Dark Winds
Lady Starlight - July 19 2001

Chapter One

Spike came up from the basement & looked around in disbelief. How could 5 teenage girls leave so much mess behind them? Oh well, at least Little Bit had closed the curtains before she went to bed last night. She was good about that at any rate.

He hit the button on the coffeemaker and guiltily lit up a cigarette. "If Iím going to clean up this tip, Iím bloody well going to reward myself first" he thought as he poured the first cup of coffee.

As he rummaged under the sink for a garbage bag, he thought about the circumstances that had led up to this. After Buffy had leaped through the portal, all he could do was sob. He didnít care about the sunriseódidnít care about anything. He had looked up after the first spasm of grief had passed and seen Dawn. She had looked so alone and he remembered his promise then. He limped over to her, taken her gently in his arms and cried with her.

Xander and Anya had told him later of Giles in full Ripper mode taking on the sodding Watchers Council on his behalf. They had gotten papers for him, making it possible for him to become Dawnís legal guardian, and also a small monthly allowance, as he was doing most of the patrolling now. The Scooby Gang had fully accepted him as one of them and he was training them in self-defense. Surprisingly, Tara was the best of the group. He felt better about letting them take up some of the slack now.

He filled two garbage bags with the aftermath of the small party Dawn had had and decided to take a short break. He sipped at his second cup of coffee and mentally listed the chores to be done that day. It was a good thing that Red and Tara had taken him under their wingóhelped him with the shopping, shown him how to clean a house and teaching him how to cook. Otherwise, papers or not, Dawn would have been thrown into a foster home after the first month.

They got along fairly well, once they had settled into their new roles. He had re-educated her musical tastes. "Backstreet Boys indeed" he snorted; and she had introduced him to Dawsonís Creek. He still thought Dawson was a bloody poof, but now he kept his opinions to himself.

"Eeww, Spike! I thought we had a deal about smoking in the house"

He didnít say a word, just pointed a finger at the bags of garbage by the back door.

"Oh, right...I guess we should have tidied up last night."

"So whatís up for today, Little Bit? More hanging out at the mall?"

Dawn got her cereal out of the cupboard and sat down at the kitchen table. "No, Iím going over to Bethís house to work on my history project. I hate summer school!!"

"Well, being kidnapped by a Hell-God before finalsíll do that to you. Can you bring your laundry down before you leave?"

The front door slowly opened and a blonde woman stepped into the foyer. She cocked her head to listen to the conversation in the kitchen, while taking in the fact that the heavy drapes on all the windows had been drawn.

Spike lifted his head suddenly. A whiff of vanilla came to his nostrils. He motioned to Dawn to stay where she was, and slowly walked over to the hallway.

"Oh Bloody Hell. Buffy, is that you?" Spike sat down hard on the floor and reached blindly for the phone. He thought absently that it was a good thing Dawn had pitched a fit when someone brought up cleaning out Buffyís room.

Dawn came running out of the kitchen and flung herself into Buffyís arms. She was laughing and crying and trying to question Buffy all at the same time. Spike called Giles "GilesóBuffyís just come home. No, you berk, Iím not drunk. Just call the rest of the gang and get them over here, right?"

Chapter Two

Out on the back porch, Spike tilted his head back and sent a plume of smoke into the night air.

He had not taken his eyes off of Buffy until the gang had burst into the house. Then he stumbled downstairs, almost blinded by the tears of joy that had been coursing down his face since he hung up the phone, flung himself on his bed and wept tears of joy. Willow had come down after a bit to make sure he was all right. She had brought him a cold washcloth to wipe his face with.

"Is it really her?" he finally asked.

"As far as we can tell, yes it is. She doesnít remember how she got back, or anything after jumping. Itís probably best not to push her."

He had joined the rest of them then. His eyes drank in the sight of her as she sat on the sofa cuddling Dawn.

"Oh hi, Spike. Giles tells me that youíve been taking care of Dawn."

"Well, someone had to." *Bloody hell, why am I being such a wanker* "I mean, I promised you that I would... I, ah, Iíve been staying in the basement. If you want, Iíll pack up & get out tonight"

"No, no, you can stay. Itíll be nice having someone else to do the housework and cooking."

He heard soft footsteps behind him.

"Do you remember when you sat out here all night with me after I found out about Momís tumor?"

"Of course, love."

She leaned in close to him and whispered in his ear "You could have had me then, outside under the stars if youíd just pushed a little."

