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Strawberry Fields

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Spike huffed and wedged a cigarette between his lips. This was bloody interesting. Like one of those bad horror flicks, only a lot fucking funnier. Granted, seeing something supernatural wasn’t exactly novel—he just wasn’t used to seeing buildings literally swarmed with a wall of wasps.

Nor was he used to watching the Slayer walk around looking as bloody dazed as she did. Perhaps if he’d had more time, he would have taken a second to appreciate the glossy, almost drugged look behind her eyes. She walked right by him, after all, without as much as a blink. Mite rude considering this was supposed to be his big reveal—dangerous predator, walking around on two legs when he had, so recently, been confined to the wheelchair in which she had put him, and she didn’t even glance in his direction.

If nothing else, though, this should be interesting. He didn’t reckon Angelus would leave the mansion for a while, even if his grandsire did seem interested in sniffing out the so-called possession going down at Sunnydale High.

Considering the Slayer looked to be experiencing a bit of the possession herself, Spike figured he had the upper hand. She couldn’t go into stake-first-ask-questions-later mode if she wasn’t all there upstairs. If he was lucky, he might get a word before she shook off the ghosties and introduced him to the business end of her stake.

Then again, knowing this particular slayer, he was better off not pushing his luck.

A sigh rolled off his shoulders. If he went on like this, he’d just end up talking himself in circles. The fact remained that he had no other option. Like it or not, Buffy was it. He might be out of his chair, but that didn’t mean he had the strength to take on Angelus plus minions, not to mention the woman to whom he’d formerly devoted the whole of his unlife. He wouldn’t become careless on account of his wounded pride.

With a little luck, the Slayer wasn’t so thick she wouldn’t be able to see his logic. Spike sighed again, tossed his half-smoked fag to the pavement and stomped on it once for good measure. Then again, the bloody chit was nearly as stubborn as he was. She didn’t like admitting weakness, even if acknowledging one’s shortcomings cleared the path to success. He’d heard it all—fuck, he’d lived it—and his life was hardly a living example of learning from his mistakes.

But in the matter of Angelus and Dru, there was no other option. Spike would dust and his deranged family would end the world. Bad for him. Bad for Buffy.

He figured he had the selling points lined up properly. The Slayer would have to be a complete nutter not to jump at the first offer he put on the table.

Then again, judging by the glazed look in her eyes as she’d walked into the school, perhaps they weren’t too far from the alternative.

Spike laughed shortly and shook his head. “Right, here it goes,” he said. The words fell bland against the cold night air, coaxing another laugh.

There was every chance he’d completely lost his head. Bloody figured. The century with Drusilla hadn’t cost his sanity a dime. It took coming to the Hellmouth to the Slayer and her wanker of a honey to make him officially go carrot-top. He could only hope that Buffy’s human penchant for guilt and do-gooder work had played enough on her conscience to make her as loopy as he.

A smirk tugged on his lips, and he again conjured the image of Buffy walking through a wall of wasps. Something told him that he was on the right track.

Sunnydale High had an entirely different atmosphere when the lights were on and he wasn’t tossing around tables and jabbing things into the ceiling. Spike prowled the halls leisurely, following Buffy’s scent as his eyes roamed the bulletin boards and darted into empty classrooms. This was the sort of place that made him grateful for the tortuous upbringing he’d suffered through lifetimes prior. Youth seemed to grow crueler with every generation.

He sucked in a breath when he finally caught up with her. She was moving sluggishly down the main hall, the air thick with the scent of her tears. And he didn’t know why, but that knowledge was humbling. It served as a cold reminder that she had lost things as well. She had lost almost everything.

Granted, Spike didn’t much care for what the Slayer suffered. Way he figured it, she deserved that pain…and then some. It was her formerly virgin pussy that had caused all this, wasn’t it? Had she been able to keep her legs shut, none of this would have happened. Dru would still be at his side. Angelus would be shoved inside that drastically unfunny soul. And Spike wouldn’t be doing the unthinkable—wouldn’t be approaching the Slayer for help, of all things ridiculous.

Bloody bint.

God, he’d be happy when things were back as they belonged. Then he could off the chit good and proper.

“Look,” he said loudly, sucking in a deep breath when Buffy’s listless trek down the hall came to an abrupt halt. Great. She was going to launch into battle before he could get a word in. and then he’d be too dusty or she’d be too dead to do either of them any bit of good. “First things first, I didn’t come here to kill you.”

He paused and waited. And waited. And waited.

And nothing. Spike blinked.

Well, that was rude. The least she could do was acknowledge his thoughtfulness. Any self-respecting slayer’s knees would be knocking together at the prospect of facing him—an assuredly pissed off slayer-killer. Hell, because of her, he’d just spent months of his unlife that he’d never get back rotting away in a bloody wheelchair, forced to watch Angelus fuck Dru into the bloody ground. If he hadn’t already committed to this throwing-it-in-with-the-enemy rot, he’d be drinking from the Slayer’s throat.

“Slayer?”

Buffy just stood there in the middle of the hall, her back to him.

A frown fell over his face and the surge of irritation fell to confusion. Perhaps he’d underestimated the rumors of a ghostly invasion. His own experience with the spirit-world notwithstanding, he’d never given hauntings too much credit. “You can hear me, right?”

There was another long silence. And nothing.

Spike expelled a deep breath and hazarded a cautious step forward. “Buffy?” he asked softly. “Slayer, are you—”

“You’re the only one.”

He froze. That made bugger-all sense.

“The only one?” he repeated, befuddled. “The only one who can help you bring them down, you mean? Point of fact, love, that’s the reason I’m here to begin with. I’ve got a proposition for you. And before you turn me down, just take into consideration that I’m here and not trying to kill you. That means—”

“You’re the only one,” she said again.

Again, Spike blinked. “Yeah, pet, we just covered this.”

“The only person I can talk to.”

Whatever sense he’d tried to decipher flew completely out the window. His brow furrowed in confusion. “Uhhh, Slayer, you sure you’re all rested from that fever? Gotta say, injecting yourself with a nasty bug, as bloody funny as it was, had to have worn away at what little sense you have trapped in that thick skull of yours.”

Or maybe she meant that he was the only one to whom she could talk to since they were in the same boat. They’d both lost their lovers to Angelus.

But then Buffy turned, and the second her eyes met his, his insides quivered. There was something there. Something monumental. Something earth-shattering. “You can’t make me disappear just because you say it’s over.”

There was no way to spin that. No way at all.

It’s not the Slayer.

Not the Slayer. Someone else is driving.

“What?”

It was the last intelligible word that escaped his lips. The next second, fog settled around his head, and the physical world simply fell away.