Summary: Buffy deals with her Sunday morning getting interrupted. This is a Buffy-Centric fic. It's all from her POV. (Spuffy angst, Giles & Buffy fluff, Buffy & Faith, Faith & Spike) Buffy/Spike, Buffy/Other

Story Notes: This story is a second part of a series, but can be read as a stand alone. Thesong Faith sings in Eminem's "Without me." The title of this fic comes from the Ani Difranco song "Untouchable Face."

Author notes: This one probably won't turn out how you expect. There is actually no Spike/Faith skin on skin in this fic! I want to dedicate this to Phillip, whose email made this fic happen, or keep happening.


"You know I really don't look forward to seeing you again. You look like a photograph of yourself taken from far far away and I won't know what to do and I won't know what to say except f--- you... So f--- you and your untouchable face f--- youfor existing in the first place and who am I? That I should be vying for your touch. Who am I? I bet you can't even tell me that much."

Ani Difranco


"Hi, Giles, you wanted to invite me over for pancakes, right?" Buffy said into her little red phone.

"I'm afraid there's been some bad news, Buffy," he said.

"The pancakes burned? Oh man, and you just had to call and tell me to ruin my Sunday, right?"

"Yes, because that is what I live for, Buffy. How could I possibly have or want any Sunday plans of my own? So, I just ruin yours as you wile them away with slick Italian lovers that have too many piercings," he said.

"He doesn't have too many piercings. He just has the ears. You make him sound like one of those freaks that has a spike through everything. He doesn't even have a tattoo. He's like the second most conservative guy I dated, and besides he gave us a chunk load of change."

"The title of second-most-conservative doesn't say much in your lot."

"Just do me a favor and don't even attempt to kill this one. He has really big body guards and there are like entire demon races that have hated each other for eternity but they all would join up to help him," she said.

Buffy smiled. She knew the news couldn't be that bad if Giles was being cranky. She loved the fact that she had Giles back. It was almost worth, well, it was almost worth everything that happened.

"Yes, well, it's easy to help one that only stands by and only intervenes idly," Giles sighed.

"Giles," Buffy sighed back, "Did it ever occur to you that with my track record of crucial interveners that I could use an idle intervener in my life? Besides, I'm not going to marry the guy."

"If you did you'd be the fifth," Giles informed her.

"This is about Mount Everest, isn't it? You're still jealous because when you tried it there was that whole avalanche-rescue drama."

"It was not a drama or a rescue. I got myself out...by calling for help," Giles insisted.

"You know, you could try again on a less snowy day. I could come, or not. I'm not really into camping on a big slanty hill."

"Buffy, I do actually have something to tell you that is unpleasant, as much as my misadventure with Mount Everest seems to be a source of joy for you."

"Which is?"

"I think Faith is having a little trouble. She seems to be fighting everything in the city," Giles said.

"She's just trying too prove herself, Giles," Buffy sighed, "Let her be destructo-girl for a while. What harm could it do?"

"Well, that's what I'm trying to tell you," Giles said "She has begun to act rather rashly. There's a woman fitting her description that has appeared drunk and surly picking fights at the most dangerous bars, both human and demon, in town."

"Well, maybe it's not her. I mean it could be any wo—"

"An attractive American woman with a tattoo," he said

"Well, it could be Angelina Jolie, really upset that Brad is going back the Jen—Okay, it's her. You didn't even have to tell me about the American woman tattoo part. So, I'll go get her."

"That's up to you, "Giles sighed, "I just thought you'd want to know."

"Gotta go!" Buffy called cheerfully to her guy as she zipped up her black short boots, "Feel free to stay as long as you like. This could take a while."

"'This' meaning you are going to collect that loud drunken cow of a Slayer. Why not let her get herself out of trouble?"

"Oh, you know the girl scout motto: One for all and all for—Wait that's someone else. Girl scouts talks about how old friends are gold or silver or something," Buffy said as she reached for her coat.

"More like an albatross around your neck," he whispered to her.

Suddenly, he was there all young-Daniel Day Lewis-but-Italian-like helping her put on her coat.

"Okay, maybe she's albatrossy…an albatross is like a big heavy necklace that weighs on you, right? Anyway, she's not a loud co—"

"Oh, fuck off! You know what your problem is? You're stupid! You're all fucking stupid. Stop trying to touch me. Nobody can touch me. I'm not falling over, and why the fuck are you whispering? Oh right, you're a pussy. Oh no you fucking don't! You are not going to disappear on me now, Liz! Liz? Fuck!…B! Open the door! B!"

