I wanted to say thank you to those that reviewed including Slip of the hand, escape5, Alwaysand, jazzy2may, Fairytopia, and Narias. Thank you! Also sorry for how long this chapter took to get out. I haven't abandoned this story.

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Chapter #12: A Narrow Escape

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"The first step to overcoming fear is to accept that you are afraid. To accept what you fear. When you can do this, and only when you can do this, can you make steps to move past your fear."

Re-reading that, Spike frowned then looked up from his book and at a reflection which would always be disturbing to see but had been put aside for the moment.

What fears did he have? Or, at least, what fears would he admit to having? To himself if no one else.

He knew he feared abandonment. Which fit in well with Dru leaving him, come to think of it. Spike's frown deepened and he looked down. Maybe that was why she'd done it. Never mind the fact that she'd done it before. Before it had never seemed so final. So maybe she'd come back on her own when he was cured. . . . Maybe . . .

Spike shook his head and got back on track.

What else was he afraid of?

This took thought and some serious soul-searching. And Spike winced. Bad phrase that. He didn't have a soul. He refused to have a soul.

Was that a fear? To have a soul? Spike knew he really didn't want one, so it must be.

Okay so two down. How many did he have? It couldn't be that many.

What else was there? What else did he not want?

He knew he didn't want to be weak. And humans were definitely weak. Weak-willed. Weak-minded. Physically weak. Pathetic.

And that was probably it, Spike realized in a flash of clarity. That was probably why he was human. He didn't want to be weak. If he hadn't minded being weak he would've gotten the soul which would've been horrible and he would've been pathetic but at least he would've been the kind of pathetic that could fight back.

Now, could he accept that he was afraid of these things?

It took a second to realize it. He already had.

Spike blinked at his reflection, somewhat startled to discover this.

And how had that helped?

Looking back down at his book, Spike flipped through the pages in search of the right section. Maybe he'd done something wrong.

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Things had gotten better as the week passed and he got more used to people but they never became too much better. Xander still had problems.

He just wasn't used to his new size yet and he didn't think he ever would be completely. After all, how could he? He was used to being a relatively big guy, not huge but not small either, and then something like this comes around and totally throws him for a loop. It was crazy.

Walking down the path to Giles' house after school, Xander got to the door of the house just as Spike was turning into the drive. Turning the knob to find it locked, Xander took out his key and stuck it in the lock. By this time Spike had gotten to the doorstep and he waited almost patiently for Xander to open the door. Pushing the door open, he started to step inside only to have Spike rudely push past him and into the house, shoving him into the doorframe.

"Geez. Rude, much?" Xander said as he rubbed his shoulder where he had impacted with the frame, a little annoyed but getting way too used to Spike's rudeness to really care much. He continued into the house, closing the door behind him, dropping his backpack next to the couch, and heading for the kitchen for a drink.

"Hey G-man," Xander greeted Giles as he walked into the kitchen, not really paying much attention to what Giles was doing in there. He headed straight for the fridge where he took out a soda and turned to lean against the counter as he popped open the top.

"Xander!" Giles said, sounding more than a little surprised. The older man jumped up from his seat at the kitchen table and stood in front of it as though to hide what he was doing.

Xander looked up at him just in time to see Giles sweeping a pile of papers and a bottle of scotch behind him. Getting a little suspicious, he turned to Giles and tried to pretend he hadn't seen anything. "Yeah. Me. What's up?"

"I – I, um," Giles stuttered, seeming a little too nervous.

Xander peered at him closely. "You okay there, G-man?"

"Ye – yes, yes. I am. I just – Xander." Giles turned to Xander seriously, seeming to calm himself, and spoke, "I'm afraid I have some business to attend to tonight. Do you think that you—and – and Spike, of course, mustn't forget him—Do you think you and Spike could possibly vacate the house for tonight?"

