DISCLAIMER: The Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel characters are the property of Mutant Enemy, Joss Whedon, and Fox Studios. The story contents are the creation and property of Djinn and are copyright (c) 2001 by Djinn. This story is Rated PG-13.

Gravity

Part 4 - Rebirth

by Djinn

 

"Come on, put your back into it. A Watcher scoffs at gravity." – Giles to Spike, Restless

 

 

The phone rang and both Willow and Spike raced for it.  Willow won.  "Well?"

 

Giles voice was less than jubilant.  "They don't have the Grimoire.  But Rosalind has a lot of connections.  She's going to keep trying."

 

"Damn," she said.

 

Spike's face fell as he watched her talk.  He paced the room dejectedly.

 

"She'll call her librarian contacts today.  I hope to hear from her by tomorrow."

 

"I can't believe they don't have the book."  Willow looked over at Spike.  He was muttering something about Amy.  "Hold on a minute, Giles.  Spike, what did you just say?"

 

He turned to her.  "I said Amy must've had it.  Or something like it.  I mean she did the spell and all, right?  Can't believe she wouldn't know the counterspell."

 

"She did know the counterspell, she deratted Buffy back in high school!"  Willow couldn't believe she'd never thought of that.  From the sputtering on the other end of the line, the other watcher was just as chagrined.  "Giles, I'm going to go over to Amy's house.  I think her dad's kept everything just the way she left it.  He hasn't given up on her coming home someday.  If the spell was in a book then maybe I can find it."

 

"It's a good idea," Giles agreed, his voice taking on new hope.  "How's Dawn, Willow?"

 

"Not so good.  What about Faith?"

 

"In better shape, I think.  But she's used to a good deal more unpleasantness than Dawn is."

 

"That's true, I guess."  Even if most of it she brought on herself, Willow added silently.

 

"Well, I'll let you get to it.  Try to sleep.  If we do find the de-ratting spell, you'll need all your strength to perform both that and the spell for Buffy."

 

Willow agreed to try to rest and hung up.  Walking upstairs, she crawled back into bed with Tara.  The sun was long since up, but that didn't bother her.  They were used to odd hours in this house.  She closed her eyes and was out.

 

Hours later she woke to find Tara gone.  She could hear her laughing in the other room with Dawn.  After a long, hot shower, Willow headed down to the kitchen.  "Hey," she said to the other two.

 

"Hey, sleepyhead," Tara smiled.  "Did you get up in the middle of the night?"

 

"Uh-huh," Willow tried to keep her voice secret free.

 

"I thought so.  I smelled smoke on your clothes when I put them in the hamper."

 

"Spike and his cigarettes," Willow offered lightly.

 

"Not that kind of smoke.  Were you doing magic?"

 

Willow went for the half-truth.  "Yes.  I feel so useless, Tara.  I just wanted to help."

 

The other witch gave her a sweet smile.  "I know you do.  I understand.  You don't have to keep things from me is all."

 

Willow felt guilty, even as she nodded.  She was lucky her lover was so even tempered.

 

Dawn looked up.  There were dark circles under her eyes.  "We're going to the mall.  Want to come?"

 

"I can't.  I promised Giles I'd run an errand for him." 

 

They didn't argue and left shortly after.  Willow hurried through her breakfast then headed over to Amy's house.  Mr. Madison's car was in the driveway, so she took a deep breath and rang the bell.

 

The door opened a few seconds later.  She was shocked at the appearance of Amy's once boisterous and hearty father.  He now looked washed out and diminished.  Willow felt guilty that she couldn't tell the man that his daughter was alive if somewhat altered.  Seeing him like this, she hated to disturb him at all.  But, she reminded herself, if her mission was a success she'd be restoring his daughter to him.

 

"Willow?  What can I do for you?"

 

"Hi, Mr. Madison.  I'm really sorry to bug you and I hope this doesn't sound tacky or thoughtless, but Amy borrowed a book from me and I really need it back."

 

He moved aside at once.  "Of course.  Come in.  Do you want me to help you look?"