It was Faith, outside the door yelling and pounding. Buffy opened the door and Faith fell in to her apartment. Right away she came with a smell that didn't belong there. It was a smoky and bloody and alcohol ridden smell.

"Faith," Buffy grabbed her by what ever she could to keep her from falling over.

Luckily she managed to catch her denim sleeved wrists and not her tight black tank top.

Buffy caught her wrists and tilted the girl up. She looked awful. She had dried blood on her face and Buffy wasn't sure if it was hers or not. Her make up had slid down her face into that raccoon look, and her hair looked like it had been in a wind tunnel.

"Faith you're all bloody. You've been fighting and your drunk and what is with your hair?" Buffy said.

Buffy knew that Giles had told her all of this already, but it was another thing to see it. Okay, it wasn't that she was surprised Faith had done something stupid, or that Faith was fighting or drunk. It was just, why was she here?

"It's fucked. The whole thing. I shoulda went down there the minute that Gunn wrote me. 'Good news' my ass! Now Liz is here, but not really. Now he's gone again. He was supposed to help me with this. What a great time to punk out, Liz." she said all of this in shallow breaths and then she laughed.

Buffy had never seen a person this drunk. This was beyond Mom or Giles or Willow feeling sorry for themselves drunk. This was wobbling slurring words drunk. People who were this drunk were the ones you pushed or threw out of the way when you were dancing or dusting vamps in clubs. Buffy really really wanted to push Faith out of the way, but instead she put her arm around her waist and led her to the sofa.

"What happened, Faith?" Buffy asked gently, "What did you do?"

"I got a little out of control," she said and pointed to the inside of her arm where there was a small but deep slash, "Tried to cut myself and he told me not to. He told me if I was any kind of a fighter I'd turn my anger out to the big bads. So, I did."

"David, get the first aid kit," Buffy told her new man and then turned back to Faith, "Someone told you to start a bunch of drunken fights? Who? Why?"

David went to get the first aid kit with an audible sigh. Buffy didn't like this much either. She had to sober Faith up and find out what was going on.

"Liz told me. Well, first he drank with me and then he told me to turn all my grief into anger and then find something to bloody hit," Faith suddenly started talking in an English accent and laughing manically.

"If I fall asleep and Liz comes back say 'thanks' for me," she said as she opened her eyes wide after closing them.

"She's really drunk," Buffy shrugged apologetically to her new guy who now stood before her with the first aid kit with a fixed annoyed face.

"Really, I wouldn't have known," he said dully.

"Oh, Guido is here," Faith snorted as she looked up at David, "Haven't you kicked him to the curb yet? Do it before he does you, B. Wait 'till Liz tells you how they've shared every girl."

"Liz the girl who told you to start fights with people and got you wasted? Who is this Liz? She's not a new Slayer, is she? Faith, please tell me you didn't take a new Slayer out for a night of drinking and bar brawling," Buffy demanded.

She was so wasted she couldn't keep her pronouns straight. Faith started laughing as if Buffy had just purposely told a joke. Then Buffy realized at some point the laughing turned to crying. Buffy stiffened. She felt her heart beating fast. Something was wrong. Faith didn't cry.

"Faith," Buffy said slowly as she even reached out more slowly to touch the girl.

She thought Faith might start swinging or trying to claw out her eyeballs if Buffy touched her. No, she knew that was a distinct possibility. But, Faith only kept crying in her hands. Her hair, a dark mane streaked with caramel now hiding her entire face. Buffy really had to remember to tell her that her highlights were pretty.

"Faith, whatever you've done, it's okay," Buffy said softly, "I'll help you. You did the right thing by coming here. Now please let me help you this time. Tell me what happened."

"It's too late. It's too late, B. I'm sorry. I'm real sorry. I fucked up. I shoulda known they were in trouble. I shouldn't a' waited for them to come tell me like last time. Now we got nothin'," she said.

"Who Faith? Who? Liz? Is Liz a Slayer?"