Now Xander was really suspicious, but if Giles wanted him out of the house then there really wasn't anything he could do. "Alright. Sure. Let me just go tell Spike, okay?"

Giles seemed a little too relieved. "Yes. Yes, thank you." But he didn't sit back down, continuing to block the table's contents with his body, even going as far as to move with Xander as Xander walked past to block Xander's view from all sides. Xander tried to shrug off Giles's weird behavior, but he couldn't help but be worried. He'd seen the alcohol.

"Hey, dipshit," Xander said, coming into the living room and leaning forward against the armchair behind Spike's head.

Spike growled as best he could with his human vocal cords, but otherwise ignored him.

"Hey. I said, hey," Xander said and reached out to poke Spike's head.

Swiping a hand at him irritably, Spike still didn't turn to look behind him, but he did ask, "Wot?"

"We need to leave," Xander told him.

"No," Spike replied simply and continued to watch the TV.

"Giles needs the house to himself tonight," Xander tried.

"Don't care," Spike replied.

Xander huffed irritably. Trust Spike to be difficult. "Giles says if you don't leave he won't feed you anymore."

At this, Spike finally turned to him with narrow eyes. "Yer makin' that up."

Xander kept his features serious. "You wanna bet on that? 'Cuz I can go ask him, easy."

Spike growled to himself again, but didn't take the bet. Getting up from his seat, he snatched his coat from its spot hanging on the couch and stalked out of the room angrily.

Xander smiled to himself and went to get his own coat. He could probably hang out with Willow tonight or something. He was sure her parents wouldn't mind if they were even there at all.

He didn't even stop and think about where Spike was going to go.

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Spike grumbled to himself, unable to believe he was being thrown out of the house just so the Watcher could do whatever it was he was doing in the kitchen. It was probably something shady and the man just didn't want anybody around to catch him at it and have his reputation sullied.

And what was he going to do once it got dark?

Spike shook his head and shoved his hands in his duster pockets as he stalked down the street. Well, he'd think about that once it got here. For now he had at least three hours to kill with nothing to do.

Having a quick think, Spike decided he didn't want to go shopping or do anything in the main part of town, and he couldn't go to Willy's (too many demons and other types that would jump at the chance to beat up a human-him), so he'd just walk.

And so Spike walked. He walked for hours, until his legs were aching and he was tired. Deciding that sitting down would be a good thing; he found a bench and sat. It was getting close to sunset now and Spike wouldn't admit it but he was starting to get worried. He knew better than anyone what kind of things lurked the Sunnydale streets and now that he was human he was essentially those things' number one prey. There weren't any hiding places that he could think of that vampires or other demons hadn't already made into a home so he had no choice but to stay out in the open. He was just begging to be eaten really.

Still. Maybe if he kept walking and stayed away from the really dangerous areas he would be alright.

He hoped.

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Fours hours into the night and he was still alive. That was good, but Spike had a feeling that his alive status wasn't going to continue being correct, as he was almost positive that something was following him. He could almost hear the sound of heavy footsteps behind him even though the creature was keeping to the shadows and out of his sight.

He stopped again and turned around in another attempt to see the demon stalking him, but still couldn't find him.

Once again he cursed this bloody useless human body. If he'd been a vampire, he'd have the senses to know where and what was stalking him. Of course, if he'd been a vampire, he doubted this demon would be stalking him in the first place. The fact that he was a recognizable figure in the demon world was probably all that was keeping him alive right now. The demon stalking him was probably confused about why the vampire Spike was sending off all the signals of a regular human. Probably couldn't decide whether it should try its luck and trust that this Spike impersonator was actually a human or run away because this actually was Spike. Now if only that confusion could last the rest of the night then things would be just peachy. But Spike had a feeling that the demon had been building up its courage for a while now and was almost to the point where it didn't care whether this was Spike or not. He seemed like a regular human and so the demon would attack.

