Please Remember Me

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Part one: Spike & Buffy

You'll find better love
Strong as it ever was
Deep as the river runs
Warm as the morning sun
Please remember me

Buffy was too stunned to move. She glanced at her shoes and then back up at Angel, not comprehending what he had said. He stood a few inches from her but he may as well have been on the other side of the world. "You're what?"

"I'm leaving Sunnydale, Buffy." Angel stared at her intently. "I can't be here anymore. Everything the mayor said was true. Who are we fooling?"

"Leaving?" Buffy took a few steps away, feeling her chest pounding against her ribcage so hard it threatened to explode. "I….I don't understand."

"Buffy, you have to understand. I can't give you the life you deserve. You' ll want to have a family one day. Have kids and a husband who can take you for afternoon walks when you're old. I can't stand in your way anymore."

"I'll have to go with ‘D', none of the above, Angel. Reality check…Slayers don't get old. That's the way it's written. We fight hard, live fast and die young. Slayers don't retire and get the house with the yellow paint and green trim. There is no picket fence in my future." She raised her chin defiantly. "You've bagged a couple, you should know that by now."

Angel's glare bore holes through her for a few long seconds. Finally he said, "I didn't deserve that. Why do you always have to bring up my past? I love you and I'm sacrificing my own happiness for yours."

"I don't see how you figure that leaving would make me happy." Buffy chewed her lower lip. "And I'm sorry, Angel. I just…..I get defensive when I'm about to lose everything I have."

"Buffy, it kills me to leave you."

"Then don't."

"I have to. It's the right thing." Angel turned and picked up the duffel bag that he had packed. He had planned on just leaving but Buffy had arrived before he could.

"You were going to leave me quietly, weren't you?"

"I had thought about it." He faced her again. "I'm thinking that would have been easier."

"Who are you? I don't know you at all." Tears were coursing down her cheeks and she brushed them absently. "I thought you loved me. God, don't you get it at all? Every demon I slay, every horrible thing that I face…I do it for the fifteen minutes I get to spend in your arms. I do it because once it's done, I can have a small second of happiness."

"I'm a vampire, Buffy."

"Oh, I can't bring up your past but you can?"

"IT'S NOT MY PAST!" Angel shouted, throwing his duffel bag and grabbing her shoulders. His face morphed into that of the demon that lived inside of him. "IT'S WHO I AM! LOOK AT ME!"

"You're hurting me." Buffy cried.

"That's what vampires do."

"Not you. You'd never hurt me, Angel. You know that. Please don't leave me." Buffy was sobbing now.

Angel released her and pulled her to his chest. She sagged against him, wrapping her arms tightly around his waist. He had already discussed leaving with Giles. The Watcher hadn't been welcoming to him since he returned from Hell but had been reluctant to agree that he should go.

"You'll destroy her." Giles had said. "She loves you."

"I know that. I know she'll hurt but I plan on just disappearing. She'll never know whether I got dusted or took off." Angel reasoned.

"And you think her lack of knowledge will be of comfort? Are you a fool, Angel?"

"You know what the Mayor said. You know every last word of it was true. You KNOW that, Giles. And besides, I don't know if I'm strong enough to leave her if she asks me not too."

Now Buffy was clinging to him begging him with all of her heart not to leave her. His open mind raced with a million reasons why he should stay. Why he could stay. But his rational thinking pointed out all the reasons he couldn't. He could visualize her sacrificing everything for him. Never living to her full potential because he was there to be a hindrance. He shook his head and backed away.

"I have to go."

"NO!" Buffy grabbed the lapels of his duster. "I will die one day. And if I died right now I would die happy knowing that I loved someone and they loved me back. If you leave, what have I got to live for? I want to have your love until the second I die."

"You will have it a million lifetimes after you die, Buffy. I swear that to you. Please, don't make this harder than it has to be. I want to leave here knowing that you understand that I am giving up MYSELF so that you will have a life." Angel's voice cracked as he pushed her away. "Please tell me that you don't hate me."

Buffy shook her head. She was frantic. Every ounce of her body felt displaced. Like she was on the outside of herself watching an accident about to happen that she couldn't stop. "I don't hate you. But I swear to God, I will if you leave me alone to fight this fight. I lost you once. Please……I almost died that time."

"But you didn't die. And when I came back you had a boyfriend and a new life. You were moving on."

"I only want you." Buffy cried. "All I need is you."

Angel swallowed hard and reached for his duffel bag. "One thing I have learned in this lifetime of mine is that you never forget anything. If I'm still here in 240 years…I will still remember the smell of your hair, the taste of your kiss and most of all what if felt like to love someone so completely that my life had a purpose. I will never forget you, Buffy. I will never stop loving you." He stepped up to her and laid his hand on the side of her face, tilting it. "I love you so much."

She shoved his hand away and backed up. "I can't live without you. I won't live without you. You go. You go ahead and leave. I'm leaving too."


"I'm supposed to die in battle, right? The Mayor caused this….the Mayor is going down. And I hope I die trying." Buffy picked up her Slayer bag and thrust it into Angel's arms. "I think being unarmed increases those chances."

Angel tried to grab her before she ran out but she yanked the crucifix necklace he had given her from around her neck and slammed it into his face. He doubled up in pain, sinking to his knees, he screamed, "Buffy, don't do this!"

Giles glanced at Wesley. He had an insipid habit of slurping his bovril so loudly that Giles could hear it all the way in his office. Sadly, today they sat across from one another, thereby amplifying each sip, as they read everything they could about Mayor Wilkins and his ascension. It wasn't much of a read at all. The Mayor obviously had every written word about the ascension locked away in a filing cabinet. Giles rubbed his forehead and then slammed his book. "It's useless."

Wesley sat his cup down and quietly closed his book. "It does seem rather daunting. Have you any more bovril? Nothing like a steaming cup."

"No. You've suctioned the last of it and stop bleeding me dry!! Bovril is sparse in this country. Get you own damn bovril." Giles stood up. "Have you sought aid from the council?"

"Fist of all, yes I have and long as I am sharing MY Slayer with you, you will share your bovril." Wesley stood as well and paced toward the coffee pot. "Although I am getting the better end of that bargain. She is such a snide and reckless girl."

