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Echoes

Chapter Text

Echoes

By: PhoenixJustice

Disclaimer: Buffy the Vampire Slayer is owned by Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and other things that are not me. I only own this story and make no profit from this.

Warning: Rated M for future sexual content, language, violence, underage, mentions of time travel, reincarnation (sort of-she's still Buffy), etc.

Pairing: Spike/Buffy Summers (main). Other pairings to be determined.

Setting: pre-s1 with spoilers up to season 10 of BTVS, season 5 of AtS (plus the Angel and Faith series and other side comic canon series).

Summary: Some days it felt as though all of that had just been a fanciful, if sometimes violent, dream. But then she becomes Slayer in truth once more, wanting if only just once more to see him again.

A/N: This is definitely something unique, I think, and probably a bit polarizing, for the content, but it's something I've had in mind for a little while now, wondering what would happen if the very situation were to occur. Even if it doesn't seem like your cup of tea, at least have a look and see if any of it catches your fancy! :) I hope you enjoy!

Thoughts are in italics.

Memories/dreams/flashbacks are in bold.

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The First Echo - The Vampire Slayer

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In every generation there is a Chosen One. She alone will stand against the vampires, the demons, and the forces of darkness. She is the Slayer.

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I hate them sometimes. Only sometimes, but in those times I hate them. If only things could just be simple . Or, in the very least, if things could just happen all at once...that'd make things much easier.

Wouldn't it?

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She had known from the very beginning of her life that she was different.

She knew things that those of her age couldn't even begin to comprehend.

She had been born into this life with the knowledge of Before.

Before, when she had also been known as Buffy Summers. When she had, not so willingly, started as the Vampire Slayer at fifteen. When she had earned friends, enemies. Had loved, lost, had died (repeatedly) and had never let it keep her down, not for good. Right up until the end, when things had been...well, she didn't like to dwell on those things. Only rarely did those dreams invade the regular ones. The rest reminded her of her past. The things from before. She may not be in that time any longer, she may not be the Slayer yet but she was certainly Buffy Summers, daughter of Hank and Joyce Summers, sister to a girl, Dawn, who had yet to exist in her world.

She was also thirteen.

And late for school.

Crap.

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"You were lucky that Mr. Creighton is such a softy!" a girl with a noticeable valley accent says next to her. She glances over. Nicole Bobbitson, known as Nicki to those in her circle (or vicinity of her circle, as Buffy was. They were passable friends, but were not close. In the past, Buffy had been a bit closer with her, as she herself had been of a similar mind to Nicki until she discovered her Calling.) "Anyone else would have given you detention for sure!"

"I know." she says, biting on her lip. She was usually pretty prompt to school. Despite all her ranting against school in her past, she had still overall liked it (other than the numerous attempts on her life, of course.) And this time she wanted to give future teachers and (and most of all) future principals less to give her grief over. She had only been late because she had tossed and turned all night, flooded with those dreams once more, and had finally went into a restless sleep late in the morning, causing her to be late. "Thanks for the tip."

While Nicki wasn't the smartest tool in the shed, preferring to spend daddy's money rather than focus on her studies, she was by no means stupid either. Still, the more subtle of sarcasm, as Buffy was using now, tended to go right over her head.

"Welcome. So, are you going to the Tripp twins' party tonight?"

The Tripp twins were a bit notorious in the school for both having an obscene amount of money and parents whom were so often away that they tended to get away with whatever they wanted (so their parents didn't have to feel bad about themselves for leaving them alone with the nanny so much.) She also didn't care for them one bit; she never liked the elder twin, Russell, as he had always had his eyes on her, even in her previous life.

"I wish I could!" she says, affecting a sigh. "My mom is being a total drag and making me stay home for 'family time'."

"Bummer! Hopefully you can talk her into it next time. Oh well. See you later!" And with that, Nicki is gone, leaving Buffy to sigh inwardly. Her mother was actually not asking for family time at all. In fact, she wasn't even at home; she had left early in the morning (the only reason she didn't get in trouble for getting up as late as she had) and would be gone for the weekend on an art trip, for her business. Not that she hadn't left without a bit of fuss though; the previous night she had been worrying about leaving her behind until Buffy's dad, also leaving on a trip but leaving that day instead of the next day, managed to talk her down.

'She'll be fine, Joyce! She's thirteen, not three. I think it's time we gave her a bit more responsibility. And she can call Mr. Neibens if she needs anything.' Mr. Neibens was their immediate neighbor who was nice and had always been a helping hand to them in the past, when babysitters or the like fell through.

'I don't know...'

'Come on, mom! I promise . I'll call him first thing if I need anything. And I'll double and triple check to lock all the doors. Okay?'

Joyce sighs.

'Fine. But do not stay out late. And no parties. Got it, young lady?'

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She lays her book bag down on the kitchen table and starts rummaging for a snack. She wasn't very hungry, though her parents had made sure to leave enough money for a pizza and for a few things she could grab at the store if she wanted to. It was the first time she had been left alone with them both out on business, so she wanted to enjoy the time to herself while she could. It wasn't that she minded people; she liked people as much as the next person, liked hanging out with people and enjoying herself. But sometimes, when the memories were hitting too strong, or were lingering extra long, as they were now, she enjoyed the solitude so she could try and sift through all the emotions, the memories.

It was almost like echoes. Reminders of what once was, what had been, what was no longer. She could easily picture, as she looks at the refrigerator, the crayon etchings created by a young Buffy and even younger Dawn, could remember when she first scraped her knee riding a bicycle for the first time, remember the more recent first time she rode a bicycle for the first time as a child...and falling in almost, but not quite, the same place as the time before. Luckily it didn't happen all the time, the echoes, not enough to throw her for a real loop. Most of the time it was in dreams, so she could deal with them much easier.

She grabs an apple and closes the fridge, heading into the living room and sitting, idly eating her apple while watching some mindless television. It was a good breather, of sorts, to let her try and relax, something she could watch without having to really focus on it.

She was thirteen now, having turned it in January. If things continued as they were, then she should be on course to become the Slayer in another two years. If they were going the way they did last time. She had no assurance in this life that she would even become the Slayer again. But she had made the promise to herself that no matter if she did or did not, she would not stand idly by, knowing the true dangers of the world, and not try and do something about it.

"Definitely a change from last time." she muses aloud. Last time when she started having violent dreams about Slayers, she had rebelled against her Calling. Though, looking back, she knew part of that had been stemming from her treatment at the hands of her parents when she tried to tell them the first time around.

Going to that asylum... She shivers. She couldn't exactly remember what it was like, but she certainly remembered the impression of it. It had been something she had thought about for a long time now. Her constant need of wanting a 'normal life'. It wasn't just from wanting to be normal, but that she never go to a place like that again. No, better to wait until she was in a less vulnerable place before talking about something like that. Besides that, she didn't want it to go down like when her mother found out about her being the Slayer in truth in Sunnydale.

"Huh. Guess just call me Dr. Phil."

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She wraps her coat around herself tightly. Although it was in the middle of February and not that cold, considering the area she lived in, it was still cold enough to warrant a coat. The sun was just starting to set as she makes her way down the familiar streets to the nearest corner store. She felt restless, on edge, for some reason and she didn't like the way it made her feel.

She supposed growing up was sort of like it too, if she thought about it. She didn't feel exactly her age now, but she certainly didn't feel like she was the age she had once been either. It was a weird sort of in-between, with her feeling so many times her own immaturity, mixed with the woman who had once been. Her own memories that came and went did not change her wanting to hang out with friends or do things.

She rubs at her covered arms, more from the weird feelings than the weather itself. She continues to walk, thoughts still occupied until she notices feet ahead of her and looks up. A man of about twenty five to thirty was heading her way. She holds back a shiver. It was generally a very safe neighborhood, but it was getting late and she couldn't help feeling a bit paranoid. He probably was just heading home or to a friend's or something like that.

She keeps her eyes focused ahead of her as she starts to walk past him.

"A little late for a young girl like you to be out, isn't it?"

She freezes in place and glances behind her. The man hadn't gone far and was staring right at her now. At closer inspection, warning flags were blaring at her. His hair was brown and straggly and it looked as though he hadn't-by the smell alone-that he hadn't bathed in a few days. His clothes were rumpled and mismatched.

"I'm fine. I'm just heading home up ahead," she lies, pointing at an apartment complex somewhat near them. "My mom's waiting for me at the door. You know how it is. Mom's worry...too much..." she trails off.

He grins a grin filled with chipped and darkly yellowed teeth. He was like the ultimate cliched look of someone who just screamed 'bad person! bad! stay away! get away!'

When he doesn't say anything further, she turns and starts walking again. The store she was heading to was now closer than her house. She'd just stay in there for awhile and she had enough that she could probably get a cab home, if need be. For a wonderful few minutes everything is quiet, but soon enough she hears the faint tapping of shoes behind her.

The man was following her.

Vampires, she had been getting ready for. For demons, even. Ghosts and other supernatural things. But people? Maybe it was due to her past of fighting the Supernatural, but dealing with humans was always the worst-and scariest-thing to her. She does her best to ignore the growing dread in her, while doing her best to listen closely to his footsteps; that'd give her a good idea of where he was versus where she was. He wasn't all too close yet and the thought that he was dragging things out for his own pleasure was making her sick.

There were about two more small streets she had to get through to get to her destination. It'd be shorter if she cut down one of the side alleys coming up ahead, but that just spelled disaster to her in giant neon lights. Her pace quickens a bit. She wasn't outright running yet, but she felt close to doing so. The man was tall but running might be the only thing she had. His bulk, from what she had seen, made her pause.

She had taken a few karate and judo lessons when she was about ten but the place she was learning from closes not long after she starts and her father "refuse to waste more money on another place that's just going to close after they get my money." Her mother tries to get him to see reason, at first, but apparently he had managed to talk her into seeing it his way as she hadn't gotten any more lessons after that. She still remembered the lessons, but there was no way a small thirteen year old like her would be able to toss a man like that.

She had memories of some fights from being the Slayer, but many of those would be absolutely no help as she didn't have the strength to accomplish any of them. Yet another time she felt helpless from her age. She felt it keenly now; felt helpless, small. Maybe if she remembered everything; but she didn't. She knew things, knew who people were, remembered some events or saw them in dreams, but there were still some blanks that had yet to be filled.

Even so, she doubted they'd be too much help. The closest thing she remembered was her Cruciamentum but, unless he suddenly changed his face and sprouted fangs, this man wasn't a vampire. And even if he was, she had no holy water handy and curses the fact. She had been trying to get some, but trying to explain to your parents-who knew you weren't religious and who weren't exactly religious themselves-that you needed to go to church (and to get some holy water from a priest at that) wasn't exactly easy.

"Come on, wait, and I'll help you get home."

She pauses briefly, glancing behind her again. Was he closer now? It was hard to tell. He had a large stride, being as tall and big as he was, so it was hard to gauge it.

"Oh! Thank you, but I'm okay. My mom'd flip if she saw me walking with someone."

"I insist."

"That's okay. I-"

"Or I can slit your slutty little body from naval to neck? How about that?"

Her blood runs cold. His tone was so detached and so...wrong. Screw it. She doesn't glance back again as she starts full out running now. She hears him exclaim somewhere behind him and hopes that was enough to give her a head start away from the psycho creep.

Her stomach keeps churning, making her feel sick again, but she pushes it away. She couldn't lose it now. Not with a maniac chasing after her. His footsteps get louder and louder and fear bursts from her now and she lets out a large scream, turning quickly, trying to lose him. He was too close, much too close, and her mind was in severe fight or flight mode. Enemy! Enemy! her mind was crying out, something she knew but could only dimly recognize, with her fear making her unable to think straight.

She screams again as she feels him grab her and it's only then that she notices that she had done what she had been determined not to and had run into an alleyway. She turns, only barely registering the tears down her face. Not like this. Things hadn't... she had planned too much, had done all she could, she couldn't die here! Fight or flight kicks in again but this time it tells her differently. She grabs onto one of his meaty wrists and tries to pull him off of her.

"I'm gonna enjoy this." the man purrs, grinning maniacally. "Been a long time since I could enjoy a live one like you."

"Let-me-go!"

She registers a flash of silver before screaming again, blazing hot white pain shooting through her and feels something bombarding her and vaguely makes out a shape in front of her. But that wasn't the man... She hears another distant scream and her eyes pop open. She looks down.

She could see the bones breaking in his arm.

Because of her.

She gasps and pulls back.

He lets out another scream of agony, falling to the ground and clutching his arm.

"My arm, my arm!" he moans. "You fucking bitch! What did you do to my arm?!"

He lunges for her and instinct kicks in and she smacks him hard across the face. He instantly crumples to the ground again, this time unconscious. She stands there for a long moment, shaking. She barely gives the man another glance. Instead she lifts her hands and looks at them in astonishment.

She was the Slayer.

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She manages to hold it back while she runs to the nearest open building to phone the police, manages to hold it back as she runs her way back home-not wanting to deal with the police, but more than that, not being in the right mindset to do so-manages to hold it until she gets the door to her house open, before running into the nearest bathroom and loses everything she had eaten that day.

She moans pitifully, holding loosely onto the toilet. She lays like that for a moment, head resting on the lid of the seat before grimacing at the smell, getting up and flushing the mess away. She heads to the sink and starts to wash her face and hands, looking up to see her youthful face look haunted, scared, yet...full of purpose, all the same.

It still didn't feel quite real. She stumbles her way back out and into the living room, before pausing. Her brows furrow for a moment before clearing. She makes her way to the back of the house and heads into what was obviously a workout room. Her father spent some of his workout time here and some at a gym he had a membership at. She looks around before finally spying what she was looking for. He had many dumbells. He rarely used them, preferring to use elliptical machines instead, so he wouldn't miss one of them.

She picks one up and stares down at it. She could remember not so long ago when she tried to pick up the same one and had strained against its weight. Now it felt like a feather in her hand. She swallows hard.

And bends it in two.

It falls to the floor with a clang as she falls to her knees, covering her face with her hands.

"In every generation, a Slayer is born." she mumbles against her hands.

She had expected to be the Slayer, had prepared as much as she could, but knew she was looking at an extra two years of prep time.

She just hadn't expected to be the Slayer now.

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"What happened?" she wonders aloud. After a splash of cold water on her face and something soothing to drink, she had managed to calm down significantly from what she had. "What happened to India?"

India Cohen was the previous Slayer before her, something she knew from the Watcher Diaries. She really only knew the girl's name, as Giles had been reluctant to give her details of the girl who had been before her-died before her, but from what she gathered, India had been a competent Slayer. Maybe she wasn't the Slayer before Buffy anymore? If Buffy became Slayer now, maybe that meant that someone else had been Slayer before her this time?

She was the Slayer, that much was obvious, but she was also alone. She gives a humorless laugh. Slayers were meant to be alone. Or at least that's what the Watcher's Council thought. Speaking of...she was Watcherless. Merrick, poor Merrick, had eventually found her the first time around, but even for the Watcher's, finding a Slayer wasn't an exact science. She had no way of knowing if they knew what had transpired, that she was now the Slayer; they could be looking in a million different directions.

They had many Potential Slayers that they tried to keep track of, to see if they'd be the next Slayer called, but the Watcher's Council, despite it's power and authority (if some of it only being in their own mind), just did not have enough manpower to keep track of all potential Slayers. That's what had happened previously. She had been one of the ones overlooked and had come into her power, with little understanding (until Merrick had arrived) of just what she was and what the world truly was.

She felt both ready for this, had prepared for it, and also felt terrified. Despite her willingness to do so, she could still feel things slipping out of her control and that scared her most of all. She could not be a puppet to anyone, certainly not to the Watcher's Council. She had eventually broken free of them, but had still let them toy long enough with her. And with her being the age she was, it made it all the more important that she not let them try and dictate things for her.

She had no way of knowing the exact numbers for Slayers, but from what she did know, could remember as best she could, very few Slayers got called as young as she had just did.

It these sorts of thoughts that keep her occupied as her feet move up the stairs, heading into her room. She stares blankly at her closet for a moment, before opening it and pulling out some clothes. She starts to slowly change, shivering slightly.

"Who had India's Watcher been?" she mumbles aloud as she pulls a shirt on. She couldn't remember and slightly cursed the things still eluding her. The small details about the Watcher Diaries might come in handy for her, as well as some of Giles' other teachings. Especially now, what with the situation being what it was.

She finishes dressing, eyes moving around her room as she starts to pull her hair into a ponytail. Her eyes skim over the posters of actors and musicians she likes, passes over the stuffed animals her father had given her, lying on her bright and colorful bed (Mr Gordo was still her favorite), passes over the scattered clothing, her diary-something she treasured so greatly in this time-she had locked, lying on top of her desk. Her eyes close for a moment, feeling something like sadness wash over her before pushing it aside.

She looks into her full length mirror at herself. She felt like a child playing dress up, with her blue jeans, her striped sweater, her hair tied up, her green eyes still wide in shock. Even if it felt familiar, it still felt new.

"Vampires of the world...beware..." she trails off.

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I hope you enjoyed this!

Let me know what you thought!

-PhoenixJustice

Chapter Text

Echoes

By: PhoenixJustice

Disclaimer: Buffy the Vampire Slayer is owned by Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and other things that are not me. I only own this story and make no profit from this.

Warning: Rated M for future sexual content, language, violence, underage, mentions of time travel, reincarnation (sort of-she's still Buffy), etc.

Pairing: Spike/Buffy Summers (main). Other pairings to be determined.

Setting: pre-s1 with spoilers up to season 10 of BTVS, season 5 of AtS (plus the Angel and Faith series and other side comic canon series).

Summary: Some days it felt as though all of that had just been a fanciful, if sometimes violent, dream. But then she becomes Slayer in truth once more, wanting if only just once more to see him again.

Thoughts are in italics.

Memories/dreams/flashbacks are in bold.

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The Second Echo - The Priest

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She was now able to do things she hadn't in...well, now a very long time for her.

She could craft stakes again. She starts on doing so immediately, using what memories she had of making them. Luckily she had prepared for this moment in advance by gathering up small branches of wood here and there, had kept them hidden in her room for the moment she needed them. She would have created them before, but with her lack of strength before, had lacked what she needed to make decent ones. Even if she hadn't become the Slayer until two years later, as she had previously expected, she would still have had enough strength by then to work on stakes. They wouldn't be perfect, by any means, but they'd be more than usable.

Same with these, really. Although she had the strength and the memory, she still hadn't done the actual work behind it in many years. Speaking of strength... well, she had the strength. And yes, even the memory (most of it, anyway) but in this lifetime she had not been able to fight like she had in her past former life. She knew she still had to be careful; being so new at this, in some ways, and being younger, she knew she would have to be even more careful than usual when she started to patrol. With no one to watch her back-and becoming the Slayer now when she had-it would be difficult.

So she'd work on stakes and she'd use the extra time alone to her advantage.

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While she hadn't exactly patrolled these graveyards before in this life, she had used things-like computers-to her advantage, learning the layouts to try and speed up patrol times if/when ever given the opportunity to go through them.

She had been working on what best routes to take through them quickly when she was finally able to patrol, because she knew that she would have to try and get them done without her parents being any the wiser. Especially so now since she was even younger. Even when she was seventeen the last time and had the truth had finally come out, her mother had still seen her as too young. As for her father, well he hadn't found out until later, when vampires had been discovered as truth and had rejected her without saying he did. It had hurt more than she had expected, given that she hadn't talked with him in years.

"Okay. So...okay." she takes in a deep breath, letting it out slowly.

She grabs one of the stakes that had been finished, gripping it tightly.

She has one particular thought in her mind.

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The vampire was big and burly, he looked like he had been a biker before being turned and still dressed much the same, just a bit more dirty than before. Her senses were still so new, but she had enough memory to rely on to hone in and she knew he hadn't been around long as a vampire.

"Isn't it past your bedtime, little girl?" he says, in his deep voice.

"Isn't it time for you to get some new clothes?" she quips. "Gotta say, I doubt the Hells Angels or whatever group you used to be from allows dirty denim." She ducks his punch, which goes through one of the gravestones, breaking it apart into pieces which fly everywhere. He was fairly strong, considering he was so new, so she'd have to be careful. "Well, okay, they probably do but they shouldn't. It's not even retro chic; it's just dirt."

She manages to land a punch, throwing herself back to avoid getting hit again, before taking a hard grip of her stake and landing it square in his chest. He doesn't even get to let out a sound before collapsing into a pile of dust.

She lets out a breath.

"One down. Only a few more...thousand...or so...to go."

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And so it began for the next two days, she started to patrol through more cemetaries and deliberately sought out as many vampires as she could.

"Anyone tell you that you have dorito breath? Pretty impressive considering you don't breathe."

"Okay-ouch. Who even wears fake nails anymore?!"

"Are you guys getting clothes tips from one another or something? You don't have to be so cliched! Even Dracula doesn't dress in a cape! ...all the time."

Grunt. A punch. A roundhouse kick into a face. Panting. "Okay, so I'm a bit rusty. It's not my fault it's been thirteen years!"

"Uh? What?"

A sigh. " Nothing ." A stake into a chest. Dust flies into the wind. "You'd think they'd be more of a challenge, with a large a city as this place is."

She smacks him hard across the face, sending him flying through some headstones. He growls and tries tackling her but she manages to get out of the way, kicking the back of one of his knees, sending him into a semi-kneeling position on the ground. He grunts in pain. She moves to stand in front of him, stake held loosely in a hand.

He was older than some of the vampires she had seen lately, but not by much. He held a bit more power than the biker vampire had, though he was much skinnier and taller than the biker had been. His yellowed eyes glare up at her, his face twisted in its vampire visage. He had been the first to give her more of a challenge, to make her have to hone into a bit more of her Slayer skills. A bit scary, that, but also sort of a relief, as it let her stretch muscles that had never been stretched in this life but ones she had known, had used before. It would help her get through things easier...she hopes.

"Do it, Slayer," he hisses. "Get it over with."

"Oh wow. Someone who actually knows who I am!" she says mildly. "But no, I can't-not just yet, anyway."

She yanks him up by his collar and the picture of him looming over her would almost be comical if not for the fact that she was the one in power here and they both knew it.

"What do you want?" he growls.

"It's simple. Just want an answer to my question."

She smiles.

"Do you know where I might find William the Bloody?"

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She sighs in disappointment, wiping her dusty hands down onto her jeans. No luck. He had been the first real lead she had had-the other vampires she had interrogated had led her to him, with someone who might have the information she was looking for.

Another disappointing night. It was doubtful she'd have this much extra time to look around once her parents returned. Her mom, at least, anyway. Her dad wasn't around much and tended to afford her a bit more freedom-a bit of a balance, she thought, to help balance out the fact that despite him still living in the same house with her he could be a bit neglectful.

She is walking back through one of the graveyards, thinking about what possibly to do next, when a sudden ringing startles her and she fumbles for the phone in her pants pocket, thankful she had remembered to bring it (she had forgotten it before, when that greasy guy had tried to attack her-when she had become the Slayer again.) She looks around briefly. Quiet, as the cliche said, the grave.

"Hello?"

"Oh, Buffy. Did you leave the phone in the kitchen off the hook again? I keep telling you to put it back when you're done."

"Sorry, mom."

"Are you alright?"

She looks around at the graves for a moment, before wiping one of her hands on her pants again. "I'm great."

"Have you been doing your homework?"

She sighs. "Yes, mom. I did it as soon as I got home from school Friday so I could have the rest of the weekend without angsting over it."

"Just making sure. Are you sure you're doing okay? I can talk to Mr. Neibens about-"

"I'm fine. Got to trust me a little bit!"

"I know, I know. I just worry. You're my baby girl."

It gave her a warm glow to hear that. She hadn't heard that in a long time. It had been a long time since she had been the baby. It gives her a brief pain, thinking of Dawn, her sister who existed in the world but not as herself yet.

"I know." she says softly. And for a moment she just felt like a young girl, with her mother's warmth wrapped around her.

"I'm going to try and get home as soon as I can. One of the buyer's is giving us a bit of a hard time, but I should be back after you get home for school. I'll call if it ends up being later, alright?"

"Okay."

"Be good, baby."

"I will. I always am. Aren't I?" she faux demands, causing her mother to laugh.

"Yes, yes. Goodnight honey."

"Night mom."

She closes the phone (it wasn't an expensive phone, as her father saw that as a waste but she had one in general, as her mother saw it as a safety measure) and eyes a mausoleum over to her left. She sniffs for a second, before sneezing. Man, getting powers back was a bit of a weird time around this time. She hoped that would pass. It was sort of like going over puberty twice over-well, three times. Actually no, four times, if you count when she went through puberty in her first life (plus becoming a Slayer then) and now going through puberty and being the Slayer at the same time.

She walks carefully around one of its sides, thanking the Powers that she had comfortable shoes that were also quiet enough. Turned away from her was a crouched vampire, dressed in a torn black shirt with a name and design on it, dirty blue jeans, with a red and black flannel shirt tied around their pants.

"Hey."

The vampire jumps up, turning around in an obvious panic.

She thrusts her stake forward and dust litters the ground seconds later.

"The nineties called; they want their style back. I mean, really. Danzig? At least pick better music! Nine Inch Nails...Alice in Chains...Nirvana..."

She continues muttering band names as she leaves the graveyard, shaking her head.

::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

Monday felt...weird. Maybe it was because she was going back to school, as if she hadn't had a truly life changing experience in a matter of two days, but it felt weird. She felt oddly on edge, for some reason. It wasn't like vampires went to her school or anything-she was pretty sure the screaming bodies on fire from sunlight would be pretty noticible, after all.

She manages to get a good breakfast before catching the bus to school, thankful that she had gotten all her homework done (some of her teachers were real hardasses about even small homework.) She ponders on it on the bus, thankful that her friends (who rode the bus) were busy talking amongst themselves so she had time to think.

Maybe it was...yeah, it probably was. It was all she had really been thinking about since becoming the Slayer again. Well, she thought about it many, many times before then, but it seemed triple-fold now: she wanted to see Spike. Last night, for the first time in a long time, she had dreamt of him. She almost felt guilty about it, that her thoughts were so encased in him, but she couldn't help herself.

The tactics she was using now wasn't working. A few stray newbie vamps in a couple of graveyards weren't cutting it. She had to find a way of finding older vamps. New vamps were less likely to know anyone of any note, much less William the Bloody, one of the most famous vampires for those who knew of vampires.

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She manages to get through the day without incident-though there's a close call in history-when she gets a phone call on her way back home. It was still light out, but even if it wasn't, she still felt safe enough to walk around on her own now. Not that she wouldn't be cautious as she could for whatever might come or happen, but she could at least (more) than defend herself now.

It was her mother.

"Mom?"

"Hi, Buffy. I'm in a hurry-have to get to the cab. But I wanted to let you know that I won't be home until tomorrow. Will you be alright?"

"I'll be fine, mom. Promise. Be careful!"

"I will, honey. I'll see you soon!"

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Her mother wouldn't be home until tomorrow and her father was still out, so that gave her a few extra hours of freedom until they returned. She had to use them wisely. She hurries home and immediately throws her bookbag aside, rushing up into her room. Clothes fly in all direction as she hurries to put others on. She multitasks getting her hair up, while looking through her things. She grabs a few stakes and a few other items, before putting her cross around her neck (her mother had raised an eyebrow at her asking for it before, but hadn't said anything further about it.)

She had little time-and little daylight-so it was best she use it.

She had a church to visit.

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St. Joseph's was the nearest church to her house. It was a pretty nice building, with lovely multi-colored stained glass depicting various bible related things and a nice white peaked roof. She hadn't been here much, but it was a nice place all the same.

She is pretty distracted and lets out a oof of surprise as she runs into someone.

"I'm sorry! Are you alright?"

"I'm fine, honey. No harm done." Upon closer inspection, it was a young looking woman, slightly taller than her, with long brown hair tied into a loose ponytail, wearing a long lavender shirt and long dark red skirt, with a hazel sort of eye. "You alright?"

"I'm alright. Sorry for bumping into you."

The woman gives a small wave to her as she leaves. She turns back and looks for someone of authority. She couldn't remember any names of people but she didn't think-hoped-they would turn her away. Even if it probably sounded weird to them.

"Miss? Do you need some help with something?"

A man of perhaps twenty or older-though he looked pretty youthful-smiles at her. He was quite tall, at least compared to her, with short cropped brown hair, kind looking green eyes and was most definitely a priest.

"Umm...I do. But uh...can we talk somewhere more private?"

He raises an eyebrow at that, but nods and gestures for her to head into one of the side rooms. It only held a small table and chairs, a bible sitting on the table, but she didn't need a large room.

"This isn't a confession, is it?" she asks, looking around. "I thought I saw one outside."

"You're indeed correct," he says, still smiling. "We have small counceling rooms for those who don't wish to confess or just need advice. Come," he gestures. "Sit."

They sit and she fidgets for a moment, losing her courage briefly. He seemed nice enough; she didn't want him to think she was crazy or something.

"Whatever it is, feel free to talk to me. Nothing you say will leave these walls." he says, as if guessing her thoughts.

She grips her bag tighter for a moment before purposely loosening her hands. She lets out a breath.

"I need holy water."

His brows furrow for a moment.

"Holy water? May I ask why you would want something like that?"

She steels herself. She was the Vampire Slayer, she had to be strong. She couldn't lose her will now.

"To fight the vampires."

He looks puzzled. "Excuse me? I thought I heard you say 'vampires'."

"I did. I'm the vampire Slayer." she says calmly. "I need it to fight vampires."

His eyes widen in shock.

He closes his eyes and his hand goes over his face for a moment, obviously trying to compose himself. It was silent like that for a moment, before he finally moves his hand away. He looked genuinely shocked.

"I never thought I'd meet one in my lifetime." he says hoarsely.

Now it's time for her eyes to widen. She hadn't expected that. She had expected some remark about perhaps she hadn't been getting enough sleep, or needed help, that vampires weren't real.

She hadn't expected him to recognize the word Slayer.

He clears his throat, before looking at her a bit more seriously.

"Did the Watcher's Council send you?"

He knew about the Watcher's Council too?

"I-no. I...don't have anything to do with them." she says carefully. She was a bit wary, wanting to know where stood. It wasn't the first time someone played at being a priest. Caleb painfully came to mind. "They don't even know that I'm the Slayer, as far as I'm aware."

She sees his shoulders slump in relief. "Good. That's good." He looks back up at her now. "Holy water you said? I'll get whatever you need."

"May I ask your name first though?"

He extends his hand out to her.

"It's Buffy. Buffy Summers."

"I'm Gregory. It's nice to meet you, Buffy."

And they shake hands.

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I hope you enjoyed this!

Let me know what you thought!

-PhoenixJustice

Chapter Text

Echoes

By: PhoenixJustice

Disclaimer: Buffy the Vampire Slayer is owned by Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and other things that are not me. I only own this story and make no profit from this.

Warning: Rated M for future sexual content, language, violence, underage, mentions of time travel, reincarnation (sort of-she's still Buffy), etc.

Pairing: Spike/Buffy Summers (main). Other pairings to be determined.

Setting: pre-s1 with spoilers up to season 10 of BTVS, season 5 of AtS (plus the Angel and Faith series and other side comic canon series).

Summary: Some days it felt as though all of that had just been a fanciful, if sometimes violent, dream. But then she becomes Slayer in truth once more, wanting if only just once more to see him again.

Thoughts are in italics.

Memories/dreams/flashbacks are in bold.

