Journeys Part Two: Awakenings
Sequel to Journeys; part of Journeys Series
“There’s something I
need to talk to you about, Dawnie.”
Dawn shifted nervously
under Buffy’s gaze.
“Now?” she protested.
“I’m kinda tired, what with the whole fighting demons in the sewers and trying
to live with the trauma of being named Umad.”
Buffy took a deep
breath. “Yeah, now.”
“You called me
‘Dawnie’. Lots of times that means it’s either something really important or
something I’m not gonna like. Is it, um, either of those things?”
yeah.” Buffy looked into her sister’s wary eyes. “But not bad important.”
Dawn visibly relaxed.
They sat down on
Dawn’s bed together. After Spike had strolled out, Buffy had taken a few
minutes to calm down, and had been waiting for Dawn in the younger girl’s
bedroom when she got out of the shower. Dawn was still combing out her wet
hair, and Buffy ran her eyes over the gleaming strands, over her sister’s face,
so young, and over her beautiful blue eyes. So like Spike’s, she thought
“It’s about when I
was, ah, gone…”
Dawn’s mouth formed an
‘O’, but no sound came out. The sisters stared at each other.
“Was it – was it
really bad?” Dawn asked at last. Her tone held reluctance and fear.
“It was – no, Dawnie,
it wasn’t bad.”
“Really,” Buffy gave a
soft smile of remembrance. “I wasn’t in hell. Or in any kind of a hell
“You weren’t?” Buffy
wasn’t sure if she could interpret the look in her sister’s eyes. Hope, maybe?
“No. I – I was in
heaven, just like you thought. I don’t know why Willow was so sure I wasn’t,
but I wanted you to know. I was – at least, I think it was heaven. I was
warm, at peace, resting, you know. I felt like I was finished. I didn’t have to
do it all alone any more. The others keep talking about torture, and suffering,
and I just… It’s… I wanted you to know.”
She overheard them
sometimes, from the next room, or from down the hall. Willow and Xander,
mostly, though they were sometimes joined by Anya or Tara. They talked about
the hell thing a lot. They were concerned about her. She knew that. She
could hear it in their voices. She thought perhaps they wanted her to
acknowledge her pain as a sort of first step toward healing. But she just
hadn’t been able to talk about it with them. She didn’t feel like she could lie
about being in hell, thank them for their help, and ease their worries. And she
couldn’t talk to them about heaven yet either. Not yet. And she didn’t know why.
She thought it
was because she didn’t want to cause them pain. They were so sure they’d done
something wonderful, and she didn’t want to take that away from them. She
didn’t know if the relief they would feel at knowing she hadn’t been suffering
hellish torments would make up for knowing what they’d taken her from, and what
they’d taken from her.
Buffy shifted a bit
uneasily. She hoped she wasn’t punishing them in some way by withholding
the information from them. She hoped she wasn’t the kind of person who
would do that. But just the fact that it had occurred to her made her question
Every time she thought
about sitting down with them and telling them what had really happened, every
time she envisioned the encounter, everything inside just coiled into knots,
and she was left feeling shaken and ill. She’d thought that her reluctance to
discuss the issue with them might be because she was having so much trouble
remembering her past with them clearly, that they felt like little more than
strangers to her. But her memories were back now, and, at this point at least,
that hadn’t affected her feelings about telling them at all.
That could change
at any time, Buffy, she told herself. Just relax, let things come.
Giles and Spike kept telling her that she hadn’t been back long, that she
Buffy took a deep
breath, letting it out slowly. Relax. Don’t … Just relax. Relax, relax,
relax. Think instead about how great it was to be able to remember things –
people – events. For her friends to, at least, feel more – familiar – to her.
Buffy allowed herself to enjoy the wash of memories. She smiled. They’d been
through so much together, faced and overcome everything the Hellmouth had
thrown at them. Well, almost everything. And they’d done it by working
together. Not always with perfect symmetry but…
“This is the crack
team that foils my every plan? I am deeply ashamed.”
deepened. They might not have been experts, but they’d managed to foil Spike’s
plans often enough. His, and a lot of the other demony types that had shown up
on the Hellmouth with visions of mayhem dancing in their heads.
She could remember
now, and it was such a relief to not have to reach for memories of their shared
past, but… But more familiar or not, she still didn’t feel right about
Relax, relax, relax.
Grrr. If she could
make that growly-roar sound that Spike did so well, she would. Just give it
time, Buffy. Maybe she could record herself, and Spike and Giles saying
that into one of those miniature tape recorders like Felicity used, shove it
under her pillow, and play it all night. Really absorb it into her brain, like
some form of self-hypnosis. Things are coming back. You will
feel like you used to. You will be able to feel the friendship
and caring inside you again. Just. Give. It. Time.
Dawn sat back against
her headboard, and tipped her face up toward the ceiling for a moment.
“I’m – I’m glad. I was
scared about it, worried, you know, that hell had sorta freaked you out,” she
admitted. “Changed you.”
“Yeah,” Buffy said
softly. “I know I’ve been acting pretty strange since I got back. I think I was
kinda in shock or something at first. Maybe I still am a little. And I’ve been
really confused about things, having… having some major memory problems. But,
hey! They seem to be clearing up, too. So I’m thinking, soon… Normal Buffy.”
“Memory problems?” Dawn
asked. “Like not knowing where anything in town is?”
Buffy rolled her eyes.
“It was the tour, wasn’t it? It gave me away.”
“Pretty much,” Dawn
smiled. “Turning around to check out landmarks like dad taught us when he
dragged us out on one of those lame, and Could the Ground Be Any Rockier
Under My Back? camping trips.”
concurred on the camping memories.
“The clincher was when
you didn’t know who Giles was.”
“Oh, yeah, that.”
