All About Spike

Chapter: 1  2  3  4  5  6

Future Imperfect
By cousinjean

Summary/Notes/Disclaimer/Shoutouts: See Part One.

Rating: Over-all, rated R for sex and violence (you know, the good stuff). This part's only PG.




Part Two: Briefing

Buffy looked around at the conference room. It didnít look so special. It was big, and white, and cold, but the chairs just looked like chairs, and the table just looked like a table. It all looked so typical. This didnít look like the future. She looked down at her outfit. It didnít really look very futuristic, either. Sheíd been issued a set of military fatigues, and told that it was standard Slayer wear. Sheíd have to do something about that. She wondered if they had good shopping on the moon.

She missed the magic shop. She missed her home. Hell, she even missed Spikeís crypt. She focused on the places that had comprised her home. She tried not to think about the people. It was easier that way. Spike had offered to tell her what happened to everybody, but she just wasnít ready for a history lesson yet. Just the idea that they had all mourned for her, and then had all gone on with their lives, lives that had ended centuries agoÖ it was all a little too much. She had to get used to the here and now before she could even begin to deal with the then and there.

She looked across the table at Spike, and he offered her a reassuring smile. She made a point to return it, then continued her perusal of the room. She didnít know which was more bizarre, that she was on the moon in the year 2336 or that Spike was her new Watcher. How the hell was that even possible?

"I donít get it," she said.

"Donít get which part, pet?"

"I donít get how you can be a Watcher. I mean, when Angel was dying, the Council wouldnít lift a finger to help him, because he was a vampire. And he had a soul."

"Yeah, but Angel spent a hundred years hiding from the world and not lifting any of his own fingers to help anybody before he met you. He was still pretty new to the hero business when that happened. The Council didnít know what to make of him."

"But you were somehow easier to figure out, oh soulless wonder?" She wrinkled her nose. "Or is that it? Did you go and get a soul?"

"Iíve always had a soul, pet. Itís just not human."

"And suddenly that doesnít matter to the Council?"

Spike raised an eyebrow. "Nothing sudden about it, Slayer. It took over a hundred and fifty years of being a good dog, helping out the Slayers and minding all of my bloody pís and qís. The Council refused to even recognize me as an ally before that. It took another thirty years after that for my kids to take control and make me a member."

"Your kids?"

Spike waved a dismissive hand. "I just call Ďem that. Your friendsí descendents, actually. And Dawnís. Been watching Ďem for generations."

Buffy tried to imagine this. Sheíd awakened to find her friends were long dead, but Spike had actually watched them all grow old and die, just as heíd been watching their descendents grow and live and die for centuries now. She softened her attitude.

"Why?" she asked.

"Why what?"

"Why have you stuck around all this time? Why did you keep helping?"

Spike looked at her, then he looked at the table, and shrugged. "I promised you I would, didnít I?"

"You said youíd protect Dawn."

"Till the end of the world. I figured that applied to her kids, and to their kids, and so on."

"But, technically, the world did end. Iíd say you had a pretty good out."

"Maybe. It didnít end so much as take a hiatus. ĎSides, the Summers line didnít end. Even if they arenít called Summers anymore. Iím in this as much for Anne now as I am for you and Nibblet."

"Anne?"

"Yeah. Sheís the last of Dawnís descendents, at least until she starts having kids. Youíll get to meet her here in a minute, sheíll be here for your briefing."

"Wow." Buffy sat back in her chair and let this sink in. She smiled. "I bet Dawn made a good mom."

"She made a great mum," Spike said.

The doors swished open then, and a blonde woman entered who looked to be about Buffyís age--not counting the three hundred years or so since her last birthday. She looked eerily familiar.

"Thereís our girl now," Spike said. "Anne Richards, meet your aunt Buffy."

The girl stopped in her tracks, and stared at Buffy. "Oh, wow," she said.

"Youíre not a-kidding," Buffy said. She stood up, and went to shake hands with her "niece." "I can actually see the family resemblance."

"Really?" The girl blushed. "Iím sorry. I just, I meanÖ youíre Buffy Summers."

