Part II: Without You
Buffy was standing in her own living room, the house silent. “Casamir?” she called. She got no response, and she turned warily, realizing that she was standing in the midst of destruction. The windows had been broken, the couch overturned and the cloth slashed. Broken knick-knacks lay scattered on the floor, and she put a hand over her mouth, suddenly afraid.
“Dawn!” she called. “Dawn! Where are you?”
A whisper of sound was the only answer she received, and Buffy froze, trying to figure out where the sound was coming from. “Hello? It’s Buffy.”
She heard the back door open, and she rushed to the kitchen, seeing Spike slip inside, a bulge under his duster. “Spike? What’s going on?”
He didn’t even look up, shutting the door behind him and grabbing a chair to wedge under the handle. When Spike headed towards the door to the basement without a glance in her direction, Buffy knew that she was invisible.
Following him down the stairs, Buffy was relieved to see her sister sitting on the small cot they’d kept for the occasional guest. “Spike!” Dawn shot to her feet. “Are you okay?”
Now that Dawn had asked the question, Buffy could see that Spike’s face was scratched and bruised. “’m fine, Bit,” he assured her. “Got somethin’ for you to eat.”
Dawn reached for the paper sack with the kind of speed that told Buffy she wasn’t eating regularly. “Thanks. How bad is it out there?”
“Think they’re startin’ to get tired of this town,” he replied, sitting down next to her. “Didn’t see as many of ‘em tonight, an’ I heard a couple of them talking about leavin’ for greener pastures.”
Dawn frowned, ripping into the bag of chips, and dropping the candy bars on the cot. “Did you see any of the others?”
Spike shook his head silently.
“Do you think they’re—” Dawn stopped, her eyes pleading with him to lie.
Spike sighed. “Dawn.”
“You know, don’t you?” she asked.
He looked her straight in the eyes. “Do you want the truth?”
“Yeah. I do know. They didn’t last out the first night.”
She shut her eyes. “I think I already knew.”
Buffy realized with a sinking heart that they were talking about her friends. She wondered what had happened to Giles, and remembered that he had gone back to England just before they’d performed the resurrection spell. Hadn’t Spike called him? Or had it even been possible? How long had they been living like this?
“We’ve got to get out of town,” Spike said softly. “Think we’ve got a shot at it now.”
Dawn leaned back against the wall. “Where are we going to go, Spike?”
“L.A., for starters,” he replied wearily. “One of Angel’s gang used to be a Watcher, right? He might know how to contact Rupert.”
“I’m really sorry, Spike. I don’t know where Willow put his phone number, and—”
“Hush.” He put his arm around her shoulders and pulled her close. “Isn’t your fault everythin’ went to hell, an’ it’s not your fault that Red didn’t write down the bloody number where we could get to it.”
“If they hadn’t burned the Magic Box down—”
“They wouldn’t be Hellions,” Spike interrupted, his tone rueful. “But, yeah. I already checked, an’ there’s nothin’ salvageable there.”
“Is that where they were?”
The picture was becoming clearer to Buffy. She vaguely remembered the biker demons; everything had been a little fuzzy immediately after her resurrection, but she recalled killing more than a few of them.
Without the Slayer, however, the demons had had free rein, and had apparently plundered and pillaged to their hearts’ content.
Which meant that if Willow hadn’t raised her that night—
“Do you think Giles is worried about us?” Dawn asked.
Spike shook his head. “Hasn’t been a week yet since he left, an’ if I know Rupert, he wouldn’t be expectin’ a call this soon. It’ll be a few days yet before he tries to call, an’ when he can’t get through, that’s when he’ll start to worry. I aim to be out of town before then.”
“Your mum had a car, right? They didn’t bother with the garage.” Spike slowly disentangled himself and stood. “You’d best get some sleep, Bit.”
“What about you?” Dawn asked, sounding determined. “You haven’t slept since they came to town.”
“I’ll be fine.”
Dawn shook her head. “You were the one who said the demons sleep during the day. I can take the first watch.”
