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The Ground Will Give Way

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Summary: After Buffy escapes from hell, she is called upon by an angel to help a hunter who's just been pulled from the pit.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Supernatural > Buffy-Centered > Pairing: Dean WinchestermjravensgateFR181028,45134119,4076 Jun 1118 Sep 12No

Chapter Eight: Family Ties

AN: I'm so sorry about how long this took. RL has been kicking my ass. Apologies. But I have chapters ready to post, so hopefully that makes up for it.

~~~~

“He’s clean,” Buffy declared, her eyes closed as she extended her senses. She felt Dean at her side, felt his entirely human presence as a whisper against her senses, where they stood in front of the panic room door. She focused on him and sensed the goodness in his soul and the immense strength in him. She switched her focus back to Sam and felt him on the other side of the door. She felt his presence, so like Dean’s and yet somehow darker and lighter than his brother’s, and knew without a doubt that there wasn’t a trace of demon blood left in him.

“What?” Dean asked and she opened her eyes to look at him. “What do you mean? How can you tell?”

Buffy shrugged lightly, reluctant to reveal to Dean what her Slayer senses told her about his brother. “I just know, okay?” she said defensively, hoping the bite she inserted in her voice would make him drop the subject.

No such luck. Dean’s eyes narrowed. “Buffy,” he said, a light warning in his voice. “What do you know?”

She sighed and looked away, unwilling to see Dean’s face as she told him, “I have extra senses, you know, like how I could feel Ruby was a demon? When I first met Sam, when we brought him here, all that time I felt…” She trailed off, knowing what she had to say would tear at Dean and add to his ever-growing pile of worries in regards to his little brother. She risked a glance at the hunter, found him scowling at her impatiently to hide the stark terror in his eyes, and made a decision. “You don’t want to know,” she said as firmly as she could manage, using the General Buffy voice she had perfected that last year in Sunnydale.

He crossed his arms over his chest and she watched as a blanket of distrust settled over his face. Buffy felt her heart ache at the look of misgiving he leveled at her. “Are you trying to protect me, Buffy, or yourself?” he wondered shrewdly.

Buffy met his gaze head on even as the deepening suspicion on his face tore at her. “You,” she told him after a moment of internal debate and was gratified as the wariness and distrust cleared from his expression instantly.

His suspicion, though, was quickly replaced with irritation. “Thanks a lot, princess,” he snapped, “but I don’t want it or need it. Now, you tell me what you felt in Sammy.” He was almost snarling as he finished speaking and he gestured angrily at the door his brother was imprisoned behind.

Buffy let out a breath slowly and gave up. “I felt demon in him, okay?” she said, struggling to keep both irritation and sympathy out of her voice, knowing neither would be appreciated.

Dean stilled suddenly and entirely, his eyes locked on hers. She watched panic, anguish, terror, and anger chase each other through his eyes in quick succession and contained a wince when his hand twitched toward the gun tucked into the waistband of his jeans as his eyes settled briefly on the door his brother was contained behind. Her heart reached out to him and she had to clench the muscles in her arms so they didn’t reach out to him, too, despite how much she wanted to gather him to her and hold him until the hurt she had caused with her words went away. She controlled her desire to soothe, knowing Dean wouldn’t accept softness from her right now. She was willing to bet he didn’t even want her near him.

“Felt?” he asked finally, his voice stiff. “Not feel?”

She shook her head, glad she could give him this, at least. “Not feel,” she confirmed. “It was Ruby’s blood in him that I felt, not Azazel’s.” She watched Dean relax a fraction at that and for a moment there was relief on his face. “Azazel didn’t make your brother a demon, Dean, and neither did Ruby. Her blood left his system and now he’s just regular old Sam. Mind you, regular old Sam in major need of Demon Blood Addicts Anonymous, but regular old Sam.”

Buffy felt tension drain out of her as Dean managed a bitter little smile at her quip. He ran a hand over his face and sighed and she knew he would be okay, would deal with this as he dealt with everything else that got dumped on him. She almost jumped, startled, when Dean laid a hand on her shoulder and said softly, solemn gratitude in his voice and on his face, “Thank you, Buffy. For everything. God knows where I would be right now if you hadn’t been there when I got pulled out of the pit.”

She blinked three times in quick succession to give herself a moment to adjust from his mistrust of her to his gratefulness towards her. “Um, thank you,” she said. “And, you know, you’re welcome. Just doin’ my job.” She gave him a small smile.

He lifted his hand off her shoulder in exchange for burying it in the front pocket of his jeans. He fixed her with a quizzical stare and asked, his moment of thankfulness gone, “Just what is your job?” At her blank look, he continued, “I mean, why did you agree to helping me? It’s not in the Slayer’s job description; I checked. So why did you rise to the challenge when Castiel asked you to? And don’t give me that crap about owing me because of the Devil’s Gate. Tell me the truth; tell me what you’re hiding from me, Buffy.”

She pursed her lips and scowled at the hunter. “The thing about the Devil’s Gate is true, Dean. I owe you. You pulled me out. You, specifically. Not Azazel or that kid Jake or Sam or anyone. You.” Dean opened his mouth to respond, but Buffy rolled over him, continuing, “You’re right that I’m hiding something from you, like I’ve said before, but it’s not a bad something. I promise. I’m not going to tell you, at least not now. You just need to trust that when you need to know, you will. Okay?”

Dean stared at her unflinchingly for a long moment, evaluating her words, trying to determine if he trusted her enough to let her have this secret. Buffy almost sighed with relief when he turned away from her, letting the subject drop, and unlocked and yanked open the panic room door without another word.

Inside, Sam was sprawled on the cot, sound asleep. He looked pale and drained and sickly. His cheeks seemed hollower than they had before he’d been locked up and he twitched fitfully in his sleep. Seeing him like this, Buffy could admit she felt sorry for the younger Winchester, but not nearly as sorry as she felt for the older one.

Dean was frozen in the doorway, his eyes fixed on the wreckage of his little brother. Wordlessly, he reached for Buffy and his hand settled on her shoulder and gripped tight. She could feel him vibrating with barely suppressed terror and fury. She reached up and gave his hand a small squeeze before lifting it off her shoulder and leading him into the panic room by it. They crossed to Sam’s cot and stood side by side next to it, their hands joined together between them in silent support.

Looking down at Sam’s ravaged face, thinking of what this must be doing to Dean, Buffy came to a decision. “I know what we need to do for him,” she said, her voice clear and firm.

Dean’s hand tightened around hers briefly before relaxing so much it was almost limp in her grasp. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw some of the tension drain out of him. He let out a breath she thought he might have been holding and turned to look at her. There was desperation in his eyes and pleading and he stared at her like she was his salvation. Buffy marveled at how he could display so much emotion when his face was completely expressionless. She didn’t have to be able read his mind to know that he wanted to beg her to take care of Sammy, to know what to do, to know how to fix it, because Dean was lost and in the dark and for the first time ever he didn’t know how to help his brother.

So Buffy would do it for him. She would put back together the pieces of the destructive boy Dean had raised and in so doing, she hoped, she could put the pieces of Dean back together, too. She met his desperate gaze head-on and told herself she could take that look out of his eyes if she could do this for him.

“You do?” Dean asked finally, his voice sounding raw and ragged. “You can help him?”

She made herself smile at him reassuringly even as doubt welled up inside of her. “Yes,” she told him, willing her voice to be strong. “Me… and others. But you might not like it.”

