The next few days passed uneventfully, other than Buffy finding a few graves that she had thought would turn out to be vamps being nothing but a mound of dirt. Spike suspected that that was to do with the bug thing that seemed to be able to burrow better than a mole.
Spike hadn't talked to Sam since her dad had shown up. In fact, they had successfully managed to completely avoid each other. Similarly, after Jacob had forcibly healed Riley and had Martouf hold him down as he did (for a human, Riley was unusually strong, no doubt as a side effect of whatever was wrong with him) his relationship with Buffy had been somewhat strained.
As a result, both Buffy and Spike spent quite a while watching over Caelus, although Buffy also did so because Dawn had taken to spending quite a lot of her time around the Ancient. Not that Buffy knew it, but being around Caelus made Dawn feel safer, even though she knew she still might turn into the Key at any moment.
Unfortunately, because neither of them could stand the other, this led Spike and Buffy to bicker endlessly. This had come to a stop when Caelus had gone on strike, refusing to work as long as both the vampire and the Slayer in the room. Several others who happened to be around at the time had seconded that, and so Spike never guarded Caelus while Buffy was around.
He couldn't help but miss the bickering, though. Annoying Buffy was so fun.
It was around 3AM, and no one else was around, when Spike offered Caelus a cigarette. Up until then, Spike hadn't smoked around Caelus because he didn't want the Goa'uld glomming his ciggies, but he felt the need for one and he didn't want Caelus to confiscate it and smoke it himself.
Caelus looked at it for several seconds before taking, saying as he did so "Okay, you can smoke. Just make sure you've finished in 17 minutes."
"What happens in 17 minutes?" Spike asked, although he wasn't really all that interested. As had so often been the case in recent days, his mind was on Sam.
"Nothing. But in 21 minutes and 32 seconds, I'll need to do - something that you wouldn't understand and I can't explain in English, but I need the smoke to have cleared by then." Caelus answered.
Spike gestured languidly with one hand, watching the smoke make an arch in front of him. "How do you tell a girl you love her?" Spike said to himself. He hadn't even planned on saying it out aloud, but this was his first cigarette for hours, and it was a question that had been preying on his mind for a while now. It just slipped out.
"I would imagine you just tell her, and then wait to see whether she laughs hysterically or kisses you." Caelus said matter-of-factly. He reached for a beaker, but his sleeve caught a test tube rack and knocked to the floor. It was empty, luckily. "Blast." Caelus said, glancing down at the broken glass.
"Clumsy." Spike said blandly, avoiding the matter at hand. But, really, he shouldn't. After all, after Caelus finished his work, Sam would leave again. He wanted to tell her how he felt before that. Even if her father was still around. But he had had absolutely zero experience in courting, despite being over a century old.
Besides, as facile as Caelus' advice was, he was about the only person Spike could talk to. The Scoobies treated him as an outcast, just because he had tried to kill them a few times, and Dawn, the only one who seemed to actually like him, was too young. He couldn't talk to SG-1, because Jack was still hung up on Sam and both Willow and Daniel would immediately tell Sam everything he said to them. And Spike talking to Jolinar about Sam would be just too weird.
"Yeah, but... what if she does laugh in my face?" Spike said worriedly.
"Look, Spike, am I really the person you want to talk to about this?" Caelus said.
"I don't want to talk about this at all
. But, unless I say something I will burst." Spike admitted.
"I haven't got the faintest idea of what you should say." Caelus said. "Love is hardly an area I'm familiar with. Just go and find Sam and make some anguished declaration of love. That's what people generally do isn't it?" Caelus took a drag in his cigarette. "Just start speaking. It'll come."
And so saying, Caelus toppled over sideways. For a moment, Spike was unconcerned - Caelus' leg meant that he stumbled and fell quite a bit - but when Caelus didn't stir Spike went over to see what had happened.
