"Are you sure this is gonna work?" I asked with a quirked eyebrow. I was still trying to get my head around the whole time-travel thing. Like seriously, how is it even possible...? Meh. Maybe I should have concentrated more in Science class.
"Yes, Buffy, I'm certain it will work perfectly," my Watcher exclaimed, smiling at me reassuringly. "Once you jump into this portal, you will feel a distinctly... odd, yet not unpleasant, tingling sensation. You will begin to feel light-headed, and then...", Giles trailed off, glancing at Willow for help. She was busy fussing over my 'Victorian' outfit; a long, flowing, blue dress- which, although I'm generally more of a 'jeans and T-shirt' type of girl, could be considered kinda cute... that is, if it didn't come with a corset. Did Victorian chicks ever fancy, ya know, breathing?!
"Ouch!" I winced, as Willow proceeded to tighten the strings of the corset even further.
"Oops! Sorry, Buffy," she giggled sheepishly, "I just want to make sure you look the part!"
"Yeah, well I definitely feel the part..."I grumbled, "If the part involves the inability to breathe!"
"You'll be fine, Buffy. Also, may I say, the dress does look rather fetching on you... perhaps you should consider wearing such attire more often!" Giles smiled brightly.
I gave him a pointed look.
He readjusted his glasses, chuckling. "Or... perhaps not. Anyway, Willow, could you please continue explaining the process? You're the one who has made this possible, after all," he prompted, with a grateful smile in her direction.
"Sure!" Willow nodded earnestly, side-stepping round to face me. I could see nervous excitement flashing in her eyes.
"Um, well, basically, Buffy, you are going to be absolutely fine. I know what I'm doing, honest, and in this case, I definitely know what I'm doing! So yeah, all the, um, magical 'doing' has been done in a precise and practical manner... meaning, you will travel back in time, kill Spike... well, 'past' Spike, and then return back to-"
"You want me to kill Spike?!"
Well, this was definitely news to me.
"Oops..." Willow mouthed 'sorry' at Giles, who was cradling his face in his hands.
"Yes, Buffy. That is your ultimate mission." I opened my mouth to protest in sheer outrage, but Giles cut me off with a pleading expression. "We were going to inform you sooner, but we just assumed-"
"You assumed I wouldn't get all psyched-up to go travelling in your metaphorical Tardis if I knew the reason was to kill my... my..."
There was an awkward silence, and a series of confused expressions from my two spectators, as I tried searching for the right word. What even was Spike to me? My friend? Nah, if 'friends' ever got up to the things we did, that friendship would be effectively ruined. Which worked nicely, because we weren't exactly friends in the first place. Hell, we were more mortal enemies than we ever were friends. But what exactly could I say? "Oh yeah, guys, not to drop a bombshell on you or anything... but ya know that mass-murdering vamp who you all despise with a passion? Yeah, he's kinda secretly been my sex buddy for the past couple of months... with a passion." Ha, that would go down well.
I sighed. "You knew I wouldn't want to go if I knew I had to kill... him."
Yay, that worked! 'Him' simply defines a male being. And Spike is definitely, definitely male...
"Buffy, why are you blushing?"
I quickly snapped out of my daze and gave Willow an innocent, puppy-eyed look. "No reason! I wasn't even blushing, when have I ever blushed? I don't blush... but anyway, anyway, back to the point. You guys lied to me because you didn't think I'd like what I was gonna hear, but now you think it's acceptable to tell me 'cos you also know, being my dear friends, that there is no chance in Hell I'd have worn this freaking corset for nothing!" I finished my rant with an uncontrollable pout.
My two 'dear', deceitful friends exchanged sheepish looks. Giles cleared his throat, and walked towards me, putting an apologetic hand on my shoulder. Gingerly, as if he expected me to punch him or something. Which I was strongly considering.
"I was planning on telling you in a more... subtle manner, yet I suppose there's no time like the present-"
"Or the past, in this case!"
Giles shot Willow a warning look. She quickly busied herself with the careful inspection of her nails. They were painted black; the nail polish slightly chipped. Like Spike's.
"As I was saying... Spike, I'm afraid, must be killed. We have all come to realize that, unfortunately, we have given him far too close and personal access to our, um, our alliance. It is also especially worrying that he appears to have some sort of control over you, Buffy. I haven't the faintest idea why, or how, nor am I questioning your abilities and judgement as the Slayer; yet I predict that your relationship could have an impact on both these factors in the future, if it continues."
"Relationship? What relationship?" I began laughing in an exaggerated manner, causing Willow to glance up at me curiously, abandoning the careful study of her nails. "Me and Spike... we don't have a relationship!
"I am aware-"
"I tolerate him. He tolerates me. And that's it! That's all there will ever be, I-"
"Buffy, I wasn't questioning whether you two were romantically involved, Heavens no!" Giles spluttered.
