Dark blue curtains blew softly as a cool breeze drifted through the open window. Buffy smiled as she surveyed her room, a bit of overtime at the Doublemeat had given her some extra money to redecorate with. Gone were the light colors of her old room replaced with a comforter of rich dark blue, hunter green and a bit of burgundy thrown in. The room was darker now but somehow more grown up - a reflection of Buffy, she took a moment to look at the new curtains, they were dark enough to keep out even the early morning sun.... not that she had reason to be thinking about that sort of thing anymore.

Bufy adjusted the long black duster over her jeans and tank top. It was early September and the nights were getting a bit cooler in Sunnydale. Buffy stared hard at her self in the mirror as she pulled her hair back into a ponytail. It had grown out quite a bit in the last four months, it was long just the way *he* liked it. Goldilocks - that's the name he had called her then, way back then when as complicated as things were, they still seemed somehow simple. She shook her head as if that would be enough to clear out all thoughts of him. Frowning at herself in the mirror one more time, she stuck one more stake in the deep pocket of the duster and headed out for patrol.

Lately patrol had been the time she had used to take her away from thoughts of her problems - such as a sister she had to face was growing up and needed to feel well - needed. And her friend and his romantic problems, his ex fiancee' now tentative girlfriend , her father figure gone back to England, and her best friend in Arizona trying to recover from a major breakdown.

Buffy had spent most of the summer alone. Dawn had accepted Hank's offer to spend the summer in LA, only after Buffy's promise of more self defense lessons and even a chance at patrol when she returned. To be honest as much as Buffy loved her sister, she needed some time alone. The event's of Spring had afforded her that, Willow had gone to her grandmothers in Arizona for the Summer to do some much needed emotional healing, Giles had put her in touch with someone to help with her *other* problem also, before he left for England. Xander was working out of town for the summer on a big construction job, he and Anya had semi patched things up, they were going slowly. Buffy did enjoy the once a week lunch with Anya, but oddly she seemed to really be enjoying her time alone, it gave her time to reflect on things, to try to figure out when everything had gone so wrong. It gave her time to think of him without feeling guilty about it. But Dawn would be home next week and things would go back to semi normal.

The sky was clear and the moon shone brightly as she walked the familiar path. She had forced herself to stay away from the crypt for the last month. Clem seemed to enjoy her company, but she was beginning to feel a bit of pity from him whenever she asked about Spike. He would smile and shake his head sadly as he told her, "no news" yet again. She didnt' want Clem's pity, she just wanted news of Spike and so far there had been none. She also realized that no matter how twisted things had become between she and Spike....that she missed him. She wanted another chance to talk to him, really talk to him. She wanted to set things straight.


He ran the final steps to the crypt like a man coming home after having gone to war. "Clem!" He called out as he opened the door. There was no answer, Clem must be out, possibly playing his beloved kitten poker. Spike grinned as he noted the little bit of decorating that Clem had done in his abscence. A shelf held a collection of lunch boxes, Knight Rider, The A Team and The Dukes of Hazzard, some of Clem's favorites.

Spike climbed down to the lower level to check it out. He hadn't had much time to clean up there before things had fallen apart......before he had gone on his journey. Even after the explosion he could still catch her soft scent amongst the burned out rugs and bedclothes. Buffy, how do I begin to tell you....everything? He closed his eyes and could see her blond hair shining, green eyes full of warmth, his very own sunbeam.


The crypt was dark as she lightly knocked on the door and opened it slightly, calling "Clem." There was no answer as she entered the crypt and lit a small candle. He wouldn't mind if she sat here for a few minutes, if she really tried she could almost believe Spike was there, on the lower level just waiting to come up and make a sarcastic remark, or maybe he would want to take her below and make other more gentle remarks. She shivered slightly at the thought of his touch. Not good, Buffy - she thought as she leaned back and closed her eyes.


Spike started upstairs at the sound of someone entering the crypt. Clem must have made an early night of it, "Clem!", he called as he climbed the ladder.

Buffy stood up at the sound of some one on the ladder and also called out, "Clem!"

Spike reached the top level and stared at the beautiful blond standing there - standing there in his old duster.

"Spike?" She asked her eyes wide with shock, the hair was the same, same cheekbones, but his clothing was totally unSpike. Blue jeans and a plain white button down shirt were his attire now. She had to admit it looked good on him.

"Buffy?" He responded equally shocked. Oh, that was smooth, mate. Haven't seen her for months, have a shiny new soul and I can only say her name and look like a fish with my mouth wide open.