~~~~

“I don’t like the sound of this, Buffy,” Dean said quietly, his whole body vibrating with tension as they walked up the path to the front door of the building Buffy had directed him to. “You didn’t make coming here sound very appealing.”

“The people here can help,” she argued, though her voice was lacking in conviction. She shifted Sam’s limp body, which was draped over her shoulder. She had knocked him out again to get him to go with them. “It doesn’t matter if you’re paranoid that it’s government or that there’s a bit of bad blood between me and some of them. They can help Sam, I know it. So we put aside the fact that we’re uncomfortable coming here and just deal with it.”

For a moment, both Dean and Buffy stared at the doorbell like they were worried it might bite them, but then Dean glanced at his brother and steeled himself. He lifted his hand and pressed the button and they heard the bell chime inside the huge house. There was a chorus of shouts from inside and Dean tensed and automatically reached for his gun.

The door was flung open by a tall, willowy brunette with a bright smile. Out of the corner of his eye, Dean saw Buffy relax fractionally at the sight of the girl, so he commanded himself to calm down and took his hand away from his gun as he marked the girl down as Someone Buffy Likes. The girl’s eyes widened at the sight of them. She looked at Buffy for a long moment before transferring her gaze to him. She looked him up and down critically before her eyes flicked to Buffy as she asked, “This him?”

“Dawn,” Buffy said, her voice slightly exasperated, but there was pleasure in her eyes, “this is Dean Winchester. Dean, my sister, Dawn.” She jerked her shoulder making Sam’s body sway and added, “And this is Sam Winchester.”

