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A Gem of A Soul

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The moment the others returned, he fled. "Silence her again," he advised as he sped outside, away from the monster who'd taken over the woman he loved. He sat on the back porch, quaking, too shaken to light his cigarette.

"Fuck! Bloody buggering fuck!" he shouted, flinging the unlit fag away. He almost wished he'd killed her in her sleep. So he wouldn't have these memories of her.

Giles approached him cautiously through the back door. "Spike. Thanks for the call".

He sniffed. "Yeah, well. Too late, aren't we?"

"I should hope not. We'll expend every resource to correct this. But have we learned what 'this' is yet?"

Spike stood up and leaned against the railing, managing to light a smoke this time. After exhaling, he said, "It told me it was the Slayer. The way she is meant to be. That mean anything to you, Rupes?"

"So you were correct, this demon has always been inside Buffy?"

"Least since she was called. Wouldn't you be knowing more about this than me? You being the Watcher an' all".

Giles shrugged stiffly. "We have myths. What the Council has told us. But the true origins of the First Slayer are lost in the shrouds of time".

"Well then. If we're gonna save Buffy, I suggest you get started on un-losing them".

Sighing ruefully, Giles said, "Perhaps I should have remained in England. The Council library…"

"You really want the Council knowing about this? Girl downstairs is determined to fight every nasty out there. Rack up many victories. 'M betting the Council of Wankers would be right pleased with what has happened to her, want to keep her that way".

Giles stared at Spike in horror. "Dear Lord". He cleaned his glasses. "They don't even know she's alive, so we should be safe. She's not on their radar".

He watched Spike light yet another smoke. "Think I could bum one of those off you?" The vampire cocked an eyebrow at him. "It's either that or find a stiff drink".

Spike passed him the lit cigarette and said, "Don't know why we can't do both". He disappeared inside for a moment and then reappeared with a bottle of scotch and two glasses.

"I didn't realize Joyce…" Giles paused, understanding. "Ah. Yours, of course". They clinked glasses. "Cheers".

"Not so much".

Downing his drink, Giles took one last drag off the cigarette and crushed it under his shoe. "Feel better now?" Spike asked.

"Hardly. You say the demon conversed with you about itself?" Spike nodded. "Then I suppose I shall see if it will talk to me".

"Hey Niblet," Spike said when she answered the phone. "Think things are going to take longer than we hoped. You can come home and fetch some things, maybe stay at a hotel".

"Heaven? She was in heaven?" Willow whispered raggedly. "Is it lying?" she said, looking desperately at the others for help.

The truth was out, no need to hide it anymore. The witch needed to understand all the ramifications of what she'd done.

"Yeah. She was".

"How do you know?" Xander rounded on him.

"Because she told me, nimrod. Made me promise not to tell you lot. Even in as much pain as she was, she was still more worried about your feelings. Didn't want you to know the pain she was in". He cast an anguished glance at the demon. "That's the kind of girl she was".

"It's been days, Rupert," Spike said quietly as he and Giles shared yet another drink on the back porch, both of them smoking furiously. "Tell me the truth. Can we help her or not?" The other man just stared at him, not willing to admit defeat. "She made me promise. Not to let her go on like this".

"Are you in such a rush to kill your third Slayer, Spike?" There was no response, no flicker of emotion on the vampire's face. Giles sighed. "I am not yet without hope… I have one more avenue to explore. But then…"

"Gonna go patrol," Spike said abruptly. "Call me if you need me".

"Listen, Niblet. Tell your mum… I don't think we're going to get Buffy back… No, no… I know, sweetheart… No, I don't think that's a good idea. You don't want to remember her like this… Just be glad you had that last morning with her. Got to say everything you needed to say, right? …Yeah. I love you too… No, I won't, I promise. You're my family, got to stay here and take care of you… I'll call you when I know".

"So this is it, then? Nothing else to try?" Spike asked desperately, the six of them sitting in the Summers' living room. Tara and Willow clung to each other, while Xander and Anya stared hopelessly.

Giles shook his head sadly. "I could continue researching, but… who knows. It could be months, maybe years before I find what we're looking for. And none of the rituals we have found have been adequate".

They could hear the demon raging in the basement below. The longer she had remained chained, the more feral she had become. Spike could barely stand to go down there, to see the bloodied, crazed creature Buffy had become over the last couple of weeks. He forced himself to, though, to care for her and bring her what comfort he could.

Anya flinched as the howling began again. "Maybe more sedatives?" she offered quietly.

Spike stood. "No. It's… if you want to say goodbye, do it now," he said heavily. He didn't even bother to hide the tears. The others had become accustomed to them.

"I can't," Xander said. "Call me a bastard and a coward if you want, because I know I'm responsible for this happening. But I just can't," he finished, his voice cracking. He held his hand out to Anya. "Bye guys. Don't be surprised if you don't hear from me for awhile.

"I wish I'd never… oh Goddess, what have I done?" Willow moaned.

Nobody else moved or spoke, and Spike turned wearily, heading to the basement door.

Finally going to bag your third Slayer his mind mocked. Should have done it years ago. Before you fell in love with her. Could have spared yourself all the pain.

No, as gut wrenching as this was, he wouldn't give up a single moment with Buffy to avoid the pain he knew was sure to follow.

Spike picked up the syringe from the small table in the basement and pushed the plunger, allowing more than half of the powerful sedative to spurt to the floor. He only wanted her sedated enough to leave the house without hurting the others. He couldn't kill her here, in her home, chained to a wall. It would happen the way it was meant to, in a glorious battle to the death. She'd die a warrior.

She quieted as she saw him, watching warily. "Time to finish this, pet". He grabbed her arm and plunged the needle in. As she calmed, he undid her shackles, then led her to the sink. "Let's get you cleaned up".

She complied absently, docile as he washed her face then rinsed the blood off her arms and hands. He brushed her hair and straightened her clothes, using the moment to hold her one last time, even as empty and shallow as the gesture was.

Spike led her upstairs and out the back door, into his car, and drove to the cemetery through the early evening gloom. Gathering some stakes from the back seat, he took her hand and walked her into the cemetery, then sat her on a cool tombstone, stakes beside her.

"You let me know when that wears off, then, right?" The dreamy look left her eye, and she reached for a stake.

"Yeah. Soon. Don't worry, luv. It'll be over soon".