Buffy woke with a start. Spike was still behind her on the couch, his arm around her, holding her to him. The television was off and the room was dark. She could not tell if Spike was asleep. She moved her head looking for Angel, seeing his outline in the armchair. "Angel?"
"I just thought of something."
"They've been here, right?"
"It would look that way, yes, unless someone else was planting pieces of paper in the doorjamb."
"Well, let's go to them."
"You heard me. It's," she said, glancing at the LCD display on the VCR, "a quarter to four. They're more than likely camped out at the Motor Lodge. So, let's go to them."
"And do what?"
"Tell them to leave me the hell alone."
"I don't think that's going to be overly convincing."
"Okay, so we'll beat the shit out of them some. I can do that, no problem. If it means Dawn and I can safely stay here, I'll beat on a human or two."
Spike stirred on the couch behind her. "Buffy," he murmured.
"I'm here, Spike," she said, placing her hand over his at her abdomen.
"Are you sure about this, Buffy?"
"Yeah, they won't be expecting it."
"What are you planning now, pet," he murmured against her ear, kissing the lobe lightly.
"Going to the Motor Lodge and paying a before dawn visit to the Council."
"I'm game," Spike said with no evidence of sleep in his voice.
"If it's what you want to do, Buffy, I'm game too. Let's go." They weaponed up and walked to the Jeep. The three rode in silence to the Motor Lodge.
The desk clerk was male, so it was Buffy who went in and sweet talked the information out of him. Luckily, for the trio there were only three of them and their consecutive rooms were not facing the street. The last time they had come to town it had been like an army swarmed on Sunnydale. Crossbows at the ready the door to each room was kicked in in unison. Angel and Spike each brought their person into the room where Buffy was with Quentin Travers. Both were bound, Buffy had not bothered to bind Quentin. He knew full well she could kick his ass in a heartbeat. That thought might very well give him a heart attack, so Buffy was not too concerned about his trying to get past her.
"Sorry for the sudden wake-up call, Mr. Travers, but I didn't feel like sitting in wait for you."
"Miss Summers," said the older Englishman, clearly surprised. He deigned to look at Angel and Spike but did not address either of them. "What are you doing here?"
"No, the question is what are you doing here? I told you a while ago you weren't welcome here anymore, that I wasn't here to cater to the Council's whimsies anymore."
"We came to talk to you, Miss Summers, nothing more."
"Right," she said, holding the crossbow evenly. "You don't like the idea of a vampire seeking a soul, do you? You like it even less that your Slayer is the reason for it."
"No, Miss Summers, that's not it at all. You don't understand," he said wide-eyed as his eyes shifted from Buffy to the arrow pointed at him. Her hand did not waiver one bit. She would not be able to stand there holding the crossbow at the ready for hours, but she was fine for now.
"Make me understand then. Quickly, before my trigger finger starts to twitch."
"There was this prophecy, you see. Rupert was not entirely honest with us about many things, he withheld information from us. Your relationship with Spike for instance."
"And this brought you here in a snit now because?"
"Miss Summers, this is not how I had pictured telling you this. It's a bit on the unbelievable side."
"Try me, Mr. Travers. I tend to believe in the unbelievable after what I've seen and done."
"William fulfilled a prophecy."
Buffy cast a sidelong glance at Spike. "What are you talking about?"
"There is a prophecy about a vampire whose love for a Slayer causes him to go to the ends of the earth and suffer great physical pain to obtain his soul."
"Okay, I already know this part."
"No, Miss Summers, you don't. We had assumed when Angelus lost his soul a few years ago but did not seek it out, did not willingly have it restored, that it was as close as we were going to get to it occurring. We assumed that the prophecy had been interpreted wrong somehow."
Buffy nodded. "Okay, and?"
"Spike, William, has fulfilled that prophecy and the magic that returned his soul also has affected you because of his unselfish act."
"Oh god no," Spike whispered. "I didn't mean to, Buffy. I'm sorry."
Quentin actually smiled then. "Well, it's nothing bad exactly, though whether she likes it I do not know. Believe me, Miss Summers, I'm not thrilled about telling you this. You of all slayers don't deserve such an honor as far as I'm concerned. But perhaps that should tell me something."
"Just tell me already."
He paused as if it was a common occurrence for someone to burst into his room at four in the morning and point a loaded crossbow at him. Did he not believe she would use it? Probably not, and she knew she would not either. "You're immortal, Buffy."
"Say that again?"
"You can die, but only if Spike dies."
"I'm what? Because of what he did? I'm confused."
"Well, as I said, we never believed it was possible. The very idea that a Slayer would be resurrected was never entertained. Slayers almost always die of natural causes so there has never been the possibility of resurrection. The possibility a vampire would seek out his soul seemed even more farfetched to us. And Angelus we thought was proof that a vampire would never willingly seek out his or her soul, even one who had been with one for a century."
