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Part two of two

Lesson the Eighth: Impressions

by cousinjean
We Never Change by Coldplay | Lyrics

Shout-outs: To all of the MBTV regulars populating the "Season 5, Redemptionista Style" thread, who've all been very helpful in the beta-reading department; to all of the BAPSters, who inspired some of my favorite moments in this one; and to Peggin, who's speculation inspired the final scene.


Dawn slammed her algebra book shut, glad to finally be done with the last problem. She looked over at the two witches, both sitting on the floor, surrounded by books.

"Oh, here's one," Tara said. "Oh, wait, no." A distasteful look contorted her face. "It involves sacrificing a live cat." At that moment, Miss Kitty Fantastico bounded into the room and pounced on Willow's lap. Willow eyed the cat thoughtfully. Horrified, Tara grabbed her away from Willow. "Absolutely not!"

"What?" Willow asked innocently. "Oh, no, of course not! I would never hurt little Miss Kitty." She reached over to scratch underneath the cat's chin.

"Or any other cat," Tara said. "Wiccans don't do animal sacrifice."

"No arguments from me," the redhead agreed. "Animal sacrifice is definitely of the bad. So, that spell's out. How about this one? It's supposed to reveal the truth to the eye of the beholder. Maybe if we did it on Buffy, she could see Ben's true form?"

Tara leaned over to look at the spell. "I don't know," she said. "It seems like there are too many ways that one could go wrong. Besides, look at the list of ingredients. Yeti's eyeballs are pretty expensive, and hard to come by."

"Yeti?" Dawn asked, getting up to join them. "As in, abominable snowman?"

Tara nodded.

Dawn shrugged. "Guess I shouldn't be surprised that those are real." She plopped down between the couple. "Can I help?"

"Sure," Willow said, handing her a book the thickness of which made her algebra textbook look like beach reading. "We're looking for unmasking and truth spells."

"Truth spells," Dawn said thoughtfully. "Like the one you were going to do on Spike last year?"

"Um," Willow said, shifting uncomfortably, "sort of."

Dawn laughed. "Seems to me you did do a truth spell on him. You got him to say he loves Buffy."

Tara looked up from her book. "When did this happen?"

"Oh." Willow blushed. "Uh, last year. It was just this silly little misunderstanding where I, kind of, tried to do a spell that, you know, backfired, and, well--"

"Spike and Buffy got engaged," Dawn finished for her.

"What?" Tara said, a slight smile playing at her lips. "How did you make them get engaged?"

"It's a long story," Willow said, and with a sharp look at Dawn added, "and we're not supposed to talk about it."

"Oh, come on," Tara said. "You have to tell me about this."

"Oh, all right," Willow caved. "It was after Oz left. I was upset, and I tried to do a spell to will him to come back. Though, in hindsight," she said with a wink to her lover, "I'm glad it didn't work out like it was supposed to. Anyway, see, I cast a spell for my will to be done, and then I made an off-handed comment that if Buffy wants to spend so much time with Spike she should just go and marry him. The next thing we knew, they were engaged. The ring, wedding plans, the whole shebang."

"You should have seen them," Dawn added. "They were all over each other. They were totally in love."

"Wait a minute," Tara said. "They were in love?"

"Nauseatingly so," Willow confirmed.

Tara shook her head. "But, that's not right. You willed them to get married, not to love each other."

"Well, yeah," Willow said, "but don't the two kinda go hand in hand?"

"Not necessarily," Tara said. "People get married all the time without being in love."

"I guess you're right," Willow said, then looked panicked. "But, if my spell didn't... then that means... Oh, God."

Dawn let this sink in. "That means Buffy really does love Spike!"

"No!" Willow said. "Buffy can't love Spike! He's, he's evil. I mean, he's basically been acting like a good guy lately, except for the whole stalking Buffy thing, but, that's just 'cause of the chip. He's still evil, right? Buffy can't love evil."

"It doesn't necessarily mean she loves him," Tara corrected.

