A/N:Summary: Buffy's thoughts in Romeand about some people in her life. Relationships: Buffy/Immortal, Buffy/Spike, Buffy/Angel, Buffy&Faith.

Other fics coming soon.

The Last Few Moments Before She Knew They Faded

She saw her room. Butterflies on the wall, sunshine coming in the windows. Time to be school-Buffy. Vamps can't come out to play. Mom will come in soon. "Come on, Buffy. Get up. The early bird gets the worm. Well, I guess that's not much incentive, is it? The early girl gets the pancake is better."

An empty unpoppable bubble filled her chest. She really didn't want to get out of bed. She realized life couldn't be fixed by pancakes long ago. Buffy all grown. Mom gone. Mom gone.

Funny, Buffy thought she would be a cooler grown-up. She rolled over and opened her eyes and saw her lover's tan muscular back. She looked at the blank stone walls of her new awesome place. Buffy smiled. Okay, she was a pretty cool grown-up. She just thought she'd be a happier one. No, that wasn't it. More settled. Weren't grown-ups supposed to feel settled? That was a long way away, if ever, and probably not with this guy. She frowned. Better not need a guy to feel settled or you would probably feel sea sick all your life. Mom didn't need a guy. Though, she had started dating that guy right before…

Buffy reached out and gently touched her boyfriend's ear. Then she clasped the silver-ringed ear-ring between her fingers. He shouldn't sleep with this in. He could get an infection; even if he was immortal he wasn't a vampire. He still had a living, breathing, sexy, sweaty, hot hot heart beating body that could get infections, right? He reached up and smacked her hand as she tried to take the earring out. She laughed.

"I believe there are laws against stealing other people's jewelry while they sleep. Even if they lay in your own bed," he grumbled good naturedly.

"Are you sure there are laws like that in this country? I've been driving with you and it seems like you pretty much can do whatever you want," she sighed cheerily, as she rolled him over and lay on his chest.

"This country is the pinnacle of sophistication, Amore. Empires, treaties, and doctrines came to be and crumpled while your America was still a swamp land," he said as he kissed the top of her head.

Dawn was right. If the sun hit his eyes just right they were the color of Christmas.

"Yeah, yeah. We've all seen that gladiator movie that won all the awards. They also used to feed people to lions, so much for your pinnacle," she rolled her eyes.

"The lion is an extremely sophisticated animal. It watches and waits until it gets its prey. Do you know, Amore for centuries scholars thought it was the lion that caught the finest prey? Not true, but they are the ones that enjoy it. The lion was just waiting to take the meat at its best time, while the fool cheetah did all the work and had to handle all the unpleasant killing and pain," he scrunched up his face in that I-find-this-unseemly way.

"It sounds like the lion is a lazy jerk. I thought it was the lioness that did all the killing," she said.

"That is true too," he said.

"Typical, at least the hunt can be fun," Buffy sighed.

"Is this not fun, Amore? Do you wish to have more to kill? I can arrange it," he said.

He unscrunched his face to reveal those rich green eyes. Hot. Totally hot. His eyes had a clearness about them. They weren't all filled with pain and asking. He was the only person that never asked anything of her or took anything that she didn't want to fully give. It was okay that she didn't love him completely, that she wasn't sure. There were no painful long looks or mixed lectures about how he wanted her so much, but this wasn't a fairytale. No sighs that hinted she didn't love him enough. There were no snappy insults about all the pain and suffering she had put him through.

"No, no," she sighed happily, "This total lack of kill is fine by me, and fun is always at a record high with you."

She lowered her head to kiss him again. Yes, fun, that was what she wanted to do now, after all the hard work of world saving and growing up. There seemed to be time now. Oh yeah, there were a few things to worry about—it wasn't as if running an army of Slayers was a picnic. But, with this being the biggest gathering of Slayers here in Rome, it was surprising how much less there was to worry about. They were all good Slayers, the one hundred and forty one of them. Buffy was so grateful there was no big bad bitch in the bunch.

Well, actually there were one hundred and forty three Slayers now, but that was only temporary. It was easy to forget about Kennedy and Faith because they weren't in The Slayer School, and besides they weren't staying. Willow was accepted at Oxford and Kennedy would surely go with her, and Faith, well Faith wasn't staying. Buffy didn't even know why she was here. She suspected that things had fallen apart between Faith and Robin Wood, and that was why she showed up. Or maybe Kennedy told her she was coming and Faith decided to visit as well. Kennedy made it no secret which original Slayer she preferred. That was okay; she was still helpful. Kennedy had taken over some of the training classes that Buffy found boring to teach. Kennedy was also encouraging Faith to do the same thing. She rejected the idea in her Faith-like way:

"No thanks. Those who can't do teach, and I am a doer. I don't want to wake-up one day and find that I turned into some A-hole Watcher stabbing my girls in the back."

Buffy wanted to remind Faith that Buffy was a teacher and she was also a doer, and that Faith's Watcher only stabbed her in the back because she had stabbed first—literally.