"Reckless? Buffy's lack of obedience is nothing compared to the Slayer who has gone stark raving mad. On your watch, no less. I've read about Slayers going to the dark side of their own free will. Faith has the potential to far outweigh the Mayor on our list of priorities."

"Faith was a bad seed long before I came to this hell hole. Perhaps YOU did something wrong, eh?"

Before Giles could reply, the doors swung open and Willow and Xander bounced in laughing about childhood memories special in their own minds. Xander glanced at the two Watchers and held a hand up to stop Willow in her tracks. "Behold Willow. We've seen this before. It's a bizarre male ego thing. One of them will back the other into a corner…then quit..cause they're Watchers and they don't participate in the nitty gritty."

"Heathen child." Wes snapped.

"Hey, I may be a heathen but I ain't no child!" Xander pounded his chest and let out a small roar. "I'm Simba AFTER he was King and Willow and Buffy are my Timon and Puumba."

"Which one am I?" Willow asked.

"Ooh, well there is no right answer because one's a pig…I'm just going to sit quietly and Watch. You like Watchers, right?"

Willow punched him on the arm as he scurried to find a seat at the table. She glanced at Giles and said, "Any news on the ascending bad things?"

"None. I'm afraid this is dire, indeed. We can't possibly prepare for something we have no knowledge of so to speak. Buffy can't defeat something that we can't find a weakness to." Giles removed his jacket and loosened his tie. "I fear it will be quite a long night."

"And saying stuff like that only makes it happen!" Xander wagged a finger. "Shame, shame. Any minute now trouble will burst though that door."

As if on cue, Angel came flying into the library. Xander jumped, relaxed and said, "Or possibly Angel. I prefer trouble though.."

"Has Buffy been here?" Angel asked.

"No, not since she was in class. Is something wrong?" Giles took a few steps toward Angel then paused. "What's happened?"

"She found me as I was leaving town. I tried to explain but she ran away saying that she was going to kill the Mayor and herself."

"WHAT!?" Xander screamed. "You're leaving town? Hello, happy… goodbye trouble."

"Xander, shut up." Willow said, glaring at Angel. "How could you, Angel?"

"Now isn't the time for how and why. We need to find Buffy." Giles grabbed his coat and then turned to face Angel. "I warned you against this, Angel. You've been responsible for more pain in my life than I ever imagined. Losing Jenny was horrid. But if I lose Buffy because of you, you will never leave this town."

"Unless it's on a dust filled breeze, my fiend." Xander followed Giles.


Buffy threw open the door of Willie's bar and stomped inside. She glared at a couple of vampires that jumped out of their seats and quickly vanished further into the smoky room. She took one of the vacant spots and motioned for Willie. "I want a bottle of something STRONG."

"Do you have ID?"

"Do you have a death wish?"

Willie dropped behind the counter and came back up with a bottle of Tequila. Buffy glanced at it and grimaced. A bloated worm floated in the bottom of the bottle, yet she took it and opened it, drinking deeply. Willie glanced at her expectantly.

"What?" She asked, tying not to choke.

"You got money?"

"How much is your life worth to you?"

"It's on the house. But can I offer you some friendly advice? Whatever's bugging you ain't gonna be gone at the bottom of that bottle. All you're gonna get is a hangover and…"

Buffy stood up. "It's been real."

Willie watched as she stomped out with her liquor and shook his head. Something was telling him that he'd never see her again. He picked up the phone to call Faith. Maybe she'd see to it that the feeling was right.


"Any sign of her at the Bronze?" Willow asked Oz. She had called him at the Bronze where he had a gig that night.

"Not a glimpse. Cordelia is here. I can tell her to keep an eye out and have Buffy call you." Oz glanced around the Bronze again. "No Buffy shaped gals in sight."

"Damn!" Willow sighed. They had all stopped at a gas station to fuel up. She glanced over her shoulder as the boys, minus Wesley, piled into Giles ancient Citroen and stared at her. "I have to go. If you see her, keep her there, okay?"

"I'd like to promise that, sweety, yet keeping Buffy anywhere is like…impossible. But I'll do my best."

"I love you." Willow said softly.

"I love you. Be careful."

She hung up and rushed back to the car. As she climbed in the back with Xander she let them know that Buffy wasn't Bronzing it. They had decided to do an initial sweep of the town, four sets of eyes were definitely better than one and if Buffy was in self destruct mode they could all handle her. Assuming that was possible, either. If they didn't spot her anywhere then they would pair off and devour every last inch of the town. Welsey had stayed at the library just in case she came there. Willow was wringing her hands. If anything happened to Buffy, no she couldn't think that way. Buffy was Buffy.

"I believe it would be best to drive through downtown. If she's heading for the Mayor, she'd check his office first." Angel said.

The only acknowledgment he received was a nod by Giles followed by a sharp U-turn. Xander's head hit the back of the low roof of the car and he yelped out. "Dammit, Giles! At this rate the doctor will have to use forceps on my head."

"Why would they use forceps?" Willow asked.

"Why wouldn't they?" Xander shrugged.

"Xander, forceps are what they use to pull the baby…OH MY GOD!" Willow shrieked.

Giles slammed the brakes and a fat, female vampire flew out into the road and landed in a heap. "Good Heaven's!" he cried.

"She fell off that building." Willow pointed at the one story Suntrust bank. "That's irony. Suntrust."

"Uhm..Will…she didn't fall." Xander nodded his head toward his window and leaned back. Faith had her nose pressed to the glass and was smiling ear to ear.

Angel jumped out of the car and started around it. "Where's Buffy?"

"Awwww, lover." She whined. "Where's my hello kiss?"

"I'll give you the kiss of death when I put your lights out." He sneered.

"Now, now. That's not what you said a while back." She glanced at the others who had gotten out of the car. "Giles, you are the only man here I haven't boinked. Feel lucky?"

Giles turned away in disgust and shook his head. Xander stepped forward and said, "Could you be more repulsive? Can't you control your ick factor for one day! No offense Giles."