A million things were going through Buffy's mind. If Faith and this Liz had killed someone again Buffy could now get David (AKA Mister Immortal) to cover it up. Not that Buffy wanted them to have no consequences. She had a feeling that there now would be three Slayers up in "the special rooms," where Dana was. But, maybe it wasn't so bad. This Liz sounded like she might be gay, since she was saying she shared girls with Buffy's new boy. Maybe Faith decided being gay was a fun new thing to try. Maybe her and this Liz just had a fight, and Faith was getting more sensitive in her old age. She doubted that but…people did cry more easily when they were drunk or in this case ripped out of their skulls. Still Buffy felt a sense of horrible dread she couldn't explain. Maybe she should just give Faith some coffee and send her home and stop with the gentle intervening. Faith wasn't her responsibility.

"At least you can make me laugh, B," Faith now smiled through her tears and ran her hands through her hair.

"Let me see your arm," David said as he sat down next to Faith on the couch.

Buffy was pretty sure Faith had bled on the couch and she was positive she had gotten dirt all over it now that she curled up with her knees to her chest. That put her grimy Doc Martins all over it. What was with unstable people and Doc Martins anyway? It was no big deal though. Couches could be cleaned. Buffy hoped the same could be said about whatever had happened-- whatever Faith had done.

"Ow! God Damn it!" Faith scowled as David put disinfectant on her arm.

David began to blow on the disinfectant to stop the sting. Faith laughed.

"So, it's true what they say about you. You do blow sometimes too!"

David just rolled his eyes toward Buffy in a plea to hurry this up.

"Fade'," David said calling her by her name in Italian, "Why don't you tell us what has happened so we can fix it?"

"I'm sure you'd wanna fix it," Faith said her eyes suddenly narrowing as she pulled her arm away from him, "I'm sure you'd wanna fix it good. Liz told me all about you. How you knew. You knew they came, and you fucked with them. You! I oughta tear you a new one. Maybe if you had kept your fucking Roman nose outta things they'd be different. Yeah, you had to know. You had to know all along. You fucking—"

It was hard to believe that someone could go from crying and being bandaged up by someone to getting in their face about to hit them. Actually it wasn't because the person that was doing it was Faith, but she was in the face of Buffy's new boyfriend. Buffy felt her sense of dread leave her. This was just Faith being Faith.

"Okay, this stops now," Buffy said firmly as she threw Faith back on the couch.

"Oh," David frowned suddenly, "I think I know what this is about. Has it happened already? I thought there would be more time. Two more years at least. Those two were always naturals at bringing on their own disasters rather quickly. Just be thankful neither you nor my beloved weren't dragged onto their slag heap."

"I'll cut you! I'll cut you wide open you mother fu—"Faith began to charge David and Buffy quickly pushed her back again.

"What's going on?" Buffy turned to her new boyfriend before Faith could fall back onto the couch, "What are you talking about? Do you know this Liz person? What's a slag heap?"

David looked at Buffy with his green eyes that did almost look pleading. No, he wasn't supposed to do that! Buffy felt the god damned dread again.

"You won't like this. A slag heap is a junk pile, really a bi-product of mining, but what's important is: that's what you'd be on, and that's what Fade' wishes she could have thrown herself on if you had tried to drag those two—"

"No!" Faith yelled suddenly, "You're not gonna be the one to tell her! Not like this…Liz wants me to be the one, I guess. Angel would've done it himself. He wouldn't have let me fuck it---"

"What about Angel? The two of you know something about Angel and you kept it from me?" Buffy said quickly.

Her heart was beating fast again, like when Faith had first started crying. Buffy found she was really wishing she could believe that Faith would cry like that if she had killed another human being.

"B, Angel's gone. He might still be alive, but I dunno… There was a big battle, one that he apparently had planned for a while and—"

"No!" Buffy said as she felt herself rise stiffly from the couch.

"Tell me that the two of you didn't know about some huge world changing thing that was going on over there that you kept from me!"

"I kept nothing from you, amore. You knew that the vampires were involved in something dangerous, maybe something evil, and something you didn't want to be involved in. Those were your words," he said quietly.

"I never said that I didn't--- I wanted to know about the big things. I wanted to know about Cordelia. I sent Angel a card about Cordy. Did he get that card? It was more of a letter really. Was he--" Buffy found that she had stopped talking as she saw Faith was staring off into nothing now.

David just looked at her with those green eyes that suddenly didn't look sorry enough. Buffy felt her own eyes narrow in anger.

"I never---How long have the two of you known? Never mind. It doesn't matter. You're right. Just say what you have to say, Faith," Buffy said as she felt a dagger in her throat.

Buffy glared down at Faith who seemed to think the wall next to Buffy was much more interesting, even hypnotizing to look at.