"But, it turned out that Spike's really in love with Buffy," Dawn pointed out.

"Well, maybe it does," Tara conceded, "but it could also just mean that, on some level, part of her is open to the possibility."

"Let's just hope that part of her is buried deep, deep down in the Buffy subconscious," Willow said. "The last thing any of us need is for Buffy to be in love with another evil vampire."

Dawn tensed up. Was she seriously the only person in the whole group who could see the changes in Spike? "I don't think Spike's evil," she said.

"No," Tara said, "neither do I."

Willow looked at them both in shock. "What do you mean you don't think he's evil? Hello, vampire? Kinda the one thing in this world you can count on being evil. Except for Angel, and even he's pretty iffy sometimes."

"It's just a vibe I get from him," Tara said. "I can't really explain it. It's like, there's something in him, something that contradicts the demon. Like a part of him that was supposed to die when he was turned never did."

Willow looked flustered. "You, you mean Spike never lost his soul?"

"No, not that. More like," she chewed on her bottom lip as she seemed to think of the right words, "more like a personality trait, a strength of character and determination that I've never gotten from other vampires. I don't know, maybe having that chip in his head so long made it come alive again, and maybe falling in love with Buffy made that part of himself focus on her goodness, and it's trying to emulate it?" She shook her head. "I don't really know, but I sense something in Spike. Something real."

"Wow," Willow said. "Spike not entirely evil? I mean, I guess, that would be kind of nice, because he is helpful, mostly, and kind of funny sometimes--"

"And hot," Dawn added.

"Well, yeah," Willow said, "for a vampire, and, um, for a guy. So I guess I can sort of see what that deep, subconscious part of Buffy might see in him. But still, this is all just too much."

"I don't know," Dawn said. "I like Spike. He's my friend. I think it'd be kinda cool if Buffy decided to go out with him."

"Dawn--" Willow started to protest, but she was interrupted by the telephone.

Willow got up to answer it. While she was on the phone, Tara looked at Dawn.

"Dawn, listen to me," she said. "I didn't say that Spike's not still dangerous. You should still be careful around him."

Willow hung up the phone and came back over. "That was Giles," she said. "He wants us to be sure and tell Buffy to go to his place after she picks up Dawn. Sounds like he found something, but he didn't say exactly what."

She sat back down. The three of them went back to their books. Dawn kept her head down so that Willow couldn't see the smile on her face. Spike has changed, and finally somebody besides her could see it. Things were finally starting to look up.


"Things are finally starting to look up," Xander said. "The foreman was so impressed by the way I handled the owner the other night, that he's thinking about putting me in charge of my own team on the next job."

"Does that mean more money?" Anya asked.

He nodded. "Yes, it does. But it would also mean a lot more responsibility, and I'd probably have to spend more time on the site."

"Oh," Anya said, her shoulders slumping. "More money, but less Xander. I'm not sure I like the sound of that."

"Yeah, but it'd only be--"

"What do you s'pose they're talking about?" Spike interrupted.

Xander closed his eyes, and sighed. "For like the fifth time, Spike, I don't know."

"It's been almost a whole bloody hour," Spike said, and waved a half-eaten buffalo wing in Buffy's direction. "You'd think she could have found out something useful by now that would be able to end this charade."

"Which charade would that be, Spike?"

The vampire ignored him. He'd been ignoring him since they'd first sat down, never taking his eyes away from Buffy and Ben. "Look at that! Look at the way he's leaning in. I bet she's going for it, too. I mean, look at him. All... tall, and generic, and vapid... and he's got one of those clefts in his chin. The bastard's just her type."

"Yeah, except for the whole not being human part. And by the way, have I mentioned how much you frighten me?"

Spike cast him an irritated glance. "Yeah, and I'd be flattered, if not for the fact that it's such an easy feat to accomplish."

"You know," Xander said, "considering you've got about a dozen beers in you, I'm going to forget you said that. No, wait. Actually, that's probably a lot nicer than anything you'd have said sober."

