Sunnydale, May 2002

"If you wanted to hurt Buffy. Congratulations. It worked."
She walked out, closing the door carefully. She didn't even slam it. That he could have taken, anger he's good at. But not this, not the silent dissapointment. It was just too much.

He got up, stared pacing the crypt. He had to get out of here, had to do something... He left the crypt and found his motorcycle in an alley close to the cemetery. On the way he stopped at Willy's. He found Clem in the poker room.

"Spike! Wanna join the game?" Clem asked Spike.

"No, I'm leaving town for a while. Could you stay at my place while I'm gone? Don't wanna lose it." He asked his friend.

"Sure, no problem. Where you going?"

"Don't know... away." He answered.

"Oh... that Slayer of yours again, huh? She's a great girl, don't get me wrong, but..." Seeing the look Spike gave him, Clem hurried to change the subject. "So, when you gonna be back?"

"Don't know that either. Not for a while... there's something else... could you give this to Buffy when you see her?" He handed Clem an envelope. "See you when I get back." Spike turned and left the bar before Cem could get another workd in.


"Mmm...Xander!" Willow pulled away from Tara.

"OK, not quite the response I was fishing for."

"No, he's here." Tara turned from the window and smiled at Willow.

"Think they're making up?" Willow peeked through the window.

"I hope so that's the best..." Tara was interrupted by Anya who suddenly appeared in the room. "...part. What are you doing here?"

"Damn." Anya looked around. "I must be out of shape. I was aiming for the garden." She started out the door and down the stairs. Willow and Tara followed.

"Wait." Willow caught Anya by the shoulder. "What's going on?"

"Don't you feel it? There's so much vengeance in the air, I'd think even you would notice." She continued down the stair.

"What are you talking about?" Tara and Willow caught up with her below the stairs.

"Someone's headed this way, and he's got a bad case of vengeance going. Something's gonna happen, I just don't know what, and I have to warn them." At that moment they heard gunshots from the garden.

"Oh God. Buffy?" Xander was kneeling by Buffy on the ground when the three women got into the garden. "Oh God... oh God... Buffy?"

"Xander, what happened?" Willow rushed to his side and pressed the sweater she'd been holding in her hand against the bullet wound in Buffy's upper left chest.

"It... it was that guy, Warren. He... he was yelling about... I don't know, and then the next moment, he... he had a gun and he... oh God!"

Tara ran back into the house and emerged about a minute later.

"An ambulance is on it's way. And the police too. Where's Anya?"

Willow looked around. Neither of them had noticed Anya leave. When her eyes reached the hole in the hedge, Anya was coming through it with Warren in front of her.

"Look what I found!" Anya pushed Warren to the ground and pointed the gun at him. "Don't even think about getting up. I know how to use this and I will if I have to." Warren seemed to take her seriously, because he didn't even move. Everybody turned their attention back to Buffy, who had now closed her eyes on the ground.

"Where is that damn ambulance?" Xander was feeling helpless and didn't know what to do. He held Buffy's hand and kept track of her pulse with one of his fingers.

That very moment, they heard sirens approaching and Tara went around the house to lead the ambulance personnel right. Less than a minute later she came back into the back yard followed by four men, two paramedics with a stretcher and two police officers. The police men went up to Warren sitting on the grass and started reading him his rights while putting hand cuffs on him. The paramedics put the stretcher down next to Buffy and started checking her injuries.

"We need to get her to the hospital. Now." One of the men said, the other nodding in agreement. They lifted Buffy onto the stretcher and started rolling it to the ambulance while the policemen took Warren to their car. Xander followed.

"I'm gonna go with her. You can take my car." He tossed the keys to Willow, who caught them with one hand.

"We'll pick up Dawn on the way." Willow caught the keys.

"Dawn. God, I completely forgot." Xander ran his hands over his face, as he got in the back of the ambulance. "OK. You get her, just hurry." One of the paramedics closed the doors behind him and in a couple of seconds, the ambulance was heading for the hospital, sirens wailing.


Willow, Tara, Anya and Dawn came bursting through the doors to the waiting room and looked around for Xander. He was sitting in one of the chairs against the right wall, staring into space.

"Hey." Willow smiled at him. "Any news?"

"No. They're still working on her. Wouldn't even tell me what's going on." He

looked up at Dawn, who had a hard time holding back the tears. "Hey, it's gonna be OK."