"You're back, well obviously you're back or you wouldn't be here. So, yeah you're back, ummm... when?" She was rambling, she was cute when she rambled he had to smile despite his fear of rejection.

I'm rambling, hush Buffy, it's just that he looks so different. He's really here!

The fact that she had not yet pulled a stake on him gave him a bit of hope and courage, "Just got back tonight. Uh...I need to tell you some news, " He looked around the crypt and suddenly it seemed to dark and dank to break his news to her, he took a chance, "Buffy, would you like to go get a coffee?"

Coffee? He wants to get coffee? Buffy pondered the question for several minutes, her brain said, don't trust him you don't know what he's been doing, the heart side argued that he was being very polite, she had missed him and she did want to hear his story. The brain tried one more time to say convince her she would be sorry, but her heart won out - it was full of slayer strength. "Yes, I would like some coffee." She finally got out the words.

Spike sighed with relief he had thought that maybe she was going to turn him down. "Let's go then." He almost offered her his arm, but thought better of it, he was not going to push. He felt lucky that she had even spoke to him, he tried not to think about what her being in the crypt implied? Was she that close to Clem? Nah. Could she possibly have missed him? And why was she wearing his duster?

"So whats this news you have to tell me?" She asked as they walked towards the coffee shop.

"Let's wait till we get there and I'll tell you everything." He smiled at her as they walked towards down the shop taking a shortcut through the alley. Neither realized they were being watched.


"He's not alone, sir."

"No, he's not, I should have known. Buffy Summers has been a thorn in my side every since she was called. It would have been much easier if she had stayed dead."

"What should we do, sir?"

Quentin Travers drummed his fingers on the dashboard of the van, "Take her down too."

"Are you sure we can.........take her?" The other man asked a hint of fear in his voice, he'd heard tales of what Buffy was capable of.

"I'm always prepared, James." Travers smiled as he pulled a brief case from under his seat, opening it, he displayed a tranquilizer gun with several vials safely cushioned in the case, "This will take down the vamp and also the slayer. She won't wake up until we are long gone."

James nodded his head and took the case from his boss. He carefully loaded the gun and exited the van, Traver's followed him at a safe distance.

"Did you hear something?" Buffy stopped suddenly in the alley.

"I think so, but maybe it's just a cat?" Spike asked, he did not want to be interrupted by slaying tonight.

"I don't think........" Buffy turned around, she was hit by something sharp in her shoulder, she sank to the ground, the last thing she heard was Spike calling out her name.

"Buffy....Buffy!" Spike's sank down beside Buffy even as he scanned the alley, he saw no one. "Buffy, luv, whats wrong?" He gently lifted her against him, thats when he noticed the dart in her back, "What the........." His sentence was never finished as James ducked from his hiding place and placed his second shot. Spike's prone body sprawled on the ground still holding Buffy against him.

Travers caught up to James as the man stood over the unconcious vampire and vampire Slayer. "He was trying to protect her I think, why?" James turned to Travers.

"That's just one of the things I intend to find out about William the Bloody." Travers leaned forward and knelt beside the couple, "Help me with the vampire." Travers and James carried Spike to the van and handcuffed his wrists and ankles.

Travers turned and started back down the alley, "Where are you going sir?" James asked not sure he wanted to be left alone in the van with a vampire, unconcious or not.

"I'm going to get the girl." Travers nodded his head and smiled.

James looked confused as he watched Travers picking up Buffy from the alley and bring her back to the van. "I thought she wasn't part of the plan."

"The plan has changed." Travers told him as he found more restraints for her arms and legs.


James Carstairs started the van and drove towards the house Mr. Travers
had acquired for them in Sunnydale. He glanced in the mirror at the back of the van and what he
saw made him very uncomfortable.

Quentin Travers knelt between Buffy and Spike's unconcious forms. He ran one
hand over Buffy's cheek, "She's quite lovely isn't she?" Quentin asked when he
caught James eye in the rearview mirror.

"Yes sir, she is." James agreed hesitantly. Mr. Travers was paying him well and
he needed the money if he and Maralee ever wanted to be together.
He told himself that he shouldn't care what happened to the rebellious Slayer, Travers had
explained that she had made fools of the Council more then once and often consorted with her mortal
enemy. And as for the vampire, from what he knew about them they were meant to
be staked not studied or dallied with, as the Slayer had been known to do.

"You'll take the vampire and I'll take the slayer." Quentin told James as the van
pulled into the garage of what looked like and ordinary home only two streets over
from Revello Drive. But like most things in Sunnydale looks can be deceiving and
hide things - bad things.James closed the garage door and locked it, he then
drug Spike from the van and unlocked a door at the back of the garage. He half
carried, half drug the vampire down several steps into a very modified basement.

