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Cursed

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You know you're everything to me

             -Goo Goo Dolls, “Dizzy”

 

****

Sunday, November 23, 1997

Talking Kendra down off the ‘let’s kill Buffy’ ledge had not been one of the high points of my life. Irony of ironies she’d thought I was a vampire. Yay for having a pulse. I tried to not think about why she’d believed me to be one in the first place. Angel and Dru-in-my-body, making out while surrounded by roses and bathed in silvery moonlight, was not sitting well with me. I kept looking at my hands and wondering how she’d touched him. Softly? Demanding? Did Angel like the girl or the Slayer more?

At least I knew where Angel was, or I thought I did anyway. Willy hadn’t been entirely forthcoming. At first he’d tried to tell us that he’d let Angel out of the cage Kendra had locked him in and just sent the vampire on his way. Kendra had bought it, but I’d been dealing way too long now with all the subtleties of life at the factory. The jerk-face had been lying. I’d wished for my demon in that moment. It would have been a lot more fun to threaten somebody if my conscious hadn’t been pointing out that Willy was a human being. I’d had to settle for lightly choking him and smashing my fist into the top of the bar. The weasel had caved and said he’d handed Angel over to Spike.

I’d tried my best to be suitably angry instead of relieved at the news.

Now the whole Scooby gang was sitting around in the Library trying to figure out what Spike might be up to. Well, Xander, Willow, and Cordy were trying to, anyway. Ms. Calendar was in her classroom looking something up online. Kendra and Giles were huddled together in the corner, talking shop. I had a book in my hands so I’d at least look busy. Kendra made me feel like a terrible Slayer. Not that I didn’t have enough reasons already. She’d even read the handbook. I hadn’t even known there was one. Gee, thanks, Giles.

Xander snapped the tome he was holding closed, creating a cloud of dust that made Cordelia, who was sitting next to him, sneeze. “This is fun and everything, but why are you here, Kendra?” He dropped the book onto the table. Good question, I’d figured she was here because, well, hellmouth. It’s where Slayers ended up.

“My Watcher sent me here because all the signs indicate that a very dark power is about to rise in Sunnydale.” Kendra was back to standing ramrod straight, her eyes scanning the room like this ‘dark power’ might jump out at us from any corner right that second.

Hold up. Dark power about to rise. The ritual. Holy crap! I was the dark power.

Well, technically Drusilla was, but the ritual needed to be performed at night so I’d be the one in her body when it happened. My eyes got very big.

“What does Angel have to do with all this?” Willow asked.

“He’d Drusilla’s Sire,” I snapped. “He’s got everything to do with it.”

The Library became very quiet as everyone turned to look at me. 

Way to go, I congratulated myself. I was supposed to kill vampires, not be insightful about them. Since the train had already left the building, or Elvis was at the station, or…whatever, I might as well keep talking. “Spike’s here because he wants to make Drusilla well. He must have figured out a way that doesn’t need Slayer’s blood since he’s got the du Lac book.” I shrugged. “They’re vampires so whatever they’re doing inevitably required some kind of blood, looks like it was Angel’s.”

“Good Lord, do you think they’ll kill him?” Giles’ brow was creased.

“We can always hope,” Xander said, then squeaked as Willow kicked him under the table.

“How should I know?” I grumbled.

“William the Bloody must be stopped. This Drusilla cannot be allowed to return to her full strength.” Kendra’s hand was whitenuckled around the stake she was holding.

Who did she think she was? She rolled up into my town and thought she could go all Slay happy on my vampires? “Spike,” I ground out.

“What?” Not the answer she’d been expecting.

“He goes by Spike. What do you think you’re going to do? Rush out and fight him? He’d squish you like a bug. He’s strong, he’s fast, he’s smart. He’s not like any other vampire you’ve faced.” My mind threw in some unhelpful extras to that list: he tasted good, he filled out a pair of jeans nicely, he liked Mary Ann better than Ginger.

Kendra looked taken aback by my vehemence.

“If he was easy to kill, Buffy would have already done it. She’s really awesome.” Willow had her arms crossed over her chest and was glaring at Kendra. I gave my friend a small smile.

“Can we go back to not being on the Slayer version of Jerry Springer?” Xander’s head was swiveling between me and Kendra.