Buffy met her eyes. “I know it’s weird. It’s like a whole new chapter of
weirdness in the life of Buffy Summers. When I first came back it was pretty,
er, bad.” She gave a helpless lift of her shoulders, and made a face. “Okay, it
was worse than bad. I didn’t know where I was, or who all the people around me
were. Except you,” she quickly assured her. “I knew you. Right away. Well
almost right away. On the stairs, just before you and Spike cleaned up my
hands. When you grabbed me in that alley and dragged me home through,” she
frowned, “big building, long halls, gaudy carpeting?”
“Oh. Well, I’m still a
little confused about that, I have to admit. I didn’t have any idea what was
going on. But once we got back here, it was kinda like – ‘oh, there’s Dawn and
Spike.’” She frowned. “That was all the same night, right?”
“Yeah,” Dawn replied,
Buffy felt rather
pleased with herself, but catching the line between Dawn’s brows, she quickly
offered more reassurance. “I remember everyone now, really.”
“You really didn’t
know who Willow and Xander were? God, Buffy. I mean, sometimes you looked at
everyone kinda weird, and I, um, wondered, but… god.”
“Well, it wasn’t a
total eclipse of my brain. It would kind of come and go.” Buffy made wave
motions with her hand. “Whoosh, memory working, whoosh, memory totally
defective. Back and forth. Up and down. Not you see it, now you –”
roller-coastery?” Dawn interrupted her lengthening list of descriptions with
one of her own.
Buffy considered that.
“Maybe,” she admitted. “Without, you know, the cool weightless effects.”
“Like when your butt
goes airborne – I love that!” Dawn enthused.
Buffy smiled. “Me,
too.” She looked at Dawn out of the corner of her eyes. “You know, I remembered
you right away, but some little details from our past seem really clear to me
right now. Like when you crossed off ‘Buffy’ and wrote in ‘Dawn’ on my
autographed photo of Dorothy Hamill and took it to school for show and tell,
and when you grabbed my New Kids on the Block video and pulled the tape out so
it was garbage, so we ‘could’ watch ‘Rainbow Brite and the Star Stealer’
instead for, like, the ten millionth time.”
“Hey, it was your
video from when you were a kid!” Dawn tried to pass her geekiness on to her
“I also remembering
when you borrowed my brand new red halter top – the one with the little
rhinestones around the neck?” she nudged Dawn’s memory, “And wore it for a
Halloween costume – as a hooker. Not to mention you were, like, ten at the
time, and shouldn’t’ve even known what a hooker was.”
“Oh great. I get to be
Umad and my sister remembers all the times she most wanted to kill me –
all in one night!”
“You know what else I
remember? I remember when mom lost her job in L.A. and to save money I had to
give up figure skating. You baked me double chocolate chip brownies.”
scorched,” Dawn added proudly.
“And that night just
after Angel left Sunnydale? You bought a giant Hershey bar and flowers and gave
them to me. So I’m not just remembering the bad things.”
remembering the chocolatey moments too.”
“Yeah.” Buffy nodded.
“‘Cause chocolate and Buffy?”
She looked at Dawn
things,” they drawled out in unison. They grinned together at shared memories.
A comfortable silence
“What was it like?”
Dawn asked at last. “I mean heaven. What was it like?”
“Did you get, like,
the answers to all your questions about, you know, life, and stuff?” Dawn’s
eyes lit up briefly. “Was it forty-two?”
“Hmmm?” Buffy’s mind
was beginning to drift as she let remembered sensations flow through her body. So
“Never mind,” Dawn
“It wasn’t like that,”
Buffy murmured. Her eyes took on a certain dreaminess, a vague distance. “I
wasn’t really – thinking about stuff, I guess. It was just the most amazing
peace. I was resting, floating, maybe.” “It was like being completely
surrounded by warmth and love. Total serenity.”
I can almost touch
“Buffy? Buffy?” Dawn’s
voice reached her, faint, and faintly wigged. “Buffy!”
“Are you okay?”
nodded, blinking. “Fine.”
Buffy lay down next to
Dawn. She trailed her fingers across the younger girl’s hand, smiling softly.
Dawn looked at her hard for a moment before laying down as well. She curled
onto her side, and the sisters lay facing one another. Buffy’s fingers moved to
Dawn’s hair, and for a moment she toyed with the damp strands as she studied
her face again.
“She's more than
that. More than family... my sister, my daughter...” I love her, mom, and I
promise you, I’ll take care of her.
“You’ve been really
helpful.” Her voice was hushed. “And I want you to know how much I appreciate
it. You’ve kind of taken in all the weirdness that has been me lately, and
accepted it, and I wanted to thank you for not freaking out to my face, even
though I’m sure it was pretty hard not to.”
admitted. “Even right now, you’re, um, not acting real Buffyish.”
Buffy’s face went into
thoughtful mode as she considered that. She felt Buffyish.
“I feel like me,” she
said with certainty. “Like Buffy.”
“Is that a lot like
‘feeling like a ‘Joan’’?”
“You picked that
lame-o name, not me!”
“There’s nothing wrong
with Joan.” Actually, she thought the name seemed sorta like a combination of
Joyce and Dawn. Maybe. A little.
Dawn rolled her eyes.
“But, yeah, I’ve been worried. You’ve been all kind of, um, softer or
Buffy’s eyes lit up.
“Oh, I know this part! It’s where the conversation somehow turns into a listing
of my previous and apparently well known faults.”
Dawn raised her brows.
“Do you want me to get my notebook with the complete listing? Reading it might
take the rest of the night, but…”
“Do you take lessons
from Spike, or is this a natural talent?” Buffy asked.
Dawn smirked before
forcing her face into a contemplative visage. “Both, I think,” she answered,
nodding thoughtfully. Then she laughed.
“Giles and Spike have
kind of said the same thing – that I seem different. But I feel like me.
Mostly. But then I was always with me, wasn’t I?”
“Well, I was gone,
away from all of you, and… ” her voice trailed off.
Dawn frowned. “What?”