 

"Oh, no.  It's ok.  I think I know where she kept it.  I'll just be a second."

 

"Ok, sure."  He gestured to the family room.  "I'm just in here."

 

She hurried up the stairs to the attic.  She and Michael and Amy had worked on spells here.  They had been so new to wicca and Amy had seemed so powerful.  Michael had left for New York after graduation.  Willow hoped he was ok.

 

She went at once to the chest that Amy's mom, and later Amy used to keep her magical things safe.  There was no lock but she knew Amy had warded it.  Reaching out with her mind she studied the magical protection.  Two years ago, these were so advanced she could only hope to be able to do them someday.  Now she saw in a second how to get past them.

 

She felt for the magic, twisted it with her will.  "Open." she ordered firmly.

 

The chest lid sprang up.  

 

"Mrreow," sounded close to her ear and caused her to jump.  She turned to see Caliban, Catherine Madison's cat in the windowsill.  The big black cat jumped down and sniffed her.  Willow pulled back, expecting him to strike at her as he had in the past.  Amy had explained that he was a one-person cat and he only responded to her mother.  He had refused all affection, and had come and gone as he pleased.  Now, he began to wind his body around Willow's legs.  His purr was loud in the room.  She reached down and he rubbed his head against her hand, then rolled over and exposed his belly to her, the way Miss Kitty often did.

 

She turned back to the trunk, found the Grimoire four books down.  Yes, she thought excitedly.  She allowed the chest to close and relock, then cast a glamour on the book before heading downstairs.  When she said goodbye to Mr. Madison, he saw only an advanced math text.

 

"Willow," he stopped her at the door.  "She isn't forgotten, is she?"

 

She smiled gently.  "Not by me.  I think about her every day."

 

"Thank you."

 

She touched his hand.  "I think she's ok."

 

He smiled bravely, clearly not believing her.

 

Just you wait, she thought happily as she hurried back to the house.  Just you wait.

 

--------------------------------

 

Spike heard Willow come in but felt no desire to go up and talk.

 

"Spike?" she called down the stairs.

 

"Yeah," he replied sullenly.

 

"I've got the book."

 

"That's not funny," he said, lighting a cigarette.

 

"I'm not kidding.  I've got it."

 

He could tell by her voice that she really wasn't kidding.  He fairly flew up the stairs, dodging sunlight in the kitchen to stand beside her.

 

"Spike, what did we agree about smoking upstairs?"

 

He looked down at the cigarette he had forgotten he even held.  "Balls," he said as he hurried to stub it out in the sink.

 

She was already thumbing through the pages.

 

"Find anything?" he asked impatiently.

 

"In this section I think.  Spells to end enchantments."

 

"Sounds promising."

 

"Let's see.  Pigs, hawks, swans, trolls..."

 

"Olaf would have liked that one."

 

She ignored him.  "Frogs, flies, here we go, rats."

 

They both read the spell.

 

"It doesn't need any ingredients.  Just words," Willow looked at him.

 

"We could just trot upstairs then and try it out?" Spike suggested.

 

"We should really call Giles first." 

 

"Why?  If we tell him and it doesn't work he'll just be disappointed.  We can spare him all that."

 

She smiled.  "True."

 

Without another word they ran for the stairs.  Willow coaxed Amy out of the cage and set her down in the middle of the bed.  Spike handed Willow the book.  She spoke the strange combination of English and Latin words firmly. 

 

Spike saw the Amy rat begin to quiver with excitement.  It's working, he thought with elation.

 

"Unto flesh you are born.  By Hecate's power and the will of another you are now of strange form.  By my will, be what you were." 

 

Willow pointed at the rat and it disappeared.  In its place sat a young woman.  A naked young woman.

 

Willow hissed at him, "Spike, turn around."

 

Reluctantly he did so.  "Amy I presume?"

 

"Yes."  Amy's voice was scratchy and tentative.  "I'm finally human again?"

 

"Yes, you are," Willow said joyfully.

 

Spike heard a rustle of clothes, then Willow said, "You can turn around now."