“Yeah,” I said and sat back down, my back to the other Slayer. “What we need to do is figure out where this getting Drusilla better thing is going to take place, more than how. Then we can stop it.” I picked up a book and flipped it open. Kendra came over and sat next to me. She pushed a few books around, looking at the titles, but made no move to actually read any of them.

I was angry, annoyed, and completely weirded out. Next to me was someone that wanted to kill me. Not how I was at the moment, of course, but if I was in Dru’s body she wouldn’t hesitate for a second. And until after the ritual I wouldn’t be strong enough to do anything about it. I supposed I should also be worried about her trying to dust Spike, only he really would mop the floor with her. He wouldn’t find me to be so easy.

I snorted, making Kendra jump. “Sorry, my mind was wondering.” She went back to her listless book poking. Okay, so he might find me kind of easy, but not in a fight. My muscles tightened. I wanted to be out in some moonlit field with tons of room so we could really go at it. Preferably alone, so that after we were done with the trading blows part we could, uh, really go at it. I had to put my hand over my mouth to hide my snicker.

I needed a distraction. I was chewing on my lips, never a good sign. My brain had short circuited and switched to the Buffy and Spike porno channel. Which was fine when I was in my bedroom by myself but not so much when I was sitting with my Watcher, my friends, and another Slayer, all who really wouldn’t appreciate my current train of thought. Not as much as I was, anyway.   

With a sigh, I turned my head to face Kendra. She was already looking at me. Actually she seemed to be watching my mouth. Her eyes jerked up to mine and she looked almost guilty. Had she been watching me chew on my lips? Because that wasn’t odd or anything.

Whatever.

“You want to train or spar, or something?” I asked.

Kendra looked like she might collapse she was so relieved. “That sounds more like it. Where do you keep your training gear?”

“I’ll show you.”

****

I grabbed a piece of Pepperoni and Olive pizza from the box on the counter and carried it to my room so that I could write Dru.

Hi Dru!

               Guess what? There’s another Slayer in town. Her name’s Kendra. She was sent here to stop a “dark power” from rising, which I think is you (us?) getting better. You’re supposed to be meeting with the rest of the Scoobies at the Library right after sunset to figure out what’s going on. I’m hoping you and Spike have a plan for the ritual all worked out. Just tell them you beat it out of Willy or something, because I think we both know we need you to show up so that Angel isn’t dusted. Spike would probably cut him loose in time but it would be hard to explain, so it’s better if you guys “save” him. Your job is to get the Scoobies there not too early and not too late and I’ll do what I can from my end.

                                             Thanks!

                                                  Buffy

I shoved the last of the pizza in my mouth, chewing noisily as I hefted my weapons bag onto my bed and started to sort through it to find a knife or ax that looked a lot more lethal than it really was. I needed to appear to be ready to take out the ‘dark power’, no matter my real feelings. After a fruitless few moments of searching, I went back to the note and added:

P.S. Better brush your teeth, your breath probably smells like a skunk’s butt.

****

At the factory I found myself already dressed, brushed, and standing in a hallway I didn’t recognize. Spike was there, leaning against the concrete wall, smoking, and obviously waiting on me.

“Do you want to see him?” he asked gruffly.  I knew who he meant.

Did I?  Spike wasn’t looking at me, but I could tell by the tightness of his jaw and how that little muscle there was ticking that he was tense. I didn’t know the history of the Scourge of Europe, I didn’t want to know it. I had no desire to see even the tiniest piece of it but I’d already guessed enough to discern it wasn’t pleasant and that in their time together Spike and Angel had gathered enough baggage to fill an ocean liner or two.

Spike asking me if I wanted to see Angel was a loaded question and I couldn’t even guess a tenth of what he was feeling. There probably wasn’t a right answer.

“What about Drusilla, during the day, did she see him?” I was stalling.

“She was going on and on about Angel, roses, and wanting a tea set for her dollies that had palm trees on it. I didn’t think it’d be a great idea to put them in the same room together.” Spike had crossed his arms over his chest and was contemplating the cobwebs on the ceiling.

“That’s probably for the best.” I was hugely relieved. Dru would have spilled the beans in two seconds. “I’m worried about this ritual, I just don’t know-”

“It’s going to happen regardless of your opinion, Slayer,” Spike barked.