He spun around, not believing what heíd just heard. She just stood there with a little grin on her face, daring him to react.

"Nothing to say? Well, Iím off to bedóyou do remember where my room is, donít you. Goodnight."

He felt like heíd been turned to stone. Was that an invitation? Or a warning? He stood until he was sure he could move without falling down. "oh my, now what do I do?" He made sure the doors were locked before he went to bed. He stood for a long time at the foot of the stairs.

He woke up slowly. Something seemed wrong. What was that weight? Why were his arms holding someone?

"Spike, wake up."

"What, whatís going on? Is something happening? Glory..." He struggled to get up.

"No, nothingís wrong. I just wanted a little private time with you."

Private timeówhy did that not make sense?

Warm soft lips came down on his as he struggled to piece together what was wrong with this scenario. This is Buffy. Buffy doesnít kiss me, Buffy hits me. Why is Buffy kissing me and why am I thinking about why she doesnít kiss me?

She pulled back a little, ran her tongue around his ear and started whispering all of the things she wanted to do to him. Oh, this is bad, this is not Buffy.

He managed to disentangle himself, falling out of bed in the process. Blonde hair brushed his face as she leaned over the edge of the bed. "Whatís wrong, Spike? I thought you wanted this."

"Of course I do, love, itís just that..." he paused trying desperately to think of a reason "DAWN!! Ah, Dawn will be down for school soon and she needs her breakfast. Right then, Iíll just be going upstairs now."

Soft, mocking laughter followed him up the stairs.

Chapter Three

"Well, Spike, just what is so important that youíre here in the middle of the day?" Giles didnít quite know what to make of the daylight visit.

Spike was wandering around the shop, playing with some of the crystals, obviously ill-at-ease. Anya walked over to him and took a fist-sized purple gem from him. "Before you drop one of our expensive one-of-a-kind items, please sit down and tell us whatís wrong."

"Ah, have any of you noticed anything, ah different about Buffy?"

"You mean besides the whole come-back-from-the-dead thing? No, not really."

"Xander, for goodness sake! Go on, Spike"

"I think sheís changed. Andó"

"Of course sheís changed! She was reborn, for heavenís sake!" Giles couldnít really see where this was going.

"Itís not that...itís...shewantedtohavesexwithme"


"Oh my goodness"

"She did WHAT!"

He let out a deep sigh and ran his fingers through his hair . "She wanted to have sex with me. But she was all Faith-y about it. You know, ride me like a horse etc."

Xander was deeply shocked by this. "You said no, I trust?"

"After my brain caught up with my trousers, yes I said no."

The gang was speechless. "Perhaps sheís just going through a period of ah, adjustment?" Giles ventured.

"You should stay away from her. Unless you want to be orgasm friends." Anya said.

"We sh-should probably w-watch her for a while...just to s-see." Taraís soft comment made the most sense.

The next few days were hard on everyone. Buffy had decided to take Dawn out for the evening and the gang seized the opportunity to gather & compare notes. Giles spoke up first.

"Well, Iíve noticed that Buffy is slacking off on patrolling duties. In fact, as far as Iíve been able to ascertain, she hasnít been out at all."

"No shit, Watcher." Spike walked through the door. "She hasnít patrolled once. When I asked her about it, she said she didnít have to anymore, that she would let me do it so that she could be normal. Bloody good thing it hasnít been busy."

Willow and Tara were siting so close together they could have been Siamese twins. Tara took a deep breath and said "Well, s-she said that she couldnít st-stand being around someone who sounded s-so dumb. If I couldnít speak pr-properly, I shouldnít speak a-at all." Willow rubbed her back and she began to calm down a bit. "After one of my training sessions, she also s-said that Willow wasnít really in love with meóshe was only Ďexploring optionsí and would l-leave me soon."

Willow jumped in with "She told me that the only reason that I was with Tara was that ĎSheíll never challenge you, never hurt youónot like Oz. You will do the hurting this timeówhen you walk away.í"

Anya was crying quietly by this time. "She told me that the only reason Xander was with me was that she didnít want him. She said anytime she wanted him all she had to do was snap her fingers and heíd come running."

Xander was holding Anya close and looking very uncomfortable. Spike gave him a sharp look and told him to spill it. "Well, she, ah, made it abundantly clear that we could christen the couch in the practice room. Clothes were in danger of not being there before I managed to get out."