 

Amy was wearing a dress of Willow's, the long skirt slightly shorter on her taller frame.  "Hi," she said shyly.  "I remember seeing you.  From there, I mean," she pointed to the cage.  "Do I know you?"

 

He shook his head.  "I'm Spike."

 

"Oh," she said with some interest.

 

"He's a vampire," Willow explained.

 

"I see."  She sounded no less interested.

 

"It's not like it has to be a bad thing," Spike objected.  "I guess you could say I'm reformed."

 

"Are you, um, living here because you're someone's boyfriend?"  Her voice was a mixture of curiosity and attraction.

 

He grinned.  It was nice to have a woman look at him like that again.  "Ask me that in a couple of days and I'll be able to tell you."

 

"What happens in a couple of days?"

 

Willow sat her back down on the bed.  "You've got a lot of catching up to do, Amy.  Let me start at the beginning."

 

"Buffy's dead and we need your help to get her back," Spike countered impatiently.

 

"Ok, maybe not at the beginning," Willow replied.  "Maybe not even in the middle."

 

"Buffy gave me back the life my mom stole.  And now you've brought me back, Willow.  I'll do whatever I can do help."  She looked over at Spike.  "Why did you say that about knowing if you'll be someone's boyfriend?  Does it have to do with Buffy?"  She yawned suddenly.

 

"That really is a long story," Spike said gently.

 

Willow nodded, "Why don't you sleep for a bit, I'll explain it all when you wake up."

 

Amy yawned again.  "Ok.  I am a little tired."  She eased herself back and Willow covered her with a blanket.  She closed her eyes.  In seconds she was asleep.

 

Spike turned to Willow.  "Now we call Giles."

 

--------------------------------

 

Faith was just waking up when she heard the phone ring and Giles rushing to answer it.  She forced herself out of bed and shuffled to the railing.  Looking down, she could see Giles on the phone at his desk.  As if sensing her eyes on him, he looked up and smiled at her.  His face was radiant.

 

Faith felt her heart sink. So now it starts, she thought.  Her first instinct was to pack.  But when she looked down at Giles she was filled with such tenderness that it shook her.  The thought of leaving him, or Dawn, was more than she could bear.

 

Guess I'm in this for the duration, Faith decided as she grabbed some clothes and pulled them on quickly.  Giles was just hanging up when she headed down the stairs.  He gave her a joyous smile.

 

"Let me guess?  It's B-Day."  She tried hard to keep the sarcasm and dread out of her voice.

 

He moved to her, took her in his arms.  "Yes, it is.  Are you going to be all right with this?"

 

She felt his arms tighten around her as she leaned into him.  "I will be.  I think."

 

He pulled her face up, kissed her hard.  "I love you.  Dawn loves you.  We love Buffy too, but getting her back won't change how we feel about you."

 

She wished she could believe him.  She knew he believed what he was saying.  But nobody could predict what Buffy's return would mean for her or for any of them.  Even for Buffy herself.  Faith wondered, not for the first time, just what kind of Buffy they would be getting back.  Not that it mattered.  Way Faith figured it, none of them were going to like her.

 

She gave Giles a quick, hungry kiss, then pulled out of his arms.  "So where are we headed?  And how can I help?"

 

--------------------------------

 

Anya was indignant.  "You mean D'Hoffryn is helping you?  For computer lessons?"

 

"An.  Hon. Give me the phone."  Xander tried to gently pry it from her grasp.

 

She slipped away.  "He gave you the spell?  And tea?  I never had tea with him in all the centuries I knew him.  That bastard."

 

He saw her loosen her grip and yanked the phone away.  "Will?  What's going on?"

 

"Xander, god can she ever stay on topic?"

 

"Probably not.  So what's the what?"

 

"We have everything we need, Xander.  We can get Buffy back.  Tonight when the sun sets.  At the house.  But I need you to get some stuff for me, ok?"

 

"You got it.  I'm supply guy."

 

"Ok, we need a hypodermic needle and some blood sample type test tubes.  You will probably have to ask for that at the pharmacy.  Tell them you're studying to be a lab tech."

