Slayer stared down at her latest kill, unable to decide how she felt about this. Time seemed to have stopped dead. She couldn’t think. She couldn’t move. Her life and her unlife twisted together in her head, and all she could do was stare down at the lifeless eyes that stared up at her.
She didn’t know how long she’d been staring when the front door opened, and Spike came bustling in, bearing a grocery bag probably full of blood and cigarettes, and a big heart-shaped box. He regularly plied her with dark chocolate. He was kind and attentive and beautiful. And Slayer wondered idly if she would have let Faith live if she hadn’t been with him. Evil breeds evil....
“Woah,” Spike said, taking in the corpse on the floor and the mess of living room. “What happened?”
“She attacked me,” Slayer said, still unable to look away from the corpse’s face. “She... came out of her coma. She had some weapon, she... well. It didn’t work. Probably because I wasn’t supposed to be a vampire....”
“She attacked you?” Spike set down his offerings and approached warily, as if Slayer were a wild animal. He wasn’t wrong. Slayer felt very, very wild.
“This is Faith,” Slayer said.
“That slayer you told me about?” Spike said. “The one who went dark?”
Slayer nodded. “I... I tried to apologize to her. For attacking her before. I mean, she’d attacked Angel, she was killing people kind of indiscriminately, at the behest of the Mayor. All completely evil. It wasn’t as if she was good. But... I shouldn’t have tried to kill her. I was wrong there. But she wasn’t listening, and she wouldn’t... stop....” Slayer finally looked up. “I did it. I killed a slayer.”
The Slayer of Slayers looked down at her, his blue eyes concerned. “You all right?”
“She was my friend,” Slayer said. “She was... more than my friend. She was my....” She swallowed.
Slayer looked up. Spike still sometimes called her that, but it wasn’t like when Willow or Xander did it, just forgetting who she was now. Whenever Spike called her Buffy he was deliberately trying to touch some part of who she had been.
“She was going to kill you.”
“I know....” Slayer said. “I still... I don’t know....”
“I don’t know if I would have killed her if I’d still been... who I was.”
Spike took hold of her shoulders and led her a little away from the fallen slayer. “You wouldn’t’ve now, if you’d had any choice, Slayer. I know that about you. You’ll take a nip from a college boy trying to get into your pants, but you’re not a cold killer. You do what you have to.”
Slayer closed her eyes. She had been taking nips from college boys, (she’d almost taken too much from a boy named Parker one night, who had tasted delectable) and had even joined Spike in a few mugger-munches, but she hadn’t killed. “But I’ve killed a slayer.”
“One snuffs it, another one rises. That’s the way, yeah? She was evil. Someone better will take her place.”
It wasn’t until he’d said it that the truth of that dawned on both of them. Their eyes slowly widened. “Someone... someone else is the slayer now.”
“Some other bird is....”
“She’s being called right....”
“Slayer. You’re free!”
They stared at each other, and she could see the joy in Spike’s eyes. She wasn’t sure she was allowed to be happy. The idea seemed evil to her, to be glad that some other girl had just had her childhood snatched away, been thrust into a life of darkness and killing. It seemed wrong to think that killing her friend meant she was freed of the responsibility of the hellmouth.
But... no. No. She couldn’t let herself feel....
The phone rang. Slayer jumped, as if a demon had burst through the door. Spike went and picked it up. It was Giles.
Giles had been deeply disturbed to discover that Spike had taken up residence in the mansion, but Joyce had understood. “Well, you are a vampire now,” she’d said when she found out. She had found out, Slayer had been amazed to discover, because Spike had called her up and asked permission to court her daughter. (“Yeah, I know it’s daft,” Spike had said when Slayer had asked about it. “If she’d said no, I’d have done it anyway. You know leftover human impulse doesn’t always make sense.” Then he’d scoffed. “Not like I was gonna ask Angel’s blessing.”)
In fact, Joyce had seemed almost relieved that Slayer had taken up with Spike. “Of all the vampires you could have started dating, he did seem the most... reasonable.”
No, it hadn’t been an enthusiastic endorsement of the relationship, but she had seemed to understand, at least once Slayer had told her he’d joined the co-op.
Eventually Giles had accepted the circumstances as well. Wasn’t anything they could do about it anyway, all the way over in England. So he spoke quietly to Spike for a moment before Spike handed the phone over.
