Anticipation

Chapter Twenty-One

Buffy stood off to the side with Willow and Anya as the ground-breaking ceremony for the Cultural Partner Center on campus got underway. She quickly glanced at Anya who was ogling Xander and then turned to watch her bare-chested friend as he leaned on a shovel. Buffy couldn't decide if she was more wigged about Anya's lack of decency as she talked about wanting to have sex with Xander or the fact that Spike was right about the ex-demon and her long time friend becoming a couple.

Even Giles could not come up with a plausible way that Spike could have known that. Giles had been the first to know about Anya and Xander. When he'd helped to rescue the rest of them from the Halloween house from hell, he pointed out Anya in a bunny costume and scowled at Spike who'd been with Buffy and the rest of the gang in the house, as he smugly told her watcher, "I told you so."

Giles was still stubbornly refusing to believe that Spike was from the future, even with the first prediction coming true. Buffy glanced over at Willow, a pang of sadness gripping her heart. Spike's next prediction seemed to have come true as well. Oz had left and while Willow was holding out hope that he'd be back, Spike had warned Buffy before the vampire left for Los Angeles that Oz was not coming back and that while Spike was gone, Buffy should keep Willow busy and stick to her like glue.

A second pang of sadness hit her as she thought of Spike. He'd only been gone for a week, but she felt as if she was missing her right arm, her heart and half her brain. He'd made his monthly call to his friends, Volkov and Noreen, and after getting off the phone, he'd grabbed his coat from Buffy's dorm room closet and calmly told her that his friends were in trouble and that he'd have to leave her for a little while.

She'd wanted to go with him, but he warned her about a spirit Indian that was going to wreak havoc in Sunnydale during Thanksgiving and that she would need to be prepared to fight it off. He was hoping to get back in time to help her, but it was the day before Thanksgiving and so far, he hadn't even called. So she found herself on edge, waiting for him to arrive and waiting for some crazy Indian to attack, armed just with the knowledge that the only way to kill him was with his own knife.

~ * ~ * ~

Spike was taking the risk of drawing attention to his car as he sped forty miles over the speed limit down the dusty two-lane highway in the late afternoon sun. When Volkov had mentioned the Scourge and how they were going after Lister demons because they were all part human, Spike had felt like he had no choice but to rush off and help his friends. Turned out, he was very much needed, but it had taken him a week to discover how the Scourge was planning to do away with all the Listers at once. It had grated against all that he was to ask Angel, Cordy and Doyle, a half breed demon, to help him find and destroy the machine that the Scourge had created. It was intended to kill any human or half-human within a fourth of a mile radius of its rays.

Then, that morning, Doyle had a vision of Buffy being in danger, and Spike realized that it was Thanksgiving. With the help of Angel's buddies, Spike was able to convince the cursed vampire to stay in L.A. and let Spike take care of things. He had time to get there, as long as there were no mishaps on the way.

The sun was just beginning to set when he pulled off the highway and forced himself to slow down on the streets of Sunnydale. Spike racked his brain, trying to remember just when the Indians first mounted their attack on Giles' apartment. The last time he'd been through this, he'd been helpless, tied to a bloody chair. With any luck, he'd get there this time before the Indians could fire the first arrow into the apartment.

Luck was not on his side and he burst through the door just in time to see Buffy gut the giant bear with the knife, a green mist dissipating around her legs. Her eyes flashed in that sexy way they did whenever she won an invigorating fight and then she saw Spike. His knees nearly buckled from both the relief that she was okay and from the look of pure joy that took over her expression.

The knife dropped, she ran, threw her arms around him- not caring any more than Spike did that they had the Scoobies for an audience - and proceeded to kiss him silly.

"He's only been gone for a week," Xander groused, but then he took a look as his rapidly healing skin and smiled. "Thank God! Look, Anya, I'm getting better."

