Hurt and betrayal. Oddly, of everything that had happened since that night in the alley, this was the most familiar sensation of all. A man leaving me. Yep, this was how it went. Same old, same old.
So I pushed all thoughts of what Angelus and Spike had done to me the night before out of my mind and headed to Revello Drive to be a good big sister.
Dawn was sitting on her bed, arms wrapped around her legs and head resting on her knees.
I came to sit next to her. “Hey, Dawnie.”
She looked up, her eyes very red. “I told Mom I was sick. She said that I could stay home.”
“You look sick.” I put a hand to her forehead. It was very warm.
She brushed it away. “I’m not. Just worn out.”
We sat in silence. Dawn rested her head against my shoulder. I wrapped my arm around her, and we curled up together.
“When did it get so wrong?” Dawn asked me shakily.
I shook my head. “It’s the Summers curse. Everything that can go wrong, does. And then they leave.”
“I…” Dawn drew in a deep breath, and it came out as a sob. “I gave him everything. And then he just…”
She woke up to Angelus. To have that monster there, in my bed…I had been horrified enough with him just standing near me.
“He said I was bad,” she whispered. “I must’ve been, to make him lose his soul.”
“Or really, really good.” I stroked her hair. “Dawn, it was your first time, and it was with someone you loved. That means everything. A soul-shattering experience. Literally. What Angelus said, he said to hurt you.” I met her eyes. “Before that…it must have been everything to you.”
“It was. And I felt…it felt good,” Dawn whispered. “To be so close to him, loving him…and then I woke up and he was gone, and…” A dry sob escaped her.
I rubbed her back. “Did I ever tell you about my first time?”
She frowned. “With that gay guy?”
I poked her. “Scott wasn’t gay! At least, I don’t think so.” I shook my head. “Anyway, I didn’t really know him that well. We’d been dating for about a month, and I was already a senior… I was so afraid that I’d be the only virgin in college.” I laughed wryly. “So I slept with him. It was awkward, and kind of weird, and not at all satisfying. And afterwards, he sent me home, since his parents were due to be back within the hour.” I pulled at Dawn’s hair gently, separating it to braid it like I had when we were younger and still close. “He broke up with me two days later. Said that I wasn’t as full of life as I had always seemed, or some crap like that. I guess what I’m trying to say is, I’m glad that you had the opportunity to have your first time with someone who meant so much to you. No matter what happened next. It wasn’t your fault,” I said firmly. “You couldn’t have known.”
Dawn settled down in front of me, letting me play with her hair. “He didn’t…do anything to you, did he?”
My hands froze in mid-braid. “Why do you ask that?”
“It was something he said, when he… He said that I was…you know, and that he bet that you’d be better.” She shuddered. “The things he said! My Angel would never-“
“Don’t worry.” I said firmly. “Nothing happened.” More than anything, I needed Dawn to believe that, or she’d rip herself apart. “I ran to Spike, and he stayed with me for the rest of the night.” Until he left.
Dawn twisted to look at me, her expression serious. “You loved him, didn’t you?”
I looked down. “Yeah. Stupid, huh? Vampires will be what vampires will be.”
“No.” Dawn put a hand on my arm, taking the role of the comforter. “I didn’t really see much of him with you, but even I could tell that you meant a lot to him. He really cared about you. And even though he was evil and all, there was something about him…it made me trust him to take care of you. The way he asked about you every time he saw me when he was in Giles’ house…he wasn’t trying to talk to you or convince you that he wasn’t evil. He just wanted to know that you were okay. And that night at the Bronze when Kennedy came, the way he watched you when you were dancing…” She smiled wistfully. “I was actually a little jealous that you’d found someone who looked at you like that. Like you were the only person in the world, and he’d die if he had to look away.”
I gaped at her for a moment. “Spike didn’t love me. He had Dru…”
“Screw Dru.” Dawn glowered. “Turns out my so-called perfect boyfriend had some other secrets he was keeping, too.” I shifted guiltily. I knew this one, but I had been so caught up in other things- Spike lips, lips of Spike!¬- that it had escaped my mind completely. “Spike’s missing girlfriend was shacking up with Angel. Not Angelus, Angel.” She looked down bitterly. “Angelus said that Angel did it out of some twisted sense of responsibility. He laughed, said that he could’ve had her anytime, to get some relief.”
“He didn’t,” I said with certainty. “Angel wouldn’t have done that.” Much as he had lusted after me, he’d never made a move, only been annoyingly friendly. “I’m not his biggest fan, but even I know that.”
Dawn burst into tears suddenly and clung to me. “Oh, Buffy, what have I unleashed?”
And I clung right back and cried too, for what we had both lost.
I didn’t really feel like going to a party the next night, but I did anyway, since it was at Lowell House and Dawn had asked me to try to find out what the Initiative situation was post-Walsh.
Willow and Tara were both with me. I eyed them, trying to see the sparks that Spike had claimed were so blatant between them, but all I saw were two good friends talking. Maybe Spike had been wrong.
Lowell House was booming with music and laughter. No one seemed very distressed.
