Too much darkness. It was thick and full of smells not even Spike could
fully recognize, probably because his knowledge of magic was rusty and it
involved just the basic spells he had learned during his training.
They had lost their weapons the moment they had passed through the shields.
Both Giles and Eric had foreseen that occurrence, that, though, didn’t
mean he liked the idea of all of them being unarmed.
Why had he asked Eric to stay out of their rescue mission? He was trying
hard, so hard to clear his mind from his thoughts, from his worries but it
looked like it was an almost impossible task. 130 years as Eletti weren’t
of much use, probably because none of the Eletti had had friends and a
pregnant significant other.
He thought, all but snarling. He closed his eyes for an instant then said
in a low voice, “Stay close to each other” He turned to look at the others
and saw them nodding at him, through the half-darkness of the room. He
didn’t miss the puzzled glances Faith shot at them.
Giles and Xander had gotten used to his real identity and didn’t put up
much of a protest when he gave them orders. Faith on the other hand didn’t
know anything about him…except what she had seen that night at the Bronze
when she had been inside Buffy’s body.
Willow had told him about what had happened…although he had had a vague
suspicion from the beginning…Buffy had used other tactics to frustrate the
hell out of him, hitting on him hadn’t been her style.
“It’s too dark in here.” Xander said.
“I can feel magic…but it has nothing to do with this darkness…” Giles
Spike nodded, he turned toward Faith and asked, “What can you feel?”
“Rotten fish smell…does it count?” The brunette slayer asked.
“No…” Spike almost spat.
“We’re alone,” Faith said, “and there aren’t demons here…except for you,
of course…” Spike didn’t miss the unspoken question in Faith’s eyes: why
was he there.
Why was he helping, giving orders and why the others acted as if that was
a normal occurrence?
Spike shrugged, ignoring her words. There were already too many people who
knew about his identity, last thing he needed was for a rogue Slayer who
had been saved by Angel, to know about him and his calling.
A single Eletti couldn’t blow millennia of secrecy...
<Bloody Hell, I'm starting to think like Eric...next thing I know, I'm
going to start talking in riddles!>
He thought shaking his head. He tilted his head up, "I'm not feeling
anything either.” He eventually said, "and I don't like it..."
"I'd say we should split up and look for B." Faith said.
"Did you hear me, pet? We're to stick together...and that's final..."
Spike said, "We can't risk one of us getting lost...not here..."
Spike heard Faith snorting at his words and say: “I can take care of
myself, thank you…”
“Can you, really? Because from the looks of it I wouldn’t say so…” it was
Xander who talked and Spike couldn’t help rolling his eyes
Just what he needed right now.
A quarrel between old enemies.
Couldn’t life be just a bit more complicated than that?
A white, dazzling light lit up the room, forcing them all to close their
“It was a bloody rhetorical question”
Spike mumbled, feeling his skin itching.
“Stay close to each other” He repeated, although he almost couldn’t hear
his own voice, covered as it was by a shrill noise.
And then silence.
And then darkness.
“Bugger…” He murmured.
He was alone, in the dark and he had the distinctive feeling that was just
His arms were tied behind his back.
It hurt breathing. It hurt existing.
He knew that kind of hurt.
He had already felt it once.
Giles lightly shook his head, slowly becoming aware of his surroundings,
of the excruciating pain in his fingers.
<What in the bloody hell is going on? >
He wondered, opening his eyes.
It was dark.
Darkness all around him, gone were the others.
Gone was that blinding white light and Giles suspected it had something to
do with what he was experiencing.
Too much darkness.
Yet he could recognize the smells.
Blood, sex, death.
Just like that night.
“I must say I’m impressed, Rupert.”
Giles swallowed recognizing Angelus’ voice.
<Great…just…bloody fantastic! >
He was reliving his ordeal on Angelus’ hands, courtesy of his former
Wasn’t life just marvelous?
“I must say, I’m not!” He spat.
He couldn’t see Angelus, but he could hear his voice. The vampire chuckled
at his words and said, “Oh, well…give me time!”
“For what?” Giles asked.
He looked around trying to see the vampire, but the darkness was too
“To know if she’s worth it!”
All right…he hadn’t expected that!
“Who?” He asked, although he already knew the answer.
“Who else, Rupert? Your slayer, my girl...”
Angelus slowly came out from the shadows and added with a smile.
“My sweet lover…”
Giles had to swallow not to answer him. He still recalled how Angelus had
told him about Angel’s night with Buffy as he had tortured him, the way
that beast had taken an act of love and had stained it with his voice, his
laughter, his hatred.
“So, Rupert? Is she worth it? Is she worth the pain, the humiliation, the
heartaches? She fell in love with a vampire…she lost her virginity to a
vampire…and she set me free”
Giles closed his eyes.
Which kind of sick games were they playing?
“What…cat ate your tongue, Rupert? I thought I had asked you a simple
question: is she worth it? She’s so bossy and cheeky. She is so strong…yet
she couldn’t kill me.”
The vampire got closer, before kneeling in front of him.
“You know? Maybe if she had done that, I wouldn’t have killed so many
“Are you finished?” Giles asked.
“I reiterate what I’ve previously said, I’m not impressed!”
<Try to live over and over again your worst nightmare for three days, then
we’ll talk, mate! >
“I killed Jenny, Rupert…I snapped her neck…I brought her to your house…do
He recalled every single detail about that night.
He recalled how he had felt his heart shatter when he had seen Jenny in
his bed; her eyes open…dead…but so very beautiful.
He recalled how he hadn’t been able to shed a single tear and how he
hadn’t been able to look at or smell a red rose ever since.
Mostly he recalled Buffy holding him outside the burning factory. He
recalled how the tears had finally come, for both of them, hot and fierce,
and how it had felt right for him to cry in his slayer’s arms.