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The Third Echo - The Singer

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He was quite a mysterious guy, Gregory, she muses as she heads out of the church. He had willingly gotten her the holy water she had asked for, but had been...evasive, when she tried to ask him more questions. Very few people genuinely knew what Vampire Slayers were and he had recognized the word Slayer and had even mentioned the Watcher's Council on his own. But when she had questioned him-

'So how do you know about Slayers?' she asks as they walk down the short hallway in the back towards the front of the church once more, the newly acquired vials of holy water a quiet jangle in her bag.

'The name of a Slayer gets around.' he says. And he smiles again. Not in a malicious way, or even a 'fuck off' kind of smile. It seemed genuine, by all accounts, though she knew he was still not really answering anything.

He was a mystery she'd have to leave for another day. The church had taken her longer than she expected to, so she'd have to be really quick in her next 'task', as it were. It may not even be a place she'd get the answer she wanted in. It wasn't even really a place she wanted to go to, truth be told; it brought up memories. Not of the place, but of what-who-it represented to her.

All the same though...she had to go and she knew it. If she wanted to get any sort of information quickly before her mother returned home. The vampires she had interrogated hadn't given her anything of value. This had a real chance of giving her what she so desperately wanted; where Spike was located.

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She didn't remember it well; it had been something only on her peripheral in her past life, but something she knew of (after talking about it with...other people.)

Caritas was larger than she remembered, but then again she was going off vague memories of hearing about it from Angel and the others who had visited it. She had never personally been in it. But she knew who ran it. And that was what she was looking for.

The bouncer in front raises an eyebrow at her, no doubt due to her young look, but apparently he is sharper than he looks as he glances at her bag where one of her stakes poked out and waves her in. Apparently he was clued in. She had supposed he was, given what he was looking over, but you never knew about some people; some liked to keep their heads buried in the sand. Plus, it was useful to have someone like him in front of the door to turn away the non-aware people. Wouldn't do for a random human to walk in and see a Fyarl demon or something.

It was fairly busy, which wasn't really surprising given that it was the weekend (plus most of the 'people' in here probably didn't have day jobs either.) No one gives her a second glance, other than a couple of vampires huddled over their drinks who shift their eyes away from her. Huh. She hadn't expected anyone to recognize her at all; she supposed they knew a few of the vampires she had slain so far.

At the back was a Preggothian demon, singing it's ugly little heart out on a Christina Aguilera song, clutching the microphone. It finishes and a few hands-and what sounded like fins-gives it polite applause as it bows slightly and leaves the stage.

Her eyes scan around the room, searching. A few seconds pass but finally she spots what she was looking for, walking out of a backroom, apparently finishing up a call as a phone gets put away into a pocket.

It had been a long, long time since she had seen Lorne.

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The green skinned demon seemed to be in a fairly good mood, despite what seemed like disappointment from whatever he had heard on the other end of his phone conversation. He seems to notice her finally, as she approaches him and smiles.

"Well! And what might you need? I doubt you're my new waitress." Lorne says, absently straightening out one of his suit's lapels.

"No. I..." she steels herself. No time to be a coward now; there was too much at stake, at least for her. "I need an answer."

His eyes seem to gleam.

"Is that right? If you're coming up to me, I assume you know what you need to do."

She nods firmly. Even if the idea of singing in front of virtual strangers wasn't pleasant (it was stage fright more than the fact of the bar being filled with demons and the like-no violence could take place in the bar, after all) it was something she would take on.

"I do. And I like the fact that you're not turning me away because of my age." she says seriously.

"Things like age, gender, race, demon, vampire, any of that, it doesn't matter to me." Lorne says, just as seriously. "It only matters what's in here." He taps at her chest. "Metaphorically speaking, of course; not all who spend their time in here even have hearts, after all." He waves at the direction of the stage, where a vampire had just left. "Go on now; I'll be listening."

She nods, gathering her courage once again. She ignores the calls from some of the patrons as she walks onto the stage. She looks at the bar in the back and sees Lorne perched on one of the bar stools, looking at her expectantly.

She grabs the microphone.

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She starts getting through the lyrics of Yellow, closing her eyes as she sings (to try and get rid of the nerves), trying to concentrate on getting through the song, remembering just why she was doing all of this. His face comes to mind. Spike. She swallows, refusing to let the tears fall. So many had fallen already. And no matter the outcome afterwards...she didn't want any to fall later, either.

She lets out a breath as she finishes the song. It's silent for a moment, before a large smattering of applause startles her, eyes flying open. The patrons all seemed to have liked it pretty well. She blushes a bit and replace the microphone back onto the stand, heading back over to Lorne.

She stops as she reaches him. He looked poleaxed. He stares at her as if she were something yet undiscovered. He seems to realize he is staring as he eventually clears his throat, wiping off non-existent dust from his suit.

"Right! Right." he says, still staring at her with that look on his face. He gestures for her to come over to an empty table off to the side, so they could talk better without being overheard. She takes a seat across from him, getting as comfortable as she can while he deals with the obvious torn nature he was dealing with.

"So you're it..." he mutters.

"I'm 'it'?" she asks.

He glances up. "Oh. Yes. The Slayer. Didn't realize they made them so young though."

Oh. Was that was this was about? He was surprised at her being the Slayer, due to her young age? "They don't, usually. I guess I'm the one who hit the lottery this time." she says drily.

He gives a small chuckle at her tone. "Well at least we have one here whom doesn't take things so seriously, all the time."

"You've known other Slayers?" she asks curiously.

"Just the once, but it certainly left a mark let me tell you...took awhile to get across I wasn't about to hurt anyone. Once I did though, she calmed down. Pretty nice girl."

She'd file that away for future knowledge and ask him about it later, if she could. But for now she had much more pressing matters.

"So," she says, getting to the heart of the matter. "About what you read?"

"Ah. Right." Lorne says, his smile seemingly a bit more strained this time. "What were you wanting to know in particular? If it's the best way to kill a Sathari demon, then I can certainly-"

"No." she says impatiently.

"No? Well perhaps a Codg-"

"Lorne," she hisses, leaning forward closer to him. "You know what I'm searching for. And even if you don't know that, you know something."

He stares at her for a long, long moment. He seemed a bit unnerved by her. He eventually uncrosses his arms and sighs, leaning his head back against the padding of the booth seating. He rubs at his horned head for a moment before finally looking back at her.

"You ask for a lot, Slayer." he says, in a tone more serious than he had spoken the entire time. "I can certainly try and give you some help in your future, but there is danger involved. But you already know that."

"I do." she says, eyes serious. "I've known all along. But I'm willing to pay that price."

"The things we do for love." he sighs. He closes his eyes again, apparently deep in concentration. After a few minutes he opens them back up to look at her. "I can see a lot of things in your future, sweetie, but his direct whereabouts right now are out of my purview."

Him. Well if anyone would know what she was talking about, it would certainly be an Empath Demon.

She slumps. Another dead end? He had been her best bet, but-

"Hey, hey, no need for the sad eyes, babycakes. I may not know where he personally is, but I can get you someone who will."

"You'd do that?"

He stands up and signals for her to do the same. He walks her to the back, towards what was obviously his office.

"Sure, I would. I just ask one thing."

"Name it." If it was in her power, she'd do it. Whatever it took.

"Next time you stop by, tell me just how you learned my name."

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It was getting quite dark now, after all her talking with people and traveling all over town. She walks with purpose in her step, thoughts still dwelling on her last words with Lorne.

' A witch?'

'Yes. Quite a powerful one as well. She was a client of mine before and we've kept in touch. If anyone can find what you're searching for, she's it.'

Although she didn't know Lorne well, she knew his stance on things and felt like she had no reason not to trust him. In the very least, this was an option. More than she had before.

The house was not a spooky affair, as cliches would have one believe of witches. It was a nice looking two story house that looked warm and inviting. It was a little hard to tell the color of the house because of it getting so dark out, but she thought it she noticed some blue in the paint. The window in front and window on the door were curtained closed. A car was in the driveway though, a sedan kind of car, and the lights were on, so she was sure someone was still home.

She walks up the stairs and knocks on the door softly. A moment later the door opens and Buffy gasps in surprise. The person across from her does the same.

"I saw you earlier!" They both say, in unison.

It was the woman she had bumped into in the church.

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I hope you enjoyed this!

Let me know what you thought!

-PhoenixJustice

Chapter Text

Echoes

By: PhoenixJustice

Disclaimer: Buffy the Vampire Slayer is owned by Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and other things that are not me. I only own this story and make no profit from this.

Warning: Rated M for future sexual content, language, violence, underage, mentions of time travel, reincarnation (sort of-she's still Buffy), etc.

Pairing: Spike/Buffy Summers (main). Other pairings to be determined.

Setting: pre-s1 with spoilers up to season 10 of BTVS, season 5 of AtS (plus the Angel and Faith series and other side comic canon series).

Summary: Some days it felt as though all of that had just been a fanciful, if sometimes violent, dream. But then she becomes Slayer in truth once more, wanting if only just once more to see him again.

Thoughts are in italics.

Memories/dreams/flashbacks are in bold.

:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

The Fourth Echo - The Witch

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"Well, this is certainly a surprise!" the woman-the Witch, Buffy supposed-says bemusedly. "Lorne had said to expect a young girl-I just hadn't expected it to be the one I ran into earlier. But come! Where are my manners? Come in, come in."

She gets ushered into the house proper. A staircase was to their immediate left, with pictures of various people and things littering the wall by the staircase, as well as on the small tables next to it. They head further inside, into the living room. It looked homey and comfortable, with a comfy looking pale red sofa, a table in the middle of two highbacked chairs (also the same pale red) and a few other things you'd expect from a living area.

The magical implements on the table were, however, not the norm for most places. It actually helps her relax, though, as it was as familiar to her as unfamiliar as it might be to others. Well, for the most part anyway; some of the stuff looked sort of familiar, but were things she hadn't seen much of personally in her past, like the runes. She knew runic magic could be powerful, but it was an unsteady magic that took a lot of power and finesse to get right.

She glances at the woman. The woman seemed like she had it. It was weird though. For all that she had never met the woman until they ran into each other at the church, the woman still felt sort of familiar to her.

The woman gestures for Buffy to take a seat in one of the chairs and she does so, with the woman taking the seat across from her. The woman looks at Buffy seriously, hands sat on her crossed legs.

"Lorne told me why you're here." Buffy starts to nod, but the woman continues. "But he didn't have to. I could feel it from you as soon as I met you, though I tried not to be nosy then. Your desire...it's very great, especially from one as young as you are. Or...that you appear to be."

Buffy's eyes widen. "What...?"

The woman hesitates now. "You're...different. I do not mean that in a bad way though, so I hope you don't take any offense. But although you're young, your soul is not, not exactly."

She nods, throat dry, swallowing against it. "Yes. I'm-"

The woman holds up a hand. "No, not yet. Maybe afterwards, but not now. I didn't mean to pry; it's just that these things are things I cannot help but see, especially with those as strong as yourself. But that isn't the reason you're here. You want to find someone."

"Yes." she says hoarsely. She works to clear her throat for a moment. "Yes," she repeats, voice much clearer. "I've waited for so long just to see him again."

"And you're prepared for the price of that?"

She nods once more. "Yes. Anything. I'm...I have to see him again. It's...he's..." she stops, angry that she can't quite put it into words, but the woman merely smiles at her.

"Love does that to us."

"Love?"

The woman's smile widens. "Very much so. Even the weakest of us magical users wouldn't be able to look away from the aura of love that you have. It's so very great, Miss Summers."

"Buffy. It's just Buffy." she says, smiling at the woman. There was something about the woman that was comforting to her, an emotion that had been lacking for a long time in her previous life and one she wanted to feel properly again.

"Then I'm just Elspeth." The woman, Elspeth says, nodding and smiling at her. She extends her hand and Buffy takes it, almost gasping at the magical power emanating from the woman. She wasn't very old-thirty at most, at Buffy's guess, but she held a lot of power. Same as herself, she supposed.

"Elspeth, huh? Nice to meet you."

"Yes, though I know the name is pretty much a sign saying 'Witch! Witch here!'" Elspeth says dryly. "But still, I like it. One of the few gifts my father left to me." She claps her hands. "Now that we've gotten the introductions out of the way, let's get to business. You're on a bit of a time crunch?"

"Yeah." Her mom would be home sooner rather than later, after all. And she wanted to use what time she could on her own to get things done. As much as she was able to.

"Then let's get to it." Her face turns more serious as she gathers her runes in her hands. She configures them in what was obviously some sort of pattern, but one which Buffy couldn't make heads or tails of, but was obviously something Elspeth was all too familiar with. She starts to speak softly, speaking of names of some Norse deities-some which Buffy knew of, some she didn't. As she does, she throws them and the runes start to glow a soft blue. They start to move on their own, moving around the table as if possessed, moving into more complicated looking patterns that she definitely couldn't make heads or tails of now.

Her brows furrow now. "Hmm. That's...interesting."

"Interesting good, or interesting bad?" Buffy asks, slightly anxiously. She had thought of many things, but still knew she had to be prepared for the worst. Of course her worst, right now, wouldn't be considered the worst by others-considering Spike and his nature right now, but she couldn't help herself or bring herself to care what others might think, should they learn of what she was doing.

Elspeth raises her eyes from the table briefly, looking at Buffy. "Oh. Well, depending on the person, I'd say bad, but for you...I know it's what you're searching for, despite the dangers." Buffy nods at her, anxious for her to continue-something which Elspeth could obviously tell, for she does so. "It's odd because I expected him to be elsewhere, given all I had heard, but he's not. He's here. In Los Angeles." she elaborates.

Buffy's eyes widen. Here? That hadn't been what she had expected at all. From what she could remember about Spike from her past life, he hadn't ventured this way for a good while, not until he showed up in Sunnydale the first time she had met him.

"Do you-" she stops, clearing her throat. She nearly shivers with anticipation. "Do you know exactly where?"

Elspeth nods. "Not yet, but I can find out. Just give me a-" she stops as a phone suddenly starts ringing. She frowns. "I'm sorry, I thought I turned it off." She takes the ringing phone out of her pocket, looking down at it and frowning deeper.

"Go ahead." Buffy says, gesturing. Although she was on pins and needles, she also wasn't about to be rude, when it was obvious that the woman wanted to-or needed to-answer it.

Elspeth gives her a brief smile of thanks before answering the phone. "Hi. Are you alright? Okay, good. I had been worried. When does your bus get in? Alright. Yes. I told you it was alright. I can't wait to see you. Be careful, mea puella." She closes the phone and gives Buffy an apologetic smile. "Sorry about that. It's my niece; she's coming into town in a few hours."

"Oh. That's nice. And that's alright. I'm bursting at the seams, but I would be regardless, so no worries." Buffy says, with a bit of a laugh.

"Yes, I'm excited for it. But as for your question..." She closes her eyes, concentrating deeply. The runes start to move and glow once more, though this time they glow red. "He's..." Her eyes open and she takes out paper and a pen from her pocket, writing something down. "This is the area he's in now. I don't know how long he'll be there, though. So you'll want to go as soon as possible, I imagine."

"Thank you." Buffy says, sincerely. "For everything. And for not trying to talk me out of it, like many others would."

"Even if I knew you better, I still would not. Affairs of the heart are not things to be trifled with, especially when someone has as much love in their heart as you do. It's not my place to tell people what to do, I just help give information."

"Kind of like Lorne then."

Elspeth smiles. "Indeed. Though we do things a bit differently, we hold much the same beliefs. Now, I'm sure you'll want to go and see him."

Buffy nods.

"Be well, Buffy."

"And you, Elspeth."

:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

A door opens and a man stands in the doorway. He wore a long black leather coat and was currently smoking a cigarette. He lets out some smoke.

"Home sweet home."

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Mea Puella - My girl.

A/N: And Spike finally makes his first appearance! I'm sure you all have been anxious to see him. And believe me, I have too lol. But I didn't want to rush things.

I hope you enjoyed this!

Let me know what you thought!

-PhoenixJustice

Chapter Text

Echoes

By: PhoenixJustice

Disclaimer: Buffy the Vampire Slayer is owned by Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and other things that are not me. I only own this story and make no profit from this.

Warning: Rated M for future sexual content, language, violence, underage, mentions of time travel, reincarnation (sort of-she's still Buffy), etc.

Pairing: Spike/Buffy Summers (main). Other pairings to be determined.

Setting: pre-s1 with spoilers up to season 10 of BTVS, season 5 of AtS (plus the Angel and Faith series and other side comic canon series).

Summary: Some days it felt as though all of that had just been a fanciful, if sometimes violent, dream. But then she becomes Slayer in truth once more, wanting if only just once more to see him again.

Thoughts are in italics.

Memories/dreams/flashbacks are in bold.

:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

The Fifth Echo - The Vampire

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She was taking the greatest of risks, she knew. But it had been in her mind for as long as she could remember. She had planned everything she could think of, every contingency, but she also knew that things could very, very, easily go sour. Especially given that she had become Slayer much earlier this time around. She had no reason to believe that anyone else had reincarnated besides herself. With everything that had happened Before, it seemed a given that she had been the only one.

So she was left with the very real possibility that the Spike of now would kill her. She wasn't naive. She was young, yes, but she wasn't stupid. She knew the risks, but the potential of what could happen-in her favor-versus the opposite made it worth it in her eyes. Still, she knew it was dangerous to do this at all, especially this early on in her Slaying. While she had the experience, her body still had to adjust and learn what her mind knew. And with someone as dangerous and powerful as William the Bloody-a Master vampire in his own right, in terms of power-it would be a contest.

Which is why she would do things in her way. As well as she could, of course.

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Still, what would she say? She had planned a lot of scenarios in her mind, but stuff like "I'm in love with you so much that it hurts me." or the like wouldn't go over well. At all. She hadn't forgotten Drusilla. It wasn't someone she liked to think about much. Although she couldn't help but feel gratefulness for her siring Spike, she still felt a jealousy that she didn't like to feel. She also felt many other emotions as well, when thinking about her. Like pity. And anger. Pity at the woman Drusilla used to be. And anger at the vampire (Angelus) who had taken all of that from her. Had literally drove her mad and then he sired her.

Angel was another person whom she had a lot of emotions when thinking about...and someone whom she had a hard time thinking about at all.

For all she knew, he had been keeping tabs on her in this life as he had before, thanks in part to Whistler. Or he could still be rampaging around the world as Angelus. That had been her oversight and she had beat herself up over it, mad at herself for being so single-mindedly focused on something (Spike), but unable to stop herself.

She had to take care of this now-one way or another-and get it settled.

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He hadn't wanted to come to Los Angeles; the name reminded him too much of his poofter of a grandsire. But Drusilla had insisted and he could never deny her anything, even if the trip had been a rough one. She was still so very weak, after the recent attack in Prague. Those damn villagers. He would be sure to make them pay, once he had gotten her back to her old self.

He still didn't understand why she insisted on coming though; something about a light and a star, or some shite like that. He loved her dearly, but there were times when he just didn't understand a bloody word she was saying.

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It was in a shady looking part of town, but she hadn't expected anything less. If they had been holed up somewhere else, she'd have been surprised then. Not that Spike didn't have good taste, but it was easier to shack up in a place like this, get settled and not noticed as much, than if he had been in a richer part of town (where the folk were more likely to call the police or the like.) And for vampires like Spike, they didn't want to be spotted (except in the times they did.)

The house was white and shabby looking, with a slanted roof. It had a small chain fence around it, with gate in front, and sparse grass covering the front of the house, with a sidewalk leading up to the stairs that led to the front door (which seemed to be a screen door in front of a regular door.)

There were also two vampires standing guard in front of the house. They were big, burly, and reminded her of the biker vampires she had dealt with before, once upon a time. They sniff as she approaches, with one of them outright growling and turn towards her, their faces obviously in their vampire visage. The one on the left-her left-turns to the guy on his right and snorts in laughter.

"Look-y here, Jed, got a live one."

"And a young'un at that." The one on the right, Jed, says grinning, obviously trying to scare her as he was doing so in his vampire face.

She holds back a yawn.

"Jed? Really? What is this, The Beverly Hillbillies? You're not going to tell me your friend, or brother, or whatever is Jethro, are you? Cause if so, I will have even more ways to make fun of you!" She quips.

"My name is Ralph!" the other vampire growls menacingly. They both start to approach her, muscles flexing in their arms.

"Ooh. Like Ralph Macchio! Only with you having less good looks and less waxing on and waxing off. Unless that's what you're int-" She dodges one of them as they attempt to strike her and is quickly behind their backs before they can even react. She pulls out her stake and manages to stake one, with his dust flying in the wind, before the other one yells out and turns, striking her hard in the stomach before she can react against it, pushing her back against the fence and leaving her breathless for a moment.

"You killed Jed, you fucking bitch!" the other vampire, Ralph, roars. He attempts to strike her again, but he's slow and this time she manages to dodge. He was powerful, but slow, and it was types like that were the easiest to deal with, generally. Although his blows were certainly strong-and the blow he had managed to deal would certainly leave a mark later-she could take the punishment. It was the types like Spike whom were the most dangerous (for many reasons): they were quicker, but they were just as strong and they had the brains to go with their brawn.

She lands a few strikes on him with her legs, leaving the vampire shaking his head as some of them had landed on his face and head. He was big and burly but he wasn't very tall, especially compared to his now deceased brother (or friend, or whatever the other guy had been to him.)

"Thing is, Oil Boy, I'm kind of in a hurry," she grunts, as he hits a glancing blow against one of her arms, moving to use her speed against him. "So if you just impale yourself on this stake, that'd be much-oof-appreciated." She just manages to dodge a blow from his fist, which leaves a serious dent in part of the fence.

"You first, bitch."

"Bitch, bitch, bitch. Is that all you vampires know how to say? Your lack of vocabulary is...quite expected, actually."

He lets out another growl, but she uses the momentum of his moving down to strike her to grab onto his beefy arm, pulling onto it as she pulls him down further to knee him hard in the face. He lets out a scream, blood spurting everywhere from his nose, and it gets under her skin. With as loud as the guy was being, then others would be sure to follow and she...

She shakes her head, concentrating on what was in front of her now. She uses the opportunity of him clutching his face in obvious pain to stake him, leaving dust piling down by her feet.

She straightens up, but stills as she feels a tingling on the back of her neck. And instantly she knows what it is, before he speaks.

"Wotcher, Slayer?"

She turns.

It was Spike.

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Her heart was thudding hard in her chest, a large pitter patter that he certainly had to have heard, even from where he was standing. He looked the same, as handsome...no, better, than she remembered (remembered in the long years, refusing to let his face totally fade from her mind.)

He wore a long black leather coat (Nikki Wood's-a former Slayer-coat. The second Slayer he had killed), with a red button up shirt underneath it (which was left unbuttoned) with a black shirt, black jeans and black combat boots. It was like she had just closed her eyes for a moment and was back in her previous life, looking at Spike for the first time across from her. Only this time, he was out for blood and she was not.

Still, a lot of people mistaked Spike for being not so bright, due to his look, thinking of him as little more than a more powerful thug. They didn't look into his eyes to see the calculating mind, the wheels in his head turning. He could get frustrated in his plans, sure, but he was smart. He had to be. Very few could ever say they killed a Vampire Slayer, much less two. Luck was for sure a factor, but luck would only get someone so far in life (or unlife, in his case), so you had to have other skills to go with it. And he had them. In spades.

She would just have to use the skills that she had, to not become Slayer Number Three on his list of kills.

"Oh, you know, the usual." She says airily. "Wondering just why vampires always pick the minions they do. I mean, they're so easy to kill. Little challenge."

He smirks. She does her best to keep her expression bland, glad that her quickly beating heart could easily be explained as fear (and to be fair it was a bit of fear in there. She'd be stupid not to be scared at all. Despite loving him with all of her heart, this Spike would currently have no qualms about sucking her dry.)

"Well, us smart ones would never hire the ones that could possibly usurp us. But," he says, walking slowly but purposely towards her. "I don't exactly have to worry about that. Do I, pet?" She holds back a shudder at the term of affection that wasn't affection now. "At least until I hire more after I suck you dry."

"Is that a fact?" She says evenly. She gives a little shrug, giving no ground, even as he nears her. She knew that was what he wanted. While he was strong and dangerous-and even a bit unpredictable-she still knew of him enough that it would (hopefully) give her an advantage.

"Well...yeah." He says with a shrug of his own. "Definitely don't share Slayer's blood with the help. I only gave my leftovers to Dru after I killed the first. That was..."

She closes her eyes briefly at the mention of Drusilla, unable to stop herself, despite the danger. She had not forgotten about her but had done her best not to think of her. To hear Spike talk about her (and so fondly) turns her stomach. She can't help but jump a little as his finger taps against her cheek and her eyes open. He was looking at her in obvious hunger, obviously already thinking of how he wanted to do his kill.

"Never knew they made them so young." He says, frowning, as if unnerved by it. "Almost makes me feel bad about killing you."

"Well thanks, I suppose." she says drily. "I'll be sure to remember that as I'm beating your head into the pavement. I'll be sure to almost feel bad about it."

He removes his finger, laughing slightly. "One with spunk! Good. Too many of your lot are too bleeding serious. You remind me of my Second; she had spunk too."

"I'm sure she did." Nikki had, from all accounts, been full of spunk, full of fire and passion. It was no wonder Spike had enjoyed their 'dancing' as much as he had.

Despite the danger presented in the situation, she couldn't help but feel a thrill. It had been so long-so, so long-since she had been both faced with Spike and going toe-to-toe to him with words, like they had before. That part had always been fun, even when others things hadn't been (and when she hadn't wanted to admit to herself that that part had been fun.)

"Still, I have to wonder...why aren't you running away? At least trying to get away from me. You're young, Slayer, but you don't look that stupid to me. Then again," he says, with a toothy grin. "I am dangerous, so running wouldn't really benefit you either."

Well now. The heart of it. Or at least, what she had set out to do. She lets out a breath.

"You're not going to kill me, Spike."

His eyebrows raise. "She knows who I am. Well...I do have a reputation, of course, but you can't have been at it long. I remember your predecessor."

That catches her off-guard. He knew about India Cohen, her predecessor as Slayer? In her previous life they had never met-she had confirmed that with Spike herself at one point, wondering if he had run into other Slayers. He had actually run into another Slayer before, but that had been decades before India or herself had even been born. And yet hadn't killed her. Weird. She'd take time to wonder about that later-if she was lucky enough to have the time later.

"But I won't kill you? Maybe I was wrong about you not being stupid. If you know my name, Slayer, then you know what I've done. Who I've done. Two of yours."

She nods, swallowing against a dry throat. "I know that. I know all about you." Better than you know.

"Then," he says calmly, with remarkable patience (for him.) "Why won't I kill you?"

It was always good to have an ace in the hole. Or something that could be.

Especially in life or death situations.

"Because I can heal Drusilla."

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A/N: What do you mean, Buffy? Wait, what do you mean I already know the answer?! xD

I hope you enjoyed this!

Let me know what you thought!

-PhoenixJustice

Chapter Text

Echoes

By: PhoenixJustice

Disclaimer: Buffy the Vampire Slayer is owned by Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and other things that are not me. I only own this story and make no profit from this.

Warning: Rated M for future sexual content, language, violence, underage, mentions of time travel, reincarnation (sort of-she's still Buffy), etc.

Pairing: Spike/Buffy Summers (main). Other pairings to be determined.

Setting: pre-s1 with spoilers up to season 10 of BTVS, season 5 of AtS (plus the Angel and Faith series and other side comic canon series).

Summary: Some days it felt as though all of that had just been a fanciful, if sometimes violent, dream. But then she becomes Slayer in truth once more, wanting if only just once more to see him again.

Thoughts are in italics.

Memories/dreams/flashbacks are in bold.

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The Sixth Echo - The Truce

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He hisses, grabbing her throat. She lets out a small gasp as he holds on tightly.

"Don't fuck around with me, girl," he growls. His eyes are dark, filled with malice as he looks down at her. "And here I thought you weren't stupid. You dare mention her name to me?"

She shakes her head, trying to take a breath. "I'm...not lying." She gasps out. She starts to pull at his hand, but he moves his hand away himself before she can try. He stares at her closely and deeply, as if trying to discern something from her.

"I'm not lying." She says again, holding back the urge to rub at her throat. She couldn't look weak now. So much rided on this.

"And a Slayer would be willing to help someone who's killed her kind?" He sneers at her.

She looks at him steadily. "Yes." She says simply.

He raises a scarred eyebrow-scarred still, courtesy of the first Slayer he had killed during the Boxer Rebellion-at her.

"Why?" He asks. Not filled with malice, but rather curiosity.

"Because-" Because you're you and I... "-I have something of my own I need help with."

"An exchange?" He barks out a laugh, looking at her as if genuinely amused. "A Slayer wants my help? Oh this is just bleeding rich, it is."

"So, what could you want," He continues. "That you'd risk being my Third, little Slayer?"

She swallows slightly. This was her only ace and only plan, really. If he didn't accept... And although she had alterior motives, there actually was something she wanted help with.

"Have you heard of the vampire named Lothos?"

He lets out a low whistle. "That bloke? Who hasn't? Not as famous as your Dracula's-or myself- but yeah. Nasty sort." And considering Spike was, well, Spike, Spike of the now versus the Spike she had come to know, that was saying something.

"Would you put him on Angelus' level?" She asks, unable to help herself.

His brow raises again. He eyes her for a moment, as if trying to size up something about her, before replying. "They both operate similarly, yeah. So..." He glances up at the darkened sky for a moment, before looking at her again, eyes piercing through her. "You want help killing him, is that it?"

"Yes." She replies back quickly. "And in exchange, I'll help you heal Drusilla."

He moves swiftly before she can react, grabbing onto her once more, but this time holding her chin, leaning in to look at her, rather than her throat. "Or," he says menacingly. "I can get out of you how you'd know anything about my Dru to begin with."

She doesn't blink an eye. "News travels quickly," She lies easily. Technically her words weren't true, but they weren't exactly lies either. "Especially about vampires like you two. It happened in Prague, didn't it?" Earlier than expected, but she wasn't all too surprised about it, not really anyway; some things were happening earlier and differently than they did the first time around, obviously.

He abruptly releases her, starting to pace. After a few moments, of him mumbling something under his breath, he turns back to her. He glares at her.

"You're a Slayer," He says. He looks at her incredulously. "And you expect me to believe you'd just keep up your end of the bargain and not stake me at first opportunity? I wasn't bloody born yesterday, luv."

"You know how to read people." She says. "Look at me. Am I lying to you? I could have tried to fight you at any time. Or I could have tried to run away. I didn't do either. Call it foolhardy, or whatever, but look at me." Look at me and only me. It's all I want out of this life. I don't care what else...just please. I made so many mistakes before in my other life. I don't want to screw this one up. If there is any chance, just say yes...

He's quiet for a moment, reflective. For as much as he could talk sometimes, most didn't know he could be so reflective either. She did though. Had learned so much about him that sometimes it made her head spin with it all, but it wasn't something she regretted.

He grabs her chin again and she lets him. The proximity of him so close to her, his hand on her skin, makes her want to shiver, but she holds it back. He closes his eyes for a moment before opening them back up to look at her.

"If I catch wind of anything, Slayer, anything amiss that'd affect me or my girl," he whispers. It was much more scary and menacing said like that then yelling could ever be. She does shiver now. "You'll be dead so fast you won't know what fucking hit you. Got it?"

She nods, swallowing against a dry throat. "I've got it."

"I won't be in this location again-security reasons; I have no reason to trust you yet." He says. She nods.

"How will I get in contact with you again?" Cause she really didn't want to have to go through so much to find him again. She would, of course, if need be, but she didn't want to have to.

He fishes out a crumpled piece of paper and a pen from his back pocket (had he been pondering poetry again, she wondered?). He has to write on his leg, but he gets it done, handing it over to her.