"I'm not drunk," Spike said. "I'm just in a right foul mood. It takes a lot more than a few cheap American beers to get me pissed, and believe me, I'm starting to wish I was there."

"You're not alone there," Xander said.

"I'm going to go to the bathroom," Anya announced.

Xander and Spike both looked at her.

"Uh, yeah," Spike said, "good luck with that, pet."

She rolled her eyes. "No, I mean I'm going to go get Buffy to go with me." As they both continued to stare at her, her certainty faltered. "Because, girls do that, don't they? Willow and Tara do all the time... but, I suppose they're not really a good example."

"Yes," Xander said, "girls do do that. Why remains an eternal mystery, but it is indeed something that girls do."

"Good," she said, getting up. "Then we can go in there, and she can tell me if she's found out anything useful yet."

"Good idea, sweetie," Xander said.

"Good?" Spike asked. "That's bloody brilliant!" As Anya approached Buffy, Spike scooted his stool around next to Xander.

"What are you doing?"

"Hiding, so the poof won't see me. You know," he said, pointing in Anya's direction, "that's quite a bird you've got there. You should hold onto that one."

"Yeah," Xander said, taking a swig of his beer, "she really is something, isn't she?"

"Oh, yeah. 'Course, she's probably also about the only woman on the planet who'd put up with the likes of you for very long."

"Okay, SO not liking the turn of this conversation."

Spike waved a dismissive hand. "I didn't mean it like that. Anyway, I envy you, Harris. What you and Anyanka--"

"Anya," he corrected.

"Fine. Sorry. What you and Anya have, it's messy, but it's real. You're in for the long haul. And neither one of you are running away from it. That kind of love, it's terrifying. In the hundred and twenty years since I died, I've only felt it twice. And only once it's been returned." He nibbled thoughtfully on his wing. "I admire anyone who's willing to make a go at it. Fighting monsters, that's easy. Letting yourself fall in love--real love, blood, guts and glory, where a single tear can make you want to kill or die to wipe it away, and just a smile can send you soaring for days-- and doing what it takes to keep it? That's the scariest thing there is."

Xander raised an eyebrow. "Are you sure you're not drunk?"

"Not yet," Spike said. He took a drink, and raised his bottle, as if in salute. "But I think I'm getting there."

"Good," Xander said, shifting to face Spike, "then you'll remember what I'm about to say to you in the morning. Or, whenever it is you wake up. About this thing you have for Buffy--"

"Oh, save it," Spike said. "And don't call it a 'thing,' like it's nothing. Didn't you hear a word I just said?"

"Yeah, nice speech. But, Spike, whatever it is you feel, you have to know that it's one sided."

"Do I?"

"Yes, you do."

To Xander's surprise, Spike slumped in his chair, and nodded. "Yeah, I do." He pointed as Buffy and Anya emerged from the restroom area. "Here she comes."

"So," Xander asked as Anya returned to the table, "what's the word on our mysterious non-person guy?"

"He likes strawberry ice cream, he collects Batman comics, and he's going to be a brain surgeon," she reported.

"Ah," Xander said approvingly. "Except for the whole super strong, memory altering, non-human thing, he and I would have a lot in common. Oh, and the brain surgeon thing."

"Bloody hell," Spike muttered. "You mean she's spent all this time with him and that's all she's got?"

"He also has a twin sister," Anya added as she climbed onto her stool.

"Great," Xander said. "That means that whatever he is, there's two of them running around Sunnydale."

Spike looked thoughtful. "I think that's important," he said.


He shook his head. "Something about him having a twin." His eyes went wide as he seemed to remember something. "We have to get her out of there."


"Miss me?" Buffy asked as she returned to her seat.

"Actually, yeah," Ben said. "I tried to have a conversation with this lamp, but it was pretty one-sided. We're both glad you're back to get us past the awkwardness."

Buffy smiled. She liked this guy, even if he was a little goofy. Why did he have to not be a real guy?

"That lamp and I are well acquainted," she said. "It's a little on the shy side."

