A/N: Thanks to DreamsofSpike for betaing this final chapter. Also, thanks to everyone who has ever reviewed and supported this fic. It's been a year, but it's finally done. Hope you all like the results :D Oh, and here's two chapters for the click of one.
"Twisted Logic" and "Don't Cry"
"So, Spike. How are…things with you and Buffy?"
Spike furrowed his brow at the question, shifting uncomfortably on Giles' sofa. "Uh, how's that?"
Giles took off his glasses, Spike assumed, so he wouldn't have to look at him clearly. He watched as Giles bit on one of the stems, looking off to the side, and Spike was just certain he was pondering on how exactly he was going to say what was on his mind.
"Out with it, Watcher. Don't have all day," he said in an irritable tone.
Giles snapped his head up at that and, as if remembering himself, adopted an incredibly stern expression as he put his glasses back on. "I want to know what exactly is going on between you and Buffy. I know that the two of you have…er…um, some feelings…for one another. And if there is something going on between the two of you, or if anything's progressed, I have every right to know."
"Shouldn't you be talking to Buffy about this?"
"I'm talking to you," the Watcher replied in his no-nonsense tone.
Spike sighed, resting his feet on the coffee table in front of him, taking a swig from his Killian. "No need to be all nervous, Nancy. Nothing going on between me and the Slayer."
"But you have feelings for her," Giles stated. "And she for you, I presume. And you mean to tell me that nothing has—"
"It doesn't bloody matter, does it? Indecisive bint." Spike paused at Giles' deathly glare. "Um, I mean…Summers won't make up her mind. Hardly gives me the time of day. So no worries—we won't be skipping through a field of daisies any time soon, I assure you."
Not to say that Spike still wasn't trying like hell to make that happen.
First were the clothes. Alright, so maybe the all black ensemble rubbed some people the wrong way. It had dark and mysterious connotations, sure, but was also associated with being standoffish, and therefore probably bad. So he got the khakis, and the prissy queen pastels, but just blues and purples—he'd be damned if he ever wore pink.
And yeah, he'd already been hanging out with her mum and sis, the almighty father figure, and Xander, but then he thought that maybe it was best to hang out with her friends as a whole—to show that he could mesh with all aspects of her life, and not just some. Red was her best friend after all, and getting along with the mates of her…well, mates…was also important, especially since the Scoobies seemed to thrive on the whole group hanging out thing.
And actually…it was a bit of all right.
When he first walked into the Bronze, and saw Buffy sitting alone, watching her friends, he paused—not sure what to do or say exactly. But once he finally got the stones to do just walk up and talk to her, it wasn't as awkward as he thought it would be. The conversations were easy going, everyone was amicable…
It was only later, he realized, that Buffy had treated him as a friend. God, she looked at him as if he were some kind of British Xander replacement.
That just wouldn't do.
He had to get her in a setting where it was just the two of them—one that didn't exactly involve talking shop, especially.
But there was always something getting in the way--the "something" being his foot in his mouth, usually. For every step they progressed, there were two steps back to follow it. This latest incident had actually been three or four.
Dawn had come over, mischievous little minx that she was, after school. Said she felt safe with him, and liked how he didn't talk down to her like the others. Cheeky, that one. He liked the Nibblet. Talking to her was…incredibly easy, for some reason…which was good, 'cause having people on his side was always a plus. But then, it was also bad.
Sometimes, he talked a little bit too much.
It was just…she was so eager, and so very interested in the tales he had to tell. And she wasn't scared—she wanted to know every gory detail he had to offer. Talkative git that he was, he indulged her.
Hence the whole foot in mouth thing.
Of course the Slayer chose the moment in which he was discussing the little girl hiding in the coal bin to come barging in, upset that Dawn had stayed there so long, and no one bothered to inform her or Joyce. But it wasn't as if he had a phone. On top of that, he had to wait till nightfall to even escort Dawn home. Traveling through the sewers wasn't such a great idea either—not a proper place for a young girl. But then again, neither were cemeteries and crypts.
