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11

The sounds of waves crashing against each other was what woke Buffy out of the deep darkness that had over came her. She blinked against the light of the sun shining above as she sat up to take in her surroundings. A beach. However did she get there? The last time she checked, she was in a cabin, dying in her lover’s arms.

“It’s beautiful here, isn’t it? I always loved the ocean. When we left LA, I made sure that there was always a beach in the vicinity,” Joyce Summers sat next to her daughter, dressed in a white sundress with a serene smile, softening her features.

“Mom?” Buffy’s eyes widened. She had thought she’d never see her mother again. Tears spilling from her eyes, Buffy buried herself into her mother’s embrace. She was a little girl again, held safe in her mother’s arms. “It’s really you.”

“Of course it’s me, sweetie,” Joyce chuckled. “Who else would it be? That horrible first slayer you’ve been talking to?”

Buffy could only shrug as sobs overtook her. She had missed this so much. Over the past few years, all she had wanted was to set with her mother and be reassured that she was doing the right thing. She wanted to be held by her mother again. Safe, warm, and happy. “God, I’ve missed you so much. I can’t believe that we’re together again.”

“I’ve missed you too sweetie. Both you and Dawn. I’ve sat up here and watched you both. So many times, I wanted to reach out and help you. Even if it was only holding your hand or fixing a hot cup of chocolate.”

Buffy could only smile and look around at her surroundings. It was beautiful here. Calm. Peaceful. Happy. She was in heaven again. At last, she could rest. “It’s beautiful here.”

“Yes it is. And you have a choice that you have to make.”

Buffy frowned. What did she mean by that? “I don’t understand.”

Joyce only smiled and got to her feet, motioning for Buffy to follow. In silence, they walked to the edge of the ocean. Joyce took her daughter’s hand and had her look into the water. “Look deep, Buffy and watch what happened just as you were dying. Look at what you don’t remember.”

Buffy frowned as she followed her mother’s directions. She didn’t know what the use of this was. A choice? Wasn’t it obvious that her choice was to stay with her mother? To be at peace once again? Buffy’s frown deepened as the waters cleared to show Spike, Angel, the Master, and herself. She gasped in outrage as the Master knocked Spike unconscious, and gasped in shock as The despot forced Spike’s blood down her throat. There was only one outcome to come of this. She was going to be turned. A vampire with both vamp and slayer strength. She was now a demon that would be impossible to defeat. Just what The Master had wanted.

“Oh god,” Buffy turned away, her stomach lurching in desperation. This could not be happening. A demon was now setting up shop in her body and she was stuck here, unable to stop it. She closed her eyes, trying to swallow down her grief at the situation. All those slayers…they were all going to die and by her hand. Not even Spike would be able to stop her.

“Shhh, baby,” Joyce wrapped her daughter in her arms, turning her away from the scene below. “It’s not as bad as it seems…”

Buffy looked at her mother in disbelief. How could she say such a thing? Of course it was as bad as it seemed. Her friends were in danger…Dawn was in danger! And she knew that Spike wouldn’t have the strength to stop her. He was unable, both physically and emotionally! “What do you mean? Of course it’s as bad! They’re all going to die and there’s nothing I can do to stop it!”

“You can go back,” Joyce looked in her daughter’s eyes, pushing her hair away from her eyes. “That’s the choice, sweetie. You can stay here and enjoy eternal peace, or…the powers can return your soul to your body and you can enjoy eternal life. It’s your choice.”

“What? They call that a choice? Stay here and let my nearest and dearest die, or return to be a vampire and come back to heaven again? What kind of choice is that?”

“One that is totally up to you. Baby…The Powers have smiled down on you. Not only will they return you to your body…but they will return you with a gift for you and the two vampires that love you. Especially for Spike. They want to reward him for not only saving the world, but for having the guts to love the slayer so much, that he went out to make himself a better man.”

“But…I can never come back.”

“Only if you die. As you well know…even vampires aren’t forever. Baby…what do you want to do?”

Buffy looked at her mother, then turned back to the ocean, that contained the situation down below. The answer was obvious. She wouldn’t be able to rest in peace, knowing that she left her friends to die. She had to go back. “When are they going to send me back.”

Joyce kissed her daughter’s forehead, and gazed at her with the love she held in her heart. Her Buffy…her beautiful girl…so full of goodness and light. She was so proud of her. “Soon.”

~*~

Spike groaned he woke up, his head pounding. He felt as if he had been ran over by a truck. What had happened to him anyway? All he could remember was holding Buffy as she…as she died. Buffy. Where was she? Was she still alive? Did the Master finish her off? What of Angel? Where was he? That question was quickly answer when a hand gently clasped his arm, and pulled him to his feet.

“Bloody hell,” Spike cursed as the room began to spin. “What happened?”

“The Master,” Angel answered, his eyes landing on the form just behind Spike. “We can’t stay here.”

