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[start of fic and notes]

'I love you' is a thing you say to people who are dying

by Quinara


Season 7. Buffy/Spike. Some Watchers survived, because sometimes people do.

[free association II]

free association III

--afterwards--

Spike went inside, to free up the porch as Buffy’s meeting room. If the shock of touching her was anything like the shock of touching him, Buffy expected he’d retreat down into the basement and take at least half an hour to think about it on his own. That was what she wanted, after all, even if she wasn’t going to get the opportunity.

With her forehead still tingling, Buffy was forced to concentrate on the image of Quentin Travers, rumpled and old and with his arm in a sling. There seemed to be less energy in him now than there had been the other day, though Buffy couldn’t quite figure out why. “Mr. Travers,” she said, putting her hands on her waist and tucking her elbows forwards. She didn’t have any reason to feel intimidated, so she wasn’t going to be. “What d’you wanna talk to me about?”

“I heard there was a scene,” Travers said, inscrutably, “after your return from the vision quest.” He looked like he could use some sleep, really: his face was drawn and pale, not so different a colour from his hair. “I’m afraid Thea’s potions have a rather unfortunate effect on me,” he added, his broken arm prominent across his unseasonable wool vest. “I’d already put it back when the commotion started and couldn’t keep awake. I was terribly sorry to hear about young Chloe.”

He was in his sixties, Travers, if Buffy had his age figured out right. Giles always talked as if he was in the generation above him, but not quite old enough to be his father’s colleague rather than his own. Not that Buffy really knew much about Giles’ dad; Giles never much mentioned him. In any case, this ex-head of the Council wasn’t ancient, but it was possible that on a multiple fracture he should still have been asleep.

Nevertheless, he was here, and Buffy didn’t figure it was her job to explain things to him. “Yeah, well,” she said, the darkness feeling rather mundane behind her now. “It’s been a long evening.”

“Yes,” Travers agreed.

Buffy glanced towards the light inside the house, trying to think if there was an excuse she had to abandon this particular conversation. Clearly Travers hadn’t yet said what he wanted to say, because he was still standing there, but Buffy wasn’t sure she wanted to hear it. She had things to think about, about Spike and about herself, about her and Spike, about all of this.

Eventually, Travers went on. Buffy braced herself, focusing. “You must forgive Lydia,” he said, as though he was attempting to placate her. Buffy raised an eyebrow. “She is a very caring young woman and an asset to the… Well,” he recovered himself. “The Potentials are all very fond of her and she is very fond of them.”

For some reason, it sounded as though there was a but coming her way, so Buffy waited.

Right on time, it arrived. “But she has rarely found herself in a position where she must make difficult decisions.”

Still waiting for Travers to finish, Buffy wondered if she shouldn’t feel offended on Lydia’s behalf. A place like the Council, she would have been surprised if Lydia Chalmers had found herself even near the opportunity of getting to make the decisions. She was pretty much the only woman Buffy had ever seen wearing Watcher tweed, apart from that crazy power-hungry cliché bitch years ago, who had not helped them keep Faith on the wagon.

Just because Buffy was coming to think she didn’t much like Lydia, it didn’t mean she had to think she was useless.

Of course, Travers probably didn’t think he did either. “No, she is quite brilliant,” he added, as if Buffy had been holding up her side of the conversation. “She wants all the girls to survive,” he continued, with a sigh as if to say they would all love such an eventuality. The awful thing was that Buffy knew the feeling. “I fear, though, that she might be rather encouraging the opposite eventuality. She’s giving them hope, which is only encouraging this… Insubordination.”

Buffy bristled, not sure what at, initially. Then she realised it was the idea she wasn’t giving the girls hope. She wanted them to have hope, just as much as she figured Chalmers did; it sounded like all they disagreed about was the best way to make them have it. Buffy didn’t want them to hope that someone would come to save them, because they would have to save themselves, always. Possibly that wasn’t what came across. Lydia probably had more practice.

