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I Know You II by slaymesoftly
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Chapter Nine

When Buffy awoke to find the chair still firmly in place in front of the door, she smothered her disappointment with indignation.

(Who does he think he is? Not coming home when he knows I’ll worry. He is so going to get his ass kicked when he shows up...)

Blissfully ignoring the contradiction between her words to Spike that he stop hovering, and her anger that he hadn’t come back to the house, she stepped into the shower, still grumbling to herself about what a jerk he was and what she was going to do to him when she saw him again. If, under the righteous indignation there was a shiver of genuine fear that the vampire who had so quickly become such a part of her life might not be coming back, she smothered it, clinging to her anger throughout the day, right up until the point where she left the restaurant and found no sexy blond vampire waiting for her at the door. Nor did she find him when she made her usual pass through the alley behind the stores, or hanging out at the mall entrance, throwing his finished cigarette butts onto the pavement, just to annoy the rent-a-cop glaring at him.

Telling herself that she was just expanding her patrol area, she ventured into the demon part of town – a place she had tried to avoid after Clem had explained to her that most of the demons in this dimension were contributing members of society in one form or another, and that they stuck to their own area because they needed a respite from being around humans all day long. Although Buffy’s arrival in this dimension had been unheralded, it had only taken a few months for the word to spread that one of those mythical beings – a Slayer – had taken up residence in Winterset. She had learned to recognize the sidelong glances that meant she was making those around her uncomfortable and she did her best to stay away from places where keeping up with her sacred duty might mean accidentally killing her non-human neighbors and co-workers.

She walked along the street, doing her best to appear harmless and uninterested in the passers-by, waiting for the telltale tingle that would indicate the presence of a vampire. When she felt the familiar itching on the back of her neck as she peered through the window of a seedy-looking bar, she chewed on her lip, debating what to do. She was still staring in the window – mentally counting the vampires inside and searching for a bleached blond head – when she felt more tingles coming from behind. She whirled, stake at the ready, to find Clem and Spike standing some distance away, gaping at her.

“Buffy! What are you doing here?” Clem’s welcoming smile was somewhat hampered by his concern that she would feel the need to stake his new friend. In an attempt to forestall any slaying, he began, “Buffy, this is—“



His eyes bounced back and forth between the two blonds who were wearing identically wary expressions.

“You know each other?”

Neither one answered him. The vampire continuing to stare impassively as the slayer put her stake back into her waistband. Buffy’s face was a study in confusion as she looked back and forth between Spike and the demon she knew as a friend.

“Where were you?” she blurted before she could stop herself.

“What do you care?” Spike’s stubborn expression allowed no room for the apology she had been framing the night before, and she reacted accordingly.

“I don’t care!” she snapped. “But if there’s going to be a dangerous vampire running around my town, I need to keep track of him.”

“So, that’s what the hospitality’s been about? Keeping tabs on me in case I start munching on the locals?” His voice was tight and controlled, giving no sign of the pain her words were causing.

“What else would it be?” she muttered, cringing even as the words left her mouth. Spike whirled, obviously intending to disappear in a swirl of leather just as he had after their last conversation. He’d gone only a few strides when her raised voice came to him, only the slight tremble in it causing him to halt.

“Did it occur to you that I might be worried?”

He stopped, but remained with his back to her. “Thought you didn’t want me around?” he said coldly. “You were pretty clear on that.”

“I said I didn’t need you to hover over me 24/7,” she growled back. “I didn’t say you shouldn’t come home!” In spite of the anger in her voice, there was an undercurrent of fear and insecurity, and he was reminded once again of her actual age. With a sigh, he turned around to face her, kicking himself when he caught the expression on her face.

Clem was still staring back and forth between the vampire who had told him he came from a dimension where he killed slayers, and the slayer who had shown up so suddenly in their world and whose ability to slay vampires in large numbers had made it safer for humans and law-abiding demons to go about their business.

“Okay,” he said into the sudden silence, “it sounds like you two have some issues to work out, so I’m just going to...” He gestured at the bar and began to sidle toward the door. Neither one actually watched him leave, Buffy’s “See you tomorrow,” barely audible over Spike’s “Thanks for the bed, mate.” He nodded and ducked into the bar, his dislike for strife overcoming his curiosity about what exactly was the relationship between the two blonds on the sidewalk.

There was an awkward silence while Buffy tried to keep her lower lip from trembling and Spike fought the urge to put his arms around her and comfort her the way he had the other Buffy. When it was beginning to stretch to uncomfortable lengths, he turned and gestured for her to accompany him. They began walking rapidly toward the human section of the town, still silent, but gradually slowing their steps as they relaxed. When they were finally walking at a normal pace, he looked at her from the corners of his eyes and asked quietly, “You were worried about me?”

