TITLE: Wish Your Heart Makes

AUTHOR: Viola Claire

SUMMARY: "He'd been telling himself he wouldn't dream of Buffy, and he'd known that he would." Set during "Nightmares". PG.

DISCLAIMER: I own nothing.

FEEDBACK: Yes, please! I'm new to this, so con crit would be greatly appreciated. A/N: Barrels of thanks for tkp for the amazing beta. Thanks are also due to Angie, who saw an early draft of this and said some very kind things. This story was written for the IWRY ficathon.

He was walking through a graveyard.

That in and of itself was not unusual. What was unusual, however, was the fact that he had no idea how he had arrived in said graveyard. The last thing that he remembered was falling asleep just as the sun started to rise. He had been telling himself he wouldn't dream of Buffy, and he'd known that he would.

A spell was the most likely explanation. Maybe he had lost his memory—or maybe he had been teleported to the graveyard—or maybe he was in an alternate dimension. His first priority, therefore, was to find a way out of this damn graveyard and find out if anything had happened to Buffy.

Why weren't there any exits in this place? He had to have spent a good half hour wandering around, and he had yet to find an end to the graveyard. He had yet to find anything except graves and more graves, and the occasional mausoleum. No vampires, no demons performing secret apocalyptic rituals, no innocent teenager using the cemetery as a shortcut home. Nothing but tombstones and the sound of summer insects: crickets, cicadas—and someone screaming.

Someone was screaming, and someone was pounding against something solid that had to be buried under six feet of dirt, and someone's heart rate was soaring, and someone smelled a lot like Buffy, if Buffy was reeking of fear.

He was off and running before he had even fully processed the thought, because Buffy was screaming and crying, and her breathing was harsh and labored, and he hadn't smelled terror coming off of her like this since she'd staked her first vampire.

All the sounds and smells were coming from a grave, and there was another scent there too, something ancient and familiar and evil, and he fell by the grave and clawed at the earth with his bare hands. She was still screaming, but hoarsely now, as if it hurt her, and he wanted to tell he not to be afraid, that he was coming, but he couldn't stop digging long enough to say the words.

It didn't take him long to hit the lid of the plain pine box. There was a ragged hole punched through the top, and he could see her raw and bleeding fingers scrabbling around the edges, trying to tear the lid off. He fumbled for the catch, and opened the coffin, and there was Buffy, dirty and terrified and sobbing, but very much alive.

She sat up and coughed out a lungful of grave dirt. He lifted her, carefully, because she was shaking, and helped her out of her grave—not her grave, it wasn't her grave, she was alive, she was alive, thank God, she was alive. She was still crying, and when he put her down she clung to him, burrowing her wet, dirt-streaked face against his chest. He held her, rocking her, for a long time.

When she had calmed she pulled away from him, and glanced up at him, almost shyly, from beneath her lashes. "Thanks," she said. "For saving me. And for, um. Sorry about . . ." Her voice trailed off, and she gestured at the damp patch on his shirt.

He smiled crookedly. "No problem," he said.

A tendril of hair fell across her eyes. He leaned forward and brushed it away, tucking the dark-blonde lock behind her ear.

Then he took her by the hair and pulled her head to one side, exposing her neck, and bit.

She struggled, of course, but she was still weak with shock, and he held her tightly. Gradually her movements grew slower and weaker, until she was limp against him, trembling softly.

He had never tasted anything like her—Slayer rich and Buffy sweet, smooth and hot against his tongue. She pushed at his chest with her small manicured hands and he caught her wrists in his free hand and held them.

After a time her heartbeat started to falter, and he pulled away from her neck and bit his own wrist, slashing a vein open. Her eyes were closed and she was pale, but he could hear her breath rasp faintly through her open mouth. He held his wrist to her mouth and let the blood drip down. He cradled her head as she swallowed reflexively, and stroked a few straggling wisps of hair out of her face.

When her heartbeat stopped, he lowered her body gently, almost tenderly, into the coffin and clicked the lid shut. He covered her grave again and tamped the earth down—loosely, so that it would be easier for her to get out when she rose. He glanced at her gravestone and realized with faint surprise that it was now engraved with her name. He hadn't exactly been in a position to notice before, but he was fairly certain that her name hadn't been there when he'd arrived.

It was then that reality returned, and he realized what he'd done, and he turned away, vomiting.

He hadn't. Oh God, please, he hadn't, he wouldn't, not ever. But he could taste her blood beneath the bile that rose in the back of his throat, and her name was carved into the tombstone in front of him, and oh no, oh God, he had.

He should wait for the sunrise, he knew. Because he made a promise to protect this girl, this girl that had brought his poor, battered soul peace for the first time since it had been forced back into his body, and instead he had killed her. Because she had once looked at him with total trust in her eyes, and he had turned her into a monster.

Because he still couldn't believe how good her blood had tasted.

Suicide was too good for him. He should wait until she rose, and put a stake through her heart, and watch as the thing that wore her face turned to dust. Buffy deserved at least that much, didn't she?

Then there were Buffy's friends. The least he could do was face them, tell them what had happened, let them kill him if they wanted to. They deserved to know what had happened to Buffy. They deserved to take revenge on her killer. Only a coward would deny them that.

Footsteps approached. He heard an almost-familiar voice saying, "Whose nightmare is this?"

He was a coward. He ran.