The Voice

Spike didn't remember falling down in the middle of the road. But there he was, hoping the road might turn out to be a major highway. Hoping someone would run over him with spiked wooden wheels. He just lay there, staring at the sky, watching the stars begin to fade as dawn approached.

"Hey, mister, get up." Hands pulled at him, trying to move him.

Hands of his victims, pulling at him as he bled them dry.

"No," he whispered, trying to ignore the memories that found any excuse to fall upon him and remind him of the monster that he was. Dimly, as he fought to control his thoughts, he realized that someone was actually trying to pull him out of the road.

"Get up," the female voice ordered. "Someone's going to hit you." The voice, almost familiar..

"Nah, Dawn'll take care of that in a minute or two."

The hands stilled a moment, then were gone.

"You mean sunrise?"

Of course he meant the bloody sunrise. What else could he mean? He ignored the footsteps walking away from him, wishing the sun would hurry and make its appearance.

"GET UP, William."

That voice. So like her voice.. He tried to move to see her face, but was too weak, or too afraid.

"Don't be a coward, get up and live." He heard her footsteps fade and a moment later, a door closing.

Forcing himself to his feet he looked around him, and saw a light on in only one of the houses. Slowly, he approached it, and then stood outside the door, unsure of what to do. He glanced over his shoulder as the light began to creep over the horizon, and reached for the doorknob, suddenly wanting only to know whom it was who'd tried to save him. He pushed on the door, and took a hesitant step forward, sure that an invisible barrier would keep him back. To his surprise nothing stopped him from entering the house.

Spike looked around him, realizing the light had gone out the moment he entered. Whoever it was didn't want to be seen. "Who are you?"

"Who are you?"

The question caught him a little off guard. "You called me by name, you must know."

Silence was the only response.

"Bloody Hell, woman, step into the light, turn on the bloody light. I know your voice. But I can't place it. Where do I know you from?"

"The Hellmouth."

Chills traveled up and down his spine at those words. No, he couldn't hear anymore of what she had to say, and he couldn't bear to be reminded of that place. "Good to hear it. Tell me what you want, and leave me the Hell alone."

"William. you can't be afraid, do you understand? If you're going to help her at all, you mustn't let your fears control you."

"I don't know what you mean, pet, help who?"

"The Slayer. Buffy." Her voice sounded muffled as she said Buffy's name, then cleared up again. "You have to help her."

No, no. "Sorry, love, don't think so. I can't go back there." Why hadn't she just left him for the sun? He almost groaned, fighting to control the images of the atrocities he'd committed in Sunnydale.

"You still love her don't you?"

He hesitated. "Who are you?"

"Don't you?"

"Yeah," he said after a moment, remembering their time together, knowing he'd ruined any hope of ever being with her. "Yeah, I still love her. So much it hurts." True, it almost killed him knowing what he'd done to her.

"Then you'll go back. Maybe not right away, but eventually. You asked who I was, and so I asked who you were. I know you, William, Spike. You'll do what's right. You'll learn to control your thoughts, your fears, and you'll do what's right."

"Why didn't you just leave me to die?!" He yelled. "I was gonna end it! I've hurt them all so much, and no one would even notice me dead! You could have saved them so much trouble," he muttered.

"What trouble?"

"If I go back, they'll kill me. She'll kill me. I'm a monster to her."

"She won't kill you." The bloody evil woman was laughing now. He growled in the darkness. "Oh, yes, you're a monster, I won't argue. But it's a dance remember? She couldn't kill you."

"Oh, yeah," he muttered sarcastically. "You sound like you know her real well."

"Sometimes." There, a catch in her voice, familiar. And something else. Spike tilted his head in her direction, trying to listen for her breath. There wasn't one. He stumbled back. "Who are you? What are you?"

There was silence for a moment, then a chuckle. "Good boy, Spike. Look in the fridge behind you, there's enough blood to last you a while. Take care of yourself, and her, okay?"

She, if she was a she, moved to the door, and all he could see was a silhouette. "Back up, I don't want you to get crispy. I worked too hard to get you this far."

"Who are you?" No longer demanding, afraid to believe his suspicions, he whispered the question aloud as he backed away.

"You know. It's okay, Spike, whatever you believe about me, you have to know you'll feel better once you're home." And then she was gone, and before the door closed he was only able to glimpse her hair, golden brown, exactly what he'd feared.

After a moment he sighed and turned to the fridge. "Damn, you weren't kidding."

Buffy had finished patrolling hours earlier, but, like she had been doing for a few months now, made a final stop at her mother's grave.

Again, the three roses lay at the foot of her gravestone, one red, one yellow and the other white. Buffy scanned the area with her eyes, but as usual, she saw and felt nothing. The first time she had seen the roses, there had been a note too, but after that only the flowers.

It made her feel weird, but at the same time peaceful that someone else remembered her mother. She knew the Scoobies remembered, but it wasn't something they would ever talk about with her around.

"Thanks," she said softly, as she always did, and began the walk home.

Dawn sorted through the papers on the desk, trying to find the grocery list, when she came across a formal envelope. Curious, she opened it, and translated the messy handwriting on the piece of stationary.

'Joyce, you were right, I feel better being home. Now, all I have to do is figure out what you meant, how to control my thoughts. I know you tried, and you saved my life. And I promise, I'll take care of her.'

"Weird," Dawn muttered, then placed the note back in the envelope and began searching again for the grocery list.