Clearly, though, Travers thought he had a solution, and he wouldn’t go until he’d explained it to her. With a glance to the sky, Buffy asked him, “What do you suggest?”

Travers looked at her seriously, as though he had in fact been fighting evil for longer than Buffy had been alive. “Ah,” he said, as though he’d been waiting for precisely this question. “Well,” he continued, raising his good hand to offer her the suggestion, “Thea mentioned that her wards against the Evil were not to keep this presence from this house entirely, but this seems it must be the right idea nonetheless: to reduce its influence, from here if not this dimension.”

Buffy tried to keep the look of duh from her face, because she assumed Travers had a point. The guy was old, so presumably he would make it eventually.

Holding her gaze as though there was a point she was missing, Travers let the pause hang before he went on, “There is magic that can do this. Pure, holy magic.” He kept talking, as though Buffy actually had an idea of what he was talking about. She tried to look like she understood. “You understand that humans cannot typically access it, but such magic may be the very thing.” Another pause, for emphasis. “I’m talking about an incantatio dracontea.”

Really, Buffy tried, she did. Unfortunately, on this night, on that porch, all she could say was, “Huh?”

--earlier--

It only took a couple of minutes, but it seemed like an eternity. The Initiative complex remained dark and lonely, even with this new buzzing light. Buffy held herself together, conserving all the fight she had left in her until she heard the sound of people, several rooms away, walking and breathing and talking amongst themselves. The Tinkerbell light hummed like a dog waiting on the doormat.

“We’re almost at the charm now,” one of the voices promised. “I assure you.” It was a woman’s voice, maybe British.

“Have I ever doubted your abilities?” came the reply. It was a man’s, definitely British. It was – familiar?

Another. “What concerns me is why the Slayer would…”

Buffy ignored the rest of that sentence as her mind caught up with her ears. She turned towards the sound, unable to believe it as the footsteps came around the corner and the group – bathed in rosy, mystical light – appeared in the heart of the gloom. It turned out her memory wasn’t wrong.

“Quentin Travers?” Buffy said, still not entirely certain that she wasn’t hallucinating.

“Ah,” the man himself said. He stood there with a small team, one younger man and one younger woman, whom Buffy vaguely recalled from the last time the Watchers had been in town. They were joined by one equally grey-haired witch. Buffy assumed she was a witch, the one who had spoken before. She was raising a hand now to recall the Tinkerbell light. “Oh dear,” Travers continued, taking in the sight of her and a rather bloody Spike. “Perhaps we should have let the General come after all,” he commented to the rest of the group.

“Giles said you’d gotten blown up!” Buffy exclaimed, before she’d taken that comment in. Clumsily, she climbed to her feet, resting Spike’s head back against the wall.

“Well, yes,” Travers eventually replied. Even in the pink light, he looked like someone who had, actually, been blown up. His right arm, Buffy realised now, was in a sling, and there was a wound still healing on his forehead, a bruise and an old scab that went into his hairline. The other Watchers, if that was who they were, they looked the same: haggard and healing. Their clothes weren’t nearly as starched as Buffy would have expected, and instead of tweed Travers at least was dressed in dark corduroy pants and a pilling grey-green sweater.

“Wait,” Buffy interrupted that particular observation, shaking her head to clear it. She crossed her arms, catching up with what this man had just said. “What do you mean ‘the General’?”

The group looked among themselves, as though there was a long story there. “Your American army,” Travers explained. “They were kind enough to get us into the country as secretly as we required. After their attempt to sabotage the Council’s mission, well…”

“We wanted to make ourselves useful to you,” the younger woman Watcher added, from Travers’ side, before coughing, daintily and then with one unbecomingly deep intake of breath. “But there was a certain amount,” she wheezed, “of convalescence…”

“Then we heard you had called for aid,” Travers picked up the narrative, as the younger man, as yet silent, thumped the woman on the back. “And Althanea suggested we might make this better our moment to intervene.”

Buffy looked at the witch again. If this was really Willow’s hero, then maybe she could make herself useful and get their Rosenberg back on track.

