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WArnings. Character death. there will be some nasty bits in this dark fic.
Riley looked at the huge glass fronted building in front of him. It was far more modern than he had expected. Sam took his hand. ‘It’ll be fine Finn,’ she said, laying her other hand over her swollen belly. ‘We just have to tell her, we owe him that much.’
Riley nodded and led the way across the busy road and into the Watchers Headquarters.
‘Leutenant Colonel Riley Finn and Mrs Finn to see Miss Summers,’ Riley said to the doorman. The man nodded and rang up to the private apartment on the top floor.
Buffy and Dawn quickly came down stairs, the last person they had expected was Riley Finn.
Buffy slowed as she came to the bottom of the stairs. Riley hadn’t changed since she’d last seen him, but Sam certainly had. She looked about five months pregnant, and glowing.
‘Buffy,’ Riley looked nervous. But Sam gave her a wonderful beaming smile.
‘You look wonderful!’
‘Not too many compliments Colonel, your wife’s listening in.’ Buffy grinned and gave Riley a cheek to kiss. Dawn hugged Sam closely. Sam had kept in close touch over the years by email and the girls had developed a good friendship, albeit a long distance one.
‘We need to talk to you,’ Riley said quietly, ‘we have news.’
Buffy nodded and led the way into a small conference room at the back of the ground floor.
Buffy looked at Riley and Sam, they seemed so in tune with one another. She had loved Riley at one time but knew he wasn’t the one for her. Her lover was dead, and it hurt, but what ever they were here for was obviously important. Finn was fiddling with his wedding ring and Sam was looking very nervous.
‘Come on Finn, whatever it is you can tell me. Savolte demon doing the rounds? New big bad you need us to hunt for you? You’re worrying me.’
‘Sorry Buffy, it’s just… this is hard.’
‘Well it would be easier with drinks.’ Dawn said and picked up the phone and ordered peppermint tea for Sam and coffees for the rest of them.
‘Coffee?’ Riley asked quietly.
‘Over 21,’ Dawn replied with a smile.
Riley laughed. Dawn’s gentle manner had put them at ease. The drinks soon arrived and they all settled back to the talk.
‘Well come on big guy, what’s this all about?’ Buffy asked again.
‘Spike and LA,’ came the reply.
‘Spike!!’ Buffy started shaking so much that she had to put down her cup. ‘What about Spike?’
‘We thought you would like to know how he died.’ Riley started to explain.
‘I know how he died, closing the hell mouth in Sunnydale.’ Buffy was getting angry. How dare he come here like this and start upsetting her? Sam looked worried. The last thing she could deal with was a brassed off slayer.
‘Buffy,’ she said quietly, ‘Buffy, he was working with Angel in LA and he died keeping me and my baby alive.’
Buffy was shaking her head, desperately trying to take in what she was being told. Spike alive? No, Spike dead…
‘Tell me.’ she whispered.
‘When Angel took down the circle of the black thorn he only had Spike and a couple of humans plus an ex hell god on his side. The government found out what was going on and sent us in to secure the area. We got there just as a dragon appeared. Wesley was already dead. Gunn was dying. The Goddess was fighting beside Angel and Spike, but they were being driven back. We fought with everything we had but by dawn we were still outnumbered and had to take cover in an old warehouse. Angel had been killed taking out the dragon. Spike led us into the dark, a lot of my men were ready to stake him, he’d been in game face. But you trusted him, Buffy: I could do no less. Hostile 17. Not so hostile that day. We ordered in the heavy artillery to sort the area out, but we were trapped. No way into the drains, no way out. We were surrounded,’ he explained. Riley was breathing hard, as though he’d been running. With tears in his eyes he carried on.
‘The airstrikes were due within a couple of minutes. It was broad daylight and we had demons all round us. We thought we were all going to die. Spike found water and was giving it out when he came up to Sam. She was exhausted. He congratulated her on the pregnancy. He could hear the heartbeat, you see. That’s when he decided we were getting out of there. He asked us to tell you that he would always love you and he went out and cleared a pathway to the sewers. He was like a berserker. Nothing stood in his way. The last thing he said was that he loved you, and asked us to take care of the baby. I have never seen anything so brave. I felt ashamed of the way I’d treated him in the past, and realised what you’d seen in him all that time.’
Spike was alive just three months ago. Buffy’s mind had fixated on that fact. He’d been alive and not come back to her. The tears fell freely from her eyes. Sam and Dawn were crying as well.
Riley reached into his pocket and brought out a ring box.
‘We collected his ashes and had this made for you.’ He slid the box across the table to Buffy.