I rolled my eyes. “I’d hit you right now, if I thought it’d do any good.”

Spike leered at me. “Baby likes it rough?”

“Would you quit! You didn’t let me finish.” I paused and for once he kept his mouth closed. “Yes, Drusilla needs to be healed. However, what if it breaks the spell that is making Dru and me switch? What if I’m stuck in her body forever?” I turned away from Spike, my head bowed.

His hands caught me from behind, gripping both my shoulders. He leaned forward to whisper in my ear. “Would that be so bad?”

The freedom of it, to never again be beholden to my Calling, along with the promise of always being with the man standing behind me. God, the whole chorus of negatives was drowned out by just those two points alone.

“No, it wouldn’t be so bad.” I answered truthfully and Spike’s hands tightened on my shoulders. “But what if it’s the other way, what if I’m back in my regular body with no way to easily see you?”

There was no hesitation. “Then we’d figure something out. I’m not leaving you.” I stepped forward, out of the hold on my shoulders, only to quickly turn around and wrap my arms around him in a hug.

He tossed his cigarette butt away and returned my embrace. “Tell me again,” he murmured against the side of my neck.

“I love you.”

“I love you too and I am never going to give you up. Not ever.” It was a fierce growl.

My fingers curled at my sides and I couldn’t help myself. “Are you also never gonna let me down or run around and desert me?

Spike pushed himself back from me, though his hands remained clutching my arms. “Slayer, did you…oh, bloody hell, fine. I am also never going to make you cry, say good-bye, or tell a lie and hurt you.” He huffed a huge breath through his nose and attempted to look extremely long-suffering.

I giggled and his mouth twitched. He closed his eyes and a chuckle escaped. I couldn’t hold it in anymore. It was too funny. “You knew the words!” I cried in between peals of laughter.

“Right, don’t be telling Peaches or any of your little mates.” His eyes were twinkling and he was grinning. It was so much better than when I’d first arrived and I could have cut the tension with a knife. He pulled me back against him and brushed a kiss on my forehead. “I really do love you,” he said, looking into my eyes in that way that made me think he was really seeing me and not Drusilla.

“I know. And I’m stupidly head over heels in love with you. To the point I kind of snapped at someone today when they sounded like they didn’t believe you were the big bad.”

Spike preened. “And who might this have been? I don’t suppose it was your Watcher, because that would get me right in the ol’ ticker.”

“No, it was this girl named Kendra. Did Angel mention her?” Spike shook his head. “She’s the one that put him in the cage. She’s a Slayer.”

“What happened to the ‘only one girl in all the world’ claptrap?” Spike moved away from me to pace. I had just upset his whole worldview.

I pressed my hand to my forehead. “When I died earlier this year the Slayer line got split. She was the next one called.” I shrugged and let my hand fall to my side.

Spike rounded on me. “You died?” His eyes were wide with some emotion I couldn’t place.

“Just for a moment. I got better, Xander did CPR.”

He raked a hand through his hair. “Won’t be letting that ever happen again. You dying, I mean, your little friends can do all the CPR they want.” His words made me all warm and fuzzy inside. I almost told him that as the Slayer I didn’t have much of a choice but he already knew that. He knew it nearly as well as I did. Still, it sounded awful nice and made me feel a lot less alone.

“Thank you,” I whispered.

He took one of my hands in his, intertwining our fingers. With a sigh, he jerked his head towards the closed door. “Do you want to talk to him or not?”

I stared at the badly painted wood. Finally, I squeezed Spike’s hand. “No. I really don’t have anything to say to him.” Spike grinned triumphantly. I pulled at his fingers to get his attention back. “But you should know I don’t want him dead. I know that’s the usual end point of the ritual. Does Dru know the where and when?”

“Yeah, I had to do some planning with Dalton today.” The grin had faded and he was looking dejected now.

“Hey.” I gave his arm a shake. “He’s important to Drusilla, not me.”

Spike briefly closed his eyes. “So what’s the plan?”

“Hopefully the Scoobies show up and rescue him. Otherwise you’ll have to do it.”

“Either way it doesn’t exactly sound like a bloody picnic.”

“I know. Though if the gang’s there you’ll get to meet the new Slayer. She’s all super into the Council teachings and doing things exactly how they specify.”

“Those ones usually don’t live too long.”