“Buffy?” Where was she? Did that sodden bastard take her? Where was bat face anyway?

Angel couldn’t look at Spike. The news was going to kill him, but there was no choice but to answer the question. “She’s…right behind you.”

He didn’t want to look. He didn’t want to see her broken and lifeless once again. The first time she had died had been more then enough; but he couldn’t help himself. Spike slowly turned around and nearly collapsed at Buffy’s still from on the floor. Holding back his sobs, he lifted her head up into his lap and cradled her there. He couldn’t believe this…she was gone. His beautiful slayer…it wasn’t fair.

“We have to get her out of here. We have a week until she wakes up, but we do not want to be here when the Master returns,” Angel looked away from his sobbing childe, his guilt overwhelming him. All of this was his fault. Him and his stupid soul.

“Wake up?” Spike looked at up at his sire, feeling that Angel as had finally gone over the bend. Their slayer was dead. There was no way that she would wake up ever again.

Angel sighed. He resented this. He shouldn’t have to tell Spike that he had just turned the woman that they both loved. It was going to destroy him. “Spike…The Master…he knocked you out and forced Buffy to drink your blood. You were forced to turn her. When she wakes up…she’ll be a monster.”

Angel winced at Spike’s roar of pain and devastation. He had known that it was coming, but the heartbreak…it was too painful for either of them to bear. He winced as Spike flinched back from him when he tried to comfort him. Of course, he deserved that. After all he did…this was all his fault.

“Spike…we have to go. He have to get her back to slayer central.”

“They’ll kill her,” Spike shook his head, holding on to her even tighter then before.

“She’s a monster now Spike,” Angel sighed.

“She’s my childe. I won’t let them hurt her,” Spike shook his head, glaring up at his sire with determination. “If anyone comes ten feet of her with a stake, I’ll kill them. I bloody swear I will.”

Angel sighed. He knew this would happen. Spike was blinded by the familiar face. The younger vampire wouldn’t have the strength to stop Buffy’s rising, and neither did he. Maybe some time will make Spike see reason. What was important right now was getting as far out of reach of the Master as possible. “Ok. Fine. But we have to get out of here. She’ll be the strongest vampire ever. We can’t let The Master get to her.

Wiping his tears, Spike nodded. Angel was right. They couldn’t stay here. Getting to his feet, he scooped Buffy’s limp body into his arms and wordlessly walked out of the cabin, Angel right behind him. Neither of them noticed the blood-red eyes glaring after them from the darkness.

~*~

A hush fell over the apartment complex as Spike entered, carrying the dead slayer in his arms. He didn’t talk or look at anyone. He just simply stared straight ahead and disappeared into his room, locking the door behind him. Angel came in next, his eyes dimmed with a mixture of grief and guilt.

“Angel?” Wesley stepped in front of his boss, his voice was full of caution and concern.

“It’s me, Wes. Angelus is gone,” and so is Buffy, Angel thought to himself as he moved deeper into the complex, trying to ignore the cautious glares of the slayers that didn’t know him. He didn’t blame them for being wary. After all…it was only yesterday that he had been aiming to kill them all.

“What’s wrong with Buffy?” The question came from Willow. Her eyes were on the door that Spike had carried Buffy through and her voice was full of fear. She knew. Somehow she knew that something was wrong. Angel just didn’t know how she was going to take the news.

“Angel…answer me. What’s going on with Buffy? Why is she unconscious? Why did Spike look so…determined?”

“The master…he drained her…,” Angel lowered his head even more.

“What?” Dawn gasped, clinging to Willow’s hand, her eyes wide with oncoming grief. “But she’s ok, right? I mean…she’ll wake up and be Buffy again…right?”

Angel shook his head, cursing himself once again. This wasn’t right. He should be bringing the eldest Summers girl home alive and well and ready to train more slayers. He shouldn’t be there, about to tell the teenager that the body they brought home was no longer her sister.

“Dawn…Willow…the master not only drained her…when we arrived he knocked Spike unconscious and then…he cut Spike and forced her to drink his blood.”

“But wait,” a blond slayer stepped up. “That can’t be. If she’s been drained, and if she drank Spike’s blood…that means that she’ll wake up as a vampire.”

Angel looked away from the group. Ashamed that he had caused this to happen…ashamed that there was nothing he could do to stop it.

“No,” Dawn shook her head, stepping away from Willow, glaring at Angel angrily. “You’re lying. Spike would never…”

“Spike had no choice in the matter. He was unconscious. This was all forced on the both of them.”

“Goddess,” Willow shook her head, tears in her eyes. She remembered the first year in Sunnydale when all their nightmares had came true. Becoming a vampire was one of Buffy’s fears and now…

“No!” Dawn ran to her room, slamming the door behind her. She didn’t want to be around anyone. In fact, she hated them all for not saving her sister. It wasn’t fair!