"Well then, I'll cut it some slack." He looked at his watched, and grimaced. "Listen, I hate to say this, because I'm really having a great time, but I'm going to have to take off soon. My next shift starts at 5 a.m., and I've got a review tomorrow, so I need to be well rested."

"No problem," Buffy said. She'd better get something out of him, fast. "I have classes in the morning, and my grades haven't been so hot since everything with my mom. Sleeping through class probably won't help me out in that regard."

Ben nodded. "Listen, I know you said you didn't really want to talk about stuff, but, how are things? How's your sister holding up?"

Buffy's smile faded at the mention of her sister. However cute Ben is, she reminded herself, he knows the truth about Dawn. "She's okay," Buffy said. "She's handling it about as well as you'd expect any normal teenage girl to handle it."

"But Dawn's not normal," Ben said.

Buffy's heart jumped into her throat. She didn't expect that.

"What do you mean?"

Ben sighed, and leaned forward to set his beer down. "We don't have much time," he said. "Why don't you just go ahead and ask me what you came here to find out?"

They stared at each other for a moment, as Buffy tried to decide how to proceed. Should she play it innocent? He could be talking about something completely different. Best not to show her hand until he revealed all of his.

"What I came to find out? What--"

"Buffy," he cut her off, "come on. Don't tell me your boyfriend hasn't been talking to you about me."

Now she really was confused. "My boyfriend?"

"Yeah. You know, about 5'10", punk hair, serious UV allergies?"

Buffy frowned. "He is not my boyfriend."

"Could've fooled me," Ben said, "the way he was so hell bent on protecting you when we fought. Took me by surprise. I mean, I'm not one to judge, but a vampire trying to protect a Slayer? That's one I'd never seen before."

Consider his hand played, Buffy thought. "What are you?" she asked.

"All you need to know about that is that I'm not your enemy," he said. "I want the same thing you do: to keep the Key away from Glory."

"No," Buffy said, "what I want is to protect the Key."

"That might not be an option."

"Then maybe we are enemies."

Ben sighed. "Look, Buffy, I like Dawn. I don't want to see anything happen to her. And maybe nothing has to. But know this. I will do whatever is necessary to keep the Key out of Glory's hands."

"You sound like those knights," she said. "Are you one of them?"

Ben shook his head. "They're a little misguided, but their intentions are good."

"Their intentions are to kill my baby sister," Buffy told him. "I wouldn't call those intentions good."

"But she's not your sister. Not really. You have to remember that."

"No, I don't. She is my sister, and if you or those knights so much as touch her, I swear I'll kill you."

Ben sat back. "You can try," he said. He sighed. "Buffy," he stopped, and laughed. "You know, I really was hoping we could be friends."

"Fine," she said. "Let's be friends. Friends share information. So share this. What's the Key for?"

"The Key will allow Glory to unleash the apocalypse."

"Oh," Buffy said, and shrugged nonchalantly. "Is that all? That's usually easy enough to stop."

Ben shook his head. "You don't get it. Acathla, the Mayor... what they tried to bring about was insignificant compared to what will happen if Glory is allowed to rule again. The Key has to be kept away from her at all costs."

"How do you know so much about this?" Buffy asked.

"I'll have to tell you later," Ben said as he got to his feet. "My time's up. I have to go."

He started to leave, but Buffy jumped up and grabbed his arm. "I don't think so," she said. "Sorry if you have to be a little groggy for your review, but you're going to tell me everything that you know."

Ben easily pulled his arm out of her grip. "There's no time," he said, turning to go.

Buffy jumped in front of him. "You're not leaving."

"Buffy!" He looked panicked. "You don't understand! I have to--"

Before he could finish, his features started to change.


"We have to get her out of there!" Spike repeated, standing up.

Xander grabbed his arm. "Hold on there, dead boy. You go over there, you'll blow everything. I thought vampires were supposed to be good at the sneaky stuff."

Spike jerked his arm free. "You don't understand," he said. "I remember now. That's Glory she's talking to."

