AUTHOR'S NOTES: This story takes place after "Wrecked." This is my first attempt at fan fiction so constructive criticism would be appreciated. Also, I know that some of my story line may be highly implausible but please remember this is purely for entertainment purposes. Hope you enjoy it.

DISCLAIMER: Most of the characters and institutions depicted in this story are property of Mutant Enemy and Joss Whedon. No infringement of rights is intended.

Part 1

Dawn stared blankly at the history textbook lying on the desk in front of her. With all of the terrible things happening to the people she cared about, reading up on 19th- century England just seemed impossible. She kept thinking about Willow's addiction to magic and couldn't help but wonder if things might've ended up differently if Tara hadn't left when she did. Perhaps Tara's influence would have prevented Willow's dependency on magic from getting out of control. She shivered at the thought of seeing Willow's glassy, black eyes and the demon the Wiccan had conjured while under the warlock Rack's influence. Dawn rubbed the cast on her left arm, a painful reminder of that awful night.

She also thought about her sister Buffy, who was now so distant and unemotional. Buffy didn't seem to care about much these days, even her duties as the Slayer. She also seemed evasive at times when ever Dawn asked about her doings and whereabouts, like she was hiding something. Dawn had no idea what her sister's secret could be.

Sighing, Dawn buried her nose in her textbook once again. She was beginning to feel a nagging sense of urgency about the quiz she was destined to fail, unless she could get some of this stuff to sink in soon. She turned to the chapter the class was currently covering and began scanning through the pages, stopping when she came to an illustration of a man wearing a black top hat and cape. He reminded her of the kind of vampires she had seen in old black and white films. The caption under the picture read "Jack the Ripper."

'Hmmmm. I didn't realize he was a real person. Thought he was just in the movie,' she pondered. Dawn began reading the section about Jack the Ripper but soon found herself obsessing about her personal problems. Sighing again, she pushed the open textbook to the side and pulled out another book from her backpack. This book was very old and worn. It was a spell book she had "borrowed" from the Magic Box. She began looking through its pages.

"Now I know I saw something earlier," she murmured. She was looking for a specific spell – one that could reverse time and make it possible for her to prevent some of the awful things that had happened in her recent past. Maybe if she had convinced Tara to not move out several weeks ago, Willow would never have gotten in as deep into black magic as she had. Dawn kept flipping. She knew that Buffy would totally kill her if she ever found out what she was doing -- but Buffy wouldn't have to know.

Finally, she found what she was looking for. "Here it is. Creating a time passage…." Dawn scanned the text and then read aloud the part she thought would serve her needs by taking her back to the day Tara moved out, but nothing seemed to happen. Discouraged she pushed the book away from– it ended up resting on top of her history textbook still open to the section on "Jack the Ripper."

Dawn sighed. "I guess I am not magically inclined… For now…anyway." She decided that a tasty snack might get her brain functioning again. Maybe something with peanut butter. She headed downstairs to the kitchen.

* * *

Meanwhile, in a dark alley across town, a strange, ghost-like mist appeared. After a few seconds, a dark, shadowy figure emerged from the haze. He paused for a second, assessing his surroundings. Then he walked steadily out of the dark alley in search of a victim. Behind him, the strange mist glimmered faintly in the darkness.

* * *

A few blocks east of the alley, Buffy Summers was on her nightly patrol. The only problem was, she had just run into the person she had been successfully avoiding for over a week. Upon seeing him, her chest seemed to constrict and she got an awful, almost painful feeling in her gut. She attributed these symptoms to the loathing and disgust that particular person had evoked in her in the past. Spike smiled at her in his confidant, knowing way. "Hello Slayer," he said. His words were like a caress as his eyes roved suggestively up and down her body.

Buffy quickly looked away. "Spike." She acknowledged him quietly, simultaneously fighting both the urge to run away from him and to kiss him. Uncertainly, she looked up and met his eyes. Gone was the smug, overconfident smile he had worn just seconds before. His eyes had softened and his voice was almost a whisper.