Spike heaved a sigh and looked up at the night sky, looking at all the stars for a moment before remembering that he couldn't afford a moment's break in his awareness of his surroundings. So he might not be able to fight back, that didn't mean he had to be unprepared.

Spike looked back around him at the happy little row of houses. He'd been keeping mostly to the residential areas, as he knew most demons hunted down by the docks, warehouses, and graveyards. There usually wasn't very good hunting around the homes and he'd been hoping on that to keep him relatively safe. But apparently it hadn't.

The attack came at him at a rush. No matter that he'd been expecting it, it seemed to come at him quicker than he could follow. All he felt was a sudden stabbing pain in his right shoulder and then he had jerked away, only hurting his shoulder worse. Turning around quickly he found himself face to face with a Jefra demon, a demon that looked kind of like a life-size version of a gremlin only a dark orange in color and with three 10-inch claws on each hand. They were incredibly fast and had a habit of eating human innards along with various bits of other animals. The Jefra grinned a grin full of sharp teeth and then attacked again, the demon's claws whipping out faster than Spike could track to rip at him again. Spike managed to duck this time and threw a punch before he could remember that he wasn't as fast or strong as he was used to. The Jefra caught his hand easily and used it to throw him over the demon's shoulder and into one of the bushes lining the street.

Shaking his head and struggling to his feet, Spike didn't have time to think before the Jefra was there again pushing him down to supposedly get at his stomach so that it could start eating. Spike kicked out, knocking the demon off its feet and did the thing he should have done when the demon first appeared. He ran.

He felt like the biggest coward. He'd never run from a demon since he'd been turned except for that one time with the Defrani demon and that was understandable because those things were huge and nearly impossible to kill. This was a measly Jefra. He would normally have kicked a Jefra's orange arse and beat it with its own arm. Ripped out those claws and sell them to a weapons maker to make a pretty penny. And now he was running. Pathetic.

The Jefra didn't let him get far, getting back up onto its feet and loping down the street after Spike's retreating form.

Quickly turning into one of the houses, running over the nicely mowed lawn and through the wooden gate at its side, Spike raced through the backyard and pulled himself over the brick wall in the back as quickly as he could, cursing as he scraped his hands on the hard brick. The Jefra followed behind, seeming to enjoy the chase, the bloody bastard.

Racing down the next street, Spike tried to think quickly about what he could do. There weren't any weapons lying handily around and he couldn't just make one by ripping apart a bench like he normally would do, so what could he do?

He could run, which would only last so long.

He could kick and punch, which were really pretty useless when he was practically as weak as a newborn kitten.

He could die, which seemed more likely with every moment.

Racing up and over another wall in another backyard, Spike ran down the next street, leading the Jefra on what was probably, to it, a nicely refreshing chase. Thinking this just served to make Spike angry. Here he was, a Master vampire in his own right, and he was being chased down like a rat in a cage. It didn't matter that he was human now; this was still insulting.

And it didn't hurt the anger that Spike was feeling fear, true fear for his life, for the first time in almost a century. He hadn't felt this way since he'd disobeyed Angelus on a hunt back when he was still a fledgling.

He continued to list his choices.

He could go to the Watcher's house, but Jefras weren't stopped by simple doors like vampires were and there probably weren't a good weapons there anyway.

He could try and find the Slayer, but who knew where that bint could be.

He could keep running, but eventually he was going to run out of energy.

With one long running leap, the Jefra jumped on his back and Spike was down. Turning over onto his back, he punched and kicked out his legs, trying to get the bloody demon off of him to no luck. The Jefra made that hissing sound that counted as laughter among their species and that just made Spike all the more angry. The fear had also doubled and adrenaline was rushing through his veins. Not that it did him any good.

Was this what it felt like for his own past victims? This stark terror and angry regret that he couldn't be stronger?

The Jefra finally got Spike into a good position and raised its claws, fully prepared to dig into his stomach and eat the innards that worked there. And just as Spike was almost positive that he was dead, truly dead, the Jefra was grabbed and thrown bodily off of him. Blinking in shock Spike just lay there where he was and missed it as the Slayer completed her kill.

