A/N- Thanks for all the reviews for that first one! I'm sorry for the super long wait on this chapter. I'm still in the process of outlining for this story. And I've been working on finishing up several others. But I have this chapter outlined, so I thought I'd share. Please enjoy!



The night was cold. The light of a full moon shone down on the lonely desert road. The only sounds issuing forth from the dark was the howling of a few coyotes and the distant roar of an approaching motorcycle. Lacroix smiled from his place on the side of the road and glanced down at his watch.

"Perfect. Right when I expected him," he said, moving to stand in the exact middle of the road. He curled up his nose and added, with a soft snarl, "I hate to wait."

He was dressed in his usual manner, all black and neatly causal. His white-blonde hair shone in the moon's light as he lifted his head, ever so slightly, skyward, expectantly. The roar of the motorcycle grew ever closer until, finally, the light of a single headlight fell upon the master vampire. Lacroix held up a single hand, palm up, and the motorcycle came to a screeching, sliding halt, turning sideways and nearly trapping its platinum blond rider underneath.

His eyes wide, the rider—his own curly, dyed hair messy and his black jeans, red shirt, and black leather duster covered in the dust kicked up in the near collision—looked up at Lacroix. Lacroix, for his part, smiled a very small, wry smile and inclined his head in a manner of greeting.

"Hello, Spike," he said, addressing the rider. "I've been waiting for you."

Spike removed himself from underneath his cycle and arched a brown brow that did not match the rest of his hair. He stood his bike beside him, looking up and down the highway, as if expecting someone to suddenly appear and shout, "Fooled you!" When no such person appeared, he brought his attention back to Lacroix.

"Don't know you," he said shortly, blinking his eyes as if he had to force them to focus.

Lacroix tsk-ed and shook his head, sighing.

"They've really done a number on you, haven't they? The Demon Trials are not something to be taken lightly, as I'm sure you've guessed by now. And you've been rewarded properly, I see. A fully intact soul…and a growing insanity."

Spike looked offended at this and took a single step forward, about to tell Lacroix where to get off. However, he stopped, several steps shy of the older vampire and backed away once more. He pressed his forehead into the heel of his right hand and began to mutter to himself, very quickly and quite incoherently. Lacroix smiled again and took a small step forward.

"You know, Spike, you don't have to face her again. The slayer, I mean. I can take you away from here, from Sunnydale, from her. All you have to do…is follow."

Spike's attention fell, once again, upon Lacroix. His lips parted, mouthing unidentifiable words, as he began to step closer to the mysterious vampire who had nearly caused him to wreck his cycle. Lacroix held out a hand, as if to help him move a bit closer, and Spike's hand slowly came up, reaching out.

"Spike, no!" cried a voice to the pair's left.

Both turned, but only Lacroix snarled at the newcomer. Tara took three strides out into the road, coming between her "master" and Spike. She shook her head, sweeping her long, blonde locks in front of her. Spike took a few hurried steps backwards, shaking his head.

"No, no," he said, pointing. "You're not real…you're dead. Cold, in the ground, gone."

Tara narrowed her eyes. "How do you know that, Spike? You left before I was shot."

She looked over her shoulder at Lacroix, who shrugged…only the tiniest bit of worry edging into his eyes. She arched her brow at him, her own way of demanding an answer from her maker. He shook his head, throwing hands into his shrug.

"Insanity can often give one insight," Lacroix said, simply. To Spike, he added, "Pain awaits you, William. If you come with us now, you'll avoid all of that. Wouldn't that be nice? To not be in pain, for once?"

Spike took a tiny step forward, his arm stretched out towards Tara. She closed the distance between them, clasping his shoulder.

"I'm real, Spike, and so are you. And so is your soul."

The wind blew from behind the odd tableau, catching Tara's hair and long, peasant-style dress and blowing them against Spike. He closed his eyes, taking in the scent. When the two parted, he nodded once, knowingly.

"Vampire. Got you too, huh?" he said, with a quick, mirthless laugh.

She smiled at him, nodding. "Despite saying no…yeah, he got me."

Lacroix approached the two, annoyance etching itself deeply into his face.

"Come with us," he hissed. "You could have a family again, Spike. And no more pain."

Spike's eyes found Tara's. She smiled softly, sadly, shaking her head.

"Bad things are coming, Spike. She'll need you. Don't come with us."

Lacroix turned, incredulously, towards his fledgling. With one of his half-smiles, Spike nodded once. He put his back to them, mounting his bike once more. Tara's face burst forth into a triumphant smile, while Lacroix growled.

"Tara," he hissed, "you know…you've seen…we've all seen."

"We've seen nothing," she whispered, matter-of-factly. "We're not psychic. Just because we can feel what's coming, doesn't mean we can predict exactly what happens. Buffy needs him. We don't. Not now."

"And what if what's coming kills him? Then what?"

Tara did not answer, instead putting her attention fully upon Spike. He kick-started the bike and drove it right next to them. He stopped, holding it upright with one leg, as he withdrew a long, white cigarette. He put it to his lips, producing a lighter as well, and lit it. After a long drag, he exhaled the stale-smelling smoke in his fellow vampires' faces.

"I dunno if this was real or not," he said, sounding himself for the first time in this meeting, "but Willow misses you, Tara. The whole world, nearly, felt your loss. We felt the tremors of it, though. Whole underworld did, as matter of fact."

Lacroix flew forward, fangs bared. "Leave, then, if that's what you want!"

"Wait, what do you mean, Spike?" Tara asked.

Spike only shook his head. "Gotta go, luv. Got some soul-searchin' to do."

With that, he roared away, leaving a very confused Tara glaring at Lacroix. Lacroix, for his part, was no happier than she was.

"And if he dies?" he repeated, demanding an answer.

Tara shook her head, walking very deliberately away from him. "He won't."

"I thought you said we couldn't see the future, Tara?"

She glanced over her shoulder at him, a sarcastic, rebellious smile shaping her lips.

"We can't. However, Spike's a survivor…one way or another, we'll see him again."

With no other words passing between them, Tara took to the skies. Rolling his eyes, Lacroix scoffed.

"Arrogant children," he muttered, before following after her.

End Notes: Okay, so this is a short update for such a long wait. But I'm trying to work out, still, what exactly I want to accomplish in this story. And although this is shorter than what I originally wanted it to be, I thought that it accomplished what I wanted it to. So, I hope everyone enjoyed it. Here's to hoping I get that next chapter out soon. Please review!