Spike ran tired fingers through his brittle and bloodstained hair. Everyone else seemed to just be standing
around, now. A few minutes ago it had all been gungho, let's get them all out alive, make sure nobody dies,
let the soldiers burn. And he'd been part of it. Well, not anymore. A few minutes ago he'd been a
temporary Scooby, taking the Slayer's orders, fighting by her side. And now it was all over, making
everyone uncomfortable. He stretched, and a few bones popped. Buffy wrinkled her nose, and looked like
she was going to say something. He smirked.

"I'm off. Enough do-gooding for one day, Thankyou very much. Or not at all, in fact."

"Watch it, Blondie. We came this close to...."

"Doing the dusty. I know. Goodnight."

He dismissed Xander with a wave of the hand, and walked back in lonely silence to the tomb. The crypt.
The freaking bat cave, call you what you liked, it was a dead man's home. Had the right depressing sort of
feel. Spike kicked off his boats and threw the duster at the hook near the door. It missed, and sprawled over
a nearby stone bench. He lay back on the slab and shut his eyes.


Almost immediately he opened them again, and found himself inside a bubble. He was standing inside a
bubble, floating over Sunnydale. Or at least, it looked like Sunnydale. He thought it was Sunnydale. The
bubble was transparent, and he was suddenly very aware that he was completely naked.

"Bloody Hell!"

Spike tried to crouch over and cover himself up, and ended up leaning against the side in a sort of fetal
position. It wasn't too bad, as he was floating very high up. No-one could really see him. Then the bubble
began to descend. Towards the Slayer's house.
He was hovering inside a bubble, naked, on the Slayer's front lawn. If it had been Angel he would have
laughed. Sadly, however, it wasn't Angel. It was him, and it definitely wasn't funny. So far, nobody had
passed by. The street was deserted.

"Okay. At least I'm alone and stark bollock naked."

It seemed he had spoken too soon. There was a tapping noise behind his head, and he whipped round. Well,
whipped around as fast as anyone could while trying to cover their nakedness with their hands. A small,
smiling man pushed his hand through the bubble, and uncovered a tray full of cheese slices. He waved
them at Spike.

"Do not try and cover yourself with the cheese. Become the cheese. Before the mice get here."

"What the..."

Too late. He was gone, and Spike suddenly felt compelled to turn around. The bubble popped, and he found
himself lying in the middle of the tarmac road, surrounded by people. It was completely silent, and he
stared defiantly back at them.
"Alright, that's enough. I know I'm can stop now..."
Some of the faces seemed almost familiar. A pretty brunette turned her head slightly and he caught a
glimpse of dried blood beneath the pressed collar. Men and women and children, all staring with their dead,
cold eyes. All familiar, all too familiar, and his words dried up. They parted like the red sea, like grass
yielding to a summer's breeze. All flesh is grass, and she glided through them as a preacher, as a judge, as
an angel.
"Are you sorry?"


"I said, are you sorry?"

"Sorry for what? Why the blo...blood...hell, you stupid bitch...should...I apol..I'm sorry. I seem to have
forgotten my manners. Terribly rude, I apologise, but I'm sure I do not understand the nature of the

He was talking to himself. Clothes were stiff and tight, he couldn't move, couldn't breathe. William
wrinkled his forehead in confusion and raised his eyebrows at the starry sky. "What an odd thing."

"What's odd, sweetheart?"

William felt Cecily's arms wrap around his waist, her slim hands cool against his shirt. "I thought...for a
moment there was someone there. All kinds of people, wearing the strangest clothes."
She laughed, and a thousand glass bells tinkled merrily in his ears. "Oh, William. You have the most
fantastical imagination."

"Well, I am a poet, dear."

When she smiled again it was the smile of a lover, deep and dark and knowing.
"Come to bed."
He allowed himself to be led inside the room. On the floor were scattered papers of his latest works, and
several large volumes stood in an ebony bookcase. As the Poet Laureate he was to be in the company of the
Royal Family tomorrow. Right now all he wanted was the company of his wife. She had let go of his hand,
and a sliver of moonlight illuminated the dark shape under silken sheets.
William grinned, and loosened his shirt. He took the bottom edge of the sheet between his fingers and
pulled it towards him. It slid smoothly downwards, uncovering tawny hair, then her forehead, then her eyes
and perfect lips...yet the eyes were closed. The lips were blue. Frantically he threw the rest of the sheet
from her and gushing fountains of blood blinded his sight.
He wiped it from his face, screaming her name, then realized that his hands were closed around cold steel
and were plunging down and up and down and up. Screaming in anger and the railroad spike struck an
ivory hollow in her spine.
Right to the bone.
"You'll be needing some new clothes."