I shrugged. “Not our problem, but you’re right. You could totally beat her.”

“Hmm, I’ll have to check her out.”

It sounded off-handed but the idea of Spike checking anything out on Kendra made my blood boil. I had to fight my demon back. When I’d regained control I look over at Spike only to find that my jerk of a vampire boyfriend was smirking at me.

“Quit it!” I hissed. “I don’t think you’re her type anyway.”

“Now that’s interesting.” Spike was downright leering now, so I punched him in the shoulder, because he deserved it.

He threw up his hands. “I surrender!”

I glared at him. “You’re funny, real funny.”

“And your jealousy is adorable. Shall we grab a bite and get this show on the road?”

“Ugh. Yes, but you better behave.”

“Have you met me?”

“Unfortunately.”

Spike grinned and looped an arm around my waist, directing me towards the main factory floor. I hoped there was still something good left in the fridge. I should probably send Dalton with some blood for Angel and to make sure he was doing okay. I was worried about him a little bit, but as Spike led me away I never once thought to look back.

****

The abandoned church was eerie. It was a sensation that didn’t leave even though Spike and Dalton had lit a multitude of candles to push back the dark. It probably had more to do with me being a vampire in a once holy place rather than it being a scary old building. The final preparation had been Angel and I being bound together. I really didn’t like being forced so intimately against his hulking body. I had tried wriggling back against the bonds, wanting to get as far away from him as possible. That had been a terrible idea, as Angel obviously didn’t find the whole situation as icky as I did. Now he was glowering at me, we were both uncomfortable, and I was doing my best to stay completely still while looking at absolutely anything except him.

Spike checked things one last time, then nodded at Dalton. The historian caught my eye and I smiled at him. He smiled back and gave me a thumbs up before heading out the door. With the Slayer and Scoobies expected to crash the party I’d asked him to wait outside for us, hidden in the trees.

“What was that about?” Angel asked.

“He’s my friend.” I didn’t elaborate. Angel really didn’t need to know. “I wish this was happening differently,” I whispered, watching Spike as he picked up the translated ritual. “When this is over, you’re going to leave peacefully. No problems.”

“Or what?”

“Or I write the Slayer a nice little note telling her just how happy you are to help me.” I pressed my thigh against the evidence of his happiness so he wouldn’t mistake my meaning.

“You’re a bitch, Drusilla,” Angel sneered.

“You made me that way.”

“Both of you quiet, now,” Spike spoke up, looking less than pleased. “It’s time to get this show on the road. You kiddies ready?” I nodded but Angel clenched his jaw and refused to acknowledge Spike. “Right, here goes then.” There was some chanting and a few spoken words. With a flourish Spike unsheathed the hidden dagger from inside the crucifix. He had leather gloves on to protect his hands. I wondered where he’d gotten them. Maybe he’d wear them again for me, later. I was really starting to have a thing for black leather.

Continuing to mutter less than wholesome sounding words, Spike brandished the dagger high before bringing is down to pierce through the palms of Angel’s and my bound hands.  

The passage of the knife through my flesh was a cold, bright pain. I screamed soundlessly. Angel roared. Light blinded my vision. Energy pulsed into me. I was going to dust. This wasn’t healing me; it was killing me. I struggled, the ropes cutting into my skin. Pain was playing symphonies in every cell of my body.

Then silence. An indrawn breath. I sagged against Angel’s chest. Warmth washed down my arm from where the dagger joined us. It tingled and pulsed, driving the pain away. It tickled as it made its way down my back. I giggled. Looking around for Spike, my eyes landed on Xander instead. He and Cordy were doing their best to keep a minion at bay. It appeared I’d missed the Scoobies’ arrival during my agony.

I was beginning to feel pretty darn good. Even a little giddy. I laughed again. Kendra was fighting Spike and I wondered if he was going to kill his third Slayer. She really didn’t stand a chance against him. Or would she technically be his fourth. Did those little deaths he gave me count? I had to check my laughter. I felt as high as a kite. I searched for my Slayer body amid the fray.

There it was. Drusilla was about to dust the minion she was fighting but when she glanced at Kendra and Spike. She must have reached the same conclusion I had.

“Switch!” she yelled at Kendra and they rolled so that now Dru was fighting Spike and Kendra was facing the minion.

