An- Hey everyone! I know, I know, it has been forever and a day! I bet you all thought I had given up or something! Well, surprise! New chapter! I won't bore you with further notes, so enjoy! Also, thanks to my beta Saggit, who looked through all 24 pages and took the time to go through it!

Chapter Three: Welcome to the Hellmouth

"I bloody well hate movin'."

The words were muttered under Spike's breath, too low for human ears, though Sam managed to pick them out and give a nod. The two of them were currently hauling box after box out of Spike and Tara's house, which was the main cause of grumbling on Spike's part.

Everything was arranged on the Sunnydale side of things. The day after their meeting, the Demon Council had set everything up on the Hellmouth, including school, work and home. A large house had been bought for Spike and Tara, while an apartment had been rented for Whistler. A duplex was set up for the remaining Spikettes, with Lawson and Anyanka sharing one side, with Doyle having the other side to himself. All the buildings were within a ten minute walk, and all located on the side of town that housed the more harmless demons that generally stayed below the radar.

Tara had promptly been registered at the local high school, set to start two days after they arrived. There had been a magic shop up for sale, that the Council had purchased it and handed it over to Anyanka to run. It was not only useful for the income, but also gave them a place to train and research; it had any magical supplies they might need right at hand. Everything was set up at the other end. Now they had to get through the actual moving part. Moving six people at once wasn't an east task, especially when they had all of three days to do it.

It had already been decided that there was no way they had time to take everything, meaning that some items would be sent for once they settled in Sunnydale-but they still had lots to pack. Already Spike and Sam had brought out enough boxes to fill a good quarter of a moving van, and Tara was still inside packing more.

Whistler's place had already been taken care of, and Anyanka and Doyle were currently back at their apartments packing. As soon he was done here, Lawson intended to return to his place and begin his own moving preparations. Yet it was decidedly Spike and Tara's place that was taking the longest.

"Least they could have done was given us more time to do all this," Spike continued as he loaded the box into the truck.

"They want us there before St. Vigeous," Sam said as he put down the box full of weapons he was carrying, "they want you to take ownership before next Saturday, and they seem to be under the impression that you'll actually use St. Vigeous to fight the Slayer."

Spike grinned at the other vampire. Lawson was completely right; when he took on the Slayer, he wouldn't be doing it with some magical power boost. He enjoyed fighting slayers because they posed a challenge- because they could kill him. Fighting them was so amazing because there was such a risk. Why would he take away from its pleasure by attacking at a time he had very little chance of losing? Not to mention he had plans to make this slayer last longer than next Saturday.

"I've been with you a long time, Chief. I know you."

After Whistler, it was Sam that had been with him the longest. Lawson had been fighting at his side for forty-three years, and he had known him longer than that. It had all begun on the damn submarine, where that bastard Angelus had forced the two of them off and into the ocean. They hadn't had much choice than to start swimming, hoping that they could reach shore and find shelter before sunrise. Spike had been cursing up a storm, using every insult he knew against his Grandsire. Lawson had been silent, and it wasn't a surprise. In the blink of an eye, everything had changed for him; one minute he was the all American sailor, and the next he was a vampire, and he hadn't been given a choice.

They had reached shore just as the tingling that warned the sun was coming began on the back of Spike's neck. He had breathed an unneeded sigh of relief, even though he knew they weren't safe yet. They still had to find some place to hole up for the day, and all he could see was beach.

"You got any idea where we are?" Spike addressed the other vampire.

Sam had shook his head mutely, and Spike had known they didn't have time to play any guessing games. He had started inland, figuring that would be the most likely source of shelter. Sam had followed him, and just as the horizon was lighting up with pink and gold, they had found what seemed to be a storage shed for beach equipment. Once they were safe inside, Lawson spoke for the first time since they were on that sub.

"What happens to me now?"

In all his long years, Spike had never seen someone look so lost. He had really studied the new vampire then, and had realized something that he hadn't figured out before- Angelus hadn't created a minion, but a childe. Spike could feel the tingle that meant family, even if it was faint; Angelus had only just given Lawson enough blood to make him a childe, probably because childer rose faster, and Angelus had wanted that sub fixed quickly.

Spike had felt rage on the fledgling's account; Childer were meant to be trained and taught. They were above your everyday minion, and were supposed to be treated better. They needed a sire more than a normal minion, and had a deeper connection. They could be beaten, tortured, staked or shoved into the noonday sun on the whim of their sire, but they were not meant to be abandoned. Childer without a sire slowly went insane as the connection fell apart, and usually ended up walking out into the sun.

Bastard, he had cursed his Grandsire.

Spike had known that he couldn't just leave this newest family member to his fate, unlike Angelus. If a sire, for whatever reason, couldn't handle their duties, it was possible for an older family member to take up teaching the fledge. Angelus had done so for him, because is practical matters, Drusilla was unfit to be a true sire. Blood had to be exchanged and ceremonial words said, but it was possible for Spike to take over Angelus's role and become a foster sire for the new vampire, if Lawson wished it.

"Reckon you should stay with me," Spike had told Sam, "learn to be a vamp. Won't turn out good for you if you don't."

