lived however, when she turned her head towards him revealing a nasty gash on her forehead that was still bleeding. Her eyes fluttered open and she gave him a weak smile "Are you OK?" he asked softly, smiling tenderly back at her.

"Bit of a headache," she whispered back. He glanced concernedly at her wound as she added, "Has it started?"

Looking back at her, he followed her gaze upwards to the angry sky and let out a worried sigh. "I think so."


At the top of the tower, Buffy untied the rope binding her sisters right hand as quickly as she could using her free hand. "Here," she instructed as Dawn's hand fell free, "keep pressing your dress to your wound."

Dawn did as she was told and Buffy rapidly freed her other hand, then put her arm around her and slowly moved her away from the edge. Suddenly, lightning struck the tower and it rocked violently causing Dawn to let out a frightened scream.

"We have to hurry," Buffy told her sister as they made their way to the steps and began their descent.

Moving as fast as they were able considering Dawn's injury, Buffy didn't let up the pace until she noticed that the storm had started to calm down and the tower had stabilised. Letting out a relieved sigh, she smiled at her sister and slowed. They'd done it. They'd beaten a Hell God and come out of it, if not unscathed, then at least alive. "It's over, Dawnie," she said, squeezing her sisters arm gently. "You're gonna be fine. We all are."

Dawn smiled back, then grimaced slightly as a shaft of pain from her wound went through her. "I think I'll be finer when I get this cut seen to," she commented wryly. "It kinda smarts."

"Oh God, sorry, Dawnie!" the Slayer exclaimed as she immediately urged her sister on down the steps again. They were almost at the bottom when they were met by Giles who was on his way up.

"Oh…Buffy…Dawn," he gasped as he stopped and bent over in front of them, trying to catch he breath. "You're…both alright?" he asked, looking at them in concern.

"Dawn's hurt but we stopped the blood in time so almost killing yourself running up these stairs was a waste of time, Giles. You don't have to worry about the portal opening anytime soon," Buffy told him coldly as she helped Dawn past him and continued down. She knew he'd seen the storm and thought the ritual had begun and his words from earlier that evening came rushing back.

He'd made it clear that he'd stop the portal opening no matter what the cost…even Dawn's life. Even her own. She'd heard him say the words but had never thought he'd actually go through with it. Not really. Not until she'd seen him coming up the stairs.

She heard his sharp intake of breath at her words and him call out her name but she kept moving. "Not now, Giles. We have to get Dawn to the hospital."

Her sister made a sound of protest, but Buffy was adamant. "Dawn, I saw the amount of blood on the knife that demon was holding. The cut must be deeper than it looks. We need to get it seen to."

Dawn suddenly grabbed Buffys' arm bringing them to a halt as she turned wide, frightened eyes to her sisters face. "Oh God, Buffy. Spike!" she exclaimed, fresh tears filling her eyes.

"Spike?" the Slayer repeated with a frown at hearing the blond vampire's name. Then, noticing Dawn's distress, a feeling of dread shot through her. "What happened?" she asked trying to keep calm.

"He was up there but there was nothing he could do. He tried to save me but Doc was too quick for him and stabbed him in the back," the young girl told her as her tears fell. "The blood, Buffy. It's his."

The Slayer looked at her in shock, then glanced upwards. "He was…but I didn't see him…," she began, then blanched as a sudden thought hit. "Oh my God, he's not…" She stopped unable to voice the thought aloud, desperately trying to recall if she'd seen any piles of dust. Of course not, the gangplank was grated. He would've slipped through and she wouldn't have anything left…

"No!" Dawn cried out. "He didn't die." Her face took on a pained look. "At least, I don't think he did." Her face crumpled and the tears came faster. "Oh God, his face, Buffy…he stared at me and he looked so…so…devastated, so helpless and then Doc pushed him off the tower…"

"Pushed him off?!" Buffy echoed sharply as she leant over the railing slightly to look first up, then down. "Oh, crap." Swallowing hard at the height he had fallen, she looked back at Dawn, torn.

"Look, I'm fine, you go and see if he's alright," her sister urged with a watery smile.

"No, I need to get you…"

"I'll make sure Dawn gets down safely," Giles interrupted quietly.

Buffy stared uncertainly at him for a moment and felt a sudden pang of guilt that she would even consider that he had ulterior motives. This was Giles for goodness sake and besides that, the danger had passed. She nodded and gave him a small smile then stepped aside as he moved next to Dawn and placed his arm around her waist.

