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Never Alone by Lilachigh
Chp 6 Just A Dream
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Never Alone by Lilachigh

Chapter 6 - Just a dream

She was brushing her teeth when she knew. How prosaic was that - a mouthful of foam, hair screwed up on top of her head, just about to get under the dribble of water that the Italians called a shower before heading out to a nightclub. Not looking Buffy best, but then, there was no one to see her in the Italian apartment.

Dawn was on holiday from school, back in England for a swift visit to see Giles. They’d got really close recently and Buffy was pleased. Junior Watcher, Dawn called herself, laughing, but Buffy had the feeling that was far closer to the truth than the younger girl knew.

She was absorbing knowledge from Giles at an incredible rate and gave orders to the new Slayers with ease and confidence and tact. It wasn’t the life that Buffy would have chosen for her, but she couldn’t deny she was good at it. So Buffy was alone in Rome, getting ready for a night out with new friends. Then, deep inside her she felt this - it was a strange sort of tug - that was the only way she could describe it. Just as if a piece of thread attached to her heart had been gently pulled.

‘He’s alive!’

The toothbrush fell into the sink and she leaned her head against the mirror, feeling sick and shaky, her legs suddenly unable to hold her up. ‘Don‘t be so ridiculous!‘ she muttered out loud, pushing herself upright. ‘It’s your imagination. You’re getting as bad as Willow with her predictions and feelings and weirdness.’

She marched herself under the shower and ran it cold, scrubbing at her skin until it hurt but some marks, she knew, were indelible, scoring her soul. She stared at her hand under the running water. Odd to think it had once grasped Spike’s and burst into flame. Not a mark, not a scar, nothing she could cherish, just a memory.

Buffy knew one little bit of her had never given up hope completely that Spike would come back to her, but that was the part she’d locked away in a box inside a cupboard inside a castle and never, ever looked at.

But for all her determination during the day, at night her mind played tricks on her and she dreamed. Oh how she dreamed.... Of a time when they’d been happy, had laughed, touched, fought, shared, made love, and she’d felt complete, fulfilled and never ever realised it until it was too late.

She dreamed of a man who had aspired to be better, who’d gone searching for his soul, not been given it. Had dealt with all that life and death had thrown at him and still come out a champion at the end. Her champion.

She’d had a dream the night before, a wonderful, erotic, marvellous dream. She‘d been lying in bed and he’d been there, standing by her side. He’d touched her face, gently lifted a curl from her cheek with infinite love. She’d rolled over, opening her eyes with a warm smile, holding out her arms to clasp him to her aching breasts - but the room had been empty. Just a dream.

‘And that’s all it ever will be,’ she thought.

But as she steadfastly got ready to enjoy herself, to go on with her life - because that was what he’d wanted her to do - she wondered if the tug on her heart would ever come again.

And she dreamed.....

Months later………..

“Buffy, will you please concentrate!” Giles sounded more than impatient. He sounded cross and there was nothing like a cross Watcher to get her attention. “We’ve got to check and double check all these details about new Slayers before you go back to Rome. So far I’ve done twelve and you’ve done - ” He peered over the top of his glasses, “Two.”

“Two and a half,” Buffy said hastily, pulling the papers out of the folder next on the pile in front of her. “But it’s a big half!” She felt guilty. She knew she’d been day-dreaming, but she’d felt odd all day, couldn’t keep her mind on her work, kept drifting off into fantasy worlds that would never be.

“Anyway, Giles, this is so boring. If I’d known that getting Willow to make all the potentials real Slayers would mean all this paperwork, I might have had second thoughts! Buffy and forms are not very getty-ony. Why do we need all these details? Bank account numbers? What if they don’t have bank accounts? What if they don’t have any money? Some of them are only little girls!”

“Shall I make a big board?” Andrew looked up hopefully from where he and Dawn were struggling to translate a very old parchment Giles had discovered recently under his bed.

“No, Andrew! No big boards,” Buffy snapped. She still wasn’t sure why Andrew had had to come with her and Dawn from Italy to England. Somehow over the past few weeks he seemed to have become part of her family in a very weird, what-on-earth-shall-we-do-with-Andrew-oh-he-can-live-with-Buffy-and-Dawn way.

OK, he and Dawn got on well together - not, thank goodness in a romantic fashion, but in a geeky older brother and teenage sister style. They argued endlessly about which TV channel to watch, which films were cool, which pop stars trendy.

Strangely though, Buffy was glad that he was there in Rome to hang out with Dawn when she was busy travelling. And as Dawn said, having someone else around who knew where she’d come from was sort of comforting. Only recently she’d told Buffy in a moment of confession that she couldn’t see herself ever having a long term relationship or marriage. How could she explain to a boyfriend that she was originally a ball of green energy! Not a good chat up line! So Andrew was useful.

But ever since he’d come back from America with the rogue Slayer, and had let slip about Spike being back, living with Angel, Buffy hadn’t been able to feel easy in his company.

She was deeply embarrassed to remember how she‘d quizzed him over and over again about Spike. He’d actually spoken to him, touched him. How did he look? Was he well? How had he come back? Did he mention Buffy at all? She’d sent a letter to him. Had he ever received it? How was he getting on with Angel? Why hadn’t they killed each other by now? How friendly was he with that Fred girl? On and embarrassingly on.