“I’m not sleeping until you do, and you know how cranky I am when I haven’t gotten any sleep.”
He let out an exasperated breath, glaring at the girl. Buffy couldn’t help the chuckle that escaped her lips. She’d made that exact same sound when faced with Dawn’s obstinacy in the past. “Fine.”
“You take the bed.”
Spike looked up at the ceiling, as though to ask, “Why me?” Buffy noticed that he didn’t argue, though, instead laying down and wrapping his duster tightly around him. “Wake me up in four hours,” he ordered. “I mean it, Bit.”
“Will do.” Dawn settled herself on the floor next to the cot, her head resting against the mattress. Buffy watched as Spike began to stroke her hair with one hand. After a few minutes, he stilled, asleep. Fat tears began to run down Dawn’s cheeks, and she wrapped her arms around her knees, resting her forehead against the denim as she cried silently.
Buffy wanted nothing more than to comfort her sister, but it was impossible. Although she knew that what she was seeing hadn’t happened, would never happen, it was all too real.
The hours passed slowly. Dawn remained awake, occasionally rising to pace around the dim basement, or to head up the stairs. Buffy supposed that going above ground was safe enough during the day, at least for short periods of time.
As the light in the basement waned, Spike finally began to stir on the cot. “Bloody hell, Bit,” he muttered. “I said four hours.”
“If we’re going to get out of town, you’ve got to be rested,” she shot back. “You’re the one who can drive, remember?”
“’Course I remember,” he snarled, rising from the cot and stretching the kinks out of his spine. The floorboards above them creaked, and they both froze.
“Spike?” Dawn breathed.
He pointed. “You hide, and you stay quiet, hear me?”
She nodded frantically, and scurried over to a steamer truck that had been wedged into the corner. When Dawn knelt down inside and pulled the lid closed, Buffy realized that Spike had found a way to create a hiding place in the basement for just such a situation as this one.
Spike grabbed the ax that had been propped on the stairs, and began to head up to the main level, Buffy close behind him.
He put his eye to the crack in the door, and Buffy stood behind him, just able to make out the shapes of four Hellions that had broken into the house, intent on one last looting session. She knew that Spike was weighing his options. He could stay quiet and hope they didn’t go down into the basement, or he could take the fight to them.
When his face shifted, yellow eyes glowing in the dim light, Buffy knew he’d made his choice.
Spike burst through the door with a furious howl, his ax biting deeply into the nearest demon’s neck, the blade sticking in the bone. When he couldn’t pull the weapon out after the first try, he abandoned it, turning to take on the other three demons with nothing but his fists and fangs.
Buffy had fought against Spike before, and she’d fought at his side, but she’d never had the chance to simply watch him. He moved with a wild grace, and even though he took a lot of punishment, he didn’t stop.
She waited, her heart pounding, silently cheering him on. When he killed the last demon with a well-placed butcher knife, Buffy let out the breath she hadn’t known she’d been holding. Spike collapsed, his back to the cabinets, blood dripping off his fingers onto the floor and soaking his shirt. One of the demons had sliced his side, and another had cut through the duster into his right arm. His right eye was swelling, and his lip was split.
Buffy was struck by the desire to comfort him, to patch him up.
He closed his eyes, pain etching deep lines around his eyes and mouth. After a long moment, he struggled to his feet. “Dawn!” he called. “We’ve got to move!”
She came barreling up the stairs a few moments later, taking in the carnage with one glance. “You’re hurt.”
“I’ll live,” he replied. “Throw a bag together. You’ve got two minutes.”
Dawn stared at him, then nodded jerkily.
Spike rifled through the drawer where her mom had always kept the car keys, and Buffy wondered how he’d known where to find them. He made his slow way out to the car, pausing to lean heavily against the hood before climbing behind the wheel.
Dawn came flying into the garage, breathless, pausing only to toss a bag in the back seat. She clambered into the passenger seat, and Buffy realized that she was about to be left behind. Not knowing if it would work, she closed her eyes, willing herself in the back of the vehicle.