Catching her eye, the older woman smiled. Buffy, however, wasn’t feeling the friendly greeting. She couldn’t help but wonder what would have happened if the Initiative had come, if they’d been able to navigate the warren of the compound any quicker.

She glanced back towards Spike, reaching out a hand; her fingers grazed his hair, but he still looked pained. “What can you do for him?” she asked directly, eyeing the group again. Right now, dealing with Willow wasn’t her biggest concern. Nor the cockroach-like survival of Travers and his gang, if there were any more of them left. Though she was already planning to be clumsy on the way out of here, just to check if any of them were the First.

“Why don’t we get him out of this gloomy place?” Althanea didn’t answer Buffy’s question, but then none of the others seemed particularly keen to acknowledge the unconscious elephant in the room.

It was frustrating. She didn’t know how to reply. Then, however, Althanea was extending a hand: before Buffy’s eyes, Spike began to rise out of his slump and was pulled upright, like a truly uncanny puppet onto strings.

His feet were eventually hovering an inch or two above the ground. All of him looked supported – and his head was raised above his shoulders like he still had his pride. In general, Buffy was almost willing to believe he might be OK. Even if he did look really weird. “I’ll do what I can for the pain,” Althanea continued, like this wasn’t a bother at all, “but hopefully we’ll be able to find a more permanent solution.”

“What?” Buffy asked, as Spike’s presence by her side made her shiver, even or especially with him unconscious. She caught Travers’ eye again, followed by the other two, the woman who she vaguely recalled had some weird, prurient interest in William the Bloody. “You’re gonna help him?”

No one denied it, or even looked particularly uncomfortable. Suppressing a shiver of cold, Buffy eyed all four of them yet again, waiting for the catch.

“Well,” the younger man Watcher finally spoke up. He was familiar too, even though right now he was wearing a turquoise sweatshirt with CAMBRIDGE ETON FIVES stitched across the front like it was a 1980s baseball team. “He’s rather proved Lydia right, hasn’t he? About how unique he is?” The words took a moment for Buffy to compute. Lydia…? She glanced at the young woman, now blushing. Oh, right. “The entire demonic underworld seems to think he’s a sign the end is nigh.” Still listening, Buffy tried to figure out why she felt jealous. Presumably it was because Lydia Nerdy Girl actually found somebody to listen to her ideas about Spike. “It seems a shame to let them down, doesn’t it?” the man finished, as Buffy’s mind wandered towards resentment and inevitably worry – again.

“Hmm…” Buffy began, as she tried to gather her thoughts. However, she was cut off by the sound of something demonic a few rooms over – the sort of screech the last hour or so had made her dread. Changing tack, she said simply, “Let’s get out of here.” It seemed like the time to go.

--later--

Spike tried to keep calm, he really did. He tried to keep quiet. Mostly, he tried to quell the screams and the rage and the bitterness which crowded his head and his heart. Most of the time, he was pretty successful, but apparently all it took was for Buffy to go out with another man and it sent him straight into a tailspin.

He found himself stewing. That was the only word for it. All right, there were a few synonyms one could reach for, several of which had an association with souled vampires, but none of them were appropriate.

They’d had an argument – of course they’d had an argument – after the whole chip fiasco. Things had mostly gone back to normal and that was fine by him. Only now it turned out that one Buffy Summers had decided the weekend wouldn’t be complete unless she went out to dinner with the local high school principal. The whole thing put Spike in a stew, because it seemed unnecessary. It seemed pointed, really, aimed entirely at him and his wilful resistance of what Buffy wanted – like she was punishing him or something else grossly disproportionate.

That was unfair, he knew. And a little bit mad. It was the sort of thing Dru would have done and yet Spike couldn’t help it. She hadn’t even been discreet, Buffy, bubbling around all day like she hadn’t looked forward to anything so much in years, prancing around the corridors in her underthings, all frilly and undressed.

