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Authors Chapter Notes:
Thanks to you for reading! Thanks also to Paganbaby for taking time out of her hectic life to beta this for me! Her suggestions and commentary that always makes me smile!
**
This is going to be a pretty long story and FULL of angst. It will go completely off-canon ... far, far afield and even away from Sunnydale. Please HEED THE WARNINGS. If threesomes of Buffy, Spike, and BuffyBot, including a bit of slash, are gonna bother you, stop now. If implied rape (not graphic) will bother you, stop now. If you don't like angst, stop now. Still with me?! Cool - let's go!


Dawn slipped away from the group that was gathered in the front room of the abandoned gas station and went back into the garage where their prisoner, General Gregor, was tied up to a pole. She walked up to him tentatively, her heart in her throat.







“My sister isn’t gonna be able to stop Glory, is she?” Dawn asked him, her voice wavering despite her best efforts to sound brave and unafraid. Her hands were trembling with fear, she clasped them together to try and get them to stop. It didn’t really help.



Gregor shook his head. “The Beast is a god. Have you any idea the power she wields? Your sister will die … you will die – the world will be cast into darkness, the universe will tumble into chaos. That is what you were created for – that is what you will bring.”



“B-but … if I … die now … here,” Dawn stammered, blinking back tears and swallowing back hot, acrid bile that appeared suddenly at the back of her throat.



“The world will be saved. Your sister, your family, your friends will be safe,” Gregor assured her. “Untie me. I will make it fast … painless. You can save them.”







Dawn’s sob turned into a gag. She lurched to the side, dropped to hands and knees, and retched onto the floor, unable to stop the fear and anguish from roiling her stomach and stabbing painfully at her heart. She didn’t want to die. She didn’t want anyone to die. She didn’t want to be the Key; she just wanted to be a teenager. She just wanted to be normal. She just wanted this nightmare to end.



“You have the power to stop this, Key. If you die now, Glory will fade, she will not be able to hurt anyone. She will be unable to open the portal. You can save them all – or you can kill them all. The choice is yours,” Gregor continued.



Dawn pushed herself up from the floor, spitting the bile from her mouth. She stumbled over to the sink on the wall and turned on the faucet, rinsing her mouth and splashing the cool water on her face. You can kill them all or you can save them all, the General’s words echoed in her head. The sobs returned as she leaned over the sink. Her body was wracked with the painful realization that Buffy would die – probably all her friends would – and it would be her fault. She wasn't real. She wasn't normal. No one cared what she wanted; no one had asked her if she wanted to be the Key. She just was. And she would kill everyone that had ever tried to help her. Everyone that loved her. Everyone that she loved. No matter what Spike said, she was evil. There was no doubt about that.



“There is not much time,” Gregor continued to press as he looked warily at the door behind which the others were gathered. “You must decide. The fate of the universe is in your hands.”







“I don’t care about the universe!” Dawn screamed, whirling on him. “I only care about …” her voice broke and her eyes went to the doorway. She could hear Buffy and her friends in the other room talking, trying to find a way out of this mess. The mess they were in because of her. Buffy. Spike. Xander. Anya. Tara. Willow. Giles. They'd all die because of her.



“Then free me and I will make sure they are safe,” Gregor insisted with an air of authority and confidence.



Dawn’s eyes settled on the weapons they had taken from the knight. She bent over slowly and picked up the sword with trembling hands. She stared at the sharp blade, as if gorgonized – frozen. She could see her reflection … she wasn’t a big blob of green energy – she was just a girl. Right?



“Hurry girl!” Gregor breathed urgently, his eyes darting from Dawn to the door through which one of the others could come at any moment.







“Wrong,” Dawn whispered to herself, barely audible even to her own ears. You’re not a girl.



She closed her eyes and drew in a deep breath as she tried to clear her mind. What would Buffy do? Buffy would sacrifice herself to save the world – she’d done it before, she’d do it again.



Dawn opened her tear-filled eyes and looked up at the General. “Tell her … tell her I love her. Will you do that?”



Gregor nodded, his face solemn as Dawn stepped forward in a daze of fear and regret. She untied the length of electric cord holding the man to the pole, and let it fall off the knight, then handed him the sword with her quivering hands.



“Tell them all … I love them and … I’m sorry,” Dawn added. She closed her eyes, tears streaming down her blotchy, reddened cheeks, held her breath, and waited for the end to come.