“Buffy? Buffy, are you all right?”
“So I heard. What happened?”
“She tried to kill me. I... really didn’t want....”
There was a heavy silence on the other side of the phone. “If you could do me a great favor, Buffy. The Watcher’s Council would like a description of Faith’s... final encounter. Not many details, but....”
“I’m not writing this up.”
“I understand. Just... so it was you who...?”
“Yes,” Slayer said. “She attacked me with some magical doohickey. I think she got it from the Mayor. It didn’t work, and she went creepy feral, and I had to kill her. Her neck is broken.” She swallowed. “She hasn’t been fed from.”
“Thank you,” Giles said. “The watcher’s council will take over from there. If you can find some way of—”
Slayer let the phone fall from her hand. Spike picked it up and walked away with it. “No, she’s not going to hang about and wank while the watchers send a pick-a-mix of vamp-haters to fetch their fallen slayer out of her front parlor!” Spike snapped at it. “I know we can’t call the coppers, violent death and all that. Can’t we just dump her down a ravine and have an end on it?” He growled softly. “Hello! Vampire! I’m only playing pussy-whipped!”
“Fine,” he finally said. “I’ll get her out of town. Give this Kennedy or whatever the skivvy. We’ll call in a week. Regards to Joyce.” He hung up the phone. “Watchers want to handle Faith’s remains,” he said. “I don’t trust the team they’ll send to pick her up. Do you?”
“Said I’d get you out of town ‘til they were finished,” he said. “Fancy a road trip, pet?”
A road trip? She couldn’t go on a road trip, she was the Slayer, she had to stay and....
But no. She didn’t. “Who’s Kennedy? A watcher?”
“Nope. Next slayer’s been called already, had a watcher already on the scene and noticed in a tick. Whole council’s in a buzz. She’s already made plans to come here.”
“Another slayer? Here?”
“Yeah. Giles is preparing a briefing, Sunnydale history, assets, geography. Us.” Spike reached out and touched her cheek. “You all right with that, love?”
“She might not be.”
“Not really our problem.”
“It is if she decides to stake us.” Slayer frowned. “And what about the co-op?”
“Is that really our problem, pet?”
Slayer was about to protest it was, and then realized... no. That was the point. It wasn’t.
“I’ll call Xander,” she said, suddenly all energy. “Get him to field the watchers’ goons. You get to the co-op. Tell them what’s going down, and we’re headed out of town. They can choose to stick it out with Xander and Willow, or leave. Or go back to killing, and let this Kennedy slay them, I guess.”
“Do we tell them we’ll be back?”
“Yes,” she said. “We’re still Masters of the co-op. We’re just... on vacation. We’ll be back some day.”
“Is that true?”
Slayer thought about it. “I don’t know.”
Two hours before sunrise, she and Spike locked the door of the mansion on Faith’s corpse, and piled into the front of his bad black Desoto. Everything important had been stuck in the trunk or the back seat of the car. There wasn’t much left that was important to Slayer. The box of chocolates was on the floorboards beneath her feet.
Xander said he’d watch the mansion and the co-op (if it survived) until they got back. He had the key to let the watcher’s boys in to get Faith, and check on plumbing and such. Willow had already been given Kennedy’s e-mail address so they could communicate until she got there. Willow had been working with another witch she’d met at school called Tara, and took to the news that another slayer was coming to Sunnydale as if she were about to meet the wife of one of Slayer’s ex’s. “I am prepared to hate her on sight,” she said with staunch loyalty.
Nothing else seemed to matter. There was really nothing holding them there. Spike gunned the engine and, strangely, made a detour on his way through town. “Spike? What are you doing?”
“Tradition,” he said. “There it is....” He swerved the car, slammed on the accelerator, and mowed down the Welcome to Sunnydale sign.
Slayer laughed. “Are you the one who keeps doing that? The city council complains and complains!”
“Hey, I only do it on my way in or out,” Spike said. “It’s been months since I hit the last one.”
“Planning to kill a slayer,” Slayer mused.
“Yeah, well. Plans change.”
“They do,” Slayer said. She moved over on the seat and leaned up against her vampire consort. “They really do.”
Spike put his arm around her and squeezed her tight.
“Think we’ll ever come back again?” she asked.
Spike shrugged and kissed the top of her head before gunning it onto the highway. “Whatever makes you happy, love.”