This time, when they sat together for Thanksgiving dinner, Spike was untied and a huge mug of steaming pig's blood was placed before him. Jenny Calendar had helped Buffy with the dinner and his Slayer seemed much more relaxed than she had the first time around. The talk at the table was jovial and even Willow had a smile on her face. Every so often, Spike would catch Giles staring at him curiously. Spike was just glad that he wasn't scowling at him and he could only guess that with so many of his predictions coming true that the watcher was finding it more and more difficult to deny that Spike was telling the truth.

Later, Giles took Spike aside and told him that he wanted Buffy and him to stick around after the others left so that they could talk. And while Giles said goodbye to the others and walked Jenny to her car, Buffy sat down with Spike and they shared a few kisses before she said, "You've been right about everything." He opened his mouth to say something witty, but she cut him off, saying, "I saw the commandos the other night. All dressed in fatigues with their faces covered, just like you said they would be."

Alarmed, he grabbed her hand. "Please tell me they didn't see you and that they don't know that you're the Slayer?"

She shook her head. "They didn't see me."

Giles sat down in his chair and stared hard at Spike. "It appears that you have been telling the truth. I just don't understand how or why you have gone back in time."

"I don't get it either, but I'm making the most of it," Spike said, squeezing Buffy's hand. "Next order of business is to do away with the Initiative."

"Why do we have to do anything?" Buffy asked. "They're capturing demons and making my job a whole lot easier."

Giles nodded in agreement, but he waited calmly for Spike to talk.

"On the surface, they seemed to be doing a good thing. In fact, most of those military guys really think they're doing good. It's the professor and a few others who have diabolical plans." Despite the gravity of the situation, Spike chuckled. "Did I just say diabolical?"

When Giles grinned back at him, Spike sobered up and continued. "Walsh is taking parts from demons and parts from soldiers and swapping them."

Buffy gasped. "She's what?"

"I know it sounds crazy, but she's a modern day Dr. Frankenstein. And her pet project, a demon slash human slash machine named Adam, is bleeding dangerous. They plan to get a war going in the underground with demons and soldiers having equal casualties so she'll have plenty of parts to work with."

"They must be stopped," Giles said, leaning forward in his seat. "But if most of the soldiers are as innocent as you say, we have to be careful to minimize the loss of life."

Buffy got Spike's attention and said, "You say we have a few months before things get crazy, right?"

He nodded. "Yes. At least four months before Adam escapes."

Giles stood and stretched. "Well, then, we'll have plenty of time for research to come up with a failsafe plan."

~ * ~ * ~

Three weeks later, Spike sat on the crumbling wall of Restfield Cemetery and watched his woman do her thing. She'd already dusted the fledgling vampire that had broken free from his grave, but then she'd had to contend with the one who had sired him. He might be an older vampire, but he was no match for the Slayer. She was just playing with him, showing off for Spike. He was loving every minute of it.

With each kick or punch, she made wonderful little noises that were very similar to the way she sounded when they were in bed, or on the floor or his couch or up against a wall somewhere. She got the vampire to the ground and Spike hoped she'd finish him off soon, because he was randy as hell. Seconds later, he hopped down and held his hand out to help her up, not letting go, but pulling her in for a hug.

"Bloody hell, you're the hottest woman I've ever seen."

Her eyes flashed with desire. "Really?"

"Oh, yeah." He pressed his groin against her and rubbed his hands across her back. "I don't know what it is about you when you're fighting evil, but all I want to do is shag you."

"Come on."

She took his hand and raced towards his crypt, where most of their nights on patrol ended. Buffy didn't seem to mind the dark, cool place and the bed was a lot bigger than the one in the dorms, which they only got use out of when Willow, her new roommate, was going to be away for the night. Before the inner door was even closed, they were shedding their clothes.

She stopped him just at the entrance to the lower level and asked, "Do you think maybe my technique is slipping a little? It took me longer than usual to dust that last vamp."

With a snort, he patted her arse. "Quit fishing for compliments. The poor sod didn't stand a chance and you well know it. You were just playing with him."