 

"Lie for needle and tubes. Ok.  Next?"

 

"We're also going to need some red wine, preferably from Dalmatia."

 

"You want wine from a dog?"

 

"It's in Croatia."

 

"Ok."  He sounded dubious.  Maybe he should look up where that was.

 

"You'll need to go to that new wine store.  If anybody is going to have it, they will.  If they don't have Dalmatian, get a nice Italian red."

 

"Are we having a resurrection, Will, or a dinner party?"

 

"It's for the ritual, Xander.  The monks came from that area, before they dispersed to other parts of Europe.  I'm just trying to be as faithful to the original spell as I can."

 

"I knew that," he said cockily, but he was feeling lost.  But then he often did when spells were involved.  Not that he hadn't helped out big time when they were fighting Adam.  That had been so weird.

 

He realized Willow was talking.  "What?"

 

"I said, be here as soon as you can, ok?"

 

"We will be."  He hung up the phone.

 

Anya was still scowling.  "She got to see his room.  Nobody gets to see that.  It's so unfair."

 

He had learned not to argue with her when she was ranting.  "It really is, An.  You knew him way longer."

 

She smiled gratefully.  "I love it when you side with me, Xander."

 

"I know you do.  Now we've got some shopping to do."

 

---------------------------------

 

Dawn stumbled up the front steps ahead of Tara.  "See, I beat you."

 

Tara laughed.  "It's not really fair since you're the slayer.  I should get a huge head start." 

 

They were still laughing when they opened the door.  Willow, Spike, Faith, and Giles were waiting for them.

 

Dawn swallowed hard.  This kind of scene was never good.  Then she noticed the smile on Willow's face.

 

"What's going on?" Tara asked.

 

A new person walked out of the kitchen, eating a bowl of ice cream with great glee.  "Oh, hi," she said to the newcomers.

 

Tara looked at Dawn.  She mouthed, "Who is that?"

 

Dawn shrugged, although she thought the young woman looked slightly familiar.

 

Willow introduced them, "Uh Dawn, Tara, meet Amy."

 

Tara took a step or two forward.  "You mean Amy-the-rat Amy?"  At Willow's happy nod, she smiled.  "Oh my god, you did it.  But how did you do it?"

 

"It's a long story," Willow said humbly.

 

"She traded a really powerful demon computer lessons for the location of the de-ratting spell," Spike explained.

 

"Again not so long.  I have to stop saying that," Willow deadpanned.  "I also got the spell to bring Buffy back and we need a third witch and I knew I couldn't de-rat Amy so while I was there I asked him."

 

Tara held out her hand to Amy, "I feel like I know you, I mean all that time feeding you and changing the water and umm other things.  But we've never really met.  I'm Tara."

 

"Oh I know who you are.  I can still remember all the things that went on while I was living in Willow's bedroom." 

 

Tara blushed.

 

Dawn stepped up.  She was still trying to process everything.  "I'm Dawn, Buffy's sister."  She turned to Willow.  "Does this mean...?"  She trailed off, afraid to put it into words, to be disappointed.

 

Willow went to her, put her hands on her shoulders.  "It does, Dawnie, it really does."

 

"Providing that D'Hoffryn guy didn't sell you a bill of goods," Spike noted.

 

Willow glared at him.  "If he did, his computer is so history."

 

The front door opened again and Xander and Anya walked in.

 

"Whoa."  Xander noticed Amy at once.  "Check out who's back among the two-legged."

 

"Hi, Xander," Amy beamed.  She looked at Anya.  "You're that new girl from school?"

 

Anya moved closer to Xander, she laid her hand on his arm possessively.  "Anya.  Xander's fiancée.  Ex-demon."

 

"Oh.  Wow.  No messing with you, I guess?"

 

"You guess right."

 

"Hackles down, An.  Amy's just a friend."  Xander pulled his arm away and turned to Willow.  "I've got the supplies."

 

"Good."  She took them from him.