It wasn’t that Spike was scandalised, or even particularly turned on by the sight of her shoulders, any more than usual. Buffy had used to fight him in less, and he’d had enough wits to appreciate it even then. No, it was the idea of her dolling herself up for this other bloke, so soon after they’d had their brief disagreement, as if this was the solution. None of it sat right with him, and he’d been downstairs all day trying to figure it out.

Oh, uh, Spike, d'you mind if maybe we make use of the space down here?

Now, of course, he’d been kicked out of his basement in the name of some sort of plan involving radio equipment that Spike really didn’t give a toss about, so he couldn’t even stew in the tranquil darkness.

He was in the kitchen, this particular evening, sitting on the counter like a congealing pot of stew and reading Dawn’s Othello while he tried to pretend the breakfast table wasn’t full of Watchers. As far as Spike could tell, waiting on the porch would look too much like he was waiting for Buffy to come home, and while he didn’t really care what people thought, he also did.

Giles was absent. Spike didn’t much care why.

It might almost have been a good evening, with some peace and quiet. He was getting to a good bit in his book. But then, “Where is the Slayer, anyway?” twittery Lydia asked the group, interrupting some aimless chitchat about patrolling schedules.

Ears and eyes distracted traitors to the cause, Spike suppressed a groan as he immediately found himself listening in, watching the group from the corner of his eye.

It was the other youngish one, Nigel, who answered her. “On a date, apparently.” He was pouring himself another cup of tea, because of course the four of them had found a teapot. Hadn’t asked if he fancied any, but then Spike supposed they were sworn enemies. “A principal at the school who may or may not have an alternative motive. Giles is not best pleased.” The man stirred in some milk, a smirk on his face. “I believe he’s sulking.”

“Is he indeed?” replied Travers, looking up from a newspaper as he took a slurp from Spike’s favourite mug. “I thought he was attempting to explain the meaning of ‘date’ in Cantonese…”

The line was delivered with the lightest of irony, and it was difficult for Spike not to crack a grin. He was slightly worried he was going to find this bloke entertaining if he kept listening, and Iago wasn’t all that distracting today.

Nigel did laugh, but the two women seemed to have a little more decorum. “Well, darling,” Althanea chipped in with a dig of her own, “if you didn’t fire all the linguists then he wouldn’t have to, would he?” She sipped daintily, as though the chipped Cancun mug in her hands was the finest willow-patterned china. “Whatever did happen to young Wesley?” she added, as if she knew exactly but was pretending not to. “I always liked him...”

“Have I not always said,” Travers immediately replied, like this was a tired argument, “that we’ll have him back once Roger… Well,” he cut into himself, surprised to find the music had changed, “if he retires,” he recovered, “and we ever find him again.” Trailing off, the man looked back down to his paper. “I don’t imagine we’ll hear anything from Khartoum for the foreseeable future.”

That thought seemed to make them all a bit glum. Looking down at them, Spike wondered if Buffy would have known what they were all on about. Also, because he couldn’t help it and had a one-track mind, he wondered if the prat she was on a date with had any idea what she was on about. It was feasible she’d found the only person who did.

“Oh,” Althanea commented, interrupting Spike’s thoughts. Unfortunately, it seemed to be a pointless non-sequitur. “Did anyone take the car back?” she asked. “While you two were posturing,” she added to Travers, “I think I promised the General they could have it again by the end of the week.”

Travers didn’t seem to be answering. “I called someone to collect it,” Nigel told her, on another sip of tea. “It was a shame to see it go… It appears as though the Slayer has no other transportation at all.”

“Yes,” Lydia agreed, leaning on the countertop, she seemed a little frustrated with this turn in conversation. After a moment, she added, “But do we know who the Slayer’s with? There was a name being bandied about earlier that I thought I found vaguely familiar…”

The men looked at each other, as if there was no reason they should have paid attention. Althanea looked serene, and Spike almost figured she knew what he was going to say, that he couldn’t help it. “His name’s Robin Wood,” the words left his mouth, like they’d been perched there for the last four hours. “That’s his name.”