"Oh hell, Xander. You were begging me for more." The Slayer prissed.

"I had a Slayer fetish. Buffy is too much of a LADY so you did in a pinch. But you know what? You were NEVER a Slayer. You couldn't even be considered an itchy scab on a Slayer's ass."

Faith took a step toward Xander but Angel shoved her away. She stared at them for a second, realized Willow was holding a very nasty looking crossbow, which was aimed at her, and took a few steps back. "You all better pray that you find her before I do. Last I heard she had a very large bottle of liquor and a chip on her shoulder I can't wait to knock off."

They watched as she retreated down an alley then Xander glared at Angel. "Why didn't you twist her neck? You got an awful lot of practice doing that while you were the resident evil."

"Why don't I twist yours?" Angel snapped.

"Why don't I shoot both of you and leave you here in a pile while Giles and I find Buffy." Willow yelled.

"Sorry." Angel and Xander said in unison.


When all our tears have reached the sea
Part of you will live in me
Way down deep inside my heart
The days keep coming without fail
A new wind is gonna find your sail
That's where your journey starts.....

Buffy had sipped not quite half of the tequila by the time she neared the Mayor's office. It was making her feel woozy and confident. She definitely had a false sense of security considering she was unarmed in Sunnydale. She wasn't drunk but figured she would be by the time the night was over. Either drunk or dead. Taking the steps two at a time she shoved the doors open and stood in the foyer for a moment, trying to get her bearings. Loud voices could be heard at the end of the hallway in an office on the right. She barged in. Two of the Mayor's minions had her between them within seconds.

Mayor Wilkins looked up at her and smiled. "Well, well. Hello, little Buffy. Let me guess? You are on the summer bake sale committee and you are here to ask me if I want cake or cookies?"

"Guess again." Buffy struggled to get free and dropped her Tequila.

"Well, I know that YOU know better than to come here to kill me so…do enlighten me."

"I want to fight you to the death, right now!" Buffy sputtered, half slurring her words.

The Mayor stood up and walked to stand before her. He picked up the bottle, using some tissue over his hands and shook his head. "Let her go and leave us alone."

The minions glanced at each other then at the Mayor. "She's….she's a Slayer, boss."

"The OPERATIVE word there was BOSS. You do as I say." The Mayor smiled at the one that had spoken.

They shoved Buffy forward a few feet and she landed on a leather sofa in the corner of the room. By the time she stood, they were gone. "Your workers are cowards." She said, without inflection.

The Mayor replied, "Anyone would seem a coward standing next to you. You brave, brave girl. I‘m going to assume based on the stench of alcohol and the fact that you've gone crazy….that something bad has happened. Let me wager a guess…Angel?"

"You shut up! You don't say his name! He's leaving me because of what you said!"

"Truth hurts, huh?"

"It wasn't the truth!" Buffy cried. "You just said that to get us scared. But it isn't true."

"Are you immortal?"

"Oh yeah," Buffy said sarcastically. "I'm totally a vampire."

"Vampires aren't the only beings who can become immortal, Buffy." The Mayor smiled as he looked her up and down. "Poor girl. Would you like a cookie? You're so thin."

"I'd like to stop this damn ascension and get on with my life!" Buffy fought to hold back the tears but they came anyway.

Wilkins smiled. "What if I told you it could all stop? What if I told you that the ascension is going to happen no matter what you do…but…you and your friends could survive it and live forever."

"As demons?"

"No." The mayor indicated the seat and Buffy took it. "Demons have a way of being insubordinate at the most inopportune times. What if I told you, I could give you all immortality and all you'd have to do in return is the same thing you do now?"

"Slay your minions?" Buffy shook her head. "Doesn't that defeat the purpose?"

"No. Half of them will want to overthrow me once I ascend. I need someone to take them out."

"What about Faith?"

"She isn't half the Slayer you are. She's in this for revenge on YOU for being better. I want someone who is in it for a fair trade. You and Angel could have a happily ever after, Buffy. Eternal youth. A thousand years of really knowing and loving your friends. As it is, your life is just a few days from ending. I could give you the world."

Buffy sat quietly. It was true that Giles was at his wit's end trying to find the ascension ender. But how could she sacrifice millions of lives just for her own and her friends? On the other hand, she had done just that when she had insisted that the Mayor release Willow and gave him back his box of arachnophobia makers. And then there were the what-if questions. What if she actually died? The world would be no better off and all those people would die anyway. What if the ascension was stopped….how long would it be before she was stopping some other world threat? Was she just postponing the inevitable?

She was about to tell the Mayor 'no thanks' and go home when Faith walked in. "What the hell is she doing here?"

"I'm trying to convince her that our side is the most logical." Wilkins smiled.

"WHAT!?" Faith screamed. "We don't need her. I'm all the Slayer you need."

"You can never have too much of a good thing." The Mayor went back to his desk and sat down. "Buffy, it pains me to see such a beautiful, vibrant young girl giving in to the bottle."

"How do I know I can trust you?" Buffy asked. "How do I know you can actually make someone immortal?"

Mayor Wilkins pressed the button on his desk. "Stephanie, are you still here?"

"Yes, Mayor." Came a female voice.

"Come in for a moment please?"

A second later the door opened and a pretty young woman in a skirt suit walked in. "Yes, sir?"

"Tell the girls how old you are Stephanie."

"Twenty-seven." Stephanie smiled.

"Don't lie." Wilkin's cajoled.

"One hundred and twenty-seven, sir."

The Mayor tossed Faith a long dagger and said, "Shove it in her back."

Faith looked confused. "What?"

"Take…the…knife….and …use…it…on….her." The Mayor carried out each syllable like he was speaking to a simpleton.

"I don't want…." Faith shook her head.

"Buffy?" the Mayor asked. "Faith obviously can't let her jealousy of my interest in you get off her mind. Take the knife and shove it in her back."

"Why?" the blonde Slayer asked. She was enjoying making Faith uncomfortable.

