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And I Still Do (Love You) by slaymesoftly
Chapter Twenty-nine
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“We’re going to have to go in tomorrow, or the next day at the latest.  There were five of those things last night, and they knew who to target.”


“Is anyone injured?” Winston frowned his dismay at having missed the excitement. He glanced around the table at Buffy, Spike, Giles, and Xander.


“Not really. Kennedy’s been taken down a peg or two—almost dying can do that to you—and Willow’s probably going to sleep most of today. But no, no one got badly hurt. And there are five less Turok-Hans to worry about when we attack.”


“So, they’ve increased in numbers every night.” Giles sighed. “I believe you’re right, Buffy. We need to move against them before there are so many above ground that we can’t get to the hellmouth to close it.”


“Exactly,” Buffy said. “If we have to fight our way into the hellmouth, we won’t be able to close it without getting people killed.”  She smiled at Winston. “The good news is, Winston thinks he can shut it without bringing down the whole town.”


“Or even the entire building,” Winston said with a shrug. “If I’m able to do what I think I can, we can fill the hellmouth with so much sunshine, nothing that can be harmed by the sun will survive.”


“Are we sure we can do that, even in the daytime? It’s pretty dark in the sub-basement, isn’t it?” Xander’s question had Spike beaming at him and sending him a thumb’s up.


“Harris has a point,” Spike said. “Just because they weren’t out when we were there yesterday, doesn’t mean they can’t be all over the lower floors of the high school. Even the new basement where all the storage and equipment is doesn’t get any natural sun. In our time, while I was livin’ down there, I was all over that part of the building.”


“Hmmm. I didn’t think of that. They could be waiting for us almost anywhere.” Buffy exhaled with a frown. “All right, then, we need to go in with the girls already powered up. Waiting until we’re already there and fighting them doesn’t make sense. Wish I’d thought of that…. well, doesn’t matter now. This time, we’ll do the spell before we leave the house. We’ll be going in with fully functional, armed slayers.” She smiled at Xander. “Thanks, Xander. You always think of the right thing to do.”


“I’m pretty sure I don’t,” he said with an embarrassed shrug. “But this one seemed kind of obvious.” In spite of his embarrassment, he seemed to relax and bask in the general approval.


“All right. I’m thinking we should go in tomorrow. We just can’t afford to wait any longer. I’ll have to think of some way to get the building cleared out…. just in case.”


“Fire drill,” Xander said firmly. “Just pull the fire alarms and all the kids will run outside.” He paused. “I know where the main switch is located,” he said. “I can throw it from there, in the basement.”


“Sounds like a plan. Now to share the happy news with the about-to-be slayers and Sara. I’ll do that later today. And Wes, I guess. Is he planning to be here, Giles?”


“Actually, he’s on his way. He drove back to LA to pick up his preferred weapons, and expects to be at my place in time for tea.”


“Anybody have anything else?” Buffy looked at Winston.


Winston spoke quickly, “We’ll want to make sure Willow is sufficiently recovered from last night’s work. The spell is going to be quite draining.”


“I thought you were going to help her?”


“I helped her design it, with a little assistance from Max, but she really needs to do it herself. Both because that sort of magic is more her area than mine, and also because she needs to make that sort of contribution for her own self-image. I want her to see herself as the good person and hero that I know she can be.”




Spike decided to walk Xander to his car, allowing Buffy to start walking home herself.


Don’t be long.


Not to worry, love. Be home before you’ve had time to undress… although if you want to be naked when I get there….


Her mental laugh made him smile, leading Xander to ask, “Something funny?”


Spike shook his head. “Nothing you want to know about,” he said, giving Xander’s arm a shove.


“Ah, more x-rated mental telepathy stuff,” he said with a shudder. “You’re right. I don’t want to know.”


A momentary bolt of alarm from Buffy had Spike freezing in place. Buffy? Slayer? What’s wrong? Talk to me!


