My darling readers, here comes another letter from the author –

With an addition this time. I will try to make the updates as quick as humanly possible, but I still am without Internet at home and so there might sometimes come up things that I can't control. I still have no idea why this story was deleted in the first place, and since there really is no reason for it I'm doing it this way. Perhaps they will answer me someday, but for now they had no right to take this story off the site.

If anyone hit the abuse button in the posting-a-review section of the site I can only ask why. Perhaps it was a mistake, perhaps it wasn't. I truly hope it won't happen again.

And I hope all of you who liked this story before will find your way back to it! I'd hate to lose you!

Alright, kittens, here is the general intro and then... When She Was Younger rises out of the ashes. ;)

As I have spent so many years in the shop that holds fanfiction I feel I know my way around rather well. I can walk up to a shelf and dig out a piece I might not have looked twice at had I not seen a speck of cold on its cover, a treasure that might have been lost had I not noticed it. This has absolutely nothing to do with any sort of introduction to this piece of fiction, I only want to say thank you to all of those who have seen a speck of gold (or was it dust) in the stories I've so far contributed to this site and our community. I owe you a great deal of gratitude and I feel it especially strongly when I am about to post something new, because you give me hope that even though a speck of gold might be lacking, it still has a chance to be noticed by you. I tried to paint this whole cover in silver... we'll see where that gets me.

This story is one that I've had in my head for quite some time. It started out as a very short, short story and I thought it would be a one chapter deal, but as it is it's actually humming along quite nicely. We'll see what you think.

The story is set at the end of S4 – after the episode of Who Are You.

I find myself pulled to S4 when writing mid-season fiction because I think the Slayer/Vamp relationship is so formidable in it. Also, there's a lot to play with. Now, for anyone who is still waiting for their DVD Box Set or for the episodes from S4 to appear as reruns on TV and thus are inclined to shy away from spoilers – I urge you – shy away from this.

If you're hardcore about Buffy you've already seen and you already know pretty much everything there is to know and thus – I urge you – need me, need me, say that you need me!

Kidding.

Here's a recap of exactly where we're at as this story unfolds:

In Who Are You Faith has taken over Buffy's body. I'm sure the Spuffy fans have watched this episode about a thousand times because – even though Faith's soul is the one doing it – it still is a pretty sizzling moment with the Vamp actually wanting the Slayer for the first time. They're at the Bronze and Buffy (Faith) bumps into him after dancing. She soon realizes exactly who he is and gives him a pretty interesting speech of how she's a stuck-up with no sense of fun and he, stumped, agrees that that's a big part of why he hates her. She says she could be anything she wants, have anything and that that includes him. She totally seduces him in that moment and he would have kissed her, only she breaks away with a contented smile, leaving him glaring in her direction to then smash the beer bottle in his hand. Sorta frustrated, I'd say. ;)

Alright, in the story you have before you on the screen and are hopefully about to read the first chapter of, Buffy makes a wish that has pretty dire consequences – mostly for her. I'd tell you more, only I don't wanna ruin the fun. Hah.

Thanks all and I humbly hope thou shalt enjoy.

Annie.

¤

When She Was Younger

¤

All We Did Was Some Dancing

¤

"What are you doing?"

He didn't even acknowledge her as he merely kept prodding in the dirt with one booted foot. A surge of the regular annoyance and disgust she felt whenever she rested her eyes on his form poured through her and she crossed her arms over her chest, thinking she would follow his lead of silence and simply stare him down.

It was a little harder, she had to admit, to focus that Slayer glare on the leather clad back of him instead of his eyes; but she would suffice. After a minute of complete stillness, which had him seemingly entirely absorbed in whatever the heck he was doing, all that she got for her effort was him changing the foot which was digging into the soil.

She unfolded her arms with an aggravated sigh and was just about to turn and leave when he said:

"I'm looking for something."

She cocked an eyebrow.

"What's that?"

"If you don't stop asking questions," he replied, still not looking at her but squatting down by the place he was searching and beginning to use one hand's fingers instead as he finished: "I'll start to think you're actually interested."

"Well, if you're looking for some sort of herb or gem or any other item fit for spell-use – I am interested," she stated simply.

"Then rest assured," he muttered, rising and finally turning to face her, brushing the dirt off his hand as his gaze met hers. "It's not here," he added.

She eyed him in unveiled suspicion for a few moments and then shrugged.