It seemed like every time Buffy got over being all sour-pussed with him for one reason or another, something else would suddenly come up. But Spike, ever undaunted, had a plan. First, he would apologize to Joyce…
"God, what is with you? You know how worried Mom gets. And Spike! Telling you horror stories from the days of yore!"
"No he wasn't! He was just…it was a history lesson. And I'm really sorry about not leaving sooner. We just lost track of time, and—"
"Dawn, you don't understand. That is not a place for you to hang out, okay? He is not your friend."
"He is too! God, jealous much?"
"Just 'cause you're afraid to spend any time with him, doesn't mean I have to be."
"You have a crush on him."
"No I don't! It's just…" Dawn paused to giggle a bit. "He's got cool hair, and he wears cool leather coats and stuff. And he doesn't treat me like an alien. Besides—pot? Kettle?"
"It's so obvious you're into him."
"What? No I'm—"
"Ch-yeah, Buffy. You get all jittery around him and stuff, and you stumble over your words. Oh, and sometimes, you can't even look him in the eye," Dawn said triumphantly. "He's definitely crushing on you; you clearly like him…what's the big?"
Ah yes, that was indeed the question.
What was the big deal?
Well, it's simple really. Buffy and relationships are just totally un-mixy things. Like oil and water. Or like chocolate fudge and a diet.
If Buffy were to be completely honest with herself, she could admit silently that yes, she was holding back, and yes, she was dodging Spike's advances. She just…
"Mom! The little delinquent's home safe and sound!" Buffy yelled once they came through the front door.
"Oh, thank goodness!" Joyce embraced Dawn in a tight, motherly hug before pulling back, holding her by the shoulders at arm's length. "Where the hell have you been, young lady? You know it's not safe!"
"Sorry, Mom. I was just…I was hanging with Spike, is all. And hey—he helped me do my homework, so…" Dawn waited, hoping her mom would let her off the hook.
Joyce's mood lightened up considerably at that. "Oh, okay."
"'Oh okay'? That's it? No lecture?" Buffy questioned.
"Well, I agree that Dawn is to come straight home, but Buffy, Spike's the best protection Dawn could have, next to you. Besides, he encourages Dawn to finish her homework. He's such a sweet boy," Joyce said with a bit of a smile.
"You do realize he isn't a boy, right?"
"I know, dear—he's old enough to be my ancestor, right? But there's just something…something endearing about him, you know?"
Dawn giggled. "I think mom wants to make him chicken and stars."
"Mom! It's not like he actually gets sick!"
"I'm aware, Buffy. You know, if I didn't know any better, I'd say you were just a tad jealous."
Buffy sighed, not bothering to dignify that with an answer. "Listen, I'm gonna go patrol. See what I can find out about that train incident."
Really, what Dawn had pointed out earlier was suddenly weighing on her, and she just needed a serious distraction. She asked Xander to accompany her…not that she couldn't have handled it herself, but Xander had a car, and that was always faster.
Okay, so she just wanted to get him alone so that she could ask his advice. Even though he was her best friend, well, it was still way awkward. She knew how Xander felt about vampires—it was no secret. But, he did seem to be getting along better with Spike lately.
"Never mind…Well, it's just that…"
"I…Spike wants us to be an item."
"And I don't know what to do about it. It's all so—"
"Actually, I was gonna say weird. But new, too. I mean, he's been able to go back to his former evil way of life, but he's still on the pig's blood—"
"He actually prefers cow, with a touch of otter." On Buffy's "what?" expression, he hastily added, "Yeah, I know. Too much quality time. My life is a strange one."
"Anyway, he's completely going against his nature because he chooses to. It's so backwards, but..."
"Well, the guy does stomp his way to the beat of his own drummer. And god, how I wish this was just some weird Spike thing, but…he loves you."
"I know," she said quietly, looking down.
"And I don't know if the feeling's mutual, but it's obvious something's there."