Spike and Dru were circling each other warily. I wanted them to fight, or maybe kiss so I could see how we looked together. I frowned. Only that’d be weird. Like majorly bizarre and totally with the jealousy making.

Okay, they just needed to fight.

Dru threw an easy-to-counter punch and they halfheartedly traded blows. It was disappointing, really. Angel groaned and I looked up at him. His face was pinched and he looked miserable. That was too bad, I was doing fantastic. Better than good. I felt like a million bucks, like I could take on a whole horde of demons by myself.

Which probably meant Angel felt a correspondingly degree of crappy. It was probably time to get him out of this. I needed to warn Drusilla. Only I couldn’t call her that, and would I know her name was Buffy? It was hard to think with all this delicious feeling great I had going on. I finally settled on: “Slayer!”

Both Buffy and Kendra looked in my direction. Kendra got punched in the face but Spike backed off. I jerked my head at Angel. Dru nodded. She turned back to Spike and he let her roughly push him away. Turning, she threw her stake at the minion that’d been attacking Giles. My watcher had been keeping the vampire at bay with a lit torch.

As the minion crumbled to dust Drusilla yell to Giles: “Get Angel!” He threw his torch away, lighting a wooden pew on fire. He’d just created a time bomb; this whole place was full of dry wood that’d go up like kindling. Giles scrambled up to where Angel and I were tied. I grinned at my Watcher. I could scent him, hear his heart beat.

“Not bad for an old guy.” I told him as he hastily pulled the dagger out. I mourned the loss of the warmth that’d been running through me. Giles glanced at it briefly before using it to cut the thin bindings holding Angel’s and my hands together. Once that was done he started sawing at thick ropes around our bodies. He didn’t even look at me. That was no fun. I shifted into my vamp face. “Scared of me, Watcher?” I asked, lisping around my fangs.

“Of a demon like you, never.”  That was better. I could smell that he was. Knowing my Watcher I was sure he had a stake in his jacket pocket and I needed to be ready. Subtly, I shifted and braced my feet. The last of the rope fell away and I used what leverage I had to send Angel’s drooping form into Giles’ arms. They both tumbled to the floor and I sprang away. Spike was instantly there at my side.

I smiled brightly at him. “I feel good!” I spun around to show him but nearly fell as I lost my balance. Oops, I was still a little high. Spike caught me and swung me up into his arms.

“Let’s blow this popsicle stand, eh pet?”

“Yeah, I’m hungry!” With a grin he carried me towards the side door of the church. I looked back over his shoulder and everything went into slow motion like I was in a movie. Kendra had dusted the minion she’d been fighting and was standing near the alter, swinging a heavy silver censer like it was a bola. Dru had a horrified look on her face and was reaching to grab Kendra’s arm. Only she was too late. The censer left Kendra’s hand and flew true.

Things went from slow motion to happening all at once. There was the impact of the censer into Spike’s back, the lurch as he was knocked off balance and then I was on the ground while he shielded me from the impact of something coming down on top of us. It was loud and I curled up with my hands over my ears under the protection of his body. I must have been briefly unconscious because the next thing I knew there was smoke and flames practically on top of us. I struggled out from under the debris and sat up shakily. I saw myself–no, Drusilla–in my body standing in the doorway of the church. She met my eyes and mouthed: “Run!” before disappearing into the night.

Where was Spike? Frantically, I bounded to my feet. I found him close by, buried under what remained of the church’s organ. That must have been what’d come down on our heads, what he’d protected me from. Heavy beams pinned him and flames licked at his face. With a cry I used my sleeve to smother them, horrified at the raw flesh they’d left in their wake.

The ritual had worked better than I had hoped. I was able to toss the beams away like they were so many matchsticks. Trying to be gentle I lifted him from amongst the rumble. He wasn’t breathing. Panic flashed through me until I remembered that wasn’t really important. I shook him a little.

“Spike?”

He didn’t respond. In my gut I knew something was very, very wrong. With his body curled in my arms I walked away from the burning church. Dalton met me in the trees. “Home,” I said tersely. I needed to get home.

****

I didn’t remember much of the rush back to the factory, only the endless terror that at any moment Spike would turn to dust in my arms. Dalton opened doors for me and I arranged Spike’s still form on our bed. I dropped to my knees beside him, clasping one of his limp hands in mine. He was so pale in between the red, angry welts of the burns. I didn’t know what to do and neither did my demon. It wanted to lash out and hurt someone for this insult.