<You can’t leave me…I can’t do this alone! >
He had promised to himself he wouldn’t ever leave her, that night.
That promise, had helped him to withstand torture on Angelus’ hands that
Things weren’t going to be different…
“Odd…” He finally said.
“I mostly recall hitting you with a flaming baseball bat…”
“Yeah, you did…but you still haven’t answered me, Rupert…
Is. She. Worth. It? ”
“You killed me, man…”
Xander opened his eyes when he heard Jesse’s voice.
<What about these guys finally got a clue, and stopped messing with our
“How ungrateful of you…” Jesse’s voice continued.
Xander rolled his eyes, trying to adjust to the darkness.
How come they always ended in sucking scenarios like those?
And why was he imagining Jesse of all people?
“Don’t you want to answer me?”
“You’re not real, pal…just bloody stop it!”
< Bloody stop it? Great…now I’m channeling Spike! >
He thought shaking his head.
“Well, my death was real, man…and painful…and all because of her…”
“O-ok and this is this the part where I should just smile and nod, right?
‘Cause I’m not sure I’m following you, J…whoever you are…her?”
“Your friend…the blondie…you wanted her so much, didn’t you?”
“And that’s supposed to make sense? You were killed by a vampire!”
“And she didn’t save me…out of all the people she saved…she couldn’t save
me…your best friend...yet you kept following her around. Gee…what’s so
special about her? Is she such a good lay?”
Xander shook his head, gritting his teeth. “Listen…whoever you are…”
“Answer me, Xander! She got me killed…”
“*You* got yourself killed! By the way did I tell you how much of a
dumbass you have been?”
“And have I ever mentioned how much of a jerk you were for dusting me?”
“I did not stake you!”
“Did n…” Xander stopped talking. Was he really having an argument with…God
knew what…in an old lighthouse?
Jesse was smiling, he was dressed like the last time he had seen him, at
the Bronze, shortly before he had been dusted.
“If that helps living with yourself, man, be my guest! But we both know
that’s not the truth…I died because of you and the blonde bitch…yet she
didn’t kill Angel…”
Xander gritted his teeth, frustrated. He was trying to remind to himself
none of what he was seeing was true…yet Jesse’s words were hurting him.
“He had a soul…he was different” Xander murmured, and wasn’t surprised
when Jesse rolled his eyes at those words…how many times had he done the
“Lame-o, you lost your best friend and that’s all you can say?” Jesse got
close to him, whispering against his face. “How was he different than me?
Both vampires, both ruthless killers without a soul…oh yeah right, I
hadn’t given her a happy” He sniffed him then asked “and what about you?
Did she give you one?”
Xander pushed him away. Jesse laughed, and then calming down he asked,
“So, Xand…is she worth it?”
Not that she had expected a red carpet to welcome her to Sunnydale. Faith
had known that was going to be hard on her.
To say she was surprised, though, meant using an euphemism…first there had
been Spike, acting like he was some kind of a leader, with Giles and
Xander following his orders as if that was something usual.
To top her already surreal evening there had been that annoying white
light, followed by …
A darkness that smelled of blood and pain…that exploded in every particle
of her body when she tried to move, to breathe, to exist.
That’s what he had felt that night?
Her wrists were bruised where she had been tied, the rope was cutting her
skin, she had tried to break free but to no avail.
She had been kicked, hard, in the stomach, the pain was intense…she had
forgotten what pain was really like.
Being the Slayer had made her forget the bruises, the cuts.
It looked like someone had wanted her to remember…with vivid all too vivid
details, in glorious Technicolor.
“So…are you getting comfortable, Faith?”
“Oh, c’mon!” She exclaimed, hoping nothing of her real feelings would come
to the surface as she spoke “You’ve got to be kidding me…that’s your
master plan? Fucking with my brain? Too late!”
He made a step forward, getting close to her and she couldn’t help
The pain…it was dancing in her body, playing with her skin…yet she
welcomed it. Anything was better than looking into his eyes.
“No, Faith. That is not my master plan. I’m here to ask questions…” He
Faith cocked an eyebrow at him: “A please woks wonder or so I’ve heard”
He smiled at her, a cruel smirk, which made her hair stand.
“For humans maybe, but not for rabid dogs…and that’s what you are, Faith.
You are nothing but that.”
Faith couldn’t help rolling her eyes at him, “Oh, c’mon…that’s all you can
do to hurt me?” She let out a laughter; “I thought you knew me better than
She narrowed her eyes saying, “Not so long ago, you were the one sitting
on this chair, Wesley…”
He could hear water running. Spike knew that sound. He had relived it over
and over, in his nightmares, he had heard that sickening sound just before
starting assignments, he had believed even Drusilla had been able to hear
it, spells notwithstanding. That water wasn’t clean, he clearly recalled
it. The water had been stained by blood and the smell of dead bodies,
demons and humans alike that had met their deaths in that cave.
Bodies of humans and demons he had killed, dead bodies whose smell had
filled his nostrils, and made his eyes water.
Here he was, again. As if time had stopped, had frozen on that night.
Spike was beyond angry, that was the Council’s plan?
“So vampire…did you have fun killing me and my baby?”
Spike clenched his jaws, fighting the urge to let his demon take over. He
knew that it was an illusion. He had killed that young woman with his own
hands, hands that had been red with blood at that point.
He had taken care of the bodies after, burning them and silently watching
as the flames eroded what had once been a young woman whose only fault had
been being a Slayer in love.
It was an illusion, yet that voice was making his skin ache.
“I can’t even have an answer, can I?” Her voice was slow, heavily
accented. What was worst? She seemed genuinely hurt by his silence.
He tried to picture her as he was hearing her footsteps approaching him.
He recalled a short girl, with long black hair, a thick iridescent skin.
He recalled blows that had made him double over in pain.