"Yeah," Buffy said, "thatís my name, all right."

"Iím sorry," she said again. "I donít mean to make you feel weird."

"I donít really think you can add a whole lot to the weirdness factor at this point," Buffy said.

Just then, the doors opened again, and a familiar face walked in. Buffyís eyes went wide, and her heart skipped a beat. "Xander!" She ran over and threw her arms around the boy. "They got you, too!"

"Uh, yeah," Nick said, "Spike told me I look just like him. I guess itís really true."

Buffy let go of him and took a step back, embarrassed. "Sorry," she said. "Itís justÖ what was I saying just now about the weirdness factor?"

"Hey, donít worry about it. Itís not like getting hugged by pretty girls is something Iím wont to complain about." He held out his hand. "Nick Harris. Pleased to meet you."

"Iím--"

"Buffy Summers. Yeah, I know."

"Seems like everybody does," Buffy said.

"Thatís because your name is legendary," said a woman as she entered the room. She spoke with an English accent, and looked to be in her fifties. A pair of glasses perched on her nose, and her attire appeared somewhat formal compared to the casual dress of the others in the room. Finally, thought Buffy, a Watcher who actually looks like a Watcher.

"This is my mom," Nick said. "Sheís head of the Council."

"Oh," Buffy said. "So youíre the one who decided to play God with my life? Glad to meet you."

Mrs. Harris removed her glasses and regarded Buffy. "The decision to bring you here was not mine alone to make, Miss Summers."

"Of course not," Buffy said. "Iím sure good olí Spike here had something to do with it."

"Actually, William was quite vocal in his protestations against the plan."

Buffy looked at Spike, who appeared to be fascinated with a spot on the table. "Really?"

"He thought it would be unfair to bring you here to fight our battle."

"Oh. Well, hereís a sentence I never thought Iíd say: Spike was right. Itís not fair."

"Yes, I suppose he was. But has anything about being the Slayer ever been fair? Besides, the alternative is that you would be more than 300 years in the grave."

"Yeah," Buffy said. "I kind of figured that when I jumped. Itís not like I did it on a whim."

"I donít understand," Anne said. "Buffy, did you want to die?"

Buffy looked at her. "No, I didnít want to die. But I did want the fighting to be over. Youíve kind of taken that option away from me."

"We havenít," Mrs. Harris said. "No one is going to force you to fight our battle. You are free to refuse. Provisions will still be made for you to stay and live out your life here on the colony."

"Really?" Buffy asked. The Council might have made some changes since sheíd last dealt with them, but she still didnít trust them. "Whatís the catch?"

"Only that you allow us to explain our situation to you before you make your decision."

"Sure," Buffy said. "I can do that."

"All right, then," Mrs. Harris said, and smiled. "Take your seat and weíll begin."

Buffy leaned against the wall and crossed her arms. "IĎm good standing."

The chairwoman paused, and then gave a conciliatory nod. "Very well," she said as she took her place at the head of the table. "How much has William explained to you?"

"Just that vampires took over the world and now you want to get it back. So, how did that happen, exactly?"

"Good question. It seems that after your demise, a new Slayer failed to receive the calling, and with your contemporary still undergoing incarceration--"

"Does this have to all be in Watcher-speak?" Buffy asked.

"Faith was still in prison," Spike clarified.

"Gotcha."

"At any rate," the chairwoman continued, "despite the best efforts of William and your friends, the vampire population of Sunnydale began to increase exponentially."

"Yeah," Spike said. "It wasnít just locals siring new ones. Vampires started coming from all over once word got out that the hellmouth no longer had a Slayer."

"The law firm known as Wolfram and Hart opened up a branch in Sunnydale soon thereafter," Mrs. Harris said. "It was headed up by a vampire named Lilah Morgan."

"Why does that name sound so familiar?" Buffy asked Spike.

"She was one of those lawyers what gave Angel such a hard time in Los Angeles. Before she came to Sunnydale she got Drusilla to turn her."

"Damn," Buffy said. "Guess I should have encouraged you to stake her for me."