So Lawson had, and Spike took on the role of sire for the first time. Lawson had learned easily enough, and thankfully didn't turn out to be the bloodthirsty sort. Spike had been grateful for that; it was hard enough curbing Dru's more violent and bloody tendencies, let alone if Sam had turned out into another Angelus or Darla. Lawson had stayed for five years, until Spike had had to rush off to Paris to rescue Drusilla- who had gone off on her own because the stars told her to, and had (not surprisingly) gotten into some trouble. Lawson decided to stay behind in the states and try to get along on his own for awhile. They had kept in touch, but it wasn't until seven years later that Spike saw him again.

-Flashback-

Spike had seen the death wish in the Chinese Slayer's eyes, and had used it against her. He hadn't understood it at the time, him being so new to being the demonic Chosen One. It took him fifty-five years, but he finally understood how the girl felt.

He had never thought that the desire for death would ever hit him; he loved being the Slayer of Slayers, thrived on the fight, so how could he ever want it to end? He never would have imagined wanting to give up, it wasn't in his makeup, but after Dru…

He didn't care anymore, and with every fight he grew more tired…tired of the life he was living, tired of the fight that had once given him so much joy. Nothing anyone said could make it better, no matter how they tried to snap him out of it. He could see the fear in Whistler's eyes that one of these days he was going to get himself dusted, or even worse, wait for the sunrise.

God he wanted to. Just say screw it all and walk out into the sun. Surely hell, if that's where he was destined to go, couldn't possibly hurt as much as he did now.

He was alone now, barely clinging to unlife and going through the motions without an ounce of joy. With Drusilla at his side, he had been full of life, but without her, he felt as dead as the corpse he really was.

It was having to go to London that finally broke him. There was a group of wannabe demon hunters terrorizing a community of demons, and the Council had sent him to stop it. He had gone, but being in London had been too much; everywhere he went, memories of him and Dru bombarded him. Memories of reeking havoc when they were still part of the Scourge of Europe, and of the years after, when it was just him and Dru. Everyday spent in the city, his heart broke a little more.

It hadn't taken him long to track down where the vigilantes had their home base and that that they had roughly thirty members. After they had found out the numbers, Spike had promised Whistler that he'd recruit some help before going after them. He had lied of course. The minute night fell, Spike went looking for them. It was a stupid move, and it the past he would have done it for the pure thrill, but now he just didn't care.

Spike had walked right into their lair, snapped the neck of the first man he came to, and then the fight was on. He fought mechanically, with none of the flourish he normally exhibited. It was a half hearted attempt, even if he was technically winning.

Then a punch to the jaw sent him stumbling back until he his a stack of boxes. For the first time, Spike realized exactly where he was. It was different now, used as a warehouse, but he was able to tell that this was originally the stable that Drusilla had turned him in. He completely froze, in shock and misery, and didn't even react when the man who punched him, grabbed him by the shirt and threw him to the ground. Another man was on top of him a moment later, stake in his hand.

Spike began to struggle, but then stopped. What was the point? Why should he keep fighting, when he had nothing left to live for? So he just stayed there and waited for the stake to be thrust into his chest, at peace with his decision…and then the pressure was gone as the man was hauled off of him and thrown brutally to the side.

"Need a hand Chief?"

Spike blinked, focusing on the person who spoke. When he was able to clearly recognize the man standing above him and extending a hand down, his mouth dropped open in surprise.

"Lawson?"

The other vampire just grinned down at him, until he too was tackled by one of the few remaining humans. Sam rolled when he hit the ground, and was back on his feet in time to block a bunch and shove his elbow into the man's ribs.

"Some help would be appreciated," Lawson called over, ducking under another swing.

Spike's desire to stay down and be staked didn't go away, but it was severely muted as he saw Lawson take a knee to the stomach. No matter how much he didn't want to fight, Spike wasn't going to let his adopted childe take on the rest of these humans by himself. Spike protected his own, and Sam fell into that category.

Spike was back in the fight in time to stop the downwards thrust of a stake into Sam's back. He snapped the man's wrist with a roar, and then threw himself into the fight. Between the two of them, it hadn't taken long for the fight to end. The last two humans standing became lunch. Once Spike sucked the last drop of blood from his victim's neck, he finally turned his attention to the other vampire.

"What are you doin' here Lawson?"

The question of 'why didn't you let him stake me?' was in Spike's voice, even if he didn't say the words.

"Whistler found me," Sam told him, "told me what happened with Drusilla. I knew I had to come…Knew you'd need family. Looks like I got here just in time."

- End Flashback-

When they had returned, and after Whistler had yelled at Spike for twenty minutes for going off by himself, Spike had finally demanded to know why the hell Whistler had sought out Lawson in the first place. His Watcher's anger had softened at the question.

"You need someone," Whistler had said, "Sam isn't Dru by any stretch of the imagination, but he is family. You don't do well alone Spike, and being so is making you miserable and suicidal. We're not like the humans, who want their Slayers isolated and alone; we want out Chosen One to have a strong support structure. Drusilla was your support, and now that she's gone, you need someone to become that anchor."