He recalled how quickly, too quickly she had moved, how her long nails had
scratched his skin making it bleed, and a warm, wet tongue licking the
What he recalled mostly was her swollen abdomen, and how the baby, if one
could call it a baby, had moved deforming it.
“I loved my baby so much, vampire…” She let out a coarse laughter, “She
made me feel alive…and whole…and you killed her. My. Little. Baby. Yet
you’re willing to save hers. Why? Is she worth it?”
Another step toward him. Other everlasting seconds in which Spike relived
Heta7tanatos. A stupid code to describe hell on heart.
And he was reliving it, again.
She was going to find out soon.
Eric kept his eyes on the book he was pretending to read. He wasn’t
reading though, all of his senses were focused on the redhead who was
sitting at the desk, consulting books, while her eyes kept going to the
watch on the wall.
She was waiting for her family, for the man she loved to come back. She
hadn’t even talked to him since he had come back. Her anger had come to
him in cold waves, and he had been sure to see a look akin pure hatred in
She hated him.
Once again William had been hurt, once again she had seen his flesh
bloodied, and seen him in pain.
She had lived over and over William’s death when she had been taken, and
then she had seen him dying, for real. He had let her see Drusilla killing
him, draining him under a pouring rain.
He had held her while the man she loved had been killed. He had felt her
body pressed against his, her hot tears mingling with the rain, and he had
trembled, while in his heart the feelings for her were rooting and
She hated him.
She still saw the cold-hearted bastard who hadn’t shown any feelings while
condemning William to die. She didn’t know how much he had changed…or she
didn’t want to. Not that he blamed her; he hadn’t given her any chance to
see how things had changed for him.
And now…now he could hear it. He wondered whether William had as well.
Willow was pregnant. She was carrying a child conceived more than a
century before…and she didn’t know yet.
He was pretty sure about it. He had learned to read her feelings, her
states of mind pretty well.
They had tried not to change history…had made sure William wouldn’t fall
in love with Willow who on the other hand had allowed him to put a spell
on her so powerful that it had taken more than a century for him to find a
way to undo it.
And all for naught.
Willow was carrying William’s child.
“I hate it!” Anya’s voice broke Eric’s musings, the vampire looked at her:
she was holding an open book in her hands.
“What are you talking about?” He asked, keeping his eyes on her, feeling
Willow’s eyes on him.
“What do you think she’s talking about?” came Willow’s sharp retort. “Our
friends, our family is in danger…they risk their lives, because of the
Council, because Buffy dared falling in love…and getting pregnant! The
Council, Eric! The guys who are supposed to protect Buffy! Why do they
send watchers anyway? They could just take the Slayers to the Council and
send them out just to fight!”
“Willow…you don’t know all the facts…you don’t know how dangerous a
pregnant Slayer can really be.”
Surprisingly it was Anya who talked. “Granted, the Council’s behavior
about it sucks…but if you think you have seen evil Will, wait until you
see a pregnant Slayer who reaches Obscuritas, it’s quite nasty if you ask
“So what do they do with them, take them down as rabid dogs?” Willow
“Yes…that’s what we do…” Eric said in a low voice, “What William was
ordered to do, once…”
“The second Slayer he killed…” Willow murmured, she pursed her lips for an
instant before adding, “Spike never talks about it…”
“He has never been the same after that…” Eric said closing his book and
getting up from his chair, “it was very hard for him…she had reached
Obscuritas…the Council hadn’t gotten there in time.”
“We…we don’t know for sure whether Buffy is going to reach Obscuritas,
ok…she has showed some of the symptoms …but most of the times she just
“And she’s kicking the crap out of everyone who trains with her, and is
too strong even for a Slayer…” Anya said.
“Were you trying to help?” Willow snapped.
The former demon snorted then said, “I’m just stating the facts Willow!
For God’s sake, look at what’s happening!”
“You mean my best friend kidnapped, my family searching for her, the man I
love risking his ass again? I kinda got the memo, thanks!”
Anya sighed, “Willow…”
“You know what?” She said getting up from her chair, “I’m not going to
stay here and wait. You can come with me or not, I don’t care…I want to
“No!” Eric exclaimed blocking her way.
“No?” Willow asked, tilting her head on a side in a gesture that reminded
Eric of Spike.
<Great, old boy. Get her and her baby killed. William is really going to
like it! >
“There is no way I’m going to let you out of this house. You can’t help
“Maybe, but sure as hell, I’m not going to stay here and wait. This is
“Going there will make you permanently dead.” Anya chimed in.
Willow turned toward her flashing her a hard gaze, “Just because you’re…”
“If you go to that lighthouse, you will get William killed. He will be too
worried about you to…”
“Don’t you dare Eric! Don’t you dare guilt tripping me! I’m going to that
“Do you think that was a guilt trip? Well, here is one: do you remember
that afternoon in my house? The one you spent with William in *my*
“What the hell are you…?” Willow started, but was interrupted by Eric who
said, “You are pregnant Willow!”
She took a step back, looking at him wide eyed. “You’re lying!” She said
in a low voice.
Eric shook his head. “No, I’m not. I can hear its heartbeat, and so will
be able to every single vampire in Sunnydale. Do you have any idea of how
exciting this sound is to vampires? It’s like a beacon, even more so to
the people from the Council: imagine the possibilities with a baby
conceived in 1880…”
Eric saw Willow’s face paling and the young woman clutching a hand over
her heart, she shook her head and opened her mouth to speak, but Eric
stopped her by saying: “You can go there…and get the man you love killed,
you can go there thus jeopardizing your ‘family’, or you can stay here and
Willow didn’t talk; she just tilted her head up, shooting him an angry
glance. Eric gave her a brief look, but didn’t attempt to get close to
her. He turned his back at her, and went back to his chair, opening again
his book, pretending to read from it. He heard the bathroom’s door
slamming, and Willow’s muffled sobs and resisted the urge to gripping the
No one had to know.
No one could ever know.