**~**



“NOOOOOOOOOOOO!” Buffy screamed as she stepped into the garage a moment later. Dawn lay on the floor, her neck severed nearly in two. The girl’s throat was opened from ear to ear, her spine showing white through the gaping, blood-soaked wound. Blood spurted wildly and flowed over Dawn’s limp, crumpled body like a river of death, forming a crimson pool on the dirty cement beneath her. Wet rasps of breath gurgled from the Key’s severed trachea, the last gasps of life draining from her body.



Gregor stood over the girl, sword in hand, looking grim but satisfied that he had completed his mission. The life’s work of generations of his people was complete – the Key had finally been destroyed.



Buffy flew across the short distance, throwing herself on the floor at her sister’s side and trying desperately to stop the bleeding. “No! No! No! Dawnie, no!” Buffy screamed over and over again. Her hands sought out something to do to stem the flow of crimson life from her sister, but it was too late – her efforts nothing more than an exercise in futility, she was rearranging the chairs on the deck of the Titanic.







Hearing her screams, Buffy’s friends came in behind her. Surprised gasps, horrified oaths, and fervent curses fell from their mouths as they hurried in and saw what had happened. Spike was at Buffy’s side in an instant, at first with the thought of helping her save Dawn, but when he saw the carnage he knew it was too late. There was no heartbeat from the girl, not even a weak one. He gauged that at least half of Dawn’s blood lay in the pool of scarlet gore they were kneeling in – and he was a pretty good judge of such things. He grabbed Buffy’s blood-soaked hands and tried to pull her away from Dawn, but she fought against him frantically.



“Help me! Spike! Help me!” she demanded of him, her eyes wild with fear.



Spike shook his head gently. “Buffy, luv, there’s … She’s … gone. I’m sorry, luv. There’s nothing …”



“No! No! No!” Buffy screamed frantically, banging her bloodied fists against his chest. “Do something!”







Spike grabbed her fists and pulled her against him, wrapping her in his arms and holding her there on the blood-soaked floor. He looked at Dawn. He’d seen some things that would make the Texas Chainsaw Massacre look like a children’s fairy tale – hell, he'd dealt out such things in his time – but seeing his Niblett like this ripped and clawed at his heart like nothing he’d ever felt before. Buffy continued to admonish him to ‘do something’, but the words had degenerated into little more than pleading, raspy whispers between her heaving sobs.



Gregor still stood where he had been, his bloodied sword still in hand. The other Scoobies surrounded the bloody tableau with stunned, shocked, horrified expressions on their unbelieving faces.



“She did it for you. She said to tell you that she was sorry and that she loved…”



Gregor’s words were cut off when Spike moved with a speed he’d never before possessed. Fueled by red-hot rage, he released Buffy, stood up, and drew his fist back in one motion. His knuckles slammed it into the General’s face with enough force to break the man’s neck. Gregor’s head whiplashed back and smashed into the metal pole that he’d been tied to, breaking his skull. He sank to the floor, blood spewing from his mouth, nose, and the back of his head, his sword clattering loudly in the stunned silence as it hit the floor.







In the next moment Spike screamed, clutching his head as the chip fired. He fell to his knees next to Buffy as excruciating pain shot out from the Initiative’s ‘behavior modification device’, blinding him in agony. It felt like a thousand hot pokers were being stabbed into his brain, his spine, and his eyes, shutting down any coherent thought. He pressed the heels of his hands against his eyes in an effort to keep them from exploding from their sockets as he crumpled to his side on the bloody floor. He keened – a feral, animalistic howl – engulfed in more pain than even Angelus had managed to teach him how to endure while also maintaining his dignity.



“My Key!!” a new voice rang out in the room.







The Scoobies, still shocked into immobility, looked up to see Glory standing in the doorway. The hell-god raced forward and began trying to gather up Dawn’s blood in her hands. Then Glory suddenly went into some sort of convulsion and Ben was there. The Scoobies watched Glory change to Ben and then Ben back to Glory several times until finally settling on Ben’s form.



The doctor was covered in blood, as were Spike and Buffy: Dawn’s blood. Suddenly Xander’s hand flew to his mouth, he dropped to the floor and retched. When the smell hit Willow, she did the same. Only Anya was able to remain relatively unaffected by the mayhem, but even she was shocked into silence – it was, perhaps, a first.