"Cell phone number. That you can have; numbers are easily replaced. And Slayer or not, you don't look the hacker type to me, so I doubt you could track it in any way."

She lets out a laugh. "Paranoid, much?"

He gives her a short glare but she just shrugs in response. "Okay, okay. I got it. Then here," She tears off some of the paper she had received from him, writing down her own number on it and handing that to him. "You can have this then. So we can contact one another."

He looks at her for a moment before sighing. "I'm probably going to regret this."

"Probably." She says in a teasing tone. "But don't let the fact that I'm a Slayer and you're a vampire from letting us be best of buds!"

He nearly laughs, but manages to hold it back. He shakes his head.

"You're...a weird bird."

She doesn't hold back a laugh. "Same to you."

"I'm not a bird. A bird is-"

"Yeah, I got it." She steps back from him, managing a short wave. "More like a manly bird or something, am I right?"

She whistles as she walks away, shoulders shaking with laughter. Slayer - One. Vampire - Zero.

A truce then.

Well...it wouldn't be the first time.

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So began their uneasy truce. Uneasy for him because she was the Slayer and uneasy for her because while she knew Spike, knew him to a level that sometimes surprised even her sometimes, she hadn't the trust of this Spike. That left things up in the air. He was a man of his word, generally speaking, but they were nowhere near the level of trust yet that could make her yet breathe easy.

The past few days he had called her briefly, letting her know in terse words, that he had some lackeys of his (his words) looking into things. It was a start. Lothos really was a horrible vampire; she had nearly died the first time in taking care of him; the burning of the gym had been bad, but a necessary thing. Otherwise...well, she didn't want to imagine what it'd have been like.

It helped that he had at least a bit more at his disposal than her (and could get more at a moment's notice; or at least much quicker than she), as she had much less time to do things at the pace she wanted; her parents were back now. And she also had school to juggle as well. It wasn't that she felt too overwhelmed-yet, it was just that she needed more time. When she had been left to her own devices-while her parents had been out on business-she had been able to get so much more done. Now she was left to hurry, sneaking out at night, to patrol. And Los Angeles was much bigger than Sunnydale was, so she had to pick just a few cemeteries to patrol a night, then pick others the next day, and so forth.

She hadn't been caught yet, thankfully, but there was a close call the night before when she had been about to leave and heard her (still mostly asleep) father yawning and heading to the kitchen for something. Luckily he hadn't noticed her and she had been able to leave shortly after he got back to her parents' bedroom. Still, it was too close a call for her liking. She knew it'd be something she'd have to face...eventually, but she hoped it wouldn't happen very soon.

Having to explain to her parents just who and what she truly was, that their (currently only) baby was fighting the forces of evil on a nightly basis-and at only thirteen. At least the first time around she had been a bit older-though that still hadn't helped much when her mother had finally found out (though she supposed she could have went about it better, herself.)

A week into their truce, she's at Evergreen Cemetery, finishing up her last patrol for the night, when she gets a sudden text. She is about to pull out her phone when a noise alerts her that she isn't alone. She feels the hairs on the back of her neck rise up. This...didn't feel like a vampire.

It felt...evil.

Not that many vampires weren't evil, but they still didn't feel this bad. Even The Master, as full of evil as he had been, did not feel this way.

This was pure evil. Undiluted by anything human. Vampires were no longer human, but they had been once human, and still remained closely so to humanity. By certain things out there, they were considered half-breeds, not fully human, nor fully demon or any other close equivalent.

It takes a step forward, into her line of sight, and she instantly knows she is in over her head.

She had dealt with many things before; vampires, demons, ghosts, Gods even. But this was no mere demon she could get an axe or a sword and kill without much issue.

This was not a demon.

This was a Demon, with a capital D. She swallows against a dry throat, trying to swallow down her fear.

It laughs at her, obviously enjoying her fear.

She had never met a Demon before. They were of a different caliber than most demons that she had dealt with or knew of. Those could be dispatched, generally speaking, much easier. But for Demons, such as this one, to truly kill them took skill that she knew she did not have. Perhaps would never have. She was the Slayer, the one whom killed the things in the dark of the night.

And It was a thing that those things in the dark feared.

She had never seen anything like it, except perhaps something similar in one of Giles' old, musty, tomes. It stood at least eight feet tall and was almost lanky. Its legs were bow legged and covered in a dark, dark fur. She almost would have said black, but it wasn't quite that. More like a dark, dark, red. It wore no clothing, on Its body or feet, instead with a cloven foot with deadly looking black talons. Its body was covered in the same dark red fur. On Its back were large wings, like a fly's wings. Its hands were like a mockery of a humans, looking like a humans, but dark red and furred. Its face was like a twisted goat's, with Its eyes being a red color, like blood.

It sneers at her.

She can only stare at it, in futility, the stake in her hand falling with a clunk to the ground. Its power was great, so terribly great. She had stared down a literal God before, had felt fear, but even that eclipsed something such as this.

And all she can think of, as it approaches her, is: Spike. I'm sorry.

Her eyes close as it outstretches Its hand towards her.

"Turpem daemonem effugare! Non hic te voluit! Face me, si audetis!"

Her eyes pop open in shock. She knew that voice.

The Demon was no longer standing in front of her. It was now a good many feet away.

In front of her, hand outstretched towards the Demon...was the priest, Gregory.

"Nolis gustus ignis, possum asseverare vobis."

The Demon hisses at Gregory, before leaving in a cloud of miasmic black smoke.

"You-" She starts, still reeling with both shock and utter terror.

He gives her a sickly smile, obviously affected by the Demon's presence as well, but nowhere near as much as her.

"I'm sorry." He says sincerely. "I tried to get here sooner. It fogged my head before I realized it, as I was approaching the cemetery, my oversight. I hadn't expected one of Its caliber. I won't make that mistake again."

"You're-" She tries to wrap her head around it. "You know about-It? Things like It?"

He nods, eyes serious. "It's why I came to this city to begin with."

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A/N: "Turpem daemonem effugare! Non hic te voluit! Face me, si audetis!" (Filthy demon, begone! You are not wanted here! Face me if you dare!)

"Nolis gustus ignis, possum asseverare vobis." (You will not like the taste of fire, that I can assure you.)

I hope you enjoyed this!

Let me know what you thought!

-PhoenixJustice

Chapter Text

Echoes

By: PhoenixJustice

Disclaimer: Buffy the Vampire Slayer is owned by Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and other things that are not me. I only own this story and make no profit from this.

Warning: Rated M for future sexual content, language, violence, underage, mentions of time travel, reincarnation (sort of-she's still Buffy), etc.

Pairing: Spike/Buffy Summers (main). Mentions of Spike/Drusilla, past Angelus/Spike. Other pairings to be determined.

Setting: pre-s1 with spoilers up to season 10 of BTVS, season 5 of AtS (plus the Angel and Faith series and other side comic canon series).

Summary: Some days it felt as though all of that had just been a fanciful, if sometimes violent, dream. But then she becomes Slayer in truth once more, wanting if only just once more to see him again.

Thoughts are in italics.

Memories/dreams/flashbacks are in bold.

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The Seventh Echo - The Breaking Point

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Buffy knew she was pushing her luck, staying out so late, but after the close call-and surprising help-she had to know more, hear more. He leads the way out of the graveyard, to his compact car. She gets in easily. She felt like she could trust him-especially so after what just happened. That had been... It didn't bear remembering, if she could help it. Not until she felt like she was somewhere safer, where she could talk about it.

The journey is silent, save for the sound of the car as it goes now the nearly empty streets and her phone which gives a couple beeps (she really needed to remember to charge it completely before she left; it wouldn't due for it to die out when she was out, as that could be more than dangerous.) She almost speaks a few times but stops herself. If he wasn't talking, then he too felt the tension about what they had dealt with minutes prior and wanted to get to a better place to speak.

She knew that she probably ought not to feel so surprised at seeing him do what he did, as she knew there were plenty of people out there with differing abilities (or even with no abilities, but knew of the supernatural world all the same and worked to protect people) and the like, but it was still a shock to her. Perhaps because her only real interaction with a priest before this had been Caleb...and that hadn't been a pleasant experience. She holds back a shiver at the thought.

They eventually make their way to St. Joseph's, where he parks in the back, with the car coming to a stop.

"Is it-" She starts, the first words spoken between them since leaving the graveyard. "Is it okay for me to be here and talk about...all of this?"

He gives her a smile. "No better place. But, I know what you mean. They are in the know here. I specifically came to this church for that reason. They don't have the power that I do, but all the same, this being holy ground certainly helps against malevolent forces." He didn't speak about his having more power in an arrogant way, or even a casual way; it was just a statement. He seemed like a person very sure of themselves and in what they could do. It was reassuring. Especially so after what had just transpired.

He leads her into the back of the church, back into another one of the rooms to speak. "No one will bother us this far back; this is usually reserved for priests and special guests only. For this church, that most always means people in the know. That, or family."

She takes a seat across from him, letting out a bit of a sigh. Of relief, of tiredness? Hard to say. All the same, it felt good getting it out. She looks at him closely.

"What was that?" she asks, seriousness in her face and tone.

His face quickly loses all mirth that had been there as well, turning serious as well. "That was..." He pauses. "A name which I hesitate to name, even in this holy place. Suffice to say, Buffy, it was a Demon of a caliber unlike almost all other. Have you heard of the Seven Princes of Hell?"

"Yeah. It was a story that-"

"It is no story. Or at least, the Seven Princes exist. It was one of them. They make your run of the mill demon or even some Old Ones look like children compared to them. Their power is unfathomable, the epitome of evil."

Her brow furrows. "Then how did you get rid of it?"

"It wasn't fully manifested in this world. If it had been, it'd have taken a lot more than me to do so. And I didn't get rid of it for good, even in the state it was; it's too powerful for me alone to do that."

"Still, something that powerful," she presses on. "even if you couldn't repel it for good or kill it, you still repelled it on your own. That tells me that you're not some low level holy man. No offense to the other holy guys."

He shrugs. "None taken. It's true. I...have always had an affinity for dealing with them."

She waits for him to continue, but he doesn't. It's silent for a few minutes as she thinks for something else to say, when he finally speaks again.

"...I suppose that's due to my lineage. That's what I've always believed, anyway."

"Your lineage?" It felt like almost rude to ask, but he didn't seem to take offense. In fact, he seemed a bit relieved he could talk about it with her.

"My," He licks his lips, obviously a bit nervous, but still eager to get his story across. "My father was a Watcher."

Her eyes widen. Oh wow. That would easily explain why he'd have knowledge of Slayers and the Watcher's Council then. And though he said "was" she didn't think he meant it in the sense that his father was deceased. No, it was more like that he had been a Watcher and was no longer. She didn't know many whom had ever left the Council, besides Giles and Wesley.

"I grew up knowing about what lie in wait in the dark in the world. Or in the light of the world. They always made sure I could handle myself." Gregory says. He laughs a bit. "That isn't to say I wasn't allowed to be a kid, because I was! I was the luckiest kid in the world with parents who loved me greatly."

It sounded like a fun childhood-if a bit unusual. But her whole life was unusual, so she certainly wasn't one to throw stones. "And your mom?"

His smile widens. "Extraordinary as well. She's...well, I trust you about all of this. You're the first person in a long time I could talk about them both...anyway! She was a potential Slayer."

Another big surprise. She can't help her exclamation of surprise.

"Oh! I didn't mean to be so loud." She says, looking around worriedly. "I won't wake up anyone, will I?"

He laughs openly, shaking his head. "No fear of that. Even so-they wouldn't mind. Yes. She had been found by the Council and was in fact trained by my father, as they waited to see if she would become a full Slayer. They had all expected as much...but she never did, for whatever reason. And yes, I know that their relationship goes against the grain of the usual Watcher-Slayer relationship, but knowing what I do of them, of that time, and seeing them together now, seeing them as I did growing up...they were two who were meant to be together. He wasn't much older than her, in fact, when becoming her Watcher."

He pauses, as if gauging her continued interest. When he sees that she is intrigued in what he's talking about, he continues. "But he had been something of a prodigy, having grown up to become a Watcher, as most Watcher's often did-very few, even now, come from families who aren't Watcher's themselves. Of course I assume that all record of him-and my mother-have been either expunged from the Council's record or at least never ever mentioned. They had, after all, went against 'what was proper'." He quotes, as if reciting something he had heard from someone else. Or, more likely, what one of his parents had told him of something that they had been told themselves.

"So you got your power from your dad?"

He gives a little shrug. "I assume so, yes. Although he isn't as well versed in holy magics or the like, he has always been an accomplished spellcaster. My mother isn't bad at it either; although she didn't inherit Slayer powers, she has more than made up for that with her power that she uses now."

He gives a fond smile, as if remembering something good. He soon shakes that away. "But come; it's late. I'll get you home."

Neither of them notice, as they pull away from the church, a pair of blue eyes that narrow as they watch them retreat.

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The conversation with Gregory the night-well, more like a few hours-before had certainly been an eye opener to her. As was the realization that she had at least one true ally now in all of this. ("If you need anything, call me. I'll be there." His voice turns teasing. "Even Slayer's need help every once and awhile, right?) She didn't know him well yet, but she liked to think he could be a good friend.

She is in the middle of reaching for her phone as it beeps again (maybe it was finally done charging!) when her mother calls out for her. She shrugs, putting it in her pocket, and quickly forgetting about it as she exits her room.

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He throws the phone with a loud growl.

"Fucking bint." He mutters. He had actually been trying to keep up his end of the bargain and what does the little chit do? Ignores all his sodden messages! If she didn't answer soon, he'd head back up to her in person. Let that fuckin' holy man try what he wanted-Spike had dealt with many of his kind before (and was still standing. So that said volumes about who won those contests.)

"Spike?" A faint voice speaks suddenly behind him.

He jumps, cursing. "Dru, pet. You shouldn't be out of bed." She was still so weak. He had brought her as much food as he could, but nothing seemed to be working very well. The scars had been fading from her, where those arsehats had burned her, but it seemed to be internal that was the problem and the blood, despite it going into her body, wasn't fixing her internal problem-whatever that problem might be.

He grabs her and leads her gently over to one of the cushioned chairs. The couple who had lived here wouldn't be needing them any longer, after all. It wasn't his usual gig of a place to get; all doily filled and pink like, but Dru seemed to like it and that was good enough for him. Plus, getting the place kept him from the thoughts of throttling the blonde bint.

He didn't like being ignored. It reminded him all too much of the past, back when he had actually cared what Angelus had thought and had wanted to get on his good side. Of course he had quickly learned to not care, to keep any thought or word that might seem soft away from Angelus, despite all that ending up in Angelus' bed made him think that Angelus might actually change a bit. He had quickly learned.

He kneels down in front of Drusilla, frowning at her. "Pet, you can't keep wandering around. You need to conserve your strength." He tries to rub her arm but she moves it away. Ah, of course. How dumb of him. That was the one still the most scarred. Although she never seemed to mind his touch when he stroked that arm before, it didn't mean that she wouldn't ever feel discomfort about it!

"I was talking with Miss Edith," Drusilla says, voice light and faint. She wasn't looking at Spike, but at her lap, hands twisting. "She wanted to keep talking about the sun. I don't...I didn't like talking about the sun, Spike." For all that she spoke in much of her usual...well, he wouldn't say ramblings-that was too much of something that Angelus might say and fuck if he was going to be anything like that poofter-she seemed more cognizant than she usually did (more so especially after her burning in Prague.)

He wanted to comfort her physically, rub her arms, but she didn't seem to want that now, so he uses his voice in as soothing way as he could. It was something he had a lot of practice with. "I know, pet. I'll tell her off right good for you, if you want me to."

"No!" Drusilla says, insistently. Her hands continue to twist. "I didn't-but I would be..." She pauses. "All I taste are ashes, Spike. It's all I taste now."

He frowns. "Is it the city? I didn't plan on coming here, but-" But you insisted. He didn't know why, but her insistence happened every so often on many different things that made no sense to him. Still, he always fulfilled whatever he could to make her happy. It was the least he could do. She had made him. Had Made him. Rebuilt him from a nancy boy who sucked at poetry to someone who was actually somebody. Live forever.

She shakes her head, looking more desperate now. Sometimes, due to her delicate condition, she had a hard time getting out what she actually wanted to say, versus the words that might come out...off sometimes. She at least looked quite lucid now, though her hesitancy was starting to scare him a bit.

This cure the Slayer had...it better fucking work. He can picture her face now with ease, despite having only seen her in person a handful of times now. Upturned little nose, sparkling eyes (she had bantered with him so easily, despite-or maybe because of-who he was.) Young, but full of passion. He had wanted to say she reminded him of the previous Slayer, but for some strange reason, that didn't feel right, to compare her to someone else. He liked her spirit; couldn't deny that.

Drusilla finally looks into his eyes and he's startled at the sheen of tears in her eyes. They go unshed, but even the sight of them is enough to surprise him. These were not the tears of madness that she'd sometimes be inflicted with, when delusions would run high in her (Damn you, Angelus. And your fucking sadistic nature.)

She smiles a bit, looking more playful all of a sudden, despite the tears in her eyes. She leans forward, as if harboring some sort of secret.

"The sun needs its moon, Spike." She moves a hand forward, stroking the side of his face. Her smile turns a bit sad now. "And the moon needs its sun; a mirror can only reflect, it cannot give the moon what it truly needs. And you know what, my Spike?"

He feels his throat clog with emotion, though he couldn't say why. As if something was ringing with the bell of finality, somehow. "What, luv?"

"They'll always orbit around each other-the sun and the moon-for all eternity. Even when they didn't want to."

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This time she responds when he messages her.

Meeting? Yeah, I can do that. Evergreen is my next patrolling place, but if that doesn't make you feel comfortable- He snorts. Comfortable being around the place where she killed his kind? Yeah, right. -then we can do Caritas. That's neutral ground for everybody.

He blinks. He didn't expect her to know of the place. She was still a new Slayer, though she had also known about him already, so she apparently had some sources (was probably that dodgy holy bloke.)

He texts back quickly, doing his best to banish away thoughts of banter, green eyes, and smiles as they walk off with a holy man. Surely that had to be some kind of wrong thing, right? But-no! Stop thinking of shitty things that don't concern you, Spike. Who the fuck cared if she was-probably-carrying on with a holy man. Actually it probably fit better with the Slayer image, being they were the epitome of goody-two-shoes.

...but those same types didn't tend to make deals with people like him, either.

Still, he kind of grates at the thought of Caritas; he had been there once, not so long ago, and hadn't liked the response he had gotten from the Host after he had sang. Obviously his accomplishments as an Empath demon were greatly exaggerated.

Evergreen works. Don't be late.

He throws the phone on the bed, closing his eyes, after sending the message, ignoring the whirling thoughts in his head.

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She wasn't too keen on coming back here after that incident, but after getting the okay from Gregory (he had done a thorough check of it and had said he didn't feel any lingering threads from the Demon, which meant that it was either no longer on the plane or was very, very far away) adds it back into her usual patrolling routine.

In the very least, with all the patrolling she was doing, her body was getting used to her newfound power and she could start to feel more like she wanted to, her body slowly catching up with her thoughts.

She lets out a breath, doing her best not to feel nervous. It wouldn't do to show nervous, either on the surface or have her heart beating overly fast; Spike would notice something like that in an instant. He always did. Even when she hadn't wanted him to know her so well.

Their interactions since gaining a truce was both a joy as well as a curse to her. She felt starved, both for affection and just for him in general. It was all she could do, to maintain her composure as they interacted, even in limited formats like texting. She did a little bit of banter with him here and there-unable to help herself-but still did her best to hold back.

"And the Slayer finally arrives."

She nearly jumps but manages to hold herself back. She had been walking through the graveyard but hadn't felt anything. Now she did, but somehow he had been able to get the jump on her this time; more than likely it was because she was thinking of him too strongly. Dangerous, dangerous. It wouldn't do to think too deeply about him now, not with him so close. He moves from a headstone, where he had been lingering, smirking. He was wearing his coat again, with a blue buttoned up shirt this time instead of red. His boots were a bit caked with dirt and all of it was just so him that it nearly chokes her. Instead, she plasters a smile on her face.

"Yep! And look, I'm not even late, so nothing's turned into a pumpkin or mice yet!"

He chokes out a laugh, as if surprised. It quickly goes away.

"Still an odd duck." He says, almost as if to himself.

"Ooh, so is that the kind of 'bird' I am?" She asks, grinning. His jaw clenches.

"So she can continue to make jokes, as if ignoring messages isn't a big deal!"

Her brow furrows in confusion. "What are you-"

She stops as she feels a sudden presence. Presences, plural. He pauses too, sniffing a bit. Then he whirls back to look at her, snarling. "This some sort of ploy, Slayer? I knew I shouldn't have trusted you! Blonde little-"

She shakes her head. "This isn't me! Why would I do something so shady?"

He looks at her. "I don't know you, girl; what reason would I have to believe you?"

Her blood runs cold at that. I don't know you.

"Spike-" she croaks. "I didn't-"

Moments later they are surrounded on all sides with demons.

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"Stupid sodding..." Spike grumbles, deftly dodging a demon, twisting one of the arms off of it and starting to literally beat it with its own arm. She didn't know if he was referring to the demon (a regular demon, thankfully, as the rest were and not a Demon with a capital D), the situation at hand, or herself.

"I told you I wasn't the one who-ugh! Goop! Demon goop!" She moans, as she finishes pushing one of her stakes into one of the demons, which is followed by a spray of green...goop from the demon.

"Don't say it like it's my fault, pet. You're the Slayer; it's in my nature not to trust your kind!"

"Well-yeah," she admits, ducking under a scaly and muscular red arm. "But it's not like I'm the kind of person to be all incognition and stuff-if I wanted to fight you, I'd do so directly. I'd tell you directly."

A pause, the only sounds of the growling demons. "Incognito, you mean. And...yeah, you would, wouldn't you?"

She doesn't know how to respond to that, so tries to focus on what demons might be left, when she gets hit hard from behind. She cries out in pain, nearly falling to the ground outright from the strong blow. It had been a long time since she had dealt with such a strong blow; her body wasn't conditioned to the pain like she had gotten used to before. She wants to clutch her side, but instead holds tighter to her blood stained stake. The demon grabs her wrist, making her cry out again and making her drop the stake.

It was the first time in a long time she felt this much fear. She was strong, she was the Slayer. But she was also young, also merely Buffy. And she was alone.

The demon starts to snarl something in its native tongue, its other hand snaking out with its green tinged talons towards her throat lightning quick.

Before she can blink, the demon falls to the ground. In its middle was a green taloned hand...the arm, the hand, that Spike had taken from one of the other demons, having been impaled through it. She looks around wildly. No other demons were left, all either dead or scattered. She breathes heavily, looking up as she sees footsteps approaching her quickly.

Spike looked livid, eyes all but glowing with rage. If he could breathe, his chest would be breathing as heavily as hers. He approaches her and she can do nothing but watch, stare at him as he approached.

"Stupid sodding-" He continues from where he had left off moments earlier, as if he hadn't been interrupted. He grabs onto her arms. "girl. Stupid girl with your stupid hair and your stupid fucking eyes."

And he kisses her.

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I hope you enjoyed this!

Let me know what you thought!

-PhoenixJustice

Chapter Text

Echoes

By: PhoenixJustice

Disclaimer: Buffy the Vampire Slayer is owned by Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and other things that are not me. I only own this story and make no profit from this.

Warning: Rated M for future sexual content, language, violence, underage, mentions of time travel, reincarnation (sort of-she's still Buffy), etc.

Pairing: Spike/Buffy Summers (main). Mentions of Spike/Drusilla, past Angelus/Spike. Other pairings to be determined.

Setting: pre-s1 with spoilers up to season 10 of BTVS, season 5 of AtS (plus the Angel and Faith series and other side comic canon series).

Summary: Some days it felt as though all of that had just been a fanciful, if sometimes violent, dream. But then she becomes Slayer in truth once more, wanting if only just once more to see him again.

Thoughts are in italics.

Memories/dreams/flashbacks are in bold.

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The Eighth Echo - The New Girl

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Before she can even begin to react, he is off of her like she is the plague. His eyes are wide and wild and she can only imagine what her own expression looks like. His eyes darken with anger, but it seems to be directed at himself.

"Sp-"

"I am not him." He grits out, seemingly at himself.

She flinches, knowing exactly whom it is he's talking about. She tries to speak again but he is off before she can react. Her heart wants to sink, but it can't help but still beat a mile a minute and her hand-shaking slightly, she notices-touches her mouth.

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The tombstone is in pieces as it hits the ground, from where he had thrown it. He is seething, frothing with utter rage-at himself, at...at so many things.

"I am not bloody fucking him!" He howls. He had never any intention to-truly-but it was all her.

It was her eyes.

Her eyes were not young; they told of times unspoken to him, of things she had seen and done (things that couldn't be, given her age and newness to Slaying, but yet it was.) A maturity there, mixed with her humor that always seemed to surprise him. He didn't know what to make of her; she was a mystery, mixed with an enigma, and despite everything, despite hating himself for even being sort of similar to Angelus (if only very, very, very slightly), he wanted to know more about her.

His hands are claws, digging in deep into his palms and then into the nearest tombstone. It makes him bleed but he scarcely notices. A hand moves into a fist and beats upon the tombstone.

"Damnit."

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She can't sleep, even after getting back quite late from the cemetery, tossing and turning until the sun breaks through her window and she has to get up for the day. She goes through the motions of washing and dressing, thoughts still occupied even as she heads downstairs for breakfast. Her mother was there, as usual, but surprisingly so was her father. That in of itself was unusual as he tended to leave quite early in the morning for work. Well, so he said. She wondered sometimes if he didn't leave for other reasons.

Normally she'd have been happy to see him at the breakfast table, to get the chance to talk to him before leaving for school but with everything that had happened the night before, she feels words stick in her throat. How was she going to get through the day like nothing had happened?

She sits at the table and starts pouring some cereal, listening but not really, while her mother starts talking to her father about some stuff at her gallery.

"And so Sara thinks it'll be a big hit, but I just don't know." Her mother says, laying out some juice on the table.

"She has an alright eye for things usually though, doesn't she?" Her dad asks, turning a page of his paper.

Yeah, she thinks uncharitably as she pours milk in her bowl. And you like eying her.

"Well...yes. I'll give it a try and see what-oh, Buffy. I won't be able to give you a ride to school; I have to take care of some things at work before we open. Will you be alright taking the bus?"

She puts on the best smile she can, hoping it didn't look too bad. "I'll be fine." She reassures her. "It's not like I haven't taken the bus nine million times or anything."

Her mother smiles back. "I might be able to pick you up, but it doesn't look too good for that either. We're going to have a new showing soon and it's been really hectic."

She shrugs, taking a bite of her cereal. "Don't worry about it; I'll just take the bus home too."

"Well, alright. Call me if you need-"

"Joyce, leave it. She's a big girl. She'll be alright taking the bus on her own."

She looks down, continuing to eat her cereal, trying not to look at neither of them. They didn't fight that much-in front of her, anyway, but it was still always something she didn't like hearing. It was starting to happen more frequently as of late and she can only wonder if they would split again like before.

Her parents are both out of the kitchen a few minutes later, leaving for their respective workplaces, leaving her to herself. She puts down her spoon with a sigh. She really didn't feel like going to school today. Couldn't-she couldn't deal with it. Deal with vapid valley girls and stupid jocks and just-so much stuff. She just couldn't.

Not after everything that happened.

Even if he had ran off like he had, no matter what he would say or do later...he had kissed her. And she cherished it.

She leaves after a few minutes, but her book bag is not with her.

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"Oh, it's you, Buffy. Are you alright?" Gregory asks, brows furrowed in concern. "Shouldn't you be in school?"

"I...couldn't. Wasn't feeling too good." She says, not looking at him. Eventually she does look up at him though. "I'm not bothering you, am I? I just-I didn't know where else to go and clear my head and-"

He stops her with a hand, smiling at her, shaking his head. "No, you're alright. I was getting stuck anyhow; could use a break. Come on." He gestures her towards the back of the church, away from any potential prying eyes of anyone whom might come in. He nods at a few priests whom are walking here and there in the back, doing whatever it was that they were doing. They nod back and smile at Buffy.

He leads her to what looks like a private study, filled with many bookshelves (that were themselves completely filled to the brim with books.) A nice looking dark oak desk and leather chairs, even a fireplace with a set of chairs and a small table next to it. She looks around, whistling.

"Whew. Nice digs. I didn't realize that priests lived so luxuriously." She says, impressed.

He shrugs. "Not all do. But I like my little luxuries." He says with a small laugh. "And it makes a difference when doing research."

"What kind of research are you doing?" She asks. Then she stops. "Oh. That was probably super personal."

"No, you're fine. For one, you're the Slayer and our 'interests' as it were, what we fight, I should say, run parallel." He gestures for her to take a seat. She takes a seat across the desk and he sits at the desk. "For another, I like to consider you my friend, though we haven't known each other long yet. Work is one thing, but it's much easier to trust a friend than it is a mere work colleague."

Friends. She liked the sound of that. She hadn't many people in this timeline she thought of as friends and none as close friends, so it was a nice change.

"Friends then." She replies with a smile.

He returns the smile briefly before looking serious again. "Then, as your friend, can I ask why you didn't go to school today?"

"Sure," She says easily enough. "If you tell me why you're researching."

"Sure." He says in the same easy tone. "I have to confess I am a bit surprised you're still in school though. Most leave any schooling they were in-and are schooled by their Watcher-once they are Called."

"Yeah, well..." She scratches her neck. "I don't have a Watcher yet and my parents still don't know about my being the Slayer."

He raises an eyebrow at that. "Still? The parents thing I can understand, but still no word from the Council yet? They're usually pretty good about finding their potentials, but even more so about those whom get Called."

"I know." She says with a frown. It was something she had wondered; she couldn't say she was unhappy about not hearing from the Council, because that would certainly be a lie, but she was surprised she had not seen a Watcher yet, even if it wasn't Merrick; it hadn't taken all that long the first time around.

He eyes her a bit at that statement, but she doesn't notice.

"So why have you been so busy?" She asks. "Is it about the-the thing we dealt with before?" She holds back a shiver with great difficulty, thinking about the Demon with the capital D they had dealt with such a short time ago. The fear it had struck in her had been unlike anything she had ever dealt with before (and she had dealt with literal Gods before.)

"Partly so, yes. I deal with a lot of supernatural related things, mostly demons, as one would expect. I told you that was why I came to town to begin with, didn't I?" At her nod he continues. "I've been hunting down a particularly slippery demon, who keeps managing to get away from me. Not a Prince, but still powerful enough in their own right. That was the main reason I came to L.A. The fact that a Prince showed up here, that was a bad coincidence."

"Coincidence or not, it makes me glad either way you're here." She says sincerely. "I haven't dealt with anything like that before." She hadn't, in either lives. She had dealt with many other things before, but that was...more than she ever wanted to deal with again. The primal fear it created in her scared her like nothing else ever had.

"So why did you skip today then?" He asks suddenly. Crap. She had hoped he had forgotten in the midst of other things coming up.

She shrugs helplessly. "Do you..." She licks her lips, trying to find the words. "Have you ever felt something for someone you probably shouldn't, or that people tell you that you shouldn't?"

His eyes widen in surprise before darkening, seemingly thinking of a memory of his own past. He looks at her, nodding. "I do. So you have...?"

She nods in return, biting on her lip. "It's-I know I'm young, but I'm also...also..."

He holds up a hand. "You don't need to tell me more than that yet. Don't force yourself, Buffy; it'll come with time. I'll be here whenever you want to talk more about it, okay?"

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He couldn't face her. How could he? After what he had done...he just couldn't.