 

"No Dalmatian or any other type of Croatian, though.  The guy said we could go Greek or Turkish, but you said Italian.  I got confused.  So I bought all three."

 

Willow nodded approval.  "We'll drink the two we don't use."

 

"Cool," Dawn murmured.

 

"Not you," Willow and Faith said in unison.

 

"Party poopers."  Dawn pretended to sulk.  She studied Faith.  Her friend looked nervous.  As Willow took the supplies into the kitchen, Dawn walked over to Faith.  "You ok?" she whispered.

 

Faith appeared to bite back a sarcastic reply.  "Yeah.  I guess so."

 

Dawn saw fear in Faith's eyes.  Something she'd never seen in months of patrolling together.  She took the other slayer's hand, felt Faith resist her for a moment, then give in.  "Buffy's my sister and I love her, but I didn't choose her.  You're my friend by choice."

 

Faith didn't say anything, but Dawn felt the older girl tighten her grip on Dawn's hand.

 

"So who's going to explain what is going on?" Xander asked.

 

Willow pointed to Giles.

 

He protested, "You're the one that found the spells."

 

"Yeah but you always explain things."

 

"Oh, very well."  He motioned everyone to sit down.

 

"The spell, while quite complicated in terms of ingredients and the wording, is relatively easy to execute.  It does however require three initiates, or in this case witches, all of whom know each other.  The spell must be done at sunset, right when the world is poised between light and dark.  So we have some preparation to do.  And Dawn, we're going to need some of your blood."

 

"Why does everyone always want my blood," Dawn squeaked.

 

Giles tried to reassure her.  "Buffy was right.  You were made from her blood."

 

"How did the monks get it?" Xander wanted to know.

 

"Dracula," Anya answered, the truth hitting her first.  "I knew that wasn't him.  Couldn't believe he wouldn't look me up."

 

"You mean I was his lackey and he wasn't even here?"

 

"Fraid so, Xan," Willow smiled in sympathy.

 

"God I hate this town."

 

Giles rose.  "Come into the kitchen, Dawn, and I'll draw your blood."

 

She reluctantly got up.  "What about the rest of them?"

 

Willow stood up.  "Tara, Amy, we need to make up the magical wine."  She turned to the others.  "Spike, you and Faith need to seal the house up.  It's important that no door or window be open or unlocked.  Xander, Anya, we'll need space in the living room.  Could you move the furniture out of the way and vacuum the carpet.  It needs to be clean.  Ok, let's get to work."

 

-----------------------------------

 

Soon all was prepared.  Giles surveyed the room.  Xander and Anya had moved everything out of the way.  The area was empty and newly clean.  They were downstairs putting the vacuum away, had been down there quite a long time for such a simple errand.  The witches had finished making the herbed wine and had left it to cool.  They were upstairs preparing for the ritual.  Dawn was in the kitchen making cookies.  She said they were Buffy's favorite.  He hoped for her sake that everything went right and that they brought back a Buffy that could recall her favorite things. 

 

Faith and Spike came down the stairs.  They were arguing.  He watched them, noticing how at ease they were with each other, how good-humored the discussion stayed even as they bickered.  Everyone had fallen into new kinds of relationships since Buffy died.  How would her coming back change all that?

 

"You're frowning," Faith said quietly as she slipped her arms around him and leaned into his back.

 

"Just worrying.  You know me."  He pulled her around to his chest, closed his eyes for a moment and just concentrated on what it felt like to hold her.  She was warm, always so warm, and she smelled of last night's sleep and last night's sex.  He kissed her neck, heard her sigh.  He whispered in her ear, "We're going to be fine.  No matter what happens here tonight."

 

"I know," she whispered.  "But everything is going to change."

 

"Yes, no doubt it will."

 

She found his mouth, kissed him softly.  When she pulled away, Giles saw Xander watching them.  The watcher cursed quietly. He and Faith had agreed not to try to hide their relationship, but they had never been so indiscreet before.

 

"Tell us to get a room and you're toast, Xander," Faith's voice was challenging.