Caelus was lying in a heap on the floor, eyes closed. For a second, Spike thought he had died, but then the Goa'uld began to snore gently.
Spike realised that Caelus had been working virtually non-stop for days. Given that he had had to get Dawn to remind him how to eat (Spike didn't want to know what Caelus knew about other bodily functions), it was entirely possible that Caelus had just forgotten that he now needed sleep.
Spike hoisted Caelus into a fireman's lift and headed to Buffy's. As there was only a single bed and an armchair at Spike's crypt, and Willow and Giles were housing Sam and Jacob respectively that was the only place that Spike could take him.
When Caelus woke up, he had no idea what had happened. He did not know why he was lying on a bed, or whose room he was in. He had never seen it before. But that didn't concern Caelus. What did, however, was that his scythe was nowhere to be found.
He got up and crossed to the door, which was locked. Hardly surprising, given the distrust that the Scoobies regarded him with.
Still, Caelus was a Goa'uld, and it was unlikely that the door had been reinforced in any way. So Caelus put his palms on the door and pushed hard.
The door opened, and the lower hinge gave way, leaving the door hanging lopsidedly on the wall. But Caelus didn't care about that. He headed downstairs.
He saw his scythe leaning against a rack of swords in the corner of the room. Caelus, forgetting that he had promised not to touch it, strode towards it and picked it up. He sighed in relief upon doing so.
Then Caelus turned to see Joyce poking her head around the kitchen door, with Buffy standing protectively in front of her and brandishing an empty bowl as though it was some type of weapon.
Rather than be brained by a bowl, Caelus put down the scythe and raised his hands non-threateningly.
Then Caelus caught a glimpse of Dawn, who was standing in the middle of the room he had just strode through.
In fact, standing in the exact same space as he had just strode through. Given that Caelus had to focus to see Dawn at the best of times, he guessed that Dawn's grip on having a body had been particularly tenuous at that point, and Caelus had blindly walked right through her.
Dawn vanished. Neither Buffy nor Joyce seemed to notice this. Evidently, with Dawn reverting occasionally to being the Key, the spell that had implanted memories of her into everyone's heads was wearing thin. Caelus hoped that would be sorted out when he eradicated the Ancient gene from Jack and Willow.
"What are you doing?" Buffy asked warily.
"Standing in a non-threatening manner so that you don't try to kill me with a bowl." Caelus answered truthfully. Joyce snorted in amusement.
Buffy was unamused. "What was that bang upstairs?"
"You locked me in that room, I wanted to get out." Caelus said plainly.
"It wasn't locked." Dawn said, coming down the stairs. She was a lot easier to see than she had been before she vanished. Caelus was glad that she had only been the Key for so short a time. "My room doesn't have a lock, but the door sticks sometimes. I've been meaning to get Xander to fix it. I'll guess I'll have to now, given that you blew it off its hinges."
"Oh. Sorry." Caelus said. Then he blinked as he processed what he had just heard. "Your room? Why was I in your room?"
Because Caelus was outside of reality, with some focus he could see Dawn as vaguely human shaped energy. He could hear her voice, but he couldn't see her expression. So he couldn't tell that Dawn was blushing. But Dawn could, and it made her blush all the harder.
Buffy answered for her. "You fell asleep on the job. I was all for leaving you in a cell in the Initiative-"
"Buffy!" Dawn protested.
"-but quite a few people were against that. However, what with aliens and Willow's buddies hanging around, there really wasn't anywhere we could put you, so Dawn volunteered to put you in her room."
Caelus digested this. Then he said to Dawn "Thank you."
If Dawn hadn't already been blushing, she would've started to then. If it hadn't been for the fact that Jacob had pointed out that letting someone with a bad leg injury sleep on a couch would lead to him being virtually paralysed the next day, and the fact that there was nowhere else to put him, Dawn hadn't really had a choice. Even then, if it hadn't been for Buffy's room being too full of weapons to easily remove them all, and Joyce refusing to sleep on the couch, Caelus wouldn't have slept there at all.