"This is some sort of joke, right? I mean, that's impossible." A memory flashed into her mind. "I flat-lined at the hospital a few months ago."
"Spike's soul had yet to be restored. He was still going through the trials if I'm correct in the timing of everything. And if nothing else, what your friend did could be interpreted as a resurrection. She used magic a second time to upset the balances. And that was a condition of the prophecy; the Slayer in question had to be resurrected."
"So what was with the sneaking into town then?"
"We didn't think this was something you would want to be told via telephone, Miss Summers."
"So you don't want me dead?"
"Hardly. As independent as you are, the idea of a Slayer being around for eternity while others continue to get called is rather exciting."
"The line no longer lies with you, Buffy, you know that. It rested with Faith and with her death a new one has been called."
"So you're not going to dust Spike?"
"No, we would then lose you, so Spike earned not only his soul but it would seem sanctuary from the Watcher's Council as well. Haven't you noticed you heal faster than normal? Your reflexes are better? Your speed? Your strength?"
"Well, yeah, but I just assumed I was getting better since I've been focusing on nothing but slaying the past few months. So you're saying I'm harder to kill and I get even more enhanced goodies? All because Spike got his soul? But if he dies, I die?"
"I don't get it," Spike said softly.
"I don't know how to explain it, but it seems you two represent the literal definition of soul mates. Your abilities will continue to increase for a short while, Miss Summers, as will yours, William. For how long I cannot say, but one day they will stop peaking and that's where you will be. I imagine it's so you can protect him," he said and then looked at Spike, "and yourself, better," Quentin said.
"I find it hard to believe you came here to tell me this, Mr. Travers. You'll forgive me, but you've never been very forthcoming with information in the past without making me jump through hoops."
"Seeming as how your life is now tied to another I could not have it on my conscious that you did not know. Some of our tests may seem archaic and cruel to you, Miss Summers, but they have been in place for centuries and there are reasons behind everything we do. And," he said and then stopped.
"I would like you to train future slayers. The Slayer and her Watcher would be sent here to Sunnydale and you would train her."
"Never mind about that. What if I don't want to live forever? Can I have children? Do I age? Will I have to move every so often so people don't wonder why I don't look any older than I did twenty years ago?"
"Uh, Buffy," Spike said softly.
"What Spike?" she asked not really meaning to sound annoyed, but she was.
"Okay, so I was just asking a bunch of questions. Answer me, Quentin."
"I don't think you have much choice about the living part, unless you and Spike work out some sort of an arrangement to end your existences together. I don't know about the bearing of children, but would imagine you could for a period of time. I imagine those sort of functions would disappear eventually as your body itself will grow older just not by physical appearances. So you will not appear to age, no. And the moving or remaining sedentary would be up to you."
"Why did you need to bring two people with you to tell me this?" she asked, regarding his companions. One female, one male. Buffy recognized the woman from a couple of years ago. She had been prim and proper, stuffy with a severe hairdo and conservative eyeglasses and clothes. Her name was Lydia something or other.
"I just wanted to come along," the woman spoke up. "I did my thesis on Spike and I remembered interviewing him. I was curious to see the difference in him, then to now."
"Oh yeah," Spike said. "I remember you," he said with a tilt of his head. She smiled at Spike, but he did not return it. Buffy's mind was on overload, so she was not really registering reactions or cognizant of whom was thinking and doing what.
"And you," she asked the man.
"Confirmation of what?"
"That the prophecy has come true."
"What are you here to try and kill me and see if I die? Or stake Spike and see if I die?"
"Neither, Miss Summers."
"So, we're free to go? I can let my sister come home tonight and not have to worry about anyone coming into the house to try and kill me or Spike or her?"
"Yes, Miss Summers."
"And I have your assurance that you won't be coming back to Sunnydale again, unannounced at least?"
"Hopefully, we will have no reason to return."
"One can hope," she said dryly. "If I show up dead I'm going to have them press charges against you, Mr. Travers."
"Good lord, Miss Summers. I don't know what opinion of me you've formed, but I am not a murderer. And as I told you a moment ago, the idea of having a Slayer always around is appealing. I have nothing to gain by killing you."
"Fine," she said. She turned to Spike and Angel. "Untie them. I'm going home. I'll meet you there," she said, setting the crossbow on the table.
"Buffy wait," Spike said.
"Spike, just let me go," she said evenly. She was not mad and tried to convey that to him, but she was not altogether pleased either. It figured something like this would happen, that was just the way her life worked. "I'll see you at home."
"Miss Summers," Quentin called to her before she left.
"Yes, Quentin?" she asked, turning to face him at the doorway.
"Will you think about the training? Your methods are unconventional, but I've come to realize that convention may be going by the wayside. I'd be interested in knowing what the life expectancy of a Slayer might be when they get proper training from an actual Slayer."
"Yeah, because training with a Watcher when he's wearing pads and what not is just not the same. I'll think about it and get back to you."