Spike looked puzzled for a moment, and then the memory seemed to dawn on him. Buffy suspected heíd have blushed if he was able.

Mrs. Harris cleared her throat, and continued. "Under Ms. Morganís council, the vampires began to organize. Within twenty years, they developed a nationwide network, which included some of the most brilliant scientific minds in America. Within fifty years, the network had expanded globally."

"Around that time," Nick said, "they started to go public. They began demanding equal rights, even rallied some humans to their cause. The Vampire Rights movement caused a lot of trouble."

"Vampire rights?" Buffy couldnít believe this. "What kind of rights did they expect to receive? Theyíre killers."

"Yes," Anne said, "but they claimed to be looking for a way to peacefully co-exist without presenting a threat to humans. They said they were working on developing synthetic human plasma--ísynthí for short--that would be capable of sustaining them in lieu of blood. They offered to share their findings with us, and the US government was all for it, for medical purposes. Theyíd been working on perfecting synthetic blood for years, for use in transfusions and in surgery. Theyíd have a never-ending supply, independent of blood donations, plus it would eliminate the chance of any diseases making it through the screening process."

"The vampires claimed to be on the verge of having the formula all worked out," Nick said. "They offered to work with humanity to perfect it, in exchange for clemency, and they got it. Lilah Morgan was made official liaison between the vamp leaders and Congress. At her insistence, a cease and desist order was issued against the Slayer. She wasnít allowed to touch vampires. She left the country to slay them elsewhere, but it wasnít long until other governments followed suit. The Slayer was turned into an outlaw."

"During this time," the chairwoman said, "NASA finally succeeded in sending several manned missions to Mars, and had combined with other space-faring nations to begin colonizing the moon. The Council, ever vigilant against the forces of darkness, did not buy into the vampire raceís overtures of peace, and began relocating the archives to the lunar colony. Fortunately, William was able to provide intelligence on the vampiresí ultimate plan in time for us to gain the British militaryís cooperation in building an arc of sorts, thus transporting the entire Council, an army platoon, and the means by which to live to the lunar colony before the plan was enacted."

"Yeah," Spike said, "but just barely."

"So, what was the plan?" Buffy asked.

"Long story short," Spike said, "the vamps eventually perfected their phony blood. It was deemed a medical breakthrough, and vampires became regarded as bloody heroes. They laid low for another hundred years or so, pretending to live in peace with humanity, and humanity ate it up. Generations passed, and eventually the human race had completely let its guard down. They even elected that Lilah bitch to be their bloody Vice President."

"Surprise, surprise," Nick said, "soon after, the President died under Ďmysteriousí circumstances. Lilah Morgan was promoted to president. The media loved her. She was double-billed as both the first vampire and first female president of the United States."

"And then she pushed the bloody button," Spike said.

Buffy gaped at him. "The button? As in, the Ďletís wipe ourselves off the face of the planetí button?"

"Thatís the one. See, the vamps had their never-ending supply of blood, so they didnít need humanity anymore. Theyíre impervious to radiation, and the resulting nuclear winter blocked the sun out for over a century. They turned the planet into a bloody vampire paradise."

"Oh, my God," Buffy said.

"Yes," Mrs. Harris said. "But the radiation has since abated, and the planet has become healthy again, ready to support human life. Weíve been working for the past several years on developing a plan to take back the planet. We will be ready to move on it in a month. You were brought here to lead the assault. Any questions?"

"Yeah," Buffy said. "For starters, why me? What do you think Iím going to be able to do for you? You all act like Iím the Second Coming or something. What makes me so much more special than all the other Slayers?"

"The sheer magnitude of the enemies you defeated, for one thing. The Master, Dracula, GlorificusÖ you prevented an apocalypse no fewer than six times."

"Right," Buffy said. "Prevented. It sounds to me like you already had one. I donít have any experience in post-apocalyptic planet recovery, or whatever youíre calling this."

"Youíll improvise," Spike said. "Youíll figure it out as you go. Thatís what youíre good at. Itís part of what makes you so special." Buffy gave him a questioning look, and he glanced down at the table. "As Slayers go, I mean."