Spike had protested of course, even if he did agree with Whistler's statements about him being alone. They were both determined to keep him alive, and were doing just about anything to accomplish that. Lawson went with him whenever there was going to be fighting, and if it looked like Spike was going to let someone get their one good day, all Sam had to do was appear to be in trouble, and Spike would snap out of it and go to his rescue. It had taken Spike a long time to figure it out, and when he did, it resulted in a rant and days of sulking, but by that time he was beginning to heal.

As Whistler had predicted, having someone beside him helped. The desire to dust faded over time. Lawson's presence made it easier, and as they added each member to their family, it went away and he found joy in living again. Sometimes he still missed Drusilla so much it hurt, but most of the time, she stayed in the back of his mind. When he did think of her, he was able to enjoy the memories and not be bitter about how it ended.

"How long do you plan to put off fighting her?" Lawson's voice broke Spike out of his thoughts.

"Fighting her? I'm going to jump at the chance as soon as I can. Killing her, now that's another story. That I plan to hold off as long as I possibly can. 'Sides, I need time to get a feel for her. Chit good enough to beat the Master, just can't rush in there guns blazin'. It'd get me dusted."

It amused Sam to no end that, as rash and impulsive as Spike could be, he could be overly cautious as well. When it came to Slayers and the safety of other group members, especially Tara, Spike was truly obsessed with knowing what he was getting into. The rest of the time? It was up in the air how long he'd stick to any given plan.

"The Council won't like it," Sam commented, already knowing that Spike could care less.

"Don't rightly care," Spike scoffed, "they saddled me with the Hellmouth, so I do it my way. Still, don't suppose you want the job?"

He had already asked (multiple times) and been turned down, but Spike didn't see the trouble of asking again. You never know, one of these times Lawson just might cave.

"Answer's still no," Sam said, "Sorry Chief, but the leader thing is your job. Besides, I'd hardly be able to get the respect you do. I'm not a master, and I am an abandoned Childe. Who do you think other vamps are going to listen to?"

Spike grumbled anyway, even though he knew Lawson's reasoning was right on the mark. Hell, if Spike wasn't complaining about all this, they'd think something was wrong with him. It just wasn't his nature to go along quietly.

They walked back into the house together, finding Tara waiting for them in the kitchen with two mugs of blood warm and ready for them.

"Thanks Tara," Lawson spoke first, and Spike nodded to show his answer was the same as the other vampire's.

"You done packin?" as soon as he asked her, Spike silently prayed that he'd receive a positive answer. He was sick of hauling boxes all over the place. A glance at Lawson's face showed that he shared the sentiment.

"All done," Tara said, looking as relieved by the prospect as they were, "Now, do you want me to help you get things into the van?"

"Nah," Spike waved off her suggestion, "why don't you go and see how Anyanka is doin'. Knowin' her, she could be at this for the next few days. What is with you birds havin' so much bloody stuff?"

"Says the man that has eight boxes full if weapons."

"Oi! Those are all work related!"

"Right," Sam said, "because you ever need them all."

Tara giggled, and Spike huffed.

"Sure, make fun of the bloke who owns all the pointy weapons."

Tara was still laughing as she grabbed her coat off one of the chairs.

"I'll be back," She told them as she headed out the door.

"Be careful!" Spike called after her.

"You do realize that there isn't a demon alive that would think of touching her," Sam said, "not after what you did to the last one."

The last (and only) demon that had thought it was a good idea to use Tara to get to Spike, had taken days to die once the vampire had gotten a hold of him. Spike had made sure that word got out about the demon's long and painful death, and there had yet to be another direct attack on Tara.

"Not worried about demons," Spike replied, "it's the humans of the world who don't know that I'd rip 'em apart for touching her."

"Humans? Tara'll just turn them into toads…or whatever."

Spike snickered at that. The last time Tara had tried to turn a human into a toad, she had accidentally turned them into a rabbit. That had sent Anyanka into hysterics, which in turn sent Doyle into giggle fits, and Spike hadn't been that far behind. Lawson meanwhile, had tried his best to calm Anyanka down. It was probably the most ridiculous fight they had ever fought. Spike still had no idea how they had managed to win.

"Come on," Spike said, putting down his now empty mug, "let's finish this."

l.l..

Buffy was only half listening as her Watcher droned on about some sort of vampire holiday. She got that it was important, she really did, but thanks to her brat of a kid sister, her mom now knew all about parent-teacher night. If Snyder got anywhere near her mother, Buffy would be grounded until graduation.

"Buffy, are you even listening to me?"

Buffy snapped out of her thoughts at the sound of Giles's exasperated voice. She looked at him and flashed her most innocent looking smile.

"Yep. St. Valentine's Day equals extra strong vampires. Gotcha."

"It's St. Vigeous Buffy," Giles sometime wondered if she did that on purpose. Surely she couldn't mispronounce that many words without meaning to?

"Right," Buffy agreed without paying attention to the actual word.

"Valentine, Vigeous, who cares?" Xander said, looking just as board as Buffy was, "all we have to know is how Buffy can stop it."

"You can't stop it," Giles replied, "it's part of the lunar cycle."

"Right, so we're all about surviving Saturday night," Buffy said, "as long as I take out a ton of vamps before they get all turbo charged, everything should be good."

