When She is Miserable
by A. Price

I'm lurking in the backyard again. I've listened to the argument between the Watcher and
the witch. He's right, little Willow has no idea she's headed into dark territory, far darker
then anything she's seen before.

I see her standing on the backporch, she's been there a little while, I know she heard at
least part of the nasty words that were said inside. She looks very tiny,standing there in
the dark, staring at nothing with those sad hazel eyes. She can't seem to get the sadness
out of her eyes she tries to cover with smiles and awkward jokes but the happiness never
reaches her eyes. I wonder if the others notice that? I think maybe they do but they choose
to ignore it - why wouldn't Buffy be happy to be back? Why indeed? Sadly I'm the only
one who knows the answer to that question.

I casually toss my cigarette at her feet and she grinds it into the porch, without even
looking up she says, "Hello, Spike."

I like that, that she knows and acknowledges its me without having to look up. I know
I'm probably the only person she knows who smokes but hey it boosts my ego anyway.
I need to make sure she's okay with what she heard, "I guess you heard the noise inside."

She looks at me now, "Just enough to make me feel crappy."

I walk towards her, telling her that Giles didn't mean anything by what he said. I think she
knows that. She proceeds to tell me how hard it is to be happy for them, she says its
exhausting. I stand by her on the porch - think Spike - what to say to make her smile.

"You want me to take them all out?" I ask jokingly, I tell her it will give me a hell of a
headache but I think I could thin the herd.

And then it happens, a small smile escapes her lips, a genuine smile and a shake of her
head. "I knew I could get a grin." I tell her as she sighs and sits down on the steps.

So far so good, she's not chasing me away. I take a chance and sit down beside her on the
steps. We've sat on these steps like this before - seems like so long ago, the night Joyce
first went to the hospital. So much has happened to my Slayer since that night. She turns
to me, "Why are you always around when I'm miserable?" She asks softly.

Now, I could be offended at that statement, I could have taken it that she was saying I was
the cause of her misery. But one look at her face, in her eyes and no offense was taken,
she said the words with no anger implied. "Cause that's when you're alone, I reckon." I
answer then add something about not wanting to be in a crowd lately.

She nods a little and agrees she doesn't' want to be in a crowd either. And I can see that
she means that - she would rather not be in the middle of a group even if that group is her
well meaning friends.

"Well then that works out nicely." I smile at her and then we both look out into the yard in
a very comfortable silence.

She then asks me "So, what do you know about finances?"

I turn to look at her and I have to laugh as I explain that finances have changed quite a bit
since my time. She explains a bit of her problems to me and the part of me thats trying so
hard to be good wishes I had the money to give her, the other part of me wishes I could
go hurt that bank loan officer. We make a few more jokes and she even smiles again for
me. Then she stands and tells me she has to go in now or they will send the calvary out
after her. I stand and start to walk away when I hear her call my name, I turn and she's
standing there hand on the doorknob, "Spike, ummm....thanks."

I nod at her and then she goes inside. I watch to make sure she locks the door and I walk
around the front of the house to watch her bedroom just making sure she gets up there
okay. But I hear a ruckus and run into the house the front door is broken and Buffy is
fighting what looks like M'fashnick demon? I run to help and she tells me she wants it in
the kitchen - her wish is my command and I move so she can get him into the kitchen,
following her she asks me to open the basement door -she's taking the demon to the
basement? This seems odd but I don't question her, she usually knows what she is doing.

I hear the fight in the basement and in a few moments a tired, wet Buffy is coming up the
steps. The basement is flooded? I ask if she knew it was flooded and she gives me a look
that says she did - I fiugre thats just one of the financial problems she was telling me
about. I offer her my hand as she tops the steps and she takes it to my surprise I help her
into the kitchen and close the basement door. "I'll come take care of that things body
tomorrow." I tell her as we find something to board up the front door with. Poor Slayer
more bills to pay.

She finally gives one long sigh and tells me she really needs to go to bed. She thanks me
again and I leave. I stand outside to watch her bedroom light go on and then a few
minutes later go off again. As I start back to my crypt, I realize that I am very glad that it
is me - who is there for her when she's miserable.

The End