Shut up!

I couldn’t leave him to go, what? Hunt down Kendra and tear her throat out?

Unless you come up with something worthwhile, be freaking quiet.

Images of blood poured through my mind. Okay, that was useful. “Dalton, can you warm up some blood and bring it to me, please?” I asked without turning my head.

“Yes, Mistress.” His steps faded down the hallway.

I let go of Spike’s hand so that I could move him. Trying to be as careful as I could I gently pulled his duster off of one arm. I tucked the coat under his side and rolled him just enough to pull it out from the other.  I hung it from its usual peg by the door so he’d be able to find it later. He just didn’t look comfortable.  I pulled him up so he was lying on his back with his head resting on a pillow. With fingers made clumsy with nerves I undid his boot laces and pulled both boots and socks off his feet. I undid his belt and pulled at his shirt until was untucked. I skinned the gloves off his hands and dropped them next to the bed. I ran my hands over him to both check for injuries and to reassure myself that he was still there, still solid

I couldn’t feel anything besides some broken ribs. Certainly nothing that would explain why he wasn’t waking up. Out of things to do I just sat mutely next to him, my hands twisting in my lap. Dalton came back and crouched next to me, passing me a cup full of the blood I’d requested.

“He’s so still,” I whispered. “Spike’s never still.”

“As long as he’s not dust he’ll heal. You know that, Buffy.”

Surprised at Dalton using my name I glanced over to where he was kneeling. His eyes were bright and earnest. “Thank you.” I took a deep breath. “I…today, I’m going to need your help. When the sun rises I need you to be here to keep Drusilla and Spike safe while I’m forced to be…not here.” I pushed down the mounting panic.

“Of course. You can count on me.”

“Thank you,” I said again. “We’ll be fine for now, come back just before dawn with blankets and pillows. If you sleep across the door it should keep Dru in and that way you can still rest.”

Dalton nodded. He stood and gave my shoulder a brief squeeze before leaving. The sound of the door closing behind him was loud in the silence of the bedroom.

I pulled the top off of the Styrofoam cup and wafted it beside Spike’s face, practically under his nose. Nothing. Not a muscle twitched. I dipped my finger in the crimson liquid and let a few drops fall into his mouth.

There!

I was sure he’d swallowed. Score one for vampire instincts. But he needed more than a few measly drops. Setting the cup on the nightstand I crawled into the bed so I was sitting against the headboard with one leg on either side of Spike. Hooking my hands under his armpits I hauled him so that he was propped up against my body with his head resting against my shoulder.

Picking the cup back up I tempted his demon again with the blood but he remained lifeless. God I hated seeing him like this. Trembling, I pressed a kiss to his forehead, silently begging him to come back to me.

I had to get the blood down him. Just dumping it into his mouth might work, only it’d be difficult to control how fast it was pouring out of the cup. He needed to drink it, not wear it. I could only come up with one solution. I took a mouthful of blood, suppressed my own demon’s desire to feed, and sealed my mouth over Spike’s. Ever so gradually I parted my lips and let the liquid flow onto his tongue. There was a hideous second when nothing happened, when I was afraid that I’d simply been imagining things. I hung in that endless second, waiting, but then his throat moved and he swallowed the blood.

I repeated the process until nearly half the container was gone. The blood was doing its job. Even if it was just pig’s blood. I hadn’t even realized that until I was four or five mouthfuls in. I was surprised Spike hadn’t woken up just to tell me to get something better.

The burns on his face already appeared a little better, and he seemed more asleep to me now instead of unconscious. Though I couldn’t say exactly why I thought that. I just knew him well enough. Quickly, I chugged the rest of the blood. For a long while I continued to sit there with him cradled against me. I didn’t even dare to breathe in case I disturbed his rest.

As morning approached, I repositioned him so he was lying on his side. I curled up next to him, my face pressed against the back of Spike’s neck and my arm wrapped around his chest. My lips moved against his skin as I told him over and over that I loved him and wouldn’t leave. I was dreading dawn and my forced exile. I had a tiny flair of hope that maybe I wouldn’t be taken away from him when the sun rose.