Spike stood up. "Now do you believe me? Thereís something wrong here and weíve GOT to figure it out."

Just then the phone rang, making them all jump. Anya picked it up, listened for a minute and held it out to Giles. He said that he thought he could arrange it, then beckoned Spike over. Holding his hand over the receiver, he whispered "Do you remember the woman who came over with the Council & interviewed you about Buffy? She wants to come back over & interview you for a follow-up on her thesis. If you agree, sheís got information that we need to know about Buffy." Spike nodded his head. "All right, but tell her after we get this bleeding mess sorted out." Giles passed the message on; then he listened and took notes for a long time. Finally, he said "Thatís everything, then? All right, thank you. Thank you VERY much."

He turned to the group. "That was Sonia, the woman who came over with the Council. She was very disturbed by some of the Councilís actions. In fact..."

"Giles, could you give us the Cliffís Notes version here? Save Masterpiece Theatre for later." Xander was almost jumping out of his skin with anxiety.

"Ah, yes, of course. Well, to make a long story short, the Council couldnít get to Faith to activate another slayer, so they contacted a Necromancer and had him bring Buffy back so the world wouldnít be without a Slayer."

Silence was the only response to this. Finally Willow asked "Do you, does she know what spell he used? Tara and I might be able to figure out what went wrong, and, and ... make it better."

"Well, unfortunately, thatís the one thing that she didnít know. She was able to give me a partial list of ingredients, the ones she was asked to procure. Wolfsbane, ashbak eyes, the beating heart of a roe deer, graveyard mold, and the dust of a master vampire."

"Thatís a start, anyway."

Xander and Spike exchanged looks and deep sighs.

"Bloody research!"

"Back atcha!"

Willow doled out the books and they started their long night.

Chapter Four

Spike suddenly sat up. "Hey, HEY, Iíve got it! ĎA Spell to bring back She-Who-Is-Neededí. Uh, mold, dust, wolfsbane, deer heart, etc." He read swiftly down the page "uh-huh, right, oh SHIT!"

"What is it, I need to know any tricks or traps."

"The thing is, thereís a very large caution at the end of the spell. ĎYou must make certain that the vampire dust is from a master who is more than 400 years oldóany less and the result will be imperfectí."

"And Iím betting that they didnít ask when the vampís birthday was." Xander thumped his head down on the open book in front of him.

"Red, why donít you and Tara can do the witch thing & see if you can see what went wrong?í

Willow nodded and she & Tara went into the practice room to cast a divination spell. No-one did much of anything until they came out.

"As far as we can figure out, when Buffy came back, the part of her that is her soul? no thatís not it...her conscience..."

"Her Jiminy Cricket?" Everyone looked at Spike. "Hey, Iíll have you know that Dru & I saw it when it first hit the theatres. Had a helluva time convincing her not to snack on the projectionist. Babbled about Blue Fairies for months after."

Willow cleared her throat "The part that is really truly Buffy was...left behind somehow."

"So how do we get that part back?"

"Well, there is a spell we can cast at anytime, but it takes a moment of perfect peace to, uh, squish everything back together again."

"And perfect peace is not exactly part of a Slayerís lifestyle."

Everyone sat & tried to think of a way to bring Buffy perfect peace.

"We could, um, make her go to sleep." That was Taraís suggestion.

Willow was thinking bigger "We could do the fixing spell and then cast another to make the whole world stop so that nothing bad would happen."

Giles was in favor of setting extremely strong wards up to make her feel safe.

Spike wanted to make it a movie & popcorn night. "What! She likes that, so sheíd feel secure, right?"

Xander said "I got nothiní."

Anya spoke up "Well, after the pleasure moment, I always feel very, very relaxed. Isnít that close?"

As one, the gang turned to look at Anya, and then turned to look at Spike.

"Oh, no, not me! Do you know what sheíll do to me once sheís back to herself? I canít protect Dawn from a Dustbuster!"

Giles was thinking deeply. "Actually, Anya, that might not be a bad idea. Spike, Iíll clean out the practice room of all stakes andó"

"And swords and axes and longswords and nunchuks and wood and and..." Spike was nearly hysterical.

"Yes, yes, of course, Spike. Youíd better get out of the way for now. Iíll call Buffy and get her over here to practice and then weíll try it. Xander, you and Anya start clearing out the practice room. Iíll be in to help in a minute. Willow, you and Tara start the spellcasting now please." Giles was dialing the phone as Spike practically flew down the stairs to the basement.

