Exit – Chapter 2

Chapter 1

Buffy made a sound that almost could’ve been a growl, and glared at Giles. “What do you mean, ‘I rescheduled your class today’??”

Giles sighed. “Just that, Buffy. You’ve been running yourself ragged these last few months. Take the day off. Faith can handle this Slayer orientation. Just go rest.”

She glared at him again, then sighed and nodded. “Fine, Giles. But you know as well as I do that I won’t be able to.”

Giles sighed and nodded, subconsciously mirroring his Slayer’s response. “I know,” he said softly. “Just try.”

Buffy sighed again, and made that little imitation growl under her breath, then turned and disappeared through one of the hallways in the old mansion that what was left of the Watcher’s Council had turned into a training academy of sorts for all the new Slayers.

The place was huge; she mused absently to herself. With so many twists and turns it’s not surprising that most of the ‘recruits’ were a little overwhelmed at first. Buffy, however, knew her way around almost supernaturally. Even if she wound up in a part of the house that she’d never been to before, she could always find her way back to the library, or to her own room.

Not so much to anywhere else, but still.

She growled again, as close to the real sound as she could, as she headed around yet another corner and into her room. Closing the door behind her, she flopped on the bed. Giles was right. She did need to rest. But as she’d pointed out to her Watcher, it wasn’t very likely that she would be able to.

She hadn’t slept a full night in over three months. Not since that day in the Hellmouth. When he’d given his life for her. For the world. And she was grateful, but she missed him. Every day, she missed him. And every time she tried to sleep, she heard his final words again. Felt his burning hand in her own.

It wasn’t hard to remember something that had scarred her heart as badly as it had scarred her hand. The hand she was looking at right now.

The burn scars had faded with time. Her Slayer’s healing abilities were something most non-Slayers envied for just that reason. But she could still see them, as bright red and painful as they were that day.

With her index finger on her other hand, she traced the line of the lowest scar, the one that covered the back of her hand, but not the palm. The palm that had touched his as he told her to run. To save herself. And damn her survival instinct, she had. She’d left him there to die alone, without even taking the few seconds it would’ve taken to convince him of the truth. And to let him know just how much “No you don’t, but thanks for saying it” had hurt her. He had to have known how much it killed her to admit that right at the end.

She’d been planning to tell him that evening, actually. When it was all over. She hadn’t known that it was going to collapse the entire TOWN. Hadn’t expected him to be the one to die. To give his life. She’d planned that they’d go back to the house. Bruised and bloodied, but stronger in the end. They’d beaten the very essence of evil itself, and they’d come out the winners. She was going to follow him down into his basement room. For, by that time, it really WAS his basement. Belonged to him. The only room in the house that no one camped on the floor. The only place in the entire house that anyone could be alone.

She wouldn’t have cared if people had seen her following him down there. She’d even planned to be holding his hand. Maybe have hugged him when they got out. In front of everyone, she was going to show them just how much his unwavering support had meant to her. How much HE meant to her. But she didn’t expect him to be satisfied with the little insinuations. After all, how long had she given him nothing but that? Far too long. So when they were alone, she was going to sit on his cot next to him, and touch his face. She planned to kiss each individual bruise and healing cut that undoubtedly would’ve covered his body by then. Then she was going to lay them down, facing each other. That alone was a gesture, as all the times they’d spent the night together before that, she always had her back to him. She was going to press her forehead to his, and nuzzle his nose in the way she knew male vampires loved to be nuzzled, and she was going to whisper, “I love you, Spike”, so soft, that he’d ask for her to repeat it. And when she did, he’d believe her. Because she would’ve spent the whole day proving it to him.

But that hadn’t happen. When that morning was over, there wasn’t a basement. There wasn’t a house. There wasn’t even a town. And, most importantly. There wasn’t a Spike.

She’d been rushed. They both knew from the moment that damned amulet had pinned him to the wall that he wasn’t getting out of there. Even if he had gotten out. it was pure daylight outside. He would’ve incinerated before he reached them. And now, she didn’t know what she’d been thinking, scheduling the ‘raid’ for early in the morning. What had she been doing? Hoping it would be cloudy? It didn’t make any sense. Unless she’d known beforehand. Subconsciously, she must have known. Maybe from the moment she’d given Spike the amulet. Knew that it would be a gift, and a curse. But at the time, she’d only been thinking of what it meant to him. What the title “Champion” meant to the still newly souled vampire. And the look on his face had made the risk worth it.

But she hadn’t expected it. She’d known, but she hadn’t expected it. So she’d been rushed. Forced to forgo the day of showing Spike how she felt, and having to rush right to the “I love you”. And, of course, he didn’t believe her. And she didn’t have the time to convince him.

But she could’ve at least tried.

She’d seen it in his eyes. On his face, as that light from PTB only knew where started to consume him. He wouldn’t lose her again. It was his turn to jump. Every night he’d saved her, for months. And when she was back, she could see the pain on his face. He believed he’d failed her. Just because she’d chosen to give her life. The pain she’d caused him. She knew she could never make up for that. And in the end, all she could do was let their roles reverse.

His turn to jump. His turn to give his life for those he loved, and in doing so, to save the world.

But now she was the one left behind. Unlike Spike, however, no matter what she did when she replayed those events in her mind, she never could find a way to save him. That day, it was already too late. The only other choice would’ve been to accept Angel’s help, and then let her first love be the one to sacrifice himself. And that wouldn’t have been any better. Though she could hardly imagine it being worse.

Buffy sighed and made that growling sound again, smiling a bit to herself when she did it. Spike had taught her that. It was always fun to see the look on a demon’s face when she growled right back at them. Or the look on some upstart young Slayer who’d gotten a bit too cocky. That growl never failed to shut them up.

She stared absently at the ceiling of her rather sparse room. It was times like this that she really missed her stuff. Most notably, Mr. Gordo. She wanted something to snuggle that would be comforting. And he was at the bottom of a pit somewhere, probably blown to teeny tiny pieces. And yet, she could never bring herself to get a new stuffed pig. Because they wouldn’t be Gordo. There were so many memories tied up to that little ball of pink fluff. She remembered the time she’d come in and caught Angel holding the pig. And another time that Dawn had stolen him for a day, and hid him inside the oven.

That was why Dawn wasn’t ever allowed in her room without her there, anymore. It was also why Mr. Gordo had been missing a patch of fur on one of his little thighs. Her mother had decided to turn on the oven to pre- heat for a pizza, and burned her little pig in the process. God, she’d wanted to kill Dawn.

Funny how things like that change.

Also funny how some things never do.

She sighed and rolled over, burying her face in the pillows piled high on her bed. She’d do what Giles asked. And TRY to rest. Try being the operative word. She knew she wouldn’t be able to really rest. All she could do is sleep, and wait for the nightmare, when she’d see him burn again.

She did have to admit, though. It had been one hell of an exit. Spike would’ve been the first to point that out. She just wished he hadn’t had to make it yet.

Chapter 3