Alternate Universe: Unexpected
Story Title: Everything I Own

Chapter Title:


What a Difference You’ve Made in My Life

Chapter Summary:


Buffy tries to piece together what’s going on with her and Spike and the bizzaro-worlds they’ve been cast into.


Time line:

January, 2005



Joshua "JJ" Harris was born on April 21st, 2004

The twins (Danielle, "Dani" and William, "Billy") were born on February 12th, 2004.

Annie was born on February 14th, 1999

Spike and Buffy  were married in  February 1999

Buffy was born January 19th, 1981

William/Spike was turned by Dru in 1880; first came to Sunnydale in September of 1997


All the Potentials were endowed with full Slayer power in February 2003.

Buffy and Spike learned of the other dimensions and got the memories from the 'Rome' Universe in May, 2003.



Music Referenced:

What a Difference You've Made in My Life, BJ Thomas:


ScreenCaps courtesy of ScreenCap Paradise:


Thanks: Thanks so much to Paganbaby for her continued support and wonderful ideas. I especially needed her help with this story because of the complexity of it! {{Thanks PB!}}

Thanks also to 'u2fan2005' and 'epd4' for their suggestions, corrections, and help betaing this chapter!!

Rating / Warnings:


NC17. Content is only suitable for mature adults. Contains explicit language, sex, adult themes, and other adult situations that some people may find objectionable. If you are under the age of 17 or find any of these themes objectionable – GO AWAY.

Wednesday, January 19th, 2005 – mid-afternoon:


Buffy woke with a pounding in her head and sharp pains in her legs, arm, and hip.  She opened her eyes slowly - the room was dark, the curtains drawn, she appeared to be alone.  Buffy sat up groggily  as her eyes adjusted to the dim light coming from behind the curtains. Her hand instantly went to rub her forehead, trying to cease the constant pounding of bongo drums in her head, but she quit when pain ran down her arm from where the first dart hit her. She’d never been shot by a tranq gun before – she didn’t realize how much that hurt.


Buffy pulled the covers off her legs and gasped when she saw the sheets were soaked in blood.  Her legs were covered in dried blood, scratches, gouges and bites; the sheets looked like she’d bled a pint onto them. “What the fuck?” Buffy mumbled to herself – she’d never had a dream manifest itself physically like this before.


This just kept getting more and more bizarre. Which was the dream? The Riley/Dawn dimension or the giant spider dimension? Were neither of them dreams? Or both?  She wondered if Spike had awoken and, if he had, where he was. Back at home with the babies and their friends, or was he in some other dimension too? She hoped that he'd been able to get out of that cold, red world, at least.  She reached out through their bond, just in case he was in this dimension with her, but she got nothing – she couldn’t feel him at all.


Buffy got up slowly, her head spun slightly at the change in elevation, and she leaned against the wall for support hoping she wouldn’t get sick or collapse. When the room stopped spinning, Buffy took a deep breath as she took a step on her bruised and bloodied legs, afraid they might not support her fully, but they seemed to be holding.  Buffy pulled the curtains back to let some light into the room and then walked over to the dresser that Riley had gotten the pills out of and began opening drawers silently, searching each one … for what, she didn’t know. Clues?


One drawer was full of pill bottles … she picked each one up and read the name … they were all hers. There were medications that she didn’t recognize from doctors she didn't know, most of them names she couldn’t even pronounce – certainly not antibiotics or anything she’d taken before … citalopram, escitalopram, fluoxetine, paroxetineamitriptyline, desipramine, venlafaxine, duloxetine, dopamine, diazepam …


Buffy shook her head. If they were cramming all these pills down her, no wonder she acted like a grizzly bear.  Buffy opened the next drawer and it was full of papers – printouts about the various medicines.  She scanned through the papers and saw that they were for depression, mania, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, anxiety, ADHD. It seemed to her they weren’t able to make up their minds about what she had, so they just kept throwing pills at her.


“One pill makes you larger and one pill makes you small … and the ones that mother gives you don’t do anything at all,” Buffy murmured the old Jefferson Airplane song to herself as she closed that drawer and opened the next one.


The rest of the drawers just held clothes – hers and Riley’s.  She noted there were no weapons in any of the drawers, which seemed odd – but then, if she’d attacked people before, maybe not so odd. 