"Girls, I'm ashamed of you both." The Mayor jumped up and grabbed the knife from Faith. He whirled and buried it to the hilt in the girl's back. She didn't even flinch. He pulled it back out, ripping her coat as he did. Right before Buffy's eyes the girl's back healed perfectly. "That will be all, Stephanie." Wilkins turned and smiled at Buffy. "With my offer of immortality comes invincibility. You can never be harmed. You'd have your man. You could have sex, although you must get married first. I'll even oversee the service. My offer is simple Buffy…eternal happiness or a few days of misery before you die."

"There has to be more to this." Buffy whispered.

The Mayor turned and glared at Faith. "You go home, young lady and think long and hard about how you disobeyed me."

"But…" Faith began.

The Mayor blew his whistle and his two lackeys came in the room. "Please see to it that Faith is escorted home safely."

Buffy watched as Faith looked ready to cry and felt a happiness that she hadn't felt in a long time. It would be worth joining the bad side just to watch Faith be miserable….after what she did with Angel. When the door closed and they were alone Buffy faced the Mayor again. "So, is there more?"

"Your friends play a role in my ascension they don't even realize. I want them to fully think that you are on my team. I want them to think that they don't stand a chance."


"They would never agree to willingly join my side, right?"

Buffy shook her head. They definitely wouldn't.

He continued, "If they think it's hopeless they will stay with the ones they love out of the line of fire. I can't grant any of you immortality until I am at full strength."

Buffy interrupted, "But Stephanie…"

"A hundred and twenty odd years ago I was a lot stronger. I was practically a baby myself then…a stallion."

"Please!" Buffy shook her head. "If you are about to relive your sexual revolution, don't."

"I didn't make her immortal for sex! I needed a good secretary! One my wife trusted." The mayor smiled. "Would you like a night to sleep on it?"

"Yeah." Buffy nodded. She stood up and picked up her bottle of tequila. She was more or less tired now and wanted to sleep.

"Ah. Why don't you pour that out?"

"My mom will enjoy it." Buffy shrugged and walked toward the door.

"Not all demons are bad, Buffy. You're in love with one."

She nodded and headed outside. Her mind was full. Angel was leaving her if she stopped the ascension. It would be all over and she'd have no one. What was she supposed to do with herself if Angel wasn't in her life? Buffy opened the bottle again as she crossed the road into the cemetery. Drinking deeply, she ducked into a mausoleum and sat down on top of one of the stone crypts. Home was out of the question. Her mother would kill her for drinking and then call Giles who would also give her hell for it. Sleeping on top of a dead person was almost ironic. She'd give anything to sleep on top of Angel.

What if the Mayor was telling the truth? What if she really couldn't stop the ascension? They'd all die. She began to cry, sobbing loudly while she choked down the vile liquid, relishing the burn it left in her stomach. At least she could still feel something. Buffy felt numb. Totally and completely numb.

Spike paused outside the doors of the mausoleum. He heard sobs. Surely dinner wouldn't be this easy to rustle up. He'd march right in and ease her pain. Whoever she was would forget what was making her unhappy as soon as he drank her. He grinned, because she'd probably put up a fight too.

Spike gently pushed the door open and peeked inside. His elation deflated when he saw Buffy sitting on top of a stone slab, crying like a baby and nursing a bottle of tequila. "You are even more pathetic than your girly-boy."

Buffy looked up at him and sniffled. "Spike, go away!"

"I came back because I hear that trouble is brewing." He walked all the way in and stood a few feet from her. "I heard right, eh? Your Mayor is a big old nasty? Wants to end the world? You know how I feel about that, pet."

"I'm not your pet!" Buffy tried to slug him but he stepped out of the way and she toppled off the slab head first. She landed with a loud thump. "OWWW!"

"That was graceful."

Buffy rubbed her head and then cursed loudly. "What part of GO AWAY did you get confused by?"

"You're bleeding." Spike pointed to her head.

She stood up and swung at him again. He moved a fraction of an inch to one side and she sailed past him, connecting with a pillar. Staggering, she stepped into an empty flower pot and then toppled across the room trying to rid herself of it. Kicking did nothing to remove it and as she bent forward to yank it off she lost her balance and went down on all fours. Spike was shaking all over with silent laughter as she rolled onto her back and looked up at him. "Well, why don't you feast on me and put me out of my misery?"

Buffy still had to pot on her foot and her hair had definitely seen better days. Blood still dripped off of he head and he still thought she was breathtaking. < What the hell is wrong with me? > Spike thought angrily. She's the fucking SLAYER. That alone should make my skin crawl. "You're asking me to kill you?"

"I'm begging you to kill me."

Spike put his hands on his hips. "Well, that takes the fun out of it, wouldn't you agree? Besides, you're doing a great job of beating yourself to death."

"Then leave me alone!" Buffy kicked him with the foot that was stuck and he grabbed it, tugging the pot off. He yanked her to her feet and she turned to leave.

The vampire caught her and held her at arms length. "I can not believe you' ve drunken yourself into a stupor. I heard that the Mayor is having an ascension. Shouldn't you be preparing for whatever that involves?"

"No." She swayed a little. "I've decided to join the bad guy's side. Screw this whole gig. I'm evil now. I'm so evil that I'm drunk."

He was too stunned to move. Surely she was kidding. If she was evil now then she wasn't nearly as cute. He liked her purity. Part of why he came back was to offer his service. Dru had decided that a chaos demon's many tentacles were a lot more desirable than his own lone tentacle. He liked this Slayer because she was just that. A slayer. The ONLY Slayer who had ever interested him enough to make deals with. And now she was telling him she was evil? "You've what?"

"Lemme go." Buffy slurred, yanking free, and slamming roughly back against the crypt.

Before Spike could reply, the stone slab that Buffy had been sitting on was shoved to one side and a huge vampire emerged. It shook off some dust that had settled on the lapels of its suit then jumped out of its burial place. It grabbed Buffy around the neck and lifted her off the ground.

She yelped out, choking and sputtering. Spike watched for a second. She wasn't reacting. She wasn't even trying to get loose. She was just flailing a bit. It made him angry. Angry with her and angry at the vampire who was rude enough to interrupt his conversation. His face changed. His forehead grew deep ridges that protruded and his eyes blazed yellow.