Tara’s forlorn cry for Willow from the other room seemed to pull the witch from her stupor. She stumbled back to her feet and fought to keep another wave of bile down as her eyes swept over the scene again. Spike had recovered enough to sit up and he was holding Buffy against him, rocking her like a child. The Slayer looked like she was in shock. Her eyes were open and flooded with silent tears, but blank and flat, as if dead. Ben was sitting up with his back against one wall. He’d pushed himself away from the pool of blood, although he was still covered in it, just like Spike and Buffy. Gregor was dead. Dawn was … dead. Willow couldn’t let her eyes or her mind linger there long – it was too much. She walked numbly into the other room to find Tara. Dear, sweet Tara, needed her. Tara’s mind had been stolen by Glory; Willow couldn’t let her down – didn’t want her to be frightened or alone.



Just as Willow got to Tara’s side, she felt the magical barrier outside fall. The Knights would be upon them in moment. Would they kill them now that the Key was … destroyed? Gregor was dead – they may simply kill them for that alone.



Willow looked out the slats that covered the windows and was shocked to find … nothing. The Knights were gone. All that remained outside was Ben’s car. She sighed as a small bit of relief washed over her for that small favor.



“What do we do now?” Anya asked from behind Willow.



Willow sighed, her whole body heaving with the effort, and turned around to face the ex-demon. “Go home.”



**~**







Spike watched and waited as he’d done every night for the last six weeks; waited for his Slayer to emerge. He took one last drag on his cigarette as her bedroom window opened. He dropped the butt and smashed it beneath his heel as she dropped to the ground, graceful and silent as a jungle cat. She began walking, as she did every night, toward the cemetery. He fell in step a few paces behind her, waiting to see what kind of mood she was in this night.



If she slowed her steps, that was her silent invitation for him to walk beside her; if she continued her fast pace, he should hang back, not crowd her. She didn’t talk anymore – not since that night. Her so-called friends thought she was practically comatose, since she seemed to do nothing but sleep. The two witches had moved into Buffy’s house … or actually it was now the one witch and one simpleton. He felt bad for Glinda. Her mind had been stolen by the hell-god and had not returned. He’d always liked the white witch; she'd always been fair to him, unlike Buffy's other friends.



He knew they all took turns ‘baby-sitting’ the Slayer: Giles, Xander and his demon-bird, and Red. None of them asked Spike to help; none of them asked Spike for anything – he was suddenly persona non grata. When he’d tried to see Buffy right after … that night, he’d found his invitation had been revoked – he couldn't enter Buffy's house. Bloody ungrateful tossers.



If they’d known one whit about the Slayer, they would’ve known that Slayers are naturally creatures of the night. She slept by day and prowled the streets and cemeteries by night. They didn’t know; Spike knew. They didn't care; Spike cared. Their lives had to go on – there was work and school, bills to pay, mundane routines to maintain. Spike had no other distractions; Buffy was Spike's life. Gormless plonkers, every last one of ‘em.







This night, Buffy slowed her steps and Spike caught up to her easily. They walked the empty streets in silence for a long while. Every night he waited for her to say something; every night he thought that this night would be the night she’d talk to him. Every night he’d been disappointed. Tonight was no different. After a few minutes the silence got to him, so he started talking as he’d done every night for the last six weeks – every night since Dawn had been buried next to her mum. Every night since Buffy began prowling the streets of Sunnydale with only a vampire for company.



“Got some new flowers for our girl t’day,” he began. “Red roses … reckon she’d like that, don’t you? Got a deal on a full dozen.”



Spike bristled. “No, I didn’t bloody steal them,” he defended as if Buffy had said something.



“Still can’t believe that wanker Watcher o’ yours buried her in that bloody kid’s casket with the frilly eyelet lace and pink bows. I hope she comes back and haunts the git for that. Deserved a grown-up casket … with silk and satin and whatall, she did. She wasn’t a soddin’ kid anymore – what she done proved that, didn’ it?



“Overheard ‘em talkin’ the other day at the shop, your mates. Your Watcher’s talking ‘bout going back to jolly ole England. Gave up on ya, they have. Say they're back t' one Slayer, that Faith chit, and I reckon she's outta the game. Didn’t bother tellin’ you, did they? And before you start, I think I’m entitled t’ the burba weed – me being down in the shop basement keeps the rats out; it’s only fair compensation,” he continued as they walked, sniffing as if insulted. Buffy neither replied nor even acted like she could hear him – her face never registered any expression to any of his musings.



“How long you reckon Red can keep watching over you and Glinda, and keep up her studies at University? Without Rupert t’ help foot the bills and babysit you during the day, I reckon it won’t be long ‘fore they find a nice cozy Slayer retirement ‘ome for you, luv. Where do they send Slayers who’ve crumbled their cookies?”