Quentin followed him carrying Buffy down the steps carefully. He didn't want her
to know that he was involved in this situation. There were three cells in the basement,
one was a regular cell with bars, a cot and small toilet in the corner. Quentin smiled
as he lay Buffy on the cot. He hadn't expected to need the plumbing facilities in
the cells but they now worked to his advantage. He ran his hand through Buffy's
hair and left to help James.

The other two cells were soundproofed and equipped with cots and toilets also.
They were cement on all sides with a small door that could be opened in the heavy
door on the front of the cell for passage of food.

"Put him in here on the floor for now. I want to see how they react with each other
first, before I separate them." Quentin instructed. James dropped Spike on to
the hard cement floor. "We need to go into the other room now, they can't see

The two men made themselves comfortable in two chairs that sat in front of a
console with three monitors situated on it. The screens showed to empty cells
and the third which held Buffy and Spike. Spike began to move first, slowly
opening his eyes and looking around the cell, as soon as his eyes fell on Buffy,
his movements became quicker, within a few seconds he was at her side, her
hand in his, rubbing her cheeks, calling her name.

"Buffy, Buffy, luv. Wake up." He continued calling her name. "Please pet."
He looked around the cell as he continued to talk to her and try to rouse her.
Where the hell were they?

After several minutes, Buffy's eye's fluttered open, "Spike?" She croaked out,
her mouth felt like she had swallowed a handfull of cotton balls. Spike helped
her to sit up on the cot.

"You okay?" Spike sat down beside her on the cot.

"Umm... I think so, just thirsty." She looked around the bareness of the cell,
"Where are we?"

"I'm not sure. All I remember is being in the alley, you heard something, went down
and I saw the dart in your back and then I felt a sting and....here we are." Spike
explained as he watched her stand and walk towards the bars.

Buffy was testing the bars with both hands, "They don't look that strong, together we
should be able to get out of here." She looked back at Spike with a smile.

Spike walked over to the bars and tested them, "You're right but this can't be
that easy."

"Maybe we have stupid kidnappers?" Buffy grinned at him as she took a bar
in each hand, Spike put his hands over Buffy's on the same bars and they began
to pull - they could just feel the bars giving when they were both thrown back
against the wall of the cell.

"What the?" Buffy asked as she rubbed the back of her head.

"Electric shock, I think." Spike answered as he rubbed the bump on his own head.

"There that will keep them in there for tonight anyway." Quentin smiled at James,
"After a few days we won't need the electric shock,the drug that I mixed with the tranquilizer will
weaken them both, after a few more doses mixed with their food."

"Sir, do you want me to get their food for them now?" James stood to go to the

"Actually I'd like Maralee to take them their dinners." Quentin unlocked a drawer and
handed James a vial, "Make sure to pour three drops of this into thier food, it's

"Sir, do you think it's safe for Maralee to do this alone?" James asked wincing
at the thought of the young woman alone with the captives.

"You would do well to let me worry about my neice's safety, James." Quentin
told him pointedly as he closed the drawer and locked it.

"Yes sir." James took the vial and walked upstairs to the kitchen.

"James, you are back! I thought I heard the van." The pretty dark haired girl
ran to greet him.

"Yes we're back." James frowned.

"What's wrong?" She asked as she wiped her hands on a dishtowel, "Did you
get the vampire?"

"Yes, we got him........and the slayer Buffy Summer's too."

"Buffy Summers, why?" Maralee asked confusion showing in her pretty brown eyes.

"She was with the vampire, and your Uncle decided to take her too." James
sat down at the small dining table.

"I don't understand, this was just supposed to be the vampire." Maralee sat down
across from him and reached across the table, placing her hand on top of his.

"I have a bad feeling about this Maralee. Your uncle would like for you to take
them supper. I'm too add three drops of this," He held up the vial, "to their meals."

"What does it do?" Maralee asked frowning.

"It's only to take away their strength, to weaken them where we don't have to
worry about escape."

"I don't think I like this either, James." Maralee stood and walked to the refrigerator,
pulling out the makings of a salad and a packet of blood, "Buffy Summer's has
a family and friends, my father told me about her before he died. And for all
the bad things Uncle Quention says about her, I think there is much more too it.
As for the vampire, he represents what killed my father ....." She began to prepare
a chef salad in a large bowl. James poured the drug into the salad and then
into the large glass of blood on the tray next to it.