When she opened her eyes, she was staring at the back of Spike’s seat. “Don’t open the door just yet, Bit,” he cautioned. “We want to be ready to gun it.”
Dawn nodded. “Okay.”
“I want you to watch me carefully. I’ll get us out of Sunnydale, but you’ll prob’ly have to finish the drive into L.A.”
Her eyes went wide. “What? I can’t drive!”
“You’ve gotta learn sometime.”
She swallowed noisily. “No, Spike, you’re going to be fine. I can’t drive.”
Buffy couldn’t disagree. She didn’t like the thought of her younger sister behind the wheel of a car for the first time, in the kind of traffic Los Angeles boasted.
“I’ll be fine after about six pints of the good stuff, an’ I’m fine enough to get us out of town, but I don’t think I’m goin’ to make it the whole way. Be better to have you awake and driving, than for me to pass out behind the wheel.”
Dawn let out a sound that was almost a sob. “Okay.”
“We’ll be fine,” Spike promised. “Ready?”
She nodded, then pressed the button to open the garage door as Spike started the engine.
As soon as the door was up, Spike gunned the engine, backing out with a squeal of tires. There was a thump as he hit something, but he didn’t bother stopping to see what it was. As he put the car into drive and roared off down the street, Buffy peered out the window to see the body of another Hellion laying in the driveway.
She held onto the door as he drove full speed through the streets of Sunnydale. Dawn was hanging onto the dash, her face set in grim lines; Buffy realized that her sister looked older, her eyes nearly ancient.
“We’ll take the back roads,” Spike said calmly. “Once we’re far enough away, I’m goin’ to pull over an’ let you drive. I want to be awake for the first part.”
“It’s an automatic, so it’s a piece of cake,” he continued. “When you get close enough to L.A., find a phone. Last I heard, Peaches had his name in the phone book under Angel Investigations. You give him a call, an’ he’ll come get you.”
“What about you?”
“I don’t matter.”
“You do to me.”
There was a long silence, then Spike sighed. “We’re not on the best terms, Bit.”
“I don’t care,” she said, her jaw set. “I’m not going anywhere without you. You’re all I have left.”
The night closed in around them, and silence fell, save for the occasional driving tip from Spike. After about an hour, he pulled over to the side of the road. “Come on.”
Dawn got out, heading to the driver’s side as Spike slid across. Buffy realized that he looked worse than she’d ever seen him, worse than when he’d come to her for help. He grunted as he settled himself into the seat and buckled the seatbelt.
Dawn’s face was pale as she climbed behind the wheel. She put her seatbelt on and gripped the wheel. “Now what?”
“Put your right foot on the brake,” Spike instructed. “That’s the one on the left. Now, put it into drive.” He reached over with a wince and guided her hand on the gear shift.
Dawn followed his directions, as Spike explained how to get back on the country road. There was no traffic this time of the night, and Buffy knew that he’d had the right idea. She also knew that when this was over, she was going to talk to him about giving Dawn driving lessons. Her sister was old enough to get her learner’s permit, and Spike was doing really well with her.
His voice faded a bit as he gave her directions into L.A. “Got that, Bit?” he asked hoarsely. “Can’t—”
“It’s okay, Spike,” Dawn said quietly. “I’ve got it.”
When he didn’t respond, Buffy knew he was unconscious. Dawn’s knuckles were white as she gripped the steering wheel tightly. “We’re in this together,” she whispered. “No matter what.”
Her cheeks were wet with tears, and Buffy blinked. Instead of the interior of her mother’s car, she saw Casamir’s lined face. “What—what did I just see?”
“The answer to your question,” he replied softly. “What did you ask?”
“What would have happened if Willow hadn’t brought me back,” Buffy said wonderingly. “If she hadn’t, the Hellions would have taken over Sunnydale, and—”
She broke off. Her friends, the ones who had ripped her out of heaven, would have been killed. Dawn would have been left alone with Spike, and the vampire would have been protected her, just as he’d told her he would. He would have kept his promise, but at what cost?
“Until the end of the world,” he’d said. Buffy hadn’t realized what that had meant.