Spike snorted derisively. “Don’t reckon any ‘ave ever lived long enough t’ find out. Wonder if your old friends at the Council o’ Wankers will have a nice padded room waitin’ for you … bars on the windows and doors and whatall.”



Buffy turned into the entrance of the cemetery with Spike at her side. She walked with a purpose, a destination in mind, but wasn’t in any particular hurry. Spike scanned the area with all his senses as they walked, searching for danger. It was still the Hellmouth, even if the Slayer was on hiatus.



After walking another minute or so, Spike laid a hand on her arm. “Stay ‘ere a second, luv,” he murmured to her. Buffy stopped – proof that she could hear him and understand – but her face remained passive, her eyes blank. The passion, the fire of her was quite simply gone; extinguished by her pain and guilt.







Spike pulled a stake from the pocket of his duster and stalked forward ahead of her. The vamp that was hiding behind one of the larger tombstones had barely gotten to his feet when Spike’s stake hit home. Before the dust from that vamp had settled, another jumped out from the other side of the path. Spike spun and caught him with a round-house kick, sending him stumbling back. Spike continued his spin and used his momentum to propel himself forward, stake poised to strike. When the vamp’s back hit the wall of a crypt, Spike plunged the stake in without further struggle. He turned and scanned the area again, all senses on alert, but found nothing else.



He stood up from his fighting crouch and tucked the stake back into his pocket. “All clear, luv,” he called to Buffy and she began walking again, as if nothing had happened – as if she hadn’t even stopped.



Spike fell into step next to her as they continued their now-familiar trek. “You’ll have t’ teach me that prattle you do when you fight, luv. Not quite the same without the quips, is it? Reckon it gets the job done, just the same, but …” he sighed and let his voice trail off. Who was he kidding? Buffy was gone. The Slayer was gone. All that was left was an empty hull of a girl. He’d heard Red telling Giles that she’d tried to reach Buffy with some sort of spell and all she’d found inside was darkness – utter, cold, hard darkness.



~~



“There’s just nothing of Buffy left in there,” he’d overheard Willow tell Giles in the Magic Box. “I don’t know what to do to help her. She barely eats anything, she just sleeps all the time. She doesn't talk, doesn't cry, doesn't grieve, doesn't scream ... she’s just … gone.



"I don't know how long I can keep taking care of her and Tara. My parents were all with the insisting that I go back to my classes, since they were 'paying good money' for them, and ..." Willow's voice trailed off, shaking her head in dismay. "I love Buffy, but ... there's just not enough of me to go around."



“Indeed,” Giles had agreed, removing his glasses and polishing their spotless lenses with a handkerchief. “It’s clear she’s had a quite severe mental break. I had hoped her Slayer healing would’ve repaired it and brought her back to us by now, but it seems clear now that will not happen – at least not without some treatment.”



“What … kind of treatment?” Willow wondered tentatively.



Giles shrugged slightly, sliding his glasses back onto his nose and looking up at the red witch. “Perhaps it would be best to call the Council in to handle the matter. They would have the best chance of success. They may have even faced this circumstance in the past. And …” Giles hesitated, shifted his eyes away from Willow's, and removed his glasses again.



“My information could be faulty – American public schools and all – but I'm pretty sure proper British sentences don't end with conjunctions,” Willow prompted after Giles began polishing his glasses yet again and did not finish his thought.



Giles sighed and slid his glasses back on. “And they would be able to handle her if she were to become violent. She’s been docile thus far, but I’m concerned that her shock could morph into rage at any moment, and we would have no way to effectively contain her. In that scenario, she could be a danger to herself and to others.”



~~







Spike blinked the cold, sharp tears back from his eyes as they walked along in silence. He’d let Buffy down – failed to keep Dawn safe – and now he’d lost them both. The Slayer had just started to trust him during the battles with Glory, to see him as something other than a monster, see how much he truly cared, and now it was gone. He hadn’t told her, but there was no way he’d let Buffy’s so-called friends or the Council put her in some home or a cell. He’d take care of her – he’d taken care of Dru for a century, taking care of a silent Slayer couldn’t be that much harder.