I don’t know how long we’d been lying there when I felt him take a breath. My eyes immediately opened.

“Spike?” I said, tentatively.

“Buffy,” he slurred.

“I’m here!  I’m right here.”

“No. Want. Buffy.” He either fell asleep or passed out again from the effort of speaking. I didn’t know if he’d even heard me. I pressed myself tighter against his back.

Dalton returned and made himself a pallet in front of the doorway. He sat down with his back against the battered wood. “Any change?”

“He woke up once and asked for me. Like me-me.”

Dalton gaze turned sympathetic. He understood. “I’ll keep him safe today, Mistress. I can’t tell you not to worry, but I can promise you things will be fine when you return tonight.”

“Thank you.”

I shivered. The sun was coming up. My hopes rose with it, only to be dashed as the familiar vertigo hit and I was pulled away against my will.

****

Monday, November 24, 1997

I was sitting at my vanity, pink pen in hand.

Dear Buffy-

               I couldn’t stop her. Please believe me, I couldn’t stop her. I tried. You saw me try, right? Please don’t be mad at me. I’ve had to pretend to be pleased all night when inside I’ve been nearly panicking. Surely I’d know if he dusted? I’d feel it, wouldn’t I? Everyone here is okay. I gave Kendra one of your shirts since she had nothing else to wear. I can’t be mad at her; she didn’t know what she was doing. Angel is doing fine. We helped him back to his apartment and he drank a few pints before falling asleep. Kendra and I spent some time talking before I returned her to Giles’ apartment.

This not knowing is killing me!

                              Love, Dru

I wasn’t mad at her. Emotionally I was wiped. I didn’t have the energy to feel much of anything. I ate breakfast robotically while my mom rambled on about some guy she’d met. Good for her. I really didn’t want to have dinner with this Ted guy but my mom sounded so happy that I forced a smile and nodded my agreement.

My walk to school was a blur. It felt like I’d left most of myself behind at the factory. I should be with Spike, not facing hours of lectures that I wouldn’t even remember. Kendra was in the Library when I got there. She was talking to Xander and didn’t hear me walk in.

“I really like Buffy,” she was saying. “But her heart didn’t seem to be in the fight last night. She was too worried about her vampire boyfriend.”

Oh good, an excuse.

I yanked Kendra around and smashed my fist into her face, sending her flying back against a bookcase. “You know nothing about my vampire boyfriend,” I snarled, kicking her legs out from under her as she dazedly tried to stand. She’d hurt someone I loved. She would pay. I’d break her. My tongue sought my fangs, only to come up empty. They should be there when I was this angry.

I let her stand this time.  Kendra was still a little unsteady on her feet, I must have really rung her bell with that first punch. Bully for me. I cocked my elbow back ready to let her have it again. Only to have a weight attach itself to my arm. Glancing back, I found that Xander had wrapped himself around my elbow. I tried to shake him lose but Willow had stepped between me and Kendra and enveloped me in a bear hug.

For another second I stood there, rigid with anger. The need to hurt the person that’d hurt Spike was nearly overwhelming.

“What’s wrong, Buffy?” Willows voice was muffled from how she was squished against my shoulder.

I was still glaring at Kendra. I needed to rip her throat out, drink her blood. The demon had been baying for vengeance all night. Only the demon wasn’t here.

What was I doing? This wasn’t me.

“I’m sorry,” I whispered. I sank to the floor, Willow and Xander coming along with me. “I’m sorry,” I said, louder.  They hugged me tight.

Another set of warm hands settle on my arm. I looked up into Kendra’s kind eyes. It hadn’t been her fault; she’d only been doing what she thought was right. I untangled my arms from friends and held them out to her like a child. My sister Slayer pulled me over so I was sitting crosswise on her lap. We hugged fiercely.

“I’m sorry,” she said into my hair.

“No, don’t be. I was wrong. Someone I love got hurt and I wasn’t thinking clearly.”

“I shouldn’t have said that. You fought just fine. Is he going to be okay?”

I closed my eyes and slumped. She meant Angel, of course. “Yeah, he’ll be fine.” I said dully.

“And, hey, we did it, right?”

“Did what?”

“You saw the organ come down, surely with the fire Wil… Spike and Drusilla are now dust.”

I barked with laughter and shook my head.

“Nope.”