Xander blinked at him for a minute, then laughed. "Spike, sit down."

"I'm telling you, when I fought the bloke he changed into Glory! We have to warn Buffy, now." He looked over at Buffy, who was now on her feet, and looked to be having a confrontation with the intern. Xander and Anya both followed his gaze. As they watched, Ben's form began to change, seeming to melt away, until the hell goddess stood in his place.

"Oh, bloody hell," Spike muttered. He picked up his stool, and rushed to Buffy's aid.


Buffy took a step back, and realized that she was staring at Glory. She felt dazed as she looked around, trying to see where Ben went. There was no sign of him.

"Where the hell?" Glory was asking. "Euh. The Bronze? Oh, my God, I can't believe I'm inside this skanky place." She looked down at her clothes, which Buffy noticed were similar to what Ben had worn.

"Oh, look. Benny fell into the GAP. Why does he have no taste?" She looked at Buffy, and smiled maliciously. "No taste in women, either."

As Buffy's shock wore off, she noticed Spike sneaking up behind the hell god and raising a bar stool above his head. Without turning around, Glory frowned. "Tell your pet vampire that if he so much as touches me, I'll bring this whole place down."

"Spike!" Buffy called, and shook her head at him. He put down the stool and came around to stand next to her. Xander and Anya came into view behind Glory, but they both looked uncertain and scared. Buffy suddenly wished she hadn't asked them to come.

"Well, isn't this nice?" Glory said, smiling pleasantly. "Everybody's out, partying," she made a dance move for emphasis, "and just having a good ol' time! A night out for the Slayer and her vampy boy toy. How freakin' romantic."

That was enough to break through the last of Buffy's haze. "I told you," she said angrily, "he is not my boyfriend."

"Well, that's not what he said, honey." Glory grinned seductively as she slithered up to Spike. "When I tortured him," she said, snaking her arms around his neck and running her fingers through his hair, "he had nothing but nice things to say about you." She grimaced. "He didn't know anything about my Key, though." She shoved Spike backwards, sending him crashing into a support beam.

Buffy reflexively stepped between Glory and Spike.

"Aw," Glory said, "how sweet! Getting all riled up to protect your man. But step off, Slayer. I don't want to make a scene. Just tell me where my Key is, and we can all go home. That's all I want, you know. I just want to go home. But I can't get there without my Key."

"Then I guess you just can't get there," Buffy said.

Glory sighed, and studied her fingernails. "I'm really not in the mood to fight," she said. "So, I'll tell you what. Let's make a deal. I'll let everybody in this building live, and I'll just go on my merry way. No muss, no fuss. But the next time I see you or any of your little friends, if you don't have my Key," she leaned forward to whisper in Buffy's ear, "it'll be brain-suck city." She stood up and grinned at the Slayer, and then turned to go.

As Buffy watched her leave, Xander and Anya came over to her. "We just gonna let her go?"

"We can't stop her," Buffy said.

"What happened to Ben?" Anya asked.

Buffy shook her head. "I don't know. But he's involved in all of this, somehow. He knows all about Dawn. He wouldn't tell me what he is, though."

Spike got up and brushed himself off. "Are you all daft?" he asked. They all turned to look at him. "That was Ben," he said. "He turned into Glory right in front of you."

"What are you talking about?" Buffy asked.

Spike sighed. "That's right, you don't remember. Think about it, Slayer. That's what he makes you forget."

"That Ben turns into Glory?"

"Yeah," he said. "That's what happened last time I saw him, in the hospital. I didn't remember till just a few minutes ago. I bet your sis'll remember, too, if you ask her outright."

"And Glory tortured you?" Buffy asked.

"Uh, yeah, a bit, but then she figured you probably wouldn't trust a vampire with the Key, so she let me go."

Buffy stared at Spike. She couldn't believe this. "Why didn't you tell me this before?"

He sighed, and shoved his hands in his pockets. "If I told you she tortured me, would you have believed I didn't tell her anything about Dawn? I don't really fancy the idea of being able to fit inside a vacuum bag."