"There probably won't be any out," Willow added, "There weren't any out last night."

Giles nodded, "It sounds as though the Anointed One is preserving his forces until St. Vigeous, presumably waiting to send them all at Buffy when they're most powerful and nearly impossible to beat."

Again, Buffy knew that this was really, really bad. She totally understood that. She really did, but there were still more pressing matters.

"Look Giles," she said, "once I get through Thursday, I'll begin to worry about Saturday."

"Surely you're joking," Giles looked at her incredulously, "Vampires with nearly unlimited power takes precedent over a school function."

"If I get expelled, I won't have to worry about vampires killing me. My mother will do it for them."

Had it been a dignified course of action, Giles would have rolled his eyes. He was beginning to understand why the Council took slayers away from their families. There were too many distractions otherwise.

"Anyway," Buffy continued, "you'll be the one to figure out the plan. You're the brainy one who tells me how to take care of the baddies. I'm the one who goes out and kicks ass."

The smile she sent him told Giles that their was Buffy's attempt to butter him up in order to avoid another lecture on priorities. He removed his glasses and pinched the bridge of the his nose. God give him strength to deal with the dating rituals of California teenage girls.

"Well, time for class. See you Giles!"

Once in the hallway, the three friends began to compare notes.

"What are you planning to do for parent-teacher?"

"Is Shelia even planning to help?"

"Snyder already told us what he wants. All I have to do is make some banners, buy some cookies and stir some punch. As for Shelia," Buffy paused and made a face, "I have no idea. I'm going to go with no."

"If you need any help," Willow began, but was cut off.

"Thanks Wills, but this is me."

"See you at lunch Buffy," Xander called back as he and Willow continued down the hall.

Buffy opened the door and slipped into the classroom as the final warning bell sounded. She took her seat quickly, just in time for the teacher to turn around and begin her lesson.

Buffy zoned out before the teacher spoke her first word. Not that advanced fractions weren't fascinating or anything, but Buffy's mind was so not up to thinking about it. Being a slayer was hell on sleep patterns. Between school, stress over the stupid parent-teacher thing, everyday slaying and now over Super Vamp Saturday, Buffy was already feeling exhausted.

She glanced at her teacher, who was droning on. Surely Mrs. McManus wouldn't notice if Buffy caught a quick nap. Not even a nap even- just a chance to rest her eyes. She was sitting at the back, hidden behind a tall, beefy football player. Not to mention, she rarely turned away from the board. So really, if Buffy were to take this opportunity to catch a few Z`s, no one would be the wiser.

Content with her decision, Buffy rested her head on the desk. It would only be a few minutes

The tingling on her neck told her that the vampire was close again. This was the third time in as many nights. She should have hunted it down, stalked it like it was stalking her, but the world was exploding all around her. All this destruction, caused by humans this time, was making her dizzy. Demons she could destroy, but she did not know how to handle the darkness in humans. Her mind wandered as she moved through the streets, but her senses came back to her when the fist caught her in her unprotected face…

The rain was pouring down, making it damn near impossible to see, and even harder to fight. The vampire's grin was throwing her, making her shiver, even if she would claim that it was the cool, wet air that made her do it. Unadulterated, violent glee shone in his yellow eyes. He laughed as they traded blows, especially when she managed to land a punch. He was drawing it out, and she needed to end it…

…"I don't like this anymore than you do," the vampire was irritated and looked like he was barely restraining from hitting her, "but we don't have a choice."

The Slayer was about to argue, but her watcher cut her off.

"The vampire is right…you cannot do this alone, and he is powerful enough to be of use."

She stared at her Watcher incredulously. This man, who had taught her that all vampires were evil, was now telling her to work with one? The Slayer turned back to look at the vampire, and was infuriated to see the smirk on his face…

…"Buffy!"

She whipped around in time to duck the sword that was coming towards her head. She stumbled away, only stopping when she hit the wall. Her entire body hurt, and she was beyond exhausted. She had no idea how long she could keep fighting.

"Really Buff? That's all you got?"

She recognized the voice, but she didn't know who it belonged to. It was familiar, but so different than anyone she knew. One thing she did know, it wasn't the same voice that had called out the warning to her. Her eyes searched the room, and then she saw him. The platinum blonde vampire. He was looking at her with wide, panicked eyes, and he was restrained. He struggled to break free, but it wasn't happening.

"Buffy! Get out of here!"

In the next second, she heard the twang of a crossbow firing, and saw as an arrow flew through the air…heading right for his chest…

"NO!"

Buffy woke up screaming. She bolted up right, nearly falling out of her chair. She looked around her frantically. It took a moment of absolute panic for her to realize that she was sitting at her desk, in her math class. The second after that, she noticed that everyone in the room was staring at her.

"I, umm…broke a nail," Buffy put out lamely.

"Next time you have such a world shattering crisis," the teacher snapped, "try not to share it with the rest of the class."

There was a general round of snickers and eye rolls, and Buffy slouched down in her seat. Why, why wouldn't the floor swallow her up right now?

The snickering died down as the teacher took her lesson back up. A few mocking looks were thrown her way, but that was nothing new. This would go down as yet another tick in the 'Buffy Summers is a Freak' list. Buffy really missed the simple says of Hermy High.