Buffy looked up at him. "It is?"
"Yeah, it is. And to be quite honest, this whole thing goes against all my beliefs, and probably some I didn't even know I had. But sometimes," he paused, making a popping sound with his mouth. "You just gotta roll with the punches. Yeah, his chip stopped working, he doesn't have a soul, but…I dunno. He's different. The guy grows on you, like a fungus. He's like this disease that worms its way into the cockles of your heart. He's like—"
"Yeah, I think I get the picture."
"And maybe…maybe he had the chip for so long, he just lost the drive for evil. Anya did. You would not believe how often and how much she would reminisce about her evisceration days. Took awhile, but it's almost passed completely," he said with a little grin.
"So you're actually agreeing that I should give him a shot?" she asked, disbelieving.
"You never know until you try?" he replied with a nervous grin. "Look, Buff, I can't tell you what to do. Only you know how you feel. And god forbid I push for you to be in a relationship with a soulless demon beyond one of the work variety. But…if something really is there, just be sure to figure out what that something is, and go from there. Gotta tell ya—I'm rooting for 'he's too short and too blond' feelings. But on the other hand, the attraction is understandable. Spike is strong and mysterious and sort of compact but well-muscled."
Buffy's eyebrows rose considerably at that.
"Wow. Definitely too much quality time with the two of you."
Xander scoffed. "Just saying—I won't judge. Much."
"Glad to have your unwavering support, Xand."
And truthfully, she was.
Should she decide to embark on a relationship with Spike, not that she was sure that she would, it was nice to have the hypothetical support of one of her best friends.
But she still had time. Spike wasn't pushing the issue exactly, and she was perfectly comfortable in remaining in their friendly bubble. So far, that seemed like the safest way to go. She just wasn't prepared to see—
All comfy cozy in her kitchen with her mom and Dawn.
Not that it was a big deal or anything. It was just a bit of a shock, considering all of the thinking she'd been doing lately.
At least they weren't alone together.
"Oh, don't get us all laughing again, Joyce. Anyhow, I really need to talk to your eldest."
Okay—still not alone. Just in a different room, which happened to be a mere few feet away from other people.
"I got a bead on the guy who killed those people. The ones on the train."
"I'll do better than that; I'll show."
There was something incredibly…dirty the way he said that. Then again, maybe it was just her gutter brain imagination. Either way, she was not panicking. This was strictly business. Yup. Patrol, investigating a crime…
With bourbon and a capella tunes.
And completely bogus suspects.
Not that she wasn't all paranoid and suspicious earlier, but the realization finally dawned on her.
"Oh my god...this is a date."
And then the panic set in.
"Pfft. You are completely off your bird, Summers. Honestly, I…" He trailed off, studying her shocked expression. "Was it really that obvious?" he asked quietly.
"Spike, you can't just…have, you know, undercover dates with me! It's not fair!"
"Not fair? Well how the bloody hell else am I supposed to get you outdoors, Buffy? If it's not patrol, and if it's not finding Dawn after her hissy fit of the week, you pretty much avoid me!" he exclaimed, throwing his hands out wide. He sighed in frustration, jaw clicking.
"You don't trust me." The defeat was evident in his tone and demeanor.
"Trust y—are you insane?! Spike, you have an open invite to my home, and my friends'. When we patrol, I am completely comfortable with having you literally at my back, and this is all with you being chip toppity free. This has nothing to do with your chip not working and everything to do with you being a guy. My past relationships are no secret to you, and they all ended badly. Is it so irrational that I have a fear of—" She paused, looking away from him. "I can't do this right now," she admitted quietly, walking away from him as well.
"So yeah. He took me on a surprise date."
"Oh," her mother replied, a pensive look on her face. "And he has feelings for you?"
"And what about you, Buffy?" her mother asked in what she hoped was a nonchalant tone.
Buffy swallowed, glancing at her mother sideways on the couch before turning away.
"I do. I'm just…relationships tend to complicate things, and make them not of the good. At least in my world."