It was Anya who broke the silence saying, “So…not big with the subtleness
ain’t we? ‘My meditation room’? Couldn’t you have been a little more…”
“Anya…” Eric started. “It’s not…”
Anya though, waved a hand in the air and interrupted him saying, “Please!
I’ve been around longer than you, made a living out of deceiving…the
Eletti are not the only one who can lie well, you know? Don’t worry, I
won’t tell anyone…”
She got up from her chair saying, “I’ll go and check on Will…you try and
see if there’s a way to bring them back”
She left without another word, leaving Eric alone.
Alone. As always.
She had been ready to do everything in order to free herself when she had
heard the steps getting closer.
Buffy had gripped in her hand the shred of one the plates that had been on
the tray that man had left in her room. She had broken one of the plates,
in the frantic attempt to find a weapon.
Three months before she had believed she had been ready to kill a human
being in order to free Giles and Willow, but when time had come, she
hadn’t been able to, although everything inside of her had screamed to
kill that woman.
Yet, she hadn’t been able to.
Now, things were different. She had been ready and willing to slit the
throat of whoever had entered the room.
She had ignored the strange itching in her skin at that thought, and the
now familiar craving…
Craving for blood, craving for being the Slayer.
She had focused on Rupert, instead. She had focused on his eyes, so
gentle, so warm, while he told her he loved her.
She had focused on Giles’ face the night they had discovered she was
pregnant, and how he had held her all night long.
She was gripping the shred of the plate, and was waiting, her face pale,
her heart strongly beating in her chest.
She swallowed hard, just before the door opened, then without thinking
charged the man who had just entered the room, and found herself being
The man didn’t hurt her; he just gripped at her wrist and let the shred
fall on the floor.
“Miss. Summers” The man said still holding her wrist; he wasn’t hurting
her, yet Buffy couldn’t help the tears from blurring her sight. “We do not
want to harm you, unless it is necessary”
“You already have!” She said in a nasal voice, “Don’t you remember? You
took away my strength…”
“It was for your own good.” The man said, and Buffy felt sick to her
“I suppose I should even thank you guys, don’t I?” She asked, her voice
dripping with venom.
The man shook his head and said, “I’ve come here to bring you to my chief,
“Like hell!” She hissed, taking a step back.
The man, the same who had brought her food, looked younger than Giles,
about Wesley’s age, tilted his head on a side, looking at her. She
couldn’t read him; she couldn’t understand what he was thinking.
Buffy swallowed, holding his gaze, trying to hold back her fear.
<I’m Buffy Summers. >
<The vampire Slayer. There’s more in a Slayer than just kicking asses.
Those losers will not break me. >
“Very well” The man said, letting go of her wrist, “I will inform my peers
The man turned his back at her, and Buffy couldn’t help whispering,
“Proceed to what?”
The man turned. He looked at her and his eyes were blank, although his
voice was soft as he said, “We shall kill your friends.” The man took a
step closer to her. “They are trapped in here.”
Buffy blinked, “I didn’t hear them…I didn’t hear a thing.”
“Nevertheless they have come. It didn’t take them long.” The man
continued, and Buffy had no doubts he was telling the truth.
Giles had come to her. He had found her.
“You knew they-” Buffy started.
“They care about you Miss. Summers, but we were already aware of that.
What we want to know is how much do you care about them…”
“What do you mean?” Buffy asked. Although she knew what he had meant.
“It’s up to you, Miss. Summers. You can stay here, and let them die…”
“Don’t you dare…” She hissed taking a step toward the man.
“Or what? In case you didn’t notice, Miss Summers, you are in no position
to threaten us, or give us orders…”
“What…what will happen to me if I go with you?” Buffy asked, interrupting
“You will be deported to the Council…” The man said. Yet he wasn’t looking
at her. Actually he had stopped looking at her since he had told her about
her friends. Just like when he had brought her food, he looked
“Then I will be killed, won’t I?” She asked, shaking away her previous
thoughts. If it was war they wanted she would give it to them. She was
going to go down fighting. “What will you guys choose to kill me?” She
continued, her voice low, stern, “A bullet, a knife? Or you will me throw
in a room with a vampire like you did when I turned eighteen?”
“Nonsense…” The man said in a low voice. He stuck his hands in the pocket
of his trousers and said, “It’s your decision Miss. Summers, I can wait,
but I seriously doubt your friends can…”
Buffy shook her head. “How do I know you won’t kill them if I come with
you? How do I know they aren’t already dead?” She asked.
“Because we are not interested in them. Because they cannot harm the
Council…” The man stated matter-of-factly.
Buffy ran a hand through her hair. How could she choose? Why did she have
to? She let out a sigh, knowing within herself there wasn’t a choice to be
made. “Let’s go…” She whispered.
She was going to die. She was going to let her baby be killed.
<I’m sorry Rupert…>
<I can’t let you die…>
The first thing Buffy noticed once she exited her room was the smell: it
was strong, sickeningly bitter sweet like burnt coffee and molasses, it
made her throat twitch with the urge to vomit, but she ignored it. She
walked, her hands tied behind her back, blindfolded, the man was behind
her, grabbing one of her arms, his presence, somehow, oddly comforting.
She could hear the sea, or at least she thought it was the sea. Relying on
her senses was proving to be more difficult than she had thought. She was
trying not to let fear and worry clouding her senses.
The man stopped and she did the same, they had gone down some stairs, and
she had carefully counted each step, while trying to focus on other
details, besides that smell and the noise of the sea. She could hear a dim
buzz, yet she couldn’t exactly determine its origin.
“What…” She started.
“Do shut up, Miss. Summers.” The man interrupted her.
“Or what? You tie my hands behind my back and blindfold me?” She snapped.
She heard the man snorting at her words and a few seconds later he untied
her hands and freed her from the blindfold.