“You didn’t come home,” she said softly, as if that explained everything.

“It’s your home, luv,” he reminded her gently.

“You live there, too.” Her lower lip began to protrude to match the stubborn tone of her voice.

They walked a few more blocks in silence, until, with some mental swearing (bloody ponce!) Spike broke the standoff.

“I’m sorry,” he said quietly. “I was a git. I’m worried about leavin’ the other Buffy with the poof and I took it out on you.” Gritting his teeth, he continued, “I know you...love...him, and I’ve got no right to get my knickers in a twist every time I hear his name. It’s just that—“

“It’s just that I was comparing you to him,” she said, surprising him with her insight.

“Uh, yeah,” was all he could manage by way of reply.

“I’m sorry, too,” she admitted softly. “I should have said something a long time ago about needing some space – not let it build up until I turned into bitchy-Buffy. And I know you’re not...not like him. Not really.”

“Too bloody right,” he mumbled, temporarily at a loss for words.

“So,” her voice was tentative and much meeker than he would have expected, “are we okay?”

“Yeah, luv. We’re alright. Or we will be as soon as I get something cold and sweet into you.” His leer wasn’t meant to be taken seriously, but she blushed obligingly at the innuendo as she followed him into the ice cream shop.

There was a line in the shop, and it soon became obvious that the college jock behind the counter was intending to ignore Spike for as long as he possibly could. The vampire did his best to appear to be an ordinary customer, but his always-in-short-supply patience was quickly exhausted.

“’ey, mate. Could you hurry it up a bit? The little lady wants some ice cream.”

The much larger and more muscular man wielding the ice cream scoop looked down on the blond punk and shrugged dismissively.

“I’ll get to you when I get to you. You’ll just have to wait your turn like everybody else.”

Spike smiled slightly and stepped closer to the counter, leaning forward and letting his true face show.

“I’m not like everybody else, mate,” he said with deceptive mildness, then grinned to be sure that the other man saw his fangs.

Before Buffy could react, the now-ashen server had fixed her cone and waved off Spike’s money with a “No charge – sorry for the wait.”

She waited until they were well away from the shop, then punched a laughing Spike on the arm.

“You flashed some fang at him, didn’t you?” She glared at him, but couldn’t keep her lips from twitching and he smirked back at her.

“Jus’ gave him a little incentive to be more respectful, is all, Slayer. Next time he won’t be so quick to think he can lord it over customers he doesn’t like the look of.”

“So, that was all in the interest of improving his manners,” she said primly.

“Exactly.” His self-satisfied air sent her into giggles and they finished the walk home exchanging bites from her ice cream and falling back into their normal comfortable routine.


“What do you see?” Dawn’s impatient voice brought a shushing motion from the seer who was bent over the pool of liquid in which she could see Spike and Buffy as they walked through town, eating ice cream and laughing. “Is Buffy okay? Is Spike there too? Are they unhappy?”

“Not at the moment,” the witch said dryly, stepping aside so that Dawn could watch the laughing slayer and vampire enter the small house.

“Cool! But where are they? That doesn’t look like Sunnydale.”

“It isn’t. It seems to be yet another dimension, albeit one that also contains vampires and demons. Unfortunately, we can’t see anything about it except what is right in front of them, so I can’t tell you where it is. We can try again tomorrow night and perhaps they will take us somewhere that will allow us to get a better idea of where or when they are.”

“But they’re okay, aren’t they?” Dawn asked anxiously. “And they’re together – that’s got to be good.”

The scene in the pool drifted into the house and she was able to watch as the two younger versions of her sister and surrogate brother settled onto an old couch to watch television. She winced as a close-up of Buffy’s face showed her that she was now looking at the body of the sister who had disappeared from her world. It was strange to see the hard, worn lines of her sister’s face wearing the laughing innocence of a teenager. She switched her gaze to the vampire, taking in the angular face and dancing eyes that she hadn’t seen much of in Sunnydale.

With a start, she realized that all her memories of Spike before he fell in love with her sister were invented ones; she had never actually seen him when he wasn’t mooning over her sister, mourning her death, or hiding a violent affair with her. She watched, fascinated, as his eyes danced with mischief and he teased a blushing Buffy with ribald explanations for what was happening on the TV screen.

Feeling much comforted by the small scene of domestic happiness in front of her, she agreed to wait until they had scanned the new dimension several more times before attempting to enter it and make contact with Buffy and Spike.

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