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Chapter 16, in which Buffy makes some wishes, herself.
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For what is wedlock forced but a hell,
An age of discord and continual strife?
Whereas the contrary bringeth bliss,
And is a pattern of celestial peace.
Shakespeare, Henry VI, part 1.


    Everything was back to normal, that was for damn sure. Buffy knew her place in the world. Everything made sense again. No more stupid love spell. Giles could see everything perfectly, Xander was perfectly safe. And Willow was feeling better, Buffy was sure of it. After exerting so much power, though, Buffy knew her friend had to be feeling pretty guilty. Willow hadn’t meant to cause so much trouble, Buffy knew that. She headed to the dorms with her text books in hand, hoping to spend a good hour or so studying with her friend, let her know that everything was okay.

    Buffy spotted Riley on campus, sitting at a picnic table. He looked at her warily, and then looked away, and his friend Forrest quickly distracted him. Buffy realized he must have a pretty strange idea about her and Spike, after everything she’d said the night before. She couldn’t quite figure out what to say to him yet. The Spike thing was... that was just weird. She knew him for the evil creature he was, she just had to try and forget all those heated kisses. That was all.

    She climbed the stairs and stopped dead when she saw the hole in the door. That was serious damage, more than Willow could have caused on her own. She hurried up and flung open the door to the dorm room. “Is everything okay?”

    “Breathe,” Willow said with a grin. “Yeah, we’re fine. Still can’t get this dye out of my hair, though.”

    “What the hell happened to the door?” Buffy asked, still nervous. Her heart was pounding – probably blood loss. She’d pretty much played the unwilling blood donor last night, had probably lost a pint or so. She felt fine, but she’d had these odd heart-pounds the day after she donated to the Red Cross too.

    “Spike,” Willow said.

    “He came here?” Buffy asked. “Last night? Are you two all right?”

    “Yeah, we’re fine,” Tara said. “He didn’t come to attack us, Buffy. He just wanted to talk.”

    “So what the hell happened to the door? Did he try to break in?”

    “No, I invited him,” Tara said. “Tea? I just made some peppermint chamomile.”

    “Yeah, thanks. Wait, you invited him? Tara, that’s not... damn. Willow, you still have the make safe spell? We’ve got to clear the invite, or you two will be sitting ducks.”

    “He’s not dangerous,” Tara said.

    “Yeah,” Buffy said. “He is. Believe me. What the hell was he doing here?”

    Willow shrugged.  “He asked for a spell, and I made a counter offer. Then he lost his temper and stormed off. Gee, Buffy, are you okay?” She gestured to the big bandage on Buffy’s throat.

    “Yeah,” Buffy said. “Just... had a run in with a vamp last night.”

    “Sugar, or honey?” Tara asked.

    “Honey,” Buffy said.

    “Here,” Tara said, pushing a warm mug into Buffy’s hands. “And now both of you, stop dancing around whatever you think the other won’t approve of, and tell each other what happened. Willow, you start. Tell Buffy what you did last night that left the campus still without power this morning.”

    They sat on the bed, Tara on the chair, and Willow explained about the dampening field, and how she’d tried to short it out with a sort of magical EMP.

    “God, no wonder the compound was in chaos,” Buffy said. “You realize you shorted out just about every piece of electronic or computer tech in the place.”

    “Including Spike’s chip?” Tara asked quietly.

    Buffy looked down. “Yeah, I think so.”

    “You know it’s gone,” Tara said.

    Buffy nodded.

    “Your turn,” Tara said. “What happened?”

    Buffy tried to tell it in order. Breaking into the compound, finding Riley incapacitated, Spike coming to save her from the gas, his going to get Riley, but when she got to the part where she had kissed Spike, she balked. “And we all got out,” she finished. “But... Spike’s chip is gone. He can kill again.”

    Tara wouldn’t let it go. “And he attacked you?”

    Buffy opened her mouth to say yes, but she couldn’t. The word wasn’t accurate. She’d been attacked by Spike in the past. She knew what that was; violent, selfish, lots of banter. Spike didn’t play the innocent and then attack on the sly. It wasn’t his nature. “He bit me,” Buffy said instead. “And... and then he changed his mind.”

    Tara looked at her with her eyes soft. “I don’t think he meant to.”

    “Tara, you don’t know Spike,” Willow interjected. “He threatened to push a broken bottle through my face once. I mean, I’ve been attacked by him myself. I mean yeah, okay, he screamed and had to stop, but the first part, when he held me down... that was terrifying. If he’s without his chip again...” Willow stopped. She looked at Tara. “Was that why he was asking?”