"Fred died first. Did you know Fred, B? She was a slip of a thing, like a twig you could snap in half. That's all I thought of her. It was so obvious Wes had a huge thing--- I was such a bitch to her. I knew she was all about the book smarts; I figured we had nothing to say to each other. I wanted to get to work. When I went into Angel's mind Wes and Fred—"

"I know! I know you were in Angel's mind. I know Wes and those people took out his soul. What does that have to do with Angel being gone?"

"Wes," Faith burst out suddenly, "Wes was next. He died fighting some magic dude. The bitch goddess that Fred turned into buried his fucking body. I got to say 'good-bye' to Wes, though. I got to say goodbye, didn't I? He was glad at how I turned out in the end, at least that's what Liz says."

"I thought you said that Fred died? Faith, you better not be---" Buffy suddenly felt her brain snap back, like she forgot to do something really important, "What? Wes is dead. Are you sure?"

"He was my Watcher," Faith said in a sickly whisper, "and my friend. He bought me clothes in a really nice mall after we escaped from the jail. 'Anything you like,' he said. That's where I got this jacket. I think he thought we were both gonna die."

And Buffy felt like she forgot something really important again, and it wasn't like forgetting to set the Tivo. It was like she forgot to check for survivors.

"Oh, oh, Faith. I'm so sorry," Buffy said, "But, are you sure about this? It all sounds really weird and what about—what about Spike and Angel? Where are they?"

"Gunn was next," Faith said, "He died fighting, like he was born, Liz said. He didn't mind. It was how he wanted to go. I don't think Liz was lying about that even though I think he might a' lied about Wes talking me up. I think they were all too upset about Fred and the bitch goddess. Liz said the bitch goddess is alive for sure. Meanwhile, Liz fades in and out."

"Okay, Faith!" Buffy said as she felt short of breath suddenly, "Who the hell is Liz and how do you know you can trust her? Where's Spike and Angel?"

"He doesn't know where Angel is," Faith's voice was shaking, "He—he says that if Angel died he'd feel it, and he said he didn't feel it. But, I think he might be lying. I think he thought I was a hard ass, and that I wouldn't take it so bad. But, I think Angel might've been the only person I ever loved who loved me back."

Faith was silent for a second and the air felt thick and heavy, too heavy to lift her arms to hit Faith's drunk ass, too thick to say anything.

"I think Liz had a good time watching me drink and kick ass though, B. He called it…vivacious—no—vicarious living… and at least he could go where he wanted now even if he is just dust in the wind, so if he never comes back, I want you to know he had a good send off," Faith said and she did look at Buffy now and smiled.

"Faith," Buffy said through gritted teeth, "What the hell are you talking about?"

"Oh c'mon, B," Faith snorted now as she stretched out on the couch, "You know. You can't do that. You can't make me explain what you already know after the night I had just so you can act surprised and show all the right under control B emotions. He knows you didn't love him and he's okay with that."

"I'll show you under control emotions. Don't tell me what I can't do. I think I'll make you do whatever is right," Buffy said as she found herself sitting on top of Faith.

At first Faith's eyes went wide with surprise or pain, as if she was the only one who had a right to it after busting in here and talking like this. Then she burst out laughing.

"Guess who's back. Back again. Guess who's back, guess who's back," Faith sang a little tune now.

Buffy really was going to hit her in the face when she realized that the song wasn't about her becoming a bitchy cop again. Buffy felt like she couldn't breathe as she whipped around to look behind her. Did she already know what—who—was there? Yes, but now she was looking at him. The track lighting was really good for him.

"She's completely out of her mind," David shook his head.

"No, she's not," Buffy said as her own voice sounded really foreign to her.

David hadn't bothered to turn to where Faith had been looking. He didn't see the other man there. She didn't know how anyone could miss him. Miss him as in not notice him. She could see how someone could miss him-miss him, and not realize how much they did until they saw him. Him with his same old coat and black jeans, Doc Martins, and super-model cheeks. Buffy didn't know how she got off of the whiskey smelling Faith as she felt her blood drain to her feet. She found herself having to sit beside the other Slayer.

"Amore," David said, "You are very caring to stick up for her sanity, but she's not being coherent and now she's singing nursery rhymes. She's also clearly being cruel pretending to have some information. The insane can be very cruel, you know?"

"It sounds like we dated more than one of the same girls, me an' this bloke," he spoke and he smiled when he did it.