Buffy pulled out a t-shirt and some jeans, along with underwear and a bra and changed out of her pajamas.  If she had to make a quick exit, she didn’t want to be running around town in blood-soaked, shorty PJs.  Buffy held the jeans up and shook her head – she’d never be able to get these on … they were too small, she was sure.



“Bitch…” Buffy softly cursed her alter-ego self for still having the body of a teenager.


Since there wasn’t much choice, Buffy sat down on the bed, prepared to lie down and stop breathing in order to get them zipped. To her surprise, they slid on easily … no tugging or straining or breath holding required. That was weird - maybe this is the 'things appear smaller than they actually are' dimension.


Buffy picked up a brush off the dresser and ran it through her hair, but she’d broken the mirror earlier, so she couldn’t really tell what it looked like, but it felt oddly short. Oh well, she wasn’t here to win a beauty contest; she needed to get some answers and get back home.


Buffy paused at the door of the room and listened. She could hear voices outside – Riley and Dawn.  Buffy took a deep breath and opened the door.  She no sooner stepped out into the hallway when she was stopped by two girls, one on each side of the door, grabbing her arms.  Buffy reacted instinctively, slamming her arms backwards and pulling the girls with them. Their heads banged hard against the wall on either side of the doorway, causing them to let go of Buffy’s arms. Buffy grabbed her attackers by the back of their shirts and began dragging them down the hallway, towards the voices she’d heard through the door.


“Sorry girls…but hey, you think I’m crazy anyway….should be used to it,” Buffy muttered as she pulled them along and thwarted their efforts to get free of her grasp.


At the sound of the skirmish, Riley picked up the tranq gun and had it trained on Buffy as she came out of the hallway with the two Potentials in tow.  Buffy tossed one of the girls at him, making him step to the side in order to avoid being knocked down, and then she lifted the other up in front of her to use as a shield.


“Put her down, Buffy,” Riley demanded, trying to get a clear shot.


“Put the gun down, Riley!” Buffy retorted, keeping the frightened Potential between herself and him.   “I don’t want to hurt her, but I will …. you know I can …”


Buffy narrowed her eyes at him, hoping he wouldn’t be able to see through her  bluff.


“So looks like you have a choice…toss the gun away and give me answers or…”


“Buffy … please just put her down. We’ll get you back on your meds and everything will be ok. Just trust me,” Riley begged her.


“I’m not putting her down until you lose the gun,” Buffy informed him, wrapping her arm around the girl’s throat and tightening down on it. “The gun or the girl …” she threatened.


Riley immediately raised the tranq gun over his head and tossed it off to one side.  He’d seen Buffy hurt more than one person in the past when she’d been off her meds … he didn’t want to be responsible for her hurting this one.  Buffy pushed the girl away, straight at Riley, as she dove over to where he tossed the gun and picked it up, rolling back up to her feet with it in her hands.


“Ok… good, that’s better,” Buffy breathed, taking the darts out of the gun and tossing them away before dropping the weapon back down onto the floor.


Riley, Dawn, and the two Potentials looked at her with emotions ranging from fear to worry to exasperation.


“Let’s talk…” Buffy started, waving her arm at the couch they had just been sitting on in what was obviously the living room of a small apartment. “You two can go…” she said to the Potentials – she didn’t recognize them and didn’t want to muddle the water further with complete strangers.


Riley nodded at them and the two frightened girls scurried out the front door. Dawn and Riley sat down on the couch as Buffy stood in front of them, pacing back and forth … trying to decide where to begin.


“Ok – here’s the thing, I don’t belong here. This is some kind of fucked up dimension – not mine, and I just want to go home,” she explained.  Dawn and Riley looked at each other a moment before turning their attention back to her.


“Buffy – if you’d just get back on your meds…” Riley pleaded again.


“NO! No meds! I don’t take meds! I am not crazy!” Buffy yelled at them, stopping her pacing and facing them.  “I’m not from this dimension,” she started again. “We need to call a Scooby meeting and do some research … I need to get back to where I belong.  If we can just find the portal – I can use some of Dawn’s blood to open it and go home.”