Dawn grinned at her sister, mischief in her eyes. “Can I draw on his face while he’s out?” she asked and waggled her eyebrows playfully.

Dean watched as Buffy smiled and he saw shadows he hadn’t even realized were there clear from her eyes, leaving her lighter and happier than he had ever seen her. Something about her posture shifted and he realized that until that moment he had never seen her truly relaxed. He had the thought that this was probably what she had always looked like before she went to hell. “Only if we can pretend I didn’t know about it when he wakes up,” she said, mischief in her eyes to match her sister’s.

A small redheaded woman appeared in the doorway next to Dawn and Dean was disappointed to see Buffy’s ease evaporate. She tensed and the shadows in her eyes returned as her smile disappeared. “Willow,” Buffy greeted the new woman. Her voice wasn’t chilly, but it wasn’t exactly friendly either. Dean marked Willow down as Someone Buffy Doesn’t Really Like.

“Hi, Buffy,” Willow said with a nervous smile. “I’m glad you’re here and that you brought Sam here. I’ll do whatever I can to help you help him.”

Buffy sighed and when she smiled at Willow it wasn’t as carefree as her smiles with Dawn had been, but it wasn’t forced either. “I really appreciate that, Wills. It’s a big help,” she said, her voice sincere.

“Come in, you guys,” Dawn said cheerily and she and Willow stepped aside to usher Buffy and her unconscious bundle inside. Dean followed hesitantly and both of the women smiled blindingly at him as he walked past them into the house.

He stepped into a large foyer that doubled as a lobby. There was a small desk that a young girl was manning and a table covered in literature on the International Council of Watchers. The room was richly and tastefully decorated and Dean instantly felt out of place among the finery. He cringed and tried not to touch anything as the women exchanged pleasantries.

At the far end of the room there was a grand staircase that a woman was currently walking down, her high-heeled boots clicking loudly on the hardwood floor. She was darkly beautiful and radiated troubled, walking as she did with a confident swagger. She grinned at Buffy and it was quick and dangerous.

Buffy returned the smile and it was genuinely warm, so Dean put the newcomer down as Someone Buffy Likes. “Faith,” Buffy greeted her as the darker woman crossed the foyer to her. “How are you?”

Faith reached out and laid a hand on Buffy’s shoulder and Dean saw that Buffy didn’t tense up as she often did when someone touched her unexpectedly. “Hey, B,” Faith drawled, an easy smile gracing her lips. “Good to see you. Doesn’t happen nearly enough.” Her eyes slid to Dean and raked up and down his body slowly and purposefully. “Heya, hotstuff,” she purred.

Buffy rolled her eyes and punched Faith’s shoulder lightly. “Geez, Faith, keep it in your pants for a minute, would you?” she teased.

Faith laughed throatily and she and Buffy shared a fond smile. “Can I help you with that?” she asked, gesturing to Sam.

Buffy grinned and nodded, passing Dean’s brother like a sack of potatoes to Faith, who hefted him onto her shoulder with ease, making Dean wonder if this was one of the women who became a Slayer because of the spell Buffy had told him about. “Put him in one of the guest rooms, would you? And put the room on lockdown. We don’t know what he’ll be like when he wakes up,” Buffy instructed and Faith nodded and disappeared back up the steps with Sam.

Dean looked at Buffy and met her eye, looking for reassurance that Faith would take care of his little brother. Buffy smiled softly at him and said so softly that only he heard, “She’ll make sure he’s safe and cared for while he sleeps and we figure out what to do for him.”

“Can we get you guys settled?” Willow chirped.

Dean looked over at her and Dawn to find Dawn watching him and Buffy with a speculative look in her eyes that set him on edge. Buffy’s sister grinned at him as if she sensed his unease and winked. “Yeah,” she agreed, “let’s go up to your rooms.”

Before Dawn and Willow could lead them away upstairs, a door on the side wall opened and two men walked through it into the foyer. One was older and bespectacled, dressed in a tweed suit, and the other was younger and wearing an eye patch. They were in the middle of a conversation, but stopped talking and froze in their tracks at the sight of Buffy and Dean.

The younger man’s one eye widened and he looked like he was trying to decide whether to smile or not as he stared at Buffy unblinkingly. “Buffster,” he said, his voice weak and halting.