"Yeah, and I may be a crazy bitch, but I don't sing nursery rhymes. That's an Eminem song," of course Faith had to say something too.

The sad look he had on before would have looked less painful. Buffy suddenly wished that she was the Slayer who could get drunk and hit things and fall to her knees crying in an alley for someone else to save, but that wasn't her. She was the Slayer with the new awesome place in Rome with crème colored couches that matched the carpet perfectly.

"Why don't the two of you tell me something I don't know," Buffy rose as she managed to smile with tears rolling down her face, "Like what the hell is going on."

"Spike," David turned and said very calmly, like ghost exes just walk through walls all the time.

But, all Buffy could see was him. He was there. Just standing there, not that he ever just did anything. He was standing there like everything that had happened was written on his face.

"Hello, Buffy," Spike smiled again, and yep, the sad look was somehow definitely less painful.

Spike. Buffy knew how he felt about all of it the second she looked at his sallow-in-a-hot-way face. Another battle, another life, another death, it's the way it goes. Buffy knew he still loved her, or maybe not. Maybe the look on his face wasn't about anything that had just happened to him. Maybe it was that he didn't love her any more and he was letting go, moving on. Well, wasn't that what she wanted. No! Well, yes, but not like this, not in this manipulative weird fucked up ghost way of his. The way Faith had been so drunkidly trying to explain. Buffy hadn't known that "Liz" was Spike at first. She really didn't know at all right away. She really thought, really hoped, Faith was talking about a Slayer that she couldn't place. She couldn't tell exactly when she had the feeling that Faith was not talking about a Slayer at all.

"You must be the latest Roman conquest. You know me?" Spike said his eyes scanning David from head to toe.

"I am The Immortal," David said stiffly like when the host took to long to get them a table at a restaurant.

"And yes, I do know you," David said his eyes turned into dark emeralds.

Buffy had never seen him be so curt, and yes, it was kind of hot, the two of them scowling at each other. But, she was mostly happy that David had gotten that pained horrible look off Spike's face. He gave her the second she needed to make her not want to spill tears.

"You're The Immortal," Spike said with a head-tilt of surprise, "Funny, thought you'd be a bit taller."

Once again, Faith was doing what Buffy wanted to be doing which was laughing. Buffy had to be losing it. Was this all really happening?

"You've never seen me? Well, I've gotten a look at you before, and all the things you've done with your Master Angelus," David said.

"My WHAT?" Spike demanded; "Oh no he didn't," Faith snorted simultaneously.

Well, this wasn't going to work.

"David, why don't you take Faith home? I obviously need to deal with this," Buffy said turning to him.

This wasn't right. Worlds shouldn't collide like this. But that was the life of a Slayer. You had to be professional. David would understand that.

"No way," Faith said, "I'm starting to sober up and it's not pretty. I feel like shit. I'm afraid there's no moving me from this spot."

Buffy felt her mouth tighten in rage. She'd move Faith from that spot.

"As you wish, Amore," David said, "and I'll make sure I bring the Second Slayer with me."

"Excuse me?" Faith said, "I think The Sloppy Second Slayer just made it very clear she ain't moving. If they want to talk in private they can go upstairs. If Liz fades away for good I don't think B should be alone."

"I think The First Slayer can make her own decisions. She requested something of you and you are going to force her to make it an order," David said.

"Oh no he didn't," and now Spike said this.

So, dying…again gave him a wackier sense of humor? Whether Buffy could deal with this or not, it wasn't going to work out like this.

"Listen, Guido. Unlike Liz I have very corporeal fists and---"Faith rose from her spot now.

Buffy pushed Faith back down to her spot she was so in love with a second ago.

"David," Buffy said, "Maybe you should just go. This is something I can handle. I've done it before."

"As you wish. Let me know if you need anything," he said.

Buffy walked him out thinking about how she was not lying. This was something she could handle. Spike had always disappeared and reappeared in her life and so did Faith. And, she had dealt with the Faith and Spike bonding. Heck, she had dealt with the both of them trying to kill her. Thank God the two of them never bonded when they wanted to kill her. This experience now wouldn't be as bad if they had teamed up when they were evil . Buffy was sure of it.

"This is a lovely place," Spike said as his lips curled back into a smile, "I don't know if I'll be able to stay though."

He was always so fucking amused by his own sick sense of humor. Now someone else was too. Faith let out a laugh that was followed by some really less sexy coughing.

"So, you're a ghost again, is that it?" Buffy said over Faith's hacking.