She had to squint her eyes shut, just like the room she had been in; the
walls were painted in a bright, almost iridescent white. She opened her
eyes again, and looked at a door: it was a simple wooden door, yet, Buffy
She tilted her head on a side and looking at the man said, “Now what?”
“Enter the room, my chief is already waiting for you.” The man said.
Buffy’s lips stretched in a thin line before she asked, “How does it feel
The man looked confused, but didn’t talk, Buffy lightly shook her head
before adding, “You know? Here I was, thinking I was becoming a
monster…but now? I know I’m not…I’m looking at a monster right in the
eyes…I’m nothing like you!”
The man didn’t answer her and Buffy wasn’t surprised, she grabbed the
doorknob and whispered, “You will be surprised when you realize
something…what’s your name again?”
“Charles” The man said, his voice was lower. She hadn’t been wrong…he
“Surprised by what?” He asked.
“You’ll be surprised when you realize what a Slayer really is…”
The man shook his head then said, “Open the door miss. Summers”
Buffy had already opened it, when she heard him whisper, “And may God
forgive us all”
The light had been so harsh that it had hurt her eyes, and the strong,
sickening sweet smell she had smelled as she entered the room, had become
She had felt her body shivering from the cold that suddenly had engulfed
her, yet, her forehead was beading with small drops of sweat.
Buffy couldn’t open her eyes, it didn’t matter how much she was trying to,
she just couldn’t…not when the voices were so loud, so full of pain,
She took a deep breath before, slowly forcing her eyes open. “O-ok…” She
whispered, through her dry throat, “what the hell is going on here?”
She looked around; all her friends were in front of her, standing still in
various spot of the circular room.
Se blinked when she saw Faith, she was leaning against a wall, her eyes
wide open, her mouth moving, forming words…
Just like the others. They were all talking, aloud, simultaneously, she
couldn’t understand what they were saying, such was the cacophony created
by their voices. She shook her head trying to shake away the numbness and
Later, she would think about what was really happening, for now, her only
goal was to get to her friends and…
<What? Wake them up? Saying hocus pocus to free them? You have no clue
about what’s going on…>
“Buffy…no…” She heard Giles, saying, and turned her head to his side: the
man looked like was staring at her, yet he wasn’t really seeing her.
“Rupert!” She called aloud, moving toward him. She hadn’t made but a step
that she was thrown back, landing on the floor, in time to see Giles
collapsing on his knees, tilting his head down.
The others stopped talking, at once. Their eyes opened, unseeing.
She watched, unable to do anything else.
She had to get them out of there.
He was on his knees now.
The force of what he had seen, what his mind had conjured to weaken him
had hit him.
He had walked, after Angelus had finished with him. He had walked in the
darkness, carefully trying to banish away any thought. Angelus had kept
asking whether she had been worth it.
The same question, asked over and over while, just like that night of
three years before, he snapped the bones in his fingers.
His questions hadn’t left him, even when his image had disappeared,
leaving him alone, in the dark.
The question had echoed in his mind while he had walked, through a
seemingly endless darkness.
Was she worth it? Was she worth the pain? Was she worth the heartaches?
Was she worth the humiliations?
He had been distracted by the questions, as he kept walking, only when,
after what it had looked like years, spent in the dark he had started
recognizing his surroundings, he had realized he was in one of Sunnydale’s
cemeteries, the one where Spike lived.
He had been able to sense the others; relieved as he had been to find out
they were still alive.
The only presence he hadn’t been able to feel was Buffy’s.
He had started walking through the graveyard, spotting Spike’s crypt,
wondering about Buffy, her whereabouts, wonder if she was still alive.
Was she worth it? The question had started ringing again in his ears.
Images of her had filled his mind, images the first time he had seen her,
so young, so carefree…so reckless...so full of life.
Is she worth it?
Images of the night after she had made love to Angel. She had been so
fragile, so broken. He had felt that a part of her had died when Angelus
had broken her heart.
Is she worth it?
Images of the night she had come back to Sunnydale, after a summer spent
away, hiding herself from what she had done, from her mission, from her
friends and loved ones.
Is she worth it?
Images of the night of the Prom, so beautiful and sad…yet pride had shone
in her eyes…and he had watched her dancing with Angel. He had been
relieved when she had told him they had broken up, yet, in that moment, he
had only wished her to be happy…even if with Angel…or anyone else. Even
thinking that, his heart had broken, thinking his, was bound to be an
Is she worth it?
Images of the night he had been kidnapped, a few months before…images from
his nightmares…where he held her in his arms as she died, feeling his soul
dying with her.
Is she worth it?
Images from the last months…he could see her, beautiful and his…
Is she worth it?
Images of Buffy, training with him, a soft smile playing on her lips.
Is she worth it?
Images of Buffy…training with Spike, fighting alongside the blonde
vampire, trusting him, relying on him…
Is she worth it?
He hadn’t even realized he had started running, in the vain hope of
banishing the voice and the images: Buffy fighting with Spike in that very
graveyard, their movements fluid, perfectly in synch, as those of two
Is she worth it?
He had kept running, ignoring the pain, which stolidly throbbed throughout
his body, and his heart, pounding in his chest. He had sighed, when he had
finally reached Spike’s crypt.
He had taken some tentative steps, toward the door, but had stopped, when
he had heard Spike’s voice.
“Does he suspect?” He had said, his voice low, relaxed, a hint of
curiosity in his question.
Giles had felt ice seeping through his veins; he had swallowed, steeling
himself for what he had been about to see.
Was she worth it?
The question had become louder and louder, it had hurt his ears to hear
it, his heart crazed for the run had contracted in his chest, and he had
had to force himself to remind that nothing of what was surrounding him
was true. It wasn’t any real than Angelus’ torture.
Yet it had taken all of his willpower to move, to lightly open the door of
the crypt, to go toward the voice.