Buffy had frozen like a deer in the headlights at the men’s appearance, but she managed a small smile for the one-eyed one, though it disappeared when her gaze turned to the older man. Dean put the younger man down as Someone Buffy Maybe Likes and the older man as Someone Buffy Doesn’t Really Like. “Giles,” Buffy greeted the older man and Dean wouldn’t hesitate to call her voice frosty. She turned her attention back to the younger man and her tiny smile returned. “Hi, Xander.”

Dawn stepped in, slicing through the awkwardness with a cheery smile as she said, “Xan, Giles, Buffy and Dean are pretty tired, I think. I was just going to bring them up to their rooms, okay? You guys can all say your hellos when they’ve gotten some rest.” She beamed at the men as she grabbed Buffy and Dean by their wrists and towed them away without waiting for anyone to respond. Dean could have kissed her.

They followed Dawn up the stairs and down a hallway, which was just as finely decorated as the foyer had been. She stopped in front of a pair of doors and said, “These are your rooms. They’re connected, but the connecting doors lock, so you’re good either way. Do you guys need anything before I go downstairs and talk the gang out of mobbing Buffy and possibly giving her an intervention?”

Buffy’s gaze sharpened on her sister and she bit out, “What? What do you mean?”

Dawn sighed and shrugged. “They’re just worried about you and letting themselves getting carried away with it. They still don’t believe you about the whole mission from God business and they don’t trust Dean and Sam. They think you’re being reckless.” She rolled her eyes. “Faith and I have been talking Willow down from going to find you and bring you back here for a long time.” She shrugged again, looking resigned. “You know the Scoobies, Buff. They like to meddle.”

Buffy’s body was rigid with tension as she asked through clenched teeth, “How serious are they this time?”

Dawn shook her head and ran a soothing hand down Buffy’s arm. “Not very serious at all. I’ll take care of it. I just want you to know that nothing has changed. Keep it in mind.” She leaned forward and kissed Buffy on the cheek before she disappeared back the way they had come.

They watched her go before Dean asked, “What was she talking about?”

Buffy sighed and some of the tension slid out of her body. “It’s a long story.” She jerked a head at one of the doors Dawn had directed them to and Dean followed her through it. “This one can be yours,” Buffy told him, changing the subject. “Whenever I’m here, I sleep in the one next door.”

It was by far the nicest room Dean had ever stayed in. The bed was a massive, elegant four poster draped in spotless white sheets and comforter. There was a small sitting area, all the furniture ornate and well cared for and the windows were hung with thick curtains. The floor was hardwood and gleaming and decorated with lush rugs. Once again, the finery made him feel like he stuck out like a sore thumb. “Sure,” he said, feeling awkward and out of place. “That’s fine.”

Buffy opened her mouth to reply, but she was cut off as an angry yell echoed through the house. They both immediately identified it as Sam and Dean’s heart clenched. “Buffy, you have to help him,” he said before he could stop himself, hating the pleading note in his voice.

She frowned, confused. “Dean, I am,” she said, sounding perplexed. “That’s why we’re here, remember? So we can help Sam.”

He nodded, on a roll now that he had opened his mouth. “I know, I get that, but you have to help him the way you help me. You have to, you know… talk to him and stuff. I have no idea what to say to him. I’m so goddamn angry with him I don’t even know if I could say anything to him, but he’s still my little brother and I need him to get better.” He blew out a breath and ran a hand over his face before he admitted, “I’m desperate here, Buffy, and I think you can help him like you’ve helped me. I’ve known you for less than a month and you’ve already gotten me through a lot of shit. You’ve helped me cope with being in hell; I think you can help Sam with an addiction. I don’t know what it is, but you say words and they help. Like magic.”

She pursed her lips, looking hesitant and doubtful. “Dean…” she said slowly and planted her fists on her hips. “I don’t know. Sam is… For such a smart person, your brother is the most idiotic person I’ve ever met. He drives me up the wall and I don’t know if I can talk to him when he makes me see red every time he opens his mouth.”

Dean shook his head and protested, “I just need you to talk to him, Buffy. It can’t hurt and it’ll probably help. Just try?”

Buffy sighed and something of a smile flitted around her lips. “Well, when you ask so nicely, how am I supposed to say no?”

Dean found himself grinning at her and she grinned back. “For a girl, you kick a lot of ass,” he told her.