Buffy's serious look changed slowly as her grin got wider and wider, reaching her eyes and lighting them up. "You're right. I was just playing with him. Now, I want to play with you!"

She gave him a light shove and he stumbled into the hole, barely getting a grip on the ladder. He had to scurry to get down before she trampled him, but once his feet touched the ground he had the advantage. Grabbing her around the waist, he spun her, tossing her on the bed. Buffy was on her knees in a flash and ready for him when he flew at her.

Spike let her get the upper hand and as she pinned him beneath her, he thrust his hips up to meet her as she came down on him. The fun mood quickly turned serious when they met in the middle, crashing into each other at a fevered pitch. She let go of his arms and he gripped her hips to keep them balanced.

"You're insatiable, you know that?" Spike said when she slowed down enough for him to talk.

He meant it as a compliment and she took it that way, speeding up again.

They spent much of the night making a mess of his room, but she fell asleep in his arms an hour before dawn. He watched her take slow even breaths and smiled when she snored a few times. As usual, he wasn't sleepy yet. When she left for classes in the morning, maybe he'd take a nap, but he was in the habit of getting a couple of hours of sleep right before he would meet her after school was over.

~ * ~ * ~

Spike lounged, stretched out on his couch with the remote in one hand and glass of JD in the other. There wasn't much on this early in the day, but he channel surfed anyway, his mind on plans for the evening. After he picked Buffy up from school, they were heading over to Giles' place to discuss ideas on how to safely take down the Initiative.

It had been almost four months since Thanksgiving, but he had nothing. He'd been busy helping Buffy save the town from the Gentlemen who'd taken all their voices and—he smiled as he thought of it—saving Giles when his old friend Ethan had come back to town and changed him into a Fyarl demon. He'd debated about whether to warn Giles about that, but it had been so much fun to save Giles the first time and have him be indebted to him that he just couldn't resist letting it happen again. Of course, he'd found Ethan right away and made him turn Giles back.

Not one good idea came to him for dealing with the Initiative that didn't involve setting the whole place on fire and killing the whole lot of soldiers and demons at once.

Flipping through the TV channels, he stopped and rolled his eyes at a news story involving animal rights activists. The crazy people who latched onto any new cause, the buggers that were always trying to convert people to their way of thinking, had never sat right with him. In fact, he remembered that they tasted downright awful. But their sour dispositions and their stupid protests and outlandish, over the top and exaggerated posters that were only put together to incite the average citizen to do something about the unethical treatment of animals always bugged him. Those people needed to get laid or something.

He quickly flipped the channels and stopped to take a drink. He'd landed on a public television station that was running a documentary on the Vietnam war era. Spike snorted. "More sods protesting."

The current footage was of a college campus where the protesters had handcuffed themselves together and to the building, yelling, "Hell no, we won't go."

Sitting up straight, he didn't even flinch as what was left in his glass splashed out onto his jeans. He shot to his feet with a smile on his face and took enough time to grab his duster, put on his sunglasses and double check that the Gem of Amara was still on his finger. He raced to his car and didn't even wait for it to warm up before he was peeling away from the curb and heading for UC Sunnydale.

When Spike arrived, he ran to the dorm building and took the steps two at a time. He knocked on Buffy's door, but there was no answer. Searching frantically for a clock, he groaned when he found one in the lobby. "Bugger." It was 1:15 p.m. on a Tuesday. She was in Walsh's class. He slowed his steps, but he still made his way across campus and then paced by the psychology classroom doors.

He couldn't take it any longer. With only days to spare, he'd found the solution and he had to tell Buffy. Now. If they were going to have time to work out all the details and get his plan in motion. Flinging the doors open, he rushed in and all eyes turned to him. Spike cleared his throat and said, "Pardon the interruption, but I need to speak with Buffy Summers right away."

"This is a class room, young man, and I won't have you disrupting my lecture," Dr. Walsh said, even as Buffy stood up and was making her way towards him. Dr. Walsh waved Riley over. "Escort this…this man out, please."