"Spike's nice, sweetie. But I just don't know how to feel about you dating another—"
"We are not dating. Besides, it's not like I faired so well with guys of the human variety."
"And anyway, it's not you're making this easy. Or Giles. Even Xander! You guys are always inviting him over and stuff, not that there's anything wrong with that, but there's only so many times I can face his kicked puppy demeanor. It's like I'm backed into a corner or something."
"And maybe you are. If you want to be with him…" Joyce sighed, looking at her steadily. "I can't stop you. I like Spike. I do. But he's still a vampire. But if you don't want to be with him, then just tell him, honey. Don't drag it out like this—it'll just end up hurting him worse."
"I don't wanna hurt him."
"Tell him how you feel. He may not like what you have to say, but I'm sure he'll understand."
But the problem that Buffy faced was that she did not want to lose him either.
He couldn't understand why she was being so bloody difficult—why she kept pushing him away. Yeah, she had a valid point about her past relationships, but that's the point of the past, in'nit? History helps one learn from one's mistakes.
Between the two of them, he figured they should fair all right.
He just needed to know…what would it take to get her to even try? What did he have to do in order to—
He paused in his musing, hearing a faint noise behind him.
Spike turned and saw her—his ripe, wicked plum.
"A happy memory, pretty Spike." Drusilla's eyes were hooded, trained on him as she slowly trailed a red rose down her smooth cheek. The other side of her face was hidden in shadow. "Mummy's come to make it all better."
Spike scoffed, walking over to his easy chair, plopping down in it unceremoniously. "That right, pet?"
Though he couldn't see it, Drusilla nodded with a grin on her face, gliding towards him. "Yes. We can be a family again, William. A real one..."
It was then that she told Spike of Darla's return, and how Angelus was on the rise.
"So, uh, let me get this straight. Darla got mojo'd back from the beyond...you vamped her...and now she and you are working on turning Angel into his own bad self again," Spike reiterated, with a great lack of enthusiasm.
"Mm-hmm." Drusilla took no notice, of course.
"Sounds fun," he added dryly.
"It is. Like lollipops at the circus. Although...didn't care for Angelus setting us on fire."
Spike watched as she touched her still healing cheek and chest, wondering why in the blue hell she would want to get back with a vampire who clearly wanted her dead. "And this has got you…what, all nostalgic now, has it?"
"I want us to be a family again, my William." She walked up close to him, putting her mouth next to his ear. "Come back with me," she whispered. She pulled back, looking at him expectantly.
"To Los Angeles?" he continued after her nod. "I've done the whole L.A. scene, Dru. Didn't agree with me. Besides, I've got a sweet little setup here in Sunny-D. Decent digs...not to mention all the tasty townies I can eat."
Dru rubbed one finger against the other in a scolding gesture.
"Naughty! Shh." She put her finger to her lips, her eyes sympathetic. "You needn't make up stories. So much pain and agony in this room. And not the rosey, pleasant kind."
Spike turned his eyes away from her in shame. He had been afraid she would see from the moment he realized she was there. But up until now, it had been so far so good. But with his luck, of course, that bit of privacy would be shot to hell.
"But it was so fortunate, my pet."
His head snapped up at that, jaw clenching. "Fortunate?" His voice was cold, bitter, and tinged with hurt.
"Yes. Poor boy." She pouted, putting her hand to her head. "Tin soldiers put funny little knick-knacks in your brain. Can't hunt! Can't hurt! Can't kill! You had a chip. If it hadn't happened that way, it would've been a few more trips around the sun before that little bit of...plastic, spider webbing out nasty blue shocks would be put to rest."
She grabbed both of his hands, pulling him up from the chair.
"But you still haven't been feeding properly..." She looked up at him, sorrowful, placing both of her cool hands on his cheeks. "This isn't you, Spike. You aren't meant for the light. The colors are all wrong," she continued, trailing both hands downward, one lingering on his neck as the other continued its descent, all the way down to the button of his new navy blue jeans. "Let Princess make it all better."