Althanea smiled. Spike meant to glare at her, but was distracted as all the watchers suddenly looked his way, shock on their faces. “Really?” Lydia said, raising her chin so she was looking at him straight down the bottle-bottoms of her glasses. “Are you quite certain?”

“It would be rather too much of a coincidence…” Nigel chipped in.

Spike dumped Othello on the windowsill, behind the sink. The blinds rattled, but he committed himself to their wretched group. “What?”

Lydia was looking at him speculatively, and speccily. “I wouldn’t have thought he was the Slayer’s type,” she added, explaining nothing. She glanced back to the others, her back still straight like a schoolmistress. “I met him – well, it must have been ten years ago now. You remember, sir,” she added to Travers, “on my research trip.” Travers nodded; Spike narrowed his eyes as he watched them. “He spent the whole interview smoking and playing with his dog tags…” Lydia wrinkled her nose. “Asked me if I’d ever seen a man with dreadlocks before.”

After a moment’s silence, Nigel laughed. “Don’t deny you loved it, Chalmers,” he said, almost sounding like a human being.

“Can we get back to the point?” Spike interrupted, even as Lydia scoffed, wondering what had happened to reduce him to this. Perched on a countertop like a 90s sitcom, one hand rather too close to the grime on the edge of the sink basin... At that moment, of course, he remembered how any reason to get Buffy home from her was an avenue worth pursuing. “Who is this bloke?” he asked, feeling focused.

“Well, you’ve met him,” Lydia asserted, not actually quite as nervous as Spike remembered her. Presumably getting blown up did something for a person. She still adjusted her glasses when he stared at her too long – and blushed, which was nice. It was sweet to know he could still get a reaction from somewhere. “He was four and you probably didn’t see him,” she twittered on, looking down. “And he only had a sketchy memory of you, which didn’t help because I had no photographs later than 1907…”

“Whatever happened to him, anyway?” Nigel interrupted, as though Spike was irrelevant to the conversation they’d just been having. He was talking to Travers and Althanea. “I always heard that Crowley had meant to send him to Bedales.”

Then Travers was chortling, like he hadn’t expected to. “Oh yes," he commented cheerily. "I had forgotten about that.” Not for the first time, he seemed far away, holding his mug in his one free hand, the other still useless at the end of his sling. “It would have been nice to have Bernard back in London.”

Spike could feel the growl in the back of his throat. He leaned forward, bringing his hands to the edge of the countertop, before Lydia took pity on him. “He’s Nikki Wood’s son,” she told him, raising her eyebrows so the implications would sink in. “If he’s not somebody else,” she added, glancing away like she had never known conviction.

The growl came out of Spike like a groan of frustration. This was just his luck, wasn’t it? As if unlife wasn’t complicated enough.

“I suppose the Slayer could do worse,” Nigel continued, pointedly looking around at Spike while he took another sip of tea. Spike narrowed his eyes.

“Now, Naagesh, that’s quite enough,” Althanea interrupted, distracting Spike’s attention.

It wasn’t enough, however, that he didn’t notice the way Nigel rolled his eyes. “Honestly, ma’am” he said, “you can call me Nigel. I don’t mind.”

“I call people by their names,” the witch snipped back, rather high-mindedly in Spike’s opinion. “Not by Harrow’s answer to cultural integration.”

Now Spike was rolling his eyes: first Bedales, now Harrow. If there was one thing he did not miss from the mother country, it was school talk. “Is he a threat or isn’t he?” Spike asked Lydia, trying to get them back on track, at least to somewhere.

Lydia frowned, not necessarily amenable to this suggestion. “Oh, I shouldn’t think so,” she said, dismissively. Then, quite suddenly, she met his eyes and brought her other hand to her mug. She asked him carefully, “I assume you mean to Buffy?”

Spike nodded, slowly.

“No; it’s simply…” she added, blushing, eyes to the breakfast bar. Nigel snickered, the pillock. “Well, he was rather angry when I met him,” Lydia explained. “About you. Still.”