She opened it to find the most beautiful blue diamond, set in a platinum band, just her size. She slipped it onto the ring finger of her left hand and kissed it.
‘I really did love him…’
‘I know Buffy, I always knew, even before you did.’
Dawn was openly crying, she tried to reach her sister but Sam stopped her.
‘Give her a minute Dawnie; she needs it.’ Dawn felt the baby kick and looked in awe at Sam.
‘It’s a boy: William Riley Finn.’
‘Yes, William; well, Hostile 17 seemed a stupid name.’ She smiled at Dawn. It was a watery smile but a smile none the less.
Buffy seemed lost and small. Dawn had never seen her sister look small.
‘William?’ She looked at Finn.
‘If he were alive and would go into a church we’d ask him to be Godfather. We wouldn’t have been here without him,’ Finn explained. He looked slightly embarrassed, as if being caught doing something socially unacceptable.
‘Look, we’ve got to go. If you need us just email, but I’ve got to go and brief the Prime Minister and then we’re flying back to Washington to wait for the baby.’
Riley and Sam hugged Buffy and Dawn and left the building. Buffy and Dawn were stunned. That Spike hadn’t contacted them really, really, hurt.
‘Giles. We need to talk to Giles.’ Said Buffy, and led the way to his office.
Buffy and Dawn sat on the leather sofa opened mouthed just staring at Giles.
‘You knew,’ Buffy accused him, ‘you knew and you didn’t say a thing?’
‘Yes, I knew: so what? He was only a vampire; you’re better off without him, Buffy far better off.’
Dawn looked at her sister, sitting there ice cold. Always a bad sign.
‘I see, so you left him in LA to die.’
‘He’s already dead, Buffy, I just let nature take its course. You do see don’t you, that I had to do it. He was influencing your thoughts. All this silliness about not eating, and crying for him. You’ll be better now, you’ll see. Now you know he’s gone, you can pull yourself together like a good child and put all this nonsense behind you.’ ‘Yes Giles, I will be better: you see, my greatest enemy is now out of my life forever. I finally see the truth: you opened my eyes. Thank you for that. Come on, Dawn.’
Buffy picked up her bag and went out of the office, dragging her younger sister behind her.
‘Don’t! We need to get to Willow. She’s in the training room with some of the slayers from Sunnydale. We’ll see her and then I’ll talk. If I try now, I’ll lose it with you and I really don’t want to do that.’
The two girls just hung onto one another in the middle of the corridor, Buffy crying silently on Dawn’s shoulder. Dawn’s heart was breaking for her sister. They both loved Spike; Dawn had never had the chance to say goodbye properly. Spike died the first time thinking Dawn hated him.
‘We need Willow,’ Buffy sniffed. Dawn nodded.
They made their way slowly down to the huge training area Willow had taken over to teach basic magic spells to the slayers. Kennedy, Rona and Viv were with her, a slayer masterclass. Although they would never make true witches, they were getting better at some of the more basic, life-saving stuff. Viv was busy trying to stop Rona reaching her stake and Kennedy was shouting encouragements to both girls. Willow was trying also, trying not to laugh at the comedy routine going on in front of her.
‘And don’t forget, ALL magic has its price, sometimes more than you’d be willing to pay if given the choice,’ she was reminding them.
Buffy and Dawn slipped in the door quietly. They had no wish to disturb the lesson, but they desperately needed Willow’s kindly advice. Willow had changed a lot since the huge spell in Sunnydale the year before. She knew the spell had cost them both Anya and Spike and the loss of her friends’ lovers had hit her hard. She suddenly realised just how responsible for everything she had been. From bringing Buffy back from the dead, allowing the First through to their dimension, to casting the spell that had allowed them to win. Willow had had a breakdown. But Kennedy had pulled her through. Xander had stayed long enough to make sure she was healing, and then had left, leaving Willow 150 yellow crayons and a load of drawing paper. It had been enough to make Willow laugh for the first time in months and she had found her way back to the light.
Buffy felt a reluctance to speak: she didn’t know where to start. Dawn looked at her sister and called out to the witch.
‘Willow, could you cast a protection, sealing spell on this room please? Nothing and I mean Nothing, in or out.’
Willow thought the request was odd, but one look at Dawn’s face and she knew it was serious.
‘Sure Dawnie,’ she said, and chanting a few words waved her hand around the room. For a split second her hair turned white and her eyes glowed.
‘Well, that was harder than it should have been,’ she commented. ‘Now: what’s so wrong we need protecting here, in watchers central?’ asked the witch.
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