He jumped on top of a small statue of a gnome and grabbed the man's neck. He twisted hard and heard a snap. The man fell forward, dropping Buffy. It wouldn't kill him but it would deter him for a few minutes. Spike grabbed her in his arms and rushed out into the night.


Giles kicked the door of his car as smoke poured out from under the hood. It had stalled before they even made it halfway to the mayor's office. Angel was tinkering with the motor while Willow and Xander paced.

"Can't we just start walking?" Willow sighed. Time was wasting.

"Is it repairable, Angel?" Giles asked. He didn't fancy speaking to Angel but he had too.

"I don't think so." Angel stood up and slammed the hood. "We better start on foot."

Xander said. "Walking. What a nice way to spend the last days before the ascension. I‘d like to be spending my last days eating, watching movies, reading a book or possibly having sex…with someone who isn't psycho. But no. I have to clean up Angel's mess yet again."

No one spoke. So Xander added, "See, I've summed up everyone's feelings and no one can add more."

"I got something to add." Faith walked up behind them. "Buffy is having a nice long talk with the Mayor. He's trying to talk her into joining his team and I don't like it one bit."

"Buffy would never do that." Willow said.

"No?" the Slayer smiled. "Well, I saw it with my own two eyes, Red. She was sitting up in his office just as pretty as you please, talking about how he could give her immortality to be with Angel. All she had to do was join us."

"Giles?" Willow looked at him. She was very unnerved with Faith in such close proximity but she knew that together they could fight her off. "Can the Mayor do that?"

"I'm not sure. I suppose it's possible but as you said, Buffy would never…"

"Love makes you do the wacky." Angel said. "Buffy told me that once. I've never seen her the way she was tonight. Anything is possible."

"Well, I'm not just going to sit around and let her take my place. The Mayor is MINE and she can go to hell." Faith crossed her arms. "We're gonna stop the ascension. If he can't ascend then he'll need me. If he's a mortal and can't give her immortality then she'll go away."

"Let's make sure we overlook the fact that if he doesn't ascend thousands of lives will be saved. Could you be more selfish?" Xander said to Faith "You are just like Cordelia! Tactless. The only difference is..she wasn't a whore."

"She just had better taste." Faith shrugged.

Giles listened to them bicker, then tuned them out. He knew Buffy. He knew Buffy well enough to know that she'd never purposely endanger anyone's life. But if what Faith had said was true, there was a possibility that she'd do what she had too in order to secure a future with Angel. He cursed the brooding vampire silently. If he hadn't been about to leave then nothing like this would be happening.

Things between the Watcher and Buffy had been rough ever since he used the serum to rid her of her powers. Giles knew that he could never make that up to her and a part of him feared that if Buffy was indeed discussing options with the mayor, that was a contributing factor. He had betrayed a trust and that devastated him.

"Giles?" Willow his name and got no reaction. "GILES!"

He came out of his thoughts and looked at the girl. "Sorry."

"Didn't you hear what Faith said?" She asked. "She just told us how to stop the Mayor."

"Did she?"

"She did." Xander said in astonishment. "And the answer was literally under our noses."


Buffy had never thrown up so much in her entire life. At one point she had been sure her stomach was lodging itself in her throat. She was NEVER drinking again. Last time she'd almost been eaten by a giant snake and this time her body felt like it was eating itself. Groaning, she stood up and glanced at Spike.

"Want me to rush across the road and see what else Willy can give you?" Spike promised himself he'd beat Willy to a bloody pulp for this. "Got room for another bottle?"

The mere thought of it sent Buffy back across the headstone she had been leaning over so she could retch some more. Spike leaned against a weeping angel monument and fished a cigarette out of his pocket. It was going to be a long, long night. He couldn't very well leave her out here alone and she'd begged him not to take her home. What was he supposed to do? He watched as she stuck her ass into the air and choked out what had to be the last of the liquor she had consumed. It was amazing that she could make being sick look cute. Maybe she'd sober up now and be sensible.

"Will you feed on me now?" she whimpered, slumping to the ground.

"No. If you feel half as bad as you probably taste worse." He drew in some smoke from his cigarette. "You look like shit."

"Screw you." Buffy snarled. She had sobered tremendously and now her head pounded. Her mouth felt full of cotton and she rolled, trying unsuccessfully to stand up. "Can you help me get up?"

"I'm rather enjoying watching you make a fool of yourself." He grinned but walked over to offer her a hand. Her forehead had stopped bleeding, but had now turned a dark shade of purple. "Do you need to go to the hospital?"

"No. I need to walk. Just walk..and clear my head." She took a few steps and turned. She had dug a pack of gum out of her pocket and shoved a piece in her mouth. "Thanks for that back there. You saved my life."

"I certainly hope you intend on repaying the favor."

She cocked her head to one side. "What do you mean?"

"Do you honestly think *I* will survive an ascension? This world is only big enough for one top dog and that's me."

"You think you are the baddest demon in the world?" Buffy asked. "Hello? You just saved the life of a Slayer. Ultimate no-no in the demon handbook."

"So maybe it's all ego. Who cares? All I know is I'm a selfish bastard and as long as I'm in this town, it's mine. If this bastard ascends then we're all dead. Even your precious sexless dickhead."

"Angel and I broke up." Buffy started to walk away again.

Now she really had Spike's attention so he followed her. "Broke up? Romeo and Juliet broke up? Awww."

"Go away, Spike." Her voice cracked a little.

He had hurt her feelings. Damn. "I'm sorry. I'm rude. Let's change the subject…what's this about you being evil? And what is the Mayor's story?"

Buffy paused and looked up into his face. Spike reached into his pocket and pulled out a wadded up tissue. He handed it to her and pointed at her head, it was bleeding again. Buffy took it and walked toward the back of the cemetery, pausing at a water spigot to rinse her mouth. < Thank Heaven's for cemeteries needing water everywhere. > She thought. When they had gone as far as they could, Buffy glanced around and sighed. No one could see her from the road here. Feeling dizzy, she quickly sat down. Spike sat a few inches across from her and urged her to tell him all she could about the Mayor.