As their destination came into view, Spike braced himself for the sound that stabbed icy, jagged daggers into his heart: Buffy’s sobs. The sobs that her friends had never heard; the sobs that he heard every night. Her pace never changed as she walked up to the graves of her only family. The vase of red roses sat atop Dawn’s tombstone while a new bouquet of wildflowers was on Joyce’s – all care of Spike. Buffy dropped to her knees as the sob he’d been bracing himself for broke the Slayer’s silence. Buffy laid across both graves on her stomach, crying into the new sod that covered her sister’s resting place. Her body convulsed with the pain and guilt that flowed out from her very soul. The sight twisted the daggers in Spike’s heart – nothing he’d ever felt before could compare to the agony of seeing his Slayer so anguished, so broken.



He crouched down next to her and laid a gentle hand on her back, trying to give her some measure of comfort as he kept watch for nasties that might be lurking, hoping for their ‘one good day.’ He wanted nothing more than to hold her there, rock her in his arms and soothe her hurt away. He’d done that the first night and he’d been caught off-guard by a pack of vamps. That mistake had nearly gotten them both killed; he couldn’t afford to let his guard down again.



The best he could do was to stroke her back and murmur words of encouragement and sympathy. Whether she heard him or even knew he was there, he didn’t know. He couldn’t stop his own tears from blurring his vision, no matter how hard he tried. Every night was the same: filled with guilt and pain and helplessness. The only thing worse were the interminable days, lying alone in his bed trying to sleep and wishing the sun would move faster across the sky, wishing night would come sooner, so he could see his Slayer again.



**~**



A few nights later...







“Buffy, luv – ya gotta do this, pet. Please … say those three little words,” Spike cajoled from outside her bedroom window. "Just need t' hear those three little words from your beautiful lips.



“‘Come in, Spike’ – you can do it, luv. They’re gonna be ‘ere tomorrow – those Council wankers with their pretty, white coats with the long sleeves. Gonna take you away from me – away from Dawn and your mum, they are. It’s our only chance, pet. If ya want any of your stuff, ya gotta let me in. Three words … Buffy, please,” he begged her.



He’d been imploring her to say the words for an hour. If she didn’t say it soon, he’d just have to take her with him and leave all her stuff behind. He would – if it came to that, he would.



She stood at the window facing him as if she were getting ready to head out on her nightly walk and he was stopping her. He thought he saw a flicker of comprehension in her eyes a couple of times over the last hour, but he couldn’t be sure – it was there and gone too fast.



“Buffy, you’ll die – if they lock you up, you’ll die. Please come with me … invite me in – I’ll pack your stuff. You don’t want t’ leave your pictures o’ Dawn and your mum behind,” he reasoned.



Buffy furrowed her brow – the first expression he’d seen on her face except for the times when she was sobbing on her family’s graves – and looked at the photos that were stuck all around the mirror on her dresser.







“That’s right, luv – the pictures, and your clothes and … those frou-frou dollies ya got … Three words, pet … ‘Come in, Spike,’ he repeated slowly and deliberately.



Buffy turned back to look at him, the confusion still evident on her features. He could see her swallow, as if fighting for her voice. He looked at her hopefully, holding his breath as a purely symbolic measure.



Buffy opened her mouth. “C…” she started, her voice faltering after only one short sound. She cleared her throat and tried again. “C-come,” she croaked out.



“In,” Spike prompted, his eyes wide and hopeful, almost joyous at the sound, the first time he'd heard her voice in what seemed an eternity.



Buffy cleared her throat again, rubbing it as if it pained her to speak. “In,” she parroted.



“Spike,” he prompted again.



“Sp … Sp ... Sp ... i ... ke,” Buffy finally got out.



Spike wasn’t sure if that would work since it wasn’t really a sentence, but three separate words, and his name was a bit mangled, but he pushed against the unseen barrier with one hand anyway. He let out a breath of relief when his hand slid past the windowsill and into her room.



"Brilliant!" he extolled her as he quickly and silently climbed through the open window.







Spike pulled a suitcase from her closet and began loading it up quickly. First with all the pictures from her mirror, then with the stuffed animals from her bed, toiletries from the dresser, then with as many clothes as he could fit. Buffy didn’t offer to help, but just watched blankly as he chose and tossed things in willy-nilly. After a moment, she opened the door to her room and went out into the hallway. Spike tried to stop her, but didn’t want to make more noise than he already was and risk waking Buffy’s keepers.



In just a few moments Buffy came back with more pictures. They were, he realized, pictures that Dawn must’ve had in her room. Buffy offered them to Spike mutely. There was one with him and Dawn that Dawn had gotten Tara to take of them one day when Buffy had been gone. He looked at it wistfully; it seemed a lifetime ago – technically it had been: Dawn's lifetime. He carefully packed them all into the case with the others.