“I was there a long
time, Dawnie. In heaven.”
“Longer than five
months, you mean?” Dawn stared into her sister’s eyes. “But – how? And how
“Time didn’t pass the
same way it does here. And for me, it felt like I was there for hundreds of
“Wow,” Dawn said
softly, her voice full of emotions. Shock. Wonder.
Buffy watched her
trying to absorb this new piece of information.
“So, maybe I did
change. I don’t know. I feel like me, but at the same time, I know I’m not
quite how I was before… It’s like I’m readjusting, you know? Some things are a
little – difficult. Odd things. Like noise. It bothers me, and I find myself
trying to avoid it. Spike and I were at the Bronze earlier, and I just kept
trying to tune it all out, kept wishing things were just sort of – quiet, you
“Well, if you were
surrounded by peace for hundreds of years…” Dawn offered.
“Yeah,” Buffy agreed.
“And it’s kind of painful – physically painful – to feel anger. I’ve thought
about that a lot, ‘cause I know that’s not how I used to feel at all. I got mad
one night on patrol, and it made me feel kind of, you know, gack! Maybe it’s
just, having been away for so long, never feeling any pain or anger…”
“Although… I had a fight with Spike while you were in the shower, and it didn’t
make me feel sick at all. So maybe I’m readjusting to that, too.”
“You had a fight with
Spike?” Dawn asked cautiously, but Buffy could hear the note of fear in her
She made a face. “Oh,
no, not that kind of fight,” she reassured her. “Just like, an argument, you
know. No big. Really.” It had actually felt kind of – good. Sparks flying
between them, getting kind of riled up…
“Look at you. All
flushed and smart mouthed. Body all tight, and eyes shooting daggers at me.
Givin’ me hell. Told you, love, everything you need is inside you.”
“Good. ‘Cause he’s my
best friend, and I don’t want you two going all fighty/kill each other/mortal
enemy with each other again.”
“I know. Don’t worry.
We were just talking some stuff out, really. And Spike was all – you know…”
Buffy rolled onto her back and made lots of dramatic arm gestures.
Dawn giggled. “Yeah,
he kinda talks with his whole body sometimes, doesn’t he? I should have known…
The way he was pacing around the living room like he’d overdosed on caffeine or
something – he was all anxious to burst out with stuff, wasn’t he?” She sighed.
“Stuff not for ‘kid ears’, I suppose,” she added with some exasperation. “It’s
kinda funny watching him sometimes, ‘cause he can be so still and quiet, too.”
Dawn shifted the
conversation back to Buffy. “I was worried about you being in hell, and well…”
“Yeah?” Buffy’s eyes
encouraged her to go on.
“The coffin,” she said
in a rush. “Spike said you dream about it a lot. About waking up there, being
“He did?” He shouldn’t
have told her…
“Yeah, Willow said you
were having all these dreams about hell, nightmares, and Spike told me that
that’s not what your nightmares were about.”
“Oh,” That explained
Spike telling her. “Yeah, I – I do.” Buffy didn’t want to tell her how
horrifying she still found the nightmares. Sheer terror, unreasoning,
everything inside her screaming. Couldn’t breath, couldn’t… “I don’t have quite
as many as I did at first.” Damn it, her voice was shaking. She could hear it.
She hoped Dawn couldn’t. “And I – I’m hoping they’ll stop soon…” her voice
petered out. She didn’t want to admit how many she still had, how frequently
they came. You don’t have as many as you did, she reminded herself. They
will go away. Someday.
Dawn studied her face,
and Buffy had to force herself to meet the blue depths of her sister’s eyes, as
she tried to hide this horror from the younger girl.
“Are you mad at them?
At Willow and the others? For bringing you back?”
Buffy sighed. “I
really don’t know, Dawn. Sometimes I think I am, and sometimes I think I’m not,
or that ‘mad’ isn’t quite the right word.”
“Is it roller-coastery
– like your memories were?”
“Yeah, maybe it is.”
“So you’re gonna tell
them now, huh? And you’re telling me first…”
“No!” The single word
was strong. “I, um, I don’t want them to know.”
“Why not? They should
know.” Dawn seemed surprised that she wouldn’t share this information.
“It would crush them,
Dawn. They think they did a wonderful thing – that they saved me. If they knew…
I just don’t want them to be hurt.”
Dawn stared into her
face. “But they hurt you, didn’t they? A lot?”
“It hurts, yeah.”
Buffy admitted quietly. She paused. “ I know I’ve been… I’m working on it, I
promise. And I do feel like things are getting better.”
Buffy swallowed hard
as she felt Dawn’s arms close around her.
“I’m sorry it’s hard
for you, Buffy. But I’m glad you’re back,” she whispered. “I missed you.”
For long, long
minutes, the sisters lay wrapped in each other’s arms. Buffy stroked her hands
comfortingly over Dawn’s back, and absorbed a few of her sister’s tears into
the flesh of her shoulder. Her own eyes burned, but she didn’t cry. She thought
she might be afraid to start.
“I think you should
tell the others,” Dawn said at last, moving away and dashing at her eyes. She
sniffed. “Willow’s spell last night? If she was really trying to make you
forget hell… Even if just that part of it had worked, it would have made you
forget heaven instead, wouldn’t it? And you wouldn’t want to, would you? I
mean, I think I’d want to remember heaven. Willow should know. They all
“I do want to
remember,” Buffy said. God, more than anything. “But the others… telling them.
Um, not yet. I just… In some ways I feel like I’m just getting to know them
again, and, right now, I’m not ready to answer a lot of questions from them.
But I think you and Spike are right, that I should tell them. Just, let me do it
in my own time, okay?”
“Spike knows?” Dawn
looked surprised. Buffy studied her, concerned. But she didn’t look angry or
hurt that she hadn’t been told first – just surprised.