So he had moved around the city the rest of the night, had taken shelter from the sun when day broke, and hadn't returned when nightfall happens once more. He wondered if she'd know just by looking at him-she was good at that-and even if she didn't, he'd still know. How could he have done it? It wasn't like he wasn't attracted to others since being turned by Drusilla, but he hadn't ever once acted on those impulses; he was a one woman (or person, really; he couldn't deny having been with Angelus before, after all. Or thinking other men attractive as well as women. Which would put him squarely in the bisexual club, if he liked labels-which he didn't) kind of man.

Yet here he was, still fresh with the memory of the Slayer's soft lips and her eyes that had somehow seen worlds and he still didn't feel quite right about it all but he couldn't get it out of his mind.

No, he couldn't do this. He had to remember what this was all about. A cure for Dru. Even if she learned the truth-or already knew it-he had to do this for her. It was the very least he could do for her. She had remade him, taken William the Useless, and let him forge a new, much better, identity. Spike had been born, reborn, thanks to her. That alone would have left him in her debt forever for it. And after she had been horribly hurt by those fuckers in Prague? Well, least thing he could do was work together with someone-even if that someone was a Slayer; a most unusual Slayer. One whom he hadn't seen with such spark. Even the previous Slayer he had met hadn't fucked with his mind like this.

He gets back to the house, glaring at one of his lackeys who dared to ask where he had been. Should he kill him? ...Nah, too much work right now. Maybe later, if things with Dru went horribly south. He gets inside. It's quiet, much more than he expected it to be. In the very least, he could usually count on hearing Dru somewhere about, whether talking to her Miss Edith or the "fairies" or whatever else, even if it was just to mess with one of their flunkies. But he heard nothing.

He makes his way to the back, where the bedroom Dru had been mostly staying in was. He opens the door carefully, peering in.

No Dru.

He starts looking around the house, getting more and more frantic when he doesn't see her. The only flunkie he sees is the one outside the house (which wasn't all that unusual; often they did their own thing until called, or they were doing errands for him or Dru.)

"Dru? Dru!" He yells. He heads back outside, grabbing onto the lapels of the vampire, pushing him against the fence. "Where the hell is Drusilla?!"

The vampire grimaces in pain. Even if he wanted to fight Spike, it wouldn't do him much good; Spike was a Master vampire in power and he...most definitely wasn't. He doesn't try to fight.

"She left awhile ago." The vampire chokes. "Said something about a place called 'Caritas'."

He lets go of the vampire with another push, letting out a snort of disgust.

Caritas...Dru had mentioned something about that before. He knew where it was; she had told him. He thought he had talked her out of going there, as she was still so very weak, but apparently she managed to leave the house. He had to find her. She was powerful normally, but having been weakened like she had in Prague, she was all but a sitting duck alone!

He takes off in the direction she had to have taken, heading to Caritas.

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She gets some rest at the house after returning. It was dark now, but neither of her parents had returned yet. Her mother was working late at the gallery and her father-was probably working some kind of woman at his office late. It was a side of her father she didn't like. She had her suspicions in her previous life about her mother knowing about his affairs and felt the same way now. She wondered if they still even held any love for each other, or were just together for her sake (and Dawn's, once Dawn was officially "Dawn" in this world.)

She starts to drift asleep on the couch, having been watching some movies on tv, when the phone abruptly rings, startling her into complete wakefulness. She fumbles with it a minute before managing to pick it up. The number was unfamiliar to her.

"Hello? Summers residence."

It's silent on the other end, the only noise the static.

"Hello?" She repeats, starting to get more annoyed than anything. Why did someone feel the need to prank call her house? Lame.

A click, then the sound of a phone having hanged up. She puts the phone back with a huff. Some people were just rude.

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The place was pretty nice, he had to admit. Not his usual place of hanging out though. He sees a Fyarl demon waiting it's turn to sing as a human sings on stage. Good bloody fuck, the man was terrible; he'd rather hear Bjork singing while she scratched her fingernails on a chalkboard.

His eyes move around the room quickly, looking for the long plait of dark hair he'd know anywhere. He doesn't see her. Fuck. Had she not arrived yet? Had she got accosted before even getting here? He starts to let out a growl of frustration when he notices a green skinned demon on the other side of the room looking his way, gesturing for him to come over.

He does so, not knowing what else to do at the moment. The demon smiles as he approaches.

"Ahh! There you are, in the flesh! She's been telling me about you."

"She?" He asks, though he felt like he already knew the answer.

"Why, the lovely vampire named Drusilla, of course." The demon says, smile deepening. "She's been great company."

"That so?" He says, testily. He had been running about for awhile now, even before looking for her, so he wasn't exactly in the best of moods as it was.

"I'm Lorne, by the way. I run the place." The demon, Lorne, says.

"Yeah, yeah. Nice to meet you. Take me to Dru now." He demands. He wasn't in the mood to ask (usually wasn't.)

"In all due time, friend. But first you have do something for me."

He straightens his shoulders. He didn't take to threats. "Yes?" He asks, in a deadly sort of tone. Lorne's smile fades. "And just what it is I have to do?"

Lorne's demeanor doesn't outright change, but he can see a bit of fear in the demon's eyes. Good. Nice to know he could still make anyone quake in their-admittedly stylish-boots.

"Just gotta sing a song for me." Lorne says, smile returning.

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He finishes the song, ignoring the clapping from the other patrons, getting off the stage and heading back to the table where Lorne sat. He looked flabbergasted, skin having paled, eyes wide.

"What?" He barks. He didn't like that look. Especially so from an Empath demon.

"I knew it." Lorne whispers, almost to himself. "I knew it. The moon and the sun. It's gotta be you two. I've been seeing you both for so long now, I felt like I almost knew you."

The moon and the sun? Why did that sound familiar to him? And what the bloody hell did it mean?

"The moon and the sun, Spike." Drusilla's voice says softly, surprising him. She comes over to the table, walking carefully.

"Dru, what are you doing up?! Here, come on." He helps her sit down and only then registers what she said. The moon and the sun. She had said that before. What had she said exactly?

"The sun needs its moon, Spike." She moves a hand forward, stroking the side of his face. Her smile turns a bit sad now. "And the moon needs its sun; a mirror can only reflect, it cannot give the moon what it truly needs. And you know what, my Spike?"

He feels his throat clog with emotion, though he couldn't say why. As if something was ringing with the bell of finality, somehow. "What, luv?"

"They'll always orbit around each other-the sun and the moon-for all eternity. Even when they didn't want to."

"They need each other." Lorne says, seriousness on his face as he looks up at Spike.

He shakes his head, not understanding. "Why?" he finally gets out.

Dru looks at him, sadness in her gaze. "Because without each other, then everything will die."

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And so it went like that the next few days, with her skipping school. She knew after the first few days she had to do something, otherwise school would call her mother, so when her mother comes to get her up (when she doesn't come downstairs for breakfast) she pretends to be sick.

"Well," her mother says, feeling her forehead. "It doesn't feel like a fever? Where does it hurt?"

"Stomach." She whispers. It wasn't exactly a lie; she felt all kinds of butterflies there, mixed with her thoughts and feelings in her head.

"Is it-" Her mother says carefully. "Around that time?"

"Maybe." She says, still clutching her blanket. Her periods had always been irregular since getting them so her mother wouldn't know she was lying about it or not.

"I'll call the school and tell them you can't make it. But I expect you to go back soon, if it doesn't turn out to be that, alright?" She nods at her mother as she leaves the room.

She holds her breath when her mother returns, but all she says is that she informed them and leaves for work. Apparently they hadn't said anything about her absences. She didn't think they would; they didn't usually the first couple of days. Still, it was a relief. She hears the door close downstairs and huffs, getting out of her blanket that was starting to smother her, stretching out on her bed.

Well...what now?

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She heads back to school the next day and is immediately accosted by a few of her schoolmates once its lunchtime.

"Where have you been, Buffy?" A girl named Nadia-one of Nicki's close friends, demands.

"Yeah, you've missed it; we got a new student!" Nicki says in a fake whisper, making no attempt to actually be quiet.

"Oh yeah?" She says, trying to sound enthusiastic.

"Yeah, she arrived a few days ago. Just a girl though, which is a real drag."

"I know!" Nadia moans. "Why couldn't have been a hot exchange student or something? Instead it's some mousey little quiet girl!"

She points across a few tables to their left, to where a girl sat alone eating. She couldn't see her face from where she sat, as it was curtained pretty well by long brown hair. She sees the girl hunch her shoulders as a couple of their classmates stand by her table. She couldn't make out what they were saying, but she could see the ugly laughing they were doing. She stands.

"Hey, wait, where are you going, Buffy!"

She walks over and can make out what they are saying as she approaches.

"-look at you, just so useless. It's no wonder Mr. Miller doesn't like calling on you; you never talk!"

"Oh, look is she gonna cry? Little crybaby. Need to go back and get your diapers changed?"

"Such a little bit-"

"Complete that sentence," Buffy says. "And we're gonna have words."

The girl sitting stills and the others turn towards her.

"Why don't you mind your business, Buffy?" A snooty girl named Ashley says. The new girl makes a gasp but Buffy doesn't hear it. "We were just making friends. Weren't we?" The last bit is directed at the girl.

"I don't think so, Ashley." She says, with a smile. It wasn't a pleasant one. "Now either you can leave now or I can remind your mother just what you were doing with the high school quarterback last week. Or I can remind your boyfriend."

Ashley's face infuses with red. "We're not finished, Summers." She mutters and walks off with her friend.

The girl is still quiet, hunched over her food. Buffy starts to walk over to the other side to sit down across from her.

"Sorry about that," she apologizes. "Ashley is a bit-bad person. She's got a bad personality."

"Thank you." The girl says quietly, finally speaking.

"You're welcome." She says with a smile. "I don't like anyone being a bully. I'm Buffy, by the way. Buffy Summers."

The girl finally looks up and Buffy gasps. The girl smiles at her.

"I'm Tara. Tara Maclay."

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A/N: Yes, for those of you who guessed, you did in fact guess right. xD I've planned for her to be in the story since almost the beginning.

I hope you enjoyed this!

Let me know what you thought!

-PhoenixJustice

Chapter Text

Echoes

By: PhoenixJustice

Disclaimer: Buffy the Vampire Slayer is owned by Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and other things that are not me. I only own this story and make no profit from this.

Warning: Rated M for future sexual content, language, violence, underage, mentions of time travel, reincarnation (sort of-she's still Buffy), etc.

Pairing: Spike/Buffy Summers (main). Mentions of Spike/Drusilla, past Angelus/Spike. Other pairings to be determined.

Setting: pre-s1 with spoilers up to season 10 of BTVS, season 5 of AtS (plus the Angel and Faith series and other side comic canon series).

Summary: Some days it felt as though all of that had just been a fanciful, if sometimes violent, dream. But then she becomes Slayer in truth once more, wanting if only just once more to see him again.

Flashbacks/dreams/thoughts are in italics.

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The Ninth Echo - The Dream

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She had never known her at this age, but her look was unmistakable (even if she hadn't gave Buffy her name.) It really was Tara. She wasn't sure which was more shocking to her; seeing Tara in person, or the fact that Tara was the first one out of their core group (The Scoobies) that she had seen first (outside of Spike, of course.)

It had been quite a shock to her system, but even so, she hadn't allowed it to keep her from talking to her. Tara was just about as shy as she remembered her, all shy smiles and hesitant eyes. It takes the next few days (filled both with Slaying at night and trying not to think about Spike; something she failed, of course. She hadn't seen him since that night and tries to not let that worry her) but slowly Tara starts to open up to her (after realizing that Buffy wouldn't be cruel like others had.)

Still, she could tell it had taken all of Tara's courage to say yes when Buffy invited her over to her house.

"So you said you're staying with your Aunt?" Buffy asks, handing Tara a cup of tea.

Tara nods. "Yes. She's-" She swallows slightly, looking down and taking a sip from her tea. "She's done a lot for me. Doing a lot. I-" She hesitates again, hands clinging to the cup.

"She seems like a good person." Buffy says, with a smile, not minding the hesitation. She knew enough about Tara's past to know that it hadn't been a good one. Her father had been a bad person. And-from the little she could gather-had been that way in this life as well. The only plus now was that she had been taken from that environment much earlier this time. From what she had also gathered, her aunt hadn't been around the first time around (had been dead, years before she had ever met the others. But she was alive this time around, which was good for Tara, even so soon after having moved in with her.)

She glances at her clock; it was getting a bit late.

"Here, let me get you home." Her parents were both out again, though due to different work situations (well, her mother was working. She wasn't sure about her father. His inability to remain faithful to his wife seemed much like it had been in her previous life) so that left her with a bit of leeway when it came to her Slaying and things like that. Though it'd only be for three days (well, three for her father and four for her mother. Then again, considering everything, she wouldn't be at all shocked to see him have a "sudden" reason why he'd have to be out for an extra day.)

"Oh, y-you don't have to do that." Tara stammers.

"I know I don't have to, but I want to."

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It's quiet, the night sky starting to sparkle with a sprinkling of stars here and there. She felt pretty well protected and felt like she'd be able to protect them both if something happened along the way, though she wondered if Tara had any of her powers now. It wasn't something she had asked her yet, wondering just how she could bring up the situation without sounding weird.

She wanted to be better friends with her.

It was something she realized as they started to speak. Maybe it was karma, or the Powers, or whatever's way of making up for something. Maybe that was why she saw her first; so they could become closer than they had been. She felt like, before Tara had been murdered by Warren, that they could have been better friends; it had been something that had started to take shape when she had confided in Tara about her relationship, whatever it had been then, with Spike.

She stops when she notices Tara has stopped in front of a house-

"Oh, the light's on. S-She must still be awake."

-and sees it's the same house she had been to, where she had met Elspeth. Tara turns to look at her.

"D-Did you want to come in? As a thank you for the tea earlier."

"Sure." Buffy finds herself saying. "Thanks."

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Tara closes the door with a soft thump. The house looked much like Buffy remembered it; it hadn't been that long since she had seen it last, so she didn't think much would change.

"Oh, you're finally back," Elspeth says from the kitchen, though the sound comes closer. "I still have some dinner put away if you want-" She comes out of the kitchen and her eyebrows raise in surprise. "Buffy."

"Hey, Elspeth."

Tara looks between them, confused for a moment, before her eyes widen. She looks at Buffy with shock.

"It's you?" Tara asks. "You're the Slayer?"

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"I didn't-so you told her about the Slayer?" Buffy asks, looking at Elspeth.

Elspeth nods. "Yes. I didn't name your name, as you can tell, but I figured it would be good for Tara to be as well acquainted with things as she could be." Her smile turns fond as she looks at her niece, who flushes slightly. She glances back at Buffy. "You don't seem surprised that Tara is also a witch."

Buffy starts. "Oh! Um, well, I mean, you are a witch. And stuff like that is usually inherited somehow, mostly through the maternal line."

"You've done your homework," Elspeth says, sounding a bit amused. "But yes. My sister was also a witch-Tara's mother. But enough about me and mine; did you find what you're looking for?"

Buffy flushes, the memory of Spike and his lips instantly coming to mind. Despite how he had taken off and she hadn't seen or heard of him since-despite their supposed pact to work together-that memory still brought a flush of pleasure to her cheeks. It had been, despite how brief, everything she wanted. If only he wanted-

She starts to speak, but is horrified as her eyes fill with tears. She wipes at them hastily.

"I-I did. Thank you." She tries to smile, but doesn't feel like she does a very good job of it.

She looks down as she sees Tara giving her hand a hesitant and friendly squeeze.

"He-I'm sure he'll come around. He's just-he's scared of his feelings." Tara says softly.

Buffy stares at her. "How do you know that?"

Tara glances at her aunt, who nods encouragingly at her, then looks back at Buffy.

"Because I've dreamt about him my whole life. Well," she says, hesitantly. "He's-he's not the only one. I-" She bites her lip. "I dreamt about you too. And-and so many others. It was like...like we were friends." Her eyes look down at her hands, that were clenched tightly together. "It-before Aunt Elspeth got me, it-it helped me get through things. Knowing that you all were out there. It was just-it was hard to believe; seeing you surprised me so much. Made me wonder if I imagined all that I had dreamed."

"You didn't." Buffy says, quietly. Tara looks up at her. "We were...we were all friends. Well, most of us, anyway. Or we became friends later."

"But we weren't-I didn't get much of a chance to know you that well." Tara says, frowning. "I-"

Buffy squeezes her hand. "No, you didn't. But that was then. It's-so many things are already different. I want us to be great friends this time around; I never lied to you about that, Tara, I swear."

Tara nods, tears filling her eyes.

"He's called Spike," Buffy says, her own eyes filling with tears now. "He's snarky, and passionate, and he's done a lot of bad things, but he's also done a lot of good, even if not in this life. And I know he's capable of more, better things. And I love him with all of my heart, vampire or not."

She swallows, eyes closing. "I was willing to give up everything just to see him. But I-I want more." Her tears fall freely now. "I want to be with him."

"Don't give up hope, Buffy." Elspeth says. "Things are-give it a little time."

Buffy smiles, wiping at her tears. "You've got some experience with this sort of thing?"

"With a Slayer in love with a vampire? Hell no," Elspeth says with a laugh. "Definitely a learning experience for me. But with love in general? I have experience with that. And even if I didn't, I'd do all I could to help the girl who has been so good to mea puella; both in this life and in another."

"I didn't think I'd ever get to talk to anybody about it," Buffy confesses to the both of them. "Even when those who are aware of the things that go bump in the night, the subject of reincarnation is-"

"I would have believed you, even if I hadn't dreamt anything." Tara says. "You're not someone who lies. You've-you've always been honest with me, Buffy."

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She leaves them both, feeling better than she had in ages and takes to patrolling with a smile on her face. She had people she could talk to. People who knew the complete and utter truth. She pauses, feeling the tingling on the back of her neck and whips around quickly, stake in hand.

And it nearly falls when she sees who's there, eyes widening.

"Spike."

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Dru hadn't went back home with him after what happened at Caritas. He wonders why it doesn't surprise him. Yes, she had taken to going off on her own on occasion in the past, but back then she had been well (well in body, at least.) It felt different. He left her in the care of the Empath Demon, Lorne, and feels like she's in good hands.

The jealousy had been there, still was in some regard, but it wasn't what it should have been, not by a long shot.

All he dreams of is her. Slayer with her wide doe eyes and sharp wit on her tongue. Dreams of times that had to be pure fantasy, with her older in body but her eyes the same look they had now. Her eyes that had seen years and fights and battles and even-something he can think about, if only in his dreams-love.

A warrior, was his Slayer. Not battle tested, yet she was? She was-

He swallows, when he recognizes how his thoughts turn yet again. What had she looked like, when he had lost control and he had kissed her, however briefly?

His eyes close in remembrance. She looked surprised, but not at all disgusted. Her eyes filled with something he couldn't comprehend. He hadn't imagined that right? But, no-she was the Slayer, so how could she not look disgusted at a vampire deigning to touch her? She had-

"Sp-" How soft her voice had sounded. And it hadn't been disgusted, had it, however briefly she had spoken before he cut her off?

His hands tremble and his mouth sets in a hard line. Why couldn't he stop thinking about her? Even in his bloody dreams-

He can see it all too clearly, the look on her face. Weary from battle, yet filled with an emotion he couldn't dare think about, believe in; if he did, it would kill him. More surely than the feeling, the burning, that was building and building in him.

"I love you."

He wants to close his eyes, to savor it, the feeling of wanting to weep with it all, the frustration, the timing, the terrible, terrible timing. Not her fault, of course. If only they had more time. More time. It's all he wanted, a thing he could never have.

"No you don't, but thank you for saying it anyway." He had to believe in that , because if he allowed himself the flickering of hope, savior of the world or not, he'd feel that temptation to throw it all away, if only to hear those words from her perfect mouth again.

I love you, Buffy. More than I can ever say, or do, or repay. Thank you, for believing in me, even when I did-when I was wrong. Can you forgive me that, someday? If not, it's okay; I'll love you anyway. You're my light.

His eyes wrench open now and he growls, unable to take the emotion flowing in him. Vampires couldn't feel anything? Ha, that was a good one. He stands up, grabbing onto his coat.

He needed some air.

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He finds himself in one of the graveyards, not having paid attention to how he got there, just knowing that he had to get out. Had to try and get all these bloody emotions and thoughts out somehow. He hadn't seen her in days, had been unable to stop thinking about her, but had been too shocked at himself to try and see her. He couldn't. It was-this was-

She was the Slayer. Eyes having seen a lot or not, she was-he didn't want to be like Angelus. But-no...this wasn't. She was different. Even if he didn't want to think about it too clearly. Her eyes had seen worlds and he wanted to know why, to know more, to try and figure out just why the bloody hell he was feeling this way-

His eyes widen more at who he sees in front of him, rather than the stake held in her hands.

"Spike."

He grabs onto her arm without thinking and her stake clatters to the ground. Her eyes widen, but not in fear. It was-his own eyes widen. It couldn't be. She really couldn't be feeling...but...there. His eyes nearly close at smelling her arousal. Her throat contracts and he's startled to see the sheen of tears in her eyes.

"Spike," she says again, her free hand touching his hand that held onto her arm. "I-"

He stares at her, with her large green eyes that seemed to want to try and tell him stories, convey something he couldn't comprehend, something that he-that he wanted. He lets go of her arm and his hands move to either side of her face. She takes in a sudden breath at his touch but doesn't try to move or get away or to hurt him, even. She looked- He licks his lips.

"Slayer." He says, hoarsely. He leans forward and her hands move to cling to his coat.

"Please." She whispers, looking up at him.

His eyes close as he leans down and kisses her. And this time he does not pull away. He feels, more than hears her sobbing breath against him and she presses herself closer to him. Her lips are soft against his own and he shudders with the feelings that fly through him.

"Slayer." He repeats.

"Buffy." She says and he's startled as he feels the saltiness of tears upon his tongue, opening his eyes to look at her, pulling back just slightly from her. She smiles through her tears. "It's Buffy."

His hand, trembling, wipes at her tears and he looks at her.

"Buffy." He whispers.

"Yes." She nods.

He looks at her in confusion then shock as she moves her hand, pulling his hand to touch the side of her face, kissing his hand.

"Yes. It's-" Her face colors. "It's okay. It's-I want it. I..." Her voice hesitates now, eyes flashing with an emotion he can only wonder at. "I want you. I-" Her face crumples now and she tries to look away. He grabs her chin, forcing her to look at him.

"Say it." He demands.

Why was he forcing the issue? Why did he care? Why couldn't he-but all he could think about was her now, all he could think was just how much he wanted, how much he-

She looks at him and if he had breath in his body, it would have got taken from him in an instant at that look.

"I love you."

"I love you."

"No you don't; but thanks for saying it anyway."

He pushes that thought out of his head-what a stupid dream, anyway. If a girl told you those feelings, from the heart, so obviously true, why deny it, even if it hurt?

He stares at her, words caught up in his throat.

What did he-why did it feel like so much, so overwhelming? Why didn't he just go, leave? He could just pretend all of this hadn't happened. Like he hadn't met a Slayer who had overturned everything he had known on its head by her simple presence in his life. But hadn't he just said it was stupid to deny anything? Even if it was new, and confusing, and different, it still was...

It was.

"I love you."

His words now, not hers.

And he kisses her once more.

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I hope you enjoyed this!

Let me know what you thought!

-PhoenixJustice

 

Chapter Text

Echoes

By: PhoenixJustice

Disclaimer: Buffy the Vampire Slayer is owned by Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and other things that are not me. I only own this story and make no profit from this.

Warning: Rated M for sexual content, language, violence, underage, mentions of time travel, reincarnation (sort of-she's still Buffy), etc.

Pairing: Spike/Buffy Summers (main), Lorne/Drusilla, mentions of past Spike/Drusilla, past Angelus/Spike. Other pairings to be determined.

Setting: pre-s1 with spoilers up to season 10 of BTVS, season 5 of AtS (plus the Angel and Faith series and other side comic canon series).

Summary: Some days it felt as though all of that had just been a fanciful, if sometimes violent, dream. But then she becomes Slayer in truth once more, wanting if only just once more to see him again.

Flashbacks/dreams/thoughts are in italics.

A/N: M rating for this chapter for sure!

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The Tenth Echo - The Innocence

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The place is new, unfamiliar (he had said, what seemed so long ago now when in truth it really wasn't, that he'd be changing up places.) She tenses up as they enter and he seems to feel it as he turns, cool hands upon her shoulders. His eyes were open to her and she has to hold back a swallow at the intense emotion in them.

"It's not-" He starts, shaking his head. He looks at her earnestly. "It's only me here; it's only ever been me here. I'm...I'm alone."

He starts a bit as she places her hand over one of his.

"You're not-you're not alone." She says softly, looking up at him. Not anymore. Not again. I won't-I won't push you away this time; I ruined it once, but I won't ruin it again, I swear. Just-just believe in me.

His eyes heat up and she shivers. He smirks at her. "Is that right?" He asks, mildly. "Happen to know who'd be around? For future reference an' all."

She laughs, before putting on a foe serious face. This was...it was fun. They hadn't had the chance to have a lot of just genuine fun before; before there had been so much pain and misery and fighting (thanks Hellmouth) and so much denial of feelings (totally her bad) that they hadn't much time, until much, much later to have some fun. Almost too late. Almost. And then-

She mentally shakes her head of those thoughts. That was then, in her life Before. She wouldn't make that mistake again. She was here now. Spike was here now. And he-he told her that he loved her. Everything to her. Everything.

"Well..." She says, still pretending to think hard. "I think I might know one person. I think you'd like her."

"Oh yeah?" He says easily. "Tell me about this girl?" He pulls her closer to him, while pretending he was doing nothing of the sort, looking away. She flushes at the closer proximity but continues anyway.

"Yeah. Well...she's not super tall, but she's surprisingly strong. She heard that some guys like that." She says, looking up at him. She hoped that was the case this time around. Last time he had, of course, but although he was Spike he was also Spike, his own man (er, vampire) entirely. And she had realized that pretty quickly.

"Mmm. The smart ones do; to be able to fight together," His voice drops into a huskier tone, hands on her hips. She holds back a moan. "I'd be pretty happy if I saw a girl like that."

"Even if she-" She licks her lips, her heart thudding in her chest. "Even if she was the Sla-"

He places a finger to her lips, his eyes serious now, looking at her closely. She could only hope he wouldn't regret his words spoken to her, his words that he had miraculously said to her, words she hadn't expected (though she had longed for them so greatly), that he wouldn't take them back. She knew what the situation was, she wasn't a fool; she was the Slayer. The one girl in the world charged with destroying evil, not to sleep with it. She had never fit the mold of what one would expect of a Slayer-and that, she felt, was why she had survived as long as she had.

She wouldn't repress her emotions for Spike this time around. She couldn't. She knew it wouldn't be easy, that it already wasn't; he had no soul. They had met in different circumstances this time, and whose to say what he would do or say now. She couldn't stand by and watch him kill innocent people-but she couldn't kill him either.

She knew this problem well before she had ever met him in this life. Had thought long and hard about it. He had no soul, but she knew very well that he loved. Loved deeper than anyone she had ever met, before he had even gained a soul. (He had once told her that he believed he was defective product; that he had never known another vampire to feel as deeply as he had. One who had held onto his humanity so closely, despite his denying the kind of person he had been before he had become a vampire.)

He seemed to come to his own conclusions, having thought long and deeply (he was quite the thinker, despite what others thought. He played up the British boy from the docks with such perfection that none had been able to see through it, despite him having been bred a London scholar. She could only hope that this time around, his past had been a little less painful for him.)

"I love you." He finally says, softly. He shakes his head slightly. "But I don't-I don't know what to do from here. Slayer? What do you-" He stops as she places her lips gently against his.

"Buffy, remember? At least here," She says softly. "In the-when it's serious. Slayer is for-other times."

"Buffy then." He says, just as softly. "I don't know what to do."

"We kind of picked bad timing, huh?" She says.

He laughs. "Yeah, I guess you could say that, luv." He quickly sobers up, touching the side of her face gently with his hand. "I'm a vampire, Buffy. I'm not-you know better than anyone else what our natures are."

She closes her eyes. This already? Well, she supposed it had to come up sooner, rather than later.

"I know." She replies back. "I knew that all along."

"Then what do you plan to-"

"I love you." Her eyes open. "And I'm not asking you to give up what you are." At his look of disbelief, she continues. "I just-no killing innocent people."

He gives her a look. "And how am I supposed to know if they're innocent?"

She gives him a look right back. "You weren't always a vampire; I know you still remember your life as a human before you were turned. I'm sure you had morals then."

"I've been a rebel all my life, luv. Morals." He scoffs. But he looks contemplative. And she knew very well, without saying it to him, the kind of morals he once had.

"So, a leash then, is what you're offering?" He asks, though he didn't seem all that mad or upset.

"Uh-sort of? It can be nice and shiny?" She offers. He snorts. She touches his leather clad arm. "Spike, I'm not-you know what I am too. I don't want to see any innocent people suffer. I've-" Her eyes cloud a bit, memories flooding through her. "I've seen enough of that to last ten lifetimes."

He tilts her chin up and she flushes once more, realizing both their closeness as well as the look in his eyes. His blue eyes are dark with things she recognizes all too clearly.

"Is this-" His voice sounds uncertain for the first time in a long time. "Is this okay?"

"More than okay." She replies back, softly. "For as long as you want me."

He shudders at that, leaning in to kiss her.

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The bed is pristine, clad in a black comforter and sheets, with dark red pillows (two of Spike's favorite colors, she knew, like the ensemble he wore now; long black coat with red buttoned up shirt, that was unbuttoned currently, underneath it.) Seeing it makes it really hit home to her the situation and she feels the flush move up her body. A hand on her arm makes her look up. His eyes were gentle as he looked at her, an emotion that nearly takes her breath to see, to see it from him now. He really had, in that life Before, felt so many things that she had refused to see, before he had gotten a soul (risked his life for her, to be deserving to be with her-in his words) hadn't he?

"We don't have to-" He swallows. "Whatever you're ready for, luv. No push, about anything." He lets out a soft laugh. "Probably shouldn't even be doing what we have already."

"Spike?"

"Yeah, pet?"

"Shut up and kiss me."

She takes it out of his hands, moving forward to kiss him herself.

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Her lips were soft, is his first thought and he groans, pulling her head closer, deepening the kiss. She shivers against him and it's all he can do not to rip her clothes off then and there. No, this was-this had to have more finesse involved. He wanted to savor this, savor her, even if this was new and unusual and possibly even a little bit wrong. She had said she loved him; she said she loved him.

He wouldn't be like that idiot dream self of his and waste this opportunity. It felt-it felt important. She was-

"What about Drusilla?" Buffy asks, sounding reluctant, pulling away from his kiss.

His eyes widen at both the name invoked as well as her question.

He feels like he should be surprised, when she says she's staying there at Caritas, but doesn't. That feeling he felt when he had spoken with Drusilla before comes back to the surface now. Finality. She had-she had always known many things, even when not able to get them out in a normal way.

"How long have you known?" He finds himself asking her, despite himself.

She smiles. "Always, Spike." She says softly. "Always. I knew many more things this time. I promised I would get you here."

"Promised who, Dru?" He demands. She doesn't reply. "Dru-"

-She falters a bit and he starts to step forward out of reflex, but the Empath demon, Lorne, gets to her first, all gentle hands as he helps her to a seat. They seemed...close. He wonders why he doesn't feel the jealousy he should have been feeling.

"Goodbye, Spike. Go and find your sun."

"She's not-mine anymore." He finally says. He smiles at her, pushing some hair away from her face and his smile softens. "Actually-pretty sure she wasn't ever mine. But she helped me."

