DISCLAIMER: I don't own the Buffy or Angel franchises, wish I did, but oh well.

I've updated this to match things that are happening in the Seventh Season, and added a few things I regretted leaving out.



He watched her. The Slayer..

He had always watched her. He felt too responsible to truly turn away. After all, she lived this life because of him. He could say he didn't want to become involved all he liked, but the truth was, he was more comfortable being a part of the shadows, never seen, but always seeing. It was a personal no interference policy.

A slayer died, and another rose in her place, to do her sacred duty. Blah, blah, blah.

Trouble was, the new Slayer was missing.

He chuckled at the memory of it. The Council had no clue what to do. How could this happen? Where was she? Fools.

He had found her. She was his greatest secret, and he had a few. He watched her grow, be strong, be young and innocent. Be a kid. Hell, they were always kids. He should tell them he'd found her, he knew, but he never did. Why ruin her life?

But things were happening. The Council needed her. Council be damned, he thought. It was the world that needed her, and oh, he thought, they'd better be ready.

He had given his secret only then, but not to the Council, those stupid fools. No, he needed someone to help her, someone he couldn't be. Too many people would know she was his weak link, try to hurt her for that, not to mention for being the Slayer to begin with.

She wasn't ready, but there could be no more waiting. Things were happening, things not even he could slow or stop. So he searched until he found him, the Watcher, Merrick. He found him in an alley, leaning over what looked to be the quickly blowing away remains of a vampire.

"Watcher." He let his voice carry on the night wind. The man spun, startled, stake raised in defense.

He laughed out loud. "You don't need that, I'm not like them."

"You're not human."

Damn, an accusation? Definitely not a question. He just grinned. "Two points to the dirty old man." Not a far-off reference. The guy was filthy, and badly dressed.

"Who are you?" The stake had lowered, but the looks for a means of escape had not gone unnoticed.

"Doesn't matter. Found the girl the Council's been looking for. Summer's is her name, right? Well, whatever, she's in Los Angeles. Hemery High School, to be exact." He turned to go, ignoring the heavy weight he felt on his shoulders. What had he done?

"Wait, why are you telling me?"

"Heard there might be a reward or something." Yeah, like the continuing ability to breathe, he liked doing that. He began out of the alley.

"Where are you going?"

God, this guy was big on the questions. "Someone's gotta help her save the world." He was gone before Merrick could respond.

It took him a while to figure out who to pick though, to help the girl. It had to be someone who could be her equal, but few could ever be. And those that were would be fighting against her. Very few people would be stepping up to help the Slayer, no one respectable anyway. He thought about it for what felt like days, but may have been only moments, before realizing the only person that could do. That would have to do, if he could convince the beaten creature.

A few hours later he sniffed and frowned at his surroundings. What was it with people and alleys? His prey was there, collapsed against a wall after scrounging for a lousy rat for food.

"Angel," he muttered in disgust. Pathetic, but perhaps the only person in the world that would do. Oh well, maybe he'd clean up a little before he decided to take on the forces of evil.

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Love, what a bitch, he thought, watching Buffy and Spike in their fight with Angelus.

Love had done this to both of them. Buffy's love for Angel, pure and eternal. Spike's twisted love for the even more twisted Drusilla. He hadn't counted on love, really. He hadn't minded it either much, until lately. Until Angelus.

They were both good with swords he had to admit.

He watched Spike hesitate, Dru unconscious in his arms. For a moment he thought that Spike might help the Slayer, but then the vampire went on, and he shook his head. Spike was complicated, being so close to being one of the good guys, and yet, so far.

Oh, damn, Angel had his soul back. Too late. He thought to himself that someday Willow might make a decent witch. There were tears now, Angel's for the horrors he'd committed, Buffy's for the horror she must now be enduring. He tensed, ready to kill Angel if he had to. But no, Buffy did her duty, destroyed herself, but saved the world. He saw the pain on her face as she drove her sword through her lover, and then drove herself away from it all. He'd tried to tell her, warn her, but it didn't matter. He hated himself for it all.