She sighed, keeping it soft in order to avoid calling anymore attention to herself. Now that the humiliation was dulling down to mere embarrassment, her mind turned towards the dream.

It was the same vampire that she had dreamt about the other night. It was a lot like that dream, only the flashes –memories?- were longer. It was like watching clips from four different movies, the last one staring her. Even though there was no evidence to that fact, Buffy knew it was true. The first three felt like strangers, not the last. The last was her.

Why did she feel such gut wrenching horror when she watched that stake flying towards the mystery chest? Besides Angel, she totally believed that all vampires should be dusted. Especially ones that that fought, and probably killed, slayers.

She was not letting Giles blow off her dream this time. With the Buffy version of the resolve face firmly in place, Buffy was determined to march to the library the moment lunch came and demand answers from her watcher.

l.l.l.l

The minute the sun would finally set, they would all be leaving. Everything was packed and ready to go, and all of them anxious to be off. Spike, Lawson and Tara would be traveling in the Desoto in order to continue traveling through the day. Doyle, after making much sweet talk, would be driving Spike's bike the distance from Calgary to Sunnydale. Anyanka would teleport there and wait for them to arrive. Whistler wouldn't be arriving until a few days later, and he too would teleport.

"Have a very pleasant drive!" Anyanka told them all with a cheery smile.

Spike muttered under his breath, "The chances of that happening are bloody unlikely,".

It wasn't the long drive that was bothering him, though he wasn't exactly looking forward to it either. He may have been a wanderer by nature, but Spike liked having a safe haven there waiting for him. Their home here was one. It was safe here, with a low crime rate, both demon and human. Here, he didn't have to be on guard, didn't have to worry. It was…home.

A hellmouth, on the other hand, was never safe. There was always going to be danger and violence. By claiming the Master's place, he was never going to get any peace.

"Pleasant travels!" Anyanka announced, kissing Lawson one last time before disappearing with a loud 'pop'.

"I'm gonna take off too," Doyle announced after she was gone, "since I don't need to wait for the sun and all."

He walked up to Spike expectantly, holding out his hand to receive the keys to the bike. Spike clenched his hands and grit his teeth, staring at that hand. Only when he heard Lawson snicker behind him, did he reluctantly hand them over.

"Crash my bike and I'll rip you apart."

"Sure you will," Doyle smirked at him.

The smirk infuriated him, but Doyle had snatched the keys and was out the door before Spike could so much as say another word.

"Tell me why I keep that git around again."

"Because he suffers migraine inducing visions to help you do your job," Tara said, using her most sensible voice. She couldn't help but giggle a bit when Spike glared at her.

"There is that," Spike had to admit.

Doyle did suffer for his place among the Spikettes. He might not have been the one doing the most physical fights (in fact, he wasn't much on the fighting part itself), but Doyle was certainly the one who was constantly in the most pain. Spike had never understood why the Powers That Be made the visions so bloody painful. Dru had been a Seer, and as much as her visions could torture her mentally, they never caused her physical pain. Doyle was receiving visions for the good of the world, while Dru had gotten them and, for as long as Spike had known her, used the knowledge to reek bloody havoc. How fair was that? Not that Spike ever believed that the world was ever fair, but still.

It was that pain that finally made them accept Doyle at all. At first, Spike hadn't even liked him. He reminded Spike of a toned down version of himself, and there was only room for one of that personality type. Not to mention the accent put him on edge; it brought back memories of Angelus, and those were memories he tried to avoid. It wasn't really anything that Doyle had done that had made him reluctant to use or like him. Most of all, it was that Doyle was a seer. When he came, all Spike could think of, was that they were trying to replace Dru. Drusilla was his seer, and he had wanted no other. He couldn't help but feel resentment that Doyle was going to be there, acting as his seer, when Dru wasn't.

- Flashback –

Since Lawson and Anyanka were off frolicking away on some sort of anniversary honeymoon, Spike was taking this mission solo. It wasn't supposed to be anything particularly difficult, just the average wannabe Big Bad moving into neutral territory and killing anything that didn't agree with it.

It wasn't turning out to be such a basic mission after all. They couldn't pinpoint exactly where the thing was. It was a big area, and they couldn't find its next. They couldn't find it until it was attacking, and by the time Spike got there, it had already disappeared and the damage was done. By the end of the week, Spike was gritting his teeth in frustration. He hadn't been able to track the thing through the thick veil of magic that was surrounding it.

It was the eighth night, and Spike was ready to kill something. If he didn't find that damn chernabog demon soon, he was going to rip the city and surrounding country side to shreds, innocent bystander population be damned. Whistler had known better than to stick around and when he was in this kind of mood, so Spike was wandering around the night alone.

When he heard footsteps coming towards him, Spike growled. He turned silently, praying that he could kill whatever it was that was coming his way. When he turned, there was a man walking towards him. After taking in a whiff of his scent, Spike amended his conclusion to someone with a good dose of demon blood in them. From the way he was making a beeline towards him, Spike knew that, whoever he was, he was coming for him. He was walking with forced casualness, and Spike could sense the small tendrils of fear and a touch of desperation coming off him. He wasn't a threat, at least not at the moment.