"The very idea is preposterous!" If only he knew. "You, the Slayer, and he, a vampire, renowned for his unparalleled capabilities of sheer, ruthless EVIL-"
"He isn't that evil..." I defended automatically, yet soon regretted it when Giles' face morphed into one of suspicion and confusion. "Anymore! I- I mean, he isn't that evil anymore," I corrected. "He's changed, Giles, and- and even though yes, to some degree his presence does have an impact on me, surely that isn't a reason for me to kill him? And why go back in time to do it, anyway? If he was in this room, I'd be perfectly capable of staking him right here, right now-"
"But you wouldn't," Giles said softly. "That's the problem... in some way, shape or form, this undead creature has had a profound impact upon you, and- and I worry it will end up affecting your Slaying capabilities. He could so easily become an obstacle, one which is not easily removed. That, being another problem with killing him in his current form; he has already brutally murdered two other slayers- imagine the risk of him killing you!"
"I could take him." I exclaimed indignantly.
"Perhaps, if you two were strangers again, then yes." Giles pacified. "However, even when that was the case, he still got away... in fact, you were within mere inches of your life, Buffy! And now you are somewhat attached to him-"
"I. Am. Not. Attached. Why do you all seem to think that? He is a disgusting, evil, undead thing which I am most certainly not attached to!"
"In which case, you will have no trouble with killing him." Giles said evenly.
I found myself at a loss for words.
"But... but surely, there still isn't a real reason for killing him?" I asked quietly.
"Buffy, in these past few weeks he has gone on a rampage, running riot. The chip has clearly begun to work inadequately, as I have received reports that he has begun... killing again."
My mind swam. "...How do you know it was him?"
"One young man was found with a railroad spike protruding from his skull."
All I could offer was a muffled "oh" of surprise. Although I wasn't really surprised at all. His chip had started faltering a while back, and it was exactly two weeks ago today when I pretty much ripped out his heart and stamped on it. "I can't love you. I'm just being... weak and selfish... and it's killing me. I have to be strong about this." Yeah, I didn't just stamp on it... I stamped on it in stiletto heels.
Oh boy. Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy... what the Hell have I done?!
"Therefore, it has been unanimously decided that the easiest, most methodical way of killing Spike will be to go back in time, and kill his human self, William- a far safer alternative, don't you think?"
"But... but surely William is innocent? I can't just kill an innocent human being!" I exclaimed desperately.
"All you have to do is think of what he'll become."
"Yeah B-Buffy, I know it's hard, but you know that this is really for the best..." Willow piped up, smiling at me anxiously. "If you erase Spike's existence as a vampire, think of all the people you'll save!"
"Then he'll have never existed..." I stared into space, not wanting to believe nor able to comprehend what I was hearing. "Look, Giles, I don't think I can do this. Spike... never existing? That's just plain weird! If he doesn't exist then the whole path of time will change; the whole world will change!"
"For the better," Giles countered firmly. "You may not realize, but we only came to this decision because we care about you, Buffy. It's what's best for you, and the rest of the world."
"Now, are you ready?" Willow said brightly, although there was a certain tinge of sadness in her eyes. I was obviously not the only one who was uneasy with this whole 'Let's kill human Spike!' situation.
"I... I don't know, I-"
"Unless of course, you do harbor feelings for this vampire?" Giles inquired, tilting his head to one side with an expression of curiosity mingled with fear.
"No! No, of course not..."
"Of course not," Giles echoed with a nervous, yet relieved laugh. "I apologize for even insinuating such a bizarre scenario!"
I mentally face-palmed.
"But I must stress, that each and every one of us is perfectly capable of killing a mere human. I simply gave the task to you, as your role is, of course, to 'slay', and you have been most acquainted with Spike, therefore it seems fair to give the responsibility to you, to deal with in your own way. However, if you refuse..."
"I'll do it." For some unknown reason, I couldn't bear the thought of anyone else killing Spike. Spike... William... whatever. Either way, I decided that if anyone had to end his life (or undead life, strictly speaking), it had to be me. I fingered the knife in my pocket, finally knowing why the Scooby gang insisted I take one. No staking and baking for this vampire. He'd have to be killed with a knife.
I continued inwardly talking to myself in such a casual manner, whilst Willow gave my corset one final tug, and Giles talked me over the necessity to "acquaint myself with the enemy before I kill him" due to "basic Victorian etiquette." I continued making little morbid jokes to myself whilst Giles gave me a fatherly hug, uttering quiet words of attempted sympathetic understanding, while Willow stood engrossed in magical mutterings, eyes fixated upon the portal. I continued telling myself that none of this was a big deal in the slightest- just a "slay for the day", whilst I stepped closer and closer to the portal, readying myself to jump into its beckoning light.
But all the while, my stomach was churning, my mind was writhing and my heart was breaking.
Get a grip, Buffy, it's only Spike, remember? He's a vampire. You're a slayer. You slay vampires, it's what you do. Come on now, there's no need to feel this way- it's only Spike.
But although I wasn't fully sure why, that was precisely the problem. The fact that it was Spike. I didn't love him, no... yet for some reason, as I dived into the portal, I felt the hot wetness of tears. The tears I'd been holding back this entire time.