It’s okay. I was just startled for a second. It was the First… looking like you. I guess it doesn’t know I don’t have to see you to know you’re okay.


And vice-versa. What did it want?


I don’t know. When it could tell I knew it wasn’t you, it swore and disappeared.


“What’s wrong?” Xander frowned at Spike’s expression.


“Seems like the First popped up pretending to be me. Disappeared as soon as it figured out she wasn’t being fooled.”


“Maybe it was hoping to keep you two apart for a while for some reason…. Like that, for instance?” Xander pointed to Robin Wood who had stepped out from behind a van with a cocked crossbow pointed at Spike’s chest.


“Bugger!” Spike hissed. “If he shoots me with that thing, it’s going to be one more secret we’ve let out too soon.”


“I don’t suppose you can teleport?” Xander moved to step in front of Spike, but before he could put himself in danger, he felt the air movement as Spike leapt from the ground to the roof of the car, and from there to land behind Robin. While Robin was still searching for him with his eyes and the crossbow, Spike reached around him and knocked it from his hands. Xander ran to pick it up, and retreated out of Robin’s reach as he disarmed it.


“Almost as good as,” Spike said, responding to Xander’s remark about teleporting. “Had to stop you from doing something stupid, didn’t I?”


“He wasn’t going to shoot me… I don’t think so anyway.” He stared at Robin. “Would you? Have shot me to get at Spike?”


Robin didn’t respond. Having heard Spike’s voice behind him, he whirled around, pulling a stake from his sleeve and stabbing at Spike’s chest. Spike caught the hand holding the stake and began to squeeze until, with a curse, Robin dropped it. Spike immediately let go of him and stepped away after kicking the stake some distance.


“That was really stupid,” he growled. “You were a lot more clever in—” He shook his head. “Guess we know now why your boss was hoping pretending to be me would keep Buffy away long enough for you to make me disappear.” He glared at Robin. “That’s your one pass on account of I killed your mum. Don’t try it again.”  He cocked his head. “Told you before, your mum was a hell of a slayer. And all about the mission. You might want to ask yourself how she’d feel about you letting something like the First Evil talk you into doing its dirty work. I’ll bet she’s spinning in her grave about now.”


With that, he deliberately turned his back and walked over to look at the roof of Xander’s car.


“Looks like I put a little dent in there. Maybe I can push it up from the inside.”


“We’ll worry about it later,” Xander said. “You probably need to get home to Buffy and show her that you’re in one piece. And without having to let on about…. anything the First doesn’t need to know about.”


“Good point. In you go, then.”


Spike waited until Xander drove away, then turned back to Robin Wood, who remained standing where he’d been left, his face a study in confusion.


“You think on what I said about your mum,” Spike said. “And ask yourself if this is what she would be wantin’ you to do.” With that, he left, moving almost as quickly as he had to avoid being shot, and leaving Robin to stare after him.




He tried to what? I’ll kill him!”  Buffy started toward the door, stopping when Spike put his arms around her.


“Didn’t happen, love. He didn’t even come as close to it as he did in our time. And I gave him a little something to think about….”


She stiffened. “How bad did you hurt him?”


“Didn’t lay a fang on him.” He opened their link to show her what happened. Might have made his hand a mite sore, but, that’s all I did. I just reminded him of who and what his mum was and asked how she’d feel about him trying to sabotage your mission.


“Oh. Well, who knows? That might work.” She relaxed against him. “I’m sorry. I know you weren’t going to do anything stupid.”


“Wasn’t,” he said with a low growl. “But Harris almost did. Bloody fool!”




“Tried to step in front of me so the First wouldn’t learn about the Gem and my lack of cooperation when something tries to kill me.”


“Is he okay?”


“He’s fine. I was a lot faster than Wood expected, and he didn’t have time to shoot before I knocked it away. But it was still a bloody stupid thing to do.”


“Xander’s courage is sometimes bigger than his sense of self-preservation. Always has been.”