“Yeah. I’m not really
sure why I told him…”
“You probably just
needed to tell someone. And he can be kinda easy to talk to – you know, cause
he really listens, and stuff,” Dawn suggested.
“Yeah, he does,
doesn’t he?” Buffy agreed.
“We talked about it,
you know. Me and Spike. About heaven. While you were – gone,” Dawn confided.
“Talked about you and mom being together again. Happy. ‘Doin’ good deeds’ Spike
said.” Dawn paused. “Did you, um… did you see mom?”
Buffy tried to find
the words to explain her experience. “I’m not sure. It wasn’t really like that.
I was still me, you know, but it wasn’t like here. Everything was just soft,
and safe, and warm. And I could kinda feel mom, like I could feel everyone
else. But not in the sense that I could touch her, or anyone else. It was just
– I knew they were okay – the people I care about. Or, at least, that they were
in safe hands, being taken care of, or that they would be, that someone was
watching out for them. Does that make any sense?”
“Kinda.” She paused. “Maybe it’s one of those things where you had to be
there.” Dawn looked down at her hands, and Buffy watched her twist them
together. “And you were,” she went on at last. “I’m thinking there aren’t too
many people on earth who can say that, Buffy.” She paused again. “Probably
none, unless you wanna count those near death experience people. Do you know
how lucky you are? To know what heaven is like? You’ll probably go back there,
I will, Buffy
thought. Someday that will all be mine again. Someday. And forever.
“I’m glad you told
me.” Dawn added. “You need to tell me stuff like this, Buffy. I’m your sister.
You said I was helpful, but it still would have been better if I’d known what
was going on. And I’m old enough to know.”
“You’re only fourteen.
Some things –”
Right. Fifteen. She’d
missed her birthday. What with the being dead and all.
“And you were already
the Slayer when you were fifteen,” Dawn reminded her.
Buffy took a deep
breath and blew it slowly out. “Being the Slayer when I was fifteen wasn’t so
wonderful, you know. I found out a lot of things I still wish I didn’t know,
and maybe I’m just trying to protect you a little.”
Dawn rolled her eyes.
“Buffy, protecting me is fine. You know, from demons, and from all the assorted
wonderfulness of living on the Hellmouth. But regular stuff? Just tell me. I
hate it when people hide stuff from me, make decisions for me because they
don’t think I can handle anything. I’m not a kid.”
Buffy looked into her
serious eyes. “Okay. I promise that I’ll try. And I – I’m sorry I didn’t
tell you right away, that you had to worry about me.”
Buffy rolled to the
edge of the bed and stood up. “And Dawnie?”
“If someone makes me
forget heaven again, you and Spike know, and you can remind me, okay?”
“Promise me?” Buffy
asked, a certain wistfulness in her voice.
“I promise,” her
sister assured her.
Of course she’d been
in heaven. How could she ever have doubted it for a minute? She should never
have listened to Willow and gotten all worried about it.
After all, ‘Chosen One’,
right? She was bound to go to heaven. Buffy was, like, a superhero or
something, just like ‘Joan’ had said in the Magic Box. Dawn shifted restlessly,
trying to ignore the niggling little feeling of resentment. She was happy
for Buffy. Of course she was. What kind of a horrible person would she be
if she wasn’t happy to know her sister had been in heaven? It’s not like she’d wanted
Buffy to be in hell.
Dawn flopped onto her
back. Don’t, Dawn, she told herself harshly. Don’t do this.
You are glad
your sister was in heaven. You are not secretly wishing she hadn’t been.
A moment of jealousy that Buffy probably knew what her future held does not
make you evil. You are not thinking bad, evil thoughts. You’re just
thinking. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
changing. You’re changing. It doesn’t matter what you were before you
were Dawn Summers. You can be more than that. More than something created to
destroy the world. Better. You can. Youcanyoucanyoucanyoucan….
Spike is changing,
and you can change too. It doesn’t matter much how you start out… Isn’t that
what he’d said? And Spike knew a lot, about stuff, and about evil. He must know
what he was talking about.
Dawn moved from one
position to another, unable to get comfortable.
Buffy didn’t feel like
she’d been with mom. That surprised her. Almost as soon as Buffy died, Dawn had
figured Buffy and her mom were together in heaven. She’d worried a little about
that portal thing, but since Buffy’s body had stayed in this dimension, she’d
figured diving into it like that hadn’t sent her anywhere. Her conversations
with Spike last summer had sort of lent foundations to her heaven ideas, and,
after that, she hadn’t woven her imaginings around anything but that scenario.
They were together, happy, having fun and being all sort of helpful-ish. Dawn
wasn’t quite sure who she’d thought they were helping, or how, because, really,
who needed help in heaven?, but she’d liked the general good-deed-doing idea.
Maybe it was even kinda like that ‘Touched By An Angel’ show Tara liked. Dawn
had told herself over and over that the idea was one of her lamest ever, but
she’d still fantasized about her mom and Buffy showing up to help her through
some big crisis. Or through one of those ‘this choice is going to change the course
of your life’ moments.
Or even just to say
hi. Maybe they’d look like strangers, but she’d still feel something, and later
she’d realize it had been them.
Dawn pulled her extra
pillow into her arms, hugging it tightly.
But now… Weren’t you
with the people you loved when you died? Get reunited with them? Were you just
– alone? Dawn didn’t like that idea at all. Buffy said it had been wonderful.
Perfect peace. Like floating in an ocean of warmth and love or something like
that. Personally? Dawn thought she’d be a lot happier surrounded by the people
she loved, instead of floating in some huge sea all alone, even if it was all
If you were just
alone, maybe it didn’t matter all that much where you ended up.
He was out there – on the roof. Buffy wondered if she should
try to talk to him, but decided against it. She was exhausted, and if he was
still in the mood to argue, she didn’t think she had the energy to match him.
