Buffy paced the living room. "What if you guys cause a distraction while I sneak in and get Dawn?"
"So he kills us instead?" Xander says. "Or realizes it's a trick, and kills Dawn as punishment?"
"Geez, just say bad plan."
He shrugged. "Bad plan.”
“We only have an hour,” Willow said.
“I don’t hear you guys offering much,” Buffy grumbled, kicking the couch irritably. She hopped back gripping her through her stylish, affordable, unprotecting boots. “Ow!”
Xander ran his hand over his face, exhaustion weighing heavily on him. His wounds still smarted, and his head had been aching for close to two hours. “I still say we hand Spike over. No offense, Spike."
William looked away. He finally agreed with Xander on something. "None taken."
"No," Buffy said firmly. "No one dies tonight. Not on my watch."
"Them maybe you should look away, Buffy, because someone will die. This is a screwed up situation, and we won't win. He has Dawn!" Xander snapped. "God knows what he's doing to her."
“Glory had Dawn too. We won that battle.”
"And you died. But that's what this is about, isn't it? Your death wish. Who cares what happens as long as you get to be the martyr, right?"
"Xander," Willow gasped.
"Don't you dare go there, Xander," Buffy whispered.
"Why the hell not? We all know it's what you've wanted since you came back. You want to die. I'm so freaking sorry I brought you back," Xander sneered sarcastically.
Willow cried, "Xander shut your mouth."
"It's true though, isn't it?"
"It was," Buffy confessed.
"Was. It was true. It isn't anymore. I want to live, but I'd die for the people I love. Even you, and god knows you don't deserve it. But I love you. I would die for you. All of you. It's my place."
A pin could be heard falling.
Buffy looked around the room. "Where'd William go?"
The tension was too cloying. William couldn't breathe. He slipped into the backyard as the others argued. He could still hear them, but the pressure was relieved.
He took a deep breath through his nose, and regretted it immediately as his senses were bombarded. How did vampires live? Smelling everything, hearing everything, the only sense that wasn’t hyper sensitive were his damn taste buds. Those were dulled, though blood was an explosion of flavor compared to all else.
He clenched his fists. The world was loud, angry, smelly, empty. It was scolding, it was cold, and it was lonely.
“William,” a soft British voice whispered. Giles, William thought. What did he want?
“Come here, I must tell you something.”
William sighed. “Why not. Worst case scenario you stake me.” He moved towards the back of the house where Giles hid.
Giles peered around; assuring the safety of their conversation. “I don’t plan on hurting you,” he said sheepishly. “I’m sorry I tried. I haven’t been myself. Something in my dreams. Nightmares. But I haven’t been sleeping. I’m thinking more clearly. It’s important you know that.”
“Fine. You’re of sound mind. What?” His mother would scold him for such poor manners. The thought made his chest hurt. He’d never see her again.
“You need to martyr yourself.”
Giles had William’s attention with that. The younger Brit raised an incredulous eyebrow. “Is that so? Why?”
“To stop Rufus, and to seal the Hellmouth for good. You’re the hero, William. Your blood, your ashes, and sacrifice will defeat the evil that is attempting to overrun this town. You are the key to our success.”
William stared at the house, picturing the fiery blonde inside. “Buffy doesn’t want me to die. She refused that course several times. I can’t convince her.”
“Which is why you must leave on your own.” Giles handed him a stake. “You must do it yourself. Don’t tell her. Just go.”
He couldn’t stand around like an idiot any longer, unable to help. He refused to argue with Buffy anymore. He had the power to end everything. He took the stake, hiding it in his waistband, at the small of his back.
“If your demon friends come looking for me after I’m gone, tell them Rufus killed their kin.” He slipped into the coat. The weight felt familiar on his shoulders, the scent of worn leather, smoke and alcohol surrounded him, and it was comforting.
“You’re blood oath will bring you to their dimension in the case of death.”
“Lovely,” William grumbled. “Fine, I’ll tell them.”
“You’re doin the right thing.”
“Don’t say goodbye to her,” Giles warned.
“William?” Buffy’s voice rang out.
“Don’t tell her you saw me, please,” Giles pleaded. “I need to do something. I can’t be held captive again.”
William nodded and turned without another word, heading towards Buffy.
“I’m here, Buffy,” he said as he came into
Buffy melted into a relieved stance at the sight of her vampire. “What were you doing back there?”
“I thought I heard something.”
“A stray cat?”
“Pretty exciting. Is that why you came out in the first place?” She leaned against the doorway. “Thinking of adopting?”
“I needed a moment. It was getting pretty... er, ugly in there.”
William studied her. He couldn’t imagine forgetting her. Her beauty was unparalleled to him. She was a vision. She was an angel. He took her hands in his. “Whatever happens tonight, I need to tell you something.”
She squeezed his hands. “I know.”
He smiled softly. “Yes, you do.” He leaned down, pressing his lips against hers. Her eyes drifted closed, her body leaned against his. He didn’t make more of that then there was. She needed the comfort.
He ended the kiss a moment later, but her eyes stayed closed, and her lips parted slightly. He yearned to kiss her again.
He hated ruining their moment, but he couldn’t linger. He pecked her forehead. “Did you decide what our plan of action is tonight?”
She sighed, the stress back in her posture. “No.”
“It’ll be okay.”
“You can’t know that.”
“I have faith.”
She scoffed. “That and two bucks will get you a coffee.”
He shrugged. “Yet I still believe. Don’t you?”
She ignored the question, asking one of her own instead, “Coming back in? I’d feel more comfortable being able to keep you in sight.”
“In a minute. I need to do… something.”
She scrutinized him suddenly, Spidey sense tingling. “What?”
“I… er… Smoke.”
“I thought you didn’t have Spike’s bad habits.”
“What can I say? I love that- um, tobacco.”
“And the cigarettes? Where are they?”
He patted the pockets of the coat, producing a lighter and a pack of Marlboros Reds. “See?”
“Uh-huh. I can stay out here while you smoke. I don’t mind.”
He looked down at the pack with utter distaste. “Alright.” The first two broke on their way out. The third was painstakingly removed, and lit on the wrong end.
“Please, William, stop. You don’t smoke.”
“No. I don’t know why you want me to leave you alone, but I trust you.” She took the cigarette out of his mouth. “You know I don’t want you running off to save Dawn alone, and I know you won’t. I trust you. I’m going to give you a few minutes so you don’t kill yourself with these.” She waved the stick of stink around. “I’ll see you in a few, okay?”
He nearly buckled under the guilt. “Okay,” he croaked. “I’ll see you.”
She turned to enter the house, but paused. “This stays out with you though.” She offered the offending item back to him and went inside.
“It’s for her own good,” he told himself. The guilt didn’t dissipate. “I’m sorry,” he murmured. “God I’m sorry, Buffy.”
He straightened his spine, and turned her head one way, then the other, trying to relieve the strain that ceased his muscles. “Time to be a hero.”
He strode away in long, quick steps. He wanted to put as much distance between them as possible. It wouldn’t be long until Buffy found out about his betrayal.
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