“Buffy,” Dawn began, “We’ve been through this before … you aren’t from another dimension. You should listen to Riley … if you’d just get back on your meds…”


“God damn it!” Buffy yelled at them. “Are you not listening to me?!  I am not your wife!” Buffy exclaimed, pointing at Riley. “I’m married to Spike … we have three kids, we live in Sunnydale on Crawford Street …”


“At the mansion? Angelus’ mansion?” Dawn asked with concern.


“Yeah … at the mansion – but it’s not Angel’s now, it’s ours,” Buffy replied.


“Yours and someone named ‘Spike’?” Dawn questioned with a tone of disbelief. “What kind of a name is Spike, anyway?”


“His real name is William … Spikes - it’s a nickname. He’s a vampire with a soul …”


Dawn’s and Riley’s eyebrows shot up.


“Like Angel?” Dawn asked softly.


“Yeah …no, sort of,” Buffy stammered.  “That’s not important – I just need to get home to my real life, to my kids.”


“Buffy, you don’t have any kids … you said you would never bring children into this world. That it would be crazy for anyone to bring children into a world full of evil and even crazier for a Slayer to subject children to the kind of life that we lived,” Riley repeated what Buffy had told him time and time again over the years.  He had desperately wanted to have a family, to move back to Iowa and have a normal life, but she’d refused vehemently.


“No…I do have kids – three, it’s hard, but we manage to keep them safe,” Buffy argued.


“You and this vampire … a vampire named ‘Spike’?” Dawn questioned.


“And our friends – Giles, Xander, Anya, Willow, Tara, and Lorne … everyone helps.”


Riley and Dawn looked at each other again. She’d really lost it this time.


“Buffy – most of those people you just named are … they’re dead,” Riley pointed out softly. 


“WHAT!? HOW!? NO! That’s not true! You’re lying! This isn’t real!” Buffy screamed at him as her gut tightened at the thought of all her friends being dead. This isn’t real … this isn’t real. They’re fine … they’re at home and they’re fine and you just need to get back to them, Buffy admonished herself silently.


“You’re creating this different world, this different dimension, to escape the reality of your life,” Riley interrupted her thoughts, repeating what he’d been told by more than one of Buffy’s doctors over the years.


Buffy sighed heavily and rubbed at her eyes. “Noooo, I’m not. Because this …” she waved her arms around to encompass the room, “… isn’t my life.


“Look – all I’m asking is for a little help – a little research,” Buffy pleaded. “That’s it. Maybe Willow can figure out where the portal is that I came through … then we can open it back up and I’ll be out of your hair.”


At the strange looks they had, Buffy asked, “What?”


Dawn tried this time. “Buffy – Willow … well, Willow – you know we had to place her in that sanatorium upstate … back in California. Don’t you remember?”


“Why … why would we do that?” Buffy asked softly.


“Don’t you remember?” Dawn asked her again.


“Let’s pretend that I don’t remember, ok? I’m amnesia-girl. Would that work out for you?” Buffy asked sarcastically, her hands going to her hips.


Riley answered her. “Buffy – when you went through the portal to meet the Shadow Men, that ‘exchange demon’ came out of the portal and escaped. It killed several of the Potentials, including Kennedy, when they went to get it back.”


“No –no, that’s wrong! Spike fought the demon … he…Spike,” Buffy stammered. “Spike got it back…”


“Your vampire husband?” Dawn questioned with a look of pity.


“Willow re-opened the portal and we got you back, but it was too much for her.  Between the power it took to reopen the portal and the shock of losing another person she really cared about…” Riley’s voice trailed off. “She just shut down when she found out that Kennedy had been killed. She’s catatonic … we had no choice but to place her somewhere that could take care of her,” Riley finished.


Buffy rubbed tiredly at her eyes, trying to make sense of what they were saying – trying to figure out how to convince them that this was not her world.


Suddenly she looked up at Dawn. “Where’s everyone else? Giles? Xander? What happened to them?”


“Buffyyy…” Dawn whined.


“Just humor me – ok? Start with Giles.”


Dawn looked at Riley who just shrugged, then she looked back at Buffy. “Giles is just outside of London … he’s trying to put the Council of Watchers back together.”


Buffy closed her eyes and sighed in relief – at last! One thing was as it should be. “So, how many people are out rounding up the new Slayers?”


Riley and Dawn looked at her with confusion. “You mean Potentials?” Riley asked her.


“No … Slayers – new Slayers. There should be dozens of new Slayers…” Buffy clarified.