"Helped you how?" Buffy asks.

He strokes her face. "By helping me get to what was always meant to be mine." He seems to realize what he's saying and tries to pull away, but the strong grip from Buffy stops him. Her eyes implore him to continue. He swallows. "As long as she wants to be mine. And let me be hers."

"Pretty sure she's thought of forever." Buffy replies, voice hoarse. Her eyes spill over with tears. "Forever."

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He pushes her gently onto the bed and she lets him. Her eyes close as she lays against the pillows, as he divests himself of his coat, buttoned shirt and boots, which clunk to the floor dully, which her own shoes hit a moment later. If he had breath to catch, it would have as his hands hover over her flat stomach, clad only in a light shirt. Her stomach jerks when his hands touch her stomach, letting out a soft sound of surprise when she feels him lay his head on it. She opens her eyes to look at him but his face was turned away from her. She strokes his bleached head and he shakes at her touch.

"Don't know what to do." He mutters. "Never felt hesitation like this before." He looks up at her and the hungry look in his eyes makes her eyes grow wide. "I want you."

She smiles softly, continuing to stroke his hair and his eyes close with obvious pleasure. "Then have me." He jerks a bit at that, but she holds him close. "I'm not-I mean, I am young. I would be, compared to you, no matter how old I was, but I'm also...not. Being the Slayer-" She swallows against a tide of memories, old and new. "It changes you, very quickly. Even if I look young, I'm-I've seen and done a lot of things." So many I can't name to you yet, if ever. But I want to. Someday.

He looks back at her at that, eyes skewering her with their keenness.

"Your eyes." He says hoarsely.

"What about them?" She asks, softly.

"They tell stories, luv. So many, already. It's what-" He swallows. "It's part of what drew me to you, in the first place. Made me realize it, anyway. Because I'm not-I'm not Angelus."

"I know."

He's quiet for a moment. "You do, don't you? Somehow you know about him already. But," he continues, as she tries to speak. "I don't want to talk about that right now, talk about him. Not here."

He pulls up from where his head lay and she lets him. He stares at her for a moment before deliberately pulling off his black shirt, throwing it to the side, his eyes a blazing blue heat as they stare at her. In challenge? Desire? Wanting acceptance? All of those things? Her eyes rake over his pale and perfect body, cheeks flushing. He was even better than she remembered. She looks back at his face. Even more so now; despite his nature, he still was...softer than he had once been during this time, or around this time in the first place. He was showing her his softer places and it makes a warm and hot feeling pool deep within her.

She loved him. That wasn't a new thing...but it also was. She loved him. It wasn't something she could have helped before, certainly, comparing him to what she knew from Before, the Spike she knew before. But, although this was definitely Spike, he was also not the carbon copy of the Spike she had known-and that was okay. She loved this Spike. She wanted to know more about him, of the now, and not compare what had been. They had what they had Before and she had loved him then and she had lost him. That loss...nothing else compared to that. It was why she had been so desperate that she'd-

"Buffy? Slayer?"

She jerks back to attention. That was then and this was now. He was with her and he loved her. That was enough. Enough to drive all the demons and bad thoughts away.

"If you're not sure, I can-"

She kneels on the bed, as he knelt, looking at him, swallowing, as she pulls off her top, throwing it away from them both. His eyes grow hot, a raging fire, instantly. He kisses her hard, cradling her head like it was something precious, their lips tangling, tongues waging a war with one another. She gasps, nipples hardening against her bra, skin starting to heat as his hands start to wander down her body, light against her sides, her front.

They continue kissing as his hands move upward, travelling up her back, making her shiver. He stops when his hands touch the snaps of her bra. He pulls back, looking at her, before finally nodding, as if to himself, at the look in her eyes. His hands deftly remove the bra and she holds back a gasp as she's exposed to the air, to him. His eyes are deep pools of blue, dark with desire, as he looks down at her. His hand is cool as it touches one of her small breasts (seemed like in this life too she was destined to be stuck with small ones, but Spike had never seemed to mind before and Spike doesn't seem to mind now.)

The hand is slightly rough on her skin but the touch is gentle, teasing. He gives her the barest touches around her breasts, fingertips moving lightly over her tightening nipples. She moans softly as he takes her mouth once more, one hand kneading her breast, the other slowly, teasingly, dipping lower down her warm body and he pulls back as it reaches the top of her jeans, finger light as it grazes around the edges. She takes in a deep breath, letting it out and nodding, moving back to lay on the bed. He deftly unbuttons her jeans, using both hands to start to pull them off, leaving her clad in only her underwear.

His eyes are like brands as they rake over her, his arousal obvious, even through his layers of clothing. Her hands move over his pale, perfect skin. Any scars he might have had once are obviously gone, gone from the healing he gained as a vampire. The only physical scar that remained on him, as she strokes fingers over it carefully, is the one he gained from his fight against his first Slayer kill. He pauses, quiet, letting her touch, discover. After he seems to gain something from her eyes-perhaps wondering if she'd ask about the scar-he continues, starting to unbuckle his own jeans, his heavy belt buckle making a solid thump against the light carpeting.

He jerks as her fingers brush against a dusty nipple, hissing between his teeth as her fingers pinch it not so gently and his eyes burn brighter. He seemed to like it, as he liked rough play previously, which was a relief. He lets her explore his body like that for a few moments, running her hands-and then her wet and eager mouth-over his his arms, his torso, his back, slowly lower, until her tongue licks across the line where his jeans still sat over his hips. The bruises she had made with her mouth over his skin wouldn't last long, but she could at least enjoy them now.

Finally he pushes her back, gentler than expected, so he can move his now shaky hands to pull off his jeans. Her face flushes again, when she sees he wore no underwear (he often didn't in the past, so it wasn't exactly a surprise but that was then and this was now. And despite knowing what they had did in the past, this was...this was different. And even then, that was only the base remembrance. More like knowing what had happened, versus remembering it. So all of this, in many ways, really was new to her, which was what she wanted.)

His erection is long and heavy, pulsating with want (want for her). She tries to reach for it, barely being able to touch it, before she is completely flat on her back, with him looming over her. He leans down, hands holding onto her wrists above her, kissing her deeply. She kisses back with just as much passion, shuddering as he rubs against her nearly naked body, moans as his hands all but rip her underwear off her body, tongue delving deep into her mouth. His hands move down lower and lower and she cries out as his hand starts teasing her pussy, not entering, but teasing around it.

"Spike." She moans. "Please."

"Fuck." He pants, pulling back from her mouth. "Want you, Slayer. Want you."

"Please." She repeats, desperation filling her tone now.

His hand rubs at her clit now and she cries out again, which gets drowned out by his kiss. His experience might have left her feeling jealous of Drusilla before her, if she wasn't in this situation now, experiencing his deftness for herself, feeling his love for her-as miraculous as that was. It doesn't take long; in moments he reduces her to a shivering mess, crying out her pleasure against him, clinging hard to him, self aware enough-even in the cloud of pleasure-to be thankful that he could handle her strength. No, that he was built to deal with that strength.

Vampire and Slayer, mortal enemies, but her having a normal partner would never work for her. She had tried, once, to find a normal person, to try and have a normal (or semi-normal) life, but it always failed. She would always be what she was. And because of who she was, she needed someone who could match her. Spike had always matched her in everything, even when she denied it (especially to herself.) She could be strong and weak, in the ways that mattered, with him.

With Angel, despite being the Slayer, he had always looked out for her too much in the way that made her feel weak in the ways she didn't want to be. He always wanted to protect her, but he never wanted to fight side by side with her.

With Riley, it unnerved him that his girlfriend could be-and was-stronger than him. That she made her life living around the monsters; the demons, the vampires...that she would never be the apple pie kind of girl he could easily take home to mom and dad.

With Spike-he loved her strengths. Loved fighting beside her as much as he had loved fighting her, once upon a time. He had always looked upon her as an equal, never less, even when they were enemies. It was what she had always wanted.

She comes back down from her orgasm, gasping for breath, eyes looking deep into his pleased ones, his dark ones, still dark with arousal and need.

"Buffy." He whispers.

She catches her breath and nods to his unstated question. He pushes her thighs apart, slightly wet from his attentions. He positions himself at her entrance, eyes turning to look back at her, waiting, quiet.

"Spike-"

He kisses her hard once more and starts to press himself inside of her, making her cry out against his lips. A flash of pain as his cock enters deeper into her, holding on tightly to his arms as he jerks, trying to pull back.

"No, no." She whispers. "It's okay. Okay? Just-give me time to adjust."

His hands are like claws against the sheets, digging deep into the bed and she can see him tense, using his strength to keep from moving. His eyes are bright as he looks at her.

"I didn't mean to-oh god." He whispers harshly. "You're so tight. And so warm."

The pain starts to shift and he moves, involuntary, causing another gasp to be pulled from her mouth.

"I'm sorry, pet." His eyes look down at her worried, stroking her now sweaty brow, pushing hair from her face. He swallows. "I knew you were-that you hadn't-but I didn't think."

"It's okay, Spike." She says, managing a smile. She touches his face, her heart filling with love at his expression, pulling him down for a kiss, one much more gentle than any of their others before. "I'm okay. I promise. You can keep going."

His eyes light up again at that. He groans. "Don't tease me, pet. You're still-"

She pushes against him, gasping at the flash of pleasure and he cries out. He starts to move now, mouth blazing a trail down her neck, sucking deeply with his mouth and she knew a bruise would be left there after, reveling in that knowledge and feeling. Her hands move to cling to his shoulders, his back, digging her nails in deeply. He seems to like it, groaning in pleasure as she does so. His hands move to her hips, pulling her closer to him, pushing himself deeper and deeper inside.

They start to move in a rhythm and she can feel the pleasure building and building inside of her, crying out as he wraps her legs around him, thrusting his cock deep into her pussy with each thrust.

"You're so-fuck," he curses, as he looks down at his hands on her hips, gripping like vices. He tries to pull them off of her but she holds him firmly in place. "Buffy-"

"It's okay; I won't break. I can-" She pants. "I can handle anything you throw at me."

He moans, thrusting again, as if unable to stop himself then.

"And I want it." She whispers. "I want to feel you. I want to feel you everywhere on me."

His hands are harder on her hips now and she knows it will probably hurt later, but for now it felt perfect. She sighs, head against his neck as he moved, her breast rubbing against his chest. The bed creaks harder now, against their lovemaking, obviously not meant to deal with, or used to, this kind of punishment against it, the headboard hitting hard against the wall-though neither of them noticed it, too wrapped up in each other they were.

She cries out, hands digging hard into his sides now.

"I'm going to-" She pants. "Spike-"

"Buffy-fuck, fuck! I love you." He shouts, thrusting once, twice, three times more before crying out his pleasure, mingling with her own, shooting deeply inside of her as they both come together, the pleasure white hot, burning her insides, her eyes.

They both come back down with a soft thud to the bed. He pulls out of her carefully, though a moan still escapes her. He cradles her in his arms, looking down at her with such a soft expression, mixed with the fading pleasure, that it leaves her breathless.

"I love you." He says, in something like wonder.

He leans down to kiss her softly and she reciprocates the best she can, already feeling exhaustion pull at her. She hadn't slept well the past few days as it was, thinking so much of him, plus dealing with everything else.

"I love you too." She says, sleepily.

He smiles, kissing her again briefly, stroking her face as he settles them better in bed. "Get some rest. I've got you." And his voice definitely fills with wonder now. "I've got you."

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"So it is confirmed then?"

"Indeed, sir. The Slayer has finally been found."

"Perfect." The older British man's voice says, sounding satisfied. "Where is she located at?"

"Currently Los Angeles, in America, sir."

"Another American then?" The older man snorts. "Well, no matter. She has been found, at least. She damn well better be a better soldier than the last one."

"Sir?"

"Nothing. So has the list of Watchers been finished yet?"

"Indeed, sir. Here is the list."

The older gentleman looks it over quickly, eyebrow raising at some names, and furrowing at others.

"Hrm. I see." The older man finally says. "Tell the others to call upon Merrick immediately. He will take charge of the newest Slayer-what did you say her name was?"

"Buffy, sir. Buffy Summers."

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I hope you enjoyed this!

Let me know what you thought!

-PhoenixJustice

Chapter Text

Echoes

By: PhoenixJustice

Disclaimer: Buffy the Vampire Slayer is owned by Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and other things that are not me. I only own this story and make no profit from this.

Warning: Rated M for sexual content, language, violence, underage, mentions of time travel, reincarnation (sort of-she's still Buffy), etc.

Pairing: Spike/Buffy Summers (main), Lorne/Drusilla, mentions of past Spike/Drusilla, past Angelus/Spike. Other pairings to be determined.

Setting: pre-s1 with spoilers up to season 10 of BTVS, season 5 of AtS (plus the Angel and Faith series and other side comic canon series).

Summary: Some days it felt as though all of that had just been a fanciful, if sometimes violent, dream. But then she becomes Slayer in truth once more, wanting if only just once more to see him again.

Flashbacks/dreams/thoughts are in italics.

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The Eleventh Echo - The Watcher

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She awakens slowly, blinking in confusion for a few moments at her surroundings, before a shifting in the sheets, a flash of pale, perfect skin instantly awakens her, making her flush, reminded of just where she was and who she was with. She looks up to see Spike gazing at her, leaned up on an elbow. His eyebrow quirks and he smirks when he notices her staring at him, causing her to only flush further.

"Hey." She says shyly.

His smirk dissolves into a surprisingly soft smile. "Hey."

"How long was I out?"

He shakes his head, glancing behind her where a clock sat on the nightstand before looking back at her. "Not long. A couple hours."

She relaxes a bit at that. Not that she'd have gotten in trouble, as both her parents were out (and if she didn't answer the phone at home, they'd just call her cell, so either way) but she didn't want to sleep the night away, not with Spike being near, Spike being here. She wanted to spend all the time she could with him and nighttime was generally the best time to do it. Not that stuff like daylight (despite it being a killer to his kind) ever really stopped Spike that much.

It's quiet for a moment and she tries to figure out what to say. He strokes her face, her arm, her barely clad body-clad only in a sheet-tracing a line down from her head to her toes, gauging her reaction. She swallows. It was light and teasing, hard and loving. She leans into the touch and then leans in further to kiss him. He catches her, holding her with a firm but gentle hand to her back, kissing back hard but not delving any further, obviously letting her go as far as she wanted.

He groans when she extends her wet tongue out, fighting a battle with his, one which both of them lose-or both win, depending on your perspective. She eventually has to pull back for air and she looks at him like that, eyes bright, hair tousled from her hands, from their lovemaking, from sleep (if he had got any while she was asleep.)

"I love you." She says quietly.

His eyes widen in surprise before his smile deepens, leaning forward to kiss her again, softly, gently.

"I love you too." He murmurs against her lips. He pulls back. He looks at her curiously, stroking her arm. "Mind if I ask you something, Slayer?"

She frowns but nods.

"Just when did you fall in love with me?"

She stares at him.

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She stares at him. She seemed really surprised-yet not-with that question. He looked at her as she was now, still pulling away from the last vestiges of sleep, obviously sated, petite body molded so perfectly against his it felt like they had always been meant to fit together. He had to face things, face facts. And certainly he realized he loved her. Loved her electric personality, her quips, her insight that one of her age shouldn't have, yet she did.

Vampires weren't known to feel guilty (why feel guilty about your nature and the things you did? It was who and what you were) but he felt like he might have felt an echo of that, as he looked at her. He felt no attraction to children. He wasn't lying when he said he wasn't Angelus-which is why he had felt so-off, when meeting the Slayer, meeting Buffy, for the first time. He didn't have tastes like Angelus (Angelus whom had raped and murdered scores of people; men, women, and children. Spike may have been evil, but even he had his limits, you know?)

If not for her eyes, then he would have stayed away from her entirely-or tried to kill her, he wasn't sure. He wasn't lying, making excuses, when he said that her eyes spoke of volumes, of worlds. Had the other Slayers he had run across had eyes that told so much, like hers? He didn't think so. He remembered his kills well, as well as he remembed the Slayer he had let get away and the Slayer he had met before. Although the last one-India, wasn't that her name?-had a maturity to her, her eyes hadn't spoken like they had seen decades, things that someone could only dream of.

He wasn't just thinking of excuses, was he? To justify his touching her? He didn't think so. He might try and be good at the self-denial, to lie to himself, but he was never very good at it. Inevitably it all came to the surface. And there was none of that here. So, it meant that he meant what he said, that he wanted to know more about this woman clad in a younger girl's body.

Looking at her in her sleep had reminded him of something, another dream. He'd had a lot of those lately, of her.

She had a maturity in her that he had seen glimpses of in his entire time of knowing her, but with the influx of Potentials, it had fully bloomed to the surface. Instead of shrugging off or retreating back into her shell like she had the year last when she had been-when they had brought her back, she had stood up and become a true leader. He couldn't be more proud of her if he tried. Couldn't love her more if he tried. She had exceeded his expectations from the moment he had seen her, dancing in the bronze.

Stood up to him, transformed him, remade him, made him into a better man (despite his many faults-despite what he had...despite what he had tried.) She had forgiven him. Somehow, someway, she had forgiven him. And she had said she wanted him here, with her. Even if it was only for a few minutes, an hour, he had that with her.

Could kneel down and look in her eyes, see the world in her eyes. See the daylight. She was always, always his light. Effulgent.

He could truly hold her in his arms.

He looks down at her, peaceful in her well deserved sleep.

It was the best night of his life.

She was-

"Effulgent." He murmurs.

"What?"

"Nothing. So what were you saying?"

"I said..." She licks her lips and he has to hold back the urge to kiss her. "It's-it's been a long time. Longer than I realized."

"How long?"

Her brows furrow. "What?"

"How long?" He repeats back patiently, patiently for him, anyway. "How long has it been for you, Buffy?"

She stares at him, wide eyed and he can see her swallow, eyes clouding with something he can only wonder at. She shakes her head.

"I-I don't know the exact time that-"

"Liar." He says quietly, but not angrily. She was holding something back from him, strongly enough that he could all but smell the lie on her.

Her eyes close. "Please, Spike. Don't-don't push it; not yet." Her eyes pop back open and her eyes blaze with a determination, a fire that makes him want to devour her, body and soul. No one had ever looked at him this way. No one. She made him feel...more. "Let me have this time with you now and I'll-I promise I'll tell you everything I have to tell. Everything. Okay?"

"Alright. For now." He kisses her again and feels her relief as she kisses him back, as her arms wrap around him, as he pushes her back down into the bed, starting to taste her again-

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"Mmm. You going?" His voice is thick with sleep and she tries-and fails-to hold back a smile.

She sits on the bed, having gotten the rest of her clothes and shoes on. She strokes his hair-he really seemed to like that.

"Yeah. I've got a couple things to do. Like school?"

He groans, eyes wrenched shut. "Christ. School. What the hell did I think, taking up with you?"

"That I'm an awesome Slayer?" She offers. He tries to hold back a laugh, with difficulty. "It's not my fault that you went to school like five thousand years ago."

"Oi! M' not that old, Slayer."

"Yeah. You are from the Aurelius line though," she says, without thinking. "Hopefully you won't end up all batfaced like the Master."

He stills, one eye slowly opening, before closing it back and she realizes what she's just said. Thankfully, however, he lets it go.

"He's in a league of his own, pet." Spike finally says. "It's not the age thing-despite what others have said; he took up with some dark-and I mean very dark-things in his past at some point, to get extra power, which gave him that side effect, as it were."

Huh. She didn't know that. Explained why he had been so difficult for her to kill, the first time around. She'd have to take all the extra knowledge into account. So she didn't, you know, die again. But if she didn't die, then what would happen to Faith? Certainly Kendra would fare better; she could survive in the environment she had, as a Potential. But Faith? She knew what kind of life Faith had grown up in-she couldn't stay in that. Well, maybe she could find her and try and explain what a Potential was, or something?

"Who told you that? Angelus?"

Spike's quiet for a moment. "Yeah. Back when he felt like he actually had something to teach, besides..." He trails off. She strokes his hair for a few minutes more and doesn't press him. She knew enough of Spike and Angelus' time in the past to know that it had been a lot of pain and misery-but not all of it had. In the mix of the pain and betrayal and hatred he held for Angelus, he also held admiration and more for him. She had never been sure if they had been together more than once in the past-Spike and Angel both had never told her anymore about that time-but even that had been enough to leave a lasting impression on Spike.

Sires and Grandsires were supposed to be teachers, to guide the fledglings in understanding, to hunt, to learn how to take blood. It was Spike's misfortune to be apart of one of the greatest lineages (if not the greatest lineage) of vampires, but one that was probably the most twisted-at least Angelus' group. Angelus should have taught Spike properly-as Drusilla was obviously not in the position to do so, as she had been driven to complete madness before she was even turned-but instead he had twisted things, abused and used him. It was a wonder Spike had gotten out of all of that as best as he could; yet another indication of his humanity that he had never truly lost, even as a vampire.

She leans down to kiss him and is grateful when he opens his eyes and they aren't filled with self loathing or pain-an echo of pain, perhaps, from memories, but nothing too deep or broken.

"I'll see you later?" She asks. He nods, kissing her again.

"You better, Slayer."

She smiles. "I will."

"Are you...you okay?" He asks, almost shyly. It was cute. He was cute. Here he was, hair all tousled, sleepy and all she wanted to do was climb back into bed with him.

She was a bit sore, but that was to be expected and with her Slayer healing, she'd be back to normal in no time.

"I'm better than okay." Her smile widens.

He was cute, handsome, sexy; could be all of those, and more, at the drop of a hat and she loved him so much she thought her heart would burst with it.

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She had honestly thought abouit skipping today, but the thought of being able to catch up with Tara and talk to someone else about this situation was too tempting an offer. Besides, the other things she wanted to do could be done later, after all.

She just makes it before the bell rings-having had to grab her books from home-and does her best to concentrate through classes, to get to lunchtime. She finds Tara at their usual table. Making friends with Tara had turned a lot of people off to Buffy, as they thought Tara too mousey and quiet, weird. Buffy didn't care. These people were not ones she considered friends anyway; too blinded by money and priviledge to see how precious things like friendship really were, how much more important they were. She didn't need people like that in her life.

Tara looks up as she approaches and Buffy smiles at her, before her brows furrow in confusion as the young witch's eyes widen. Buffy takes her seat across from her, frowning. "Is something the matter?"

Tara flushes. "No, no. It's just-your aura. It's-it's changed."

Buffy flushes now. "Oh. You-you can tell that?" Tara nods. "Um. I-" She looks down, feeling like her face is on fire. "I found Spike last night. We found each other."

"Have you-did you tell him anything?" Tara asks, hesitantly, causing Buffy to look back at her. Her head was ducked down, hair in her face. She was still quite shy, despite their opening up to one another as friends, but that was Tara's general nature with people at first. That and she assumed the shyness was from the...rather intimate subject. She didn't have to tell Tara what had happened, because Tara could see it, in her aura.

"No. He-he asked, actually. But I didn't want to answer yet. I just-want it to be us at first. ...I don't know how he'll take the news. Or if he'll even believe me."

"He'll believe you, Buffy." Tara says softly. "You're not a liar. And you-your eyes are older than your body is. They tell stories."

"Really?" Tara nods at her. "Well...he did say something about my eyes once before, days ago, but I wasn't sure what he meant by it then. Do you think he sees the same thing?"

"I think it'd be silly to assume otherwise."

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The church was surprisingly packed, given it was heading towards sunset. She sees a plethora of people coming to and from the church but pauses when she notices one of them, her stomach flip flopping. That was a Council member, she was sure of it. She only had a vague memory of some of them-with more memories coming in daily, but she had enough memory to know a Watchers Council member when she saw it.

What were they doing here? Did they-did they finally find her, recognize her as the new Slayer?

She moves back near a shaded tree, doing her best not to be seen. She wasn't afraid of the Council, but she was in a vulnerable position, given her newness as a Slayer and her age. And she had no way of knowing which Watcher they would try to put her with. No way of knowing if it was Merrick or Giles or even Wesley, for that matter.

She still hadn't forgiven the Council for many things; Giles' sacking, her Cruciamentum (which was an exercise in cruel and unusual punishment. It was their way of weeding out Slayers they deemed not useful to them, despite that they might protest that point. It had nearly gotten her killed, once upon a lifetime ago) and many other things besides.

She had to think, to plan ahead. She couldn't let the Council think they had any advantages on her when they finally met her...or did she? Should she play up the young card, despite the fact that she really wasn't? In body, sure, she couldn't change that (not without magical intervention) but her mind? Her mind was that of a sharpened Slayer, developing and maturing even further, the more she remembered, the more she Slayed.

Still. Her talk with Gregory could wait, until the Council were elsewhere. She looks up at the sky. It was getting dark enough now that Spike could come out (for him, at least. Most other vampires still wouldn't dare cutting it that close, but Spike had always liked a bit of danger in his life. Made life more fun that way, he told her once.)

She jumps as her phone starts to ring, cursing softly and making her way quickly out of the area, hoping that none of the Council members had heard it.

"Hello?" She says, as she's running, hitting the button without seeing who was on the other line.

"Hello cutie." An accented-and highly welcomed-voice says into her ear.

"Spike."

::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

"For the last time, Rupert, just come with me."

"And I said no, Mer. You know as well as I that the Council sees me as recalcitrant. I'd only be impeding your own work."

"Ah. Well, the Council can be a bit-anyway, you're right, I suppose. Still, you have such an invested interest in the matter."

"It's fine."

"I see. Does that mean it'll be fine later?"

A snort. "Perhaps. I have never been the seer that Ethan is."

"But well enough, Rupert. That and your own set of-"

"That doesn't matter, Mer. Not right now."

He licks his lips, quiet for a moment. "Do I even need to ask how it'll go?"

A shrug. "You'll see soon enough."

"You just want me to see her blind, then?" He asks accusingly. "Just what sort of Slayer is she, then?"

A chuckle. "I can't say it didn't cross my mind. She is unlike a Slayer you have known."

:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

"Hey, you alright?" Spike's worried voice asks her.

She clings to the phone tighter, silent for a moment.

"Buffy? Slayer? Hey-"

"I'm scared." She finally whispers.

"What is it?" His voice grows hard now.

She licks her drying lips. "It's-can I see you? Where are you?"

"Just got back. I-" His voice almost sounds embarassed now. "I went to a butchers."

A surprised laugh barks out of her. He growls. "I wasn't-I wasn't making fun." She chuckles. Her voice softens. "You didn't have to do that. But thank you."

"Yeah, well..." He grumbles. "Hurry home, alright?"

She smiles, even though he can't see it. Home. "I'll be there soon."

:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

She's into his arms the minute the door opens and he holds her there close for a minute, her bag clattering unnoticed to the ground. He pushes the door closed, taking in the scent of her, her warmth. It felt like ages, though he had only been hours, since he had seen her last.

A dream-so, so many of those now, had been playing through his head, even when he slept earlier-flies through his head now.

"Tell me you love me." Her voice was quiet as she looks at him and he's shocked to hear the words. How could she not know? After all this time?

"I love you. You know I do." I'll say it for a thousand years, say it forever, until you believe me. Buffy, you are my everything.

"Tell me you want me."

"I always want you," Forever and ever. Even if you turned old and gray, I'd hold your hand and tell you every day just how much I love you and how lucky I was. If only you'd let me.

"Tell me you love me." He murmurs now, against her hair.

She stiffens before melting back into his embrace.

"I love you." She says softly, liquid eyes looking deeply into his. "You know I do."

He stares at her. And stares.

He moves his lips to her delicate ear. "Tell me you want me." He says huskily.

She shivers now. "I always want you."

He tips her head up and kisses her.

::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

She finishes pulling up her jeans, letting out a small huff, sitting on the edge of the bed as she starts to put on her shoes. He looks at her with satisfied eyes, propped up on an elbow.

"You should come with me." She says, looking down to tie a shoe, so she doesn't notice his shocked look. She realizes what she's said and glances back over at him. "If you-if you want to, I mean. I'd understand if you don't want to."

"Yeah, okay."

"Just like that?" She asks in disbelief.

He shrugs. "Yeah. Why not?"

She laughs, shaking her head. "You're...something else." She says in amusement, leaning down to kiss him.

:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

"Hey, big and ugly! Hells Angels called; they want their look back." She ducks the large and beefy fist her way with ease, dodging further blows on light feet. She looks over to where Spike sat on a headstone, merely watching the action, his long coat flapping slightly in the wind, his eyes alight with amusement and-she nearly swallows at it-arousal as he watches her.

"Shut up!" The large vampire roars, his game face on. Despite his size, he moved and felt like an obvious fledgling. The kind that easily ended up as minions; no brain and thinking they had all the power in the world, when someone like her or a master vampire of Spike's level could break them in half with ease. He whirls his head around to look at Spike, a glare obvious on his face, despite the bumpiness. "And why are you just sitting there, Spike?! It's the Slayer!"

She turns to look at Spike, bemusedly. "You know this guy?"

Spike shrugs a careless shoulder, lighter flicking to life as he lights a cigarette. "Played poker a few times. Still owes me eleven pounds."

She laughs. "Oh, so like Dracula!" She's too busy flipping away from a kick that sends a small tombstone sailing to notice the shock on Spike's face.

::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

A few backhands leaves the biker dressed vampire staggered. A kick has him sailing past Spike, bandana flying off of him-with Spike watching his trajectory-sliding across the grass and stones into a heap. Buffy all but dances on her way to the fallen vampire and he can't help but stare at her. Anyone would be taken in by her deadly dance, even if they weren't in love with her. Can't help but stare as she picks up the big vampire with ease, as she stakes him.

The wind blows the dust in all directions, blows her hair around her face and in seconds he's up, tossing his fag aside, ready to-despite all the questions blowing around in his mind-take her in his arms, when a voice speaks, surprising them both.

"A fair effort, Miss Summers."

They both whirl around-him and Buffy both-to look at the newcomer walking up. He sees Buffy's eyes widen in obvious recognition, before she blinks, pushing it away as if it was never there. The man was human, decently tall and lithely built like himself. The man had to be forty or a bit past it, with grey liberally streaking his beard, though his hair, brown, only had a few bits of grey in it. He wore a long gray coat and a brown hat.

"Only fair?" She says with a snort. "Pretty sure that'd get at least a eight-even from the Russian judge."

The man lets out a small chuckle and Spike walks forward, on silent feet (despite the noise he usually made, he could be quiet, if need be) keeping an eye on him. He wasn't sure what the man wanted, exactly, but he suspected. And if Buffy's reaction was any indication-

"Do you know why I am here, Miss Summers?" The man asks her, nearly having reached her now.

The Slayer is quiet for a moment. "I do." She says quietly, very obviously-to him at least-taking care not to look at Spike.

The man stands in front of her now. She looks up at him. "I have been charged by the Watchers Council to be your Watcher. My name is Merrick Jamison-Smythe."

Spike watches him extend his hand to Buffy's, watches as she takes it.

"Buffy. Buffy Summers."

::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

She's surprised when the man leaves as quickly as he arrived, promising to speak to her tomorrow, even more so surprised that he does not ask about Spike-or think it a problem him being there. He seemed-less uptight than she remembered. Perhaps he had been able to live a bit of an easier life and not one filled with losing Slayers before he became her Watcher.

If it had been nearly anyone else, she would have sent them away-possibly after kicking their ass first to send a message-but she had a lot of respect and trust for Merrick. They hadn't initially known each other long. She had initially, in her first life when Called as Slayer-had been the ultimate valley girl and not wanting to listen to orders or change. But slowly she had changed and Merrick's uptight attitude had slowly softened towards her. She had thought that perhaps they could have been something resembling friends, for a Slayer and Watcher, if he hadn't died back then.