Well, Faith didn't literally stab Wesley first, she stabbed someone else, but she did eventually stab him too, right? Not that Buffy thought that Wesley was so great, but didn't Faith think he was so great now? The way Buffy heard it Faith and Wesley were like best friends who decided it would be great fun to play around with Angel's mind and soul. Not that they did it without Angel saying it was okay, but Buffy didn't know where Angel's head was at when it was doing its decision making anyway. But, it was all very confusing, so that was why Buffy decided to keep her mouth shut when Faith professed her dislike of teaching.

So, one hundred and forty three Slayers and not one big bad bitch among them, at least not too big or bad anymore anyway. So, that left time for the fun that Buffy had always wanted.

"Yes, fun," her lover said, "That is what you needed to find."

Buffy looked down at her new dark haired round eyed boy, and frowned.

"You sound like Faith," Buffy said.

He put a pillow over his face and groaned into it, that wasn't the first time she had seen him do that but not when it had anything to do with Faith.

Buffy felt her forehead knot-up.

"Ever since the other chosen one has come to town all you've done is fret!" he peaked out from the pillow and slid it back over his face.

"What?" she felt her lower lip jut out, "I have not fretted. Fretting is not something I do anymore. Actually, I've never fretted. That's something that women did in the civil war in their big hoop dresses; I think it went out with fainting."

"I don't know why you worry about the other chosen one; it's apparent that she admires you. Maneuver the situation with her correctly and she can be a valuable asset," he said.

"And I am definitely not about to faint that you are sticking up for a pretty girl with big---Trust me, she does not admire me!" Buffy snorted, "What are you talking about? Maneuver? Asset? She's not a chest piece. I mean a chess piece."

"Someone here is interested in the other chosen one's breasts," he laughed.

His perfect white teeth shined in the morning rays. Buffy wondered how often she had been with a guy in direct sunlight

"Would you stop calling her--- You are interested in her--- Oh. Oh! Ew! You wish," she shrieked.

"It is very natural, these feelings. You are connected, some may say, from the same bosom," he laughed.

Great. Just what she deserved, someone like her that was good with puns. She put the pillow back over his face tightly as he laughed. He reached up and grabbed her wrists and flipped her over gently but firmly. He didn't do it like a human boy would, not like Riley. Riley. There was someone she hadn't thought of in ages. But, her new boy was like Riley in that she really had no idea what he was physically capable of. (Well, she didn't know what he was physically capable of in a fighting way.) But, this wasn't fighting this was lover's play. Still, she could tell by the way he handled her that he wasn't human, or really, more than human. He didn't handle her like Angel. For all the touching that her and Angel did they never rough-housed. Angel is such a gentleman; he might still be. Her new boyfriend handled her like--- He handled her like Spike.

"Amore, I'm joking. Don't be angry. I think the other—I think she is garish, and not too bright, and any more than a mouthful is a waste," he said seriously.

"A mouthful of wha--- Oh," she sighed and rolled her eyes.

For some reason she found she was frowning at other things in that sentence. It wasn't because she wasn't sure what garish meant, it meant tacky. He called Faith tacky, and that was accurate and maybe even not a bad thing. But, what was that other thing he said about her? He often said a lot to keep her reeling, but there was nothing he said that should ever piss her off. He was no Spike. He never said the slightest thing to hurt her feelings. The stuff he said in bed—Wow: She was a goddess, beauty in carnet, everything he was always looking for, the woman that every poet has written about or singer has sung about.

Spike would say stuff like that too, but then he'd always put a twist on it. Sure she was what every singer sung about with Spike but that included Eminem and Sid Vicious. Spike had some kind of Madonna-Whore-Squish-Together-Complex, this guy didn't have. Nope, nobody had talked a better game than this guy

This guy could talk about not being worthy of fucking her, but he never lost a step in acting like he was worthy of it. Angel really acted like he wasn't worthy and that was well…too much, too many feelings. She wanted to prove to him that he was worthy or something, while he did nothing because he was so sure he wasn't. Wasn't that all ass-backwards? At least this guy went to all the trouble of getting her.

Buffy knew Angel had gone through Hell to get her, literally. Too bad he wasn't interested in doing that to keep her. She wished she didn't have to think of Angel any more or at least think the things she was thinking about him. That was why this guy was better. She didn't have to think. Buffy was pretty sure he meant the things he said, at least when he was saying them. That was the thing about Angel; he would always mean the things he said, even if he was never going to say them again. Even if he had turned into some morally ambiguous corporate guy and Spike was his, his whatever. Spike. Spike always meant the things he said—all of them, and he'd keep saying them. How the hell a person could say so much and mean all of it, Buffy would never know.

Spike didn't like Angel. Angel didn't like Spike. Spike and Angel were working together in some weird way. This was like one of those trick logic questions on the SAT. What the fuck? Were they doing this just to piss her off? To wait to see how long it took her to go out there?

Well, she wasn't going there. She was finally done with drama and guys together. She kept them in two separate rooms, or two separate countries. Andrew said that both Angel and Spike had shown up looking for her—together. She was pretty sure the little twerp was kidding. He thought he knew her well enough to joke with her like that.

