Author's Notes:

Hey, thanks everyone for the support and all your lovely comments! It really encourages me sludge through an awful dry spell I'm experiencing. It warms and humbles me.

I apologize in advance for how short and possibly confusing/jerky this chapter may seem. Nothing happens, much.
Words just aren't coming to me these days. It's been difficult to write anything...especially since this just puts me in awfully depressing mood.


Two

"Spike?"

Buffy clasped her mouth to stifle a gasping cry. She felt the universe shift in her mind. She remembered...was remembering. The memories came over her like a tidal wave, submerging her in a deluge of memories, both real and fabricated and she could barely catch her breath. She didn't know which were which…but she knew with certainty that he was real.

She struggled to her feet, her eyes riveted on the image before her. Her heart was beating fast, too fast, any faster and it would break her chest. It felt like centuries since she's seen him, and her tremulous eyes devoured him, too scared to actually…touch him. His hair was as blindingly platinum as always, but it was unkempt, unlike the first time she saw him. When was that? Right, the alley outside of the Bronze. He clapped and told her…what he did he say?

I'll see you on Saturday–

–Because he was going to kill her, wasn't he? But he didn't wait 'till then, he came on her Parent-Teacher Night. Stupid, impatient vampire. Mom got you with an axe. What kind of big bad gets knocked out by a Slayer's mom? Slayer of Slayers my ass.

And the idiot is just there, he's smirking at her, like he's always been in there, waiting. Like…he had never been gone. His smiling eyes are on her, and she wonders if he's really there looking at her from some unknown place or…or…if she's just hallucinating or if this is all just a spell.

Buffy swallowed, eyes unblinking, tears spilling out of her eyes. The felt a release from her soul that was both painful and cathartic. This was what was real, what has to be real. So please be real.

She approached him gingerly, afraid that if she moved too fast he would–

A flash of memory cut into her mind, making her gasp out loud. It was Spike, looking at her with sorrowful blue eyes as he dissolved into dust–

No, did that happen? Was it real?

Her mind was fragmented, her memories jerky and odd: the world she knew now…she could feel it, what was wrong. It was like someone had taken all her memories, cut out Spike, put it back together and smushed it back into her mind. But why? Why would anyone–no no no no…she knew why…oh god no–

She needed to stop it, she promised that she wouldn't let it happen, needed to stop it before it was too–

"Hello Slayer."

Buffy jumped back in surprise as her trance abruptly ended. As her trance ended, the image of Spike flitted away like she had feared, filling her with terror.

The voice that spoke to her wasn't Spike's. It was smooth, silky and most definitely female. In the place where Spike should have been sat a...young woman, no…a creature that looked like a young woman–dressed in a black body suit so tight that it looked spray painted on her naked body. Her eyes were unearthly blank white, her skin chalk-pale.

"You…"

Buffy choked on her words–she could feel her mind being invaded, could feel her memories of Spike unraveling…and she couldn't…remember…

What had he said in that alley outside the Bronze?

"No…I'm going to…"

"Going to what, Slayer?"

"Him…I…"

"Who are you talking about?" A smirk formed on that horrid face.

"NO!" she screamed desperately, "I will…I promised, I can't…" What was his name? Please, what was his name?


At first, Buffy didn't quite register the obnoxious brrrrrrrnnnnng that invaded her box dream as her alarm clock; it was just a barely there buzzing from an existence far away, nothing to do with her. The sound became louder and angrier as she felt herself dragged to back consciousness, and it wasn't until Dawn's shrill "Buffy turn that OFF already!" came from across the hall that she fully woke up. But for several moments that followed, she did nothing but mindlessly stare at the wall as her alarm clock spazzed on. The emptiness that a new morning brought stung her, but soon it joined the granulomatous ball of anguish she had been harboring for the past two months, and her Mask of Happy Buffiness was able to form to face the new day. Fragmented thoughts dominated her mind and every attempt at coherency was chased away by the buzzing sound. Eventually, her mind calibrated itself to the waking world, and the first thing she noticed was how stiff her body felt, locked into the fetus position she probably slept in the entire night.

"Buffy!" Dawn's voice moaned angrily.

Buffy let out sleepy moan and slowly rolled over, the muscles in her legs and arms throbbing painfully as she did. Wow, patrol must have been more intense than I remember. She finally reached her side table and switched off the alarm just as her mother entered the room.

"Oh, you got it," said Joyce, sighing, "Any reason you set an alarm for a Saturday morning?"

"Sorry. I don't remember setting it," Buffy mumbled sleepily, rolling onto her back, "I usually forget to set it, not the other way around."

Joyce chuckled softly, and crossed her room to the window and pulled the shutters open, illuminating the room with warm, yellow light. "Well, now that you're up already, why don't you come down and help me make breakfast?"

"Mmm…you sure about putting me and making food together? You know we're not on the mixy side of things." Buffy pulled herself upright on her bed, wincing as she did so, which didn't escape Joyce's notice.

"Tough night?" she asked with a sympathetic frown.

Buffy took a moment to recall last night, but couldn't pull up anything at first–just blank, silent–then slowly the memories came back. Vamps, vamps, demons, vamps and more vamps. Buffy frowned; everything seemed normal, if not a little intense–but now that she consciously tried to remember the night, something felt wrong. What was it?

"Are you alright, Buffy?"

"Huh? Yeah, of course! Just trying to remember how many I actually dusted. Lotsa vamps coming out of the woodwork. Or should I say the graves."