Spike had been quiet the whole walk to his place and that worried her. He wasn't stupid, by any means, and she knew he had to be wondering about so much. Had realized what she had said within his hearing. He had to be wondering, but he hadn't pressed her yet (perhaps remembering what she had asked of him earlier?)

They reach his house-a house she hadn't asked how he had got-and they step inside. He closes the door softly behind her.

"Buffy."

She stops, swallowing, before turning to look at him. He looked as serious as she could ever remember.

"I think it's time we talked."

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A/N: I based Merrick's look off of Merrick from the BTVS movie, but he does not have the power that Merrick in the movie did. I just prefer the look than the one of the guy in the show.

I hope you enjoyed this!

Let me know what you thought!

-PhoenixJustice

Chapter Text

Echoes

By: PhoenixJustice

Disclaimer: Buffy the Vampire Slayer is owned by Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and other things that are not me. I only own this story and make no profit from this.

Warning: Rated M for sexual content, language, violence, underage, mentions of time travel, reincarnation (sort of-she's still Buffy), etc.

Pairing: Spike/Buffy Summers (main), Lorne/Drusilla, mentions of past Spike/Drusilla, past Angelus/Spike. Other pairings to be determined.

Setting: pre-s1 with spoilers up to season 10 of BTVS, season 5 of AtS (plus the Angel and Faith series and other side comic canon series).

Summary: Some days it felt as though all of that had just been a fanciful, if sometimes violent, dream. But then she becomes Slayer in truth once more, wanting if only just once more to see him again.

Flashbacks/dreams/thoughts are in italics.

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The Twelfth Echo - The Truth

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He leads her to the small kitchen area, gesturing for her to take a seat at one of the stools at the island that reminded her greatly of the one she had on Revello Drive in Sunnydale, though it was colored differently. She takes a seat, not without some trepidation, looking at him as he sits on a stool across from the island (and her.) She thought she'd have more time, more time with him without everything getting in the way, but that was probably naive to have thought so. He wasn't stupid. Of course he'd see the signs, hear something odd and want to know more.

"So?" He prompts her.

She hesitates again, licking her lips. "I-it's a long story. A very long story."

"Well I'm not going anywhere and 'm not about to die of old age, so..."

"Neither am I." She blurts out.

He stares at her.

She shrugs a shoulder, not really looking at him now. "It was something I learned...Slayers have a short shelf life, that's known by those who know about Slayers. But that's due to the nature of what we do, not due to nature itself. Slayers have always been seen as youthful; the very few who reached past their twentieth year looked no older than that-ever. None had ever reached to twenty five. Or to thirty. If they had, they'd have looked exactly the same."

"Slayers are a lot closer to vampires, in many respects. We were created through a mingling of demon and human, in ways close to a vampire, though Slayers are considered human. Are we compltely human? I don't know. We never-I never-had the chance to learn that much. But from all I learned and knew, no Slayers ever aged after their twentieth year. None had reached an age like thirty. None..." She swallows hard now. "None except for me."

"I was the Slayer. I was-as I am now-Buffy Summers. I lived...and I died."

She chances a look at him now, seeing him look at her in something like horrified fascination.

"I initially grew up a normal girl, until I was fifteen, when I was first Called."

"That Merrick guy was your Watcher." He finally speaks, voice hoarse.

"Yes. My first one. He...died. Protecting me from Lothos. I barely managed to kill Lothos and I went with my mother to Sunnydale, where I met my second Watcher Rupert Giles. Where I met two of my best friends-and where I ended up meeting you." She finishes softly, memories flooding through her the more she speaks. Some of which she had barely remembered until now, but seemed like talking about everything was bringing things up to the surface.

"You tried to kill me, the first time around. You had arrived to Sunnydale with Drusilla." She chuckles. "I can even remember what you said to me the first time around now. I probably shouldn't laugh about it-it was terrifying to me back then."

And from there, she proceeds to tell him about everything else, right up until the end. Her final end, the fourth death that led her to somehow being reincarnated into her body as an infant, but with the memories of her previous life. That was the only thing, that last bit, her death, which was still a mystery to her. How she ended up being reincarnated. And from what she could see, she wasn't the only one, as Tara had memories as well.

He had been very quiet, but obviously listening intently to her whole story, his eyes unreadable to her (for the first time in a long time.)

:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

"Don't think you two are the only one, pet." Spike finally says.

"Why do you say that?"

"Lorne and Dru-the way they talked, makes me think they've seen more than their share of memories."

It made things make more sense now, not just her unusual actions or words sometimes. Those dreams he had been having, they had been memories? Memories of a different man, though it was himself. A man whom had hurt her, who had fallen in love with her, who had hurt her again and left to become what she deserved. He tried to wrap his head around him leaving to gain a soul-a soul that was different than the one that his grandsire, Angel, apparently had. He hadn't seen him since that time on the sub and just hearing his name from Buffy's lips makes him want to rip the vampire's head from his shoulders. To think that he had gotten to Buffy first-

His hands clench and unclench and he grits his teeth, to keep from vamping out. In fact, the whole thing was leaving this simmering anger deep within him. What had everything been, for Buffy? Not the first time, but now.

"Spike?"

He glances at her, her liquid eyes looking at him in concern and it's all too much. He pushes off of the stool, with it falling to the ground.

"Spike, what-" She tries to reach forward, to touch him, but he moves back, looking at her with hard eyes.

"This some kinda big laugh to you then, Slayer? Reform the Big Bad, make what you want of him first?"

She looks at him, shocked and he instantly wants to take his words back, but he holds firm. He had to know. And he was angry. Angrier than he had been in a good long time.

"No. Never! I just-"

"You what?" He asks sarcastically. "You want to see your sainted Spike so badly, that even I'll do? Is that it?"

"Have you even looked at me once?" He hisses.

Her eyes are filled with tears now and it tears into him. She looks at him with lost eyes and it hits him like a truck, reminding him of something-a memory then, not a dream.

"Look." Dawn says.

Dawn turns back and-

"Yeah? I've seen the bloody bot before. Didn't think she'd patch up so- "

And in an instant he knows. Can hear it. Her heartbeat . But even if he hadn't...those eyes. Her eyes had always spoke worlds to him, worlds that he had come to long to want to be apart of. Eyes he had thought would always, always remain dead to him. Dead to the world.

He sees the world in her eyes and he wants to weep.

Eyes that spoke to him now. He wrenches his gaze away from her, overcome with emotion. She lets out a soft sound, moving over to him.

"You listen to me right now, Spike." She says, her voice choked up with emotion of her own. "Look at me." He looks at her and he sees her tears flowing freely now. "I am looking at you. At you. No one else. Only in the very beginning did I ever-how could I not? I hadn't seen you for so long and I had nothing but memories, so of course I'd look for comparisons. I didn't know you now. I didn't know how you'd react or be. Even so...I did everything I could to look for you. I love you. That's worth everything to me, do you hear me? Everything. Enough that I was willing to risk my life just so I could see you!"

"So even if you don't have any memories of the past, I don't care. I just-"

"I do." He whispers. He can feel tears on his own face now.

"What?"

He licks his lips. "You'd-you'd died. And you'd came back." He looks down at his hands, paint chipped fingers. "You looked so lost. Your hands-your hands were hurt. Clawed your way out of a coffin."

He can hear her take in a quick breath.

"Yes." She says, shock in her tone.

"And I felt like-I understood you, all the more. I felt like you understood me then. And then-"

"Then the others came in and ruined the moment." She says, quietly.

He looks at her. She looked lost in memory.

"I-I always wanted to apologize to you, for that. For them driving you away. Because you were right, Spike." She looks up at him. "You did understand me. Who else but you would understand how it would feel to be brought back to life and claw your way out of your own coffin? We had understanding. And I let them drive you away. And then I drove you away. We could have...it could have been so different, if I had just been strong enough to ask you to stay."

"You were in shock, pet. You couldn't be expected to be thinking clearly after a trauma like that. I couldn't forgive them then for doing that to you; they left you in there and expected you to just bounce back from it." He shakes his head. "Bloody children, mucking about with forces they shouldn't have even been looking at, much less using."

He places a hand to her face, damp now with tears. He realizes what he's doing and starts to pull his hand away, but she holds it close to her face, kissing his trembling hand with her equally trembling mouth.

"Don't turn away from me, Spike, please." She begs. "Don't. I lost you once and it killed me. Please don't do that again. I am looking at you, but I can't turn off my memories, like a faucet. It's-"

"It's our life before." He says softly. She looks at him in surprise and nods. "I couldn't stand the fact that you were looking past me, Buffy. I wanted you to love me for me and not because of your memories."

"I do love you, for you. Idiot." She says fondly. "Just being around you, talking to you, all of it. I love it. I love you."

"Is that right?" His voice catches. The fact that she could say it so easily now. When once upon a time it had taken so long. So very long. And-

"I can tell what you're thinking." She says, with a soft smile. She lets him remove his hand, but steps forward to embrace him. He embraces her back, head leaned against her soft hair.

"What 'm I thinking then?" He murmurs, feeling enveloped with the scent of her and wanting to be nowhere else in the world than right there.

"You didn't believe me back then." She strokes his back, her fingertips light as they trail it. It felt good and he closes his eyes in pleasure. "I told you back then that I loved you."

He knew what she was thinking.

"I couldn't believe in you then." She stiffens a bit, but his own hands start to stroke her back, her hair and she relaxes. "I was about to go, everything was about to go. If I let myself believe in your words-how could I not want to stay, despite everything?"

She embraces him tighter and he's thankful that he was what he was; anyone else would have been crushed under that deceptive strength. He loved that about her, as he loved many things else about her. Thankful, so very much, that he could love her.

:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

They finally pull apart, wiping at each others tears and laughing. She felt lighter than she had in...in longer than she could remember. Remembering... she told him everything. And not only that, but he remembered too? She hadn't-she had thought she was the only one. And then she met Tara and then Spike told her he remembered too...just what did that mean? Were they the only ones to remember? Who else did? And what did it mean that they did?

She couldn't remember her final, fourth, death, not the very end. She was only aware it happened and that somehow it led her to be here, reborn in the past, with her memories, which changed things. But that was something she could think about later, wonder about later.

For now she wanted to spend as much time with the man she loved as she could.

::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

She asks-and he tells her. Tells her things about his past he hadn't told her previously, tells her things and they compare them to see if they match to what he did in the past. There were many similarities and many differences.

"Where did you meet India?" She asks, looking merely intrigued at everything he had been telling her and thankfully not disgusted by it. She had enough awareness of his past-and she knew him.

"Japan. Me and Dru had been running there for a few months, before we went to Prague. Ran into her when she was on a Hunt. And I mean Hunt with a capital H. Some huge and nasty beastie that her and her Watcher both couldn't deal with-and they both were really capable from what I could tell. Took all four of us to kill the damned thing and I still don't know what it was-"

He looks down at the-thing, there was no other word for it. If it was a demon, it was unlike one he had ever seen before. Even amidst the dark that he was, the evil he had done in his life, the evil he had seen, this felt unlike anything he had ever dealt with or heard of.

"Well wasn't that just a bloody fucking picnic." He says, flicking his lighter to life to light a fag.

"An echo of evil." The Slayer murmurs, looking down at it. She looks over at her Watcher, a man not much older than herself. He looks on with a mix of disgust and amusement at them; it was obvious they cared about one another. "Another one."

"I'll make a record of it." The Watcher says, kneeling down to look closer at the Thing.

The Slayer straightens up and looks over at Spike and Drusilla-Dru who was covered in the ichor that the Thing had left behind, hurt from a few wounds it had managed to inflict on her. He'd get her away from here and cleaned up, nice and pretty. Still, he couldn't forgive himself for letting her get hurt in the first place. He's shocked when the Slayer actually extends a hand out to him.

"Thanks, for the help."

"Yeah don't mention it. And I mean, don't ." He says uncomfortably. He didn't need it getting out that he actually helped a Slayer. His reputation would go to utter shit if it ever got out.

She pulls back her hand, but doesn't seem all that offended.

"I'm India. India Cohen." Her voice was surprisingly matured, given her young age. She couldn't have been more than sixteen or seventeen, from what he could guess. "That over there-" She points to her Watcher, who glances at them bemusingly. "Is Kit. Well, Christopher. Christopher Botwell. But I call him Kit."

"Okay..." He drags out, confused. He really didn't know why she was telling him this. They were natural enemies. She knew very well what he and Dru were; they had went into game face when fighting that Thing. Never would have fought with the Slayer and her Watcher if they hadn't been in danger of dying themselves.

"Don't worry about it right now." India says, in obvious amusement. "Just remember us. And tell your Slayer, when you see her, to be wary of Quentin Travers."

"My what ?!" He sputters.

"She said that?" Buffy says, looking both surprised and thoughtful, hand to her pretty mouth. Made him want to kiss it.

"Yeah. Didn't even think of it until now. Thought she was just playing some stupid Slayer headtrick at the time."

"Huh. That's...really strange. I never knew her. Obviously so, as she was my predecessor. I wonder what she meant about Travers."

"He was a bit of an uptight arse, but he seemed mostly on the level, didn't he?" He asks her, having only vague recollections of the man.

"Yeah. He wasn't a great man though; I mean he went out of his way to send what he did for my Cruciamentum. That, and the fact that he still allowed them at all. I wonder what he did, that'd make her say that?"

:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

"Fine form, Miss Summers. Let's move to the crossbow now?" She had taken to the sword surprisingly quick. Or rather, she seemed perfectly used to it. Her form when patrolling had also been easy, practiced, more so than could be explained by her recent turn into the Slayer.

He had suspected, of course, from what Rupert had so clearly not said, but he hadn't been sure until seeing her for himself. She had a maturity about her that belied her apparent age. She already had a good head on her shoulders. He looks over to where the vampire sat, watching them, quiet.

He could see that they both had been waiting for his reaction to the vampire having been around again-and he'd be a terrible Watcher if he couldn't tell what the vampire was. He had merely tilted his head in acknowledgement and his training with Buffy Summers started.

"Tomorrow we can start-"

"Oh. Uh, not sure about tomorrow." Buffy finally says, working a bolt onto the crossbow with a practiced motion, barely even paying attention to it. "My dad might be getting back then. Probably not? But he might. If he does, I'd have to sneak out later."

"Your parents are still unaware of your Calling?" He asks, surprised.

"Well, yeah." She snorts. "Last time I told them they had me committed." She seems to realize what she's said and hurries to continue speaking. "I don't think they'd be too keen on the news. Especially given my age."

Your apparent age, he thinks. It was obvious to him, even this early that she was older than she appeared. He needed no magic to tell that.

It's quiet for a few moments, save for the thwips of the bolts as they sail out of the crossbow, hitting all of their marks. And then the vampire finally speaks, seemingly unable to help himself.

"They had you bloody committed?" The vampire barks.

"Spike!" Buffy says, warningly, glancing over at him before glaring at the vampire briefly.

The vampire stands, moving to walk over to Buffy, hands on her shoulders. His eyes were softer than Merrick expected. If not for Rupert, then certainly his views on vampires would have been drastically different; he was starting to understand why and what Rupert said about vampires that he did-despite it being one of the (many) reasons the Council had its problems with him, wanting him to conform to their way of thinking only.

"Why didn't you ever tell me?" The vampires voice is soft now. Buffy shakes her head at him.

"I-I couldn't. It was a painful memory for me. I did everything I could to keep myself from remembering it."

"So that time with the demon-"

She shrugs, looking a little lost. "Reminded me of that time." She shakes her head, glancing back at Merrick. "Um."

Merrick laughs and both of them-the Slayer and her vampire both-look at him in surprise.

"I can see what Rupert sees in you now."

Her eyes widen.

"Rup-" She coughs. "I mean-"

He walks up to them both, placing his hat more firmly on his head as the wind blows a bit stronger now.

"I would say it's safe to assume that you-both-have your memories of your past intact?" He asks.

Buffy looks at the vampire-Spike-before turning back to him. "Um." She says again.

"No offense, mate." Spike says. "But the Slayer isn't too keen on most of your Council right now. So-"

He raises a brow, before letting out a chuckle. "Ah, is that right then?" Buffy hesitantly nods. "Well, no worry then; I think as highly of people of Travers as much as Rupert does, if that sets your mind at ease."

Buffy laughs now, her eyes shining. "That does, actually." She swallows. "So...does that mean that you remember too and he does as well?"

He shakes his head. "Not at all for me, I'm afraid. Though he does. Rupert and I have been speculating as to the reasons why. Our working theory is that those closest to the Slayer somehow, or were allowed to, keep their memories. But-"

"We've been thinking about it too." Spike says. "Thought about that same thing too, mind, but it doesn't fit; I met the previous Slayer and she seemed to have some awareness for things she shouldn't-and she certainly didn't know Buffy."

"Yet another mystery, it seems." Merrick sighs, before turning a serious eye to the couple, for it was more than obvious, even without their physical affection, that they were. "But that isn't the pressing issue here. Do you know what the pressing issue is, Miss Summers?"

"Buffy." She says, with a smile. "You may not remember me from before, but I remember you. And I want us to start off better this time around. ...all my friends call me Buffy."

"Buffy then," He amends, with a smile of his own. "We have more pressing matters. Like-"

"Lothos. I know." Buffy says.

"Not just Lothos." A new voice says, making them all turn to look in its direction. It was the priest, Gregory. "But the Demons." The younger man tilts his head at him. "Merrick."

"Gregory. Good to see you again."

"You two know each other?" Buffy asks, in surprise.

"We've worked together a time or two. Off the record." He tells them. "As Gregory is not keen on working with the Council."

"Can you blame me?" Gregory asks, wryly. "They'd have my head for just the company I keep, much less the fact that I'm the product of a fled Watcher and Potential they tried for years to find and never could."

"What was that about the demons?" Spike asks the priest, though Merrick notices him wrap an arm around Buffy's shoulders. Aha, so the vampire was jealous of the priest? Interesting.

"Did Buffy tell you about what we encountered before?" Gregory asks Spike.

Spike nods. "Yeah. Some of the worst sort. Nothing like she's ever encountered before...reminded me of something I ran into once, months and months ago."

Spike briefly tells them about his experience in Japan and he feels his eyebrows raise for a few reasons; both for what the Thing was that Spike, his previous paramour, the previous Slayer and her Watcher had dealt with as well as the fact of what the previous Slayer, India, had said. She too had her suspicions about Quentin Travers?

"An 'echo of evil'?" Gregory says. Spike nods. "Sounds like a minion of one of the Princes. The fact that all of you made it out alive says a lot about your skill."

"I thought you weren't here for them originally?" Buffy asks Gregory.

Astonishingly, a blush suffuses the priest's face. "It wasn't. But-I found what I had been looking for. That doesn't matter now though." He seems to shake himself out of it. "I wasn't here for that, or Them, but things change."

"We have really good reason to believe that Lothos is in some sort of alliance with Them." He says.

"Oh god." Buffy says, groaning. "Lothos was terrible enough on his own. But working with the Princes? Even just one of them? Major bad. Major, major, major bad."

She stops, turning to look as Spike grabs her arm, stroking her face.

"You're not alone, pet." Spike says softly.

"We're all here to help you." Gregory says.

"Well. There is only one thing to do then." He tells them. They all turn to him.

He smiles.

"Time to hit the books."

Spike groans.

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I hope you enjoyed this!

Let me know what you thought!

-PhoenixJustice

Chapter Text

Echoes

By: PhoenixJustice

Disclaimer: Buffy the Vampire Slayer is owned by Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and other things that are not me. I only own this story and make no profit from this.

Warning: Rated M for sexual content, language, violence, underage, mentions of time travel, reincarnation (sort of-she's still Buffy), etc.

Pairing: Spike/Buffy Summers (main), Lorne/Drusilla, mentions of past Spike/Drusilla, past Angelus/Spike. Other pairings to be determined.

Setting: pre-s1 with spoilers up to season 10 of BTVS, season 5 of AtS (plus the Angel and Faith series and other side comic canon series).

Summary: Some days it felt as though all of that had just been a fanciful, if sometimes violent, dream. But then she becomes Slayer in truth once more, wanting if only just once more to see him again.

Flashbacks/dreams/thoughts are in italics.

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The Thirteenth Echo - The Ring

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Months go by. But none of them rest on their laurels in this time.

During the day, on weekdays, Buffy attends school. During the day, when not sleeping, Spike pours through some of the books on loan from Merrick (or Gregory.) Then, at night, Buffy patrols (with Spike almost always) and when she can't patrol-due to her parents-the patrolling duty is taken up by Spike, sometimes accompanied by Merrick and even rarer by Gregory.

On the weekends, when having the most time, Buffy's time is split between researching (books and internet both; some things were found online where they weren't in books and vice versa) and training. After all, besides the Demons, the signs for Lothos were around, but no sightings had been seen yet. He seemed to be gathering more forces yet, for some sort of attack (or apocalypse.)

Merrick was a fine teacher; even better than he had been in her previous life (partly due to the fact that they got along much better this time around) but he wasn't her only teacher. She didn't want to rest only on one skill. The more the better. She wanted to try and be prepared for anything, this time around (so she didn't repeat the mistakes of the past. The mistakes that caused so many deaths. That caused Spike's death, down there, in the Hellmouth of Sunnydale.)

Merrick taught her many forms, many techniques Watchers learned specifically to train Slayers. Gregory taught her the beginnings of rudimentary magic; she wasn't very good yet, but she felt like she was a fair hand. She wanted to learn and that (so he said) was important. She knew she would never be the level of someone like Gregory (or Willow) but that wasn't what she was going for. She wanted to learn protection magicks; magicks that could save her-or others-in time of crisis.

And Spike? Spike taught her how to fight.

He had literal decades of experience, both from this life as well as the past. And this time, there wasn't so many mixed messages, signals, and denials (mostly on her end) to get in the way this time. He was a surprisingly patient teacher (but perhaps not so surprising? He dealt with Drusilla for decades, after all.)

Time flies by, both with her learning and Slaying, making sure to take the time to spend time with Tara as well. She was her friend-very good friend now-and she didn't want to neglect her. She made sure, as early as she could, to properly introduce Tara to the others (so she wouldn't be, or feel, left out.)

"That's Merrick. He's my Watcher." She says, a friendly arm around Tara who is noticeably nervous, pointing to the distinguished older gentleman. He puts down the large-and slightly dusty-tome he had been looking through, giving a friendly wave. They had taken to doing research and training at the small, but tidy now (thanks to a group effort), house that Spike had taken earlier before. No one had asked how he acquired it but he eventually told Buffy; he had won it in a game of kitten poker with some (now very irritated) Fyarl demons.

Next she turns Tara, pointing to Gregory, who smiles wildly at them both. "That's Gregory. I told you about him already. He's a pretty good magic user too; you two should talk shop sometime. And-"

She stops, seeing Spike giving her an obvious once over, flushing. "And that-as you are more than aware of-is my...is...well you know who Spike is." Spike raises a brow and she turns away, flustered.

"H-hi." Tara stammers. Spike gives her a soft smile. He had always a soft spot for the mousey young woman.

"Nice to see you again, Glinda." Spike says, amicably. "You doin' alright now? Away from your dad?"

Tara nods shyly. "Yes. My aunt, she's taken me in."

"Speaking of," Gregory interrupts. "Are you ever going to invite her, Buffy?"

"Oh yeah." Buffy says, swiftly. "She's already been very vocal about meeting everyone." She turns to Tara. "Will the weekend work? More time for everything; for me at least."

It had been hard to get time lately. Her mother had eyes like a hawk and being able to get in and out of her house at night without being noticed was getting more and more difficult. Maybe she could say she was out studying? Wasn't exactly a lie. She was studying; just not as much of her school subjects as anything else-but she kept up with her studies too.

She could say Merrick was a teacher or librarian, Gregory, well, he actually was a priest so there was no lie there. Elspeth was truly Tara's aunt, so her mom would feel safe with Buffy being out later, if an adult was there (despite the fact that Buffy herself was more like an adult than her mother knew, but she couldn't exactly tell her the truth. Not just yet, anyhow.) Spike? Well...she'd need more time to think of something for him (older boyfriend would so not go over well, despite it being the truth.)

Tara heads over to talk to Gregory (who seems more than happy to answer any of her questions) while Buffy heads over to Spike. He grabs onto her lightly, pulling her close to him. She immediately steps into his offered embrace, eyes closing with pleasure. Felt like weeks since they had any proper contact-as pressed for time as she usually was, nowadays.

"Missed you." He murmurs against her hair.

"Same here." She says back, snuggling closer to his cool chest, feeling the crispness of his black shirt he wore and loved so much.

"Even if," he continues in amusement, as if she hadn't spoke. "You don't know what to call me."

She looks up at him. His voice had been amused, but his eyes are what he tried to make cool, but she knows him too well and she can see the uncertainty there. She puts a hand to his face and his eyes close.

"I wasn't sure what to say. Boyfriend seems so...small? Not a big enough word to what you are to me. You're-" She struggles with words for a moment and he opens his eyes to look at her, before she finally settles on what was the utter truth. "You're my everything."

His eyes widen and he's kissing her in the next moment, seemingly unable to help himself, despite the others being so near, and she kisses him back just as passionately, feeling the love there, mouthing the words against her lips.

It was summer now and school had just let up, leaving her with more hours to work with. She takes this time to get Elspeth acquainted with everyone as well as with her parents, so her mother won't worry so much. Her dad only meets her briefly. These days she saw so little of him, but this didn't surprise her. With his later and later work hours (so he said) and him and her mother fighting more and more often, a divorced seemed eminent. She honestly felt like it'd be a relief if they finally got it over with, for all of them. Her mother seemed to like Elspeth well enough, thankfully.

It goes on this way into the middle of June when she catches a conversation her mother has on the phone which stops her cold. She waits until she's finished with the call and walks into the kitchen, where she sees her mother starting to wash dishes.

"Who was that?"

"Oh, Buffy. I thought you were heading out to Tara's?"

"Not for a little bit; she had some errands to do with her aunt first. Who was on the phone?"

"A friend of mine. They wanted me to take a look at some of their pieces in Sunnydale; they wanted me to bring them up here. I'll probably be gone-"

"Can I go?" Buffy buts in, heart pounding.

Her mother raises a surprised eyebrow. "Wow, this is new; I don't think you've ever asked me to come along on any of my trips. Why now?"

Buffy shrugs. "I heard there were some cool shops in Sunnydale; the kind you can't get in a big city like this." Which wasn't really a lie, as that was a true statement; it just wasn't the main reason why she wanted to go. That was something that no one else knew. Not even Spike.

Her mother smiles. "Well alright then, if you're sure. We'll be gone two or three days though, as he has a lot of pieces. Are you sure you can be away from your friends that long?"

"Sure." Buffy says easily. "I can always call or text them if I miss them."

"The advent of technology." Her mother says with a sigh.

"It helps your business though." She points out. "Get your name out there, advertisement..."

Her mother laughs. "That is true. Now when did I get such a smart daughter?"

Buffy lets out a mock gasp. "Mom! I've always been this smart!" She puts out a fake pout which makes her mother laugh again. It was good to hear it; there had been little laughter in this house for a good while now.

She starts to leave, when her mother stops her. "Wait, Buffy. Actually...as much as I love your enthusiasm for shopping, I don't think that'll leave you satisfied for days. Why don't you see if Tara can come as well? That way you'll have some company while I'm busy."

She stares at her mother for a moment, before walking forward to hug her (lightly, of course; she had to be careful with her strength with people that weren't Spike.) She felt bad for not spending as much time with her lately, especially given the nature of their relationship in her previous life. But that was also part of the reason she was staying away so much; researching and fighting so she could protect all those she cared about. The other part well, that was indeed selfishness. She finally had Spike in her life, well and truly, with no restraints, for the first time in all the time (which was a long time now, given their total sum of lifetimes) they had known one another.

"What's that for?" Her mother says, with a laugh.

"Nothing." She murmurs. "Just happy that you're my mom." And will be Dawn's mom.

Her mom ruffles her hair affectionately. "Alright. Go call her and let me know what she says."

She heads to her room, closing the door, pulling her cell phone out of her pocket, sitting on her bed as she dials a number by memory.

"Yeah?" A voice says sleepily.

"You're still asleep?" She accuses.

"Yeah, well, someone kept me up most of the night," the voice purrs and she shivers. "And anyway, I'm a vampire; it's expected I'd keep nocturnal hours."

She laughs softly. "True."

"What's up, pet?" Spike's voice asks, warmly. She could close her eyes and listen to his voice for hours, swim in it, but she had no time for it now.

"I'm going to Sunnydale." She says quickly. It's quiet on the other line.

"What for?" He finally asks her.

"Mom's helping a friend out at a gallery; going to be looking at some pieces. I asked her to let me go with her. I think there's some stuff there that maybe could help." That was certainly the truth.

"Books at the Magic Box, the school library at Sunnydale High." That was also true...but not exactly what she had meant. She hated lying to him but this was...something she needed to keep close to the vest. For now.

"Going on your own though? I know you can handle yourself, luv, but-"

"I know. Mom wants me to ask Tara, to see if she wouldn't mind keeping me company. I'm getting ready to call her to ask."

It's quiet again. She holds the phone closer to her ear, as if that could somehow bring him physically closer to her.

"Spike? Talk to me."

"I don't-" He coughs. "I don't like being without you."

Her insides flush through with sudden heat and it's all she can do to not blurt out all the things she wanted to say, to scream with her affections, her love, for him.

"I don't like being without you either. Even for a few days." She says, truthfully.

"But I'll manage. I'll hold down the fort with the others, yeah?"

"Yeah."

She closes her eyes, picturing him. "I love you." She says softly.

She hears his intake of breath he did not need. "I love you too." He says, hoarsely.

"Maybe I'll bring you back a souvenir." She says casually. "We both know Sunnydale has a lot of nice shops."

"Is that right?" Spike says teasingly, voice more steady now, with her teasing tone obviously making him feel better. "Well maybe I'll get you something while you're gone; you're due for a nice new sword or three."

"Ooh!" She squeals exaggeratedly. "Could it have sparkles on it?"

"Over my dead body." He deadpans.

"Honey, you're already dead."

"Undead, Slayer." He says, amused.

"Ehh...you say po-tah-toe, I say Mr. Dead Pants."

He laughs openly now. "I love you, Buffy." He says warmly.

"I love you too." She says, smiling now, though he could not see it. "I'll talk to you later?"

"You'll see me later, is more like." He growls, playfully.

She shivers again. "Is that a promise?" She whispers huskily.

He groans. "That isn't fair." He accuses.

"What?" She says, innocently. Innocent, if she wasn't trying to keep from giggling.

"Leavin' me all hot and bothered and not finishin' the job. A damn tease is what you are, Slayer."

"Maybe if you're good later I'll do something about that." She says softly.

"Damn right you will." He growls.

She gets off the phone with him and sets to call Tara, a plan already formed in her mind.

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The trip doesn't take long, as Sunnydale is only a short distance (about a couple hours away) from L.A. but it feels like it goes even quicker than normal. She knew it was due to her nerves; it had been a very long time (for her) since she had last been here. The last time she had seen Sunnydale, it had been a pile of smoldering ruin.

Her mother had talked with Tara most of the ride, with her asking Tara about herself and Tara shyly answering, asking her own questions about some of the work she did (she'd have to thank Tara later; she was too distracted to talk much herself right now.) Her thoughts were swirling with both emotion as well as her plans for what she wanted to do, once she got on her own in Sunnydale (well, maybe not on her own, as Tara was along for the ride too. But away from her mother, certainly.)

