"When Heroes Fall"

All characters © Joss, I'm just borrowing.

Takes place four months after the events in 'Grave'

Please review! I appreciate any ideas and suggestions you may have!

Spike could feel his eyes watering up again as he raised his hand to knock. He wasn't sure he could do this, not after what he had done to her. He sniffled and knocked quickly before he lost his nerve. He stood there a few moments, waiting. No one answered. He sighed and sat down on the steps, running his hands through his unruly hair. He'd wait for her, they had to talk.

"Spike?"

He turned to find Buffy standing in the doorway, her hair up in a towel and body clad in a tanktop and pajama pants. She must have been in the shower when he had knocked… in the same bathroom he had almost raped her in. He swallowed the lump in his throat and attempted a small smile, but failed miserably. "'ey pet." He greeted, standing.

"Spike, what the Hell happened to you?" She asked, stepping outside to stand in front of him. His eyes were puffy and red, and despite the fact that he was dead, the blue orbs were no longer full of life. They were dull, glazed over by unspilt tears. He looked pale, well, paler then usual, if that was possible. She tried to look cross with him, but she couldn't bring herself to be as mad at the vamp as she had expected to be. He looked too…. Pitiful.

"I'm so sorry, Buffy…" he whispered.

"Where were you, Spike? It's been four months…" She questioned, scanning his face. God did he look horrible.

He couldn't help but give her a small grin. "You really wanna know where I was?"

She smiled lightly when he grinned. It made him look much less like a ghost of his former self. "Yes."

"…Africa."

Buffy's face scrunched up. "…Africa?" Spike nodded. "Africa as in…" she shook her head in disbelief, smiling a bit herself. "You were in Africa?"

"Yup."

"Why the Hell would you go to Africa?"

His smile faded and he sighed. "Slayer, after what I did to you, I felt horrible. I felt guilty. For the first time I actually felt like the monster you always accuse me of being. I didn't know what else to do, so I…"

"..went to Africa?" she finished for him, smirking. "I mean, if you were gonna run away, wouldn't it make more sense to, I don't know, go somewhere worth running? You know, maybe the Caribbean, Mexico, Florida…."

"Those places would all be bloody peachy for vacationing if I didn't suffer from a severe allergy to the sun." He smiled as he shook his head. "'sides, I wasn't running away. I didn't want to be anywhere but here…with you." 

"Then why the Hell did you leave, I mean, it sure looked like you were running from my perspective." She demanded. How dare he show up after four months and expect to be welcomed back with open arms.

Spike sighed and ran a hand through his hair. "It's kind of a long story."

"I have all night." She answered quickly, crossing her arms over her chest.

Spike nodded and looked around, trying to gather his thoughts. It had been much easier to talk to her when he had rehearsed what he was going to say in his head, but now that she was right in front of him he was at a loss for words. He watched as she ran her hand up and down her arms. "You're cold." He pointed out.

"Huh? Oh yeah, a little. I'll be fine."

"I'd give you my coat, but I sort of left it here 'fore I left." He said with a shrug.

"Yeah, it's inside." She sighed and dropped her arms to the side. "Come on." She instructed, pushing the door open and stepping inside. She closed it quietly as he followed her inside. "We have to be quiet, Dawn's asleep."

He smiled slightly. "How's she doing?"

Buffy sighed and shook her head. "Well, if you really wanna know, she's pretty pissed at you for leaving." She watched as he nodded his head glumly, understanding. The girl had every right to be mad at him. "But other than that she's been great. She's doing better in school, she's started working at the Magick Shop with Anya for extra cash, and… well, she's been training with Giles."

"Training? Giles? When did he get back?"

"A little while after you left…" She said softly, diverting her eyes to the ground.

"Buffy, what's wrong?" He asked softly, ducking his head down to look her in the eye. "What happened?"

She smiled grimly and shook her head. "When you left, Warren showed up. He…he tried to kill me. He shot me." She watched as Spike's eyes went wide. "I was taken to the hospital, I almost died. But then Willow showed up… God. There was something wrong with her. She was pale, her hair was black, she wasn't Willow anymore." She shook her head. "She saved me, then insisted on looking for Warren. We went after him, found a robot instead. Then she told us… she told us that he had killed Tara. He shot her when he came after me."

"Pixie's dead?" he asked softly.

Buffy nodded. "Willow was using magick again. A lot of it. She disappeared so me and Xander headed back here. When we went upstairs, Dawn was up there, with Tara. God, she was so upset." She looked up at him, her eyes watery. "She wanted to stay with you, but you weren't there. I left her with Clem and went to look for Willow myself. Me, Xander, and Anya found her in the woods… with Warren. She had killed him, but not just killed him, she had tortured him, shredded him apart. It was so awful… " she shook her head once more. "Then she went after Jonathan and Andrew…"

"Andrew?"

"That other guy."

Spike nodded understandingly.

"Anyway, Willow started to tear the jail apart trying to get at them. I mean she was literally tearing the place apart, brick by brick. I showed up and got them out of there. Xander stole a police car and we tried to get away. She somehow got control of a semi and started ramming us, but she ran out of power. We took Jonathan and Andrew back to the Magick Box and Xander and Anya worked on a protection spell for them. I went after Willow. She was at Rack's, with Dawn. She had drained Rack's power and was trying to change Dawn back to whatever she was before when I showed up. She teleported us back to the Magick Shop and tried to kill those two goons, but couldn't use magick to hurt them because of the protection spell, so she put a spell on herself. She made herself strong. And then we fought…" she closed her eyes at the memory of having to fight her best friend.

"Buffy…" Spike looked at her with loving eyes as he placed a reassuring hand on her shoulder.

"Well, Xander, Dawn, Jonathan, and Andrew took off. Anya stayed to keep the spell going. Willow beat the crap out of both of us and then Giles showed up. He had some magick from a covent and put a binding spell on her. She brainwashed Anya into freeing her a little while later and sent a magick ball of fire after Jonathan and them. I went after it because it would have killed Dawn and Xander too. Willow stole Giles' power while I was gone and nearly killed him. I got to Xander and them just as the fire thingy hit. Xander was knocked out and me and Dawn fell down into some type of burial pit. Jonathan and Andrew disappeared. Then Willow…she tried to end the world. Dawn had to help me fight these demons she sent after us and Anya stayed with Giles because he was just about dead. Xander found Willow as she was summoning some ancient satanic temple. He stopped her."

"Whelp?"

"Yeah, Xander stopped the apocolypse." Buffy said, smiling a bit herself. "Giles got better, Dawn's been training with him, Xander doesn't feel so useless anymore, him and Anya can hold a civilized conversation now…. But Willow's different. I don't think she ever be the same…" she trailed off, looking to the ground.

"I'm so sorry, Buffy…" He said gently, pulling her into his arms. She sighed heavily into his chest, taking in everything she had just said. Saying it out loud only made her realize how horrible things had been. Spike pulled away from her, smiling as he brushed her hair from her face. "What about you?"

"What?" she asked quietly, looking at him with a confused expression.

"You told me 'bout everyone else, but how are you doing?"

She smiled and shook her head. "I'm hangin' in there." She ran her hand over her face and looked at him, "I'm sorry, God. I doubt you wanted to hear all that." She shook her head once more and rolled her eyes. "So, what exactly did you do in Africa."

He smirked and scratched his head. "Well, it's not nearly as exciting as what you did while I was gone…"

TBC….

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Well, what do you think? Should I keep going? Let me know and please review!!