"Itís what we were good at," Buffy said. "I didnít do any of those things by myself. My friends and I, we were a team. Iím no good without them."

"Rot," Spike said. "Yeah, they were helpful, but you know as well as I do there were times they just got in your way."

"Thatís not true."

"No? Just think about all the times I used them against you. They could be as much a liability as an asset."

"ButÖ okay, so there were times when I could have done my job more easily if I didnít have to worry about protecting them, but there were also plenty of times when there was no way I could have won without their help."

"Look, Iím not saying they didnít have their uses. They were brave kids, and they had a lot of skills. Especially the Wiccans. But you were the one who held Ďem all together, love. You were the one who inspired us all to fight the good fight."

"And that is all we are asking of you now," the chairwoman said. "We need you to inspire us, Buffy. Provide our troops with the will to win."

"Oh," Buffy said. "Is that all? And here I thought you might want me to do something really hard, like stake their leader or something." She shook her head. "I have to get out of here," she said. "Meeting adjourned." She started for the door.

"William?" the chairwoman said. "Do something."

"What? Didnít I mention? Buffy doesnít work for the Council." Buffy had her back to him, but she could hear the familiar smirk in his voice. "The Council works for Buffy." He got up and followed her into the corridor.

"Good show, pet," he said. "That was telling Ďem."

Buffy spun around to face him, but he held up a hand before she could say anything.

"I mean it," he said. "I think you really made an impression."

"A bad one, I hope. I was trying to lower their expectations."

"Iím pretty sure you didnít manage that."

Buffy sighed. "What do they expect me to do, Spike?"

"Your job, pet. Thatís all."

She shook her head. "Yeah, well, theyíre in for a disappointment if they think Iím going to be able to win their war. I mean, sure, Iím good at the action stuff, but Iím not exactly Big Idea Girl. Thatís what the gang was good for."

"Nonsense," Spike said. "You had plenty of good ideas. I mean, whose idea was it to use a bazooka on the Judge?"

"Xanderís."

Spike raised an eyebrow. "Really? Huh. Whoíd have thought heíd come up with something that clever?"

"SpikeÖ"

"All right, so the whelp got lucky. But what aboutÖ what about that time you, Xander and Willow all combined with Giles to take out that Adam bloke? That was a great idea."

"It was Willowís idea."

"Oh." Spike chewed his bottom lip as he searched his memory. His face lit up. "Hey, what about that time you teamed up with me to defeat Angelus?"

Buffy squinted at him. "That was totally your idea," she said.

"Yeah, but you were smart enough to trust me."

She rolled her eyes. "Thatís a judgment call," she said, "and the juryís still out over here."

"Yeah, well, the point is, you have good judgment. And just because you delegate the brainstorming doesnít mean youíre not a good planner. You may not think of yourself as big thinker, but youíre a fast one, thatĎs for sure. It wasnít the Scoobies who put me in a wheelchair, and it wasnít any of them who sent Angel to hell. They werenĎt the ones knocked Glory on her ass, either." He shook his head, and his voice turned bitter. "ThereĎs a plan that wouldĎve worked, ifÖ"

His voice trailed off, and a dark, far away look flashed across his face. He opened his mouth to say something else, but seemed to think better of it. He put his hands in his pockets, and sighed.

"Anyway, listen to me, pet. After the first time you and I fought, I began to study you. I even had my minions record videotapes of your fights so I could study your technique, pick out your weaknesses." He looked nostalgic, which bothered Buffy, considering he was talking about a time when heíd been trying to figure out a way to kill her. He shook his head. "Iíll be damned if I could find any," he said, and smiled. "You wereÖ incredible. And youíve only gotten better since. And do you know why?" He walked up to her, and tapped a finger against her temple. "Because you use your head. Youíre a very clever girl, Buffy. Donít ever let anybody tell you different."

Buffy blinked in surprise. She didnít know if sheíd ever get used to getting compliments from Spike. She shook her head. "Maybe, butÖ I donít know how to do it without them, Spike. Theyíre all gone. Everything is gone. I donít have anything anymore."