"You should have told me," she said. "We might have been able to put two and two together if we'd known that Glory showed up after your encounter with Ben."

Spike nodded. "I see," he said. "You want my help, as long as it's on your terms, is that it? I'm not on your payroll anymore, Slayer. That's not how it works. You want me to be a team player, then let me be on the bloody team!"

Buffy blinked up at him. First he says he loves her, and now he wants to be a Scooby? What did he take her for? She shook her head, and turned to Xander. "You guys can go. We're done here." She started for the door.

"Buffy!" Spike called after her as she walked outside. "Wait!"

With a sigh, she stopped, and turned around. "What, Spike? You really expect me to believe that you want to be part of the gang?"

"Why not?" he asked.

"Why?" she countered. "Why, Spike? What is all of this about? And don't say it's because you love me. Just tell me what the hell it is that you're up to."

Spike looked genuinely frustrated. "So that's how it is, then? I tell you I want to be on your side, and I have to be up to something?"

"That's usually how it works."

He leaned down to look her in the eye. "Well, maybe it works differently now, love."

Buffy shook her head. "I doubt it."


"Because that's who you are."

He stood up straight. "You don't have the faintest idea who I am." He started to pace back and forth. "You know," he said, "I didn't ask to be made a vampire. All I've ever done is to try to make the best of my situation. Maybe, maybe some of the ways I went about that were wrong, but there's nothing I can do about that now." He stopped pacing, and looked at Buffy. "But now I see a way out," he said. "I see that I don't have to be this... evil... thing anymore. A thing that you can't feel more than pity for." He sighed. "I'm a vampire. That's never going to change; but now I see that I don't have to let what I am dictate who I am."

Buffy couldn't believe what she was hearing. Was this what he'd meant when he'd said he'd give up "the whole evil thing?" This was Spike. Her enemy. Her would-be killer. And her would-be lover, a voice inside her said, but she paid it no attention. She couldn't afford to.

"I wish I could believe you, Spike."

"You can, pet. Just give me a chance." He looked so earnest, so desperate. "We can keep on hating each other, or we can start to trust each other. It's a choice, Buffy. We're not locked into being enemies."

Buffy looked at him, studied him. She really did want to believe him. But did he really have a choice? Evil was his nature. She didn't know if she believed people could overcome their true nature, let alone vampires. But if he meant it--and she believed he did--didn't he deserve a chance to try? He hadn't betrayed Dawn to Glory. Every time they'd fought Glory, he fought on their side. Ineffectually, but maybe he did deserve points for intent.

"It's been a long night," she said, deciding not to decide. Not yet. "I'm really tired, Spike."

"Is that it, then?" he asked, his voice resigned.

"No," she said. "That's not it. We'll talk. Later."

Spike nodded. "All right, pet," he said. "Get some rest, then." He turned around and stalked off in the direction of his home.

It was all too much, she thought as she watched him go. If what Spike said about Ben was true, then that meant he was probably one of the other two hell gods. And Glory, well, Glory just scared the hell out of her, like nothing's ever scared her before. And now Spike... she just didn't know what to think about Spike. She didn't know what to think about any of it.


"Buffy," Giles said as he opened the door. "Please, come in. Where's Dawn?"

"I still have to go get her," she said. "I wanted to come and tell you what I found out first."

"Which is?"

"I think Ben's one of the other two hell gods."

Giles listened as she explained the events that unfolded at the Bronze. "Yes," he said when she finished, "that does sound like the most likely explanation."

"So," she asked, "how'd your research go? Find anything on them?"

"Er, not on them, as such, but I did find a rather interesting prophecy regarding the Key." He fetched some notes from beside the telephone. "Actually, when I couldn't find anything I contacted Wesley, to see if he could do some research."

"How's Wes doing?"

"Oh, he's well," Giles said. "So is Cordelia, and Angel as well, though he said things regarding Angel were rather complicated."

"So what else is new?" Buffy said. She hadn't told anyone about Angel's recent visit, and she didn't feel like getting into it now.