Yes, Andrew had seen Spike in Los Angeles and again in Rome. Had seen him and had helped her make, probably, the most idiotic decision of her whole life - getting him to tell Spike that she wanted him to move on with his life.

Even now she felt sick with the stupidity of her actions. But she’d been so angry with Spike for not contacting her, and so desperately upset. One long Italian night, she’d lain in bed in an agony of despair, mental and physical, aching for him, bewildered that he’d made no effort to come to her. And as another hot Roman day dawned in a clash of scarlet and gold, she’d had to face the fact that he didn’t want to see her. Couldn’t care less about her. Had probably never loved her.

A cold stone settled on what remained of her heart and she got up that morning, a far more cynical, bitter Buffy. Because she had to admit to herself that every man she’d been close to in her entire life had moved on when it suited them. Left her because she wasn’t enough for them. Her father, Angel, Parker, Riley - even Xander in a different way.

Oh, he’d been full of plans for them all to stay together. The gang of four, he called them. He’d been going to get badges printed! But then a big building contract had come up in New York and he’d been on the first plane north.

But somehow Buffy had always believed in Spike. In his feelings for her. Well, there was no fool like a Summers fool. In her heart of hearts, she knew her torrid fling with the Immortal had been her way of saying, “Look at me, you idiot! I don’t need you. I can have any man I want.”

Of course she’d known he and Angel were in the nightclub that evening in Rome. God, how she’d known. Every nerve ending had screamed in unison. She’d been going to turn round, make a big smoochy fuss of the Immortal, make them both suffer - Angel for not telling her Spike was back - but most of all Spike for lying about his love for her.

But when she’d turned round, all sexy eyed and glossy lipped, her arms draped round the Immortal’s neck, they’d gone, and it was all too late.

“Buffy, you’re day-dreaming again,” Giles said with a sigh. “Look, why don’t you go out for a walk. Clear your head. I’ll finish up here. I’m sure Dawn and Andrew will help me.”

Buffy smiled at the groans that greeted this remark and grabbing her coat, let herself out into the soft English evening. They were staying at Giles’ apartment in Bath and she loved walking round the Regency town that was so different to the small American life of Sunnydale or the vast roaring city of Rome.

Her mobile rang, making her jump as someone or someones - had reprogrammed the ring tone to a blare of the opening bars of the Star Wars theme. “I’ll kill them,” she muttered as she flipped open the lid.

“Sounds like my girl. ”

She froze in her tracks. It was Angel. “Not your girl,” she said automatically.

“Right. Not yet. Still waiting.”

“No,” she whispered. “Never.”

“What was that? Can’t hear. Buffy, listen.”

She realised his voice sounded dreadful, hoarse and tired.

“There’s been a battle - huge. We’ve lost - we’ve lost Wesley and others. My friends.”
His voice broke.

“Spike?” She’d never known before what people meant when they said your blood froze in your veins, but now she did. She sat down on a low garden wall, her legs unable to hold her any longer.

“I should have known you wouldn’t care about Wes.” Angel sounded bitter. “Just Captain Peroxide.”

“Angel, just tell me.” Her voice sounded odd, very old. As if it belonged to someone else. The world had gone very dark and she had the strangest feeling that it would stay this way for ever. But, not dead, not dead, not dead, rang through her brain. I would know if he was dead, she told herself fiercely. I didn‘t give him permission to die again!

“Buffy, that’s part of why I rang. I need you to tell Giles about Wesley but also, I thought you should know - I can’t find Spike. He’s gone.”

“Do you mean - ” she couldn’t get the words out and had to try again “What do you mean, gone? Like in - staked?”

‘No, I don’t think so. God, Buffy, it was horrific. There was a dragon! But Spike’s just not here now. I can’t sense him anywhere in L.A.”

“Another dimension?”

The line crackled and hissed. “You’re breaking up,’”she heard Angel shout. “He’s just not here and I thought - well, I thought you should know. Listen, tell Giles and - remember, I - ”

The line went dead.

Buffy snapped the flip lid down on her phone and sat, staring into space. She was shivering - one minute cold, the next burning hot. He couldn’t be dead! Why hadn‘t Angel looked out for him? He was his sire, or grandsire, or something. Family, anyway. He should have looked out for him. Spike had probably done something stunningly stupid and...and...and what?

Her eyes were burning and the tears that trickled down her face stung like acid against her cheeks. She stood up and gazed towards the western sky. The sun had set hours ago. It was late now, dark, soft and velvety black sky above her. It would be afternoon still in California. Their day had hours to go yet.

She gave a grim little smile. At least since the Hellmouth had vanished she’d learnt about international date lines and time differences.

Buffy dragged her sleeve across her eyes. No more tears. She’d shed enough over William the Bloody to last several life times. She began walking swiftly back to Giles’.
No, the time for crying was past. Spike wasn’t going to suddenly appear and make everything better. “Stupid vampire,” she muttered. “He’s not dead, he’s just lost! Such a Spikey thing to do. He never had any sense of direction. I could always find him in Sunnydale. I could always find him anywhere!”

She froze, key in hand, as an idea blazed through her brain, then she slammed through the door and stood, hands on hips, gazing at the startled faces in front of her.
“I’m going to America,” she said, eyes blazing. “There’s something I’ve got to do!”

to be continued

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