"Youíve still got me."

Buffy looked at him, and had a moment of dťjŗ vu.

I hate you.

And Iím all youíve got.

"Youíll always have me," he said. "And you have the Council at your service, not to mention an entire army at your command."

"I donít know how to command an army."

"Well," Spike pursed his lips as he seemed to consider this, then shrugged. "Youíve got a month to learn."

Buffy studied his eyes. They conveyed total sincerity. His confidence in her was touching, as well as infectious. Maybe she really could pull this off. On impulse, she leaned up and kissed his cheek.

He cocked his head to one side and smiled, a bit shyly. "What was that for?"

"Thanks," she said. "Iíve been meaning to do that for days now. Well, I guess centuries, from your perspective. Ever since that talk we had on the stairs. All things considered, I guess I should have taken a sec to go ahead and do it then, huh?"

"Maybe," he said. With a tentative hand, he brushed a stray hair out of her face. "Canít say it would have made losing you any easier."

Buffy stared into his eyes for a long moment, trying to think of something to say, but nothing came. She began to grow increasingly aware of his closeness, and she swallowed. Hard. Mercifully, he broke off the gaze, and started down the corridor.

"Come on," he said. "Letís go down to the lounge. Iíll buy you some lunch."

This made Buffy snicker.

"What?"

"íIíll buy you lunch?í Thereís a phrase I never thought would make it into the Spike vocabulary. Especially the ĎIíll buyí part."

"Yeah, well, things change, Slayer."

"So Iíve noticed," she said as she fell into step beside him.

***

Spike found them a table towards the back--not too private, but not exactly in the midst of the action, either. Not that there was much action. The place looked like part commissary, part bar. Its patrons looked to be mostly uniformed military types. In her fatigues, Buffy blended right in.

As they sat down, a waiter met them with a menu for her and a mug of something thick and red for Spike. "Iíll just have the special. Oh, and, do you have iced tea?" The waiter nodded. "IĎll have that then." He left to fetch her order. "I guess they know your type," she said, grimacing at Spikeís lunch.

"If it makes your delicate sensibilities feel any better, Slayer, itís not blood. Itís synth."

"The synthetic blood they told me about in the meeting?"

He nodded. "Been living on the stuff for over a hundred years now." He took a drink, and shrugged. "Itís got a bit of an aftertaste, but itís not too bad once you get used to it."

"Iíll take your word for it," Buffy said.

The waiter brought her an egg salad sandwich and a glass of tea. She lifted the bread on the sandwich and frowned at its contents.

"I know itís not exactly the Bronze," Spike said. "Not much of a menu."

"No, this is fine. Itís just, I guess Iím not as hungry as I thought I was."

"Eat it anyway," he told her. "If I recall, you didnít eat much during those last few days, and I know youíve hardly eaten since you got here. You need to keep up your strength."

Buffy crossed her arms and regarded him warily. "Something tells me youíre going to be an even bigger pain in the ass as my Watcher than you were as my enemy."

"Shut up and eat," he told her.

"Fine." She picked up half of the sandwich and shoved it into her mouth, then gulped her tea to wash it down. She set the glass back down and wiped her mouth with the back of her hand. "Satisfied?"

Spike smirked at her. "That was very ladylike," he said. "Finish your sandwich. Then Iíll be satisfied."

Buffy sighed, and proceeded to nibble on the second half as Anne and Nick approached. She watched them make their way over. She couldnít get over how much Nick reminded her of Xander. Suddenly she missed her friend terribly.

"Okay if we join you guys?" he asked.

Spike shrugged.

"Sure," Buffy said.

Anne pulled up a chair next to Buffy. "I just wanted to tell you, you were amazing during your briefing."

"See pet?" Spike said. "Whatíd I tell you?"

"Thanks," Buffy said. "But I thought I came across as less amazing and as more scared out of my mind."

"Of course youíre scared," Nick said. "Who wouldnít be in your situation? But the way you took charge, asked questions, and demanded answers? Weíve never seen a Slayer do that before."

"My guess would be that thatís because theyíre all scared little girls," Buffy said.