"Miss Five by Five gave you the 4-11 when I stepped out. Good. That's saves us time. I don't know how much of it I have left. You see I—"

"You're a disappearing-reappearing ghost and soon you'll be gone for good. I know. This is the same shit you pulled with Angel. So, now what? You thought you'd pull it on me,"

Buffy folded her arms over her chest.

Maybe she should be glad he came when David was here. She was wearing her white satin baby-doll night gown.

"Pull something? You think I'm doing this on purpose, Slayer? Pulling the ol' I'm-slowly-fading-away-as-a-ghost-trick. Yeah, I hear that one works every time. Better than the ol' my-friends-died-and-I-could-use-some-warm-comfort," he folded his arms too.

"I just know that the Liz Taylor necklace thing I gave you made it look like you could be dead and you're really well, not. No more than usual anyway. It was really great to get the memo that you were alive after I thought you died to save the world by the way," she said as she stepped up closer to him.

"I knew you'd do this," he gritted his teeth then he shifted his mouth that showed something much worse—sorrow.

"I knew you'd blame me. I did die to save the world, Slayer. At least I tried. I did it for you, once. Two was for the world, for what's right and all that. Don't know what three is gonna be for, but I can feel it coming up fast. You know what they say, third time's the charm. I tried, Buffy. I really did, but they won't let me go. Not clean anyway, not in my own way."

"Won't let you burn out. Just fade away. I know. You can make the third time a shout out to the whole fang gang in L.A.," Faith said, and Buffy didn't really know what she was talking about.

She didn't care. She didn't care about Faith's sad obnoxious ruby lipstick faded smile. At least she was smiling. Spike wasn't now.

"Who won't let you go? Those Wolfram and Hart people? Is it because of the necklace I gave you? It's from there right? I'm sorry, Spike. But, you were the one that stayed there and kept working for them. Why? At least the necklace makes it so you can't die. Are the people in L.A. really dead?" Buffy asked him softly now, "I mean, I know about Cordy, but, the rest? What happened? Where's Angel?

"You don't know much at all do you?" he said with his whole forehead wrinkling up in surprise.

"Clueless and as blonde as the movie," Faith said and sounded a lot less surprised.

"Well, it seemed like it was more important to tell Faith everything first. You guys must have really bonded in my basement," Buffy said coolly, but she felt the dagger in her throat again.

"I went to Faith because I knew you might not agree with what we had done in L.A. and you might not want to here how it all happened from me. Turns out I was right. Besides, Wes was her Watcher and Angel was her friend," Spike said plainly.

Bastard. Again he gave her nothing but a plain statement like: 'Aren't you supposed to be at work?' Hadn't he said he would kill Faith for her? So, Angel wasn't her friend now? Wes wasn't…Well, Wes had never been her friend, but was he really dead? Why couldn't Spike and Faith just act like normal people and say straight up someone was dead and then act sad.

"Don't waste time on the basement chain fantasies especially since Liz is untouchable now. He isn't pulling anything by being a ghost, B. He was and now he is again. He's fading again, but this time he ain't trapped in L.A., since the building crumpled and all. He figured he'd say bye with the time he's got."

"What?" Buffy barked and felt her hands go to her hips.

"You're here after not coming to see me to tell me that you would be going away and you wouldn't be able to see me?"

"Well, something like that, yeah, and I wanted to tell Faith 'bout her Watcher and her friends," Spike said.

"So, you—you really are a ghost?" she asked and reached out to touch his face and felt nothing.

Nothing. Of course his face conveyed everything with that nothing. He looked like he had when he asked to be killed.

"This is just a trick you can do with that necklace. Where is it? Why aren't you wearing it? Do you have to wear it to be solid or something? If you think it's too big and tacky you can have it resized," she said.

She didn't know why she felt her lower lip stick out when she said it. She guessed it was sad, him always having to wear a necklace to be in his own body.

"Ha!" Faith said, "I bet you thought you'd never hear B say that to you."

Spike looked at Faith and smiled a leering smile for a second.

"Why don't you go make yourself a pot of coffee, Slayer," Spike said to Faith.

"Can't you do it," Faith grumbled, "I don't feel so hot."

"Not corporeal, remember? And you know I have no trinket to make me that way, and even if I was as solid as a brick I wouldn't be wasting it on being your errand boy," he said.

