Chapter 1: The Other Buffy

A/N: During Bargaining, Part 2.' Spike is the first one to find Buffy - and she is less mentally stable. Partly inspired by A. Price's wonderful fic Safe.' All quotes from buffyworld.com

Dawn and Spike poked through the rubble on Main Street. They spotted the torso of the Buffybot lying on the ground.

Seeing the hurt expression on the girl's face as she looked at the pieces, Spike said, It's just a machine, Dawn. He realized he needed the reminder, too.

Dawn sighed, and replied, I know.

Dawn kneeled beside the bot. Spike turned and walked away a bit.

Dawn reached out to close the bot's eyes, but suddenly the head turned and looked at her. Dawn gasped.

Buffybot spoke, saying Dawn. You're my sister Dawn.

Dawn didn't know what to say. She gave the bot a tentative smile.

Buffybot: (looks around in confusion) Where did I go?
Dawn: What?
Buffybot: Where did I go? I was here. Here. But then I ran away.
Dawn: (confused) I-I don't...
Buffybot: No. Not me. The other Buffy.

Dawn's eyes widened in shock.

Buffybot: Yes. The other Buffy.
Dawn: Buffy?
Buffybot: I don't ... I don't ... know where she ran off to. Maybe-

She froze mid-word, staring blankly.

Dawn backed away, got up, still shocked. She stared at the lifeless bot before turning and running away.

Meanwhile, Spike was picking up a piece of twisted metal from the scrap pile. It was one of the bot's legs.

Spike: Tsk. Look what those filthy buggers done to you. (loudly, to Dawn) Willow's slap-and-paste job's not gonna do the trick this time. Robot's done.

He looked up, noticing that Dawn was gone.

he shouted, looking around,Little Bit? Dawn! Dawn!! ... Where the bloody hell could she have gotten to? Damn! Probably headed home... I'm gonna rip the stupid chit's head off!... Drink from her brain stem! Spike continued muttering various threats, trying to hide his worry, as he raced back to his newly acquired motorbike to head home.

He was in such a rush to get home and (hopefully) find Dawn that he almost didn't hear it. Just as he was about to turn on the motorcycle, he heard a small sound. Spike debated whether he should investigate or not; he wanted to get back to Dawn as soon as possible. On the other hand - maybe it was Dawn!

he cried out as he rounded the corner into the alley where he'd heard the noise.

He spotted one of the bikers, looking as if he was chasing something into the alley. Spike snuck up behind him and -snap!- broke the hulking creature's neck. He didn't have time for a real fight.

Dawn! You here? he called again.

He paused. Either Dawn was hurt and couldn't respond (no, not that!' ) or it was someone else.

He sniffed the air. Blood! And it did sort of smell like Dawn's...

Still, he didn't see anyone... he changed faces briefly, needing the enhanced night vision his game face would bring. Ah... there! That little bundle in the corner! A little girl, maybe?

Remembering to changed back to his human visage, Spike cautiously approached. Not wanting to scare the child, he used the same techniques he'd used when Dru had gotten frightened.

The girl's cries become louder as he came nearer, and she shrunk back even further, her face still obscured by her long hair.

Spike crouched down near her. In the sort of voice people use with scared animals, he said, Shhh... hey there.... I'm not gonna hurt you, ok? Are you all right? Are you lost?

The whimpering grew quieter, and the bundle unfurled just a bit. Cautiously, Spike reached out a hand to touch her. He knew he needed to go slowly here, and it was driving him crazy since part of him was screaming to go find Dawn. But he couldn't just leave this girl here, although he had no desire to analyze why that might be.

She jerked a bit when he touched her, but then calmed as he stroked her dirty, long hair.

There, there... he whispered. You're ok, now.

The girl's head came up to look at him. A bloodied hand moved to brush aside her hair so she could see her savior.

It took him a moment to distinguish her features, but when he did, he nearly fell over backward.

he half choked. Is it really -

As his voice got louder, she shrank back again.

Ok, calm, calm... it's really her! Oh, my sweet Slayer, my love... need to take care of her, need to get her home...

It's ok, luv, it's ok. I'm going to pick you up and take you home, ok?

Fearing that she might bolt, he carefully put his arms under her and lifted her up.

To his relief, she didn't struggle. After a moment, her arms went up around his neck and her head burrowed into his chest.

Figuring that the motorbike would scare her, Spike opted to walk home. It wasn't that far, and he was enjoying just holding her, smelling her, having her there. Though he smelled blood, she wasn't bleeding profusely anywhere, and he figured he'd patch her up once they got home.

A/N: Well, that's chapter 1! Please, please, PLEASE - review!!! It's really what keeps me writing.

Special thanks to Moluvsnumber17 - I was just debating about whether or not to start posting today when I got a review from you! That decided me :)