"Your guess would be correct," Anne told her.

"Iíve been there," Buffy said. "The Council can be pretty intimidating, especially when youíre new to the whole big Chosen One deal."

"But I guess itís safe to say youíve gotten over it," Nick said. "Being intimidated, I mean. Not being chosen. From what weíve read, you pretty much spanked the Council and put it to bed without its supper until they agreed to your terms."

Buffy shrugged. "Really, I justÖ wait, from what youíve read? Did you read Gilesís journals?"

"Actually, heís referring to Quentin Traversís accounts of your last evaluation," Anne said.

"But Gilesís journals are here, right?" Buffy looked at Spike. "Is there any way I could read them?"

"Thereís a chance they didnít make it off of the planet," Spike said, "but if they did, pet, are you sure you want to read them?"

"You know how anal he was about keeping records," she said. "Heíll have everything written down. Spells, tacticsÖ it could be all of the big ideas I need are in there."

"All right, then," Spike said. He drained his mug, then tapped Nick on the shoulder. "You know the library better than I do. Come help me see if theyíre in the inventory."

"Sure," Nick said. "We can check on the console at the bar."

"Wow," Anne said after the men left the table. "Iíve never seen Spike so--"

"Pleasant and easy to get along with?" Buffy interjected. "Itís sure an interesting change of pace."

"Actually, I was going to say Ďhappy,í" Anne said.

"Oh."

"You know, he was so afraid that youíd hate him."

Buffy furrowed her brow. "I pretty much got over my whole ĎI hate Spikeí phase after he took several rounds of hellgod torture for my little sister. I thought he knew that."

"He thought youíd blame him for bringing you here," Anne clarified. "He knew youíd be unhappy."

"Oh." Buffy said. "He was right, I did. At first. But now I know it wasnít his fault."

"I suppose itís selfish," Anne said, "but Iím glad youíre here. For his sake, if for nothing else. I mean, itís not like he was chronically depressed or anything, but Iíve known him my whole life, and even at the best of times, there was always something in his eyes. He always seemed just a little sad. My mom and my grandfather both said he was the same way when they were growing up. My mom thought it was because he always outlives everybody, and Iím sure thatís part of it. But I have a feeling it goes all the way back to when you died."

Buffy sipped her tea. She didnít quite know what to say.

"Iím sorry," Anne said. "I donít mean to make you uncomfortable. Itís just, I havenít seen that look in his eyes since you got here."

A feeling of warmth flooded through Buffy, and she smiled. Then she frowned. Should hearing this make her feel this good? After all, this was Spike they were talking about. She realized this was the same feeling sheíd gotten when sheíd seen the look on his face after re-inviting him into her house. She had to admit, having the power to affect Spike so much felt good. Admitting that, on the other hand, felt terrifying. She wasnít ready to even think about what it meant.

"Itís funny," Anne said. "Spike is over four hundred and fifty years old. He never has trouble keeping up with the times. He can adapt to any new situation. But those years he spent in Sunnydale? That was his time." She smiled. "He never gets tired of telling stories about that era. Especially not if youíre in them."

"You really care a lot about Spike, donít you?" Buffy said.

"You sound like that surprises you."

"WellÖ thatís because it does. I mean, he really could be a pain in the ass. And that wasnít even when he was plotting our deaths. Most people I knew didnít even like him. The only one who even came close to caring about him the way you do was my sister. And my momÖ she was pretty fond of him, but then she also thought that Dracula seemed like a nice guy. She wasnít always the best judge of character."

"He mentioned that you barely tolerated him back then."

"Thatís putting it mildly," Buffy said. "But I have to admit, he was starting to grow on me."

Anne sipped her drink, then set it down. She took a deep breath, then said, "He loves you, you know."

Buffy was about to take a bite of her sandwich, but she paused in mid-bite. "What?"

"Oh!" Anne looked panicked. "Oh, God. I thought you knew--"

"I did," Buffy said, putting her sandwich back down. "I mean, I do. Know. I mean, I do know that he did love me, butÖ still?"

"Isnít it obvious?"