As always, he was watching as she left, he would wait to follow, make sure the Scoobies would be okay. He watched her friends, her mother's confusion, and he waited patiently. She'd be back, destiny was a bitch like that.

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Graduation. She'd gotten her diploma and saved the world, again, not bad for one day. Damn, he was proud. He had no trouble admitting it, and only a little controlling himself from jumping out of the shadows to help her in the battle. He doubted either Buffy or Angel would have had time to recognize him amid the sea of faces, but he couldn't risk it. Just a few weeks ago, he'd been seen by Faith, watching Buffy, but he guessed he didn't have to worry about her anymore.

And there was Angel, leaving again. He'd fought like Hell for the Powers to return the vampire, but they'd ignored him. He wasn't sure why he'd been returned, but he thought it had to do with the saying "Love is stronger than anything."

It was strong enough to make Angel leave, and break both of their hearts.

He shrugged, watching the silent good-byes. "Sorry, kid, didn't see that one coming. I wish I could have stopped it."

Now, the Initiative had shocked him. He'd heard of governments experimenting on non-humans, but never had he believed it. And the Slayer falling in love with one of its most powerful members, well, that was almost expected. Of course, he had always wondered how in love she really was. Angel was always there in the back of her mind, he knew it, and the few times they saw each other again, he knew the feelings they had for each other might fade, but they would never really go away. He didn't believe in soul mates, but if he did, he knew that's what they would be.

Spike's return, oh, he'd savored that. He'd taken a break of watching Buffy just to sneak in and see how they treated him in the Initiative. He rolled in laughter at the irony of the chip, and what was it with vampires and falling in love with the Slayer, anyway? Greatest enemy, remember? Oh, well. The more he watched them together, the more he liked the neutered vampire. And almost pitied him. What he was sure had started out as a lustful obsession had developed into more, and even if the Slayer couldn't see it, he could, and sometimes he wished she would too.

Glory, ahh, there was a bitch, and a demon-god to boot. If Giles hadn't finished it off, he would have. No interference policy be damned. And Dawn was the key? How interesting, and tragic, because who knew what the little girl would have to face now. Well, they'd chosen the best to be her sister, to protect her, or die trying.

Speaking of which.

He stepped from the shadows, slipping into step beside the short, stout man he'd spent a month tracking down and planning for.

"What's up, Doc?"

The man frowned at him. "What do you want, demon?"

That's the pot calling the kettle black, he thought to himself. "Revenge."

Doc stopped and smiled. "Oh? I trade in all sorts of spells for that. What type of vengeance do you seek?"

"A friend of mine got killed a bit ago, real sweet gal."

"It's always for a girl," Doc sighed, but smiled. "Oh, well, money's money. Tell me more about her, maybe a special deal can be made, real torturous, you understand."

"Oh, she was courageous, kind, and she saved the world a lot."

"Oh, her." He frowned, and spoke coldly. "She's back now, you know?" He started walking again.

Yeah, he knew. He'd watched the spell, the rising, and he knew the truth of where she'd been. He wasn't sure if he was madder she had been taken from the world, or that she'd been forced back into it. "You're damn lucky she's back too. Otherwise you'd be dead yourself already."

Doc stopped again, and faced him, a disgusted look on his face. "I suppose you're another of those disgraced few who've fallen in love with her."

"No, I just sympathize."

"Thank God, those guys make me sick. You know, once, long ago, vampires and our sort were fighting each other for a chance at killing a Slayer, now it's a fight over who gets to sleep with her."

"Careful, she's been to Hell and back to keep this world the way it is."

"Don't remind me."

"You ever been to Hell? I've got a place all set up for you if you're interested."

"Hmmm. You know I didn't kill her? She jumped off the tower all on her own."

Love, again. Damn, the girl was full of it. She'd sacrificed her true love to save the world, and then herself for the love she felt for those people, even Spike, and the ex-demon, Anya.

"You could have stopped it. You had no right to interfere."

"And what is it you're doing? Besides, will sending me to Hell really make any difference?"

"Besides making me feel better, no." He turned to go, then glanced back over his shoulder. "Watch your step kid."