"Quite," Giles agreed.

"So, did Wesley have anything useful?"

"It would seem so, yes. He found what appears to be a prophecy regarding the Key. It refers to a champion, a knight of sorts, that will be the Key's protector."

Buffy shrugged. "That's me, right? Is that all it says?"

"Actually," Giles continued, "it sounded like this protector is in addition to the Slayer. It also said, that is, if Wesley was correct in his translation--"

"Spit it out, Giles."

"It referred to the champion as being a vampire."

Buffy slumped down in a chair. "Please don't tell me we have to go live with my dad to be close to Angel. Right now, I don't think I could handle either of those things."

"Wesley did think it referred to Angel, at first. That's how he was able to find the prophecy so quickly, it seems they keep a file on prophecies pertaining to the vampire with a soul."


"But," Giles continued, "all of the other prophecies in his file specifically mention the vampire with a soul. This made no mention of the protector having a soul. It did, however, specifically refer to him as being a knight."

"So," Buffy said, trying not to let this all give her a headache, "what? One of those knights is a vampire, and I'm supposed to trust him to protect my sister?" She shook her head. "I think I'll take my chances with just me."

"I don't believe it meant knight in the medieval sense," Giles said. "It went on to describe the time that the vampire was 'born' into, and, well, it sounded for all the world like Victorian England."

Buffy stared blankly at Giles as this sunk in. "No," she said at last. "No way."

"He was Victorian," Giles pointed out, "and, we don't know much, or anything, really, about his human past, but it is entirely possible that he held a title equivalent to knighthood."

"What?" Buffy said. "You mean, Sir Spike?"

"Well, Sir William, I would imagine. And it does make a certain sense, albeit a rather perverse one. Spike has formed a bond with your sister, and has already acted as her protector on more than one occasion. As much as it pains me to say it, his affection for her appears to be genuine."

"Man," Buffy said. "The Spike weirdness just keeps on comin'."


"You won't believe this--I hardly believe it--but Spike actually told me tonight that he wants to be part of the team."

Giles removed his glasses as he sat across from Buffy. "Are you serious?"

She nodded. "The really weird thing is, I really think he meant it."

"I suppose," Giles said, "it's possible that long term exposure to the chip has had quite a profound affect on him."

"Yeah," she said. "He actually said that he doesn't want to let what he is dictate who he is." She looked at her mentor. "I didn't know whether to believe him," she said. "I've been so afraid to trust him. But now you're saying that there's some prophecy saying we're supposed to trust him?"

"Not necessarily," Giles said.

"Huh? Which is it, Giles, because I'm really starting to get a headache."

"I'm afraid it's not that simple. Wesley wasn't entirely certain of his translation. The vampire is meant to protect the Key, yes, but it was unclear as to whether or not he succeeds. In fact, it's possible he may bring about her destruction."

Buffy couldn't believe this. So Spike would either save her sister or cause her death? Did that really tell her anything she didn't already know?

"What am I supposed to do with this information?" she asked.

"Well, I'm fairly certain that it would be a bad idea to tell Spike," Giles said.

"You got that right," Buffy said. "He finds out about this, he'll never stop lording it over everybody. Annoying wouldn't even begin to describe him then."

"Also," Giles told her, "knowing Spike, there is a good chance he would rebel if he believes the Powers That Be have any say in his destiny."

"Yeah," Buffy said, "there's definitely that."

"As for the rest, I'm afraid all I can tell you is, you'll have to go with your instincts. I know it won't be easy to trust Spike; but perhaps allowing him to join the team might be a good way to start."

Buffy thought over her earlier conversation with the vampire. "We can keep on hating each other," he'd said, "or we can start to trust each other." Did she really have that choice?

"Maybe so," Buffy said. "I think I'm going to have to sleep on it before I decide. I'm feeling pretty fried."

She told Giles good night, and headed towards the campus to retrieve her sister. As she went, she couldn't help but marvel at how much more complicated everything had become in the space of a single evening.


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