“Anything else ya want, luv?” he asked, looking around.



Buffy went to her dresser and opened one of the drawers. She searched for something, her movements mechanical and deliberate. After a few moments she apparently found what she was looking for and slid the drawer closed again. Spike didn’t see what it was before she stuffed it down into her pocket – too small to be a stake, a trinket he supposed. Buffy then turned and headed for the window without another word.



“Right then…” he muttered, hefting the suitcase and following her. “Off we go.”



**~**



Spike tossed Buffy’s suitcase in the trunk of the DeSoto alongside his own meager belongings and a cooler, then opened the passenger door for her. She climbed in without a word or even a final glance back at her house. Spike ran around the car and got behind the wheel, stuffing the key into the ignition and coaxing the old behemoth to life.







“Any preferences, luv?” he asked her, turning to look at his passenger before putting the car in gear.



Buffy looked at him dully, but something in the backseat caught her eye and she turned to stare at the third person in the car.



Spike sighed. “Before you start, it’s not what you think,” he began. “Need her along, we do. She’s got … certain talents that could come in right handy…”



Buffy leveled a lifeless stare on Spike. In her current condition, it was tantamount to a death-glare of old.







“Get your mind outta the bloody gutter, Slayer,” he demanded, exasperated. “Not them talents! She’s bloody brilliant in a fight, even got the quips down. Plus, she can go in the sun – I can’t. She can fight humans – I can’t. Never know when we might need some help, luv. And … she’s right cheerful, to boot,” Spike defended.



Buffy looked at the Bot in the back seat. The BuffyBot’s eyes were closed and she leaned, as if asleep, against the window at her side. Buffy blew out a derisive snort so soft that if not for Spike’s enhanced hearing, he might not have heard it.



“Don’t be that way, Slayer,” he begged her. “You used t’ like cheerful … used t’ be cheerful, you did, or so I've been told.”



Spike could feel her eyes roll, even though Buffy didn't actually roll them, she simply continued to stare at him.



“Buffy,” he continued turning slightly in his seat to face her and taking both of her hands into his, his tone solemn. “I’m your willin’ slave, luv. I’ll defend ya … take care of ya ‘til the end of time. But … I can’t protect you from everything. Those wankers the Council will be sending aren’t demons – if they find us, I can’t fight ‘em, luv. She’s the only … person I could trust t’ be on our side in this. If somethin’ happens to me, she’ll be my proxy … she’ll stand by you in my place.”



Buffy's gaze flicked to the Bot then back to him. He thought he saw a glint of pain, of hurt, flash oh-so-briefly in her eyes. Was it because they couldn’t trust any of her friends, or was it the thought of losing Spike that caused it? He didn’t know. He waited for her to give him some sign that she understood, that it would be alright for the Bot to come with them.



She continued to stare at him for a long minute or three. Spike waited. “It,” she said finally, her voice flat.



“Pardon?”



“Not she, ‘it’,” Buffy clarified as she turned to look forward, out the small opening in the black paint that covered the windshield.



“Right, it … the Bot’s an it,” Spike repeated, getting her meaning. “So … it’s alright then – to have it along?”



Buffy nodded her head ever-so-slightly.



Spike let out a breath of relief, reluctantly released her hands, and put the car in gear. “Where to, luv?”



“Hell,” Buffy replied, never looking at him. Her voice was small and quiet, without any particular inflection.



Spike pursed his lips a moment, then nodded. “Sin City it is.”



**~**



Spike rummaged through the old cassette tapes that littered the floor under his seat, pulling a few out at once. He held them up in front of his eyes as he drove to see what treasures he’d found.



“Prefer the Ramones, the Clash, or the Sex Pistols?” Spike asked her, glancing over at his mute passenger.



Buffy cut her eyes at him, then looked back out the front window as they made their way past the sign telling them they were leaving Sunnydale and encouraging them to ‘come back soon.’



“Don’t got any little boy bands, luv. Time ya grew up anyway,” Spike contended as he popped the Sex Pistols into the player. Nothing happened. Spike ejected it and began fiddling with the tape. He steered the car with his knees as he turned the little spindles on the cassette to try and get the tape to move properly.



He popped it back in, and a guitar screamed for a moment before it went silent again. Buffy sighed, ejected the tape, rolled her window down, and tossed it out.



“Hey! That’s a bloody classic you just tossed out. And it was mine, t’ boot!” Spike objected.