"'Kid?' How rude." Doc turned to continue on, then froze, because he was stuck. He looked down at his feet as they began to sink into the sidewalk. Frantically, he reached for something to pull himself out, but there was nothing.

Below him, Doc could hear the tortured souls of Hell, awaiting him. "No," he whispered, then turned to plea for release. "NO!"

He walked on, hearing Doc's cries behind him, and allowed himself a small smile, as Doc's cries ended.

He was going on vacation. Buffy looked to be okay, the Scoobies would take care of her for a little while, long enough. He believed in them, for at least this much would be simple.

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He'd been filled in on his way back. Tara's death, Buffy and Spike, Willow and magick. Damn, he couldn't leave for ten minutes. He arrived in time to see Xander stop Willow from ending the world, but where was everyone else?

When he assured himself they were all alive, he looked for answers. Anya was a demon again? He knew Xander had been concerned about the wedding, but he'd never guessed he would just leave her like that. Anya was going to have it tough, now that she had a taste of being human, and had enjoyed it. Not to mention that she'd slept with Spike? Damn. Of course he had been surprised at the news of Buffy and Spike, but not upset, and now that was ruined. The rape thing angered him, but as he learned more of what had gone on, he almost understood, not that it made him any less angry, but it made him realize how seriously wrong everything had gotten.

Tara, oh Tara. The girl was innocent, and sweet, and everything he could have hoped for her to be after the life she'd led. It broke his heart to know she was gone, and to know what had happened to Willow.

The only ones that looked like they would be okay were Buffy and Dawn. He watched them emerge from the hole meant to be their grave, and he knew they would make it through together.

Now, where was Spike?

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Africa, cough, he hated Africa, but Spike was here. He could feel it. It didn't take long for him to bribe someone into directions to the cave.

Inside, Spike lay curled in a corner.

What the Hell?

"He's been like that the whole time."

He turned to the demon. "What happened to him?"

"He braved the trials."

Damn. Rejection by Drusilla had hurt, but the vampire had gotten over it. At some point, though, Spike had truly fallen for Buffy, hard, too. Her rejection had been too much. He stopped in his plan of torturing and killing Spike for a moment.

"When he wakes up, he'll have his reward?" If he wanted to hurt Buffy..

"He already has it, that's why he's in the corner."

He frowned. Grief? Dear Gods, had he killed her?

"What did he choose?" It almost hurt him to ask.

The demon chuckled. "He wanted to make himself worthy of her, give her what he thought she would want."

What? He almost gasped, the realization of what the demon had said hitting him hard. Spike still loved her, he knew, but what the demon was hinting, no... "Well, what did you do?"

"Gave him back his soul." More chuckles.

Damn. For her. Damn. "You have a sick sense of humor." He couldn't help laughing himself at the irony of it, then sobered quickly. "This is gonna be interesting."

Spike stirred, and he backed into the shadows. When the vampire awoke, he knew where he would go.

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Sunnydale, California. Hellmouth, and never boring.

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Waiting was the best and worst part.

He looked around, and it all went through his mind again. The adventures, the memories. Death, and life. Merrick, Angel, Riley, Tara, Oz, Cordelia, Joyce Summers, and even Wesley and Faith, all just a part of the past of this town, all witnesses in some form to the life of the one person he always wished he could help himself. All brought together by the bitches of Fate. Witnesses to the darker part of the world others only dreamed of, and all made better by it, to a certain point. Because of her.

He saw Willow, tortured by her grief and guilt at the horrors she'd committed, trying to make it right again. He wished her luck. He knew she feared going back home, back to the people she'd hurt most, because they'd trusted her. They would forgive her, he knew, even if she didn't.

Because of her. He watched Spike arrive back into town, a broken, babbling shell of the fierce monster he'd once been. The vampire had said it once. He knew he was a monster, and that she would never love him, and he'd done everything he could to fight that. Who knew, maybe the vampire had a little to learn yet. Maybe she would teach him.

It's all about her, he thought to himself, seeing Buffy and her sister living their everyday, normal lives, not knowing what was going to happen next, who they would meet, how they would save the world. But he knew they would never wish anything of it, but to never have to save it again.

He watched her, he always watched her, and he always would.

No, it was never boring.