It was also the first time she'd been away from Spike in quite some time and she had to squash down the urge to call him. She'd have time for that later. She had to concentrate on what she was really here for. She had called ahead to a shop in town after calling Tara and luckily they had what she was looking for (she had been looking through books and the net for clues about the Demons and such. She had. ...it just wasn't the only thing she had been looking for.)

They finally reach the Welcome to Sunnydale sign. And instead of the waves of grief she expects to feel, instead she feels the need to hold back a laugh. She hadn't seen it personally; but Spike had (multiple times) literally ran over the sign in their past life. She manages to hold back the laugh, but has a wide smile on her face (which luckily only Tara notices.)

They reach the motel and wait in the car while her mother signs in.

"Hard to believe we're really here." Tara says quietly. Surely she too must be dealing with an influx of emotions and memories, the same as Buffy was.

"I know." Buffy replies back, just as softly. "It feels like forever in so many ways-yet it also feels like it was just yesterday. It's a weird feeling."

"It is. But...I'm glad to be back."

"Me too." She hesitates now. "Do you-do you think we'll run into any of the others?" After all, Xander, Willow, and Oz all lived in Sunnydale. They could have, of course, lived somewhere else in this life, but Buffy had checked. They even lived in the same places they did the last time. More of those echoes. She idly wonders if Oz was a werewolf this time around.

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"Okay, if you need anything-either of you-call me immediately. I gave you the number to the gallery as well, didn't I?" Her mother says frantically.

Buffy laughs. "Yes, mom. We're fine. Go; you're going to be late otherwise."

"Right. Be good girls. Maybe if I get done early we can do some shopping together." Her mom says, giving Buffy a kiss on the head and a hug to Tara (to Tara's surprise.) She leaves moments later and it's quiet. Buffy grabs her wallet out of her jeans, looking through it for something.

"Do you have somewhere in mind to go first?" Tara asks.

She lets out a little aha, pulling out something from the wallet, turning to Tara.

"Yep!" She says, voice perky, waving a piece of paper. "Going to see a Box about an item."

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The Magic Box was much as she remembered it, as she looks around. It looked almost identical to the version ran by Giles and Anya. Anya, there was another person she had to try and find somehow. Was she still a vengeance demon? There was no way for her to know, outside of magical influence to try and find out.

Tara too, seemed to be awash in memory, as her hand passes over some of the tomes. She leaves Tara searching through books and items and makes her way over to the empty counter.

She was surprised that there were no other customers, but then again, it was still fairly early and it was summer; most people wanted to spend their time on the beach and things like that (and enjoy longer days. Longer days more daylight, so less time to potentially deal with vampires. Even if most of the people in Sunnydale didn't admit to the strange goings on here, it didn't change the fact that they still knew about it.)

She looks down at the call bell on the glass and hits it gently (with her strength she could easily hit it so hard-even unintentially-that it'd shatter the glass.) It makes a loud ringing sound.

"Coming!" A voice in the back says. Feminine, from the sounds of it. And oddly familiar. But-no. Couldn't be.

A minute later, someone comes through the back, and Buffy is shocked.

"Sorry about that!" Anya says, pushing dark hair away from her face. "Been swamped all day with putting away orders. Hi, Buffy; what can I get you to buy today?"

She smiles widely.

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"Anya." She says in shock.

Anya nods perkily. "Yes, we've established who each of us are." She looks at Buffy with a critical eye. "I thought you had your memories?"

Buffy blinks hard. "I-I do." She licks her lips. "How did you know that I did?"

"Huh? Oh, Giles, of course." Anya says, waving a careless hand. "Now. What can I get you to buy in the shop today? Did you have something in particular you were looking for?"

"Oh. Yeah, I did, actually." She hands Anya the list she had been holding onto. "I called in earlier about this and was told there was still one in stock. A guy was on the line; said he would hold onto it, if I got here early enough."

Anya's eyebrows raise as she looks at the name of the item on the list. She whistles appreciatively.

"This doesn't come exactly cheap, Buffy." She tells her. "But hey, it's your money, not mine."

"So you still have one then?" She asks. Anya nods. "Good. I'd like that then; as soon as possible."

"Why do you need a Muri Derivare, anyway?" Anya asks idly, as she turns to look through some of the items on the shelf, apparently looking for something in particular. "Something going on in Los Angeles?"

She glances over at Tara, who is approaching them (her own eyes wide at seeing Anya in person.)

"Something like that." Buffy replies back quickly.

"Hi, Anya." Tara says softly.

Anya has a surprisingly soft smile for Tara as she turns when she approaches. "Hi. It's good to see you again, Tara. Much less-"

"Dead, this time?" Tara says, surprisingly morbid. Anya lets out a startled laugh.

"Yes." Anya says, nodding rapidly. She turns back to the items.

"How long have you remembered things?" Buffy asks her.

"Oh-quite a long time now. Had over a thousand years to make peace with the memories and everything that came attached to them." Anya says easily.

"So you were a vengeance demon again?" Tara asks her.

"Mmhmm. D' Hoffryn found me early on and I said I'd do the gig provided he'd allow me my freedom to do what I wanted after a thousand years and he agreed. Said something about 'balance' or something, so he planned to do that anyway." She makes a frustrated noise. "Urgh. I thought it was on the shelf. He must have put it in the back since he put it on hold for you. Hold on." She starts to head to the back.

"He who?"

"Giles. Didn't I already talk about Giles?"

Buffy's eyes widen. "Uh...no. You only said that he knew about my memories."

"Yeah. Who do you think the owner of this place is? He's busy a lot though; working on stuff for you, apparently. So he's out of town a lot." Anya's voice becomes muffled as she walks into the back, leaving Buffy to ponder on things.

"Merrick said he had been working with Giles, but I didn't expect things to this extent. I just thought he had his memories; not that he was actively working here in Sunnydale as well. Do you think we'll see him soon?" Buffy asks Tara.

"I think so." Tara replies back softly. "I feel like he's different though, in some way."

Buffy's brow raises. "How so?"

Tara gives a helpless shrug. "I-I'm not sure, exactly. When I try to reach out to read his aura, it feels a bit different. Not bad," she's quick to assure Buffy. "Just different."

"You can reach out for someones aura from that far a distance now?" Buffy asks, impressed.

Tara flushes a pretty pink. "Y-Yes. I've been able to train earlier this time around; not to mention being able to train with people like my aunt and Gregory, so I'm more developed already."

Anya comes back out a moment later, holding a old-but pristine-looking amulet in her hands, it's fairly nice sized green stone in the middle of the curving design all but gleamed in the light. Tara lets out a soft sound of surprise.

"Buffy, what do you need with that?" Tara asks.

Buffy's quiet for a moment as she hands over the money, and Anya passes over the item, the cash register making its sounds as Anya opens it, looking down at the amulet in her hands.

"Have something important to get." Buffy says quietly.

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She puts on the item before they leave, with both of them getting Anya's phone information and giving theirs in returning, promising to see her again before they left Sunnydale. When trying to get Giles' phone information, on the other hand, Anya gives them a firm no, which surprises them both.

"Just get it from him in person." She insists. "He's supposed to be back tomorrow; you can see him then."

Though Giles hadn't been the only thing she asks about before they leave the shop. The question leaves Anya a little quiet, though she still smiles.

"No, I haven't talked to them." Anya says. Talking about Xander and Willow and Oz. "I see them in town sometimes, but I haven't talked to them yet. I'm-afraid they won't know me."

"Even if they didn't, I'm positive they'd still want to be your friend." She reassures her.

She leaves Tara at the Expresso Pump (with a promise to explain things when she returns and, yes, she'd be fine. It was nothing dangerous-a small lie-and she wasn't fighting anything (the truth.))

As she passes through the small crowds of people going to and fro, she's a mixture of relieved and disappointed that she doesn't run into Xander, Willow, or Oz; she wasn't exactly ready to see them yet. Not due to any bad or angry reason; just that she could see Anya's fear in them not knowing anything. Would they still want to be her friend? She was just thankful that they were still here; they easily could have been born somewhere else and then how would she find them? It'd have been exponentially more difficult to find them.

UC Sunnydale was as she remembered it but it was not where she planned to go. Still, she gives a speculative eye to the dorms; would the government bring the Initiative back to Sunnydale or were they here even now? She'd have to come back soon to give it a once over to see. If they did, she would make sure to stop them even earlier; so something like Adam couldn't even be 'born.'

No, where she wanted to go was near, but not at the campus itself. She knew she had to be careful; if the item didn't work properly or if she didn't remember the exact location, she could easily be stuck. She reaches near the large road and reaches around her neck, making sure the amulet was on securely. It was. She was thankful, for once, in her father's negligence as of late; his own guilt made it easy to wheedle money out of him, saying it was for shopping. He had been more than happy to give her money to try and make him feel better about himself.

She pushes away the thought, as it starts to turn a bit bitter in her mind, and concentrates, closing her eyes. She feels a pulsing moments later and looks down at the stone; it was glowing. She takes in and lets out a deep breath, looking at the pavement before looking around her. No one was looking. But even if they were, with Sunnydale residents, they always had a way of describing things they saw in their own minds to make themselves feel better.

She touches the pavement-and melts through it.

::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

She lands on her feet in a crouch, letting out a breath as she looks up. Muri Derivare was an artifact that allowed the user to phase through things. The fact that the Magic Box even had it was astounding to her. But...no. Surely it wasn't there because Giles had saw the need. How would he even have known? She told no one her plans. No one. Not even Spike.

Speaking of...

She turns on her phone, using its light to see around the room. Her eyes were already adjusting to the area. Luckily she had better eyesight than regular humans as even with the phone light a normal human wouldn't be able to make heads or tails of anything out of the crypt.

She had thought long and hard about whether to come here yet or not. It had always been in mind for her-and she wondered if Spike ever thought about this area or not. Surely he had, at some point, once his memories really came flooding back. She ignores most of the trinkets and treasures. The value they would bring was significant but she had no way to sell them now. She pockets a few of the small ones; those she could probably find a way to sell-or Spike could (he had a lot of underworld connections, through his many decades around the world.) One never knew when the extra money could come in handy (she certainly wasn't ever going to work at somewhere like the Doublemeat Palace again if she could help it.)

Finally, a small thing catches her eye and she lets out a relieved breath (she had wondered if it were still here and it was.)

She picks up the Gem of Amara and smiles.

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I hope you enjoyed this!

Let me know what you thought!

-PhoenixJustice

Chapter Text

Echoes

By: PhoenixJustice

Disclaimer: Buffy the Vampire Slayer is owned by Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and other things that are not me. I only own this story and make no profit from this.

Warning: Rated M for sexual content, language, violence, underage, mentions of time travel, reincarnation (sort of-she's still Buffy), etc.

Pairing: Spike/Buffy Summers (main), Lorne/Drusilla, Rupert Giles/Ethan Rayne, mentions of past Spike/Drusilla, past Angelus/Spike. Other pairings to be determined.

Setting: pre-s1 with spoilers up to season 10 of BTVS, season 5 of AtS (plus the Angel and Faith series and other side comic canon series).

Summary: Some days it felt as though all of that had just been a fanciful, if sometimes violent, dream. But then she becomes Slayer in truth once more, wanting if only just once more to see him again.

Flashbacks/dreams/thoughts are in italics.

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The Fourteenth Echo - The Other Watcher

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He had not rested on his laurels in all these years. He had prepared. Extensively. With magic, with weapon training, book training. He had all his life to get used to the other set of memories in his mind-memories that had been once in danger of being locked away by his mother and father, but after they had died early in an accident, there was no further danger of that, in the care that he had been with his great aunts.

He had prepared as best he could.

He could only hope he'd be a better father to his children-children not through blood, but through fighting and sacrifice and hope and despair and so many other things-this time around.

He picks up his phone on the first ring. "Yes?"

"She's here, as you said, Giles. I'd say it's pretty freaky how much you've gotten right, but I'm used to it now." The careless tone of Anya says into his ear, which makes him chuckle appreciatively.

He had never given the woman the credit she deserved in the past; looking more at her way of speaking than her literal centuries of experience. She was invaluable; as a friend, more than anything else. She had been the first one he found, years ago now, and had been more than willing to help him-making him thankful that she had the most time out of them all to sort through memories, so she knew she could trust him upon what was, in this lifetime, their first meeting.

"Wow. You look...different." She whistles, obviously impressed.

He shrugs. "Yes, well, needs are different this time around. And this time I did not force most of my magical powers closed out of some misguided sense of...family pride and fear. I have none of that fear. I know perfectly well who and what I am."

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"Oh wow, that's really nice, Buffy." Tara says, nodding at the ring that Buffy wore.

It complimented the amulet she still wore pretty nicely (though of course her wearing the ring was only temporary; this was the best way she could keep it safe for now, until she could get it into the hands of the one she wanted to give it to.) It gave off no shine of magic or anything else (as she wasn't a vampire. On anything non-vampire, the power went inert.)

"Yeah. Definitely worth all the trouble to get it." She says, idly stroking it a bit. He had never wore it in this timeline, but seeing it reminded her of Spike and that was a good thing to her.

They were sitting in the Expresso Pump, waiting for the Magic Box to open (Anya had apparently went to lunch, so the sign said when they had went to the Magic Box earlier.) She was feeling a pit of nervousness. It had been a long time since she had seen her Watcher, seen the man whom she thought of as a father (more so than her father had ever been to her, in this life or the last.)

Their relationship had had a lot of bumps and valleys, but they had come out all the stronger because of it. With or without his memories, she didn't want to disappoint him.

"We should probably go." Tara says and Buffy looks up to see the witch giving her a soft look; she surely must have some idea what Buffy was thinking. "I think it's supposed to open back up soon."

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The door opens with a small ding from the bell attached at the top. It seemed empty (though whether that was due to them making customers leave or the fact that it had just opened back up-or both-was not certain.) Anya was at the counter, wiping it down with a practiced hand.

"Hey." Buffy says, causing Anya to look up. "Are we-is it a good time to come now?"

"Yeah. He's in back." Anya says, easily. "He'll be out in a minute."

She tries to calm her now hammering heartbeat but it's a task she can't fulfill, as she hears movement in back. A hand pushes aside the beaded curtain behind the counter and a man steps out.

And her eyes widen.

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She hadn't known what to expect exactly, but all the same, she still had some expectations going in.

"Anya had the same look on her face when I met her again, in this life." The man says, with a chuckle.

His face was unmistakable, but it was still...different.

He looked younger. Not the younger that he had become, after being resurrected, getting reborn in a twelve year old body. He was older than that, but he couldn't have been older than twenty or so.

"He listened to his aunts this time; about using magic and staying youthful." Anya says, in a conspiratory tone, though she didn't bother to keep her voice down.

Buffy turns back to look at Giles. Younger, more confident, dressed in jeans and a t-shirt (with the phrase God Save The Queen, from the Sex Pistols on it), all but brimming with magical power, but all the same...it was Giles.

He gives her an uncertain smile, with uncertain eyes as he opens up his arms hesitantly. She steps forward immediately and embraces him back, eyes closing, feeling a deep welling of happiness.

Watcher. Friend. Father.

"Welcome home." She whispers.

His arms tighten around her and he places his cheek on her hair.

"Thank you. I'm happy to be home. Slayer. Friend. Daughter." He whispers. Her eyes widen. Had she spoken aloud or-had he know what she had thought?

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His hug with Tara wasn't as long but it was just as heartfelt. They all sit around the table, with Giles setting down a few cups of tea and Buffy is struck with how much it felt like old times; sitting around the table, catching up in general or working on a problem that needed to be taken care of. Her eyes pass over the store, seeing so many memories in her mind of a time before. Things that hadn't happened in this lifetime, but had nevertheless happened to them all.

"When did you buy the store?" She asks, absently blowing on her still hot tea before taking a sip. Mmm. Well at least he hadn't lost his tea making skills.

"Oh, something like...five years now?" He says, looking at Anya who nods in confirmation. "Though I had others running it until a few months ago, once we were aware you had come into your power as a Slayer. Plus I was busy taking care of other matters so I couldn't have run it day to day anyhow, not until now."

"You knew when I became a Slayer again?" She asks, surprised.

"Mm. Well, having extra power this time around certainly has helped. Though I don't confess to be any kind of big seer. That is...other people's power, more so than my own. Still, I've known enough on my own, learned enough to try and prepare things ahead of time." He looks at Tara and Buffy seriously. "Surely you've thought of the things that currently reside in this place?"

Buffy glances at Tara who nods at her, with Buffy nodding just as solemnly back, before turning back to Giles.

"I do." She says quietly. She hadn't forgotten about who currently laired underground or who ran the mayoral office in Sunnydale. It was because of things like that, which made it all the more important to gain items like Muri Derivare or the Gem of Amara. They'd need more in their arsenal if they wanted to take on those things, take on the Demons, or whatever else might come.

"That is why you picked up the Gem of Amara?" He asks, shrewdly, pointing to the gem that rested on her finger.

Her eyes widen in surprise. And Tara looks at the gem with an interested eye now (Tara had heard of the Gem, but hadn't been in their group when she had taken it from Spike and it got destroyed by Angel in L.A.)

"Did you think I wouldn't remember the look of it?"

"Maybe?" She says, weakly. He chuckles.

"I know very well why you'd go through the trouble to get it. But perhaps next time you deign to get an artifact like that, you won't go on your own?" He asks, peering at her through sharp eyes.

Chastised only lightly, she nods.

"Can I ask something else?"

He nods at her. "Certainly, Buffy; I'll answer any question you have. Surely you know that."

"Who was on the phone when I asked for the Muri Derivare to be put on hold? Anya said you put it on hold for me, but it wasn't your voice on the phone."

A sudden ringing of the bell and the door opening has them all turning.

"Ahh. That'd be me, ducks. Been awhile! Have you been well, Slayer?"

The youthful face of Ethan Rayne asks her, grinning unrepentantly.

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She turns to Giles. "You've been working with Ethan Rayne?" she accuses.

"Ahh, don't blame Rupert," Ethan says, turning one of the empty chairs around to sit on it, arms crossed on the top of it. He grins again. He was quite the looker, she had to admit. She had never seen what he looked like when he was younger, so it was quite something. He wore a similar outfit to her Watcher, though his shirt was a plain white and he had a flannel shirt tied around his waist.

He also seemed a bit less-

"Mad?" Ethan Rayne supplies.

She glares at him. "Could you all stop invading my thoughts, please?"

He shrugs carelessly. "I didn't look inside; it's written all over your face, ducks. And I'm as sane as anyone. Well, sane enough, I think. Sane as all of you."

"He still worships Chaos, however." Giles says, with a gleam in his eye.

Ethan snorts. "Yes, I do. And? We both know that Chaos isn't evil. It's neutrality. The Switzerland of Magic." It seemed like an old argument between them that actually wasn't an argument, but fun ribbing between friends. Friends. That was it. They seemed like genuine friends now. Not torn apart by Eyghon and so many other factors. They seemed close.

"So you two have b-been working together all this time then?" Tara asks.

"Well we are childhood friends," Ethan says, in a drawling tone. "So yes."

"He's been very helpful." Anya chimes in now. "Helps me take care of the shop when Giles is away. And he's a good hand with the magic."

"That run-in with the Chirago demon." Ethan says, with a smirk.

"Good lord," Giles says with a laugh. "Thought I'd never get the goop out of my jacket. That was given to me by Lavinia, that she got at Woodstock."

"I thought it would squish me. Which is sad, because it was a surprisingly good singer." Anya chimes in.

They were...friends. Really, truly, friends. Close. All three of them. Ethan Rayne seemed much more...relaxed than he once had been, in a previous life. Certainly much more sane and less prone to creating complete havoc in Buffy and her friends' life. Giles must have been a bigger influence on Ethan this time around.

She watches them closely, sees Ethan lean forward towards Giles, light in his eyes and the returning smile he gives to Ethan and she understands. She sees their closeness and it instantly makes her want to see Spike, to wrap her arms around him and never let go.

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"Hey."

"Hey. You alright? You sound a bit down."

She closes her eyes. It felt like forever since she had heard his voice when it had only been hours and she misses him all the more keenly; can imagine him sitting, looking over books with a bored look. Scholar bred he may be, but he much more preferred letting his hands do the talking, rather than do the research. That, and with the knowledge he had gained over his hundred plus years, he knew a good amount that was probably in those books (or on the internet) anyhow.

And they weren't any closer to the leads they needed on the Demons (or Lothos.) Looked as though they'd have to take to the streets and do some investigating that way (something much more Spike's speed.)

"I'm okay. Just miss you." She says softly, clutching the phone close to her, as if able to have him closer to her that way.

"Miss you too. Get me anything good yet?"

She laughs at his tone. He always knew how to make her feel better (as much as he had once lived to get under her skin and irritate her.) And she wasn't surprised he saw-or heard, in this case-something wrong with her; he had always-even when she hadn't wanted him to-been so very insightful, when it came to her (and to people in general. He was the one, after all, who saw how torn up Willow was when Oz left, before any of them had.)

"Mmm. Maybe."

"Maybe?" He asks, in a mock hurt tone. "I'm hurt. I really am. Here I am, day in and day out, slaving over these books and all I get is a maybe?"

She holds back a snicker. "Well, you know how it is. Slayer leaves, Slayer sees shinies and maybe wants them for herself. Slayer thinks her partner should beat up some people for information, if the books aren't helping."

"Thank fucking christ." He groans. "If I had to look through another sodding book, I was going to throw something. At someone. Many times." He pauses and his voice moves to a purr, making her shiver as it washes over her. He had a really amazing voice, always had. "Vampire likes suggestion Slayer makes. Makes Vampire all tingly inside. Makes Vampire want to please Slayer-many times-when she returns."

"Is that a promise?" She asks, hoarsely.

"It's a guarantee, lover." He purrs.

He pauses now and she waits, wondering what the problem was.

"Spike?"

"Partner?" He finally asks.

She is the one to hesitate now. "I-trying out new names. Like I said, boyfriend seems so small. But, there really isn't much else I can say now."

"Boyfriend's okay for now." He says. "So is partner. I like it too; makes us sound like equals."

"We are equals." She assures him. "I've felt that way for-well, you know how long."

"Mm. So when are you coming back?"

"Soon. Sometime tomorrow, after mom finishes up with her friend at their gallery."

"Can't wait. Buffy?"

"Yeah?"

"I love you."

Her heart starts to skip a beat at that. Hearing his declarations of love never failed to make her react, never failed to bring about this utter welling of happiness from deep within her.

"I love you too. Be good until I get back and I might have something for you after all."

"Ooh, Slayer; got me all kinds of tingly with that talk."

She does laugh now. "Yeah?" She says, amused. Her voice softens. "I'll talk to you later."

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The last day she makes her way around town. But she isn't alone. Tara is there with her, as well as Anya. And Ethan Rayne, funnily enough. When she asks where Giles is, Ethan merely shrugs, hands in his pockets.

"Had something to finish up before meeting us." Anya says, glancing at Ethan who merely grins at her look.

"I thought we were supposed to be on the same page." She says, with a pout. "So what's with all the subterfuge?"

"Because it's fun, why else, ducks?" Ethan says, grin widening.

She passes over the ground, looking down, knowing-remembering-with certainty that this is where the Master slumbered. She had many ideas on what she wanted to do with things that revolved around this and the vampire himself, but many of her ideas hinged on an uncertain thought:

Did Angel remember anything?

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They pass through many places, like the College, the Bronze. She pauses when they pass the school (at this point, it's only her and Tara; Anya and Ethan having left (Anya because she had to go and attend to the shop and Ethan because he was 'horribly bored now. Going to find Rupert and pester him.')

"Weird seeing it all..."

"Whole?" Tara supplies.

Buffy nods. "Yeah. Really weird. I keep remembering it as it is now plus how it was when it got rebuilt and then..."

Her breath catches. When it was no more. When there was nothing left. When the person she loved more than anything had been selfless enough, had been hero enough to be named Champion, to save her, save them, save the world. She can remember the mixture of pride and grief she felt, looking at the ruins of Sunnydale. A reminder of Spike and her great love for him. A love he hadn't wanted to believe in-because it hurt too much. Because he wanted to be the hero for her and accepting that she loved him meant he might not be the hero he needed to be.

"Ruin." Tara says softly.

"Yes." She whispers. She could feel the tears in her eyes but does nothing to stop them.

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"Thanks, Watcher. Appreciate this."

"Of course. But-are you certain you don't want to talk to Buffy about it first?"

"No. Want to keep it close to the vest for now."

"You've thought a lot about things, haven't you?"

"Compared to my last go 'round you mean?" He says, with a laugh. "Yeah, I'd say so. I know how lucky I am, Watcher. No need to worry I'm going to lead your Slayer astray."

"You care for her." It wasn't a question.

"I love her. And somehow I've been lucky enough to have her love back. Wouldn't do anything in the world to bollocks that up."

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Buffy is surprised, and slightly worried, when her mother asks her to talk to her alone (they decide on the Expresso Pump as it was close.) Her mother takes in and lets out a deep breath when they take seats.

"Mom? Is everything okay?" She asks, worriedly.

"I lied, Buffy." Her mother finally says. "About why I came here." She pulls her purse from the ground and sits it in her lap, pulling out a piece of paper from it and putting it on the table for Buffy to see.

It was divorce papers.

"It's a finalization of the divorce. We-tried, Buffy. We really did. I did. But sometimes things are not meant to work out. But, I don't want you to worry," She says, grabbing Buffy's hands in her own, looking earnestly at her daughter. "This isn't about you, sweetheart. I hope you understand that. Sometimes people just-"

"I'm glad." Buffy says. Her mother looks at her in obvious surprise. "You've been so unhappy for the past few months. I just want you to be happy again. He's-I'm not worried about it."

And to her credit, she wasn't. Not really. The old familiar pain of not being enough for her father, for him wanting to be a father to her (and Dawn) does come up to the surface, but she is also instantly reminded of the man named Rupert Giles whom had no blood ties to her and therefor really had no obligation to her, yet had become her father, all the same.

"Buffy. Your father, he-"

"Has never been a very good father." She says gently. "It's okay. I've known that all along. But I've had the best mother anyone can ask for. It's okay. Really."

Her mother squeezes her hands in affection. "What did I do to get lucky enough to have such amazing children?"

She smiles at her mother in return...until it hits her what her mother just said.

"What did you just say?" She whispers.

"Or what I did to be lucky enough to have such a brave, brave daughter. Daughters. A Slayer and a Key." Her mother says, her tone warm.

"What did-I mean-"

"Come on, Buffy. I'm old, but I'm not that old," Her mother chides her. "Really. Even as blind as I was about your Slaying before, even I would have eventually cottoned on to your escaping the house late every night."

She looks at her mother with new eyes.

"You know." It wasn't a question.

Her mother nods, letting go of her hands now. "Yes."

"How long."

"A long time."

"Why didn't you ever say anything?"

"At first, I wasn't sure what you remembered. I didn't want to burden you with things that you didn't have to be burdened with. And then-I wanted you to have your space. Spread your wings." Her mother squeezes her hands briefly. "I am so proud of the woman you have already become, Buffy. So proud."

Her eyes spill over with tears.

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"So you know about Spike then? Him being around now?"

"Mmhmm." Her mother says, as they walk. They were headed in the direction of the Magic Box.

"He's not-I mean...he's a good man." She says, trying to assure her mother. "Really, he is. He's...done so many things, good and bad. But he's become something more. And I-I love him."

Her mother smiles at her. "I know. Though if I didn't know that he treated you well I'd take an axe to his head again." They both laugh at the shared memory of Joyce's first meeting with Spike in their previous life.

"He loves me." Buffy says, with a soft smile. "He treats me better than anyone could ask for. And he's-he loves me. Not-not anything else. He has no interest in-"

"I know, honey. I have eyes." Her mother says in a humorous tone. "You're already more grown up looking than I think you realize."

To be fair, she hadn't looked in a mirror in a long time (though Spike had made some kind of sexual remark a few weeks back about wanting to 'shag you in front of a mirror. Almost be like I was the invisible one, this time.') She idly takes out her pocket mirror to her compact and is shocked at what she sees.

Was she aging more due to the Powers, wanting her to reach closer to the initial age she had become a Slayer? Because she certainly looked like that now. Had it happened with her stepping foot onto the Hellmouth once more, using magic to get a magical item (an item that current was still on her finger)?

"How am I supposed to go to school now?" She wails.

Her mother laughs. "We could always get you homeschooled; we certainly know enough able enough teachers between the two of us."

Buffy ponders on that, biting on her lip in thought. "I suppose so." It'd afford her more hours, for sure, for many things (she very determinedly doesn't think of Spike and all the things it could afford them, together.)

They reach the front of the Magic Box now.

"How did you get your divorce done so fast?" She asks.

"Oh, I had some help."

As if on cue-and considering circumstances as of late, she wouldn't have been at all surprised-the door to the magic shop opens and Ethan Rayne and Giles walk out.

"I wanted to put some boils in places the man wouldn't like them, but Rupert said it'd be 'too cruel.'" Ethan says, rolling his eyes.

"As a man, surely the thought makes you hurt too." Giles protests.

Ethan snorts. "It wouldn't be my nob it'd be going on."

"Ethan."

"Rupert." Ethan says in the same dragging tone as Giles was.

"You two bicker like an old married couple." Buffy says, amused.

Ethan laughs and Giles rolls his eyes at him. "Well, you've hit it in one, ducks."

"Huh?"

Ethan puts up his left hand, showing off a simple gold band.

Buffy's eyes widen, looking over at Giles. He blushes spectacularly, holding up his own left hand in return.

Buffy's jaw drops.

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I hope you enjoyed this!

Let me know what you thought!

-PhoenixJustice

Chapter Text

Echoes

By: PhoenixJustice

Disclaimer: Buffy the Vampire Slayer is owned by Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and other things that are not me. I only own this story and make no profit from this.

Warning: Rated M for sexual content, language, violence, underage, mentions of time travel, reincarnation (sort of-she's still Buffy), etc.

Pairing: Spike/Buffy Summers (main), Lorne/Drusilla, Rupert Giles/Ethan Rayne, mentions of past Spike/Drusilla, past Angelus/Spike. Other pairings to be determined.

Setting: pre-s1 with spoilers up to season 10 of BTVS, season 5 of AtS (plus the Angel and Faith series and other side comic canon series).

Summary: Some days it felt as though all of that had just been a fanciful, if sometimes violent, dream. But then she becomes Slayer in truth once more, wanting if only just once more to see him again.

Flashbacks/dreams/thoughts are in italics.

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The Fifteenth Echo - The Werewolf, The Witch, and the Vampire

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"So, have you seen the others yet?"

She looks up, shaking her head silently. She hadn't yet got the courage to see them and it wouldn't be much longer until she headed back to L.A.

"Go, Buffy. At least see how they're doing." Her mother encourages her.

She hesitates. "But-"

"I'll be in fine company with Rupert and the others." Joyce says. "Buffy, you...should go. Even if you don't talk to them. I know they weigh heavily on your mind, even now."

"I'm that easy to read, huh?" Buffy asks, with a sad smile.

Joyce shakes her head. "No. But you're my daughter; of course I can see what's wrong."

"I'll go with you. If you want." Tara says, softly. She gives a bit of a nervous smile. "If you want some company, that is."

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The Bronze was much the same as she remembered it; filled with young and older alike. People dancing or talking, enjoying each others company and enjoying the bands that would play (she half expected Dingoes Ate My Baby to be playing, but it was unlikely they were together as a group yet, if they ever would get together at all.)

Her and Tara arrive through the back with only marginal difficulty (a drunk guy tries to hit on her but when Buffy firmly guides his hand that starts to wander to a position it wasn't meant to bent in, he takes off.) She looks around and her breath catches when she spots them, sitting and chatting animatedly to one another.