Oh, thank God! He wanted Faith to leave. Buffy could just skip over the part where he called her "Slayer." Faith was muttering something about what Spike would be doing if he was as solid as a brick as she got up from the couch.

"I'm not a ghost," Spike said to Buffy very clearly.

Buffy gave an audible sigh of relief.

"I think I'm more like a parting gift, like the one they gave Cordy, so she could say her goodbyes," Spike said, "Of course I deserve a lot less than she did, so they took away my feelers, because they knew it would drive me bonkers. That little Valley Girl Saint could make out with Angel all she wanted. Me-- this is all I get and I don't think it's going to last long so at least I got to see you…one last time. You look very cute, by the way. I like the blonder hair, though it must be a bitch to keep up with hair that long. I'm not gonna say the rest because you know it all."

"What are you saying?" Buffy demanded, "I don't know anything. You're not a ghost. Some people made you this way to punish you and you're leaving just because you can't touch me. You're just going to give up and not fight them? Cordelia made out with Angel? I thought she died. Is she with Angel? Where are they?"

"Oh, you are rich, Slayer. I tell you I'm dying and you ask me where the poof is. Well, I don't know!" Spike roared so harshly Buffy pulled back, "Lost track of him when I was fighting for my life. If I had time to bet I'd put all my money on him being alive 'cause I feel it. He's probably a big ol' mess somewhere and you can have fun cleaning it."

"I'm through cleaning up your messes," Buffy tried to say strongly, "I have my own life now, finally. These people that are making you a ghost---or slowly killing you or whatever, I'll help you with that. But, then that's it, Spike."

"You think I'm asking for help?" Spike said, "I wouldn't dream of it. I saw how you and yours came through for my friend Fred."

"That had nothing to do with me. Besides, the way I heard it she was already dead. You know there's nothing any of us can do about that, at least nothing we should do. You know the price," Buffy felt her eyes fill up with tears.

She wanted to tell him everything again, about how she was doing so well now, but there were still those days—moments when she thought that maybe it would be better if she had stayed dead. She wanted to tell him how that feeling was in remission, but how she knew it would never go completely away.

"I do," Spike sighed, "Still it was a hell of a thing. You want to wish that somehow you'd just get lucky and she would live."

You want to wish. He was afraid to wish anymore and maybe he should be. They'd seen what wishes could do. For a second there was only the sound of Faith in the closed off kitchen wrestling with dishes.

"Is—is that why you don't want to fight these people, Spike? You're afraid of the price? I—I think it's different. You're not really dead. You're here. The other people Wesley and Fred…and Cordelia they're not though, are they? They're really dead, aren't they?"

"Yes," he said simply and Buffy shut her eyes.

Was she actually hoping for some round about pissy answer?

"I'm going to join them soon. Well, prolly not. I'll prolly go to Hell, but my reward was to come here and see you, and yes. I was going to be a little scared ponce and just do it through Faith, but thankfully, she dragged me here," he said.

"I am really sorry about your friends, Spike," Buffy said, "But, I am not going to say 'goodbye' to you."

"What?" he said as his mouth hung open.

"I'm not going to say 'goodbye' to you. Like it's a thing that I can just do, tie up all your ribbons so you can feel good about yourself," Buffy said.

"Fine," he gnashed his teeth, "Maybe I'll just do some more partying with Faith before I fade out again. That girl, she really knows how to grieve."

"Do whatever you want," Buffy said with a bitter laugh, "It's not like you owe me anything."

"That's right," he said, "I don't. I closed your Hellmouth and gave you your fire back. I'd say were even."

"I'm not—"Buffy began.

"B," Faith was standing there as Buffy turned behind her.

She probably heard her name and the word "party" shortly after it, or Buffy was out of sugar for the coffee.

"Saying 'bye' is what dying people should do, and you should say 'bye' to 'em. If you don't you'll regret it later. Trust me. It's a very important part of the grieving process," Faith said.

Buffy just stared for a second at the pale pretty rough voiced girl before her. Faith must be watching "Dr. Phil" or something.

"No, I don't accept this," Buffy said stiffly.

"It's true. So, I learned it in the clink from a shrink, but I know I'd a' been a lot better off if me an' my mom said 'goodbye.' Wouldn't you feel better if you and Joyce—"

"Shut-up, you idiot!" Buffy snapped and she felt bad as she saw Faith's eyes widen, but she was not going to talk about Mom with Faith.