“Who? Mr: ‘I-worship-the-ground-you-walk-on’? Gotta be kidding me…”
It had been Buffy’s voice, she had talked in a low voice, but Giles hadn’t
missed the bitterness in it.
<It’s not real. >
He had thought.
<It’s not her…>
Yet he hadn’t been able to walk away, he hadn’t been able to stop looking,
to stop hearing.
“Not a nice thing to say about your fiancée, luv…” Spike had said.
Buffy had laughed at his words, and Giles had closed his eyes, clenching
“He thinks we patrol together…” She had said emphasizing her last words,
Giles had opened his eyes and had taken another step forward, forgetting
everything about the pounding in his heart and the sharp throbbing in his
hand, where Angelus had broken his fingers.
“They will find out sooner or later,” Spike had said.
Buffy had snorted at his words, “What did he expect? C’mon Spike, he’s
old…he doesn’t even look young, like you or Angel!”
He had taken another step. His mind had known it hadn’t been real; yet
Buffy’s words had been real…it had hurt him, more than Angelus’ tortures.
“Rupert!” Spike had exclaimed, breaking his thoughts. The vampire hadn’t
looked surprised, Giles had glimpsed amusement in Spike’s eyes.
“Buffy!” He had said, ignoring the vampire.
The Slayer had looked at him, her green eyes cold, not a trace of love in
her eyes, when snorting had said, “What are you doing here?”
“Told you he would find out” Spike had said.
“Guess so…” She had replied, leaning toward the vampire, placing a kiss on
his forehead, she had snuggled against him and had continued, “C’mon,
don’t look at me that way. Not exactly a saint, here…”
Giles had shaken his head, “It’s not real…”
“What, honey…what isn’t real?” Buffy had asked, tilting her head on a
side, exposing her neck to Spike, who had begun kissing it. “You are,
indeed, old…ain’t you?” She had asked.
“You…what I’m seeing it’s not real!” Giles had protested.
Spike’s laughter had filled the crypt and the throbbing pain, inside of
him had exploded.
“Yet” The vampire had said, “here we are. Don’t tell us you don’t fear
this. If it’s not me it will be someone else, watcher…in the mean time I
can be everything she needs” He smiled when he said, “I can be a friend, a
lover, a father for her child. I can be her watcher…”
Giles had looked at him, half expecting Spike’s face to morph into Angel’s
or Riley’s, while he had said those words, but it hadn’t happened.
“And you can keep being what you think you are, what she makes you think
you are: the faithful watcher, the faithful lover…but we both know she
isn’t worth it, don’t we?”
“Yes, Rupert…you can tell him…am I worth it?” Buffy had left Spike’s
makeshift bed and, naked, had gotten close to him.
“Am I worth Rupert?” She had asked, pouting, circling his neck with her
arms. She had stood on her tiptoes whispering in his ear, “Am I worth,
Rupert? I was happy when Jenny died; the bitch had screwed up my
relationship of Angel. Speaking of Angel…I set his monster free…and after
he tortured you, I didn’t even stay long enough to see if you’d recover…am
I worth it?”
Giles had pushed her away, “Buffy no…” He had said shaking his head.
Laughter, they had laughed while they had gotten close to him.
“Am I worth, Rupert?” She had kept asking, her voice sweet, now, almost
“Is she worth, Rupert?” Spike had asked, his voice low.
Their voices had started growing with intensity, echoing in the crypt,
making his heart twisting in his chest.
That’s when he had dropped on his knees. The question, always the same,
asked by them over and over.
Was she worth it?
Was she worth it?
Spike hadn’t known the name of the Chinese Slayer he had killed during the
Boxer Rebellion. He hadn’t asked for her name, when he had been sent to
stop heta7tantos. He still didn’t know her name. He still didn’t know a
lot of things about her.
Had she been in love before the Obscuritas had devoured her? Had she loved
the father of her child?
Would it have been possible to save her, had her watcher really known
about the Obscuritas?
Spike looked at the dead body in front of him: the Slayer…of what remained
of her. They had fought, again, just like that night.
She had been deadly precise in her movements, just like that night. She
had been cruel, just like that night.
She had kept asking questions…actually, a single question, throughout
their fight: is she worth it?
She had fought, and although he had known what he had been experiencing
hadn’t been more real than the nightmares he usually had about that night,
he had been afraid.
Just like that night.
He had been wounded, just like that night, and the pain felt real…
Too damn real.
<I’m getting too old for this…>
He could still see the body of the Slayer; it was the only visible thing
…there was darkness all around him now, even the smell and the noises had
faded. The Slayer had kept asking whether she was worth it. What the hell
was that supposed to mean? Was she worth what? And since when that was the
procedure with pregnant Slayers, anyway?
Spike shook his head, tired. He tried not to let his mind wander. He
couldn’t afford another replica of his past, of his fears now…he had to
find a way to get the hell out of there.
“Help me, please!!” It was Willow’s voice, getting closer and closer to
him. Spike gritted his teeth, at the sound of her voice.
“Somebody help me, please!” Willow’s voice kept crying out for help.
Spike stood still. He tried to clear his mind from any thought, from any
recollection, from any fear.
The darkness all around him was fading, he could see a form approaching
him…and he could smell blood.
It was Willow’s blood, sweet and thick and intoxicating, filled with love,
magic and despair.
He could see her, she was wearing the blue gown she had been wearing the
day they had made love in Eric’s house…it was dripping wet with rain and
blood. The darkness around him faded some more, revealing more details:
her face was wet with rain.
<Hadn’t been raining the night I died? >
He silently wondered. Neither Willow nor Eric had told him a lot about
what had happened. His recollections stopped with his death. The last time
he had seen Willow had been when he had left that room. He hadn’t even
looked back; he had stopped thinking about that redhead and had focused on
the mission…on his impending death. What had happened to her after he had
“Help me!” Willow was screaming, from the top of her lungs, running, in a
seemingly endless hallway.