Spike backed up until he hit the wall as Riley came towards him, the horrors of his time in the Initiative flooding back. It was a good thing that Buffy got there when she did.

"Don't even think about touching my boyfriend!"

The class murmured and snickered as Riley took a step back with a scowl on his face.

Buffy grabbed Spike's hand and yanked him out of the class. When they were far enough away, he stopped and turned to her, running a hand through his hair.

"Sorry about that. I think I got a little carried away, but I've come up with the perfect solution to our…" he paused and leaned in to whisper, "Initiative problem."

"Great, what do you have in mind?"

"I'll tell you on the way to Giles' place."

~ * ~ * ~

They chose lunch hour the next day to hand out the flyers that Willow had put together with the help of Tara and Anya. As the crowds of college students walked through the courtyard, all the members of the Scooby gang, including a well-dressed Spike, passed out the flyers. Soon, incensed students were grabbing boxes of the flyers and helping to hand them out until there were none left. Groups of students began to gather to discuss plans for protests, and Spike and Buffy sat back at a table with the others to watch as the little rumor snowballed.

Giles had called the TV stations and the first van was just arriving. The reporter, cameraman and soundman got out one by one and someone gave them flyers. The reporter quickly read over it and when he saw the lady in the picture on the flyer walking across the yard, he dashed after her, thrusting a microphone in her face.

"You are Dr. Maggie Walsh, right?"

"Yes," she said cautiously, glancing around at all the activity.

"Is it true what this flyer says? Are you conducting horrific scientific experiments on animals in a secret underground laboratory with an entrance at Lowell House?"

"What? No… Of course not! I'm a psychology professor."

She rushed off, but the gang did not miss it when she pulled out a walkie-talkie and began barking orders into it. Satisfied that the plan had worked, there were high fives all around at the table. Albeit a hesitant one between Spike and Giles.

Over the next two days, the college campus was whipped into a frenzy, with angry students protesting in front of Lowell House. All the while, the government group was slowly and carefully removing personnel and equipment. The Scoobies couldn't be too sure, but none of them saw Adam sized boxes leaving. The second night, they watched in horror as large cements trucks were backed up to ground level vents and the whole place was filled in with wet concrete.

They couldn't even guess how many demons had been left in there to die, but there was no way to rescue any of them and from what Spike could remember, most were not of the tame and peaceable variety. Those types of demons tended to stay clear of the Hellmouth, so there weren't too many who could have possibly been captured.

By that Friday, the student body was minus ten percent of its population and five professors had resigned, including Dr. Maggie Walsh. Classes were canceled and the Scooby gang met at the Bronze later in the evening to celebrate their victory. Even Giles showed up.

Spike sat at their table and smirked at the old man and Jenny as they moved together on the dance floor.

"What is that look for?" Buffy asked, as she came back from the girls' room.

He shrugged. "Still can't get over that fact that Jenny is around, or that those two have lasted this long." He chuckled. "And Giles just looks so out of place on that dance floor. Wouldn't be so bad if he knew how to dance."

"You're one to talk, Mr. I-Don't-Dance. At least Giles makes an attempt for his girlfriend."

Turning to her and leaning in to kiss her cheek, he teased, "Is that a pout I see?" The song selection changed to a slow, romantic ballad. He stood and grabbed her hand. "I can handle this type of song. Dance with me?"

Any excuse to hold her close and get his hands on her was good in his book. They stepped onto the floor and, at first, Buffy held him back a little and stared at him. Feeling self-conscious, because she seemed to be able to see into his soul, he planted a kiss on her forehead. Soon she was pliant and relaxed in his arms with her head on his shoulder as they swayed to the music. Spike tried not to get too emotional, but whenever she was soft and willing in his embrace, he couldn't help but be grateful for this second chance that he'd been given. It didn't matter how it happened, he was just glad that he was here, even if he'd had to relive twenty plus years to get to this point.

