Title: Lessons to Learn

Author: SlayrGrl55 (aka Anna)

Rating: PG

Pairing: B/S

Spoilers: Lessons

Feedback: pretty please?

Disclaimer: I am merely a visitor in the world of Joss Whedon

Buffy watched Principal Wood stroll down the hallway like he owned the school. He's definitely evil, she couldn't help but think. But as soon as he was out of sight, thoughts of Spike found their way back into her head. She could still feel his hand on her cheek. "Duck." She muttered, "Pfft." But she had to admit she was worried. She had never seen Spike like this. She wandered around and waited for the halls to clear before she snuck back down into the basement.

She barely had a clue as to where Spike was, the basement really was a maze. She stopped and tried to hone in on her vampire sensing abilities. It took a moment, but she felt it. Felt Spike. She turned around and headed in the opposite direction. Before long she saw the door Spike resided behind. Quietly, she pulled it open and stepped through. She had no idea what to expect. What she found creeped her out beyond what she expected. Spike was huddled in a far corner, knees pulled up to his chest, mumbling to himself. She took a few steps closer and he flinched.

"Spike." She said hesitantly. He flinched again, and pulled his knees closer to his body, holding on as if for dear life. She crouched down next to him and could hear what he was saying.

"The power. All about the power. Back to the beginning. I belong here. Number 17. Back to the beginning. Pathetic shmuck. All about the power. Useless unless you're cooking. The power. Trying to be good. No word for how fabulous. The power." He mumbled. He pulled his shirt tighter around himself and turned away from Buffy.

There is something seriously wrong here, she concluded. She watched him for a second and then reached out a hand and touched his shoulder. He didn't flinch this time. "Spike, can you hear me? Can you understand me?" she asked quietly. He turned towards her, just a tiny bit, and started to laugh. He threw his head back and laughed like a mad man. Buffy didn't back away.

His laughter died abruptly and he looked into her eyes. She saw something different in his face. More guilt and fear than she had ever seen him show. He reached out his hand again, but she didn't take her eyes off of his. He stroked her cheek and she leaned into it. The hint of a smile was placed on her lips.

She watched as he looked her over, as if seeing her for the first time. Feeling her hair, feeling her face. He was in awe. She also watched as a single tear ran down his face. Her resolve faded and she pulled him to her in a tight hug. God, I missed him, she thought. He was crying out loud now. It was only a matter of seconds before she would be, too.

They sat there on the dusty basement floor and held each other for what seemed like forever. He had been gone for a little over four months. It was too long. She needed him, needed him like she always did.

Finally, she pulled away and took his hand to help him up. He was uneasy on his feet and held on to her for support. "Spike, we're gonna go back to my house, okay? We'll go through the sewers and get you cleaned up." He nodded and they left the room. Buffy racked her brain to remember the floor plan Xander had showed her earlier that morning. There had to be a sewer opening somewhere. What she didn't see was the distraught hell-God stomping her Prada shoes on the cement.

"Where does she think she's going with my precious? Slayer thinks she owns everything in this damned town." The feminine voice suddenly turned evil and dastardly as it shifted into the Master. The blonde hair disappeared and fangs were revealed. "He'll be back. We have time, we can be patient. It's not about dark and light. It's about the power. Oh, he'll be back before the beginning."

Buffy managed to get Spike back to her house without too much trouble. She helped him sit down on the couch and went to the bathroom for the first aid kit. She sat down on the coffee table and he sat up.

It's so surreal. To have him back. To be sitting here with him. Her mind wandered as she bandaged the wound on his chest. Every once in a wile he mumbled something incomprehensive. This was going to be hard and she knew it. But she couldn't leave him alone like this.

She finished bandaging him and sat next to him on the couch. Her hand found its way to his hair and she played with the bleached tips. Always wondered what his natural hair color was.

He began to cry again. She was expecting it this time. She held him until he fell asleep and she waited for Dawn to get home. They were going to go through this together this time. They all still had a lot of lessons to learn. But they had time.

THE END...or is it the beginning?