DISCLAIMER: Joss' toys. My playground.


SPOILERS: Season 5 through "The Body"

Bloody hell, he hated the rain. He pulled the collar of his leather coat up tighter around his neck as he ran from the street where he'd left his car and into the cemetery. Dodging headstones, he almost didn't see her in his hurry. She was just there, standing near his crypt. He couldn't see her face, but he knew it was her. Sensed her in his core, like he always had, always would.

He hadn't seen her for days. Ever since she shut the door in his face. He could've killed her but then again he couldn't, could he? He didn't want to see her. He hoped he'd never see her again. He'd wanted the pain in his undead heart to subside, then he'd be able to think clearly about what to do next. But no, she ruined his escape too, because here she was, in the rain, in the dark. She'd been there for a while, her clothes were drenched. He watched the rain run down her hair and drip into puddles around her feet. She looked so fragile and tragic. Damn her.

He stood there several minutes, angry, unnoticed, wet. She didn't move. Eventually he turned away, toward his door. He wouldn't. He wouldn't...

"Spike..." he stopped in his tracks but he steeled himself. This time he'd stay strong and make HER go away.

"Sod, off Slayer, I'm not listenin'. I'm done bein' whipped by you. Soon as I can I'm leaving this hell hole of a town and going to find Dru. I'll scrape and grovel to her and SHE'LL forgive me. Maybe she and I can start over again. Sure, she's crazy, but at least it's a crazy I understand."

She listened, but didn't hear. Lightening crackled through the night sky and Spike saw her face. It was pale and thin. Her eyes were sunken and vacant.

"My God, Buffy." He took a quick step toward her, but then he hesitated. The last time he saw her she was pretty upset. Likely if he got too close, she'd stake him. "What happened?" he asked from a safe distance.

She looked up at him, water running in rivulets down her face, dripping from a trembling chin. "My mommy's dead."

The words clapped through the rain and the dark like thunder. His anger dissipated liked dust. No. It couldn't be true. Joyce? He'd just seen her. He'd seen her through a restaurant window while making his rounds just a few nights ago. She'd been happy and smiling. This couldn't be. Maybe he heard wrong. He HAD to have heard wrong. "Buffy?"

She didn't know what had drawn her there to tell him. Her answer sounded hollow. "I should know."

He backed away from her as though she'd hit him, pain and loss written on his face. Slowly he found words, words he hoped would send her away so he could be alone with this, his newest misery. "Right, then. You've told me."

He turned his back to her, hoping she'd leave. Spike's world was spinning out of control and the last thing he wanted was for her to witness it. He put one hand on his crypt to stop the whirling. No, not Joyce. She had been his one friend, his one ally and defender. And now she was gone. Just like that. Ripped out of his small world leaving him utterly and completely alone. He threw his head back and screamed into the clouds, wordless howling that echoed pain off the headstones around them. He fell to his knees and cried, his tears mixing with the rain, salting the ground.

Buffy watched wordlessly. Her tears had not come. Curious that his did.

Finally, Spike got up, washing his face in the rain. He stood and looked at Buffy. She hadn't moved at all. She was staring blankly into space. "Buffy, luv?" he tried. Nothing. "Slayer?" Still nothing. He sighed and took off his coat. Wrapping her in the long leather, he put his arm around her and led her to his crypt out of the rain.

He sat her down in a chair and went to find a towel. He came back with two and a dry set of his clothes. "Buffy, you need to change," he suggested. Pools of water were soaking into the floor around her feet and dark water spots were spreading across the chair. "Buffy?" he nudged, holding the clothes out to her. "Try these on." She looked at him, uncomprehending. "Clothes? What you're wearing is soaked." He pushed the clothes at her again. Nothing.

He toweled off his own hair, waiting for her to understand. She didn't. "Right then." Spike opened the other towel and began to dry her hair softly, uncertainly. When it had stopped dripping, he offered her the clothes again. When she didn't respond, he reached down and slipped her boots off her feet. Then he stood her up and removed the rest of her clothes, making a wet pile of them in the corner of the room. He toweled her body dry, feeling guilty for wanting her right then and trying hard not to show it. Then he dressed her in his dark tee-shirt and black denim notching up the belt a bit to fit. "There," he finished. She stood there in his crypt, dry but silent.

He was at a loss. She was obviously in shock but he didn't know what to do. "I think I should take you home, Buffy," he muttered, more to himself than to her.

"No," she shook her head stubbornly. He looked at her, "No, I can't go back there." He reached for her, more to comfort her than to force her to come with him, but she backed away from him until she found a wall. Sliding down into a ball on the floor, she repeated, "No! I won't go! Won't go!"

