Chapter 5 - California Dreamin'
Saturday, May 4th, 2002
"Buffy, come back. Buffy?"
Dawn tried to shake her sister back into awareness. When that didn't work she started working out her options. She couldn't leave her unattended. It was still daylight but just the same it was Sunnydale. Taking the coffee from her hands and placing it on the ground she pulled her sister to her feet. Relief flowed through her. It worked. At least Buffy wasn't frozen to the spot and once she pulled her halfway, it was as if she did the rest of it and stayed upright on her own.
So far, so good. She pulled Buffy's bag from her shoulder and checked her purse. There was thirty dollars in it. She replaced the purse in her bag and put the bag over her own shoulder. She took Buffy's hand and walked a few paces. Buffy's body shuffled along behind her. When she stopped, it stopped. If she wasn't pulling on its arm it just stood motionless except for an occasional blink. It was all creeping Dawn out in a major way. If there was anyone else here to take charge she would just freak out and let them get on with it, but she was on her own, for now.
She pulled Buffy's body toward the nearest phone box. The first number she tried rang several times and then a machine kicked in.
"Xander, if you're there, pick up. It's Dawn." She waited for a while but there was no response and she replaced the receiver. Willow might or might not be home but there wasn't anything Willow could do about getting the pair of them home. Why was it out of all the people who knew about the weird stuff only two of them could drive and one of them was solarly challenged and didn't have a phone? Dawn dialled a number she found on one of the stickers that festooned the booth summoning a taxi.
Buffy was dreaming. It was a very strange dream. She was dreaming about the night that Riley came back to town, but it was like she was watching herself. She watched herself enter Spike's crypt, feeling a tingle of excitement, a sudden happiness that she was at a loss to explain. She hadn't been happy that night and that "low down tingle" as Faith had once so eloquently put it, well it was there, but it sure wasn't right.
She tried to look down at her body, but it seemed as if she had no control. Okay, this was too weird. Time to wake up. Now. please? Try as she might she couldn't force herself to wake up. Words were coming out of her mouth, but they weren't her words. They were Spike's words. She knew exactly what Spike had been going to say when she asked him to say he wanted her and she could feel it as well. Oh my God. She was hitchhiking in Spike's body. The desire, the hope and, God help her, the love she was feeling, they were his . It was the way he had felt that night.
She relived the earlier part of that night, from her entrance into the crypt until Spike finally drifted off to sleep, holding her in his arms. She was aware for the first time that he had been awake long after she had succumbed to her fatigue, blissfully happy just to watch her, to be allowed that close to her post coitus.
Then the dream changed, or she rode piggy back as he dreamt another dream within his dream. Spike and Xander were talking to some old man. The old man was asking about a spell Dawn did. He said she changed her mind, and Buffy felt the wave of grief at the memory before she realised what he was talking about. Spike had brought Dawn here. He had helped her when she tried to resurrect her mother. Spike had grieved for her mother? He had grieved for himself and for her pain and Dawn's.
The old guy warned her to stay away from hell-gods and she knew how much she wanted to take that advice except that choice was no choice at all because she loved Dawn more than her own life. Suddenly the old man leaped diagonally across the room in a way that suggested he wasn't an old man at all and then it was behind her but when she turned it was holding a sword to her throat. She managed to swat the blade out of the monster's hand but the manoeuvre forced her to fall over backward scattering a pile of books.
Xander tried to take advantage of it being disarmed but the beast's tongue came out like a lizard's knocking him into the wall. From her semi-prone position on the ground she watched the sole of its foot come toward her face. It picked up a wooden box and threw it into the fire returning to grab her by her T-shirt threatening her before Xander recovered enough to tackle it.
She knew that the box was her only hope to find out what she needed to know to save Dawn, and that made her brave the flames that she knew were potentially fatal. By the time she pulled the box from the flames Xander had recovered the dropped sword and driven it through the chest of the demon and his blood seeped from the wound like blue washing-up liquid.
She was going to leave and part of her knew that in real life she had done but some intuition forced her not to. Passing the box to Xander, she pulled the blade from the wound and used it to sever the demon's head from its body, throwing it into the fireplace. The eyes opened, no longer human looking but irises black and enlarged and the mouth opened in a silent scream. She watched until the head shrivelled and blackened and then she picked up the sword once more and hacked the remains to pieces.
The scene changed and she crouched with Xander and Anya at the bottom of the tower. Glory's underlings defended the bottom of the stairs but time was working in the slayer's favour. As long as Dream Buffy could keep Glory busy there was no one to perform the sacrifice. There would have been but there wasn't. She watched as Glory turned back into Ben and Dream Buffy rushed to the top of the tower untying her sister and bringing her down.
Glory's minions had scattered once she was defeated and Buffy knew that Spike wanted to rush to meet his women as he thought of them. Instead he slipped away into the shadows knowing he wouldn't be wanted now he had played his part. She watched from a distance as Dream Buffy brought her sister unharmed to the ground and her heart filled with pride and love before she walked away.
A door appeared in front of her and she opened it walking through into either a costume party or a party from Spike's youth. Her eyes scanned the room drawn to a couple who shared a sofa. She moved toward them but for some reason she was reluctant to do so. She knew that watching this was going to dig up some old remembered pain, but she didn't see how. The man was mousy, timid and he sat with his shoulders rounded in as if he was trying to make himself look smaller, like he preferred to be ignored. The woman for some reason looked vaguely familiar, but Buffy couldn't quite place her.
She moved closer, close enough to hear what the pair were saying. She realised as she heard him speak, even though the tone was more refined than she was used to, that this was Spike, or rather William.
"I know. it's sudden and. please, if they're no good, they're only words but. the feeling behind them. I love you, Buffy."
The sound of her own name threw her and she realised that the woman in the crinoline was in fact now her. She had been busy concentrating on Spike and the world had changed around her. The girl with her face responded to William's pleas.
"I know I'm a bad poet but I'm a good man. and all I ask is that you try to see me-"
"I do see you. That's the problem. You're nothing to me, William. You're beneath me."
Bank notes fluttered round her as she sat in the alley by the Bronze, tears running down her face, as she watched the slayers retreating back.
"But you don't see me. I've tried to make it clear to you, but you won't see it." She rose from the ground before carrying on with what she had to say to Dream Buffy, who had halted when she heard Spike's voice. "Something happened to me. The way I feel . about you . it's different. And no matter how hard you try to convince yourself it isn't, it's real."
She watched Dream Buffy's feet as she turned to face her. "I think it is." Her eyes rose to look at the other Buffy's face, her heart filled with hope. "For you."
A pain so deep it was almost physical lanced through her. She drew a deep breath that she didn't need as her eyes flew wide. She realised that her cheeks were wet and wiped at them with her hand, but it made little difference as more tears kept falling.
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