“I told him it was his job to keep me out of trouble. Not step between me and something that he knew couldn’t kill me anyway,” Spike grumbled into her ear as he nibbled on it.


“He’s your friend now,” Buffy said softly. “And he protects his friends… and the mission.”


“Boy’s come a long way,” Spike agreed gruffly. “From thinkin’ I had no right to exist, never mind be with you, to almost getting himself killed.”


Buffy nodded and turned around to face him, putting her arms around his neck. “Well, I’m glad you’re both all right. I think we should celebrate it.” She grinned up at him. “I told Sara I was coming over late this afternoon to talk to the girls about the plan. But we’ve got time to kill until then.”


“I married a brilliant woman,” he murmured against her mouth. “Absolutely brilliant, you are.”


Buffy deepened the kiss and jumped up to wrap her legs around him so he could carry her into the bedroom.





When Buffy and Spike got to the Guardian/Slayer house, they found Sara and the girls all waiting in the lounge. Although Sara assured Buffy she hadn’t told the girls anything except that they were going to discuss the plan, Buffy could see that some of them were almost quivering with excitement.


She looked around the room, smiling at Wes and Winston, as well as Giles.  Willow was standing with Sara, seemingly completely recovered from her exertions the night before.


“How do you feel? All good again?”


Willow beamed at her. “Of course I am. I was just a little tired last night, but I’m all me again now. Ready whenever you are.”


Buffy shot a glance at Winston, who shrugged an apology. “Fair warning seemed like a good idea,” he said.


“It probably was. Okay then, let’s get this show on the road.”


“Does that mean you’re going to tell us what the plan is?” A girl Buffy barely remembered seeing before stared at her eagerly as the others murmured their agreement. Before Buffy could answer her, Spike touched her shoulder.


No heartbeat. She’s not human, and not even non-human, I’m guessing. Without speaking, he walked slowly toward the smiling girl, whose smile began to fade as he approached her.


“Get away from me!” she squeaked. “You’re a vampire! Somebody stop him. He’s going to hurt me!”


Kennedy made a half-hearted move toward impeding Spike’s progress, but Mel grabbed her arm. “Don’t be stupid,” she hissed.


Spike winked at Mel, then closed the gap between himself and the new girl, who was now looking very worried. With a very unladylike roar, she morphed into a giant mouth before disappearing with a loud pop.


In the uproar that followed, Winston and Willow began a rapid tour of the big building, checking the wards. Sara wore her own expression of grim determination as she walked around the large open room, chanting to herself.  When Willow got back, she looked at Sara who nodded.


“My mistake. I left this room less well protected than the rest of the place because we do have occasional visitors. It didn’t occur to me that the First might be able to get in.”


“Who was that girl?”


“Her name was Lucy. She got here a couple of days ago, then disappeared yesterday. She showed up this morning, somewhat the worse for wear, but said she was fine. She said she was afraid to try to come home at night, so she stayed at a friend’s house and came back this morning.”


“I’m guessing her actual body is out there somewhere,” Spike growled. “The First was able to waltz right in here.”


Buffy sighed. “I should have warned you about that. The same thing happened in our time. It killed a girl and pretended to be her.”


Sara shook her head. “I should have been more suspicious. The wards wouldn’t have allowed a vampire in here, but the ones on this room aren’t complex enough to keep out a fake potential.”  She smiled at Spike. “Good thing we had someone here who can hear heartbeats.”


“It has its uses,” he agreed, staring around the room as if listening to everyone. The girls squirmed uncomfortably, but met his gaze with determination. “I think we’re all right now.”


“All right, ladies. Are you ready to be strong?” Buffy stared around the room, watching their expressions carefully.


“Huh?” “What?” “How…?”


Buffy quickly summarized the spell Willow was going to do, and what it would mean to them. “If anybody doesn’t want to be a slayer, let Sara know before tomorrow. Willow will have another spell to take you out of the mix and Sara will see that you’re safe. We’ll do the activating spell first thing in the morning before we take the battle to the First. Any questions?”