He surprised a laugh out of her and she shook her head at him, smiling playfully. “Damn right I do,” she told him. “Get settled. I’m gonna give Dawn awhile to work her magic, then I’m gonna go powwow with her and Willow about Sam.”

~~~~

Later, Buffy dragged herself up the stairs, wishing only for her bed and some sleep. She had powered through a long brainstorming session with what had turned out to be the whole gang – Dawn, Willow, Xander, Giles, and Faith – and she was bone-deep tired. They meant well, but Willow and Giles’ incessant poking and prodding and questioning of her did more to make her doubt herself than anything else in the world. Xander had been the same before Sunnydale collapsed, but after they had both lost the people they loved in the Hellmouth they had found comfort in their shared pain and they had done a fair amount of fence-mending.

It was inevitable, really, that she wouldn’t make it to her bed. Buffy couldn’t remember the last time she had caught a break. Why start now? She was in sight of her bedroom door when she blearily noticed Sam’s bedroom door was wide open and the room beyond it was completely empty. She swore under her breath and marched down the hallway to Dean’s door, which she banged on.

He tore it open a few seconds later, on high alert, a gun in his hand. “What?” he asked, eyes scanning the hallway for danger. “What is it?”

“Sam busted out,” she told him, more irritated than worried.

Dean stiffened and his gaze fixed on her, panic building in his eyes. “What?” he demanded. “What do we do?”

Buffy sighed and realized this was the first trial of many that she would have to face in order to take care of Sam as she had promised she would. “Don’t worry about it. I’ll go find him,” she told Dean, trying to force down her annoyance and make her voice sound soothing and reassuring. “I’ll take care of it.”

~~~~

Vodka was the only thing Sam had found that could block out his emotions, if only for a little while. Whiskey, on the other hand, was perfect for wallowing in them. He held a glass with a generous two fingers of the latter in his hand and it was far from his first drink of the night.

They surged together, two naked bodies entwined in the dark, his mouth painted with her blood.

At the memory, he drained his whiskey with a rueful sigh and slammed the glass down on the bar counter with slightly more force than was necessary. The bartender shot him an annoyed glance, but just poured more alcohol into Sam’s glass without a word and let him be.

Her pretty stolen face smiling at him with twisted pride as he latched onto the cut she had made in her arm with his mouth, drinking from her greedily.

That same mouth twisted into a grimace now and he drank down more whiskey to quench the thirst the blood – and the demon – had left behind. He couldn’t even pinpoint what it was that drew him to her, other than his addiction to her blood, but there was something there that he couldn’t ignore. She pulled at him like no one else ever had, not even Jess. She was in his system and he couldn’t get her out, even now that she was dead, no matter how much he drank.

His vision and his mind blurred by alcohol, he didn’t notice for a moment as a pretty blonde woman slid onto the stool next to him. He looked up and saw her next to him. He scowled at the familiar face, but offered his drink to her nonetheless. She made a face at the amber liquid and shook her head. “No thanks, Sam. Buffy and alcohol are non-mixy,” she told him.

He shrugged and muttered, “More for me, then,” before downing the rest of the drink. He ignored her too-perceptive eyes on him as he flagged down the bartender for yet another refill. When the man came over, he glanced at Buffy, silently asking for her permission to give Sam more. At her nod, his glass was refilled and the bartender disappeared again.

“What are you doing here, Buffy?” he asked finally after a few long moments of her patient silence, his voice chilly. “Shouldn’t you be cozied up at your headquarters with my brother? Won’t Dean miss you?”

She shrugged dainty shoulders, slightly amused that Sam realized there was something brewing between her and Dean when Dean himself hadn’t even noticed. “Maybe,” she agreed. “But your brother can manage without me for a little while, I’m sure. Besides, it looks like you need the company more than Dean does.” She took the water the bartender offered her and sipped, watching Sam over the rim of the glass.

He followed her example and tossed back more whiskey. “No offense,” he told her, silently seething at her unwelcome presence, “but I actually just want to be alone.”

She set her water down and turned to face him. She watched him consideringly for a long time, studying him long enough to make him want to squirm. Eventually, when he was almost ready to break the silence, she spoke: “Did I ever tell you about Spike, Sam?”

He drank the rest of his whiskey when it became clear she wouldn’t be leaving and exchanged it for her water glass. “No, I don’t think you did, seeing as we’ve never actually had a conversation,” he grumbled, drinking some of the water in the hopes that he would at least be able to stumble out of the bar later. But if he couldn’t, well, then Buffy could certainly carry him easily enough.

“Spike, also known as William the Bloody, also known as the Slayer of Slayers,” she told him, which caught his attention. “A vampire,” she clarified with a wry smile. “He came to Sunnydale for the first time when I was, I don’t know, sixteen or seventeen with plans to kill me. He didn’t, obviously, but he tried for a long time. He was the only big bad I never killed. Maybe I just never tried hard enough. I don’t know. There was just always something special about Spike.”