Riley and Dawn shook their heads. “What are you talking about – there’s only one Slayer at a time, Buffy – even with amnesia you must remember that rule,” Dawn advised her.


“No – the scythe … Willow released the magic … Willow,” Buffy stopped. Willow wouldn’t have been there to release the magic.


“What scythe?” Riley asked her, looking confused.


“The scythe that I pulled out of the stone … the one that Caleb was guarding, the one the First wanted – the one the Guardians had forged for…” Buffy stopped talking – they didn’t know what she was talking about.


“I didn’t ‘King Arthur’ a big, shiny, red axe thingy out of a stone?” Buffy asked them, confused again and they both shook their heads slowly.


Buffy closed her eyes and thought a moment. “Ok, did someone go up to the mission in Gilroy and check it out?” she asked them, opening her eyes and looking from one to the other.


“Yeah … Giles sent Andrew up there, but he didn’t find anything  - a monk attacked him, he was nearly killed – or so he said,” Dawn recalled.


“A monk nearly killed Andrew?” Buffy asked, rolling her eyes. “He’s such a drama queen, at least that never changes,” Buffy murmured more to herself than them as she continued to try and piece things together.  No one found the clues at the mission that led her to the scythe … Andrew went alone; Spike wasn’t there.


“Did you kick me out of the house there near the end?” Buffy asked, trying to find some common ground.


“What house?” Dawn asked her.


“What do you mean what house? Our house on Revello Drive … all the Potentials were there … we were fighting The First, the ubervamps, the bringers…Caleb,” Buffy supplied. “Is this ringing any bells?”


“Buffy, that house got burned down while you were dead … the motorcycle demons took over the town, burnt half of it to the ground," Dawn started to explain.


"No ... what about the Bot? Where was the Buffybot? It kept the demons away..." Buffy began, but all she got were confused stares from Riley and Dawn. There had been no Buffybot ... Spike never had the Buffybot built - the demons had moved right in.



"When you came back, we lived in an apartment near the high school,” Dawn reminded her. “When the Potentials started showing up, we just rented more apartments …then finally, everyone else just left, so we had the whole building.”


“But yeah, then you and I got ‘kicked out’ … or demoted, or whatever you want to call it,” Riley agreed. “They put Faith in charge until she got half the Potentials killed…then they came crawling back to us…”


“Us…” Buffy repeated.  “We were married then?”


“We were married before you died, Buffy … May 20th, 2001.”


Buffy shook her head. Riley hadn’t left her before she died … Spike hadn’t been there, poking and prodding and worming his way under Riley’s skin, making it clear to Riley that Buffy needed a ‘little monster in her man’; making it clear that Buffy could never truly love someone like him.


Buffy rubbed her forehead and eyes again before plopping down heavily in a seat across from Riley and Dawn.  The Potentials, Giles, Dawn, and her friends had kicked them both out … Spike hadn’t been there.  Spike had been the one to find the clues in the mission in Gilroy. It had been Spike that had given her the will, the strength, the courage to challenge Caleb and find the scythe … Spike. The scythe must still be buried under what was left of Sunnydale … its magic never released - there was only one Slayer.


“Faith … where’s Faith?” Buffy finally asked, looking up at them.


“She’s dead, too – she died with Angel and most of the Potentials in the Hellmouth when it collapsed,” Riley told her.


“Angel? Angel wasn’t in the Hellmouth...” Buffy paused as soon as the words spilled out of her mouth. It suddenly became very clear on what was wrong with this dimension. It all revolved around Spike. Everything was different because Spike wasn’t here. “Angel wore the amulet…” she muttered to herself, “Because Spike wasn’t there…”



Buffy tried to re-focus … her brain felt like it was going to explode. Faith was dead, Anya and Tara were dead, Willow was catatonic, Angel burned up in the Hellmouth – did that mean he went back to W&H in L.A. afterwards?  She didn’t know. She’d heard them talking about Andrew earlier, so he was apparently still here. Giles was in England. Who was left?


“Xander – what happened to Xander?” Buffy asked, looking at Dawn.


“Caleb …” Dawn started, shuddering and closing her eyes to try and block out the memory. “Caleb gouged both his eyes out…he was blinded.”


