The ride back to Revello Drive was wholly silent; Dawn was too preoccupied with her position latched onto Buffy’s side to offer any words, and Giles seemed lost in his own thoughts. Buffy couldn’t blame him; she was still trying to figure out what Dawn – and now it seemed Giles as well – was keeping from her.

The feeling of something prodding gently at her memory had still not faded, and Buffy worked furiously in the silence to remember it. She knew, by her own vague recollection as well as Dawn’s steadfast avoidance of the topic, that something had happened once she’d fallen unconscious…but what?

It wasn’t until the three had walked through the front door and had taken seats while Dawn fetched drinks from the kitchen that Buffy broke the silence, determined to quell the insistent questions bouncing around in her mind. “Where is everyone?”

Giles shifted in his chair and cleared his throat. “Xander and Anya have been sequestered in his flat since the evening of the battle, most likely doing things I’d rather not think about. Willow and Tara have been helping me do inventory in the shop. We were all there when you and Dawn were admitted into the hospital, until the doctors assured us that you would both be fine. We all just needed to regroup.”

Buffy nodded, picking idly under her thumbnail. Her brow furrowed, and she abandoned her ministrations. Xander and Anya. Willow and Tara.

“And Spike?” she asked.

Giles took off his glasses and began to clean them with the edge of his shirt; never a good sign. If she’d learned nothing else from her Watcher over five years, it was that.

“Spike,” he said, concentrating intently on an invisible speck of dust on the lens, working furiously to remove it. “Yes. Well. It seems that Spike…well, it would appear that he sacrificed himself to close the portal.”

Buffy was quiet for several moments before laughing off her tension and shaking her head. “Nice try, Giles. Come on. This is Spike we’re talking about. It’s suicide. We both know he wouldn’t--”

Another memory, at the forefront of her mind, crystal-clear and potent. Her sister, talk of a friend out for vengeance, an underground cave, his quiet words.

“I’d do it. Right person. Person I loved. I’d do it.”

Oh god.


Buffy shook her head again in attempt to clear away the memory. She didn’t want to acknowledge it at the moment – didn’t want to admit that maybe she should have seen it coming. Instead, she asked, “How did he manage to…do that?”

“He jumped.”

Dawn’s voice sounded from the doorway, a tray of drinks clutched tightly in her white-knuckled grasp. She walked heavily towards where they sat, dropping the drinks on the coffee table between them before settling onto the couch in a huff. “And I’m glad he’s gone.”

Buffy’s eyes widened and she sat forward. “Dawn!” she exclaimed. “Don’t…don’t say that.”

The teenager scoffed. “Why? It’s good that he’s gone, right? You didn’t really like him, right? Aren’t you glad that he’s not going to follow you around anymore?”

‘No,’ she thought immediately. ‘No, I’m not.’ But she wasn’t about to say anything.

“You liked him,” Buffy countered. “I know you did. Why are you acting like this?”

Dawn folded her arms across her chest and glared at her sister. “He took advantage of you.” At Buffy’s raised eyebrow, she continued, “When you were unconscious and bleeding, and I was still tied up…after he killed that demon that hurt you…he drank your blood. He drank your blood and then let me go and then jumped into the portal.”

Buffy’s eyes rose to meet those of her Watcher. “Why would he do that?” she asked.

Dawn snorted in disdain. “Isn’t it obvious?” she replied. “He’s still the same stupid jerk. I thought maybe he’d changed, but he just wanted to get a taste of you before he died.” Her tone shifted from anger to worry. “He took so much, Buffy. For a while I thought he wanted claim his third slayer before he went.”

Buffy’s brow furrowed again as she looked to her lap and pondered over her sister’s words. Spike had changed. That much she knew. As obsessive as Spike had been about her in the past, and despite who he’d been before he’d known her, scavenging on her unconscious and wounded form just didn’t seem his style.

No. Something was missing. Something was wrong here, and she was determined to find the answer.

“No,” she finally said, softly. “There has to be a reason.” She looked up at her Watcher. “Giles, there has to be a reason. Can’t we figure it out?”

“I’m afraid I don’t know, Buffy,” he replied, awkwardly pushing his glasses back onto his face. “It’s certainly unprecedented; a vampire martyring himself to save the humans around him. Usually vampires harbor delusions of grandeur gained by world destruction.”

No. No, that wasn’t right either, if she believed the words Spike had uttered so many years ago. “It’s just tough guy talk.” And she did believe him; had actually believed him that night, almost immediately after he’d said them. And he’d done nothing since to convince her that he’d been lying.

“Then let’s assume that Spike was different,” she said, her voice quiet but strong. She felt a twinge in her stomach as she stumbled across a seemingly mundane realization. Was. She’d automatically said was, hadn’t stumbled over is. Hadn’t she used is mere moments before? Why had she changed so quickly?

Buffy shook her head, and continued to speak. “Let’s assume that Spike…was different,” she repeated, having a bit more difficulty with the word than before. “Let’s assume that he really wanted to save the world. Why did his jumping close the portal?”

The Watcher frowned. “I’m afraid I don’t know, Buffy.”

Buffy rose and began to pace the length of the living room. “You said it yourself, Giles,” she said, although she wasn’t sure if she was actually addressing him or just thinking aloud. “You said in the Magic Box that it had to be Dawn’s blood that closed the portal, right?” She stopped pacing and stared at her Watcher, who nodded in affirmation. “And he didn’t drink from you, right?” she asked, turning her attention to her sister. At Dawn’s denial, she resumed pacing again. “So why did he drink my blood, thinking it would close the portal?”