    “Asking? Asking for what?”

    “Spike–” Willow began.

    “Let me,” Tara said. She broke the news very carefully and gently, rather than the casual way Willow had been about to broach the subject. Given what she knew about Angel, and about Spike, Tara didn’t think Buffy would take this concept lightly. “Spike came to our room last night blooded, broken, stinking of smoke and barely able to stand. He came because he was desperate. You’re right, the chip was gone, and I had the feeling he’d made a terrible mistake. He came to us... for you. He asked us to give him a s-soul.”

    Time stopped. For a long, long moment, Buffy could barely breathe. She froze with her mouth open, completely bewildered by this development. After a moment, Willow felt the need to disengage the tipping tea cup from her hand and set it aside. “And... you did?” Buffy finally asked.

    “No.” Willow shook her head. “It’s a curse, Buffy. You know how unhappy Angel made you, even when you loved him so much. I shouldn’t have cursed Angel in the first place. I wasn’t going to make the same mistake twice.”

    Buffy stared at her friend. “Why? Why not! Even if we couldn’t be together, I mean...”

    “It’s a curse, Buffy. It would only have made both of you unhappy in the end. Believe me, I understand curses now.”

    Buffy sagged and buried her head in her hands. Willow was right. Willow was absolutely right, of course, but for a brief moment there Buffy had thought there was a reprieve. A way for them to be together... but it wasn’t a way to be together, of course. It would probably have just driven them apart. Angel’s soul hadn’t reclaimed him. Spike’s wouldn’t make him good. It wouldn’t make it easier...

    But that he’d even wanted to....

    Buffy sobbed.

    “Oh, I’m sorry!” Willow said. “Buffy, I’m sorry. God! I’d give anything to take this back!” She looked up at Tara. “Buffy’s the wronged party. She could wish–”

    “Let her grieve,” Tara said gently. Buffy curled in on herself and held her head in one hand. They gave her a few minutes. Willow got herself a cup of tea, Tara headed off to the little cubby bathroom her dorm was fortunate to have and brushed out her hair, carefully zig-zagging her part.

    Finally Buffy wiped her face and sat up. “Sorry,” she said.

    “God. You really do love him, don’t you,” Willow said.

    “I don’t know,” Buffy said. “He’s evil, I shouldn’t. It’s just, six months under a love spell, and we both kind of–”

    “Six days,” Tara interjected from the corner bathroom.

    “What?” Both Buffy and Willow looked over at Tara. “What did you say?”

    “Six days,” Tara said. She came out and looked at Buffy. “Oh. I-I thought you knew.”

    “Tara, what are you talking about?” Willow asked.

    “The spell, that Angel and I did,” Tara said, as if she were only reminding Buffy. “It worked perfectly. A powerful memory reasserted itself for both you and Spike. There was no false emotion that could have survived it.”

    Buffy stared.

    “I thought Angel told you that. So long as you received that memory... you did receive it, right?” Tara asked.

    Buffy nodded.

    “Then the spell worked. Whatever you felt after that was pure emotion, nothing altered or influenced. If you felt no change at all after that spell, then everything you two were feeling was already yours. What exactly was your will, Will?”

    “I don’t know,” Willow said. “I wasn’t paying attention at the time. I just kind of flippantly said... well fine, why doesn’t she just go marry him?”

    “See? All Willow said was go marry him. She didn’t say to stay that way. You were probably out from under the influence the moment the marriage was... well... c-consummated.” She was getting more nervous as it became clear that Willow and Buffy were completely flummoxed. “If... there wasn’t any real feeling there in the first place, then... you should have woken up hating each other, and went and got a divorce.”

    Buffy blinked. “We did,” she said slowly.

    “You did what?” Willow asked.

    “Wake up hating each other,” Buffy said.

    And they had wanted each other all the same. Spike had fallen head first in love – but he’d already been obsessed with killing her, and that was only a step away from love for a vampire, anyway. Buffy had spent some time debating the merits of accepting a spell before she went with it... which meant it would have taken her more time to actually fall in love – probably about the time she had her eyes opened about Angel and found out more about Spike’s past – and before that she’d been battling with some extreme and potent lust. Which made sense. She’d never been able to indulge that side of herself before, and she’d always found Spike sort of... alluring inside his evil. And they had been flirting like hell even before the damn spell slapped them together.

    Everything from their first morning on had been real. Everything. His tears and his shame, her freedom and her delight, the joy they’d found in each other, it was all real. All of it. The first night, that sweet but strange thing they both barely remembered, that had been the spell – and perhaps that had been a violation. But it was one they’d both shared, nothing more shameful or coerced than drunken college sex after a great party. (And their wedding had been a great party, even Joyce had to admit that.) And still hot with it, they’d continued on the next morning entirely on their own.