"A busy night at work."

"Yeah. Ugh, feel like I just ran a marathon," Buffy mumbled irritably, "I'll be down in a bit, mom."

"If you're not feeling well, you can stay in bed for a bit. I can handle some pancakes."

"No, no more bed for this Slayer. Think food might do me good. Also, I can help pour milk and orange juice."

"Ah, the perks of being a Slayer's mother," said Joyce with an amused grin. "See you downstairs." She made to leave, but stopped and turned around as a thought seem to take her. "Buffy, did you ever get back to Giles?"

Buffy glanced at her mom with some confusion. "Giles? What for–OH!" Her eyes widened. "I was supposed to see him yesterday afternoon!"

"Yes you were. Giles rang me several times asking where you were."

"He did?" Buffy mumbled guiltily, "Of course he did. I was the one who said we should talk yesterday."

"Is anything wrong, Buffy?"

"Wrong? No, I don't think so. Just routine Slayer stuff."

"Ah, I see. He seemed very flustered for something 'just routine'."

Buffy shrugged. "You know Giles. A pea under his bed, and he gets all huffy and apocalypse-y."

Joyce quirked her eyebrows, "That's an exaggeration, I'm sure."

"Well, maybe not apocalypse-y."

Joyce didn't seem very pacified, but whatever she was planning to say was interrupted when Dawn's door opened, revealing a very sleepy and sullen looking teenager.

"Ah, the little monster awakens," Joyce muttered with a chuckle. "Morning, sweetheart. Breakfast in a bit." Dawn mumbled something in return as Joyce kissed her forehead and headed downstairs, leaving the sisters alone.

Dawn came to Buffy's door and glared at her. "The next time," she growled through gritted teeth, "Your alarm clock is dead." And walked back into her room and slammed the door.

Buffy stared after her sister with raised eyebrows. She looked back at her alarm clock and tried to remember why in the world she set it anyways.


After a quick breakfast, Buffy stepped into the bathroom, shedding her clothes as she turned on the hot water. Her muscles were in desperate need of some nurturing, especially when she noticed purplish bruising on thighs. It was rare for her to be this beaten up on a regular patrol. But it wasn't light patrol at all was it? Didn't she meet a vamp nest last night? That's right, she did, while she was patrolling Restfield. Now it was coming back to her. She must have hit her head harder than she realized last night.

She wanted to treat herself to a long hot bath, but her guilt at accidentally ditching Giles yesterday tugged at her consciousness, and she was anxious to see him and apologize. Poor Giles was probably worried to death, especially after the whole 'I think there's a spell on me' info bomb she dropped on him the other day. Speaking of which, Buffy made a note to try the trance on herself to see the spell for herself.

After a quick shower, Buffy put on a simple black blouse and one of her worn-in slaying jeans. She shuffled around her vanity table, trying to find a pair of silver hoop earrings she was sure she left on the table. Instead, she was surprised to find her diary on top of the heap of makeup and loose jewelry, the diary she usually kept hidden in her drawer under piles of clothes, and the diary she hadn't written in since before Riley had left.

Her first thought was Dawn–teenage brat sisters will always be teenage brat sisters, ancient key and brush-with-death adventures or not. She had more than once caught Dawn sneaking a read from her diary.

She picked it up, a surge of sad nostalgia overtaking her when she felt the familiar texture of the book. She had taken writing in it a lot before she came to Sunnydale, and continued doing so sporadically throughout her high school years. It was the only thing that wouldn't judge her or throw her into an asylum. It's my truth.

Absently, Buffy flipped through it, noting in amusement how her handwriting progressed with dates, as well as her writing ability. Her fifteen year old self had questionable grammar. She came to the last entry, though it was undated and skimmed it. The words 'mom', 'cancer', 'Dawn', 'Glory' and 'Riley' jumped out at her–it was before Riley had left but after he started acting strange. Frowning, she quickly turned the page. It was never a good thing, visiting the past.

The next page, however, was a complete enigma. There were only three words, written in her hand, with large capitalized letters and urgently underline, stretching across both pages:

CRYPT
TRANCE
HIM

Buffy grimaced as something tugged at her, but she couldn't make sense of it all. She couldn't remember writing this, but it made sense somehow, didn't it? She must have made a note to do the trance thingy after Dawn's little reveal, but crypt? What crypt? Did she mean the Crypt?

Okay, so this not remembering thing was getting worrisome. First she couldn't remember having fought a vamp nest right away, now she couldn't remember writing this note to herself? Well, maybe that's why she was writing notes to herself, but still, weird. She wondered if all the head damages were catching up with her.

She glanced down and read the words again, out loud. So what, go to the crypt? Do the trance? Well, she was planning on it anyways. And what about this 'him'? Maybe something demony was going on, or maybe she was just going insane, which was more than possible if her recent actions were anything to go by. More puzzled than ever, Buffy closed her diary and set it down.

Buffy chewed on her lips, trying to decide if this was Giles-worthy or not. She didn't have much to go on, just some potentially innocuous notes she left for herself. But 'crypt'–if she did mean that Crypt, then this was related to her, to the self held together by nothing but pure will and a lie, and to the dream that haunted her. And possibly, it might related to the 'spell' Dawn supposedly saw.

Something told her that this had to remain private.

She found a pair of gold studs instead, quickly put them on and headed downstairs.