And though Spike wasn't particularly inclined to let her make it better, he wasn't exactly feeling up to stopping her, either. After all, it wasn't as if he agreed wholeheartedly that the new clothes were against all things bad and true.
"Only…" She paused, tilting her head, looking at him thoughtfully. "Now, that just won't do." She closed her eyes, placing her fingertips delicately at his temples, and then wormed her fingers inside, Spike screaming in pain all the while. She gasped when she felt it. "There…"
Buffy stopped her slow walk of trepidation at the sound of Spike's gut-wrenching scream.
He was in trouble.
"Glory," she whispered before bursting into a full-out, panicked run.
Seconds later, she was totally unprepared for what she saw. Drusilla, with her fingers inside of Spike's head. Buffy winced as he continued to scream in agony.
Shock prevented her from moving.
Drusilla pulled her fingers out—one hand fisting. Spike, now quiet, collapsed on the cold floor.
"There, there, my pet. Mummy's got it now."
"I think you need to get away from him," Buffy said, her tone menacing.
"Oh, the Slayer's come to play. No need to worry." Drusilla stopped for a moment, licking her finger. "My boy's all right now."
"He is not your boy."
"Isn't he?" Drusilla tossed something at Buffy's feet. It was a corroded piece of metal, surrounded in plastic. "I made him. Nurtured him as a good mum should, and took the pain away. See?"
"It looks to me like you made the pain worse," Buffy pointed out, looking at a not so peppy Spike groaning on the floor. She eyed the dark vampiress warily as she slowly eased towards Spike.
"No, no, deary. That chip was merely asleep. But it was going to wake up. And it was going to scream—scream deep inside all fitful like my Spike's head."
"How did you do it? I mean you just…"
"It was in the blood."
"Blood?" Spike questioned, coughing in the process as he stumbled to his feet, making his way towards Buffy. He didn't know what his beloved was capable of anymore. Buffy rushed to his side, helping him stand.
"The blood of the Beast, of course. Sweet rhapsody, it was. Glory. Although, I can already feel it fading—like the dying flames of a fire."
"You tasted…you killed Glory?" Shock didn't even begin to describe Buffy's expression. "How…"
"I had to kill the doctor to kill the beast. It lived inside of him, you know. She would have made you all kinds of pretty, nasty colors, Spike—all reds, purples, and blues. It wanted the Key, and you wouldn't tell her. You would have died to save her—to save them." Drusilla moaned, hands clutching at her belly. "I already failed you, my love."
She looked at him forlornly as he squinted at her, and Buffy shifted her gaze between the two of them with a furrowed brow. Drusilla tried to approach them, but Spike put his hand up, stopping her.
"That's close enough, pet."
Dru smiled wistfully at that. "Echoes, my sweet." She leveled her gaze on Buffy then. "And you…you're wrong. No matter how long the cat's been away, I still birthed him to the night. But now…his lovesick stare is stuck on you. Be a good dolly, and keep him glowing at night. Keep the darkness away like an effulgent star in the dark sky," she said, staring at the ceiling, her hand moving slowly through the air above her.
She looked back at them before walking towards the door.
"Someday, my sweet William...someday has come."
And with that, she was gone.
"Okay, what the hell was that?" Buffy asked, still staring at the open door of his crypt.
"Looks like your Glory problems are gone, pet. And so is my chip, officially," Spike answered, looking disdainfully at the small, wrangled piece of plastic and metal on the floor.
Buffy turned to him, concern evident in her eyes.
"Yeah—never better. Nothing a bottle of aspirin and a bottle of whiskey won't cure, I'm sure," he replied, placing his hand over his forehead. "Not everyday a bloke gets someone literally running their fingers through his brain." Spike took in her expression of worry, and ran his thumb reassuringly over the apple of her cheek. "I'm all right, Buffy."