    “It doesn’t matter,” Buffy realized sadly. “Without even a chip holding him back...”

    “Does it matter what holds him back?” Tara asked. “A chip, or a soul... or you?”

    “He’s dangerous, Tara. I’m dangerous, with him. I shouldn’t....” Buffy trailed off.

     Tara eyes softened, and she knelt down. “You know, Buffy,” she said. “Spike... really loves you. I know it’s complicated, but he’s done a lot of good. It’s okay if you love him.”

    No one had said that to Buffy before. Not Giles, not Wesley, not her mother, not Willow or Xander. Not even Spike himself. It’s okay if you love him.

    “Is it okay to love anybody?” she asked quietly.

    “I think so,” Willow said. She reached up and took Tara’s hand. Buffy looked at the two of them. She wondered if someone had once said to Tara that it was okay to love women, or if that little piece of wisdom had come all on her own. “I mean, I know that it can hurt,” Willow said. “And... and sometimes people leave you and break your heart. And... when you get like that... it’s hard to learn how to care about anybody again. But... I did.”

    Buffy stood up and crossed her arms, hugging herself. “I don’t know if he’s going to go start killing again,” she said.

    “I don’t think he is,” Tara said.

    “Why?” Buffy said. “He’s selfish, he has to be. It’s how he was made. Whatever he wants, he’ll take it.”

    “He didn’t last night,” Tara said.

    “The big bandage on Buffy’s throat says otherwise,” Willow pointed out.

    “I think the fact that Buffy’s still standing there even with that bandage on her throat says volumes,” Tara said. She was right, Buffy realized. It did. He’d been injured, tortured, exhausted, probably had some brain damage his demonic aura hadn’t healed up yet. And he’d stopped. Before she passed out, before she had lost so much blood she had to go to the hospital, with his wounded body starving for the healing slayer’s blood, Spike had stopped entirely on his own. Of course, it wasn’t like Angel – Buffy hadn’t told him to drink, first. But Spike was always biting her neck, she realized, and she loved it. It was just that he wasn’t usually fanged up when he did it. And they had been kissing... funny. She hadn’t realized he was fanged up, either.

    “You’re just upset he wouldn’t help you with D’Hoffryn,” Tara went on.

    “How could he have helped you with D’Hoffryn?” Buffy asked.

    “Oh, I was gonna solve the whole stupid problem and just get Spike to wish it all reset,” Willow said. “If he’d wished I’d never become a vengeance demon, then everything would just go back to normal, and I’d be free of D’Hoffryn, and you two wouldn’t be so heartbroken, ‘cause you’d just be mortal enemies again. Hey, you could still do it. Or Xander, I guess.”

    Buffy stared at her. “What?”

    “I was gonna cast a vengeance wish,” Willow said. “On me. So that I’d never become a vengeance demon, and I could take the spell off you guys faster, so you wouldn’t have actually gotten married. I thought he’d jump at it. He sure seemed tempted.”

    Buffy was still bewildered. “W-why didn’t he?”

    “We don’t know,” Tara said. “He got really mad, suddenly, punched that hole in the door and shouted something we still don’t understand. Then he ran off.”

    “What’d he shout?”

    “It sounded like It’s not my day to swallow,” Tara said. “Do you understand it?”

    Buffy laughed. “Yeah,” she said. She was crying again, but she was laughing too. “Yeah, I get it.” She turned to Willow. “So I can make a vengeance wish, on you, ‘cause you wronged me?”


    “Can I get two? One for Spike, for biting me?”

    “Yeah, that would count.”

    “Okay,” Buffy said. “Here’s my wishes. I wish that while you’re casting the following lame ass vengeance for me, that D’Hoffryn realizes what a mistake he made making you a vengeance demon in the first place, steals your amulet, and leaves you here to live out your life mortal and demon-powerless like Anya,” Buffy said. “That’s yours.”

    Willow laughed as she cast it. Everyone in the room could feel the wish hanging, like lightning in the air, waiting for Willow to cast her final vengeance.

    “And for Spike?”

    “I wish,” Buffy said, “that you could send me right to him, so I can give him a piece of my mind.”

    “Wish granted,” Willow said, and lifted her arms.

    Buffy vanished.

    “You know,” Willow said before D’Hoffryn showed up in all his grim disapproval and confiscated her amulet, “if Buffy wasn’t my friend, the way she put that wish could have gotten kind of messy.”


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