Kennedy eyed Buffy’s scythe. “Do we all get one of those?”


“Nope. Sorry. As far as I know, it’s one of a kind. And it’s mine. And after me, it’s Faith’s… if she shows up here.”


“Well what good are our powers going to do us, if we don’t have the right weapon?”


Before Buffy could respond, Spike stepped up and looked Kennedy in the eye. “She wasn’t using it when she ripped the heart out of the one trying to have you for lunch last night, was she?  And have you forgotten what she told you about the first Turok-Han she dusted? Did it with her bare hands and piece of wire. Didn’t even know yet that there was such a thing as a weapon meant for the Slayer.”


“Just when did she do that? We’re out there all the time with her.” Kennedy cringed a bit from the low growl rumbling in Spike’s throat, but stood her ground.


“And that brings us to something else we don’t want the First to know….” Buffy said, moving up beside Winston and tugging Spike back to her.


“You’re going to tell them now?” Sara asked.


“I think I should. Mel’s already half-way there, I think.” Buffy paused to send Mel a reassuring smile. “And they need to know. If nothing else—” she glared at Kennedy, “—it should stop a few of the questions. And if it doesn’t, well, ‘because I said so’ always worked for my mom.” She gazed around the room, making eye contact with each girl, one at a time, until she’d satisfied herself that they were all paying attention.


“Spike and I came here from the future. A future not very far away now, but a different future than what you’re going to have. Our world was very different from what this one has become. We were sent back here several years ago, to try to prevent the First from becoming so strong. In our timeline, we didn’t know to prepare for it, and it was much more powerful and did a lot more damage before we could drive it back and close the hellmouth.” Ignoring the murmurs and gasps, she pointed to Winston. “And Winston here, comes from a just slightly different future, in which he was sent back to help us out. We do some of the things we do, because we’ve already done them before. Or, because it’s something we didn’t do in our timeline, but know we should have done to prevent some very bad things. The most important of those bad things is the First becoming so powerful that Sp—we had to destroy the town of Sunnydale in order to stop the Turk-Hans from coming out and swarming the whole world.”


She gave a tight smile at their shocked faces. “We don’t want to do that this time. We’re way ahead of things in terms of getting the jump on the First and his army of uglies. And if we can knock them back and close them up without pulling the whole town down, then the future is going to be different, not just for Sunnydale, but for all of us. And better. I hope.”


She stopped talking and just let them chatter among themselves for several minutes.


Willow stepped up beside her. “Well, that should give them something to occupy their minds tonight,” she said with a giggle. “And I think you’re right, Mel was already figuring it out. Look at her.” They watched Mel rolling her eyes and shaking her head at some of the more ridiculous comments, and then quietly responding to the more sensible ones.


“Yep. She reminds me a little bit of Faith, and a little bit of me.” Buffy glanced at Willow. “If something happens to me, give the scythe to Mel. I think she can handle it.”


“Not to Kennedy, huh?” Willow asked, her expression belying her casual tone. Buffy sighed.


“I don’t think so. She’ll probably make a decent slayer, but I think she’d be too busy being bossy to really think things through.”


“Is that the voice of experience speaking?” Willow asked shrewdly.


“Could be.” Buffy smiled at Willow. “I thought Faith was going to cut her off at the knees more than once. It’s a good thing she had… somebody on her side.”


“Somebody. Was that me?”


“It was. But to be honest, I don’t think it was going well by the time I left.”


“Just checking. It’s probably not going anywhere this time either. She’s just too different from Tara. And anyway, it wouldn’t be appropriate for a Guardian to be having a thing with one of the slayers.”


Buffy beamed at Willow. “So, you’re going to do it? That’s awesome. After we send the First back to hell, we’ll all need to sit down and figure out what we’re going to do with this different world.”


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