He knelt in front of her, concerned by her reaction. "All right. All right, pet. It's all right. No one's going to make you do anything." After a few minutes, he said, "Maybe I should go tell someone where you are. They'll be worried."

She turned a terrified face toward him. "No. You can't leave me." Then she grabbed his shirt and ordered him,"You HAVE to stay."

He looked at her, surprised at her desperation. "Okay then, luv, we'll just stay here." He took her arms and helped her get up. He threw a towel over the wet chair and sat her back down in it. He sat down on the floor in front of her. "See, it's fine. We'll both stay."

Buffy sat back in the chair and pulled her knees up to her chest, hugging them. She began to rock slightly back and forth, staring at him, making sure he stayed put.

After several minutes of silent worrying, Spike suggested, "Buffy, are you cold? Do you want a blanket?"

She shook her head.

"Want to watch TV, then?"

She shook her head. He took a pack of cigarettes out of his pocket.


She shook her head. At least she was answering him. He lit his own cigarette and put the pack back. They sat in silence again. He felt helpless and completely out of his league. He thought about Joyce. God, he'd miss her.

"Buffy, is there somethin' I can do? I feel like a bleedin' idiot sitting here when you're sufferin'. I know you'll miss your mum. I will too, but for it to get any better, you need to talk about it."

Buffy rocked herself some more. There were too many emotions floating in her consciousness for her to choose. Grief, fear, loneliness, guilt. Somewhere inside, she knew he was right. She talked to the wall. "They're all gone. All left. Oz, Cordy, Wesley, Kendra, Faith, Jenny, Angel, Parker, Riley, Dad... and even Mom..."

"The Scoobies are still 'round, and Giles," he prompted her. "And there's the Niblet."

She could feel the emotions beginning to focus within her and they were angry. "But it's not like it was. It'll NEVER be like it was."

"That's how life is, love. People are always comin' and goin'. Lives changin'. 'S part of the dance."

She stood up fiercely, glad to have someone to yell at. "You and your damn dance metaphors." She advanced on him and he stood up, rather than get run over. "You just don't get it," she shoved him. "It's not fair. I didn't bargain on all of this. It wasn't part of the deal. They didn't explain it all." Her frustration and fury were building. She advanced on him, shoving him and punching him in the chest to emphasize words. "They didn't tell me that my powers would make me different. That I'd never have another good night's sleep. That nighttime would mean death and pain. That normal friendships and relationships were a thing of the past." The tears began to flow as she railed against her destiny. "That I'd never have children or a husband or a life to call my own." She pushed him into a wall and stopped. She looked at him. He wasn't trying to defend himself, or to fight back. He simply looked back at her, his eyes mirroring her pain.

She hit him again in the chest, with tired, weak fists. "They didn't tell me," she sobbed as she fell against him. "They didn't tell me everyone would leave." He caught her as she fell against him and put his hands tentatively on her shoulders. "They didn't tell me I'd be so alone."

He felt the sobs rack her body and her warm tears as they fell on him. He slipped his arms around her, holding her tight.

After a bit he spoke. His voice was low and relaxed. She'd never heard him confide in her before, they were too busy yelling at each other. "You're right, love. It wasn't fair. They never tell you the downside when they change your life, do they? When Dru turned me she promised me power and revenge on the race that had wronged me. But she didn't tell me I was trading William's pathetic little life sorrows for a whole bunch of new ones. It took me 125 years to realize that I was just as buggered vampire or human. There were still things to fear, needs to meet, pain of loss and love. And then when they planted this plastic in my 'ead, THEY didn't tell me I'd be outside, lookin' in on both worlds," his voice trailed off.

Buffy looked up at him and their eyes met. He DID get it. How could it be that Spike, out of them all, would be the one to understand? "We're just a couple of misfits, then?"

He smiled and shrugged, "Seems we're made for each other."

So much of her was afraid of being hurt. So much of her wanted to have someone...not just anyone...him. She laid her head back down on his chest. It felt safe. "I tried to make you go, because I was afraid of needing you to stay. I tried to lock you out because I was afraid of letting you in. I tried to hate you because I was afraid that if I didn't, I'd," she paused. "I was afraid you'd leave me too. I couldn't go through that again. I'd die."

"Buffy, luv, look at me." She raised her head again and looked into his earnest blue eyes. "I'm in love with you. I'm immortal. I'm not goin' anywhere. Not ever."

Buffy's last thought before he kissed her was that she'd needed him and he'd been there. And he always would be.