She had screamed the same words when she had returned from the past, wet
with rain, scared. He now recalled even through the thick cloud of pain
that had engulfed him her pale face, her puffy red eyes.
Rain. It was pouring down, all around him, yet, he wasn’t really there…he
was just looking at what was going on.
None of that was real…not the rain, not Willow’s cries, or the smell of
her blood. Yet, when he glimpsed the figure at Willow’s heels he couldn’t
help snarling, while he felt his human mask shattering revealing his
demon’s true face.
Angelus. He was chasing Willow, a cruel smirk playing on his face, his
chin wet with blood, her blood, the rain pouring down on him, unnoticed.
He moved toward them, then. Yet, the more he tried to run, the more slowly
“Willow! Here, I’m here luv…come here!” He shouted, not giving a damn
about the fact that it wasn’t real.
“Please…” Willow sobbed, “Someone save me and my baby!”
She wasn’t seeing or hearing him, he realized. She couldn’t.
Yet, Angelus looked up, at him, his smirk grew into a smile and the look
in his eyes was unmistakable: he had heard him, he had seen him…that was
only adding to his excitement.
Willow stopped, doubling over in pain, probably to catch her breath, but
suddenly screamed in pain and he could clearly smell new blood adding to
the one she had already shed.
She was losing her baby…and Angelus, was about to catch her.
Spike closed his eyes; he knew what was about to happen, yet he blinked
them open when he heard Willow’s cries and his voice…Angelus’ voice
saying, “Look at me, William”
He swallowed, ignoring what his mind was telling him, ignoring his
training as Eletti…ignoring his soul, which was roaring with the rage at
the sight: Angelus was keeping Willow, he had circled her waist with an
arm, pulling her closer and closer at him. Only then did he really notice
her swollen belly, Angelus was idly caressing her head with a hand.
Once again, he tried to move, but he could barely make a step. “Let her
go” He said.
Angelus chuckled at his words, he trailed Willow’s face with a finger
before saying, “I’d love to…but I have to make sure whether she’s worth
Spike tried to move, to prevent what was about to happen, he tried to get
close to them, but to no avail.
He helplessly watched as Angelus tilted Willow’s head on a side, exposing
her neck before lowering his head and sinking his fangs into it.
Spike heard Willow’s desperate cries as Angelus drank from her and
struggled to get close, struggled to move, to stop what was happening.
He froze when Angelus tilted his head up, leaving Willow’s neck. “You have
to tell me, William! Is the she worth it? Because this-” He said dropping
Willow’s body on the ground, “isn’t”
Spike cried Willow’s name, as he finally was able to move.
“Tell me, William. Is she worth that much for you? You let me kill your
“Sod off!” He spat, rushing at Willow’s side. He knelt, taking her in his
“Not until you answer me. What is it with you and this Slayer, by the
Spike didn’t answer him; he was holding Willow’s body in his arms. He
searched for a pulse, although he had known she had died even before
kneeling next to her.
She was dead.
Dead because of him.
Dead because of…
“You can say her name, William…” Angelus said, reading his mind, proving
once more that what was seeing, experiencing wasn’t real, although that
awareness didn’t change what he was feeling, didn’t change the fact that
he was holding Willow’s lifeless body in his arms.
“She’s dead because of the Slayer. You couldn’t move because she was
holding you back…”
Spike tilted his head up, looking at Angelus: his lips were still red with
Willow’s blood. “What are you talking about?” He asked.
Angelus shrugged at his words, and pointed with a finger to the spot he
has occupied and Spike couldn’t help following his gesture with his eyes,
only to meet Buffy’s smiling face. She waved with a hand at him.
“She was keeping you. She still is.” Angelus said.
To prove his point, Buffy showed her other hand; the end of a rope was
wrapped around it. “Ops...” she said. “Didn’t you feel it, Spike?” She
shrugged. “Am I really worth so much?” she smiled and continued, “Color me
Spike shook his head, then looked down at his legs, noticing for the first
time, the ropes wrapped around his ankles and legs, almost like snakes.
“And I wonder…” Angelus said. “Why? You love the red-head…is she really
worth so much?”
“I don’t understand!” Spike said, pulling Willow’s body closer at him.
Had he let Willow die?
“What’s to understand?” Angelus asked, kneeling next to him.
“Your question, you git!” Spike hissed.
“Is she worth it? Didn’t she make your life miserable? Didn’t she screw up
all of your plans? Hell, she set me free…while you were incapacitated…yet,
you let Willow die…”
“She’s the Slayer…” Spike said in a low voice. “I’m sworn to protect her.”
Angelus got close to him, then whispered. “Honestly, William? Didn’t look
like that with Emilie… didn’t you let me torture her almost to death?
Didn’t you snap her neck? You were sworn to protect her as well…”
“I couldn’t…” Spike said in a low voice.
Angelus shook his head, “Really? But you still haven’t answered my
question, William: what’s so special about her?”
“Yeah, Spike…I kinda want to know, as well…” Buffy said, getting close to
them, she knelt in front of them and asked, “What’s so special about me?
Am I really worth so much? ‘Cause gotta tell you, until you told me about
your soul? I thought nothing of you…yet, you’ve had your girlfriend killed
because of me…so spill…what’s so special about me?”
It wasn’t real. It couldn’t be.
He let go of Willow’s body and slowly got up.
“You know what?” He said looking at the two of them. “Piss off! I’m done
playing this game…”
He looked around before closing his eyes, grateful, more than ever for his
training as Eletti.
He let go of his thoughts, of his pain, of his memories, blocking them all
out, as so long ago he had been taught to do. He had forgotten the
lesson…he forgotten what an Eletti was supposed to be.
He had been trained to become a shadow, a spot of light within the
darkness. He had been trained to be a savior and a warrior.