"Now why in the world are ye calling me by such a name? It's Liam, lad."
Liam took him by the shoulder and began to guide him through busy streets. Spike was soaking wet. He
shrugged off the heavy duster and felt his face with clammy hands. The scar from his eyebrow was
missing, the skin smooth and new. His hair felt soft and when he glanced in a nearby shop window he
discovered that it was a tawny brown colour once more.
He inhaled sharply and felt his heart beat faster, blood coursing through his veins, real blood.
"I'm alive."

"We all are here. It's easy, Will. It's forgotten and forgiven."

"This is real?"

"Of course tis. Just follow me. As easy as that."

"Ye're refusing redemption?"

"This isn't redemption, you stupid pillock. It's not real. None of it's real."

"Your choice."

"Bloody well is!"
His shout echoed across the arid desert. Spike looked skywards and found the night sky sprinkled with
stars. Everything was technicolour, a thousand shades of searing black and white. White sand, like ground
bone. It shifted beneath his feet, and he heard the feral growl.
"Who's there? Might as well so yourself, haven't got all day."
The growl faded, and he inhaled deeply. Vanilla and jasmine. She was here again. He turned to face her.
No words, and the music began to play. He took her hand and pulled her close to him.
"You're just to good to be true."
The older man stepped on to the dance floor and sang to them as they twirled and whirled and swirled.
Spike grinned at her, and straightened his bow tie, before pulling her closer once more.
"Can't take my eyes off of you."
Beautiful in elegant cream silk. No truer words spoken, and they had an audience. Everybody watching,
everybody smiling.
"You'd be like heaven to touch,
I wanna hold you so much
At long last love has arrived
And I thank God I'm alive
You're just to good to be true
Can't take my eyes off of you."
Now he let her go and grabbed the other microphone. People started to clap and cheer. She gave him a half
smile from the corner of the room and that was all he needed.
"I need you baby,
If it's quite alright.
I need you baby,
To warm the lonely nights.
I love you baby,
Trust in me when I say okay."

He was losing them. They were all drifting away, yet still he carried on. She walked closer. That was all he
"Oh pretty baby,
Don't let me down I pray.
Oh pretty baby,
Now that I found you stay.
And let me love you..."
Spotlight swung to her, and he saw al her features outlined, perfectly form words on her lips.
"You. Are. Beneath. Me."

Spike screamed in pain and anger and unrequited love as he fell down. Down, down, down, spiraling
descent until he couldn't remember whether he was falling or standing still.
Then it was just black.
"I must speak for her. She has no language. She is alone. She is the First."
First had a capital f, and he felt fear.
"She is angered with you. You move in the ways of man, this childe of her night. She does not wish for this
play to continue."

Blackness closing in, and an unpleasant feeling of a room too small. Too cold.
"You will leave the Slayer's side. You will move once more in circles of blood. You will do these things
and you will be faithful to her."

A fetid stench, like weeks old blood. Blood of every kind, every sort. A sense of discoloured flesh, the
scratch of ancient nails over stone.
"Or you will pay in ways unimaginable."
A glimmer of fangs, longer than his forearm. The First. For a moment of pure paralysis he tried to
comprehend what he thought was being told t him. The First. Pure and unadulterated. Without human form.
Take away the body and what are you left with...ridges and fangs and claws. And hate. And death. And the
cold. The First. Everything must have a beginning, and he wondered if perhaps the First Slayer visited
Buffy in her dreams tonight.
Who would visit him.
Then the fangs flashed towards him, nails scraped with the speed of the hunt and he screamed.
He screamed and sat bolt upright. Panted with unnecessary breaths and lay back down again, eyes staring at
the cobwebbed ceiling.
There was a moment of silence.
"What the fu..."