"I got so scared. When I heard you scream…" Tears were in her eyes now, the shock having waned. But she didn't cry—simply pulled him to her, holding him close. She breathed him in and closed her eyes, welcoming the comforting strokes he gave her slowly up and down her back. Her face was in the crook of his neck, and she breathed into it, "I can't lose you, Spike."
He moved her back a bit, and cupped her face. "Not going anywhere, pet," he murmured.
And then she kissed him. It was desperate, yet tender…passionate and loving.
"Buffy…" he gasped, pulling her closer.
They tumbled to the hard floor, still kissing and groping one another. But then, Spike stopped, pushing up on his forearms, hovering above her, staring at her flushed face intently.
"This isn't just your fear talking, is it?"
"No. I want this. I want you." And she meant it.
"Is it…can we stay here?"
"It's not romantic in the least, but…" She trailed off when he looked away from her. She watched as his jaw began to click, and she slowly began to understand.
He needed this to be here—right here. He needed a new memory, and he wanted it to be with her.
She raised her hand up to his chest, tentatively unbuttoning his shirt. He turned back, looking down at her. She smiled softly.
"Here is just fine."
And she pulled him down—his shirt only undone halfway…but she didn't care. She started to kiss him again, and though he was shocked, he came around and kissed her back. Their slow, careful movements somehow transformed to hungry and rapid. The intense need to relieve him of his pain and bring them both fulfillment spurred them on, and neither bothered to completely remove all of their clothing. Spike pulled her pants and underwear down to her ankles, stopping at her boots, and lifted her bound legs up in the air before maneuvering in between them, his pants unzipped by her hands.
"Look at me," she requested, hands braced on his shoulders.
He nodded, and then pushed inside of her slowly. Her audible breaths mingled with his groans, and she squeezed his biceps until he was all the way inside. After the first, powerful thrust, she reached under his arms, grasping his shoulders, rocking her hips against him.
His languid pace vanished after that.
He thrust into her with bestial ardor, watching in fascination as she involuntarily moved back and forth on the floor in rapid succession from his movements.
He knew he should have been gentler—kinder. He knew he should have taken extra care to her needs.
But he couldn't.
There was a deep unrest within him, and if her eyes full of compassion and understanding were any type of accurate indication, she understood.
And more importantly…she was okay with it.
As he felt himself nearing completion, he buried his face in the crook of her neck, licking the faint impressions left there by his fangs. She rubbed his back encouragingly, the fingers of one hand tangling in the short hairs near the nape of his neck.
And then, there it was—
Insurmountable pleasure that unleashed his pain.
Release in every sense of the word.
He clutched at her as she held him tighter, feeling his silent tears trickle onto the skin of her shoulder.
"It's all right. It's okay," she murmured gently into his hair.
And she realized in that moment that she genuinely believed that it would be.
Later that night, they made love again for what seemed like hours.
No…judging by the dawn, it's actually been hours.
"I'm tired. I just want to rest my eyes for a bit." Her voice was raspy, and her throat dry, but she was too tired to care.
"A goddess among mortals, you are," he whispered, and then kissed her gently. "Okay, pet. Come with me." And he led her downstairs, drawing the covers over her in his king-sized bed.
She was asleep the instant her head hit the pillow.
Buffy woke up a few hours later, enveloped in Spike's arms. She sat up slowly, attempting to get up without waking him.
She then remembered that this was much harder to do with a boyfriend of the non-human variety.
Is that what he is? My boyfriend?
"Buffy…" he mumbled, his hand splaying across her belly.
"Hey," she answered, pulling the sheets up around her.
His eyes cracked open, peering up at her. "Goin' somewhere?"
"Well, it's kind of late in the day. Don't want my mom getting the wiggins and all. Besides—I'm thinking I need to round up the gang anyway, and plan…something."
Spike looked confused briefly before his eyes opened a bit more in comprehension. "Glory. If what Dru said was true, she's officially out of the game."
"Yeah. Which is good, granted, but…I just wish I knew how she did it."