~ * ~ * ~

Spike sat on the back step of the house on Revello Drive, chin resting in one of his hands, deep in thought. Buffy was busy in the kitchen helping her mom cook a meal and the Scoobies were all invited. He couldn't honestly say that he enjoyed these regular get-togethers but Buffy loved them and that was good enough for him.

His thoughts turned as they so often did to the events of the past few decades. He'd spent much of that time in a state of anticipation over one thing or another and there were still a couple of things that preyed on his mind. As he neared the year that he had been ripped from, he worried that maybe it would happen again – was he going to be perpetually thrown back from that point?

Pushing his dismal thoughts away, he focused on Buffy. One thing he did miss from the first time around was that flash of fire in her eyes he used to see when he'd pissed her off – usually right before she punched him. He smirked as he resolved to put a little effort into winding her up every now and then. Shaking his head ruefully, Spike decided that perhaps he wasn't quite as good as she thought he was.

Laughter carried out to him as mother and daughter teased each other and he frowned. Joyce's health was a worry to him still. Was it enough that he'd convinced her to go to the doctor as soon as she began getting the headaches? He shook his head sadly. Only time would tell, and if Joyce's death was meant to be, then at least he'd be there to comfort and care for Buffy.

He'd re-visited the crypt that had yielded the Gem of Amara and squirreled away enough of the treasure to make sure that Buffy and her mum would never need to worry about their finances should the need arise. Though he'd been careful to disguise this from them, being unsure how they'd feel about stealing from the dead. His cover story wasn't too far removed from reality. He'd told them that he bet on the outcome of big sports events – which he had done but not for a few years. He chuckled wryly. Giles had nearly broken his glasses when he lectured him on how it was actually cheating the bookmakers out of their money.

"Watcha doing?" a playful voice asked.

Grinning broadly, Spike leapt up and wrapped his arms around the figure, hugging her tightly and dropping a kiss on her brown hair.

"Ow! Spike! I need to breathe," complained Dawn, trying to wriggle free.

"Sorry, Niblet," replied Spike hoarsely, as he loosened his grip. Putting a hand on each of her arms, he stared at her, unable to believe that she was finally here.

"What? Oh my God, do I have something stuck in my teeth?" Dawn squealed and wriggled free.

"No, you're fine. Perfect. Just haven't seen you in a long time," Spike replied, blinking rapidly.

Hands folded across her chest, Dawn shook her head. "I know you're ancient, Spike, but I didn't think vampires could get memory loss. You only saw me this morning, remember? She grinned and adopted an English accent as she added, "Told me off for not eating a proper breakfast."

Spike swallowed hard. "Yeah, that's right. Just been a long day, I guess." Smiling slightly, he gestured to the door. "I hope Joyce isn't letting Buffy do too much of the cooking."

Dawn giggled and slapped his arm. "Is that why you only ever have blood when Buffy helps?"

"No…er…" Spike looked off, unable to deny it.

"It's okay. Your secret's safe with me."

The buzz of the doorbell interrupted them and they heard Buffy letting the first of the guests in.

Joyce called out. "Dawn, can you lay the table, please?"

"Okay!" replied Dawn. She turned to Spike and held out her hand. "Coming in?"

Spike reached out and took the hand took the hand of the girl that he remembered so well. He'd worried that like the first time around he wouldn't realize exactly what she was. So he'd written down everything about her arrival and the events that followed, and given it to Giles. He'd asked the watcher to read it but not to mention it to the others. Forewarned, they would be able to defeat Glory through Ben, and the Scoobies need never know that Dawn was anything but Buffy's kid sister. But Spike was still relieved to see her with his memories intact.

Waggling their joined hands, Dawn said, "Come on. You can help me."

Grinning, Spike stepped briskly past her and pulled her along. "What are you waiting for?"

Together they went inside. Spike knew that the future wasn't set but he had his two girls with him and that's all that mattered.

The End.

Thank you for reading!

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