 

But Xander surprised them both.  "I was just going to say I'm glad that you two are happy.  I didn't believe it could work," he looked at Faith, "and maybe I was jealous.  But I think I was wrong.  About a lot of things."  He turned to go back into the kitchen.

 

"I'm sorry, Xander."  Faith's called after him.

 

He stopped walking.

 

"I know I've never said that.  But I am sorry for what I did to you.  I hurt you and I wish I could take it back."

 

He turned and gave her a wicked grin.  "It wasn't all bad."  Giles coughed and Xander forced his face into a more serious expression.  "Not that I remember much.  I mean, it's all a blur.  Really.  I'm going now."  He hurried out.

 

Faith turned to Giles.  Her expression was amused but uncertain.  "That was nice, what he said."

 

He smiled.  "And what you said was nice too."

 

"Yeah.  I guess it was.  Don't expect me to make a habit of it though," she warned him.

 

He thought of how she was with Dawn, and with him.  "Of course not," he played along, not believing her for a second.

 

"Besides," she said as she bumped up against him, moving her body against a rather sensitive spot on his.  "You like me just a little bit wicked."

 

"You'll get no argument from me there," he agreed as he bent to kiss her again.

 

-----------------------------

 

Willow swallowed nervously as she, Tara, and Amy took their places inside the circle of lit candles.  They all dipped their fingers in the herbed wine and slowly traced the outline of the circle with it.  Then, kneeling so that they formed a triangle, the witches dipped into the wine again, touching it to their foreheads and their throat. 

 

"Protect this space," Willow said.  "Oh guardian of all things Fire.  We call on the lords of the West for protection."

 

Amy followed her lead.  "Oh guardian of all things Air.  We call on the lords of the East for protection."

 

Tara continued, "Oh guardian of all things Earth.  We call on the lords of the North for protection."

 

Willow finished.  "Oh guardians of all things Water.  We call on the lords of the South for protection."

 

The circle they had drawn with the wine flared with light for a moment, then it was still.  They were ready.

 

Willow reached into her robe pocket, drew out a vial of Dawn's blood.  She poured it carefully onto the melted wax of a huge candle in the center.  The flame flared high as the blood merged with the wax.  Then it burned a bright ruby as the blood was sucked out of the wax and into the fire.

 

She began the chant, heard Amy and Tara join her.  She could feel power flowing through her.  Once, twice, three times they said the sacred words.  On the fourth time, their voices rose and she felt the power they were raising lift above them.

 

She leaned down, looked into the flame of the center candle.  "I call to Buffy.  Return to the life you left."

 

The flame shot high, its red incandescence nearly licking the ceiling, then it was calm again.

 

"And so mote it be," Willow whispered.  It was over.  She looked at her partners in the chant, then at the rest of the gang.  They were all checking the room.  She too scanned the space. 

 

"So where is she?" Spike asked.

 

---------------------------------

 

Buffy felt despair overcome her.  The portal was stronger than she could ever be.  She knew she had lost.

 

Dawn wouldn't save her.  Neither would Faith.

 

It was over.

 

She let go.  Fell for a second into the portal, felt its anticipation and welcome.  But then another force seemed to gather her up.  She thought she heard Willow's voice.

 

There was a red flash and the portal was gone.  She stood in her bedroom.  From the reflection in the mirror, she could tell she was in her own body.

 

She was back.  But how?

 

She heard voices downstairs.  Took a tentative step.  Expected to feel dizzy, uncoordinated, strange.  But the movement felt fine.  She took another step.  Then another.  She felt strong.  She did a small side kick.  Then shadow boxed.  It was all good.

 

She was alive.  She was Buffy.  She was the Slayer.

 

She walked into the hall.  Dawn's door was open; the room looked just the same.  Buffy glanced across the hall.  Pain surged through her at the sight of her mom's room.  Then the voices in the living room rose, distracting her from her grief.