"Good," she said, beginning to walk passed him. "If you find it, let me know."

She wondered why she always tensed when she was closer to him than three feet. Passing him and continuing on her way she had a picture in her mind how he reached out and pulled her back. Then she shook her head, cleared the picture and had one of getting hit over the head with something very heavy immerge in its stead.

¤

"What's on your mind?" Willow asked an hour later when she and Buffy were both sitting on the latter's bed.

The Slayer grumbled, sinking down further against her pillows and pulling the covers up before she answered:

"Just... stuff. You know? A lotta it."

Willow frowned.

"Like Riley it?"

"No, it's more... shop related," Buffy murmured, unable to disguise her increasing bad mood. "I think... the vamps are up to something."

"The vamps?" Willow inquired, incredulous.

"The... vamp," Buffy admitted reluctantly.

"As in singular?"

"As in Spike."

"Ah."

"He's planning something."

"Buffy, that vampire suffers from a serious case of delusions of grandeur, okay? The moment he's not planning something I swear the Hellmouth will freeze over and your powers of good will no longer be needed."

Buffy smirked.

"Swear?" she then wondered and Willow smiled back.

"Cross my heart."

"Right," Buffy nodded, still her concentration wandered and Willow sat back with a huff.

"Let it go, Buff," she encouraged. "There's nothing you can do about it anyway, right? Unless you wanna head out there again and just confront him about it."

¤

"Ouch! What the bloody...!" he spat, glaring down at the petite blonde pinning him to a large tombstone, which he a moment earlier merely had happened to be strolling passed. "What the hell did I do now! Glance around in the wrong way!"

She squinted as a reply and then let him go, taking a step back and watching him correct the collar of his duster before looking at her.

"Twice in one night? Ain't I the lucky one?" he said.

Her face didn't move a muscle.

"I smell trouble," he sighed and she blinked.

"You're around yourself every day, all day long – thought you'd be used to the stench by now."

"Wow, was that an uppercut or one of those mean rights 'cause I'm completely numb and somehow I didn't see that coming."

"That was my tongue," she answered and she noticed a strange switch in his expression, in his gaze and even his body stance, but as she furrowed her brow all of it vanished and a smirk took its place. "But if you need a reminder of what the other two feel like..." she added and he tilted his head slightly to one side, a sudden fire in his eyes which almost begged her to do it.

God, he was such a masochist. And such a cliché. And such a constant pain in her ass because of it that she truly wanted to take a swing at him and let the frustration out. A good bruise might actually do him good! But, no. She pushed the conviction away.

Masochist, she repeated. Takes pleasure in Self-mutilation. And not-only-Self-mutilation.

Suddenly she shivered. He was probably thinking about what he could do to her if only he didn't have the chip in his head. She looked away from him, trying to remember what had driven her to actually go in search of him in the first place.

"What are you up to?" she then asked and he actually looked bewildered at the question, the cockiness for once dropping away.

"I'm heading to the Bronze," he answered tentatively. "Thought I'd grab a beer... some saucy wings..."

"I didn't mean 'what are you up to' as in 'hey, what's up, tell me 'bout your evening' – I mean it as in what is that devious little brain of yours plotting right now?" she cut him off and his attitude was in the next instant firmly in place as he unabashed looked her over from head to foot.

She merely rolled her eyes and he smirked again.

"Slayer," he taunted, shaking his head. "Are you so daft as to actually bloody believe I'd feel obliged to tell you anything?"

"Since you were just about to map out your future plans for the night..." she trailed off and his gaze turned hard before he clenched his jaws together, no smile in sight. "Tell me what you were looking for earlier and I won't chain you to a tree."

"Cover me in honey and hum for a bee?" he retorted, suddenly approaching her in the sleek way that was his and she gave him a disgusted stare, disbelieving the nerve he actually had.

"I'd hum for a billion bees if it'd only shut you up," she shot. "But, alas, I know it wouldn't."

He circled her and she frowned, wondering what in the world he thought he was doing. Then he stopped, an inch from her and looked down at her with a superiority which made every cell in her be on alert. For some reason her heart was pumping just a fraction harder, but she met his gaze without flinching.

"The other night..." he said and she frowned again. "You don't remember any of it... do you?"

Now she full-out stared at him.

"What are you talking about?" she asked, glancing down at how close he was and then up again, making it clear that he should really step back – or she'd be forced to make him.

He raised his eyebrows, then took a small step away from her as he observed her intently.