Caelus turned back to Buffy and said "I need a sample of Spike's and Jolinar's blood."
"Why?" Buffy asked, instantly wary about anything involving blood.
"Because one is a vampire and the other is a Goa'uld. I could explain more, but you wouldn't understand and my language skills are almost certainly insufficient to explain it to you." Caelus said bluntly.
"Spike's a vampire. I don't think he even has blood, not really. And you're a Goa'uld, can't you use your own blood?" Buffy said.
Before Caelus could say anything, Joyce laid a hand on her daughter's shoulder and said "Buffy, can I talk to you for a moment?"
The pair withdrew into the kitchen. Buffy knew that Caelus could hear them anyway, although he probably wouldn't mention what he heard.
"Buffy, I know you're upset about Riley. And Dawn and Willow, too. But is that really any reason to antagonize Caelus? As far as I can tell, he is doing the best he can to help."
"What?" Buffy gaped. "Mom, he tried to kill my friends!"
"Yes. So has Spike, and I hear that you treat him much the same way. But listen, Buffy. People can change. Stop blaming them for having done things they wouldn't do now." Joyce said.
"Mom, Spike's still a killer. He just can't hurt humans. He's said
that he would kill me if he ever got the chance. And Caelus tried to wipe out his own race. They aren't good people." Buffy argued.
"What about Faith? You told me that Angel thanks she can be saved. You trust him. Don't you? You believe she deserves a second chance?"
Buffy struggled for a few moments, before eventfully managing to say "Yes, but-"
"No buts. If Caelus was going to harm anyone, he could do it right now." Joyce said.
Buffy stiffened, as she realised that Caelus was in a room, with his scythe, and Dawn. She ran back into the other room, only to see that Dawn was explaining to Caelus about sleeping. Caelus had made no move towards his scythe - indeed, he had pointedly moved as far away from it as possible.
Okay, Buffy was willing to concede that Joyce might have a point about Caelus (not that that that meant that she wouldn't still be keeping a close eye on him) but she still thought she was wrong about Spike.
Speaking of which, as it was still daylight and Spike wouldn't be out and about until sundown, Buffy could head over to his crypt and pester the sleeping vampire unmercifully before finally getting him to give Caelus a sample of his blood.
After having been pestered unmercifully by Buffy before she finally revealed that Caelus wanted his blood, he decided that he would rather wrap himself in blanket and go and get Jolinar than stay with the most annoying
Slayer Spike had ever met.
Unfortunately, Spike's luck was so good that, instead of meeting Jolinar, the first person Spike encountered was Sam.
"Sam." Spike said, in a hollow voice.
"Spike." Sam replied in much the same tone.
Spike took a deep (unnecessary) breath, let it out again, and said "Listen, Sam, there's something I wanted to tell you."
"Yes?" Sam said, in a voice that made it clear that she wasn't sure whether she wanted to hear what he was going to say or not.
What was it Caelus had said? Just start speaking? Okay, Spike would try that. Even though he was sure it would make him seem like a babbling idiot.
"Sam, you were born to fly. I see that every time I look at you. You belong amongst the stars." Spike had no idea what he was saying, but he forged ahead anyway.
"Then there's me. I want to hold onto you and never let you go, but I can't. I can't hold the wind. So I'm just sitting here, waiting in the shadows and selfishly hoping that maybe the wind will stop for me."
Spike couldn't bring himself to look at Sam. He knew he'd blown it. What he had said (which he honestly couldn't remember) was worse than his poetry had ever been.
If Spike had had any breath, it would've whooshed out of him when Sam pressed her lips to his. To his surprise and pleasure, he could feel Sam smiling against his lips.
Sam drew back after a while - Spike neither knew nor cared how long they had stayed like that - and said tenderly "Oh, Spike. Of course
I'd stop for you."