 

She crept down the stairs.  Saw them all.  Dawn, Giles, Xander, and Willow.  Tara and Anya.  Even Spike.  Then two more people moved into view.  Amy?  Willow must have finally found the right spell, she thought.  Then her whole body clenched.  Faith.  Here?  She tensed, ready to fight.  But she saw that Giles was talking to the other slayer, that no one appeared concerned.  Faith was part of the gang, then?  How could this have happened?

 

"Good lord."  It was Giles' dear voice, full of shock.

 

Everyone followed his gaze.  A variety of expressions erupted. 

 

"Oh my god," Dawn said, nearly crying.

 

"Buffy!"  Willow, unable to contain her excitement, ran to her.  "You're really back."

 

"Yep," she said, trying out her new voice.  It wasn't scratchy or weak, just the same as it always was.  Buffy took the last four steps quickly and found herself caught up in Willow's hug.  "Miss me?"

 

Over Willow's shoulder, her eyes met Giles'.  He was clearly overjoyed.  She wanted to hug him next, but then she noticed how close he and Faith were standing.  Buffy saw her watcher glance at the other slayer, saw Faith return the look in a way that Buffy didn't want to understand.

 

"B," Faith said, her voice even, calm.  "Welcome home."

 

"Thanks."  Buffy knew her own voice was cold and unfriendly.  She didn't care.

 

Xander's arms claimed her next.  "The Buffster!  I thought I'd never see you again!"

 

She took comfort in the strength of his arms.  Construction work was agreeing with him.  "Xander, I can't breathe," she teased him. 

 

"Sorry," he grinned as he let her go.

 

Tara and Anya said quiet hellos, and Spike seemed at a loss for words, finally spitting out "Slayer" in response to her neutral greeting. 

 

Buffy turned to Dawn, held her arms open wide. 

 

"Buffy!"  Her sister launched herself at the resurrected slayer.  "Oh my god, don't ever die for me like that again."

 

Buffy laughed and cried, and so did Dawn.  The others left them alone.  Finally Spike came out.

 

"Everything ok?"  He looked at Dawn with concern, then he glanced over at Buffy.  His expression was one of uncertain joy. 

 

For some reason she found herself unaccountably annoyed by his presence.  She rose, walked toward him, ignored the grin he was trying to hide.  "Spike.  I can't thank you enough for all you've done for Dawn.  I'm sure you did a fine job taking care of her, and we both know it was way beyond the call.  But I'm back now, so you can return to your normal life."  She began to push him toward the door.  "I know how relieved this must make you feel.  It can't be fun having a teenager on your hands all the time."

 

"Buffy...I..." Spike was at a loss for words.

 

"No really, I'm sure you have lots to do before the sun comes up."

 

"Buffy, what's wrong with you?" Dawn suddenly stood in front of her.  "Spike's not going anywhere.  He lives here."

 

"Yeah."  Spike seemed to have found his voice, and some anger to boot.  "In the basement, I'll have you know.  For some time now."

 

Buffy laughed mockingly.  She felt something grow inside her:  anger, panic, hysteria, she wasn't sure what.  "Dawn, we will not have a vampire living with us."

 

Dawn didn't back down.  "Bet you wouldn't say that if it was Angel." 

 

"Angel isn't your ordinary vampire."

 

"Neither is Spike, he's Dawn's watcher."  Giles had come in unnoticed during the argument. 

 

"Her what?"  Buffy couldn't believe what she was hearing.  Had she landed in the Bizarro world?  First Faith, now Spike?

 

"A great deal has changed since you died."  He walked to her, put his hands gently on her shoulders.  "We've been trying to get you back for so long.  I've been terrified that we would lose you.  None of us can imagine what you went through.  But I think you need to step back, rest perhaps.  We, but you most of all, need to figure out how things have changed while you've been gone.  But we won't be doing that tonight."

 

Buffy looked around, saw the others watching her.  She saw the uncertainty in their eyes.  She suddenly felt very lost, very small.  "Where do I fit in this new world you've all forged?"

 

Before they could answer, she turned and walked slowly up the stairs.  Her door closed gently but the click of the lock being thrown echoed throughout the house.

 

FIN

 

Continue on to Part 5 - Revulsion