“Ah,” Spike replied, getting it. For a moment he’d thought she’d meant something else.

--earlier--

Just in case the spell failed – and, really, to reassure her that he was coming with them – Buffy led the floating Spike out with her left arm around his waist and his right slung across her shoulders. It was like leaving the First’s cave again, pretty much, but with Spike this time far too light a weight and no warm sense of his gratitude crackling on the edges of her heart. Her arm was more comfortable with him a little higher up, but it wasn’t better.

It seemed, also, that it was just these four Councilites who were there, and they had nowhere to stay. The bump-test seemed to prove they were all human, at least, and they came with an unmarked yet strangely regimental SUV.

The back of the car was like a limo, or else a large taxi, with seats facing other seats behind the driver. It was slightly easier to get Spike into than Xander’s sedan had been before. Althanea drove and Travers took the passenger seat, leaving Buffy and Spike in the back with the two junior Watchers, Lydia and the other one.

“So, how did you survive?” Buffy asked, in-between directions to her house. It wasn’t the most sensitive of questions, but the Council had never been particularly sensitive with her. She needed a distraction and she figured they could take it. “Are there any more of you? Is the Devon coven OK?”

The man without a name was the one who answered. Was he called Nigel, did Buffy remember? She vaguely recalled thrusting the point of a sword in his face. “We’re the only ones, as far as we know.” Even in his sports sweater, if it was a sports sweater, he seemed kind of haunted. “It was sheer luck,” he continued, glancing at Lydia. “When the building went, we were caught under a bookcase, one end wedged up just enough to give us a crawl space while it held off the rest of the rubble. I was out for the first hour, but…”

Buffy looked at Lydia, who smiled, but clearly didn’t want to talk about it.

Silence fell for a couple more minutes, leaving Buffy with nothing to think about but the weakness in the body at her side. Taking pity on her at last, however – or so it seemed – Lydia eventually came back with, “The coven are fine.” Buffy glanced up from where she’d been staring into her lap. Lydia smiled. “Althanea was the one to rescue us, obviously, after she…” Seeing the question marks on Buffy’s face, then, the woman cut into her own commentary, nose twitching underneath her glasses. “You realise she’s Quentin’s wife, don’t you?”

“I think you’ll find he’s my husband,” Althanea called from the front seat, before Buffy could reply. Her laughing eyes met the Slayer’s in the rear view mirror. Slightly perplexed by the possibility that anyone would marry Travers, Buffy said nothing, but she made a mental note. Check. No insulting Travers in front of Althanea. The witch did actually laugh, then; Buffy took a firmer grip around Spike’s waist, wondering whether she could read her thoughts. “Where am I going now, dear girl?” Althanea asked dismissively, as if Buffy was completely transparent.

Focusing on getting home, Buffy checked out of the tinted windows to see where they were. “Oh, OK,” she said, wondering how on earth she was going to play this, with four more adults in the house who would probably want to run things. “Yeah,” she continued for the moment anyway, focusing on getting herself and Spike back to home turf, “keep going straight, and then take a right onto Revello. It’s pretty much on the corner.”

--later--

The Potentials were training in the backyard. They filled up the lawn, and Kennedy was running drills while Lydia and Nigel looked on, offering pointers every now and again. It seemed like Buffy wasn’t the only one who thought this was a sight to see, because Travers was out on the porch as well. With his broken arm, he looked almost like a child who’d been left out.

She’d learned over the last few days that his arm had basically been crushed in the explosion, so it wasn’t entirely clear whether he’d get back the use of it anyway, even after the bones finished knitting. If he hadn’t been Quentin Travers, he’d have had Buffy’s sympathy.

They hadn’t really spoken much since the Initiative. A few times, Buffy had overheard him talking to the girls about the importance of strategy, playing Risk sometimes with a few of them when Buffy came home from school.