Buffy was practicing hand to hand combat against the practice dummy. Spike could hear the thwacks and thumps as she connected. He shifted nervously from foot to foot as Giles assured him that as soon as the spell was completed, they would rush in and explain everything to Buffy.

"Right then, into the Valley of Death rode the six hundred..."

He walked across the floor towards her. He stopped just behind her, grabbed her by the waist and spun her towards him. Just before his lips came down on hers, he whispered "Alright Slayer, letís dance."

Willow looked towards the practice room. "You know, if we just walked in on this, it would be OK. Knowing whatís going on, though, is just...gross."

Xander nodded his head emphatically. Just then, a low purring growl mixed with a high moan floated through the room.

Anya looked at her watch "45 minutes. Thatís really impressive, Xander never mmph." Xander clapped a hand over her mouth.

"An, remember when we had that long talk about Stuff-we-never-talk-about-in-front-of-other-people? Perfect example."

"OW! Bloody Hell, Slayer, this wasnít MY idea!"

As one, they rushed into the practice room. They were confronted with a naked, extremely pissed Slayer chasing an also naked vampire around the room; throwing whatever she could get her hands on at him. Anya immediately clapped her hands over Xanderís eyes, while Giles about-faced and muttered "Oh my goodness."

"You freak! You jerk! When I catch you Iíll stake you so hard..."

"Hey, Red, little help here?" Spike hurdled the vault and kept running.

Willow pointed at Buffy and said "Thicken." Buffy immediately stopped in mid-stride while Spike jogged over to Giles and asked him to please get off his pants. Anya whispered to Willow and Tara "So thatís what the sex-bot meant when she said we should see Spike naked." They nodded and swallowed hard.

"Well, ladies, if youíve finished examining the merchandise, Iíll just get dressed now." He winked and pulled his pants on.

Tara walked over to Buffy and wrapped a blanket around her while Willow took the spell off.

"Buffy, itís all right. It was the only way to complete the spell."

"But, Will, Spike?"

"Love, Iím hurt!" By this time Spike was standing behind Giles. He figured she probably wouldnít stake her Watcher to get to him.

"Buffy, listen to me" Giles walked over and took her hands. "When you were, ah, brought back to us, part of your soul, for lack of a better word, was inadvertently left out of the process. Willow and Tara cast a spell of reintegration but the only way to complete the process was to give you an episode of perfect peace."

"And I was the one who came up with the relaxed feeling after the pleasure moment." Anya was so pleased with herself.

"Besides, Spikeís been really good to Dawn since youíve been gone. Heís cooked and cleaned and done patrols and everything!" Willow wanted Buffy to understand that Spike had changed, that he was part of the team now.

"Be that as it may, I never want to see him again!" With that parting shot, she stalked out of the room.

"Going to be awfully hard to have a life now innit, seeing how my cryptís got a nest of Querxyl demons. Iíll never get the smell out. And the dung! Have you blokes ever tried to shovel that?"

Xander patted Spike on the back. "Weíll talk to her, make her understand."

"Thanks, mate. Listen, Giles, Iíll just stay here until...until."

"Certainly, Spike"

Spike lay on the battered couch waiting for news. He heard the Magic Box door open and shut. Buffy! Well, maybe sheíll make it quick.

She paused before walking into the practice room.

"Spike, uh, howís it going?"

"Lovely, Slayer. One of my favorite things is waiting to see if youíre really going to stake me this time."

"Spike, uh, I want to apologize. I had a long talk with Dawn and everyone, and, I was wrong. Thank you for taking such good care of Dawn."

"Anytime, slayer."

Anger flashed across her face. "Donít call me Slayer! You called me Love and sweetheart before..." her voice trailed off.

He leapt off the couch. "You remember!"

"Yes, I remember. Iíll remember forever." Her voice was soft.

He put a tentative hand to her face. "Buffy, I love you. I wanted to die when I saw you after...after. The only thing stopping me was my promise to take care of Dawn. Iíll pack up & leave tonight if you want. Giles will let me stay in the basement for now."

She covered his hand with hers. "Spike, we, I donít want you to leave. I donít know if I can love you, but Iím willing to try. Can you be patient with me? Go slow?"

"For you, Iíll wait. Iíll wait forever, love." He kissed her gently.

    Hand in hand, they walked out of the Magic Box and home to their friends.

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