"I don't accept that he's dying. He did the ghost thing before and he didn't die. Something happened to keep him alive. Somebody did something to make him solid and that's what we're going to do now," Buffy said

"Oh, okay," Faith said. She grinned now.

"I really appreciate that love, but it won't work," Spike sighed as he walked over to where Buffy had turned to Faith.

"No, I don't accept that," Buffy stated, "You're not dead. You say someone is doing this to you. So, we just have to fight them. Then, you'll be corporeal again."

"That's sweet, love," Spike beamed now, "But, there's nothing to fight. Nobody doing this to me. I'm dead, and I fade in and out just like before. I was just given a bit of lagging time is all. So, we can just make the most of it."

"What? You just want to play checkers or something and wait to die?" Buffy demanded.

"Well, you'd have to move my pieces," Spike said as he put his ghost hands in his pockets like he was embarrassed.

"She wishes," Faith laughed, "This non-corporeal thing really is a great way to stick it to you."

"You ain't kidding," Spike seconded.

"Great, so we're all in agreement someone is doing this to you, so tell me what you know about them. Wolfram and Hart, right?" Buffy said.

"No, love," Spike sighed, "It's not like that. God, I really wish you'd listen…It's an order from upstairs, the ones you can't really bargain with. They made me a ghosty, once again, so I could say 'good-bye.'"

"I really wish you'd listen," Buffy said, "You're saying that the Powers That Be or whatever, don't really know if I believe in those guys, gave you this gift of being a fadey ghost. It doesn't sound like a gift to me. It sounds like someone is messing with you, and if there is mystical messing—you can mess back."

"God damn it, Slayer!" Spike yelled, "Would you wipe away all the rosy tint that your rich boyfriend gave you and see what's happening."

"No one gave me anything, Spike. I worked for it all myself, and I have a right to a little peace," Buffy said.

"I won't argue with that," Spike said, "So, maybe I can fit in with the itinerary and go out all peaceful."

"You wouldn't know peace if it hit you over the head…not that peace would hit anyone--- Whatever. You're not dead and you're not dying. We just have to---"

"Ug!" he yelled, "To think I forgot how frustrating you can be. Look…"

He walked over to Faith.

"I want to grab the naughty Slayer and shake her for dragging me here and I can't," he said as his hands went through Faith.

"It feels a little hot though," Faith said.

Buffy frowned. She was speaking metaphorically, right? Buffy hadn't felt anything hot when she tried to touch him before.

"You think I'm hot, do you?" he smiled.

"Yeah," Faith said, "Warm like…Not when you were trying to hold me up when I was drunk and stumbling, you dumb ass."

"Funny Fred said the same thing. Well, not the drunk stumbling dumb ass part," he said.

They were now waiving their hands back and fourth, Spike's going through Faith's.

"Stop doing that!" Buffy snapped, "You keep complaining about this and saying time is a factor, and then you do nothing but mess around. How the hell did you last this long?"

"Um, Lessee…" Spike mock fumbled, "Oh yeah, I didn't! I'm dead. Dead! Dead!"

"As in door nail," Faith said.

"No, you're not, and where the hell did that stupid expression come from anyway?" Buffy said, "And I'm calling Giles for help."

"Yeah, because he really wants to see me alive. C'mon, Slayer this is embarrassing enough for you to see me like this without calling in your entourage too. Can't you let a man go with some dignity?"

"Oh, so you want to go out in some big blaze of glory while you're firing your manly machine gun and stupid Buffy is messing with it by keeping you alive with help. I know that's how lil' girlie me has stayed alive, but I guess you're too good for it," Buffy said.

"For the love of…The only thing that's too girlie and good for me is that stupid night gown you're wearing I'd like to rip off of you," Spike yelled now as he was inches from her face.

Buffy could swear she did feel the heat of his words blowing in her face.

"But, I can't because I'm not supposed to be here. And you're right maybe this some big bad messing with me or this is my own imagined Hell. Do you know what it's like to see you here and not be able to touch you? Do you know what it's like to know that I'm going-- to feel it-- and have you stand there and not be able to take in a word I'm saying because you have too much of that Immortal cum in your ears. I am not here, Slayer! I can't affect anything in this world around me. And nothing, NOTHING! Is going to make me solid again. Nothing can---"

Buffy felt everything she ever felt for him as he said these horrible things, so she did what she always did in this situation. She hit him. Hard. In the face…and he fell. She had felt him. She felt Spike.

"Well, that was interesting," he said as he sat up holding his chin.

TBC…