Buffy shrugged, but didn’t say anything as she looked out the open window. She watched in silence as the town where she’d come of age, where she lost her mother and sister, where she’d lost her mind, fade from view in the side mirror.



Spike started to put another tape in the player and, without looking, Buffy reached out and took it from his hand and tossed it out the window too.



“Oi! What the bloody hell, Slayer?” he snarled at her.



“No,” she said simply, still looking out the window.



“Why the bloody hell not? I like music when I’m driving … makes the time go,” he argued.



“Hurts,” was her flat, stoic reply, one hand moving to her chest, covering her heart.



Spike frowned and shoved the last tape back under his seat lest she toss it out too. “Sorry, luv…” he muttered, turning his attention back to the dark ribbon of road that spread out into the night in front of them.



**~**



The sun was just lightening the clouds in the eastern sky when Spike unlocked the door to their Las Vegas motel room. He held it open, letting Buffy precede him inside. He followed her, carrying their suitcases. He set them both on the dresser before going back out to the car to get the cooler that held blood and Cokes. Once inside with that, he made one last trip to retrieve the Bot and her – its – charging equipment. When he’d come up with his plan to get Buffy out of town, he’d liberated the Bot from the basement of the Magic Box. He’d still had her – its – charging equipment at the crypt – no one had ever asked him for it.







He laid the Bot down on the bed nearest the door, then closed and locked the door behind him. “Right then. Snug as bed bugs, we are,” he commented brightly, clapping his hands together enthusiastically and looking around.



Buffy took a step back from the bed she had just been getting ready to sit down on and looked at it warily.



“Not literal bed bugs, luv,” Spike assured her. “I know it’s not much, but I’ll go down t’ the strip t’night and win us some more money, then we can upgrade t’ something … nice ... or at least ... decent.”



Buffy looked only marginally reassured.



“You want somethin’ to eat? Could order some breakfast for ya,” Spike offered as he picked up the room service menu.



Buffy shook her head.



Spike looked disappointed and worried, but didn’t push it.



“Want t’ watch some TV then?” he tried, moving to pick up the remote control.



Buffy shook her head again, then opened her bag and began rummaging around. After looking for a while in the unorganized mash of clothes, she settled on a couple of items and took them, along with her hairbrush, into the bathroom and shut the door.



“Right – a shower then. Brilliant – you go first, luv. Don’t mind me – I’ll just wait ‘ere and …” he sighed, shaking his head and running his hand through his hair. “Won’t eat, no music, no TV, no conversation… Angelus couldn’t ‘ave done any better job o’ sending ya round the bend. At least Dru’d talk to a bloke … not that it was easy to suss out, but…”



He sighed again and turned to the Bot. Maybe if he got her charged up he could get some conversation from her … it. It. It. It, he tried to remind himself, but it was hard to remember, looking so much like his Slayer and all.



Spike broke down and turned the TV on while he waited for Buffy to come out of the bathroom. He looked up when the door opened and she emerged.







His eyes devoured her as she walked silently to the other double bed and pulled the covers down. She was dressed in a tight, white, sleeveless, ribbed t-shirt, which did little to hide anything, and a pair of little-girl undies, white with little pink flowers and a pink bow on the front a few inches below her exposed navel. Her bare arms, legs, and the lower half of her midriff weren’t as tan as he remembered them being from flashes he’d seen before, but still as fit and toned as ever. Her breasts swayed in the t-shirt as she reached down and pulled the covers back, her darker nipples more than apparent beneath the thin, white fabric. The luscious curves of her body, though not quite as round as she had been at one time, were still just as mouth-watering. She moved with the same easy grace as she’d had the first time he’d seen her, but he knew the raw power that lurked beneath the deceptive, feminine curves.



Was she doing this on purpose? Torturing him like this? Or was she so oblivious to everything going on around her that she didn’t even know the effect she was having on him?



Spike swallowed hard, his Adam's apple bobbing, and forced his eyes back to the TV; it was like pulling a lion away from a downed gazelle. What the bloody hell was she playin’ at? Was she tryin’ to dust him right ‘ere, right now? He shifted uncomfortably on the edge of his bed next to the charging Bot, his jeans suddenly much too tight. He heard the springs of the other bed creak, and when he looked back Buffy was under the covers, the blanket pulled all the way up to her chin.



He stood up abruptly and headed for the bathroom, clicking first the bedside lamp, then the TV off as he went, leaving the room in relative darkness. Only a small glow of sun gave any illumination, leaking in from behind the heavy curtains that covered the window.