She left the Motor Lodge and walked in the direction of Revello Drive. She did not go inside, but instead sat in the yard with her back against a tree. She held her hands out in front of her, turning them palm up and palm down expecting somehow to see something different. But there was nothing. She was tempted to put Quentin's prophecy talk to the test, but she was in no mood to die if he was lying to her. She brought her knees up to her chest, wrapping her arms around them and clutching them to her with that thought.
What did he have to gain by lying? But why was Giles on his way here if what Quentin said was true? That made no sense. She did not know what time his flight would get into LAX that morning and it would be sometime after that anyway before he would get to Sunnydale with customs and renting a car. This was just too crazy. Too bizarre. Giles had never mentioned such a prophecy to her. Maybe he had not known about it. It was hard for Buffy to remember sometimes that Giles did not know everything.
It was Angel. She looked up at the sound of his voice, not realizing she had been crying. How long had she been sitting there? Was she even real anymore? What was she? A person? A thing? Was she to spend the rest of her life being the Slayer? God, she had sort of been hoping to be able to stop and lead a somewhat normal life one day. She would never be able to leave the slaying behind, unless her Slayer powers left. But she had dreamt, hoped of being able to sort of retire from it all. Get out of Sunnydale and take Dawn somewhere besides the Hell Mouth.
"What am I?"
"Buffy," he said softly and reached for her.
"Don't touch me. Don't come near me. You don't even know what I am. I don't know what I am. This is insane. Where do people get off prophecying stuff like that?"
"Listen, you've got Spike standing on the front porch wondering if you want him to dust himself."
"Well, stop him. I just need time, Angel. This is a little more intense than finding out I was destined to die. I'm not going to die. I mean, what the hell does that make me?"
"It doesn't change what you are, Buffy. You're still you, you're no different. It sort of makes sense," he said, sitting next to her. The sun was close to rising, so he would not be out here for long. That was part of the reason she had chosen to sit out in the yard, she wanted to be left alone.
"How on earth can you say that this makes sense? Please explain to me where the logic is in any of this. I did not ask him to do this. I did not tell him to go get his soul."
"Like Quentin said, you'll be here to train future slayers. There will always be a Slayer. It makes sense to have the Slayer have eternal life since those the Slayer kills have eternal life. Just think of the ramifications of not being able to die, Buffy. Think of how much good you can do, of how many times you will save the world."
"But, Angel, I've already done it so many times. I don't want to live forever to keep doing the same thing. It gets kind of old."
"You might not think that way anymore." She placed her head against his shoulder and he slid an arm around her. Again with no reaction from Buffy to his touching her beyond the simple comfort he was trying to offer her. When had that left? That spark between them? It had been since her mother died, she realized. That was when things had been different. He had come out of love, true, but it had been different. He had comforted her, loved her, but there had been no romance there. "He's watching us, Buffy," he said softly.
"I don't know what to tell him. What to say to him. God, Angel, this is crazy." She lifted her head from Angel's shoulder and looked at Spike on the front porch. "You know, I wonder," she shook violently as the thought took form in her head. "Would I have died if I had stopped Drusilla from turning him?"
Angel was quiet for a long moment. Whether he was actually thinking of a response or merely did not want to answer her question she did not know. "I imagine you would have, assuming the prophecy is in fact right. I've seen you fight, Buffy and you're unstoppable. Spike says he noticed a difference since he's been back. Buffy you weren't even tired last night when we got back from almost four hours of non-stop demon fighting."
"I just want to be alone for a while. Both of you can go do your sleeping during the day thing and I'll just take the day to have some Buffy alone time. I'm not mad at him, but I just," she shrugged. "It's so overwhelming. I didn't ask for any of this. There have been slayers since there have been vampires. Why me?"
"I don't know how to answer that."
"Don't let him leave, okay? I don't want him to leave, but he took months to deal with his soul before confronting me I think I'm allowed a day to deal with this."
"Maybe you should tell him this yourself."
"Yeah, okay," she said, wiping her face with her hand. She stood and walked to the front porch, Angel by her side. She stopped where Spike stood smoking a cigarette while Angel went inside. "Hi," she said softly, peering at him through lowered lashes, not quite looking him in the eye.
"Hi," he said softly. "Listen."
"No, Spike, please just go inside and take the day to get your rest. I'm going to take the day and just, I don't know."
"Buffy, I just wanted to say I'm sorry."
She smiled meekly. "I know. I just want some time. Okay? Please?"
"Right, sure, just wanted to make sure you still want me around."
"I do," she said looking at him fully now, her eyes meeting his. "Don't think that. I'm going to go now, okay? I'll be back before dinner. Giles should be here by then and Dawn will be back tonight."
"Where are you going?"
"I don't know, Spike. Just for a walk."
"Be careful, Buffy."
She scoffed lightly. "I don't think I'm the one who needs to be careful, but thanks."
Story ©Susan Falk/APCKRFAN/PhantomRoses.com