“Wes…Spike and I…we’re not going to have the strength to…”

Wes just nodded, already knowing what Angel was asking. “I’ll do it. Don’t worry. I’ll make it as quick as possible.” He knew that this was hard for his friend. He had loved Buffy with his whole heart, and to lose her like this…it was destroying him.

“But what about Spike?” Willow asked. “I have a feeling that he’s not going to let anyone near enough to do that.”
“Spike’s not thinking straight right now. We have a week until she awakes. I’ll work on him then. For right now…we’ll just let him be,” If Spike even listened to him…especially after what he had almost done. Angel shivered at the thought. True, he had always wanted the younger vampire. He wanted to insert his dominance and demand respect that his age demanded, but he had never wanted to take it by force. How could he look Spike in the eye ever again.

“I’ll go try to talk to Spike. Make him see reason,” Wesley sighed, walking towards the apartment he shared with the rest of the LA crew when a bright luminance light blocked his path. Everyone shielded their eyes and gasped when the light faded to reveal Cordelia Chase. Former schoolmate of the Scooby gang and lost love of Angel. Nobody knew how to react to this sudden appearance but stare.

Angel was frozen. She was all he could see. All he could think about. Cordelia. The woman he had loved…the woman he had failed to save from Jasmine’s twisted games. She was here and walking towards him, gentle annoyance in her features.

“Seesch! One would think you people have never seen a spirit before!” Cordelia rolled her eyes and crossed her arms as she stood before her former boss. “Get a grip people!”

“Cordy…y-you’re dead,” Angel stammered, not daring to believe that she was really there this time.

“Duh! You pretty much have to be to become a spiritual guide sent from the powers!”
“Spiritual guide?” Willow frowned, deeply confused.

“Yeah. I’m here to guide Angel and Spike in this quest to destroy The Master. I’m also here to tell you not to stake the slayer. The powers have seen fit to return her soul…minus the happiness clause and with a few gifts for our resident vamps with souls,” Cordelia explained, walking to the center of the room, so she could really be the center of attention. “There’s a big battle to be fought and you’re going to need all three of them. So don’t stake her. Do I make myself clear?”

“Are you…are you her guide too?” Angel asked, feeling a bit discombobulated at the moment. Souls, spirit guides, the powers…it was all little much to take in. And Cordelia! His Cordy! Right in the same room, only a few feet away…close enough to touch…he needed a minute to take it all in.

“Please! Like I’d have the patience to be little Miss. I’m the Slayer hear me roar’s guide. No. That job falls to the patience of Joyce,” Cordy shrugged.

The room fell into shocked silence. Finally one of the slayers broke the silence with one simple statement.

“Cool.”

~*~

One Week Later…

Spike sat at the far corner of the room, his eyes fixed on the still from resting under his covers. He had barely left her side in the past seven days. He just stared at her, sometimes he even held her hand, but mostly he kept his distance and stared at her closed eyes. He would think of her final day alive. How they had declared their love and consummated the feelings all in the same hour. He remembered the indescribable joy he had felt as she let him into her body and held him close. He remembered how her eyes had promised him a lifetime of love and happiness.

Memories. That was all Spike had of her now.. Once she woke up and found herself the one thing she had feared becoming…and that he was responsible…she’ll hate him forever. He’ll never be that close to her again. The love that he had held in his hand only for a moment would be out of his reach forever.

Getting to his feet, he walked to the mirror that stood against the wall and looked at the seemingly empty room reflected. It was time. She’ll be waking soon. She’ll wake up, still Buffy, but back to hating him for what he had allowed to happen. With a roar, he slammed his fist into the mirror, sending sharp shards of glass down to the soft carpet below.

Buffy clutched the sheets with her empty hand as she woke up to the sounds of breaking glass. It had been a lovely stay with her mother. They had walked along the beach and talked about Dawn, life, and Buffy’s own plans for the future once the trouble was over. The only thing Buffy could bring herself to talk about was Spike. How she loved him more then she had ever loved anything before and how she couldn’t wait to be with him again. She spoke of taking him to the beach and making love among the crashing waves of the ocean. Of wrestling with him in the sunlight, letting the soft rays warm their skin…and then…her mother was gone and she was lost in darkness. And now…she was waking up to the sounds of breaking glass and heartbreaking sobs.

Frowning, Buffy sat up and looked at Spike’s shaking shoulders as he sobbed into his hands, so devastated. Her heart broke for him. All she wanted to do was pull him into her arms and make it all better. Careful not to make a sound, Buffy pulled back the covers and got out of the bed. For once, she was going to be there for Spike. There was going to be no more taking and giving nothing back. That part of their relationship was over. For now on…she was going to be what Spike deserved. Without a sound, she walked up to Spike, her mind only on one thing. Getting him to open up to her. One way, or another.

 

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