“I can’t believe they’re partying,” Willow muttered. “Their boss died two days ago, and this is their reaction?”
I looked at her. “Imagine Snyder being killed, back when we were in high school.”
Willow snickered. “I see your point.”
“Y-you didn’t like a teacher in high school?” Tara asked. “I would’ve thought you’d have been their favorite.”
“I was, mostly,” Willow grinned. “But when I started on the whole magic thing, I think it was too much for a lot of them. All new age-y and crazy. They thought I’d gone off the deep end. And Snyder put me on his list of troublemakers in school.”
“Can you imagine? Willow a troublemaker,” I teased. “You rebel, you.”
“Hey, I had strange herbs in my locker half the time,” Willow protested. “Two of the jocks thought I was a dealer. Damien Peterson actually asked me to hook him up one time!”
I raised my eyebrows. “Damien Peterson asked me to hook him up one time, too. I think he was one of those plants they stick in schools to find the pushers. Either that, or a moron.”
“Moron.” We both nodded to each other. “Definitely.”
“Buffy!” Riley politely moved some people aside and bounded over to us. “You came! We thought that it would be a good idea to have a party today to-“ He lowered his voice. “-distract from the tragedy, so…”
“I’m sorry about Professor Walsh,” I said coolly. “But earlier that night, she’d tried to kill my sister, so you’ll excuse me if I’m not mourning.”
Riley looked startled. “You didn’t hear? Last night, an army of vamps broke into the Initiative. Your friends were some of them,” he said accusingly. “Hostile Seventeen, that Angel creep, and a freaky woman led them.” My heart sank. Oh, god, Spike… “I was lucky,” Riley informed me. “They must not have seen me, and I was able to escape before they got to me. And all the other TA’s were out on duty or in the dorm, so they were spared. But everyone else…it was a bloodbath,” he shuddered. “They freed all the demons, ripped apart the machinery… The government decided that the Initiative cost too much with not enough results, so they’re destroying the whole project and sending us away. I leave for Belize on Tuesday.” He gave me a sincere smile. I felt sick. “I’m really going to miss you, Buffy. I know the whole secret identity thing was too much for you to handle, but I’ll always treasure the time we had together.” He bent to brush his lips against mine.
I stared blankly into space, numb. Spike was killing last night. The chip is out. I’ve lost him for real. “I- I need to go,” I said finally.
Riley looked hurt, and his words finally registered. I mustered up a sad smile. “I’ll miss you, too. I hope you do some good in Belize.” I kissed him on the cheek and moved away.
I stared outside into the dark, wondering. Where was Spike now? What was he doing? Who is he killing?
Willow came to stand beside me. “You don’t know if he actually hurt anyone,” she said quietly. “The chip could still-“
“It’s gone,” I said dully. “Angelus promised him. That’s why he left.” That was why he hadn’t killed the other vampire for what he’d done to me. That, and the fact that I was frozen in place and Angelus was about to do it again. I pushed the thought out of my mind. As much as I wanted him to have left for me, I wasn’t going to indulge in wishful thinking. “Spike’s killing again.”
“He wouldn’t hurt us,” Willow said confidently. “Whatever happens, I’m positive that he wouldn’t attack any of us. And he wouldn’t let Angelus do it, either.”
“Maybe.” I wrapped my arms around myself. “Okay, definitely. I trust Spike. But if he’s killing again…”
“He’s still our Spike,” Willow said wisely. “And I don’t think he’d do anything to hurt you.”
He already has.
I left a little while after, my mission for the night complete, and called Dawn. Speaking with her the day before had changed something between us. Finally, she was ready to let me be the older sister again, and I was ready for us to be equals. And, at last, we were friends.
I passed along Riley’s story absent-mindedly, my eyes scanning the shadows. Out in the dark, alone again, the fear of Angelus overwhelmed me again. I upped my speed, heading back for my room.
I jogged up the stairs through the quiet dorm, slipping into my room quickly and pulling on a pair of pajamas. It was only eleven o’clock, but I was ready to sleep. I crawled into my bed, pulled out the covers, twisted around to slide under them…
…And came face-to-face with a pair of tormented blue eyes, watching me from the shadows.
“Spike?” I whispered disbelievingly.
He gazed at me, his face conflicted. “I tried. I really did. To be with Dru again, like things used to be…”
I pulled the covers up over my body. I didn’t need to hear this.
“But I couldn’t,” he finished quietly. “Because every time I looked at her, I saw you. And you looked so betrayed.” I felt a flash of hope. “I couldn’t get your face out of my mind. Why can’t I get you out of my head?” he finished plaintively, beseechingly.
I reached my hands out to him, and he moved forward in an instant, yanking my covers down out of my willing hands and taking my face into his own. He knelt down on the bed, facing me, and I reached out to draw him closer to me. He stopped short.
“Spike?” I said uncertainly.
“Buffy.” The word sprang to his lips like a prayer, and his eyes softened. “Oh, my Buffy…”
Then he leaned forward and kissed me, grasping for me like a drowning man for air, and nothing else mattered but him, and me, and the fire we made together.
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