The gang stood in a small group outside the alleyway of the Bronze waiting for Oz. He would be finished with his last set any minute and would use his van to drive them around town. Faith had left, assuring them she'd get the necessary tools to stop the mayor and bring them to Giles first thing the next morning. They discussed everything while they waited.

"How do we know she's trustworthy?" Willow asked.

"We don't." Giles said. He had removed his glasses and was rubbing his eyes. A siren was blaring in the distance and his gut was reacting sharply to it. Was it Buffy?

"Well, she was right about one thing." Angel offered. "The Mayor is scared to death of germs. What she said about it makes sense. He's scared for a reason."

"Yeah, but it seems too easy. He's a big, bad ass demon who's afraid of.."

The back door opened and Oz came out. He glanced at their eager faces and shook his head. "She wasn't here all night."

"Damn." Xander ran a hand through his hair and stared at Angel. "This is beginning to look worse and worse for you. If we haven't found her by sunrise…you'll be sunbathing."

Oz glanced from one to the other and then rattled his keys. Everyone followed him to the van and climbed inside. They quickly discussed their options. Willow used Oz's car phone to call Buffy's house. The phone rang several times and Joyce picked up. After a short discussion, Willow hung up and sighed.

"Where could she be?"

"Let's check my place." Angel suggested. It was a long shot but she may have gone there to see if he'd left already.

You'll find better love
Strong as it ever was
Deep as the river runs
Warm as the morning sun
Please remember me

"So that's the whole story?" Spike asked. He had listened carefully to everything Buffy had said. A new slayer had apparently come along and played around with fire. If what Buffy was saying was right, Angel had slept with her and Buffy had a grudge, a way to piss her off and a way to keep her man in the end. Sounded like a winner to Spike but he said, "I don't like it."

"Well, I have to do something." Buffy shook her head.

"And we will."

"There is no we."

Spike threw his hands in the air. "Damn it. I've already told you that I came back to give you a hand."

"But you didn't tell me why. There's more to it than just wanting to be top dog."

"I'm lonely." Spike shrugged.

He looked so sad that Buffy almost gave him a hug. Almost. She wasn't about to let herself fall for his act. "Are you working for the mayor?"

"Have a nice night." Spike stood up and quickly walked away. < Being nice was fucking overrated if you ask me. The bitch! >

"Spike, wait!" She watched as he strode out of sight and mentally told herself off. What in the hell was she thinking? There was no doubt that she could use all the help she could get. Drawing her legs into her chest, she rested her forehead on her knees. Could her day possibly get worse?

Yes, it could. The vampire that Spike had attacked in the mausoleum had apparently held a grudge. A twig snapped to the left of her and she looked up. A foot caught her in the face and she sailed backwards. The vampire was on top of her before she had a chance to react.

They scuffled for several minutes before she got the upper hand. She slammed her head backwards into his face and pulled out of his grasp. She took a few steps away, trying her best to run, but he tackled her and her shoulder slammed hard into a headstone.

She felt it dislocate and cried out in pain. The man grabbed her legs, dragging her a few feet before pinning her to the ground. He sank his fangs into her neck and she gasped. < So, this was what death feels like. > Spike heard her cry out and figured it was a measly attempt at getting him to come back. Then he realized that Buffy wasn't Dru and he turned, breaking into a run. He went to the area they had been sitting and she wasn't there. He heard something to the right and leaped over a large headstone.

Buffy was being drained by the vampire that had attacked her in the mausoleum. If he had a heart beat, he was sure it would have skipped about a hundred beats right then. He kicked the vampire in the mid-section, throwing it off the Slayer. It stood and came at him. It was an extremely large man, but he wasn't steady on his new demon legs and Spike used his awkwardness to his advantage.

Using the lunging vampires own weight and momentum, he was able to toss him on the other side of the headstone. He heard the cracking of several bones and quickly glanced around for a sharp piece of wood. He was painfully aware of the fact that Buffy wasn't moving.

He fumbled around until he found a sturdy looking tree branch and turned to face the vampire. The minute it stood up all the way, he embedded the wood and took a step back. Blood scented dust plumes fanned around them and Buffy began to cough. Spike kneeled beside her. He could smell her blood and he fought to hold off the demon that was threatening to emerge.

Buffy tried to sit up and cried out in pain. "My shoulder."

Spike ran his hand along her back and cringed as he felt the shoulder bone that was at an unimaginable angle. He helped her sit all the way up then lifted her chin so that he could look at her. "This is going to hurt. I'm sorry."

He stood up, hanging onto her arm. When he was standing all the way he closed his eyes and yanked upward as hard as he could. Buffy screamed out and he let go. She cradled her arm in her lap and rocked back and forth, sobbing loudly. He knelt behind her again and felt along her back, satisfied that he had put it back in place. She leaned back against him and he froze. For the briefest moment, he didn't know what to do with her there. Then he wrapped his arms around her and pulled her tightly against him.

Buffy let Spike hang onto her until the pain subsided and then gently pulled free. Stretching her arm, she cringed and turned to face him. "That's twice tonight that you've saved my life."

Spike nodded and ran his hand along the bruises on her cheek. Closing her eyes, she leaned against his hand, putting her own on top of his. Guiding it forward, she kissed it gently and held it at her lips for a second. When she opened her eyes he saw new tears forming and leaned forward, gently brushing her mouth with his.

Buffy was startled but she didn't pull away. He deepened the kiss slowly, deliberately. Somehow she had managed to hang onto her chewing gum and she quickly shoved it to one side of her mouth as his tongue probed for hers. Spike's tongue seemed to massage all of her senses and not just the ones inside her mouth. A slow, aching need was rapidly filling her. A need that she had known since the first and only time with Angel. She finally did pull away when she thought of Angel.

"I can't." Shaking her head she stood.

Spike had never been more disappointed. He stood up as well and looked down at her. "It's okay. Do you want me to walk you someplace? It's probably close to three am."

Buffy looked at him. She couldn't believe how much his kiss had affected her and how his obvious level of gorgeous had escaped her attention. It was hitting her tenfold now. She was aching for him. Until he had kissed her with the promise of more, she hadn't realized how hungry she was for it. Stepping forward she wrapped her arms around his neck and pulled him to her mouth again. She devoured him. Her fingers ran through his short, blond hair and she arched her body into his.