"You don't know that. That's what they said about mom and look what happened." She sat down next to Xander and he put his arm around her shoulder.

"This is completely different, you know. Slayer healing and all."

At that moment a doctor came into the waiting room and both Dawn and Xander stood up.

"Doctor? Any news?"

The doctor walked up to the group. Nothing could be read from his expression.

"I'm very sorry. There was nothing we could do, the damage was just too extensive." The doctor said.

Dawn was the first to understand the doctor's words. She sat back down and started to cry silently. Willow turned to Tara who pulled er close as they both cried. Anya looked devastated, and turned away from everyone. Xander was the last to understand. Slowly, he sat back down not realizing what was really happening. Then the world finally caught up with him and tears started down his cheeks.


They went back to the Summer's house after a while, since they couldn't stay at the hospital. Nobody wanted to be alone. They stayed down in the living room, someone turned on the TV but nobody really watched it. After a couple of hours, Xander ordered pizza, mostly to get Dawn to eat something.

They gathered around the island in the kitchen, eating in silence. They hadn't said a word to each other since the hospital. Dawn was the first to speak.

"I want to go see Spike. I should tell him... he would want to know."

"Dawn... not now, please." Xander put down the slice of pizza he just picked up. "Can we just leave him out of this?"

"Why? He doesn't deserve to know because of what happened at the Magic Box?" Dawn looked at Anya for a second, then turned back to Xander. "He loves... loved her. You know that." Nobody said anything.

"Fine. I'll go by myself." She got up and left the kitchen. Tara went after her.

"I'll go with you. If that's OK." Tara said to Dawn.

"Thank you." Dawn gave her a hug and opened the front door.


When they got to Spike's crypt Dawn hesitated with a hand on the door.

"I don't know how to tell him...he'll be..."

"I know." Tara took a step forward. "Do you want me to?" She asked.

"No. I should. Could you wait out here?" Tara nodded. Dawn opened the door and entered the dark crypt.

"Spike?" But the one inside the crypt wasn't Spike. It was Clem. "Oh. Hi."

"Hey there. You looking for Spike?" Clem asked Dawn.

"Yeah. You know where he is?"

"He kinda left town. Last night. I'm watching this place till he gets back." Clem responded unaware of the pain he was causing Dawn by saying this.

"Do you know when he'll be back?" Dawn looked around the crypt.

"No. Wait a sec. You're the Slayer's sister, right?" Clem asked.

"Yes." She responded.

"Could you give her something? Spike asked me to give her this letter, or something, and I'm not sure I'll see her, so..." Clem gave Dawn the envelope that Spike had given him. Dawn took it and looked at it. Then tears started to run down her face again.

"Oh, I'm sorry. Did I do something?" Clem looked at her, not sure how to react to her tears.

"No, it's not you..." Dawn pulled herself together and dried her eyes. "It's just... Buffy... she... she died earlier today..." The tears started again, and she wasn't even trying to hold back. She heard the door to the crypt open and the second later she was pulled into a tight embrace by Tara.

"He's not here!" She sobbed against Tara's chest. "He-he-he left... left town... why did he go?"

"I don't know Dawnie, I'm sorry." Tara started pullig Dawn out of the crypt, half carrying her back to the house, leaving a confused Clem behind. When they got there, she led Dawn to the couch in the living room. Everybody gathered around them, questioning looks on their faces.

"He wasn't there." Tara explained.

"He left town. Last night. Just like that..." The words were only whispers, but everybody understood what Dawn said.

"What's that?" Xander indicated the envelope that Dawn still had clutched in her hand. She let go of it and it fell to the floor. Xander picked it up and opened it.

Dear Buffy.
I'll be gone when you get this. Don't ask me where, or why, or even how, 'cause I don't know. All I know is I can't stay here. I can't stand to see that look on your face, the one you had the other night, and know that it's my fault. Please believe that this is not what I wanted, never this. All I ever wanted was you, to be the kind of man you could be proud of. That will never happen. So I'm going, hopefully I'll figure out where before I get there. But if you never believed anything I said, believe this; I will be back.

Africa, May 2002

"You have endured the required trials." A voice sounded through the cave.

"Bloody right I have." Spike pushed himself off the ground. "So give me what I want. Make me what I Buffy can get what she deserves. "

"Very well. We will return you to what you once were." A blue light surged through the cave and Spike screamed in pain.