"Sounded to me that she killed some human that was the old bird's host. A doctor."
"Yeah, well…" She paused, fiddling with the sheets a bit. "I should get going."
"Yeah. All right. Um…if you don't mind going through the tunnels, I can walk you."
She smiled slightly at his suggestion. "Okay."
They dressed in silence, giving each other covert glances from the corners of their eyes. Once they were both done, Spike simply gestured towards the tunnels as a gentleman would escort his lady. Buffy quirked her lips a bit, causing Spike to smile in return.
Their silence persisted as they traversed the tunnels—Buffy with her hands at her sides, every once in awhile looking up at him, while Spike kept his eyes downward with a pensive expression, hands shoved deep into his pockets.
After about ten minutes of this, she heard him mutter, "Sod it," and he reached out and grabbed her hand.
She held it back.
"This okay?" he asked quietly.
She stopped walking at that, and looked at him, placing her hand gently on his edged cheek. He tilted his head into her palm, gazing at her adoringly. She held his loving stare for a moment, before turning and continuing their trek. Still holding her hand, he followed. Silence prevailed once again until they were on Buffy's block.
"Well, this is my stop. This is my stop, right?"
"Yeah—this opening is about four houses away from yours."
"Okay. I'll set the meeting for right after sundown at the Magic Shop. You'll be there?"
"Of course, luv." And he kissed her hand, before heading in the opposite direction.
"Buffy—you're home," her mother greeted her at the door. "You were out all night."
"Were you with Spike?"
"Well it's just that…I like Spike. You know I do. And as the years have passed, I've realized that perhaps a traditional, normal life isn't in the cards for you, and I've accepted that. But a fish and a bird can—"
"I know, mom."
"And I mean…what if the bird tries to eat the fish?"
God, pet. You taste so—
Buffy shook her head, really not wanting to think about that in front of her mother—even if she was none the wiser.
"He's not going to…Do you really think he'd hurt you? Any of us?"
"No, but what if things don't work out between you two? Then what?"
"It'll be fine, Mom. And if it's not sometime down the road…" Buffy held her mother's eyes. "I'll deal."
"Oh, honey…" And Joyce embraced her tightly in a way that Buffy knew meant she wanted to protect her from the evils in the world. "I am glad you're not alone."
"Hey, I'll always have you."
Ignoring that slightly, Joyce responded, "I'm glad Spike will be there to take care of you—to help you."
And I'll help him, too.
"So Buff, when are we going to get this meeting started?" Xander asked from the round table, where Willow, Tara and Giles were also seated.
Buffy remained standing, pacing back and forth in front of the counter.
"Xander, it's obvious she's waiting for Spike," Anya answered from behind the cash register. "I too know how annoying as well as inconvenient it can be repeating oneself," Anya said to Buffy.
Before Buffy could respond, the familiar jingle of the bell on the door sounded, causing her to turn towards it. Spike entered, and Buffy walked up to the door to greet him. Though it was tentative, she gave him a kiss in front of them all.
"I didn't do a spell again, did I? And…and not realize it or something?" Willow asked around worriedly.
"That'd be much more convenient, wouldn't it?" Giles mumbled to himself, averting his eyes with an exasperated sigh. He was more annoyed than upset. He did see it coming, after all.
"No, you didn't, sweetie. It's real," Tara reassured her. "Their auras are healthy pinks. It's kinda nice."
Willow's eyes widened in shock, and she looked over at Xander and Giles to make sure they were all right with it. Xander quirked his lips a bit, turning his head from the scene, while Giles just pursed his lips—looking just this side of irritated. Xander glanced at Buffy and Spike before turning his eyes to his red-headed best friend.
"Yup, Will—hell has officially frozen over. But considering things…it ain't so bad."
Willow's mouth hung open a bit in shock at that.
"Did you all take some kind of special medication that I missed out on by any chance?" Willow asked.
"So yeah—let's get down to business," Buffy said, pulling away from Spike and ignoring his shocked expression.