Spike struggled to not slam the bathroom door in utter frustration when he got inside. He leaned back against it heavily and closed his eyes. The scent of her assailed him in the steam-filled room, making his cock strain even harder against the zipper of his jeans.



When he opened his eyes, he realized she’d left her dirty clothes on the floor. He leaned down and picked up the thong she’d had on under her jeans and brought the lacy garment to his nose. When the first inhalation of her sweet scent filled his nostrils cum exploded in his jeans.



“Bloody hell,” he growled at himself angrily. “Creamin’ your pants like a soddin’ teenage virgin on prom night.”



Spike quickly lifted his t-shirt off over his head, then turned the water on in the shower. It was hot immediately and he just stepped in, jeans and all, to clean off. He hung her panties over the shower-curtain rod as he unbuttoned and unzipped his jeans, letting the hot water pound on his still semi-hard cock. He moaned and closed his eyes as he imagined Buffy’s mouth, her tongue flowing over him instead of the water.







He peeled his wet jeans down from his hips and thighs, then grabbed her panties again and breathed in the essence of her. Oh how he longed to taste her, to drink from her chalice, to kiss her, to hold her, to be inside her. The gentle kiss she’d given him after Glory had beaten and tortured him while trying to find out the identity of the Key still tingled Spike’s lips when he thought of it. It was so real … so … true, so … Buffy.







He suddenly began to cry, to sob uncontrollably as the hot water pounded down on him. Buffy … he longed with all his heart for Buffy. For her wit, her passion, her determination, her smile, her eye rolls, her jibes, her punches – anything! He sank down onto the tile floor of the shower, his jeans still clinging to his lower legs, his erection and fantasy gone. He pulled his knees up to his chest and sobbed against them, still clinging to her panties. He hadn’t kept Dawn safe. He’d promised Buffy he would keep them safe, both of them, and he’d failed miserably. He never saw Dawn’s sacrifice coming and he, above anyone, should’ve. Wasn’t that his ‘thing’? Reading other people’s true hearts? He’d spent years honing that skill – looking below the surface – but when the game was on the line, he’d failed.



Buffy had at least spoken a few words today – a vast improvement over the silence of the last several weeks – but she was so far away from where she’d been that he didn’t know if she’d ever find her way back. Had losing Dawn been the final blow? One so debilitating that even his strong, confident, snarky Slayer could not overcome it? Would she ever be his Slayer again? Would she ever be Buffy again? Was she lost forever? Had her spirit, which had conquered so much adversity, endured so much heartache and loss, which had seemed to him indestructible, finally succumbed, finally given up?



He thought the long days spent alone in his crypt waiting for darkness to fall had been hard, but now he knew being with her was worse. Even with her so close, he was still completely, utterly, painfully alone.



**~**



{{ Click here to hear Undun by The Guess Who on YouTube }}



She's come undun

She didn't know what she was headed for

And when I found what she was headed for

It was too late



She's come undun

She found a mountain that was far too high

And when she found out she couldn't fly

It was too late



It's too late

She's gone too far

She's lost the sun



She's come undun

She wanted truth but all she got was lies

Came the time to realize

And it was too late



She's come undun

She didn't know what she was headed for

And when I found what she was headed for

Mama, it was too late



It's too late

She's gone too far

She's lost the sun

She's come undun



Too many mountains, and not enough stairs to climb

Too many churches and not enough truth

Too many people and not enough eyes to see

Too many lives to lead and not enough time



It's too late

She's gone too far

She's lost the sun



She's come undun

Doe-doe-doe-doe-doe doe un doe-doe-doe un doe-doe-doe

Doe doe-doe-doe-doe un doe-doe-doe doe-doe-doe

Doe doe-doe-doe doe doe-doe-doe doe doe



It's too late

She's gone too far

She's lost the sun



She's come undun

She didn't know what she was headed for

And when I found what she was headed for

It was too late



She's come undun

She found a mountain that was far too high

And when she found out she couldn't fly

Mama, it was too late



It's too late

She's gone too far

She's lost the sun



She's come undun

No no-no-no-no-no no

Doe doe doe-doe


Chapter End Notes:
Where do they go from here? Can Spike get Buffy back? Will she be the same girl she was before? Lots more to come! Will try to update a couple of times a week.
I basically gave my evil muse free rein on this story. There was no outline, no real plan, and he went wild with it, wringing tears out of me as often as possible. Hope you're ready for the ride!




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