Buffy stared down at the cloth-covered table, wondering if she’d done her sister and Spike a disservice by telling Dawn to stay away from him, and by insisting that Spike not come around the house so much.
“Would that have really happened?”
“I can only show you a possible future,” he responded. “Whether it would have happened exactly as you saw, no one can say.”
Buffy closed her eyes, wondering what would have happened after the vision had ended. Would Dawn and Spike have made it safely to L.A.? Would Angel have helped them?
She hadn’t wanted to be here, had thought that maybe coming back had only made things worse. Buffy knew better now.
He recognized the voice, but he wasn’t sure what she was doing there, in his crypt, this time of the day. It was early morning; she shouldn’t be in the cemetery at any time, and she shouldn’t be there now. If Buffy found out, she’d kill them both.
“Spike? Wake up. Buffy’s still not home.”
He opened his eyes and realized that he wasn’t in his crypt. He was lying on the couch in Buffy’s living room. He had stayed because Dawn had asked him to until her sister got home.
Only she’d never come home.
“Where’s the witch?” he muttered, his brain fuzzy from sleep. Spike had dropped off with the rising of the sun, although he hadn’t planned on it.
“She didn’t come home either.” Dawn’s eyes were large and worried. “I don’t know what to do.”
That got him moving. “Can you make coffee?” When she nodded, he said, “Then go make a pot, because I’m gonna need it.”
It wasn’t the complete truth. Coffee didn’t do much for him, but getting it ready would give the girl something to busy herself with, and it would give Spike time to wake up.
He had no idea what he was supposed to do with her. Spike would stay, of course, until he was sure she didn’t need him, but he couldn’t help but wonder where Buffy was. What if something had happened to her out on patrol? What if she’d let her death wish get the best of her?
What if he lost her again?
What if he’d already lost her?
He let out a bitter laugh. Who was he kidding? He’d never had her, and he never would.
Dawn came back into the living room and silently handed him a mug full of hot liquid. It only took a moment for Spike to realize that it wasn’t the coffee he’d asked for. “Where’d you get the blood, Bit?”
“We had an extra in the freezer,” she replied. “There’s coffee if you want some after.”
“Ta.” He drank slowly, appreciatively.
“Are you going to stay?”
“Yeah.” Spike had no idea what else he was supposed to do, at least until Red came home. He certainly couldn’t go out looking for Buffy while the sun was up. “Maybe you should call Harris.”
“And tell him what? He would just freak out.” Dawn said. “Besides, he and Anya are busy planning the wedding. They don’t care about me.”
“I doubt that’s true.”
“How do you know?” she asked. “It’s not like you’ve been around.”
“Bit—we talked about this.”
“Sorry.” Dawn sighed. “It’s just that Willow’s all crazy-making with the magic, and Tara’s gone, and the others are busy. And Buffy…”
“Isn’t herself,” Spike finished for her. He closed his eyes wearily; he wasn’t cut out for this shit. It had been hard enough to deal with things when Buffy had been dead, but now that she was back, things were confusing again. Really, really confusing.
She looked over at him. “You could go back to bed if you wanted.”
He shook his head. “Won’t be able to sleep down here.”
“You could use my bed.” She sounded hesitant, as though she were crossing some invisible line. “Mom put one of those room-darkening shades up for me before—before she died.”
Spike nodded slowly. If he was going to end up looking for the Slayer, it would be a smart idea to get some rest. “Wake me up when she gets back, yeah?”
Dawn nodded. He could tell by the look in her eyes that she appreciated his faith. It had nothing to do with faith, though; he wouldn’t allow himself to consider the alternatives.
The coals in the small bowl were still glowing red, and Casamir added a few more wood shavings. “Are you ready?”
Buffy wasn’t at all sure she was, but she had two more questions written down, and she didn’t think she could quit now, not without having all the answers.
Without being prompted, she dropped the second slip into the gentle flames, watching as the words glowed red once again.
“What if I hadn’t jumped?”
Originally posted at http://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/177140.html