"Right," he nodded. "I heard something about... your body being rented out. Another slayer, even. Guess that explains it."

Her mouth was growing dry and her heart beat was heavier than ever before as she tried to get her thoughts back straight in order to ask him exactly what the hell he was saying. What had Faith done? She had slept with Riley. Had she...?

Oh, God.

"Stop," Buffy instructed as she noticed Spike was already walking away from her. "Would you mind explaining?"

He turned his head to look at her over his shoulder.

"Yeah," he then replied before continuing on his way.

She stood paralyzed for another second and then she ran after him.

"Hey!" she yelled and he looked to the skies before turning back to her.

"What do you want me to say?" he asked, looking at her with a suggestion in his eyes which she didn't care too much for. "Look, we... did a little dancing, yeah? Actually – you did most of it. Shocked the bleeding bat outta me, but now I get it. She sure as hell wasn't you."

Buffy stared at his back as he once again began to walk away from her. She hated the very tiny sense of rejection the vainer part of her pushed to the surface. It was absolutely unthinkable that even that tiny part would offer any kind of care as to what that bleach-head thought of her, but the sting still produced a powerful enough feeling of spite in her that she yelled:

"I bet you'd 've loved if it'd been me."

That stopped him dead and he slowly turned to face her.

"You should learn never to bet on a sure lose," he said dryly and she felt blood color her cheeks burning red before she stalked up to him.

"Then you should try not putting your money where your mouth is!" she said, pausing as his countenance confirmed that that statement made absolutely no sense.

"You're not offended, are you?" he asked, voice smooth as silk and she felt the burning irritation begin to twist and smoke someplace very near her heart.

"You asked me to marry you," was the only response she could think of.

"And you gladly consented!" he reminded, which had her step down and take a breath.

"Okay. Fine. It's just that... Faith took over every aspect of my life. She fooled my friends, my boyfriend! Even my mom! And now... I don't know. I feel like I'm still partially outta my skin, I guess..."

"Yeah?" Spike asked, bringing out a smoke and putting it in the corner of his mouth before taking out his lighter; putting a glow at the tip of the preferred drug he flipped the lighter shut and took a long drag. Blowing out the smoke he added: "Is Red off friend-duty tonight? Did you need to bend an unwilling ear with all these absolutely bloody fascinating tidbits of personal turmoil simply 'cause you were bored or...?"

"No," she answered, her tone frosty. "I want to know what you were looking for earlier," she repeated her previous demand and he took another inhale of smoke before he blew it out in a long, gray mist.

"This," he said, holding up the silver lighter still in one hand. "I dropped it, and then – I found it. Now bugger off."

"Gladly."

They turned and walked in opposite direction, but after a few steps Buffy halted and swiveled around, calling after him:

"You're not telling me the truth, are you!"

"I swear on my un-beating heart, pet – all we did was some dancing!"

¤

"Buffy, calm down!"

"The thought of her sleeping with Riley is... OH! But the thought of my body in the hands of that... that..." she was so upset that she was shaking all over, even her voice was trembling as she trampled the floor of the dorm room. "I can't breathe!" Buffy exclaimed, sinking down on the edge of her bed and leaning forward, drawing in deep gulps of air.

Willow's hand soon slid comfortingly across her back and Buffy blinked the tears out of her eyes as she sat back up to look straight at her friend.

"You don't know what it's like," she insisted. "All the time there's this struggle. Every single day! And... it'll never stop. Unless I get myself killed in the process! Again! And all the time there's these screwed up situations that I have to deal with. On top of which my own boyfriend couldn't tell that it wasn't me he was making love to... For all I know he thought she was better than me! Spike sure seemed to."

"Buffy..."

But she wouldn't listen, and she couldn't slow down.

"I don't give a damn what he thinks, that's not what I mean. But it got me thinking. About a lotta things. And know what I came up with? My life really sucks big time, most of the time. Not the parts where I have my friends, or my mom – but this whole damn slaying of the guilty and hunting down the soulless is just... God! Sometimes I wish I could go back to what it was like before all this happened! You know? When there were no lurking shadows, no need to stay up late just to catch the bad guy, no worries. Just... boys and gossip and... bubblegum. I miss bubblegum. I just wish that for an hour, or a day, or one week I could be fifteen again!"

She seemed to quiet after that, growing thoughtful as she looked down at her hands and Willow watched her empathically.