Xander and Willow.

It had been...a long time. Things had been bumpy at times, between them all, but that always happened with family. And that's what they were, weren't they? They had been her family for a very long time; more so than almost all of those who were blood related to her and still had the nerve to call themselves family to her. They were her brother and sisters, her family who had actually stuck it out, through thick and thin, through bad times and good times equally. No matter if they remembered her or not, they were her family. And she would do whatever she could-until her last breath-to keep these people safe and whole.

She wouldn't let events that had taken place take place again.

She can hear Tara's hitched breath beside her and can only begin to imagine what is going through the witch's mind as she looks at Willow. Probably something akin to what she felt, seeing Spike again.

"We can go, if you want." She whispers.

"No. I-It's okay." Tara says, just as quietly. "It's just..."

"I know." She did. She turns to look at Tara, giving her a-what she hoped was-a convincing smile. "I'll get us drinks. We can work our way over there, if you want. Or we'll just sit and talk, alright?"

Tara smiles back, albeit still a bit nervous looking, and nods. Buffy lets out a breath as she walks away, over to the food station. It was ran by a man who looked to be in his thirties, seemingly pretty busy, working on a few orders. After a moment he turns from the food he was prepping, noticing her. He wipes his hand on the towel on his shoulder. "What'cha need?"

"Just a couple of sodas." He nods and as he's getting things prepared, she turns, back leaning against the hard counter. When would she be back here, she wondered? Sure, her and her mother lived in L.A. now. But surely, surely, her mother would come back here soon. She had her memories as well, so she had to know how important it was to be here. What if being here made it easier for Dawn to be 'born' how she was? They had never learned all too much about the magicks the Monks had used to create Dawn as she was. What if the area had something to do with it? Probably not, but she didn't want to take any chances.

Besides that, she missed Sunnydale. Not the Hellmouth part of it, of course. She had seen her share of grief here, but she had also seen joy and triumph and experienced love, real and true love. She had been held in the arms of the man she loved. Had held him, that final night. The night before he had become Champion and sacrificed himself for the world, for her. She had known love here. And she wanted to experience a love unfettered with him this time; to not be so tied up by his nature or who he was or what she was. A love without restraints. He loved her and she loved him. He was her world and she knew she was his.

"Here, three burgers and three drinks. You got the plate okay?" The food guy says to someone who comes to stand next to her.

"Yep." Simple, to the point. A voice of someone whom never said much, but always had good things to say when he did talk.

She turns, looking straight into the eyes of Oz.

He smiles at her. "Hey, Buffy."

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She glances over at the table where Willow and Xander sat, unable to help herself, noticing that there was a third chair there. She hears a soft chuckle from the werewolf next to her. They had never been very close, in their previous lives and that too was something she wanted to change. It wasn't that she had ever disliked him, but he had always been a quiet, introspective sort and it had been hard-so she had thought then-to get to know him.

"You wanna come see them?" Oz asks. He raises an eyebrow, as if seeing all her thoughts-and questions-swirling around in her head. He too, like Tara, had always been able to see through people very well.

She starts to open her mouth, when a scream the side-in the direction of the back entrance her and Tara had come from-gets her attention, the hairs on the back of her neck standing up.

Vampire.

She turns to look at Oz, who nods wordlessly. She takes off in a run towards the door, noticing no Tara and hoping she hadn't went for air. It didn't sound like her scream, but all the same... She busts through the back and sees a vampire-no more than a fledgling, really-grabbing onto a woman's hair, pulling at it, grinning at the sobbing woman in his vampire visage.

"Ooh, yeah, baby." The vampire says in a greasy voice, licking his lips. "Keep it up; I love it when they fight back."

"Then you're just going to love me." She quips.

The vampire whips his head around, sniffing deeply. He growls.

"Slayer."

"Ooh. Someone who's heard of me here!" She says, happily, bouncing on her toes. "Makes me feel all special. But," She pouts. "I'm going to feel left out if you're only paying attention to someone else and not me."

He walks forward, hand still on the woman's hair, pulling her forward by it. Buffy narrows her eyes.

"Let her go." She warns the vampire.

He grins at her, obviously trying to give off the 'I'm so dangerous. So fucking dangerous. Did I mention how dangerous I am?' vibe that fledglings always gave off, thinking they were invincible just because they were made into a vampire, not realizing that becoming a vampire didn't mean becoming immortal. It meant unaging. And therein lie all the difference in the world.

"Or what? I think I got your number, Slayer. I can see your fear." He brags. She refrains from rolling her eyes and yawning. Vampires like him were a dime a dozen; they didn't even begin to compare to the power of those like Spike or Angel (or Angelus). Maybe the line of Aurelius in general was stronger than most vampire bloodlines?

"Yep, that's me. Wickedly scared."

He narrows his yellow eyes at her. He abruptly releases the woman, throwing her at Buffy, and lunges at her. She barely has time to push the woman out of the way, pushing at the vampires face with as much force as she can muster in her position. He nearly nicks her with a fang and that, more than his trying to kill her, pisses her off. No one but Spike was allowed to taste her blood.

She lets out a yell, using both hands to throw him as far as she can. He lands atop a pile of metal trash cans, groaning. She turns to look at the woman and barely has time to register the eyes turning yellow before she is tackled by the woman. She grunts as she hits the ground, using her hands to keep the woman's head at bay, as she continually tries to get at her throat, looking quite insane.

"You-ugh-you turned her?" She says to the male vampire who laughs, standing up from the garbage cans.

"Damn straight. Pulled her right outta her grave when she was still delirious, still unsure where she was." He laughs again, obviously quite insane himself. "Fucked her right then and there; nothing better."

"Ugh. You're fucking sick." She says. She lets out a shout, kneeing the woman who lets out a grunt of pain, moving aside enough for Buffy to get out of her grasp, but she feels a strike of panic when the vampire grabs her head.

"I'll show you just how sick." He says, grabbing her, holding her arms behind her, leaning his disgusting body against hers. He leans in and she nearly chokes on his rancid breath.

"Could you get a tic tac for your mouth first? Cause if I'm going to die, I'd rather smell minty fresh stuff than the-garbage you've been eating."

He shakes her and she gasps in pain. "Shut it, you little bitch." He hisses. "Come here, Marla; get a taste of her before I kill her."

The woman vampire starts to stumble forward and Buffy gasps when the woman's hands, grab her head, pushing her head to the side.

"That'a girl." The male vampire says. "Show her right and-!"

He jerks against Buffy and her and the woman-Marla-both stumble as he turns to dust a moment later. She takes that time to push the woman away from her, the woman falls, shaking her head in obvious confusion. Buffy turns to see Xander, stake in hand, across from the space where the male vampire had been.

"Gotta say, Buff, didn't think we'd be meeting again in this way. But, then again, it is the Hellmouth, so I guess I shouldn't be so surprised." Xander grins.

:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

She starts to speak-or hug one of her best friends in the world, she isn't sure-but the sound behind her has her stopping. The woman vampire, Marla, is getting up from where she had been pushed, still looking dazed. She looks up at them and the lost look in her eyes has Buffy feeling a tug at her heartstrings. She didn't look crazy now, only confused. She was new. Really new, from what Buffy could tell. Tonight or the day before at most. From the looks of things that the now dusted vampire had been doing, it seemed like the former.

"I-I'm sorry." Marla says, eyes looking anguished. "I didn't mean to. I was just-I'm so hungry." She holds her arms around her tightly. She was tall and fairly thin, with long chestnut brown hair, wearing a short yellow blouse and long dark brown skirt.

"Why am I so hungry?" Marla asks, bewildered.

"Oh god." She hears Xander say behind her. "She doesn't know what happened to her."

A forcible turning wasn't a common thing, but it happened. She had learned that much later, when she had been more inclined to look at the individual rather than stake first, ask questions later. This woman had obviously been toyed with-and worse-by the vampire and turned, only to have him torment her more. She didn't even want to begin to wonder what that felt like.

She starts to walk forward, when she feels a tug on her arm. She turns to see Xander looking at her with a hard to describe look on her face.

"Buff-"

"It's okay, Xander." She smiles at him, a large and genuine smile. Xander Harris, one of her two oldest and dearest friends in the world. Brother. Family. "Trust me?"

He nods immediately. "Of course I do, Buffy. You know that." He pauses, smiling back at her. "You do know that, huh?"

She nods. He releases her and she walks over to the woman. The woman jumps as Buffy tentatively touches her arm. She looks scared.

"Look, I-I don't know what you heard about Slayers, but I won't hurt you." She tries to reassure the vampire. At Marla's continued scared and disbelieving look, she continues. "You-were forced to be what you are. Am I right?"

Marla nods. "Then there's no problem. as long as you don't hurt innocent people, then you have nothing to fear."

"But the blood." Marla whispers. "I need it. I'm so hungry. He wouldn't-" She licks her lips, eyes flecking yellow briefly. "He wouldn't let me feed after he pulled me out of the ground."

Oh jesus. It was a wonder she kept any of her mind. What a sick fuck that vampire had been. To not let a brand new fledgling feed after escaping from their coffin (or wherever they had been placed after being turned) was a way to insite madness in the new vampire. Especially one who was still disoriented. He had pulled her out of the ground, disoriented, didn't let her feed and had essentially tortured her until now. Made Buffy wish she had been able to kill the asshole herself.

"We'll get you some blood." She assures her. "Do you-you think you can wait a few minutes? Hold out until then?"

Marla shudders, arms still tight around her body. She nods. "I-I'll try."

"Good. There's a butcher's that stays open late that's near here. We'll-I'll-go and get you some blood, okay?"

Marla looks at her with scared eyes. Not scared for herself, but scared because of herself. "If I-if I attack anyone, then kill me. Please. I don't want to hurt anyone."

She swallows and nods. "I will."

She turns to look at Xander. "Do you think you can keep an eye on her? I-"

"I got you one better." He says, jerking his head in the direction of the door. She looks over to see Tara, Oz, and Willow all standing there.

"Oh." She says, softly.

:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

They walk up and she starts to say something, when she notices the look on Tara's face. It was one of happiness but also...strained? Why was that? She turns to look at Oz and Willow. Oh. Was that why? Were they together? Willow had only been with women since Tara and after Tara, but she knew that Willow had genuinely loved Oz as well. He must have been her one exception (well, okay, one of two, as Willow and Xander had had that brief teenage love affair.)

"I'll go to the butchers." Oz says. He starts to walk past, gripping not Willow's shoulder, but Tara's, reassuringly. As if she couldn't be more surprised.

She turns to look back at Willow and Tara. Willow smiles at her, which makes her smile at her in return.

"It's good to finally meet you in the flesh, Buffy." Willow says, continuing to smile at her. "Xander's talked so much about you since we were little that it feels like I know you myself."

The smile melts off her face.

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I hope you enjoyed this!

Let me know what you thought!

-PhoenixJustice

Chapter Text

Echoes

By: PhoenixJustice

Disclaimer: Buffy the Vampire Slayer is owned by Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and other things that are not me. I only own this story and make no profit from this.

Warning: Rated M for future sexual content, language, violence, underage, mentions of time travel, reincarnation (sort of-she's still Buffy), etc.

Pairing: Spike/Buffy Summers (main). Other pairings to be determined.

Setting: pre-s1 with spoilers up to season 10 of BTVS, season 5 of AtS (plus the Angel and Faith series and other side comic canon series).

Summary: Some days it felt as though all of that had just been a fanciful, if sometimes violent, dream. But then she becomes Slayer in truth once more, wanting if only just once more to see him again.

Thoughts are in italics.

Memories/dreams/flashbacks are in bold.

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The Sixteenth Echo - The Friendship

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"Why doesn't she-" She breaks off, anguished.

Xander shrugs at her, his face sad. "We don't know. We've all speculated though; me, Will and Oz both. The only thing I can think is...Buffy, do you remember what happened when you-during the last time you died?"

She stares at him, before shaking her head. "No. I only have the knowledge of that time, that I died. I don't know how I died. Just that something killed me. Something Big. Powerful."

He looks at her with bleak eyes. "Good. Don't ever remember, if you can help it."

"You know what it-what killed me?"

He nods. "I do. It wasn't...a lot of things happened, Buffy. Back then. Or ahead of us, I guess I should say? Things went...wrong. You died. So many of us did. So me and Will thought awhile about what to do. Things weren't getting better; only worse. And we decided on-"

She knew what he was about to say, before he even finished his sentence.

"Reincarnation. A new start." She says. "That's what you did."

He nods again. "We did. We couldn't do Time Travel specifically, to put our minds in our younger bodies; we didn't have enough power pooled for it, even with help. By then the Vampyr book was lost and its powers-for the most part-made inert. But we found another way to essentially get what we wanted. We found a spell and Willow used it. Reincarnation was our best option. We did our research beforehand and she tweaked it; made sure we'd be able to remember everything, at least eventually."

"But then why hasn't she-?"

He scratches the back of his neck. "I'm not sure. My guess? Maybe there was a price that had to be paid to use the spell, at least the spell as it became." His face seems pained, however, in contrast to his more normal tone. "But the worst part? She doesn't remember anything, but I swear sometimes-just sometimes-something hits her and it's almost there, but then it's gone. And if that's the price she had to pay for us? It sucks."

She pats his hand in sympathy, feeling the flood of emotion herself. She, at least, hadn't had to deal with it for years. Xander was a hell of a trooper.

"But why do others like mom remember then? She wasn't-" She swallows. "She wasn't around then."

"Those strongly connected to us were always meant to remember. Hence why someone like she would and not say, Hank Summers." It was not notable to either of them that Xander called him Hank and not her father, because they both knew who her-all of their, really-father truly was, even if he didn't share blood ties.

"And Ethan then?"

"He's important to Giles. He's always been important to him, even when he was-"

"A total asshat?"

Xander grins. "Yep!"

:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

"So," Xander says, as they head back to the others. "Spike, huh?"

"It's that obvious?" She says wryly.

He snorts, looking much older than his current age then. "I know you. And I know him. He'd be the first thing you'd look for."

He didn't sound too put out or angry at that, however.

"I found him." She says quietly. "He's mine. The same as I'm his. We're-" She looks down at her grasped hands, before looking back up at him. "We're together. We're more than we were before. He...completes me. I know it sounds corny, but-"

He raises a hand at her. "No, no, I get it." He smiles, a bit sadly. "I remember how that feels."

She places a hand on his shoulder. "She'll be around soon enough. Maybe even sooner if we can manage it."

He nods at her. "I know."

"Is.." She hesitates. "Is it weird though? I mean, Anya's here too." Dawn wasn't yet. Technically speaking she was, but she wasn't Dawn yet; she was still just the energy called the Key.

"Sometimes." He says. His face turns more serious. "I-I'll always love Anya. She was...she was...she is a great woman, but we're not...I'm not-" He stops, obviously unable to get out the words he wants to.

She pats his shoulder in sympathy. "I get it." And she did. "But you can at least be friends?" He nods. "Good. Cause I'd like her to be around with the rest of us. She's a good friend and her skills are definitely valuable too."

"Look at you," Xander says with a smile. "Little Miss Leader already."

She shrugs easily. "Yeah, well...what can you do?"

:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

"I'm sorry," Willow tells her as they leave the Bronze. Marla had seemed pretty calm and-after being reassured they had it-gets escorted home by Xander, Oz, and Tara (with the latter promising she'd see her at their hotel room after.) "I shouldn't have talked to you like that. I just-I've practiced it for awhile and I didn't want to disappoint you, but-"

"Will..." She swallows painfully. "Willow, it's ok. I get it. It's not your fault, you know? You don't remember anything. I wouldn't expect you to-"

"But it is." Willow tells her. "I did that spell. Not the me of now, obviously, but that was me all the same. And I don't remember. And as much as it has to hurt you all at times...I also envy it. I'm afraid of being the outcast of the group because you all share something I don't-I don't know."

She looks so utterly miserable that Buffy can't help but wrap her arms around her for a gentle hug. Willow sniffles in her arms and she feels the joy, tinged with sadness, at being able to embrace one of her best friends again.

"Well maybe there's something we can do?" She muses aloud. "With as many spellcasters in our group, maybe we can work on something about that."

"I've tried." Willow says miserably. "But it blew up in my face. Literally."

"Maybe you can't do it cause you're the one who did do it. The first spell, I mean." She shrugs and Willow moves out of her embrace. She squeezes Willow's hand. "We'll get this figured out, okay? But even if we don't...I'd still absolutely love to be your friend. If you'd like to be."

Willow gives her a wide, if slightly watery, smile. "Of course I would, Buffy."

::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

The ride home has her a bundle of nerves, for many reasons. Many of her thoughts are to the people she leaves behind in Sunnydale. She felt like she understood a lot of things better now and a lot of other things not as much. The fact that those she was close to remembered things? That tracked.

She could understand that. What she couldn't understand was the fact of that someone like India Cohen could apparently remember something. That didn't track. She had never met India. India was her predecessor as a Slayer. So for her to know about her...maybe she had allies that knew magic, were seers? Or she had help from the Powers or something?

There was no way to know now.

She could only wonder about what India's message to Spike about Travers meant. Travers had been an asshole in her previous life, but he hadn't been anything bad, as far as she could tell.

Spike...

Her thoughts turn back to Spike now. It had felt like ages since she had seen him last, though it had only been a few days. She looks down at the Ring she now held in her hand instead of on her finger and swallows hard.

"Buffy?" Her mother says.

"Huh?" She looks up and notices that she was not in front of her house but Spike's. And Tara was nowhere in sight. "Where's Tara?"

"Honey, I dropped her off twenty minutes ago."

"Oh." Had she really been that out of it? She frowns. "Have I really been that out of it?"

"A bit." Her mother says with a knowing smile, making her flush.

She hunches in her seat. "Didn't mean to." She pouts.

Joyce laughs. "Love will do that to you."

She starts to get out of the car, but notices her mother doesn't move. Her brows furrow. "You're not coming?"

Joyce shakes her head. "No, honey; I already talked with Rupert before we left and he got ahold of your Watcher. Merrick, isn't that right?" Buffy nods. "I'm going to meet with him for the first time."

She gets what her mother is saying and flushes deeper. Her mother smiles knowingly.

"I expect to see you in the morning." Her mother tells her with a stern tone but a gleam in her eye. "Bring your beau for breakfast."

She feels like her face is on fire but she nods. She waves her mother off and turns to look up at the full moon before turning to look at the door, letting out a long breath. She makes her way up the stairs and barely gets off one knock before the door flies open.

Spike stares at her, with eyes of blue fire.

"Oh." She says faintly.

He grabs her arm and pulls her to him, all but devouring her mouth in the next instant. She melts into his arms and her mouth moves with his, tasting his cool mouth taste, licking her warm, wet tongue over his lips, gasping when he delves his tongue into her mouth. She feels her nipples harden and she rubs herself against him wantonly, easily forgetting that they were standing in the doorway, within possible sight of others.

He groans and holds her tight against him for a long moment and she can feel his erection pressing up against his jeans, pressing against her. She shivers with desire and only pulls back from the kiss for the need for air.

"Look at you." He says huskily, moving a thumb over her lip slowly, his eyes dark with desire. "I missed you."

"I missed you too." She says, trembling. Her throat tightens with her mixture of desire and utter love for him. "I love you."

His eyes widen and then they burn. "I love you." He murmurs, cradling her head, looking down at her with a smile.

His smile widens, softens, as he continues to look at her.

"Welcome home."

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I hope you enjoyed this!

Let me know what you thought!

-PhoenixJustice

 

Chapter Text

Echoes

By: PhoenixJustice

Disclaimer: Buffy the Vampire Slayer is owned by Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and other things that are not me. I only own this story and make no profit from this.

Warning: Rated M for future sexual content, language, violence, underage, mentions of time travel, reincarnation (sort of-she's still Buffy), etc.

Pairing: Spike/Buffy Summers, Xander/Dawn, Giles/Ethan, Lorne/Drusilla, Anya/?, etc.

Setting: pre-s1 with spoilers up to season 10 of BTVS, season 5 of AtS (plus the Angel and Faith series and other side comic canon series).

Summary: Some days it felt as though all of that had just been a fanciful, if sometimes violent, dream. But then she becomes Slayer in truth once more, wanting if only just once more to see him again.

Thoughts are in italics.

Memories/dreams/flashbacks are in bold.

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The Seventeenth Echo - The Seer

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"Hmm?" He asks her, propped up on an elbow. They were done with lovemaking-for now-and had been simply enjoying each others company for awhile now.

She looks at him, all perfectly male, lithe, pale body so close she could reach out and touch. But it was his eyes that truly drew her, more than any nice body part. His eyes told stories, shared or kept secrets, that spoke volumes and worlds to her. It had once infuriated her and now it was all she wanted, to see those beautiful blue eyes soften and fill with love as they looked at her.

"I-I said, I have something for you." She says, nervousness making her stutter a bit. There was no perfect time to just hand him the Ring. If she hadn't been so nervous, maybe she could have come up with something more romantic, but... She pauses. Romantic? Well, sure, she was giving her partner a Ring, but it wasn't a ring. It was...

"Buffy?" His voice cuts through her nervousness and swirling thoughts, making her jump slightly.

"Oh. Sorry. Was just-thinking." She says lamely. He chuckles, rubbing one of her hands with his cool one, eyes looking at her rather patiently. The more memories they remembered, the more they went back into certain patterns, it seemed. Not the destructive ones, thank the gods, but certain other things. That, and Spike was used to patience when dealing with loved ones. "It's..."

She licks her lips, not noticing his eyes dart to look at her mouth.

"It's special." She says finally. She turns to her other side, reaching down to grab her jeans (giving Spike quite a nice view as she does so), grabbing the Ring out of the pocket, holding it carefully in her hands so he couldn't quite make out what it was. She sits up and gestures with her head for him to do the same. "Hold out your hand?"

He looks at her curiously but does so-his right. It was nearly bare, save for one of his favorite skull rings that adorned it (the same skull ring, in fact, that he had proposed to her with, when they had been under Willow's Will Be Done spell in their previous lives.)

She shakes her head, her throat dry. "The-other one. Close your eyes for me?"

Now he really looks intrigued. He holds out his left for her, closing his eyes like she asked of him. She lets out a breath, before slipping on the Gem of Amara onto his ring finger. His eyes open and the look on his face takes her breath away. And she's not sure which he is more surprised at; the Gem or where she placed the Gem.

"Buffy." He says softly.

"I was in Sunnydale; how could I not?" She says with a watery smile. "After everything..." Her voice breaks a bit now and the tears spill forth. "After everything we've been through, together, past and present, how could I not want to give us future too?"

He grabs at her and in an instant she is in his arms, getting covered with kisses from his cool mouth, with him only pulling back when she needs the air. She sees his eyes blink rapidly with the tears in his eyes.

"Pet," He says, hoarsely. "Do you know what you're asking?"

"Tell me." She says softly.

"Forever." He croaks. "That's what that means. Forever. If that isn't-"

"It is." She cuts in, stroking his face, wiping at his tears. "It's all I've wanted for...longer than I can even remember. If you want me."

He holds her and she melts into his embrace.

"Always," He whispers emotionally in her ear. "Always, Slayer. Buffy. Always."

:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

After that, the next few days are a crazy mix of training, research, and just general time with Spike.

"What is it, pet?" Spike asks her.

She looks up from where she had been doing research on her laptop, biting on a nail absently.

"Oh! Um, just...thinking." She shrugs. "About school and everything."

He raises a brow. "You still want to go?"

"No, it's not that. Not really. But I'll want to go, eventually. Been thinking on mentioning to mom about moving to Sunnydale. Best way to deal with the Hellmouth is to be there directly. And there's no more directly than being right over it."

Spike looks thoughtful now, a hand to his chin. "Hmm. I know a few guys. Could probably have them hack into some systems, get an age change, that sort of thing."

She laughs. "Who knew hacking into a system could be a good thing?" She says, amused. She pulls at his shirt to bring him closer. He leans down and she takes that time to kiss him, smiling back at him as he smiles at her in return. "Ooh! Do you think they could make some official papers for you too or-" At his look, she trails off. 'Oh. Duh. You probably have those already?"

He nods, smirking and she throws up her hands.

"Well I didn't know!" She pouts. "Last time around you didn't! You were all just-" She gestures vaguely at him.

"Just?" He says, amused, a curl to his lips that was certainly all male and certainly didn't make her all tingly, thank you very much! ...Okay, so she was probably lying about that. Like, a lot.

"Just-urgh, you know!" She pouts again, exaggerating it. "Hot guy make cute girl's brain hurty. Not fair."

His eyes widen before kissing her again, much deeper this time.

"Beautiful girl." He says huskily.

A cough makes them both pull apart and they see Merrick looking over at them.

"Perhaps we get back to the matter at hand?" He inquires politely.

She turns to Spike. "That's his way of telling us to stop making out."

Spike chuckles.

:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

"Urgh!" She exclaims. "Why can't the asshole just do what he did before?" Because seriously? It was totally unfair that Lothos was making this much harder than it should be. She had already the worst time dealing with him the first time! Couldn't she ever get a break?

"Didn't that end up with your Watcher dead last time?" Spike says.

She gives him a look. "You know what I mean. I just..." She bites her lip. "I want to stop him without so much loss of life this time. It feels...important. I know that sounds stupid, because of course it's important, but I..I dunno. I feel like I need to end it so something else can begin."

She jumps slightly when she feels his hands on her shoulders but quickly relaxes when he starts to massage them.

"So what can begin?" He asks softly. It wasn't mocking, but a real question.

"That's the thing...I don't know, exactly. Us? Sunnydale? I don't know. I just feel like it'll mean the end of something. Not quitea Slayer dream, just...something. I just have a weird feeling."

They're both startled at the knock at the door. It was starting to get late, which, for them, was practically early (especially so since she didn't have to hide or pretend in front of her mother any longer), but it wasn't for everyone else, so it was surprising to hear a knock. Especially at Spike's door. Merrick had left a short while earlier, with them having gotten no closer to tracking Lothos down as of yet.

Spike moves his hands from her shoulders, giving her a glance as he walks up to the front door, opening it. It was Elspeth, Tara's aunt. She had been a general guiding force, using either her strong connections to the magical community in Los Angeles to try and track down leads or using her quite formidable magical gifts to help teach. Buffy really had to get her to meet Willow; Elspeth was the magical mentor that Willow had always needed and wanted but never had.

Giles had magical skill, true, (especially so now, as with when he had been resurrected into his twelve year old body at one point), but that had come much later, well after Willow hadn't the guidance to help with her magical morals. Though to be fair to Willow, she had eventually come into her own; not merely in power but in magical ethics as well.

"Sorry, I don't mean to interupt you two, but this is urgent." She gestures next to her and a hand grabs onto the side of the door.

A man comes to stand next to Elspeth; he had obviously been beaten up recently, what with the bruising around his eye and cheek that was just starting to heal. Buffy recognizes him instantly though she had only met him once, very briefly, in person.

"Heya, doll." Doyle says. "Been a lifetime or so, huh? Gotta say, never thought I'd get the chance to know you for real."

:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

Buffy manages to keep her many questions from bursting from her, long enough for Elspeth-and Doyle-to get situated on Spike's couch. He looked a bit worse for wear, but from what she knew of him (things she learned much later, from Angel-who had never stopped mourning him), she knew he was a strong guy, who had been through a hell of a lot in life. Had even sacrificed himself, the first time around, to protect others. A half-demon, he had been given the power of foresight from the Powers That Be-a power he had given that power to Cordelia before he died.

"Gotta ask; what happened to your face?" She asks.

Doyle laughs softly. "Start with the big stuff right away, huh?" He doesn't seem at all bothered by the question though. He settles against the couch a bit more, absently pulling at the bottom of his shirt. "You think this is bad, you should see the other guy. Actually, on second thought, don't do that; it'd make me look bad in comparison."

"But what happened? That's...a long and complicated tale to tell. So I'll just stick with a few details right now. I was a Seer for the Powers That Be, though you already knew that. Thing is, I'm a Seer for them again. Hard? Yeah, sure, but I knew from the beginning this time around what was to be expected of me."

"You mean you had your memories." Spike states.

Doyle nods. "Yeah. Knew from the beginning who I was, who I had been before. Nothing was held back from me. So I had decades to get ready, prepared. As much as I could anyhow."

"This has to do with who beat you up now." Spike says. Once again it's not a question. He stands, unlike everyone else, arms crossed. He looks at Doyle with a look Buffy can't quite comprehend. It wasn't anger, but she couldn't tell what it was, or wasn't, outside of that.

Doyle smirks a bit. "Knew it. " He says. "I knew it. We didn't, you and me, get a chance to know each other-were on opposite sides at the time when I met you the first time, but still...I knew it. Angel's right about you."

At Angel's name she stiffens and can see Spike doing the same. Neither had seen him in this lifetime, but from Doyle's words, he had. The way he spoke suggested a conversation he had had with Angel not so long ago; certainly not a lifetime ago.

"You've spoken with him?" She asks.

At that, Doyle laughs. "I'd hope so, considering we live together. But yes." He sobers up a bit after a moment. "I know hearin' about Angel this way wasn't how you expected to learn about him. He's wanted to see you-both of you," He adds, glancing at Spike. "For a very long time. But we both didn't know if you were ready." He shrugs a bit. "I'm a Seer, you see? But it doesn't mean I See everything. We've both been dealing with different things on our own for so long that it was a surprise when I finally saw you two in a vision. Not even just that, either. And that's why I'm really here, as a Seer to the Powers anyhow. As a person, I wanted to truly meet the two of you for the first time and to tell you in person that Angel can't wait to see the two of you."

"And how did you come across Doyle?" She inquires to Elspeth.

"We run in similar circles; have for years." Elspeth says. "I knew he was a half-demon but we hadn't the opportunity to get to know each other more until recently." She glances at him with a little half smile on her face. "He hadn't went out of his way to tell more about himself. I could sense he was holding something back, but I didn't push. I know many who have secrets and I'm not the sort to push, not when it comes to those sorts of things. We all have things we may not want others to know. I value the secrets of those in our community. So I didn't push. But then-"

"I came to her for help." Doyle says with a little careless shrug. "Started to see some terrible things. And considering the things I've seen over two lifetimes, that should tell you."

"Lothos?" Buffy asks.

"Yes. And no." Doyle replies. "I saw him once, but it was who he was with that was the worst part. Even worse than he is-and yeah, I know him by reputation. I also know it's who you guys have been trying to hunt down. They were..." He grimaces. "Evil."

A cold chill runs up her spine at that, making the hairs on the back of her neck rise up. She didn't need him to elaborate any further. She knew exactly what he was talking about.

"Demons." She whispers.

He nods. "With a capital D. You know the difference as well as I do. Guys like me, or fullblooded demons pale in comparison to these guys. I don't know much about them, other than the power they give off, that vibe. But even that is enough to make even the most courageous person run with their tail between their legs."

"I'd know." She says, frowning. "I ran across one of them before. Our friend Gregory told me that they're the Seven Princes of Hell."

Doyle's eyes widen at that. He curses. "Well isn't that just fine and fuckin' dandy, now isn't it?"

"Is that what hurt you, then?"

Doyle shakes his head rapidly. "Fuck no. If it was one of those, I'd probably have been a goner. No, it was one of their minions, apparently."

It's then that the ramifications of what he told them truly hits her. She gets up abruptly, hurrying into the kitchen to grab her phone from where she left it on the kitchen table.

"What are you doing, pet?" Spike asks her.

She looks up from her phone to look at him. "Calling Gregory; no one else has a better idea of these things than he does. And if-no, since Lothos is (since Doyle saw it) working with the Princes, we need all the help we can get."

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I hope you enjoyed this!

Let me know what you thought!

-PhoenixJustice