"I've missed you," he said, and she knew he meant it. He stepped toward her, reached out his hand and caressed her cheek. Instinctively, Buffy found herself leaning toward his touch. His hand felt cool, but his touch seemed to burn into her heart -- branding it. She felt herself losing control. A sense of panic came over her and she pulled away.

"I'm sorry…I can't…" She searched for something cruel to say, something to make him leave, but she was drawing a blank.

"Buffy…." Spike reached for her hand but she withdrew it as if his touch had burned her. "I know you've been avoiding me… trying to shut me out. But you can't keep this up forever. There's something between us. We both know it."

Buffy's expression betrayed the turmoil she felt inside. She glared at him, but was forced to look away as his eyes met hers yet again.

"I'm in love with you…you know that." This was the side of Spike that Buffy found most dangerous. She could handle his normal sarcastic, overconfident act, but at other times he could seem almost…human. This side of him touched her more than she wanted to admit.

The cruel words she was looking for finally came to Buffy. "Spike, you've got to get over this…this…sick, twisted, obsession of yours," she said caustically. "When are you going to get it? You're a vampire, a monster…and monsters can't love."

Spike took a step back. Buffy looked up at him and saw that her words had affected him as she had intended. His expression was now closed. "I may be a monster…" he said softly, "but you're a bloody disease, Slayer. You've infected me here." He pointed to his chest. "You think I wanted to love you? I had no choice…but at least I admit how I feel. You on the other hand--"

"There's nothing to admit," Buffy replied as she abruptly turned and began walking away from him.

"Oh, bloody hell--" Spike began to walk after her. "Buffy--." But his words were interrupted by a woman's scream. It sounded close. Without pausing, the two ran toward the sound and came upon a man in a black cloak and top hat attempting to strangle a young woman. Spike reached the man first and grabbed him, ripping him away from his victim. Immediately, Spike was overcome by a surge of unbearable pain. His chip had been activated. The mysterious assailant was human.

Buffy took over quickly and hit the cloaked figure with a series of punches and kicks, forcing him back. Surprised by her strength, the man took off. Buffy followed him to a dark alley, which was closed off by a brick wall – a dead end. She proceeded to attack him with more blows until he grabbed her arms, trying to stop her from punching him. She wrestled him to the ground and they rolled toward the cloud-like doorway. The mysterious portal swallowed the two combatants and then disappeared completely.

Seconds later, Spike reached the spot where the mist had been. He had seen Buffy and the shadowy figure fighting, seen them go into the strange fog. He had stared in disbelief when they had disappeared. Now, the alley was empty. He carefully searched the area, looking for a hidden trapdoor or a secret passage, but found nothing. They had vanished along with the strange mist as if they'd never been there.

* * *

Buffy was disoriented. She had been fighting the strange man in the alley and the next thing she knew, she was surrounded by flashes of light accompanied by a loud humming sound that seemed to come from everywhere. After what had seemed like only a few seconds, she landed with a crash and felt her head come into contact with something hard like concrete. It was a brick wall. She was in an alley, but it was different from the alley she had just come from. Although it was dark and it was hard to see, she sensed she was in an entirely different place. Suddenly, she saw movement. It was the stranger she had been fighting with. Apparently, he had also made the journey with her. Buffy was still too groggy to move. Helpless, she saw the man approach her. Something flashed in the darkness -- a knife. She started to inch away, but he advanced with purpose. He lifted the knife to strike. Buffy raised her hands instinctively to block the stranger's attack.

Suddenly, she heard a man yelling. The voice seemed to be coming from a distance but was getting louder as the man approached. Her attacker looked up, quickly put his knife away and fled. Buffy heard the sound of approaching footsteps. A man knelt down beside her. "Are you okay Miss?" he asked.

Buffy looked up at the man, meeting his gaze. He wore wire-framed glasses and his tousled brown hair fell into his eyes as he looked down at her. Something about him seemed so familiar. "Spike?" she said uncertainly.

"No," said the stranger. He took off his cloak and covered the shivering girl with it. "My name's William."

"William." Buffy murmured softly just before losing consciousness.