She paced a little longer, and froze. Conversations scattered over time merged together and she knew, clearer than anything.

Cigarette smoke coiling in the air around her, acrid yet somehow oddly comforting, and the words falling form her mouth. “The monks made her from me; she shares my blood.”

Spike perched on a stair in the Magic Box, sniping at Xander. “Of course it’s her blood.”

An achingly soft expression hidden behind desperately nonchalant eyes. “I always knew I’d go down fighting.”

He’d known. His words to her hadn’t just been an attempt to lighten the mood. He’d known that he wasn’t going to make it back.

Something tugged at her stomach, and despite her realization, Buffy managed to turn her attention to her sister. “Dawnie,” she said, her voice strained from her racing thoughts. “Dawnie, please. Did he say anything to you? Before he…before he jumped?”

The teenager’s lips pouted in a moue of reluctance. “Yeah,” she admitted. “He said that he’d figured something out. And something about keeping a promise.”

“I’m counting on you to keep her safe.”

Oh god.


Buffy turned wide eyes to her Watcher, who looked at her in confusion. “Giles,” she said softly, “I need you to watch out for Dawnie. There’s…there’s something I have to do.” And before she could be questioned any further than the inquiry in his gaze, Buffy walked out the door and into the waiting sunlight.

------------------

Her body navigated her through the streets of Sunnydale without any coherent knowledge as to her destination. Her mind was too busy desperately trying to integrate and analyze her newly-gained information.

It fit. She couldn’t deny that what Spike had done fit his personality. For all his bravado, since the day she’d met him, somewhere in the back of her mind Buffy had always known that Spike would die in a blaze of glory. He was simply not the type of vampire to meet a dusty end by catching fire in the forgotten sunlight, or losing at the hands of another vampire – hell, she didn’t really think he’d lose to a slayer. After all, she had certainly tried so many times, and had never actually accomplished the feat. Spike had been destined for greatness, perhaps, and maybe saving the world had been his purpose.

Buffy huffed the tiniest chuckle of disbelief at the thought, and idly kicked at a pebble in the middle of the sidewalk. If Spike had ever heard those words, he would have vehemently denied them, then done everything he could to reassure himself that he was still the Big Bad, that he could go toe-to-toe with the Powers That Be and spit in their face.

Had, she thought. Would have. Past tense. Again, she’d moved to the words with ease. Why was the concept bothering her so?

Looking up, Buffy was only mildly surprised to realize that her feet had directed her to the site of their battle against Glory.

The tower still stood on an unsteady foundation, the unhinged metal platforms protesting with each passing breeze. Buffy craned her neck backwards to peer up at the top of the tower. Cupping a hand over her brow to shield her eyes from the bright sunlight, she took a few hesitant steps closer.

Images flashed in front of her mind’s eye and Buffy was back in the battle on the apex of the tower, the demon that stabbed her standing between her and Dawn, only this time…this time she managed to do something. Shove him off of the tower and remove her sister from the bindings while the portal continued to claw through the sky as it grew.

The portal. How would she have closed it?

It was all about blood. Giles had said it. Dawn’s blood. It was Dawn’s blood that opened the portal, and only Dawn’s blood would close it. But Spike hadn’t touched Dawn; Dawn hadn’t been the one undergoing overnight transfusions in the hospital.

Dawn had said that Spike had figured something out. But what had he figured out?

Buffy kicked absentmindedly at a chunk of broken brick lying in the dust and walked closer to the base of the tower. Her eyes tracked over their once-battlefield before resting on something crumpled amidst a pile of stone and brick. Buffy’s breath hitched as she recognized the object.

Spike’s duster carried a few more battle wounds thanks to the fight with Glory – and the fall, though she repressed the thought as much as possible – but for the amount of abuse it must have suffered during the battle, it was in surprisingly good shape.

Crouching to pick it up, Buffy idly ran her thumbs across the black leather lapels, her gaze traveling the length of the duster. The duster – and its wearer – had evidently enjoyed the raging battle, as its surface was covered with splatters of blood. She wondered how much of it had been his. She remembered watching Spike when they’d met briefly on the tower, drawing Glory’s attacks away from her. Remembered his arm snaking across his body to hide what she knew had to be an open wound. If she closed her eyes and concentrated, she imagined she could pick up the scent of it, even amidst the dirt and sweat and iron predominant in the fight.

Buffy’s brow furrowed as she stood. It was almost enough to freak her out, her sudden infatuation with blood. The thought was always at the forefront of her mind, screaming to be heard and begging to be realized.

Giles’ texts said that Dawn’s blood closed the portal. Spike had instead taken blood from Buffy, and had managed to close the portal anyway.

Her words to the martyred vampire, a seeming lifetime ago. “The monks made her from me; she shares my blood.”

Something within her clicked into place, and her mind was notably silent.

Buffy clenched the duster tightly against her form. Stupid, stupid vampire. She wanted to scream at his impetuousness, rage that the decision hadn’t been his to make. Instead, all she found she could do was swipe at the tears beginning to form. She would not cry. Not for Spike. Crying for Spike meant giving him up completely, and she wasn’t quite ready for that yet.

She promptly ignored the question in the back of her mind as to whether or not she ever would be. Instead, she took off for Revello Drive in a full-run, anxious to talk to her Watcher.


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A/N: Thank you to everyone who has kept up with this story so far. I do respond to every review I get. After all, if you take the time to leave them, I’m going to take the time to reciprocate in kind to show my appreciation.

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