She’d decided against going in to Tara, too. She’d stood
outside the door of her mom’s old bedroom, listening to the quiet sobs from
inside, debating whether or not she should knock. Even though they hadn’t
spoken much since she’d come back, Buffy felt somehow easier with Tara
than she did with the others. Tara seemed to radiate an inner peace that Buffy
had often envied, and that calmness appealed to her even more now. But she
didn’t know enough about the other woman to know if she could be of any help to
her now. Maybe Tara needed some time alone. Buffy had moved away, promising
herself that she would talk to Tara in the morning.
She was still exhausted, but she’d been laying awake
for what seemed like hours, her active mind denying her any real rest. She was
happy about the talk with Dawn, and hoped her sister would adjust to everything
she’d told her. She was concerned about Willow, upset for Tara, and as for
She’d spent a lot of time with him since she’d come back
and, now, after the ‘moment’ they’d shared at the Bronze, she wondered where it
was all leading. The ‘moment’ had been hot, amazing. And it had been
accompanied by a couple of, um, accessory moments.
He cared about her, for her. She knew that…
Look at me! I... love... you. You're all I bloody
think about... Dream about... You're in my gut, my throat... I'm drowning in
you, Summers. Drowning in you…
When he’d told her he loved her – before – she’d told
herself repeatedly that it was some sick obsession, that he was incapable of
really loving. No soul. Can’t love. Cut and dried, right? Angel had made
that pretty clear, and Giles had backed that theory up.
But even then she’d wondered about it, had felt that there
was something there, inside him, something beyond obsession. If she’d
really believed he was nothing more than a totally evil, mad stalker guy, she
never would have taken her mom and Dawn to him to be protected. She’d trusted
him with them. More than once.
But she hadn’t had the time or the energy to dwell on it, to
deal with it or with him. Her mother’s illness and death, Dawn, Glory, monks
and knights, the impending end of the world as they’d known it… Somehow, trying
to understand Spike and their odd relationship hadn’t been very high on her
list of priorities.
She didn’t think Spike had really had the time to think it
through either, to understand what he’d been feeling, or why. Certainly he’d
been having major problems accepting it. “Because this – with you – is
wrong. I know it! I’m not a complete idiot!...”
Not to mention the trouble he’d had trying to figure out how
to deal with it. Chaining her up had been bad enough. She didn’t even want to
think about the Buffybot, which had totally squigged her out. “It wasn't one
time. It was lots of times. And lots of different ways. I could make sketches.”
Buffy could remember overhearing Willow telling Xander what the bot had
said to her. Unexpectedly, she felt a sort of guilty curiosity run through her.
Had Spike kissed the bot the way he kissed her? Touched it the way he
touched her? Just the thought sent a funny little frisson of something
weird racing along her nerve endings. Buffy made a face. The bot was not
something she wanted to dwell on. Ever. And, apparently, for more than
just the ‘eeeww, gross’, reasons.
Of course, even if Spike had been having trouble dealing
with his feelings, he hadn’t seemed to have any doubt that they existed, or
that they were real, and strong. He’d clearly wanted to explore them, act on
them. And he’d seemed almost equally sure that she felt something, too.
“You can't tell me there isn't anything there between you
and me. I know you feel something.”
She hadn’t thought so. Not then. In fact, she’d been upset,
angry, even disgusted. And strangely afraid.
“We have something, Buffy. It's not pretty, but it's
real, and there's nothing either one of us can do about it.”
No, Spike. We. Do. Not. Have. Something. She could
still remember repeating that over and over in her head. We. Have. Nothing.
And she’d made her lack of feelings for him pretty clear to him, too, hadn’t
she? “The only chance you had with me was when I was unconscious.” Not a
lot of room for doubt there.
But when Glory had tortured him…
It had changed – things. Something. She wasn’t quite
sure what, but… It showed her something inside him, and had made her look at
him, think of him in a slightly different way. ”Angel had a soul. He was
good.” “And I can be too. I've changed Buffy... Something's happening to me.”
She still hadn’t had the time or energy to dwell on it, but something had
changed. Something in how she thought about the whole situation, about him…
“Because Buffy... the other, not so pleasant Buffy…
anything happened to Dawn, it'd destroy her. I couldn't live, her bein' in that
much pain. Let Glory kill me first. Nearly bloody did.”
“I couldn't live, her bein' in that much pain.”
That had no longer felt like some sick obsession. That
had felt like something more…
The kind of tortures Glory had subjected him to… hours and
hours of it…
And why? To protect Dawn, and to try to protect her
from having to endure any more pain. “I couldn’t live, her bein’ in that
That single act, and those words, had changed something in her,
in how she felt… Oh, she hadn’t suddenly fallen in love with him, hadn’t
had any romantic feelings for him… It wasn’t like that. But when they’d gone on
the run from Glory, Spike hadn’t been with them just because he’d stolen the
Winnebago. He’d been with them because she fell they could use his help,
because she felt he had earned a spot in the group, and because she knew she
could count on him to put Dawn’s well-being first. And, most importantly, because
he had earned the right to offer his protection.
That he’d taken his promise to protect Dawn so seriously,
even after her death…
That meant a lot to her. A lot.
And since she’d come back?
She was comfortable with him. More than anyone on this
planet, she was comfortable with him. But it was more than that. She was worried
about him thinking he was responsible for her death, concerned that Willow
had done something – or tried to do something to ‘mess with his mind’. Worried.
Concerned. She cared about him. She didn’t know how much or how
deeply… but something was happening. And it was more than just feeling at ease
He mattered to her.
The acknowledgement didn’t make her feel restless or
uncomfortable. It didn’t worry or upset her…
She tried to recapture the images that had been running
through her head when she’d first seen him standing at the base of the stairs
in her house, looking up at her, and those that she’d seen in those first
hours, days, weeks… Buffy grimaced again briefly at the concept of time. She’d
seen images of them, the two of them, rapid fire pictures… What? Where?