That just irritated Spike, because it meant he couldn't kill him.

"Look mate," Spike said as the man reached him, "'m really not in the mood."

"Sorry, but I'm not going anywhere. Look, it's like this: name's Doyle, and I'm here on behalf of the Powers That Be."

Those were along the same lines that Whistler had used when he first popped up in 1899 and told Spike that he had been Chosen.

"Bloody hell! Not another one! Isn't Whistler enough?"

"I'm not another Watcher," Doyle explained, "not even close."

"Then what the bloody hell are you?" Spike couldn't help but sneer, his bad mood making him even more snappy than usual.

"A seer."

That stopped Spike short. A seer? The last seer he had interacted with was Dru, and that was a long time ago…decades in fact. The Powers were apparently going to try and foist a new one of him, and that nearly made Spike vamp out in rage. Lawson stepping up in the place of Dru was one thing. Hell, even Anyanka tagging along was different, but there was no way in hell that Spike was going to let this little, Irish, badly dressed half-demon truly take Dru's place. There was only one seer that Spike had ever, or would ever put up with, and that was his Sire.

"Not interested," Spike told him flatly.

"You need my help-" Doyle began to protest, but a snarl from Spike cut him off.

Doyle's eyes widened and he took a step back, hands going up in the universal sign for surrender.

"Right. Backing off now. But when you figure out you do need me, I'll be around."

Spike was damn sure that that would never happen, but he didn't bother saying it as he walked away.

l.l.l.l

Two nights later, Spike's damn sure had fallen to a reluctant, distasteful agreement that there was no way in hell he was going to find the chernabog on his own. He had called in every contact he had in the state, and some from outside. No one could break through the barrier that was stopping the demon from being found. Spike was beginning to think that some higher power was doing all that it could to force him into accepting the seer's help. Spike wouldn't put it past them.

Spike really didn't like being played.

It only took him a few hours to track Doyle down, and he found him in a rather seedy looking bar, a beer in hand. When he saw Spike coming and then slide into the booth, sitting across from him, Doyle quirked an eyebrow.

"Thought you didn't need me."

Spike had to stop himself from physically reaching across the table and snapping Doyle's neck. Instead, he spoke through clenched teeth, "Talk. Where's the demon?"

Doyle's look faltered at that, and he looked away, "Well…there is this small problem. I don't know exactly where it is…"

Doyle wasn't even finished his sentence when Spike was out of his seat and heading towards the door. Doyle cursed under his breath, threw down a few bills for his drink and went after the vampire. He caught up with him in the parking lot.

"Wait!" Doyle stopped short of grabbing onto him to stop him, because he much preferred his arm attached to the rest of his body.

"You said you could tell me where the bloody demon is, and you can't," Spike said with a glare, "I don't like being lied to."

"I didn't!" Doyle protested, "Not really! The Powers That Be sent me a vision to find you, and I did. I'm supposed to help you, and if you're going for the chernabog, then it means I'll end up helping you with that. If I wasn't supposed to, they wouldn't have sent me now."

"The Powers That Be? Think you've got the wrong bloke mate. They're the ones who get their jollies screwin' with slayers."

"Powers That Be is just a name given by mortals, a way for us to classify something. Yeah, the Powers are technically the ones who look out for the Slayers, but the ones who look out for you? They're all about the balance in the universe. No one's really bothered to give them a collective name, and they'd rather be associated with the Powers than the Senior Partners. Hasn't your watcher told you all this?"

"Probably," Spike shrugged, "but I haven't listened to his lectures since…well, ever."

Doyle opened his mouth to say something else, when pain shot through his entire system. He screamed, hands going up to grab his head, before he crumpled to the ground. Spike was stunned, but instinctively caught the other man before he hit the hard ground. He looked around hurriedly for any sort of threat, and seeing none, turned his attention back to Doyle. He saw no injuries, which left him confused as to why the hell he was convulsing on the ground.

What the bloody hell was happening?

Just as suddenly as he went down, Doyle's body stopped twitching. He was breathing hard, tiny aftershocks of pain still racking his body.

"South side," he gasped out, still clutching his head.

"What?" Spike could only ask in confusion.

"The chernabog," Doyle said between deep breaths, "south side…"

Spike debated staying to make sure the other man was alright, but Doyle seemed to read his mind and said, "Go!"

Spike didn't need to be told twice. He took off on foot, using every ounce of his vampire speed to get across the city. He didn't have time to question Doyle's instructions, but as he ran, he hoped that he hadn't been sent on a wild goose chase. Once he was close enough, he heard the screams, and knew that Doyle had been telling the truth. The chernabog was rampaging down the street, the large, multi-armed body pummelling anything in its path, including the fleeing humans. It was big and nasty…just the thing that Spike needed after over a week of pent up frustration.

With a savage grin and yell, Spike charged the thing. The fight didn't last long. In the end, Spike had a few cracked ribs, a gash in his arm and a split lip, while the demon lay in pieces all around him.

He stood there panting in the street, the general post fight chaos happening all around him, when someone spoke.

"Told ya you needed my help."

