William pressed his forehead against Buffy's front door. He couldn't seem to gather the nerve to knock. He needed her help, but fear kept him from seeking any further for it.
'It's okay to be scared, I have no memory of the last century' The thought that he was over a century old sent shivers into his very soul. He had been left here by a badly dressed little man with the knowledge that the woman who was supposed to help him might kill him instead.
"Pull it together, you're a man, not a child," William told himself. "If she stakes you, you can go back to Heaven."
That was an attractive idea. 'Heaven', he mused, 'Why can't I go back? I shouldn't be here. I shouldn't be a vampire.'
A meaty hand clamped down on his shoulder, tearing William back from the door. He stumbled and fell to the ground with Xander towering menacingly over him.
"What the hell are you doing here? Come to finish?" Sprinkles of spittle to rain down on William as Xander yelled.
"Wh-what do you mean?"
Xander growled, "I mean rape. Are you here to rape Buffy? She stopped you the first time, but you can't keep a bad vamp down, can ya?"
William's eyes went wide and his mouth opened and shut without words passing his lips.
Buffy came out, drawn by the noise. "Xander? What's wrong?" Her eyes landed on William. "What are you doing here?"
Dawn stood in the doorway, watching with mixed emotions as William lay distressed on the grass. "What happened?" she asked softly.
"Please, help me. I- I'm so confused. I don't know what's going on. I can't remember…." William trailed off and his eye went unfocused as memories taunted him, lying just beyond his reach.
Xander nudged him in the ribs with the toe of his work boots. "How stupid do you think we are? Your little act isn't going to save your sorry as—"
"Xander," Buffy hissed. "Not in front of Dawn."
William began to rise, only to be kicked in the chest by Xander. He fell back and gasped for air, though he knew his dead lungs didn't need it.
"Chill, Xander. Buffy will kick his ass if he tries anything." Dawn smothered the impulse to run to her ex-friend's side. She knew what he tried to do to Buffy, she couldn't forgive that easily.
Buffy cried, "Dawn! Language. Watch it."
"Buffy," William tried, "Please, I- I need you—"
Xander cut him off. "You disgusting…." He went to kick him, but William rolled away from the blow.
He leapt to his feet and quickly ran around Xander, keeping away from the larger man. Xander jumped at him and William dodged. Xander threw a sloppy punch, and William twisted and jerked his head to the side, successfully avoiding the fist. He was amazed at his own body. Never had he ever moved like this. His body was sure of each movement even if he wasn't.
"Stop it!" Buffy ordered. Both men paused and looked at her. "What is going on here? Spike, explain or get the hell off my property."
William wanted to point out that he had been trying to explain, but he wisely held his tongue. "I have almost no memory of the last… hundred and… thirty-two? No, no, twenty-two." He nodded his head. "Yes, a hundred and twenty-two years."
Buffy snorted, "Are you kidding me?"
William's eyebrows knitted together in confusion. "I assure this is the truth. I don't remember anything after ascending to Heaven."
Buffy shook her head. "Wow, you actually thought I'd accept that line of bull. Really, Spike, do I come off as that dumb?"
"Please, call me William. Spike makes me feel… uneasy. I don't know why I picked that name, but I can't imagine it's a very nice reason."
"You're really sticking to this story, aren't you?"
William sighed. "It is not a story. All I know about what has happened here while I was in Heaven is that I fell in love with you and, of course, had a demon pull me … my soul… umm… dear lord, I'm very confused."
Xander mumbled, "Count me in. I have no friggin' clue what you're talking about."
"It's not like I was briefed before being forced back into my body. I'm not sure what's happening, or what happened to me. I feel like myself, and I feel like I was the one doing the few things I remember doing as a vampire. But I also feel as though it was me in Heaven. I just… I just want to go back to Heaven."
William's eyes teared up. He really just wanted to be held by someone and have himself a good cry.
There was a tug on Buffy's heartstrings when William tried, and failed to pull himself together. She pushed the feeling away, like she did with all of the feelings she had for him. She set her face into a neutral, straight lipped mask.
"What do you mean you were in Heaven?"
William swallowed. She sounded so cold. "M-my soul, when the demon invaded I went to Heaven. Now it… I am back. I'm not sure if I am my soul or my body, I feel like… both, but neither?"
Buffy was shocked. He got his soul? She shook off the flutter in her chest. "I'll take you on your word. For now. But I want you to talk to Giles. You're going to tell him everything. No holding back, no stupid rambling." Buffy turned without getting his consent, and walk back into the house. Dawn and Xander followed after her.
William didn't move. He spent a long moment staring at his shoes, composing himself and brushing the tears from his eyes. "Everything is so cruel. Everybody is cruel," he whispered.
"It's probably because you tried to hurt Buffy. I mean, Xander never liked you, but he wouldn't hit you like that. Not before."
William looked up, startled by the soft voice. Dawn stood halfway between him and the house.
"People have always been cruel to me. Since I was a child I've had the other boys bullying me." He looked away and continued. "I wright poetry, I don't fight. I have always been treated cruelly. Except in Heaven. I was safe there, happy, loved."
Dawn frowned. "I don't know what's going on, but as long as you don't hurt people, the people I love, I won't be cruel."
William took a deep breath and closed his eyes. "I know. I don't, but I do. I- I feel it." When he opened his eyes she was in front of him.
"Come on, Buffy's waiting. She's gonna make you talk to Giles." She took William's hand and tugged gently.
He followed her, a smile forming on his lips. 'She cares about me. It makes being here easier. I hope I don't mess up. I don't think I could take losing the one friend I have in the whole world.'
"Um, who's Giles?"
Dawn lifted her eyebrow. "You really don't remember anything?""That's what I've been saying. Why does everybody think I'm joking, or lying?"
Dawn closed the door before addressing William. "Because your story, what you've told us of it; sounds nuts."
William blinked. "Nuts? What…? I have no clue what you are referring to."
"Crazy, Spike, you sound cuckoo."
"Oh. I am of sound mind, I assure you." He wanted to remind her to call him William, but he was afraid it would make her mad.
"Okay, but… you got your soul? Really? And you don't know what's going on?"
"Yes. That is why I'm in this position. I swear on the Queen's honor, if I ever figure out what's happened I'll do a dance."
Dawn laughed and dragged him into the living room. "You sound like Giles."
"But who is he?" William asked again.
"He's Buffy's Watcher. Hey, how do you know us and not Giles?"
He sat on one end of the sofa and Dawn occupied the other. "I don't remember you, not entirely. I know I care about you, and that I care about Buffy, but there is very little I actually remember. The only reason I'm here is because of a man. He said the—the Powers had sent him to guide me here."
Dawn popped a piece of gum in her mouth and chewed in noisily. "What was his name?"
"Whistler. At least that is the name he told me. I don't believe that it is his given name. Umm, what is a Watcher?"
"Oh boy. This is going to be a long conversation."
Buffy walked in, a grim look on her face. "Giles is on his way to Sunnydale. We have an apocalypse on our hands."