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The Fire Within by Eowyn315
Falling Apart to Half Time
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A/N: Oddly, no singing in this chapter. But the title is a line from the Fall Out Boy song "Dance Dance."


Chapter 13: Falling Apart to Half Time

“It’ll work,” Willow insisted, despite the skeptical expressions on her friends’ faces. “It has to work.”

Giles took off his glasses and studied her. “Willow, I understand you’re upset about Tara, but you must be reasonable about this. What you’re suggesting would require shifting dimensions and creating temporal folds. You know how dangerous that is, after Glory… Willow, if you’re wrong – if you’re off by just the tiniest bit – you could collapse dimensions!”

“I can do it! Look, I have equations.” She showed him the loose-leaf paper with her scribbled notes on it, including a few diagrams, lists of equations, and several clusters of what appeared to be nonsense words. “Angel’s people worked it all out.”

“You called Angel?” Buffy jumped in, hating her pathetic tone of voice but unable to stop herself. From his vantage point in the corner of the shop, separate from the others, Spike growled low in his throat.

“I called Lorne. He’s… well, he kinda works for Angel. And he’s a singing demon from another dimension, so I thought he might have some ideas.”

“And – this is what he came up with?” Giles asked, looking over Willow’s notes.

“Well, he knew of Sweet, and – and he thinks we could find his hell dimension, with these calculations here.”

The redheaded witch had spent the entire night on the phone, as Angel woke up his colleagues one by one. After Lorne came Wesley, who had advised her – and cautioned her – regarding several spells used to traverse dimensions, something they’d become familiar with earlier that spring. Then, Willow had been passed on to a spunky physicist named Fred who had worked through the equations with her, figuring out how to get to the right dimension using Lorne’s knowledge of Sweet.

Her phone bill was going to be monstrous, but by noon, they had a plan. It was dangerous, and there were any number of things that could go wrong, but Willow had enough drive and determination to make up for the lack of confidence.

The others didn’t have that luxury.

“Willow, you can’t possibly be serious about this,” Giles admonished her. “I mean, this is – this is extraordinarily perilous. You don’t possess the skills to –”

“Don’t possess the skills?” Willow stared at the Watcher incredulously. “Angel managed to do it just by reading from a book! Giles, I raised the dead! I can do this.”

The two were so engaged in their argument that neither saw Buffy flinch at Willow’s words. Xander and Anya, too, were busy watching the fight, so that only Spike noticed the Slayer’s involuntary reaction. He gravitated toward her, lifting one hand to comfort her.

His touch was light and discreet, simply brushing the back of her neck with his fingertips, but the sensation sent tingles of desire down her spine. She closed her eyes, letting herself be enveloped by the warm glow his touch created within her. Then, she felt his fingers skate across her hip as his arm came surreptitiously around her waist, and the feelings inside her intensified, causing her to draw in a slight gasp.

Spike’s hand disappeared abruptly, and Buffy realized that conversation had ceased, and the others were looking at her curiously. “Sorry,” she mumbled. “I, uh, need to hit something.” With that, she grabbed Spike by the front of his shirt and dragged him into the training room.

Once they were gone, Willow turned back to Giles. “Look, I know you don’t trust me, Giles. I know you think I’m arrogant and – and an amateur. But I made this mess, and you have to let me fix it!” She paused, choking back a sob. The truth was, she wasn’t even sure she trusted herself anymore. But Tara meant everything to her. “I have to get her back. Even if she never wants to see me again. I can’t – I can’t live with myself, knowing this is my fault.”

Giles sighed. “I understand that, Willow, but you must think of the larger picture. What if your spell hurts even more of your friends? What if it damages the fabric of space and time? Willow, if you’re wrong – you could destroy the entire world.”

“Buffy was willing to destroy the world to save Dawn,” Willow said softly.

“And she died because of it.”

“Then, that’s what I’ll do,” she replied. “If I have to.”