Spike turned to see Doyle leaning against a car. He was still pale and shaky, but had a self satisfied look on his face. Spike almost refused to acknowledge the truth of it, but in order to get some answers, he needed to say it.

"Point taken. Now wanna tell me what happened back there?"

"Vision," Doyle said simply.

Spike winced at that. Considering it had looked like painful epilepsy, he could certainly pity Doyle for that.

Seeing that Doyle wasn't going to elaborate any further, Spike turned to leave.

"Ta."

"No!" Doyle's cry stopped him, "You can't!" Spike just cocked an eyebrow at that, "I'm supposed to help you! Not just now, but from now on!"

"Ah, no," Spike wasn't taking on anymore strays. Lawson and Anyanka were enough.

"You have to!" Doyle argued, and Spike heard that tiny bit of desperation in his voice.

"Why the hell should I?"

So Doyle told him. The half demon stared ahead blankly and told Spike everything. Spike didn't say a word, just let him talk. He told him about doing his best to deny his heritage. So much that, when members of his demon family had come to him for help, he had turned them away without a second thought. Then he described the first vision, and what he had saw in it. After finding the bodies of those he had refused to help, Doyle felt that these visions were punishment. He needed to make up for it. He needed a way to ease the guilt and somehow make it right. Doyle was on a redemption kick, and the Powers That Be had sent him Spike's way.

Spike would normally balk at any help that any Powers would give him, because he knew damn well that there were always strings attached. He was more than ready to tell Doyle to sod off and carry on his merry way. Spike didn't need visions; there was enough evil in the world that he'd always be able to find something with ease.

Yet the look on Doyle's face stopped him. Spike had never known anything but an insane Drusilla, but from the way that Angelus had described her (in great detail) pre-turning, she had been a scared little girl, trying to understand what was wrong with her and how to make it better. He could see some of the same thing in Doyle.

That's what kept Spike from turning away. He didn't get the need for redemption, being soulless and all, but he did understand the guilt of letting someone down, and then them having to pay the price. Doyle needed something to wash away the guilt. Spike wasn't going to deny the half-demon the chance.

"Right, you can stay, but on a trial basis. You do somethin' I don't like, you're gone."

Doyle tried to hide the small smile that tugged at the end of his lips, but he didn't quite manage it.

- End Flashback -

Doyle hadn't gotten the best start. Hitting on a vengeance demon the moment she walked into the room, especially one dating a vampire, did not endear him to the other two. Anyanka had threatened to curse him and Lawson had wanted to rip his head from his shoulders.

Spike had given a brief explanation and told them that they couldn't harm Doyle. Doyle, while continuing to be his charming self, had avoided hitting on Anyanka, and everyone had gotten along just fine. Not fine exactly, but the other two had tolerated Doyle's presence. Spike had actually felt bad for Doyle, because it was damn hard to break into their trio.

He was willing to cut the half demon some slack, knowing his past. When he had suggested letting the other two in on the tale, Doyle had adamantly refused. Spike hadn't been surprised, considering the guilt was only a few months old. So Doyle had done his best to make nice despite the standoffish attitude he was confronted with.

The first vision that Lawson and Anyanka saw had changed everything. Seeing Doyle in intense pain in order to make their job easier, made them a little more accepting. After they had saved the day, Doyle had joined them on the traditional post-fight drinks for the first time. Spike had watched Lawson and Doyle bond over copious amounts of alcohol. Anyanka had come around not long after that, and just like that, Doyle was one of them.

"Sun's down," Tara spoke up after peeking out the curtain.

The three of them moved out of the empty house. Once outside, Tara paused, and Spike stopped when he realized that she was no longer at his side. He moved back to stand beside her, waiting for her to speak.

"It's only been a few years, but this place has been more home for me than anywhere else."

He heard the sadness in her voice, and had to offer, "You can stay."

"It's only home because you're all here."

Spike slung an arm over Tara's shoulders. They stood there together for a few more minutes, before Tara gave a big sigh, "I'm ready."

With that, the three of them left.

l.l.l.l

"I swear to you Buffy, I've searched through all the diaries in my possession. I cannot find any record of this vampire that you're seeing in your dreams."

Buffy was getting frustrated. As she had told herself she would, she'd demanded answers from Giles. She was actually surprised that Giles had given and hadn't put up any fight when she told him to look for her dream vampire. Buffy wasn't 100% sure that Giles was taking her completely seriously, but he had researched the dream for her. Buffy was pretty sure that he was just happy she was finally taking her slaying duties seriously.

"Is that all of them?"

"No," Giles replied, "far from it. At the Council's beginning, there were no journals kept. Later, the journals were in use, but a number of them have been lost over time."

"Why are some missing?" Willow asked.

"Some were never found. If the Watcher died before passing it onto the Council, the journals would more than likely would never recovered. Others were destroyed after being given to the next Watcher. They are books, notably fragile things, after all."

"How many gaps are we talking about?"

"Quite a few."

"Then it is possible that my vampire is mentioned in one of those books."

She had been referring to him as 'my vampire' for the past couple days, and they gave her strange looks anytime she used it.

"It is, certainly, but the Council would have heard about a vampire that killed two Slayers. Let alone who fought alongside one."

"He's real Giles," Buffy insisted, "I know he is."

