Takes place in Season Seven, just after the episode "First Date."
"Anyone tell you what happened 'round here tonight?"
"Willow did. The First is back in the mix."
"It, uh…it talked to the little boy. Said it wasn't time for me yet. I should move out. Leave town. Before it is time for me."
"No. You have to stay."
"You've got another demon fighter now."
"That's not why I need you here."
"Is that right? Why's that, then?"
"Because I'm not ready for you to not be here."
"And the principal? How does he fit in?"
She looked at him silently after that, unwilling to verbally convey her feelings for him just yet. Whatever those feelings were. Oh, she loved him, she was fairly sure of that, but not the way he wanted her to. Not the passionate love he craved.
But he sensed what she was feeling nonetheless, and moved his hand to rest on her shoulder.
"Buffyyyyyyy!" Dawn's sudden scream made them both jump. "Buffy, you've got to see this! Where are you?"
Buffy sighed. "Sisters…" She slumped down on the couch where she had been sitting with Spike. "Never a moment's peace."
"Buffy! I have to- Oh, there you are," Dawn said, frowning at them. "Were you two having a moment?" she asked suspiciously, sitting across from them.
"Really not your business." Buffy glared at her sister.
Dawn shook her head. "If you hurt her, Spike…"
"Dawn!" Buffy was ready to throttle her. Not now, to bring up what had happened last year…
Spike stayed silent, scooting away from her, his expressionless eyes on Dawn's cold ones.
"What did you find?" Buffy asked finally, desperate to change the subject. "Information on The First? Online?"
"Better." Dawn opened up the laptop she had tucked under her arm and moved to the couch, plopping down between Buffy and Spike. "I, um, 'borrowed' Willow's Mac to do some homework, but I was bored, so I googled myself, and…" She clicked on a tab triumphantly. "Check out this site!"
"Fanfiction dot net?" Buffy asked dubiously. "Have we slipped into some alternate reality where I'm Andrew and actually care about these things?"
Dawn held up a hand. "Wait." She clicked several times. "Here!" she said triumphantly.
Buffy leaned closer. "Wait a minute. Does that say…Buffy the Vampire Slayer?" she demanded incredulously. "How did my cover get blown worldwide?"
"It's huge, I know!" Dawn bobbed her head up and down. "And people write stuff on here all the time! Stuff about us, stories, short pieces…"
Spike frowned at the first entry. "'AU High School fic. Spike and Buffy have always hated each other, but now, things are about to change. Spuffy.' What the bleeding hell is Spuffy?"
"Spike and Buffy!" Dawn said, shaking her head. "There's like a whole Spuffy cult on this site! Also a lot of Bangel," she added, not noticing her sister's and the vampire's suddenly pale faces. "But I guess that's to be expected. I also have loads of fanfiction written about me," she continued, oblivious to the tension around her. "In fact-"
"Dawn, what are you doing?" It was Willow, coming in from the kitchen, her eyes wide. "Is that my computer?"
"Oh, I know I should've asked you, but I needed-"
"No!" Willow snapped uncharacteristically. "Tell me you haven't gone online!"
"Just a little," Dawn shrugged apologetically, putting the laptop down on the computer table in front of them and moving over to Willow. "I'm really sorry."
"Will, is there something wrong?" Buffy asked, concerned at the look of horror on her friend's face.
Willow seemed to calm a bit. "Maybe not, if you're all okay," she said worriedly. "I thought I put a spell on the computer to…"
Something was wrong. The screen was getting brighter and brighter, and Willow and Dawn, in front of her, dimmer and dimmer. She turned to Spike, fear in her eyes, and tried to move, but it was as if she was frozen in place, unable to run away. The whole room was white, and she was falling…
Whump! Spike caught her as they both hit the ground, the white light fading.
Buffy blinked. "Spike?"
"Yeah?" he asked softly, his eyes only on her.
"Why are we in the library?"
"What?" He frowned and held out a hand to help her up as he rose. "Where are we?"
"Oh, god, please don't tell me it's amnesia," Xander groaned from where he and Willow stood in front of them. "Although that is the only reason why you'd ever be willingly in Spike Giles's arms."
"Hey!" Spike protested, not letting go of Buffy's hand. "Where'd the whelp come from?"
"And why'd you call him Spike Giles?" Buffy shivered. Spike, related to Giles? There was a frightening thought.
"Because that's his name?" Xander said, shaking his head. "Wow, that fall really did a number on your head."
"Right." Buffy squeezed her eyes shut for a moment, and then opened them. They were still in the library. "Refresh my memory."
"Well, Willow needed a book from the library, and we went to get it," Xander informed her. "But Giles isn't in here today, and Spike Giles was hanging out in here with his who-"
"With Harmony," Willow interjected swiftly, blushing.
"Yeah, her," Xander nodded impatiently. "He got all annoyed when we asked for a book, said we were wasting his time, and made some crude comment at you, so you got mad, punched him, you both went down, then this whole confusion started, and why are you still holding Spike's hand?"
She dropped it guiltily, still puzzling over the mystery that was their situation. "Spike is Giles's…"
"Son." Willow gave her a weird look. "Are you okay?"
"Fine. We're both fine," Spike said brusquely. "Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got some business to attend to with Buffy, so…" He took her hand again, ignoring Buffy's friends, and pulled her to the back of the library.
"See you guys later," Buffy called out, flashing them a smile. From the looks of it, they needed reassurance that Spike wasn't going to hurt her or something.
"Blondie Bear!" Harmony popped out from behind the last bookcase, her blouse rumpled and her hair askew. Clearly, she hadn't been looking for reference materials. Her smile faded when she saw Buffy. "Why's she here? You weren't planning on…" Another, slyer smile spread onto her face. "Well, I guess we could…"
"Harm!" Spike said, annoyed, as Buffy shuddered and dropped his hand again. "Get out of here!"
"Fine!" she said sulkily. "But don't expect me to come back at our Free!" She tossed her hair and left, not bothering to fix her shirt beforehand.
"So…what the bloody hell is going on here?" Spike said, his eyes wide.
"Harmony's here, and you're Spike Giles…" Buffy shook her head.
"And this!" Spike added, taking her hand and pressing it to his chest.
"Your heart," Buffy whispered. "It's beating. Why is it beating?" She thought back to what had happened before they'd been thrown into this…situation…whatever it was. "Willow said she did a spell."
"Willow did a spell. Great," Spike groaned. "Well, this time we're not engaged…but Giles is apparently once again my father…when will that girl learn her lesson?"
"She did learn her lesson," Buffy said warningly. "You know that. She's just made a mistake. I don't know why she'd put us here, though. What was she trying to do?"
"The fanfiction!" Spike realized. "You and me in high school!"
"You're right," Buffy agreed. "We must be stuck here. But then, how do we break out?"
Spike shrugged. "Well, it's got to end somewhere, right? I guess we play it out until the desired conclusion, then maybe…"
She nodded. High school, all over again. And this time, Spike's here, too… God, I hope this story ends quickly. I've got The First to worry about, and I really don't have time for this… One other thing was nagging at her, and she couldn't help but wonder about the tag they had seen on the fanfiction. Spuffy…