Spike realized that she was saying yes. This was definitely a yes kiss. He grabbed her ass and pulled her even tighter against him, hoping she could feel the effect she was having on him. Their tongues danced against each other and the warmth of her flesh mesmerized him. Dru had been his only lover ever since she caught him screwing his dinner once and held out on him for twenty years. He had definitely learned a lesson.

The Slayer broke the kiss again and caught her breath. She glanced around at their surroundings and then back at Spike. He took his jacket off and laid it on the ground in front of them. Buffy started to sit down on it but he caught her. "The visuals are always the best part. Undress for me."

She would have protested but the thought of undressing for him was highly erotic to her. Buffy smiled a little at the realization that she was finding everything erotic lately, especially the shower, a lot. But this was something else. Something new. Spike leaned back against the headstone and crossed his arms, nodding at her to go ahead.

Buffy slipped her shoes off. She was wearing a pair of baggy pants and a spaghetti strap shirt that fit snugly across her breasts. As she pulled her light jacket off, she watched Spike eye her chest appreciatively. A new heat ran through her and she kept eye contact with him. As she unbuttoned her pants, Spike shifted uncomfortably, his own pants constricting on his swelling member. He ran his tongue over his lips as they pooled around her ankles and she stepped out of them. She smiled playfully at him as he crooked his finger at her, beckoning her.

She walked to where he was standing and whispered, "I'm not naked yet."

"And already you're killing me." He replied, running his fingers under her shirt and cupping both of her breasts. He lowered his mouth to her neck, careful not to graze the tender skin that had been bitten. "You're beautiful."

And she felt beautiful. Lifting her arms so that he could pull her shirt over her head, she glanced skyward. There were a million stars twinkling and although the moon wasn't full, it bathed them in a milky light. When all she had left were her panties on, Spike dropped to his knees in front of her.

His tongue darted into her belly button and her knees went weak. He felt her sag against him and quickly led her to his coat. When she was on her back, Spike covered her body with his own, running his hands through her hair and nibbling contentedly on her pert breasts.

Buffy shivered against him as his head moved lower and lower. Once again he licked over her navel but this time, one of his hands had wormed its way into the crotch of her panties and was gently tugging them over her hips. He used his other hand to lift her bottom and as soon as her panties were low enough, Spike replaced where they had been with his mouth.

Buffy bucked upward. He may as well have used a stun gun there because one brush of his tongue on her aching core sent shock waves coursing through her body. The fact that his tongue was cold against her warmth seemed to amplify the effects. She threw her head back and fought to hang onto her senses. No such luck.

Spike wasn't between her legs three minutes before she was screaming out his name as a powerful orgasm shook through her. She couldn't remember ever feeling so content before. Never so complete. It was like Spike had shown her what her body was for.

Her eyes were clenched tightly and when she opened them, Spike's face was a few inches from her own. He grinned and watched her closely a few more seconds before he stood up and removed his own clothing. The visuals were the best part to him and seeing her orgasm was something he'd never forget.

Buffy stared at him intently. His body was lean and rippled. Not bulging with muscles, but defined and shapely. As he removed his underwear she realized that he did indeed bulge somewhere and she wondered if she'd be able to take it. He saw what she was looking at and seemed to read her mind.

"I'll be gentle."

He joined her again, putting one of his legs between hers and grinding his thigh into her folds. She moaned out his name urged her hips forward. He slipped his hand between her legs and probed inside of her. He manipulated her core for several more minutes, until he was satisfied that she was ready.

Slipping completely between her legs, he guided himself into her and slowly thrust his hips forward. She sucked her breath in and hissed. She had only had sex once and Angel wasn't as big as Spike. The pain was quickly replaced as Spike picked up his pace and began to kiss her. She ran her hands down his back and cupped his ass, willing him to pound into her even harder.

Spike had never felt anything so warm and inviting. He wanted to drown himself in her wetness. Gathering her in his arms, he rolled them so that she was on top. She didn't let the rolling stop their pace and when she got behind the driver's wheel, Spike thought he'd die....again.

Rocking her hips up and down on him, Buffy rode like he was a mechanical bull..but he didn't dare want to buck her off. The sight of her breasts jiggling and her hair framing her face pushed him over the edge quicker than he would have liked. He grabbed her hips and pulled her down roughly onto his pulsing member. Feeling him spill his seed inside of her forced Buffy to orgasm again and she cried out loudly.


Angel cocked his head to one side. They had stopped at the cemetery as a last resort. He highly doubted that she'd come here unarmed but it was worth a shot. A vampire's hearing was amazing and he knew that someone was at the back of the cemetery. A girl that sounded like Buffy. He yelled her name and the others followed him closely.

Spike could hear someone coming. He had wanted to lie there for a while with her in his arms but he quickly pulled her to her feet and yanked his clothes on. "Someone's coming."

Buffy pulled her clothes on absently and when she turned to look at Spike, he was no where to be seen. She was about to yell for him when Angel grabbed her and pulled her into his arms. "Oh God, Buffy! I was so scared."

Spike watched from the woods and gritted his teeth. It was all he could do to keep from charging Angel and killing the bastard with his bare hands. He watched to see how Buffy reacted to him. She kept her arms limply at her sides and was scanning the area. That made him feel somewhat better. But seeing her in HIS arms was killing him. There was more commotion and the Slayer's friends and her Watcher joined them. He listened closely to see what the Slayer would say.

Buffy pulled out of Angel's arms and moved a few steps back. Giles was at her side immediately, examining her face and the bite marks on her neck. He pulled her into a rough hug of his own and she yelped out at the pain in her shoulder.

The watcher looked ready to cry, "Buffy, are you all right?"

"Who did this to you?" Angel sneered angrily.

"We took care of him." She replied, not meeting his gaze.

"We?" Xander and Angel both asked together.

"I meant I took care of him. I'm going home." She began to walk away when Giles caught her arm.

"Have you been drinking?" He asked.

"What if I have, Giles? Are you gonna spank me? Ground me from patrolling? Inject me with your helpless drugs again and send me on a death mission? You aren't my Watcher anymore." She started to walk away again.

