Disclaimer: All BTVS and Angel characters, locations and dialog are the property of Joss Whedon.
Chapter 1 – Not Burning
He stands in a beam of sunlight with his hands outstretched and a look of determination on his beautiful face. I reach for his hand and twine my fingers with his. Our eyes meet and I see the love he has for me burning out of them. Flashes of memory play across my mind of every time he's professed his love for me and every time I shut him down or turned him away or tried to beat it out of him. Then my mind's eye sees him slumped on the sarcophagus in his crypt with his face bloody and bruised. One eye swollen completely shut, but the other telegraphing his love for me as clearly as if he had stood and shouted it.
I love him.
The full realization of my feelings hits me just as our joined hands burst into flame. I gasp and my eyes shine with unshed tears, but it's more from the depth of feeling than from the pain. I have to tell him. He has to know. I say clearly, "I love you."
"No you don't, but thanks for saying it."
Wait. What? He's arguing with me? Seriously? Now? I'm about to speak again when the cave rocks violently and our hands break apart, the blue flame that was surrounding them sputtering out. He shouts at me to go and I duck under the searing shaft of light blazing from his chest and start up the stairs when I'm knocked into the wall from the power of the voice that sounds in my head. "Save him."
Without thinking about what I'm doing, I reach behind me with my free hand and grasp the collar of his duster in a tight fist then pull with every ounce of Slayer strength I possess and sprint for the top of the stairs. I burst through the opening of the Hellmouth and drop to my knees on the dirt floor panting and gasping for air. I'm still clutching the duster in a white knuckle grip, but I'm too terrified to look behind me. I fully expect to see nothing but an ancient leather coat covered in vamp dust.
The ground shakes again almost knocking me over and I hear a small moan. I chance a look behind me and see him. He's actually there, lying on the floor unconscious. I smell burnt cloth and the distinctive odor of scorched Spike, but his face is unmarked. A large swath of his t-shirt is burned away where the talisman channeled the sunlight into the cave, but his alabaster skin is whole and smooth underneath. I trail my fingers gently over it, trying to convince myself that he's there and I'm not seeing things.
More shaking. And it brought a friend. A low rumbling. I feel the noise through my knees that are pressed into the dirt on the edge of the Hellmouth more than I hear it. The building is going to fall down on top of us. We have to get out of here. Now. I jump to my feet then bend down and twist my hands into the lapels of Spike's duster and jerk him to his feet. I throw him over my shoulder then awkwardly crouch down and scoop my Slayer weapon off the floor and straighten up trying to keep hold of Spike who keeps trying to slide off my shoulder. I wrap my arm around him in an iron grip and run for the exit. It's tough going, what with having to dodge falling building parts and carrying 160 pounds of dead weight. Pun intended.
I almost run directly out the front doors into the sunny California morning before I remember. I skid to a stop and lean against the wall with my mind racing and scan the school courtyard for some kind of cover. There isn't much. I see a white panel van parked about three blocks away with the back doors hanging open. I start to slide him off my shoulder so I can go get the van and bring it closer when another violent tremor rocks through the school. I can't leave him here. This building is coming down. Now.
I grasp Spike tighter, fill my lungs and sprint out the front doors, pounding for all I'm worth toward a van that seems to be miles away. After what feels like an eternity, I skid to a halt and sling Spike and the weapon into the van then jump in after him and slam the doors shut. The rumbling and shaking is getting worse. A lot worse. I scramble into the driver's seat and search frantically for the keys. I check the console, the visor and the dashboard before I notice the glint of something in the ignition. The keys. Geez! Think, Buffy!
The engine starts with a roar and I slam the van into drive, silently thanking the Powers that it's an automatic. I really don't think I could cope with trying to shift right now, especially since I'm probably the worst driver in the history of driving. I speed down the street trying to think of the fastest way out of this burg, barely slow down to make the corner and slam the pedal to the floor. The shaking seems to be lessening the further we get from the school. I ease up on the gas just a little and glance back at Spike. He's shifted and is pushed up against the wall with his face mashed into the metal. The weapon is next to him with the stake end thankfully pointed in the other direction. At least I didn't accidentally stake him with my horrible driving.
I pull over just past the edge of town and stop the van then turn to where Spike is sprawled on the floor. His eyelids are fluttering and he's mumbling something I can't make out then he starts flailing his arms like he's trying to fight something off. His eyes pop open just as he roars and vamps, kicking his legs straight out. The doors fly open with a bang and bright, warm sunlight streams into the van. He hisses and covers his face, scrambling to back out of the light but there's nowhere to go.
I jump over him headed for the doors when he grabs my arm and spins me to face him. He's stopped moving and is just sitting there staring down at the sunlight on his hand. He looks up at me and the sunlight glints off his fangs and sparkles in his amber eyes. We just stare at each other, blinking in the daylight when it hits me.
He's not burning.