She was silent for a little while and it was a heavy silence. Sam saw what he thought was grief lingering in her eyes. Then she chuckled and took her water back from him to sip. “Anyway, through a series of unfortunate events, Spike ended up working with us. Reluctantly, at first, but then for other reasons.”

She stopped suddenly, like she was considering her words, but Sam had caught the hitch in her voice. She was steadying herself. When she had, she told him bluntly, “He was in love with me. Very much so. But since he was a vampire and a soulless one at that, who went about romancing me in totally the wrong way, I dismissed him. I decided that since he didn’t have a soul there was no way he could possibly feel love, even though I knew that was a lie. Spike had been in love for a hundred years with the vampire who made him. And I suppose that would have been that if I hadn’t died.”

When Sam spluttered and almost sprayed out the water he had just taken a drink of, Buffy laughed richly. “Yeah, I died. I sacrificed myself to save the world. I ended up in hell because I died by jumping into a portal that led there.”

“You died? What happened?” Sam asked, completely enthralled with her story now and forgetting that he hated her. “How did you come back? How are you alive? Was it the angels, like with Dean?”

She shook her head sadly. “I escaped when the Devil’s Gate opened. But that’s another story; we’re talking about Spike.” She sighed and ran a hand over her face. “This is the part of the story where I turn into the bad guy. Spike still loved me; he grieved for me terribly the years I was dead. But I was damaged terribly, self-destructive, and broken. Somehow, he ended up being the only one I could turn to. I let myself drown in him. I used him to torture myself and to torture him. I was out to destroy both of us. Neither of us was happy. Spike let me hurt him over and over again because he loved me and I just needed someone to hurt.

"I didn’t sleep with him because I liked it or him. I slept with him because I hated it and him, because I hated everything, myself included. I slept with him because it soothed all my wounds and smoothed all the jagged edges inside me. I slept with him because I needed it to make me feel something, anything, again, even if it was self-disgust. I slept with him because, in that state, it was the only thing I could do.”

She rubbed a hand over her heart like it hurt and frowned a little, not looking at Sam. “This is the hardest part to talk about because I still don’t entirely understand. I don’t know, I guess you could say I was tied to him. Somehow, he turned into this dark and twisted, but horribly vital part of me. I needed him there, however destructive being with him was, to keep me sane. He was desperately important to me, no matter how much I hated him and raged against it. He was in my blood and, no matter how convinced I was otherwise, I wanted him to be there.” She shot Sam a shrewd, sad, knowing look. “Sound familiar?” she asked.

Sam desperately wished for some vodka. He couldn’t handle the way Buffy’s words had made him ache for a dead demon who had apparently used and manipulated him. “I drank her blood,” he confessed, saying it out loud for the first time and not caring that Buffy already knew. “Ruby’s.”

“Yeah,” she said easily. “Spike drank mine. It’s always about the blood, isn’t it?” She smiled at some private joke. “It made you feel powerful.” It wasn’t a question. “I understand.”

Those two simple words, spoken with no condemnation or judgment by a woman who had made it clear she disliked him immensely, almost tore Sam to shreds. He wished again for vodka, wished to forget it all, even as he pushed aside the pain to confess to the Slayer his greatest secret: “I miss her. I don’t want her to be dead. I hate you for killing her.”

Buffy smiled sadly. “I know,” she said again. “Believe me, I know. No matter how much she hurt you, no matter what she did to you, you still want her back. You still want her with you. I know, Sam.” She took a drink of the water to give herself a moment before saying again, “I understand. Spike tried to rape me. I’d still give anything to have him back.”

Sam nodded, his heart reaching out to her even as he fought not to care about her. There was so much sorrow in her voice. “What happened to him?” he asked, even though he could guess the answer.

“He died,” she said simply. Sam pretended not to notice the tear that spilled down her cheek. “A year after our affair, a year after he tried to rape me. He left after that and got himself a soul, then came back to me. We had started to rebuild, to find our way to each other. Then he died to save me, to save the world. I told him I loved him and he didn’t believe me and then he died.”

They sat in silence, in shared grief, for a while before Sam asked, “So… what?” he wondered. “You’re telling me it gets better?” He lifted a sardonic eyebrow.

Buffy shrugged. “I was mostly telling you that you’re not alone,” she told him. “But, yeah, I guess. That, too.”

The End?

You have reached the end of "The Ground Will Give Way" – so far. This story is incomplete and the last chapter was posted on 18 Sep 12.

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