"Some people said it was obvious back then, but I didnít see it until I was knocked over the head with it." She wrinkled her brow. "And that statement comes really close to being literal." She shook her head. "I guess, I can be a little dense in these areas. But, I mean, itís been over three hundred years. Youíd think he wouldíve gotten over it by now."

"Call me a romantic," Anne said, "but I think thatís what makes it so incredible."

All Buffy could do was nod dazedly as this new information soaked in.

"Anyway," Anne said, "You could really break his heart. Please donít."

Again, Buffy found herself speechless. Sheíd never given much thought to being the one to break Spikeís heart. Sheíd always been too concerned with making sure it would never happen the other way around. Thankfully, before the silence had a chance to turn awkward, the guys returned to the table.

"Gilesís diaries did make the relocation," Spike said. "Weíre heading down to the library to get them. You coming?"

"Actually," Buffy said, "I was just about to see if my new niece here wanted to take me shopping."

Spike raised an eyebrow. "Shopping? Love, this is the moon, not the bleeding Sunnydale Promenade. I think youíre going to find the selection here lacking."

"Maybe," Buffy said, "but thereís got to be someplace around here I can pick up some decent clothes. No offense, but these army grays you guys gave me really donít do much for me."

Spike gave her an appraising look. "You certainly do a lot for them."

Buffy felt herself blush. Okay, so maybe his feelings were a little obvious. Still, she didnít want to go there. Not now. She knew he was flirting, but flirting back was not an option.

She turned to Anne. "So, how about it? Can you show me where to get some clothes that are a little less butch?"

"Sure," Anne said. "I know a couple of places."

"Here," Spike said, "youíll need this." He handed her something that looked like one of those laser pointers.

"Whatís this?"

"Itís linked to my expense account. Just think of it as a credit card. Anne will show you how to use it."

"You have an expense account? Which you use to actually pay for things? Wait. How big is it?"

Spike couldn't have looked more frightened if she'd held a stake to his chest. "Itís big enough," he said. "JustÖ donít abuse it."

"Wouldnít dream of it," Buffy said.

"And donít stay out too late. Your training starts tomorrow, youíve got a big day ahead of you."

"Yes, Giles," Buffy said.

Spike smirked at her. "If you donít mind, Iím going to take that as a compliment."

"Of course I donít mind," she said. "Thatís how I meant it."

Spike had that look on his face again, like sheíd just given him something incredibly valuable and he was trying not to show how much he thought it was worth. Buffy felt herself getting all warm and fuzzy again as a result. It was strange to be around him and not feel any anger. It was nice. A little too nice.

She knocked back the rest of her tea, and looked at Anne. "Letís go."

***

Buffy made it back to the apartment theyíd given her with one shopping bag. Not because sheíd taken care to be gentle with Spikeís expense account, but because he had been right about the selection. Still, sheíd managed to find a few things that suited her style a little better. Maybe they would help her feel a bit more like herself, help her create some semblance of normalcy.

Who was she kidding? A few tank tops and some tight pants werenít going to bring her anywhere closer to normal. Not even Slayer normal. Hell, not even Sunnydale normal. No more than they would ease the homesickness she felt.

Inside, she noticed a stack of books on the kitchen table. She set her bag on the table and laid Spikeís credit thingamabob beside it, then picked up the note lying on top of the books.

Donít stay up all night reading these. You really do have a big day tomorrow. Iíll be by to get you at eight oíclock sharp.

Sleep well.

Spike


Buffy laid the note on the table, then carried the journals into her bedroom. She stacked them on her nightstand, and went to get ready for bed. After she changed, she sat on the bed, and considered the stack of books. She picked one up, but then put it back, unopened. It felt weird to even think about reading Gilesís diaries. Theyíd always been off limits. She felt like she was violating his privacy, even though they were now a matter of public record, at least as far as the Council could be considered public. It occurred to her that one of those journals would hold his account of her death.

"So not ready for that," she muttered.

Buffy climbed under the covers, and turned out the light.

She didnít sleep a wink.

*



Continued in Part Three: History Lessons

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