Eventually, the Jefra lying dead, his neck snapped, over in the bushes, the Slayer walked over to look down at him. She frowned at what she saw. "Spike? What are you doing out at night? I thought we told you to stay inside."

Spike came out of his shock and scowled at the Slayer as he pulled himself to his feet. Trying to ignore the fact that he was still shaking somewhat (probably because of the adrenaline), Spike dusted himself off and replied, "The Watcher kicked me out. Not my fault."

The Slayer only frowned some more. "What'd you do that made him kick you out?"

Spike glared at her for the assumption. "Nothing. He kicked out Harris too."

The Slayer looked confused for a moment but then nodded as if that settled something and looked at him again and at his bleeding shoulder. "You should really go back to Giles' and get that checked out. Forget what he told you. He's obviously gone crazy."

Ignoring her, Spike adjusted his duster, tugging down the sleeves and getting himself under better control. He tried not to wince as this pulled rough fabric over his bleeding shoulder wound.

"Hey," the Slayer said irritably, "Are you listening to me? I said go home." But then the Slayer seemed to think of something. "No wait. I'll go with you."

At that, Spike scowled at her. "I don't need a bloody babysitter."

The Slayer scowled right back at him. "I'm not babysitting you. I want to talk to Giles. You know, to see what's up. He was supposed to meet me tonight and he wasn't there."

Spike still looked angry with this, but accepted the fact that the Slayer was going to be walking with him. "Fine. Whatever."

Here, the Slayer smiled somewhat, some humor present in her eyes. "Careful there. Somebody might think we were starting to rub off on you."

Spike glared, somewhat angry to realize that she was right. He'd never used the word 'whatever' like that before. "Let's just go."

The Slayer nodded and off they went.

Eventually they got to Giles' house and Buffy knocked on the door. Spike still didn't have a key so he waited semi-patiently for the old man to answer the door which he eventually did.

"Buffy. Spike. What on Earth are you here for?" The Watcher looked bleary and like he'd been drinking too much scotch. Spike ignored him as he pushed his way through the door.

"Spike!" the Watcher protested, turning to give him an angry look. "I believe I told you to stay out tonight."

"Yeah," the Slayer said, following Spike's example and pushing through the door while the Watcher was distracted. She stood in front of the couch and looked at the old man reproachfully. "And I have to wonder. Why is that? Did you forget where we live just like you forgot we were supposed to meet tonight?"

"We – we –" the Watcher looked confused and then seemed to remember, "Oh Buffy. Please forgive me. Something came up and I – I well . . . Are you alright?"

"I'm fine," the Slayer replied, frowning now. "I mean, my feelings were a little hurt, but things went down just fine. Only one bag was damaged."

"Oh good. Good," the Watcher said, seeming satisfied. "Then if everything's alright, would you mind . . ." he trailed off here and indicated that Buffy should leave. "I'm quite busy at the moment. And do you think you could take Spike with you?"

The Slayer frowned deeper at this, but Spike spoke up before she could say anything.

"Oi. I'm not some dog y' can pass around."

"No, no, of course not," the Watcher said absentmindedly, not seeming to even really hear him which just made Spike angry, but then the Watcher looked at the Slayer again. "Please? If there was any other way I wouldn't ask, but I'm afraid there's not."

The Slayer sighed, but seemed to accept that. "Okay. Fine. Spike?" She turned to him and crooked a finger at him, indicating he was coming with her. "You're with me."

Spike scowled. He didn't want to go anywhere with the Slayer, but it didn't seem he had the choice. Grudgingly, he got up from his armchair and almost stomped over to the Slayer's side where he scowled deeper and crossed his arm over his chest. The Slayer said her good-byes to the Watcher and Spike glared at the old man as he followed the Slayer out of the house.

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TBC