"I'm sure we all have wished that, more than once, even... But..."

"Let's not, Wills," Buffy interrupted wearily. "Let's not try and list all the good things about Mongroy slime on my new shoes or Spasmwheat on my new coat or vampire dust in my hair, okay? I just... wanna forget about it for a while."

She lay down and Willow rose, walking over to her own bed and climbing in.

"Night," she mumbled.

"Night," Buffy yawned back, crawling under her covers and gently drifting off to sleep.

¤

"Calor, her wish was expressed out of despair and confusion. You cannot tamper with..."

"Spare me, Ath. I'll grant her wish. I'll show her what she would have wanted had she been fifteen and had she not seen what she has seen. Perhaps then she will learn to value the destiny bestowed upon her."

"The girl is hurting. It is part of her growth. Humans do this, you know that. They go through things and they come out of them...better."

"Yes, yes."

"Cale, do not toy with her."

"She's the slayer, Ath. She can take it. She asked for it."

"She did not ask for this."

"I am not in control of her actions... Everything that happens will be her doing. What was it you said? She'll go through this experience and come out of it – better."

"Don't come to me when the Powers demand your head on a plate."

"Have I ever?"

¤

"Buffy? Buffy!"

"Just ten more minutes, mom."

"Buffy!"

"Okay, okay!" One hand was stretched out from under the covers. "I'm up!"

But the covers were yanked off of her and she blinked, rolling over on her back before sitting up, trying to fight off the grogginess as she took in the girl before her. She looked... old. And what was this room all about? Where in the heck was she! And...

"I have to say – not amused!" she stated, scrambling to her feet and backing away from the stranger.

Willow stared at her.

"Look, if you wanted me to wake you up you should've told me," she tried. "I'm sorry, okay. But, it's almost ten-thirty and I was getting... worried. Are you alright?"

"I'm...um... I'm... No, I'm not alright," Buffy answered, her arms around herself as she stood with her back against the wall. "I'm not sure... where I am, or who you are and I'm pretty sure that my mom would've woken me up by now if I was home and so... seeing that I'm not at home. I'm somewhere. And I don't know where that is, or who you are and I'm freaking out just a little here!"

Willow struggled to take all the ramblings in and then she collected herself. Either Buffy was pulling some sort of prank... or... What she had to do was ask the right questions.

"Buffy..."

"Yeah, like that – right there. How do you know my name, huh?"

"Well, we're... friends. You've had an... accident. You lost... parts of your memory from the... accident and I need you to tell me... what the last thing is that you actually can remember," Willow said, voice calm and soothing as she put her backpack down on the floor.

Buffy seemed to relax just a little, but her eyes grew wide.

"I'm suffering from ambrosia?" she asked and Willow had to bite her lower lip hard in order to keep from laughing.

"Amnesia," she corrected and Buffy smirked sheepishly.

"Right," she nodded, having another look around the room before she asked: "So, what sort of accident did I have?"

"You... tripped."

"Oh. Was I like taken care of by some really hot ambulance guy? 'Cause that would've been like so totally sweet. Of course, that's a part that I can't remember," she sighed, finally venturing out from the wall and casually walking up to her own desk.

"Yeah," Willow said, not wanting to sound too confused. "So, can you tell me about what you last recollect?"

"What I DO remember and stuff?" Buffy asked, turning around and leaning against the desk. Getting a small nod from Willow she continued: "I was going on a date with Andy... Oh, my God! Have you seen him? He is sooo cute." Receiving a look from Willow she smartened up and smiled apologetically. "Sorry. Well, I was going on a date with Andy... tonight. He asked me out in front of half the school and I was SO happy that he did. I mean, it could've been just to make sure I'd say yes, but I think he knew I would, so he just wanted to show off – which means he REALLY likes me."

"Okay!" Willow interrupted, then put on a smile and walked up to her friend. "I need you to give me some simple specifics. How old are you? Where do you live?"

Buffy frowned.

"You're pretty weird, aren't you?"

"I'm quirky," Willow corrected, semi-offended.

Then she shook it off, remembering the situation looming before her.

"Whatever," Buffy said. "I turned fifteen... one month ago, I guess... or, have I been out long?" Willow shook her head, her heart sinking in her chest. "Thank God! And I live in Los Angeles. California. In the United Sta-..."

"I got it!" Willow once more stopped her. "Thank you. Please, take a seat. I just have to... make a call."