That charade had lasted long enough.
He smiled when he felt the edges of the invisible cell waver and the air
around him changing.
It was time to set records straight with the Council, once and for all.
“Sir-” Maximillian said, “We have a problem”
Daniel took a step forward saying, “Report…”
“One of them has broken contact,” The man explained.
“Who?” Daniel asked.
“I’m not sure, it’s not very clear, the other Slayer’s presence makes it
difficult to determine it…”
“We can’t get in, you know that…don’t you?” Charles said. He hadn’t talked
since he had come back from escorting Buffy to the room where the
procedure was taking place.
Daniel let go of a sigh and said, “I’m aware of that, Mr. Dutton.” He
ignored the younger watcher’s glare and turned toward Maximillian, who
looked tired. The procedure was taking its toll on the young watcher. So
far he had been efficient in channeling the Slayer’s powers, he wondered,
though, whether the other Slayer’s presence would weaken him to the point
he wouldn’t be effective any more, yet in a casual tone he asked, “How are
the others holding up?”
The young man, almost as if he had read his mind said, “The other Slayer
is following another path.”
Daniel looked at the white pentacle, one of the crystal, which had started
glowing when the procedure had begun, was now cracked, it had stopped
glowing when they had lost contact with one of the people in the room.
“You said that we had lost contact with just one of them…” He said. “How
can you be sure?”
“The energies have changed a few minutes ago.” The man explained. “She
must had transformed her cell…”
“Into what?” Daniel asked.
The blonde man let go of a sigh and said, “I’m not sure. From what I’ve
been able to feel she had been alternating the procedure with dreams ever
since the beginning.”
“Did she fall asleep?” Charles asked. His voice couldn’t hide amusement.
Daniel shot him a look, but the man didn’t seem to mind. “What about the
others?” He asked.
“We’re making progresses…but we’re not there, yet.”
“Did you find out who the father is? Is it the boy or the watcher?” He
“We’ll know for sure only when it finishes…”
“Sir?” Charles said interrupting Maximillian.
“What?” Daniel asked. “You’re getting what you wanted for her…what else do
you want? Mr. Dutton I need you to understand this: the only reason you
are still here is because your associates made it clear that this was the
only way they could ever agree to the procedure. But once this finishes,
I’ll make sure you spend the rest of your life regretting this night.”
“I already will, sir.” Charles bitterly said. “I talked to the Slayer…she
may be…rude…but I don’t think she is ever going to reach Obscuritas”
“And you are basing this assertion on what, pray say?” Daniel asked.
Charles shook his head but didn’t comment any further.
They didn’t know for sure whether Buffy Summers was reaching Obscuritas
but they were going to find out very soon.
If she was, the people in the room, her loved ones would take care of
If she was reaching Obscuritas, the father of the child would kill her.
She was pregnant.
Willow was looking at herself in the mirror. She didn’t notice anything
different in her figure, in her face…yet she had changed, she was
She hadn’t been able to stop thinking about it since Eric had told her.
She was pregnant with William’s child…Spike’s.
She let out a sigh, wondering whether Spike knew about it. Did he hear the
baby’s heartbeat before leaving?
Even if he had found out before leaving, he hadn’t shown…and Willow wasn’t
surprised. Spike was good at hiding things, especially during a mission.
The worry for Spike, for her friends…her family, was coming back to her,
now, stronger than before...it had been hours since they had left, and
there hadn’t been any news. More than once she had been tempted to get out
of the house and going to the old lighthouse…Eric’s words had stopped her,
She closed her eyes, but blinked them open when she heard knocking at the
door. She had been hiding in the bathroom ever since Eric had told her
about her pregnancy.
“Come in” She said. She slowly turned, in time to see Anya entering the
The former demon looked at her, crossed her arms over her chest and said
after looking at her for a second, “You don’t look well.”
“Tell me something I don’t know…” Willow replied, leaning against a wall.
Anya pursed her lips before saying, “We may have found something…”
“What? What did you find?” Willow said, getting close to her.
The former demon looked around before asking, “Why are we talking in a
“Anya? Spill!” Willow exclaimed.
Anya sighed, “Alright. I talked to Eric, we compared notes about the
Obscuritas, and we noticed something…all of this…the setting, the shields,
are not the normal procedure with a pregnant Slayer…usually they just
strip her from her powers then kill her. Then I recalled something…there
had been a Slayer once…we’re talking about five or six centuries ago, who
had tried to keep her pregnancy a secret…the Council, of course found out
about it…they got her, the father of the child and her watcher…and closed
them off in a tower”
“What happened to them?” Willow asked.
Anya didn’t talk at first; Willow grabbed her by her shoulders and asked,
again, “What happened to them?”
“We don’t know for sure. There were talks…people said the father of the
Slayer’s child had killed her, then killed himself…and her watcher had
gone crazy. Someone said they were buried alive. Anyway Eric went out to
check on something …”
“Is there a way to stop what’s going on…?” Willow asked.
“That’s what we’re trying to find out. …” Anya tilted her head down, and
Willow followed her gaze only to notice that she was still holding her by
Willow nodded and let her go. “We need to do something. I can’t stay
Anya shook her head. “No, we can’t go there…you heard Eric…”
“I’m not going to get in the Lighthouse, but I want to be there…I need
to…aren’t you worried for Xander?”
“Of course I am…” She said, and judging by the worry clearly etched on her
face, she had no troubles believing her.
“We won’t do anything…unless it is necessary…I promise…” Willow said.
Anya looked at her and said, “Alright, but if you try to get in the
Lighthouse, or try something funny I’ll…”
“I won’t. I promise…” Willow said, interrupting her. She smiled and said,
“That Slayer…the one you told me about…didn’t have friends, didn’t have
She left the bathroom, without hearing Anya who under her breath said,
“yeah…but she wasn’t Buffy, either…she wasn’t that powerful”