Spike wondered the streets the night before and had finally come up with a plan: to hit the streets again, but he would have to be careful.

As soon as the sun was down, he started roaming Italy. Spike had a sense for who was good and bad, and in his worst instinctual vampy gut, he knew the Immortal was up to no good. He just had to figure out what that no good was.

He walked miles and miles, not knowing where he was going, only listening and smelling and looking for danger.

Then he heard it: her.

"I still can't believe you're here! This is just such a surprise! Don't you have work?"

Spike felt cold, colder than usual.

Buffy, he thought, and somehow he thought he sensed her before she even spoke.

"Work is nothing," the man drawled in a thick accent. "I thought you could use a little gelato break."

"That you're right. You wouldn't believe how crazy this day has been. And it's only Monday."

The man laughed throatily.

Spike edged forward slowly, careful not to make a sound. He knew it was risky, but he had to see her, see that she was OK.

He followed them along the street until they stopped, waiting for the walk sign to let them pass. Spike hid in an alley, peering over the jutting bricks. With a pang, he saw they were holding hands.

Buffy was lit in the streetlights. Even the green and red lights made her look beautiful. Her companion was hidden in shadows, though.

Then, as the sign changed, they stepped forward together and the man kissed her lightly on the lips, resulting in a giggle from Buffy.

At that moment, Spike confirmed what he had been hoping was a vicious rumor, a horrible mistake, for this whole time. Another version of himself would have walked up to the Immortal and challenged him to a fight, or maybe Buffy herself. But instead, Spike saw her happiness and how delicately the situation had to be handled and reached into his pocket.

"Dawn. We need to meet. Now," he growled.

Spike tapped his fingers impatiently on the table, annoyed by the whiny bad music and blood he couldn't have. He ordered another drink when Dawn walked in followed by Willow.

"Nibblet, what is the Witch doing here? I thought this was just between us," he said quietly.

"Sorry, Spike," Dawn answered, sliding into the booth across from him. "I had to tell her. I didn't know what to do."

"Hi, Spike!" Willow said. "I'm glad you're not dead anymore. I think."


He took a swig of his drink and cleared his throat.

"Look, enough of the pleasantries. We have some business to attend to. Buffy's in trouble."

"Actually, I have some intel on that," Willow said.

Spike turned to her in surprise.

"Giles has been having me do all of this translating and research lately. It's apocalypse-y amounts of work. Stuff we haven't done since we destroyed the Hellmouth. What it comes down to is," Willow swallowed, "someone wants to destroy the Slayer, all of them, for good, starting with Buffy."