They weren’t memories, were they? She’d had so many problems with her memory
since she’d been brought back that she was hesitant now to trust its
reliability. And the images were so vague now, almost impossible to capture at
all, much less to analyze in any detail. But she’d always felt relatively
confident in the accuracy of her memories of Spike, and she did know that they
hadn’t felt like memories. They hadn’t felt familiar in any way. They’d
been of – other times. Buffy shifted as her brow furrowed.
She didn’t understand…
A sense of loss flowed through her, a deep, inexplicable
sadness. Buffy curled onto her side, drawing her knees up, and tucking a hand
beneath her cheek. She tried to reassure herself, as she had so often when
these images hovered on the fringes of her mind, teasing her, that it would be
okay. They aren’t lost forever. I’ll get them back, she thought… Glimpses.
What’s to come…
Maybe, when I get them back, when I can see them again, I’ll
even understand them.
She tried to shrug off the encroaching sadness. She didn’t
want to think of the things she’d lost, the things she was desperately afraid
she was still losing. Your memories are back now, she told herself
firmly. Maybe you’ll stop feeling like little pieces of yourself are
dissolving into nothingness. Gone.
You’re all here. Everything you need is inside you. Spike
had seemed very certain of that as far as her Slayerness went. Maybe it’s true
of everything. Or maybe you won’t ever miss those things you’re afraid are
gone. Won’t miss them. Won’t even know what they were…
More than losing anything else, she feared losing her
memories of heaven. Already it felt harder to hold onto them, to remember
clearly. She wouldn’t be able to bear it if she lost them altogether. She
should write them down, she thought, wondering why she hadn’t considered it
before. She felt a fleeting sense of amusement. It wouldn’t take long. She could
never find the words to adequately describe it, anyway. Tomorrow, she promised
herself. After she’d talked to Willow and Tara. And made sure everyone was
alright, that they’d all come through the unusual events of the night
relatively unscathed. She’d write down her impressions then, commit them to
She missed it so much, the warmth and peace of heaven. No
worries, no pain, no death.
She didn’t regret being back – here. Not really. Not
exactly. It was far more complicated than that.
“And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there
shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor pain, for the former things have passed
Buffy blinked, trying to… It didn’t help. A tear slipped out
of the corner of her eye, rolling down her face to fall onto her hand. More
followed. Her knees drew up closer to her chest.
Buffy rolled onto her
back, brushing the back of her hand over her face. Had she slept? She must
have. Nnnn… She arched her body, stretching her limbs before she got up and
moving quietly down the hall to the bathroom for a glass of water. She really
wanted some juice but the effort of going down to the kitchen seemed too great.
She wondered vaguely what had happened to her dorm refrigerator. ‘Cause it
would sooo fit into that corner between the windows… She could stock it with
some of those little bottles of fruit juice. God, orange juice sounded so good
When she went back
into her bedroom, she only hesitated a moment before crossing to her window.
She slid it open, but instead of climbing out onto the roof, she turned and sat
on the sill, facing into her room, and pressing her hands between her knees
“Spike,” she greeted.
It was a long time
before she went on. Spike, still looking out over the yard, seemed content to
wait for her to speak.
“I talked to Dawn
about… about being in heaven.”
“I’m glad, love,” he
answered, his voice as quiet as hers. “She needed to know.”
“Yeah, I’m glad, too.
I’m, ah, still not ready to tell the others, though.”
“It’s your decision.”
“But you don’t agree
“I just don’t –” she
broke off. “We’ve been over this.”
“I’m going to talk to
Willow, too. And Tara. Find out what she knows, what she meant about Willow
making her forget – again.” Buffy paused. “What did Willow do to you?”
“To me? Nothing.”
“You said she tried to
mess with your head.”
“It’s not important,
“Did she try to make
you forget something?”
“Why are you so
stubborn?” Her voice was still quiet, but her exasperation was clear.
“I wouldn’t talk
stubborn if I were you, love.”
wanting to push, to demand an answer. But she knew that tone, the way he
altered the mood of the discussion. Pushing wouldn’t help. The subject was
“There you go,
extolling my virtues again,” she said instead.
“There’s a lot of raw
material to work with.”
“You and Dawn team up
on this whole thing, don’t you? Dawn freely admitted that you’re tutoring her
in The Faults of Buffy Summers 101.”
“I – I wanted you to
know that I’m not gonna let Willow ‘get away with this’, that I’m not just
gonna let it go. But I can’t just kick her out of the house – even if I haven’t
quite figured out why she’s living here yet,” she added with a degree of
genuine perplexity. “I – it wouldn’t be fair to her.”
“You and little sis. I
don’t want anyone messing with either of you, fucking with you in any way.”
“I know,” Buffy said
“You’re important to
me, both of you.” The words sounded dragged from him.
They hadn’t once
turned to look at each other, but going over the points of their earlier
arguments more calmly cleared the air a little, and the silence they now shared
“I should try to
sleep,” Buffy said after a few minutes had passed.
“You’re okay then,
love?” he asked, voice low. “Earlier…”
He’d heard her crying,
she realized. Buffy swallowed, hunching her shoulders, as her knees squeezed
her hands briefly. She hadn’t been sobbing, but she imagined the hitches in her
breathing had given her away.
“It was nothing,” she
hedged. “Just a – a moment, I guess.”
“And now the moment’s
Her lips curved.
“Go to bed, pet.”
“Oh, and Spike?”
“There’s no swearing
in this house.”
His head swiveled
slowly toward her, and his eyes narrowed in disbelief. “What?” he sounded
vaguely – outraged.
She looked at him over
her shoulder, brows raised. “You heard me. My mom hated swearing. It was one of
her unbreakable rules. She made me sit in a chair, enjoying a ‘time out’ every
time I slipped up. Later, I got grounded. Dawn, of course, never slipped
up in front of mom. She had this amazing mom radar. I always envied it. You
would not believe what that girl got away with…”
“Yeah, I would. And
I’ll say whatever I bloody well feel like saying, Slayer.”