Buffy figured he didn’t have much to do, without the Council to run and with his arm incapacitated. As it was, he’d never really had the build of someone who’d done much physical training. “How are they looking?” she asked him as a greeting, because that was about all he got.

Travers gave her the same respect: a glance of acknowledgement, then a nod towards the regiment. The sun was bright in the sky, and for everything they looked like a cheer squad training for a tournament. “They’re doing well,” Travers said professionally. “They’re clearly fresh, but not necessarily as much as you would… Although,” he conceded, “that girl over there…”

Buffy tried to follow where he was pointing, but very soon it wasn’t necessary. The girl screwed up a manoeuvre, the way Buffy would done a million times if she’d ever been trained like this. Everybody stopped.

What was her name? Buffy couldn’t quite place it – it was something like Claire, or Katie…

Kennedy was yelling, at least before Lydia tapped her on the shoulder. Nigel had his hands up to the group, and Buffy for some reason remembered him saying, Magic Box shoppers!” Like he knew how to handle a crowd, like that was all he was looking at.

“She’s not ready,” Buffy said, feeling the danger of it in the back of her gut. Cheer squad. Was that all they had? First Willow and now… Some days she didn’t know what to do. Where was the confidence in this house? “None of them are ready.”

Shaking his head just once, Travers agreed. “No,” he said.

What the hell were they going to do? Buffy really wanted to know. Still watching, she couldn’t help but ask Travers, “You ever feel like this?” He looked at her, confused, so Buffy tried to explain. “When a girl gets called; when you send her to die?”

“Do I feel how?” Travers asked her directly, the words heavy.

The girls were doing manoeuvres again now – Kennedy happy to shout away. Even the ones who could do it, they were nervous. They had to be, otherwise they would’ve long told Kennedy to go screw herself. Slayers didn’t fight like this.

“Frustrated,” was how Buffy pinned down the feeling she had. It burned at the edges of her, watching these would-be Slayers. It had been burning at her all week, from the moment Spike had walked away. All she wanted was someone to resist, to react, and it felt like there was nothing she could do. “I can’t keep them alive,” she admitted, because that was what she knew. “Not all of them.”

“Do you wish that you could?” Travers asked mildly, his expression mostly blank, drawn and old.

“Some of them will die in this fight,” Buffy said, refusing to answer him, because she recognised in that moment how it was true. “And it won’t be because of me.”

The phone was ringing, back inside the house. Buffy figured she would have to be the one to get it. Willow looked to her the way all of these girls did, the way Xander always had and the way all of them would, at least some point before the end. Maybe this was what it meant to lead, but she wasn’t sure that it should be.

With one last look at the crowd of girls in her yard, Buffy was happy to leave them for the moment and go back into the kitchen. She was chewing over her thoughts, even as she went inside, and almost walked straight into Anya, who was storming up through the basement door. “I mean it,” Anya was yelling, her head turned back down the stairs. “You’re a wimpire, William!”

Buffy stopped, waited. No. Anya was startled as she turned around, slamming the door.

“Assassins,” she explained, in a more level tone, as if the Slayer was supposed to understand.

Buffy guessed it was something to do with how Spike and Anya had gone out together the night before, not that she’d kept track of when they’d come home.

“Spike ran away instead of fighting them,” Anya finished indignantly, before she continued on her way back into the house.

No, Spike, the thought came unbidden. Not you too.

Shaking her head, Buffy finished her own path through the kitchen, picking up the phone.

“Summers residence,” she said absently, even as her mind was calculating what it would mean to have Willow and Spike both frightened out of their wits and a whole bunch of scared teenage girls as their army. I’ve been too soft on him. I’ve been too soft on all of us. Sometimes, it really felt like they were screwed.

It was Giles on the end of the phone. He was calling to say that he’d found another refugee, apparently. Of course, he couldn’t let the conversation end without reminding her that everyone was depending on the Slayer to get them through. Oh, and ask about Willow.

.

[free association IV]
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quinara: Sheep on a hillside with a smiley face. (Default)
Quinara

December 2015

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