A/N: Thanks to Unbridled Brunette for the beta work. Added a bit without her help, and any mistakes are mine.

And wow--it's only been...seven months since an update. I think they're going to be a bit more regular now :)


Chapter Three

"So Rosenberg—what's been up with you? Why so down?" Forrest asked conversationally as they walked to Giles' place. Well, not Giles' place exactly. Willow planned on shooing him away about a block before actually getting there. "You were majorly distracted back there."

"My boyfriend left me….He, um, he was an alcoholic. Kind of."

"Only 'kind of' huh? Was he abusive?"

Willow shook her head vehemently. "God, no. He…he recognized he had a problem, and--, and tried his best to stay on the wagon, right? But then this uber skank of a girl that he met was a mega alcoholic. They ran in the same circles and…I guess he saw his reflection in her or something. How it could be for him if he didn't get proper help.? And he had a drink—Mega Skank coerced him. So, he decided that…he didn't think he should be with me anymore, and that he was going to rehab. He took Mega Skank with him."

"Mega alcoholic, you mean?"

"Whatever. Anyway, I don't know where or when or…if he'll ever be back…" she finished quietly.

Forrest shrugged, looking downward. "Sounds noble, if not a bit misguided. Sometimes, you can't save the world; you can only save yourself. But that isn't to say you shouldn't try. Still, he should have told you where he was going. Question though, and you don't have to answer, but…did he sleep with her?"

Willow stopped walking, hugging herself. She looked away.

"I don't…maybe. Probably."

"Hey—don't stress yourself. You're smart and you're pretty. Guys should be worrying over you and chasing you."

Willow scoffed at that. "Not in this reality. Easier said than done."

They continued to walk in silence for a bit, Forrest with a frown on his face all the while.

"That guy sounds kind of clueless, if not a dumbass, if you don't mind me saying."

Willow smiled up at him.

"Thanks. Really. Um, anyway, this is me."

"See you around campus?"

"Yeah. See ya."

Forrest nodded at her before turning to leave. Willow watched him for a moment before heading in the opposite direction.


Xander gave two quick knocks before opening the door to dorm 214.

"Buffy? Will?" he called out as he closed the door behind him. Buffy's bed was still made, whereas Willow's had that slept in look. He sighed, looking around the room for any kind of indication as to where Buffy had gone.

He found a big, fat nothing.

He gave one last look at the room as he turned out the lights.

Xander closed the door gently, hoping that wherever Buffy was, that she was okay.



"Bloody…" Spike, eyes closed, winced in pain as he turned over onto his side. He suspected that at least two of his ribs had been broken. He lay still, trying to remember the last…

He grit his teeth, fury rising within him. His eyes popped open as his face easily slipped into its vampiric visage. Ignoring the pain in his torso, he slowly got to his feet. It was then that he noticed the huddled mass in the corner. It was the Slayer, naked legs drawn up, bare arms wrapped around them, and head down as she sobbed quietly.

"Slayer?"

The crying abruptly stopped, but she continued to sit, still as stone.

"Took your skivvies, did they?" he asked conversationally, as he walked the short distance to her corner of the room. Buffy, her eyes watery and bloodshot, looked up at him sharply.

Spike then noticed that a good chunk of her hair had been cut. He sighed as he came out of game face, shrugged his duster off, and then tossed it on her head.

"There. Put it on quick—we've got planning to do," he said as he turned around. He heard rustling behind him, intermingled with sniffles.

"It's…it's too big. I'm still…" Exposed.

Spike rolled his eyes, taking off his red shirt.

"The tee shirt? Please. It's less—"

"See through? Yeah. I know."

He tossed the red shirt onto the floor, and winced as he began to pull the black tee over his head. He tossed it her way before picking up the red one again, putting it back on.

"Than—thank you," he heard her say quietly. He turned around and looked at her—she'd put the shirt on, which covered her chest, and buttoned his coat to cover the rest. Her brow crinkled as she saw the bruises on his torso.

"What'd they do to you?" she nearly whispered.

Spike shrugged, buttoning up his shirt.

"Nothing that beat what they did to you, I reckon."

"Me? They…" Her face crumpled, and she held her face in her hands.

Spike clenched his jaw at that.

"Look—"

He paused, gripping her shoulders, making her look up at him. "This is nothing. Life is pain—you just get used to it." Buffy, face now hard, knocked his hands off her shoulders. Spike smirked.

"There's my girl. Now you listen to me—you hang on to that anger, Summers. Let it flow through you. Feel it in your bones, you know what I'm saying?"

Her hard expression faltered, and she looked away.

"I…They're—"

"What? Human?" Spike scoffed. "They aren't humans, love—they're the monsters that violated you. Made you weak. Helpless."

Buffy's head rose slowly.

"What will we do?"

"Well—" Spike paused, rolling his shoulders. "I'm gonna pick a fight with you, and you're gonna let me win."

With that, Spike backhanded her across the face, knocking her against the wall. Still, it wasn't as hard as he could have made it.

He told himself it was because his ribs still hurt like hell.

He roared, shifting back into game face. Spike grabbed her, and then flung her toward the glass panel. She cried out when the electricity coursed through her, falling back to the floor. He walked over, picked her up from behind, pulled her head sideways, and licked her neck slowly before sinking his fangs in.

Buffy gasped, pulling feebly at his hands—one on her abdomen, and one at her breast. She sucked in a breath as he took in a slight pull of blood. Spike took his fangs out of her throat, giving a bloody smile as three soldiers came to their cell door.

"Time to finish this."

Spike emitted a low growl of warning, using Buffy as a shield. Buffy head-butted him, before collapsing helplessly to the floor, holding her neck. That was when the first man used his taser gun. Spike screamed as the currents flowed through his body, before collapsing to the floor behind Buffy. The three soldiers stepped over her.

Spike was their main threat.

As soon as they had their backs to her, Buffy was up. She kicked the one closest to her in the back, knocking him into the wall. He was out cold. The other turned on her, attempting to strike with the butt of his gun, and she grabbed him, flipping him over onto the ground. She leg swept the third, and then punched the one she flipped on the ground in the face, knocking him out. The third was up fairly quickly, turning his gun on her again. A flash of panic surged her adrenaline, making her lash out without thinking.

"No!" she said harshly through clenched teeth, punching him hard in the nose. The soldier stilled, his eyes rolling upward as blood flowed from his nostrils. He dropped to his knees, before falling over onto his side. Buffy's eyes widened, as she stood there, frozen.

"Is…is he…"

Spike slowly got up, a smile on his face.

"Good going, Slayer." He paused at the door, turning back. Buffy was hovering over the dead soldier. Spike rolled his eyes, stalking over to her. He grabbed her arm, yanking her toward the door.

"Come on pigeon—time to fly."

Buffy yanked her hand away, so Spike grabbed her by the sleeve of his duster. He got three yards before stopping abruptly, and turning to shake her.

"Do you want out or not?"

Buffy nodded slowly, and forced her legs to cooperate with her. In fact, once she pulled herself together, she passed Spike as they ran down the hallway, past all of the other cells.
The wall that led to their exit was starting to come down.

"Slayer!"

Buffy faltered in her run, and turned and looked at him. He wasn't going to make it.

She ran over to him, grabbed him, and slid him across the floor underneath the slowly closing wall. Then she ran, sliding right behind him on her belly. She got up just as the wall came down completely, and Spike took her hand, starting to run again.

They were going to make it.