Giles looked taken aback and said in a low voice, "No. But I am your friend. I realize you're upset about Angel leaving town and as your friend I did try to stop him weeks ago. But drinking...."

Buffy spun and glared at Giles, "WEEKS AGO? You knew? You knew he was going to leave and you didn't tell me?"

"I didn't think he ever actually would." He replied.

"And he hasn't….yet." Willow took a step toward Buffy. "Are you really okay?"

"How many times are you going to betray my trust, Giles?" Buffy was trying hard not to cry but she was stunned knowing that Giles had known and didn't say a word. It cut her to the quick. She shook her head at Willow and said, "No, I'm not really okay. I've been beaten nearly to death, been bitten and now I find out that Giles is a liar! And the Mayor is going to kill us all in a couple of days."

"Or possibly not." Xander spoke up. "Faith was all pissed that you were at the Mayor's office and she told us how to stop the ascension. If he misses this date then he'll have to wait another hundred years."

"What are you going to do? Kidnap him? Can't he ascend no matter where he is?" Buffy asked.

Giles answered. "Ascension begins in his body but it depends on his mind."

"We're gonna gaslight him." Willow grinned. "We got a plan. And as long as Faith thinks you are on HIS team, she's along for the ride with us!"

Buffy looked around at their relieved faces and felt kind of pissed. "What makes you think I'm not on his side?"

Angel walked up and gazed down at her. "Your soul. Your soul is stronger than all of ours put together. You couldn't let me down like that."

"You mean the way you let me down?" Buffy glanced off into the distance.

"Buffy…" He began.

"The sun will be up soon." She said the words to Angel but she felt the words for Spike. She had no idea where he had run off too but she hoped he made it to shelter by sunrise.

"We have a lot of work to do." Giles watched Buffy closely, wanting to see if she gave any indication of forgiving him soon. She didn't. He quickly gave her an outline of what they planned on doing. "We can handle everything tomorrow morning if you want to sleep in. You probably need the rest. We'll need you for the actual executing of it though."

She nodded her head at him and then looked back up at Angel. "And will you be here for that?"

Angel nodded slowly. "I'm staying until it's done."

Without another word Buffy turned and walked away. He was still leaving her and it still hurt. No one came after her and that was good. She couldn't deal with them all at once and she doubted she could deal with them one on one.

As she walked toward her house she realized that instead of Angel filling her mind, she was also thinking about Spike. What they had done together had been amazing. Spike was completely different. He didn't have a soul but he was still capable of gentleness and had pleased her more than Angel had.

Buffy trembled as she remembered the way it had felt to have him possess her body so completely with his own. Never in a million years would she have believed that she could surrender and give herself so easily to her enemy. Was he her enemy?

Buffy still had Spike on her mind when she climbed into her bed, exhausted.

It was after three that evening when Giles knocked on the front door of the Summers' residence. He was carrying a box of chocolate and a small bouquet of flowers. It wasn't the greatest attempt at being sorry but it was a start. He was really upset that he had hurt Buffy's feelings by not telling her about Angel's plans to leave. And he supposed he would always regret ever injecting the medication and lying, but he had to do something. He knocked again and Buffy opened the door. In the daylight, her face looked even worse than it had the previous night. She had a nasty gash on her forehead and her cheek and temple had bruised black.

Buffy rolled her eyes and stepped aside, motioning him in. "I thought you said I could have today off."

Giles paused and handed her the flowers and candy. "I said the morning and I brought these for you."

She took them and nodded at him, putting both items absently on the desk in the hallway. "Thanks."

They walked into the living room together and she flopped down on the sofa. He stood over her, watching her closely. She was staring at a talk show on the television and wouldn't look back at him. Giles strode to the TV and shut it off. He heard her swear under her breath. With his back still turned he spoke, "Buffy, I know that I have made a lot of mistakes where you are concerned. I've disappointed you and myself many times. But I have to know something. I have to know if you seriously thought about sacrificing your duty for immortality."

When she didn't reply he turned to face her. "Well? Did you, Buffy? Answer me."

"Don't you ever want something more than what we have?"

"Don't start answering my questions with a question. I want an answer." He turned to face her.

"I thought I just gave you one."

"I could tell by looking at your face last night that you were hiding something. Did you make any sort of pact with him. Make any deals?" Giles demanded.

"I don't want to talk about this!" Buffy stood up and he grabbed her by the shoulders. "Let me go."

Despite his resolve to stay calm, Giles' voice raised. "Do you have any idea how worried we all were about you? Can you try for one second to imagine the pain I feel knowing that I have failed you so much, you would contemplate going against me? Against your duty?"

"I'm an adult!!" Buffy screamed at him.

"Then act like it." Giles shouted back.

Joyce opened the door carrying a grocery bag and stuck her head around the corner. She had heard their shouts all the way in the driveway. "What is going on in here?"

Buffy pushed Giles away and ran past her mother, up the stairs and into her bedroom. She slammed the door as hard as she could. Listening closely, she could hear their voices and then flung herself on her bed when she heard footsteps coming toward her room. Her mom opened the door and sat beside her on the bed.

"Buffy, there is something you should know." Joyce rubbed her daughter's back. "I went and visited Angel right before the prom and …well, I think he is leaving because of what I said."

Buffy sat upright and turned to face her mother. "What did you say?"

"I told him that the two of you were from different worlds and he needed to make the choices that you couldn't." she lowered her gaze as Buffy's face fell.

"Why, mom, why?" Buffy slid off the bed and glared at her. She saw Giles standing in her doorway and glanced around the room. She felt miserable. Was every single person in her life going to hurt her?

"Buffy, I can see things that you can't." Joyce began. "I've lived a lot longer than you and I see a bigger picture."

Grabbing her shoes, Buffy started out the door but Giles blocked her. "I think you should listen to your mother."

"Move." She pushed against him but he held firm. "Don't make me move you, Giles."

"Don't you dare threaten me!" He told her sharply.

She turned, glared at her mother for a moment and then rushed to her window and jumped out. Giles called after he but she was already running.