One brow went higher.
“Not in my house, mister,” she said firmly.
Spike made some
indescribable sound of amusement. “Yes, ma’am.”
“That’s better.” She
nodded her approval at his acceptance of her authority, and kept the smile off
“In deference to
Joyce,” he jibed, deflating her. “Your mum was a fine lady.”
“Are you implying I’m
not a lady?”
“Pffft.” His eyes
gleamed. They drifted past her to the bed. “Not implying it, love.” His eyes
came back to her, running with slow deliberation over the curves of her upper
body. “’m counting on it.”
Buffy’s eyes widened a
little. She stared. She hesitated. She stood up and reached for the wooden
frame of the window. “You’re such a pig, Spike,” she finally told him, and
closed the window, tight.
His looked back out
over the lawn. “Oink,” he said with satisfaction.
The dream felt odd,
different. Not a Slayer dream. At least, she didn’t think so… But something
It seemed more real
than a normal dream, or perhaps less so – neither of which made any sense. Nor
did the fact that she was trying to analyze the dream while she was having it.
In the dream, though, that analytical bent passed as perfectly normal.
The montage of images seemed
logical, even straightforward. They seemed connected, but… but maybe – weren’t.
Flesh. Bare flesh.
Pale and hard, gleaming in silvery blue light.
A breeze disturbed the
curtains at the window, causing them to play with the moonlight that streamed
in, lighting blue eyes.
A familiar voice, not his,
the tone huskier than was usual. Darker. Whose?
There was blood.
Buffy flung up an arm,
but she didn’t wake.
Outside her window,
smoke curled up into the night sky.
Tara was washing the
dishes. Buffy crossed to the sink, pulled a dishtowel from a drawer, and
started drying the glasses the were draining in the rack. She hadn’t slept
much, and she was guessing that Tara hadn’t either. And a glance at Tara’s face
confirmed her other fears. She’d been crying.
“Did Willow stay out
all night?” she asked gently.
Tara shrugged. “She
might have. I haven’t seen her.”
Buffy accepted a
plate, dried it, and took another before speaking again.
“You wanna talk?” she
Tara kept swishing the
sponge over the plate in her hand. She rinsed it, and set it in the drainer
when she saw that Buffy’s hands were full.
“Dawn said that she
overheard you saying something to Willow about her trying to make you forget –
Tara had missed a spot
on the plate in her hand, and Buffy wiped it clean rather than returning it to
her to be re-washed.
“Tara? Can you tell me
what’s happening? Maybe I can help. Maybe we all can.”
“She’s done it a
c-couple of t-times,” Tara finally shared.
“Made you forget
Tara nodded. “We’ve
been ar-arguing a little, and she decided to ‘solve’ our problems by making me
“I’m sorry, Tara. I
haven’t been paying a lot of attention to what’s been going on, and I –”
“Don’t apologize for
that, Buffy. You’ve had a lot of things to work through since we brought you
back.” Tara pushed a strand of hair off her cheek with the back of her wrist,
and turned to her. “I can see it on your face every day. You shouldn’t feel bad
that you didn’t notice my problems.”
“Willow doesn’t think
we have any problems,” Tara told her with some bitterness. “So long as I
keep my mouth shut and don’t express any opinions.”
Buffy was shocked.
That didn’t sound like Willow. She’d often thought her friend enjoyed
arguments. She always seemed to have all the points she wanted to make laid out
logically in her mind. Sometimes she actually had them written out on note
cards. And for Willow to deny Tara her voice? That wasn’t like Willow at all.
“What are you arguing
about?” Buffy asked hesitantly. “You don’t have to tell me,” she added quickly.
“If you don’t want to, or if it’s too personal.”
reckless. W-With magic. Using it too much.”
“In bad ways?” Buffy
felt fear well up.
“That’s not it,
exactly. She’s just using it carelessly, to make things easier for herself. And
that is bad.” Tara closed her eyes and took an audible breath. “Magic
isn’t a game, or a toy. It’s serious. It’s… it’s almost obscene to use magic
for things like – like making decorations for Xander and Anya’s engagement
party, or to do the laundry or something. E-especially when we couldn’t use it
for s-something good, something important… like saving your mother’s life.”
Buffy rubbed Tara’s
upper arm in a movement meant to comfort both of them. Tara looked at her from
under her lashes.
“That would have been
so wonderful. I w-wish we could have done that for you and for Dawnie.”
“Some things aren’t
meant to be, I guess,” Buffy said softly, sadly.
Tara reached for the
frying pan she’d used to make Dawn’s pancakes.
“I asked her what she
was doing last night. She claimed she just wanted to help you. That it hurt to
see you in pain, not sleeping well, not being yourself. She thought if she
could take that pain away from you, make you forget about being –”
“I understand,” Buffy
Tara looked at her
thoughtfully. “Is that what you want her to do? Do you want her to help you
forget? I mean – I’d understand if…”
“No,” Buffy said
softly. “That’s not what I want.”
Tara studied her
carefully, her eyes only moving back to the sink when Buffy shifted a little
restlessly under her steady regard.
Buffy straightened, standing a bit taller. “Do you think
it’s time for an intervention?” she asked. After all, she thought, why should
the group only hold interventions for her? And an intervention would
take the onus off of her and redistribute it onto everyone. Where is should be.
In this case, there was nothing wrong with sharing responsibility. “You need
to learn how to balance everything, Slayer. What and when you can let go. Stop
taking the whole bleeding world onto your shoulders.”
“We have to make sure
Willow really understands…”
Tara looked at her. “I
know I’m kind of quiet, and that people p-probably think I’m not very
assertive. But I c-can be, you know. And I have made my feelings clear.
After the first time, I told her that I considered what she had done to me a
violation, like mental rape.
Buffy felt the shock
of the words runs through her.