"I know, Maralee. I know how terrible that was for you and to never be able to
give him a proper burial." James pulled the girl close to him.

"Uncle Quentin said there was nothing left when they got to him." Maralee wiped
away a tear as she readied herself to go feed the Slayer and the vampire.

"Just push the tray through the bars. We'll be watching on the monitor if anything
goes wrong." James kissed her forehead and watched her balance the tray as
she walked down the steps.

"So any ideas why we are here?" Buffy chewed on her bottom lip as she
paced in front of Spike sitting on the cot.

"Not a one, I was thinking maybe you've ticked someone off?" Spike shrugged.

"Me? Why would you think...?" Buffy asked irritation in her voice.

"Hmmmm.....slayer - lots of enemies?" Spike gave her a half smile.

"Oh...well actually it's been pretty slow lately. I can't imagine who would be after me,
unless it's someone after my glamourous job at the Doublemeat." She sighed
as she sat down by him.

"So - no new big bads?"

Buffy shook her head, "Nope."

"Your're still working at that grease trap?" Spike asked rolling his eyes at her.

"Well, yes Spike. Food, water, gas all have to be paid for." She stood up again
and glared at him, "Anyway thats not exactly what is important now, we need
to find out who is behind this!" She raised her arms and motioned to the bars.

Maralee cautiously walked towards the cell.

"Hey!" Buffy called out as the girl began to pass the tray through the small door
in the bars.

"I brought you some food." Maralee told her nervously.

"Who are you? Where are we?" Buffy shouted at the girl on the other side
of the bars.

Maralee took several steps back, "I can't tell you anything! I don't know."

Spike stepped forward, and put his hand on Buffy's back, "Scaring her won't help,

Buffy stepped up to the bars, "I'm sorry I yelled at you. It's just that I don't know
why I'm here. And you can surely understand why I'm upset."

Maralee nodded at the petite blond, she was as pretty as her father had described
her. "I know you are upset, but I really can't tell you anything. I'm just suppose to
bring food."

"Thank you for the food, but I really need some answers." Buffy smiled at Maralee.

"Is there someone we can talk to who has answers?" Spike asked from behind

Maralee glared at him, "I won't speak to your kind. You killed my father."

"I haven't killed anyone in a very long time." Spike replied soflty as he approached
the bars.

"I know it wasn't you personally that killed him, but it was your kind. My poor father,
he was only trying to help and he died for it." She spit the words out at him before
she ran out of the room.

Buffy watched as Spike sat down on the cot, his face was the picture of despair.
It was as if he really cared about this girls pain, she knew Spike was quite capable
of caring, he had shown it many times towards herslef, her mother, Dawn, even her Xander
on the rare occasion, but she'd never seen it towards a complete stranger before.
"Are you okay?" She asked sitting beside him once again.

"I'm fine." Spike lied as he studied the blanket on the cot intently, "You better eat
somethng, keep up your strength." This was not the time to go into the story of his new soul.

"Okay, but you need to eat too." Buffy told him as she picked up the glass of
blood and handed it to him.

He looked at the blood in the glass and almost gagged, that girl was right, it had
been his "kind" that killed her father, he once killed people for
their blood, for his food. He had learned early after receiving his soul how easy
it was to brood over things he had done, he had made a choice to accept his past and try
to move on to a better future. Occasionally though, something would bring the guilt
to the surface and make him think about it, the girl who had brought the food had
done just that.

Buffy glanced up from her salad and smiled wearily at him. He smiled back , he
had wanted his soul so he could attempt to be worthy of her, so this bit of guilt was worth
that. He drank his blood like a good vampire.

Buffy finished her last sip of water and placed the salad bowl and two glasses by
the bars. "So who do you think she is?"

"I don't know Buffy, but I have a feeling she's telling the truth she really doesn't know
the whole story here. I have a feeling whoever is behind this will show soon." He
stood up from the cot, "Here you look tired, take the cot."

Buffy covered a yawn with her hand, "Are you sure?" She asked she lay down
and fluffed the small pillow.

"Yeah, I'll stay up for awhile, keep watch." Spike turned to face the bars.

"Spike." She called sleepily.

He turned to her, "Yes."

"There's room for two, you can keep watch from here." She scooted closer to the
wall and patted the cot beside her.

"Are you sure?" He asked soflty.

"I'm sure. You'll keep me awake with all of that pacing." She grinned at him
as she pulled the covers up over them and turned to face the wall. He slipped in
to the cot beside her and pressed his back to hers, a soft voice behind him
whispered, "Goodnight, Spike.

Despite their desperate situation, he smiled, "Goodnight, Buffy."