Shutting the training room door behind them, Buffy tossed Spike up against it, kissing him hard. Gripping her tightly, he spun them around, reversing their positions. He planted one hand next to her head while the other traveled downward, coasting over her soft breasts and taut stomach, finally nestling between her thighs. Arching into his touch, she pulled his head down to hers and desperately devoured his mouth. He ground his erection into her hip while his hand worked at her clit through the fabric of her pants, and he let out a moan as her hands fisted in his hair. She answered him with her own kittenish whimpers, his touch sending her spiraling higher and higher until she came crashing back to earth with the suddenness of her unexpected climax.

When they finally separated, both were breathing hard. Buffy smiled through her haze of pleasure; she liked the way she could make him forget he didn’t need to breathe. She had just pushed off the wall to pull him into her arms again when the door opened behind her. With lightning speed, Buffy threw an unsuspecting Spike to the ground, standing over him as though they’d been fighting.

“Buff?” Xander said, poking his head in the open door. “You okay in here?”

“Yeah,” she replied, conveniently out of breath, though for very different reasons than her friend would suspect. “We were just, uh – training.”

Xander raised his eyebrows. “Not that I don’t favor the Spike hittage, but – he can’t hurt people. How does that –”

“It just works, okay?” Buffy interrupted quickly, as she and Spike exchanged a look. Neither was overjoyed at the reminder that Buffy apparently wasn’t entirely human. She extended a hand to help the vampire to his feet as she asked Xander, “What’s going on out there?”

“Giles and Will basically had it out over her dimension-hopping plan. She stormed out in a huff, saying Giles didn’t care about Tara.” He sighed. “Ahn’s in there now, going over everything with Giles, trying to see if it’s even possible.”

Buffy nodded. “Spike and I are gonna go out and patrol.” Spike raised his eyebrows at the idea that she was deciding for him, but he didn’t object. “Let me know if you guys figure anything out,” she finished.

“Yeah, will do,” Xander said, giving the two of them one last suspicious look before heading back into the storefront.

Buffy breathed a sigh of relief and turned to Spike, surprised to see his eyes flaring with furious sparks of yellow.

“Won’t be your dirty little secret, Slayer.”

“I know,” she said, trying unsuccessfully to soothe him, as he jerked away from her touch. “I just – I wouldn’t know how to explain it to them. That I’m –”

“Using me to scratch an itch?” he broke in bitterly. “Why not? Afraid they'll think less of you?” He sneered at her. “I only wonder, pet – would it be worse if you told them it was just sex, or if they thought you were in love with me?”

Buffy stared at him, hurt, but also frightened by the question. She was pretty sure they’d be shocked, and maybe disappointed in her, if she said she was using Spike for sex. But ultimately, they’d understand. After what she’d been through – after what they’d put her through – they’d be able to forgive her for acting out like that.

But if she told them she loved Spike… it’d be the anti-Angel club all over again. Worse, because Spike didn’t even have a soul.

The problem was – the longer this went on, the harder it was to convince herself it was just about the sex. And that frightened the hell out of her.

“Well, I'm not,” she snapped back defensively, “so that's not an issue.”

He flinched as though she’d slapped him, and he said in a harsh, spiteful tone, “Right. How could I forget?”

There was such pain and depth of emotion on his face that Buffy softened immediately, her anger dissipating in the space of a second. “Look,” she said, in a gentler tone. “Once this singing thing is over – if I still… feel this way…”

“Then you'll tell them?” She couldn’t miss the note of hopefulness in his voice.

“I – I…” She stuttered, losing her nerve. “Spike, it’s been four days! I don’t know what to tell them – because I don’t know what this is yet.”

“You knew I loved you. Knew what you were getting into. If you’re not going to –”

“Spike, please,” she said, throwing up her hands. “Can we… not… do this now?”

Spike let out a disgusted sigh. “Right. Come on, then. Let’s just patrol, all right?”
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