“She knew how I felt
and that still didn’t stop her from doing it a second time. And then this thing
last night – with all of us. Just a little mistake in the forgetting spell she
was trying to cast on you, she said. And I – I’m not sure if I believe her.”
“I’m so sorry, Tara,”
Buffy said at the desolation in the other girl’s voice. “So sorry.”
The two women silently
finished the dishes and wiped down the counters and the stove.
“We’ll talk to Giles,” Buffy tried to offer some
reassurance. “Maybe there’s something we can do. ‘Cause something isn’t right
with Will, and I think she might need our help.”
Willow was casually
looking through her pile of mail as she walked into the house. Her eyes lifted
from the third piece of junk mail offering her 0% interest on a new credit
card, and she froze. They were all there; Tara, Buffy and Dawn, Giles, Xander
and Anya. If it was dark, Spike would probably be present too, she thought.
They were grouped together in the living room, and every eye was trained on
her, every expression serious.
“Do you realize I
was surrounded, completely surrounded by rabbits? Do you have any idea
how traumatic that was? And it was all because I didn’t know who I was or that
magical intuition that wasn’t vengeance related wasn’t exactly one of my strong
points. What if that had been you, and you’d been surrounded by frogs? Would it
be so simple to dismiss then? Just think about that!”
is a gross invasion of privacy. What happened to us seems to have been
incidental, a factor in a great many of your spells. But what you did, or tried
to do to Buffy and Tara – what could you have been thinking – to try to alter
someone’s memories, or take them from them?”
“I don’t know a lot
about what’s been happening since I – left. And I realize I’ve been a little
withdrawn lately. I have some problems I need to work through, and I’d
appreciate it if everyone would just give me a little time and space and let me
try to do that. You told Tara that you were just trying to make me forget
things that happened to me – forget what happened while I was gone. But I don’t
want you to make that decision for me. I want to work through things on my own.
I have to.
“Until I spoke to
the others I thought this might be just a one time mistake. But it doesn’t
sound that way to me anymore.
“My first responsibility
is to Dawn and to her safety and happiness. We came under attack last night. It
was good that Spike and I still had our fighting skills or we all could have
been killed when those vamps broke into the shop. That’s dangerous, and we face
enough dangerous situations. I don’t want you or anyone pulling strings I don’t
even know you’re tugging on. And Willow? I’m sorry to say this, but if you
can’t control this, you’ll have to move out, to find another place to live.”
“ Giles and Anya
thought they were engaged. What if they’d had sex, or, er, something?”
“Willow, I love
you. You know that. You say you just want us to stop arguing, and for us to be
happy. Well, I want us to be happy, too. But I want to be happy because things
are right, because we’re right, and strong, and care about each other.
To get rid of my objections by making me forget them – it’s just wrong. Couples
argue, Will, and when we do, I deserve the right to my voice. I don’t think I
can exist in a relationship where I’m not allowed that. My voice, and my
opinions. I told you how I felt when you violated my mind by trying to make me
forget arguments. But you did it again, almost right away, and now expanded
that invasion to our friends as well.
Even Dawn had opened
her mouth several times to speak, but finally just shook her head and passed.
Buffy squeezed her sister’s hand.
Oh, it was all very
civilized. And the actual words coming out of their mouths were more kindly
phrased. Not so accusatory. They’d obviously practiced them. Had they rehearsed
together? Willow wondered, remembering how they’d done so before confronting
Buffy – who before this afternoon had been Miss Can’t Say ‘Boo’ – with their
knowledge that Angel had returned from hell.
And they kept assuring
her that they loved her, that they were worried about her.
But it still came down
to this: You messed up big time, Willow. You screwed up, Willow. You were wrong,
Willow. And finally; mess up again, and we’re gonna kick your ass out of this
house, Willow. Away from Tara. We’re sorry, but we’d have no choice.
Blah, Tara’s emotional well-being, blah, Dawn, blah, blah.
It all still amounted
to an ultimatum.
She’d been walking for
a long time, completely unaware of her surroundings. It wasn’t until someone
appeared in front of her that she seemed to come back to herself a little.
Enough to realize that she was not in the best part of town. She was too close
to the docks, and noticing them now, the dark warehouses lining the streets
looked empty and foreboding.
Her eyes came up and
met those of the man in front of her. He wasn’t tall or broad. His face was
scarred, his hair long and unkempt. But she could feel the power radiating from
Willow took a step
back, belatedly preparing to defend herself. She raised a hand.
He caught it in one of
“No need for that,
strawberry. I’m here to help you.”
Willow met his eyes,
and he smiled.
Continued in Chapter Nine
I feel like I’ve just written a ‘filler ep’. With only a
few exceptions, this chapter doesn’t do much but go over stuff we already
knew... But I thought the Buffy/Dawn bonding was too important to reduce to a
paragraph in a conversation between Spike and one of the sisters. Upcoming
chapters do more to move the story forward and establish relationships. I
Willow’s encounter at the end of this chapter was supposed
to be with an original character. But there were things about the Rack
character that I liked – actually, it was mostly the cloaked building that I
liked – and since it was going to be obvious I’d drawn on him, I decided to
plunge right in and just use the same name and description, etc. I think you’ll
find his character and his role rather different, though. For those of you –
and I know you’re out there yelling at me right now – who think Tara’s
description of Willow’s problems, and Rack’s appearance combine to mean I’m
going to do the whole ‘Willow’s just addicted to magic’ subplot, just do what
Buffy keeps telling herself to do; relax, relax, relax.
The feedback I continue to get on this story has been
nothing short of amazing, and I’m incredibly grateful. To know that people are
enjoying the story means a lot to me. I’ve been trying to catch up on some
e-mail, but I’m so far behind now, it may never happen. If you’ve not heard
back from me, please don’t think that that somehow implies your note wasn’t
read or appreciated. Nothing could be further from the truth.
April 22, 2003