He was, because Buffy wouldn't be dreaming about him if he wasn't. She also knew he was coming. Buffy didn't know the who, the why or the when, but he was coming.

l.l.l.l

Spike drove straight through to Sunnydale. Despite the long, long drive, he had refused to allow either Lawson or Tara to take over for him. His bike was already in the hands of another, and there was no way he was risking his Desoto too. Tara slept most of the way, and Lawson did his best to keep Spike awake. Whistler had even popped in unexpectedly to check on their progress, nearly making Spike swerve off the road.

Finally, they found themselves at the town limits of Sunnydale, California. Spike was tempted to gun his car and take out the 'Welcome to Sunnydale' sign, but he resisted. Having Tara in the car meant that the had to be all responsible and set a good example, no matter how boring it was.

Instead, they cruised into town, driving until they came to the address that Whistler had provided. Spike sighed in relief when he saw his bike, safe and sound, sitting in the driveway. He pulled in beside it, then looked closely at the place that would be his new home.

Spike let out a low whistle, unwillingly impressed. It was a damn big house, bigger than the one they had just left. It was designed Victorian style, and was in good repair.

Lawson was clearly impressed as well, "Why is it that you and Tara get the obscenely large house while Anyanka, Doyle and I share a duplex?"

"I'm special, and the Council thinks that you lot are just hanger ons, and they pay the bills. Jealous?" Spike grinned.

Sam gave him a look, "I'm living with a vengeance demon. I'm absolutely terrified. The first time we fight, I'm moving into one of your spare bedrooms."

"You're the one who decided to date her. At least the sex is good, yeah?"

Spike snickered at the uncomfortable look on Sam's face. He would never understand how a vampire, a creature that was supposed to lose any moral tie ups after they were turned, was so damn shy about sex. Especially one that was dating a vengeance demon who was obsessed with it.

Either way, Spike would never stop teasing him about it.

"You ever get back to her about that threesome?" Spike said with a leer, cocking an eyebrow and curling his tongue behind his teeth.

Lawson just glared at him and got out of the car. Sometimes it was just too easy. He turned to look in the back, where Tara was sleeping, resting her head against the window.

"Glinda, time to wake up."

Tara woke slowly, blinking as she sat up straight. She rubbed her eyes with the heel of her hand, clearing the sleep from them. After a few moments, she looked at Spike, still dazed from sleep.

"Huh?"

"We're here luv."

Tara's face scrunched up into an adorable look of confusion before she realization crossed her features, "Oh."

She unbuckled herself, and once she was opening the door, Spike did the same. Once out of the car, Spike turned to see Tara's initial reaction to the house. She was looking at it, mouth hanging open and eyes wide.

"Wow," was all she said.

Spike knew that, at least so far, the house at Tara's stamp of approval.

"Come on, let's go on inside."

The two of them walked inside together. Once inside, Tara actually had to catch her breath. It was even more impressive than the exterior. Everything was high and open, making the building seem larger than it actually was.

Seeing the look on her face, Spike shooed her away, "Go explore. You know you wanna."

Tara flashed him a grin and took off deeper into the house.

"And I get the biggest bedroom!" Spike called after her, knowing that the girl would be claiming a room somewhere along her travels through the building.

Once Tara was gone, Spike followed the voices into what he figured was a living room. Doyle, Lawson and Anyanka were all there. They looked over at him when he entered the room.

"Where's Tara?"

"Exploring."

"The house is impressive," Anyanka pouted, "much better than ours. Why is that? I don't think that's right. Ours is too small, with not nearly enough interesting surfaces for Sam and I to have sex on. Not to mention, Doyle will complain about hearing us having sex in the confined space."

Spike almost gave the same answer he had given Lawson five minutes ago, but then thought better of it. The 'I'm- more- special- than- you' talk would just piss her off. Instead, Spike shrugged.

"Lawson, go to the hospital blood bank and she what you can do about getting blood," Spike instructed, "with a Slayer running around, hunting for fresh blood won't be easy. Check at the butcher's too. Disgustin' as pig's blood is, there may come a time when we have no choice."

"Sure thing Chief," Lawson replied, and then left.

"I'll go through the local haunts," Doyle suggested, "get a feel for the demons of this town."

"Take Anyanka with you," Spike said, "I don't trust you not to get yourself killed."

"Why me?" Anyanka was pouting again, and didn't look very happy about her order, "last time I went with him, he started playing poker and almost got us both killed when he got caught cheating!"

"Hey now!" Doyle said, "I wasn' cheating!" two pairs of eyebrows went up, and Doyle sighed, "Alright, I was cheating, but only a little."

Spike rolled his eyes, and then spoke to Anyanka, "'cuz Lawson's gone, and there's no bleedin' way that Glinda's goin' anywhere near the places you'll be visitin'. Plus, I trust you to keep him out of trouble."

"Where will you be?" Doyle asked.

Spike's smile was absolutely vicious, "Me? I've got a Slayer to find."

l.l.l

An- Don't forget to leave me a review, and tell me about what you liked, didn't like, and everything in between. The next chapter Buffy and Spike will meet, so stay tuned! It will be slow going, but I am working on it. Until then!