"Thanks, Giles. I'll see you two downstairs," Buffy said before clambering down the steps as quickly as she could.

"I hope he's OK," Dawn uttered softly as she watched her sisters rapid descent.

"I'm sure he is," Giles replied with as much assurance as he could muster while moving her slowly on down the steps. "Now, let's get you downstairs and off to hospital, shall we?"


Buffy reached the bottom of the tower and frantically scanned the surrounding area searching for the blond haired vampire. A movement to her right grabbed her attention and she turned quickly to see Willow and Tara making their way slowly towards her, arms wrapped around each other for support.

"You two OK?" Buffy asked taking in the dishevelled appearance of the witches.

"We're good," the redhead replied smiling softly at her girlfriend before looking back at the Slayer. "What about you? No ritual, so I'm thinking everything went to plan?"

"More or less. Dawn's wounded but we stopped the blood in time."

"Is she hurt bad?" Tara asked worriedly.

"No," the Slayer reassured them with small smile. "She has a cut on her stomach but it looks quite shallow."

"Oh good…not for the wound…but for the fact Dawnie's going to be OK," explained Willow on a relieved sigh before looking expectantly at the tower. "So, is Spike bringing her down now?"

"No, Giles is," the Slayer replied absently, the mention of the vampire's name making her look around again. Her eyes fell on several piles of rubble that had shards of broken wood caught between the stones pointing skywards and felt her stomach clench in fear. If he'd landed on one of those…

"But I sent Spike up to help," the witch commented in confusion and then looked surprised as Buffy turned back to her, worry clearly evident on her face.

"He was stabbed and pushed off the tower, Will. I've got to find him and make sure he's OK." At her friend's curious look, she hastily added, "I…I mean because I promised Dawn…you know…to find him. She was worried."

Willow and Tara shared a glance before they both looked back at her with understanding smiles. "Of course. Dawn. We get it," Willow replied with an arch of her eyebrow.

Buffy felt her face start to warm and turned away unwilling to analyse at that moment why she was showing obvious stress over someone who, up until recently, she had purported to vehemently dislike. Find him first, then deal, she told herself firmly.

"So, you don't happen to know where he landed, do you?" the Slayer asked hopefully.

"If you're talking about the Evil Dead, he's over there, Buff," came Xander's voice from behind. She quickly turned and saw him nod his head to the right as he walked towards them carrying Anya. "I would've checked to see how he was but I've kinda got my hands full and to be honest, I really couldn't care less," he added, a small smile belying his words.

At the news that Spike wasn't dust, relief flooded through the Slayer and she relaxed enough to roll her eyes and shake her head at her male friend. Then, running an experienced, but concerned, gaze over the girl in his arms, she frowned slightly. "That head wound looks nasty and you need to stay awake. When Giles brings Dawn down, she and I will go with you two to the hospital," she decided already moving off to continue her search for the vampire in the direction Xander had gestured.

He watched her until she was out of sight then turned to his friends. "Since when did the Buffster give a damn about the Bleached Wonder?" Xander asked the two witches with a frown as he started walking towards his car with them in tow.

"I'm guessing pretty much from the time she thought he might be dead," Willow replied, sharing a look with Tara.

"Shouldn't that thought bring a smile to her face?" he queried uncomprehendingly.

"God, Xander, you can be so dense," Anya complained tiredly in his arms.

"Thanks, An," he retorted sarcastically coming to a stop by his car.

"Well, you are," she insisted, yawning widely. Tara walked around them and opened the back door of the vehicle as Anya continued, "It's obvious to anyone with eyes that Buffy cares for Spike."

Her fiancé looked stunned. "You know, Hon, I think that bump on your head has made you delirious," he said glibly as he gently placed her on the back seat then straightened up. "Buffy's been there, done that and has the, 'Vampire's Suck', T-shirt. Believe me, she's so not going down that twisted road again, right, Will?"

When the redhead didn't reply, he looked at her with a frown. "Willow?" he pressed, willing her to agree. She gave him a rueful smile and his eyes widened comically before he turned to the other witch. "Tara?" he asked faintly but with an edge of hope.

She opened her mouth to speak, but then also smiled apologetically and shrugged her shoulders.

A look of dismay spread over his face but before he could comment, a soft snore floated up from inside the car and he looked down to find Anya fast asleep. Worry pushed all thoughts of Buffy and Spike out of his head for the moment as he knelt down to tend to his fiancée.