It would be just like Andrew to try to become buddy-buddy with her after doing that mission that involved both Spike and Angel. He was wrong. Buffy was glad to be through with all that. That was why she sent Andrew to deal with Angel rather than Xander. Life was much easier now, or complex in an easy way. If she went there they'd probably want her to choose one of them to live with forever and ever or until she started to look too mom-like and it creeped them out. So, she wasn't going there because if she went now she'd want both. Not both! Neither---the answer was neither. And they would just have to deal with that as they sold stocks and bonds and killed evil demon lawyers or made deals with them or whatever.

"You think about them all the time, don't you?" her new guy asked.

He actually had been kissing her when she had sunk back into the white cloudy goodness of the new Laura Ashley comforter just to stare over and out the window to all the clean stone white buildings with brown roofs.

"I—I don't think about them that much. It's just—,"Buffy felt her face flush.

"It's just that you are a protective mother hen with all of them. The first time I saw you I thought you looked like a sweet Madonna, if the Madonna ever wore leg warmers," he said.

"I think she did. Those leg warmers are a little too eighties, aren't they? Oh, you don't mean that Madonna, do you? You're saying I think about the other Slayers all the time. I guess I do."

"Sweet virgin mother," he said and kissed her.

"Bleh!" she said and wiggled away, "Note to self, Italian guys have a creepy Catholic thing. I'm not a virgin!"

"And for this I thank God, but they are all your children. You gave birth to all of them, no?" he asked.

Sometimes the vaguest hint of Italian accent would come out, even though he spoke something like fifteen languages perfectly.

"No!" Buffy felt her nose scrunch up, "Look, there was a line. I was just one in the line is all. I'm not their mother. Willow just made it so all of the girls that were Potential Slayers in the line became Slayers. So, if anything Willow is their mother. Let me explain—"

"You're sister, and the English man they already explained. When they came to my office to ask for the funding. They brought charts. It was all very boring. This isn't what caused me to donate to your cause. It was you. You're beauty, you're will, you're story…"

"My refusal. I think I was the only girl to ever say 'no.' to you with the way you wore me down. You couldn't handle it," she laughed.

"You were the only one of them I really wanted. I knew you were a creature that like to be chased. I didn't care if I had to get my whole corporation to work on it; I wasn't going to let you go without a fight," he said.

Buffy knew that she was looking past the hotness that was him and out her sky-light again. Beautiful creature, corporation and fight were the words that stuck in her head.

"One-hundred and forty-four," Buffy said to the blue-sky.

"It was about that many days, yes. I think saving you from the Gormongast is what did it. He was a decent ally, too bad he also liked to use the sweat shop workers for clothing and food. You realize, I knew nothing of this before, Amore," he said.

"No, there are one hundred and forty-four Slayers here. I always forget the one that we took from Angel. The one that cut-up Spike," Buffy whispered, "Some Mother. I never even laid eyes on her. I tried to go last week. You know who was there?"

"The psychiatrist that I referred to you?"

"No, well yes, but Faith was there too. They were fighting. I know I should have stopped it but, they were talking too. Something about peace," she said.

"The other chosen one and the doctor were arguing about peace?" he asked.

"No, Faith and the crazy Slayer. Maybe I should talk to her. I wouldn't really know what to say. I don't talk crazy. I didn't know she talked any kind of sense," Buffy said.

"I didn't know either. When ever I hear her talk she seems to be swearing or saying something equally boring as if we all haven't been in some kind of coma or jail," he said coyly.

"Not Faith, you dope," she smacked him; "I still can't believe what she did to Spike. I still can't believe Angel wanted to keep her. I still can't believe Spike is with Angel. I still can't believe Angel wanted to keep Spike. You're sure his hands are back on, right?"

"You had to know that the vampire wouldn't want to give the sick Slayer over to you without a fight, or you wouldn't have sent those other Slayers with Andrew," he said.

"I just can't believe Angel would put her in a room where she wouldn't be able to feel anything. I know you had reliable sources but--" Buffy said quietly.

"I know that's what they do to sick people at Wolfram and Hart," he said.

"Still that doesn't mean that Angel would do that to her," she said.

"I received reports that he did in fact send someone---"he began.

"Okay, what did I say about that? Don't wanna know. How exactly do you get these reports?" she said.

"Oh, if it's him you don't want to know, and if it's me you must?" he said gently.

Gently enough to not sound like Spike at all.

"No, I trust you. A lot more than I trust a lot of other CEOs anyway," she said.

"And you're wise to do so. You aren't one to make the same mistake twice," he said.

"No, never," Buffy said.

She just made a whole bunch of different ones all the time. Oh boy, she couldn't wait to see which one she made next. Hopefully, there would be no more dying involved. It would probably be something with a guy, this guy.

Buffy heard her phone ring. She only had a cell now. It was playing "London Calling," so that meant it was Giles. Yes, she was all hip with the ring tones now. She went on the internet and found the perfect song for Giles. She endured teasing from Faith for not knowing who "The Clash" was. Faith said Buffy didn't use Spike for all she could have because Faith was sure that was something the boy could have taught her. Buffy had responded by telling Faith that Spike wasn't a boy, he was a Champion and she didn't need to use guys to teach her things, and besides, wasn't The Clash like a million years old, like Giles music? She thought she responded to that really well.