"I feel so out of the loop right now," the red head groused.
Tara rubbed her back reassuringly.
"Well, I most certainly saw it coming," Anya said triumphantly.
"Oh. Uh…right then," Spike said, suddenly immersed in a cocky attitude as he strode to the table, sitting down next to Giles.
"Skipping through daisies, are you?" Giles asked Spike quietly..
Spike positively beamed at that. "Well, we most certainly are now—Dad."
Giles merely rolled his eyes at that, his attention focused on Buffy. She briefly explained the incident with Drusilla, and how she mentioned killing Glory.
"Buffy, are you certain? Drusilla isn't exactly the most reliable of sources," Giles pointed out.
"Well, if the fact she was able to literally put her fingers in my brain was any indication, I'd say yeah, her info was damn accurate, and she had herself a taste of god blood."
Everyone was silent at that.
"Shouldn't we all still be scared then?" Xander asked, clearly worried. "I mean, Glory was bad enough, but at least she was sane some of the time. No offense," he added to Spike.
Spike shrugged, since it wasn't insulting so much as true. "S'alright, lads and ladies. She said it was fading—the powers, I mean."
"Meaning, Harris, it's un-bloody-likely she'll use it to hurt me and mine."
"And what exactly does that mean for people beyond the Sunnydale border?"
"Dunno." And don't care Spike thought. "But whatever it is, she has a more than narrow margin to do it in. Besides, we have enough problems here—can't save everyone."
They all looked pensive at that for a moment.
"At any rate, Drusilla has done a great service to us by eliminating Glory," Giles added.
"Just so you know, she did it for me, mostly," Spike corrected.
"Aww—is Spike feeling all special now?" Xander teased.
Spike looked up at Buffy. "Yeah. I am."
Buffy smiled at him, before turning her attention back to her friends. "Glory may be out of the picture, but I know there are demons out there who still want to open the dimension gates. No rest for the wicked and all that."
"Which consequently means no rest for us," Anya pointed out.
"Maybe not. But at least we've got a brief reprieve," Buffy countered.
No matter what happened, she knew Spike would be fighting by her side, and she was comforted by that.
Everything else would work itself out.
Riley walked through the underbrush with caution, rifle held tightly in his grip.
All was quiet.
His muscles loosened as he took out his CB radio.
"Dark Sparrow—all's clear. Over." Riley waited for the confirmation that all was clear on that end.
But it never came.
"Dark Sparrow? Allen? You there?"
"Shh—he's sleeping." Riley jerked, turning his gun on a dark haired woman, surrounded in shadow, holding her index finger to her lips.
"I tried to come as soon as I could. The pixies told me the blood was fading fast, so I flew on metal wings. Lindsey was oh so helpful. Now I can stir and spin the grey matter in the noggin."
"Blood? Are you all right—Ms…?"
"Justice. You can call me that. I'm not sure I fancy that, really, but it's fitting for the moment, don't you think? But the pixies said it would quiet the voices in my head. At least, for awhile."
"I don't think it's safe to—"
"Not the sight, of course. Just the voices. It'll be just like it was…before Daddy."
"Do you need some help?" Riley asked, gun still trained on her. Just because she was sick in the head didn't mean that she was safe.
"No worries, though. I'll save the voices for you. They'll make you feel dirty and lost, but it'll still have a pretty tune."
She raised her middle and index finger, pointing at his eyes, swirling them in slow circles. Riley was instantly entranced.
"Look into my eyes. Be in me," she commanded, swaying back and forth. Riley's hands grew lax, and the gun sagged in his grip. Drusilla stepped closer, knocking it out of his hands. Riley just stared at her, not very aware of what was happening.
"Got here just in time," Drusilla murmured, closing her eyes to concentrate as she lifted her fingers to Riley's head, pressing in on his temples. Though it was harder this time, she had just enough for her fingers to maneuver in, reaching inside.
Drusilla laughed, as she found what she was looking for.