“No … that’s wrong …” Buffy started, closing her eyes to try and focus on the old memories that had been joined with hers. “No – Caleb poked one eye out – Spike … Spike…” Buffy murmured more to herself than them as her mind whirled with the memory of Spike knocking Caleb away from Xander.


Dawn and Riley both shook their heads. “Xander was completely blinded, Buffy … you stopped Caleb from killing him, but, in the end it didn’t matter.  Between that, losing Willow, and losing Anya in the final battle, it completely broke him. He turned to whiskey, then to drugs. Buffy, he died last year, an overdose. We planned his funeral … don’t you remember that? We flew his ashes to California – back to Sunnydale and scattered them in the crater, where Anya died.”


Buffy shook her head in denial, tears starting to form in her eyes. She didn’t remember anything they were talking about – she only remembered the two dimensions that had Spike in them – not this godforsaken one.


“Buffy,” Dawn started, trying a different tack, “listen to what you’re saying for a minute. You have a vampire with a soul for a husband … we all know that Angel was the only vampire with a soul.


“You say you have children with this vampire … we all know that the undead don’t make babies and you wouldn’t bring children into this ‘evil world’ even if they did.


“You say you have all these friends that help you … Willow, Tara, Anya, Xander … Buffy, all those people are dead or in a mental ward.  Your mind is making this stuff up to try and cope.


“You’ve created this person …this vampire…named Spike, as some kind of surrogate to Angel – you’re trying to regress, to go back to high school, when you and Angel were in love and everything was simple and all your friends were fine…” Dawn continued.  They’d talked to so many doctors about Buffy’s condition over the last few years that Dawn could practically predict what they’d say about her latest manifestation, word for word.


Buffy looked from one of them to the other. “Ok – I know it sounds like that but it’s not,” Buffy argued. “I can prove it … here, look!” Buffy exclaimed, pulling the front of her t-shirt down to show the scar from the amulet on her chest.


“I wore the amulet in my world … Spike pulled it off me at the last minute – he and I have matching scars – see?” Buffy insisted, turning from Dawn to Riley to show them her scar.


They both shook their heads. “Buffy, there’s nothing there …” Riley pointed out.


“What?” Buffy questioned, looking down.


Buffy looked around the room and saw a mirror by the door. She jumped up, rushed over to it and tugged the front of her shirt down – the starburst scar from the amulet wasn’t there on her chest. She pulled up her shirt … the scar from the emergency C-section wasn’t there.  Buffy tilted her head to the side and looked at her neck … Spike’s bite marks weren’t there. 


She studied her face in the mirror … her face was thin, her eyes almost sunken, and bore deep scars from fights she didn’t remember. She ran her fingers over them, trying to remember where they had come from, how she had gotten them, but she couldn’t remember them at all.  Her hair was short – not even shoulder length – there was no telling how long since it had been colored and highlighted or even styled.


Buffy looked down at her hands … the only ring was a plain gold wedding band, and it wasn’t the one Spike gave her – the engagement ring that had belonged to Spike’s mother wasn’t there; the ‘promise ring’ wasn’t there. She felt around her neck … she had on a cross, not the heart necklace that Spike had given her.  She was starting to question her own mind … had she just dreamed that other life? Was this really her life? 


“No, no, NO!” Buffy screamed as she smashed the mirror with her fists, cutting her hands and sending hundreds of glass shards across the floor.  Dawn was the first to reach her and she pulled Buffy into a hug as Riley went to get towels and bandages for her cuts. 


“Dawnie … you, of all people, have to remember Spike. Spike loved you like you were his own sister. Please tell me you remember Spike,” Buffy whispered to her sister as tears stained her face. Spike was real – he wasn’t a hallucination … that life wasn’t a figment of her imagination…it just couldn’t be. She was not insane – someone or something was fucking with them, with all of them – she had to find out who or what.  I am not insane, Spike is real … Buffy repeated over and over in her mind trying to convince herself.


Dawn shook her head slowly. “I’m sorry, Buffy… I don’t know anyone named Spike.”


It wasn’t the first time Buffy’d had a mental break.  Dawn had been forced to grow up fast - she’d often been called on to act as the ‘older sister’ to Buffy over the last years since Buffy had been brought back from the dead. Buffy had never been the same since then. She had been depressed and unfeeling … she pulled away from everyone, including her friends, family, and her husband.  No one seemed to be able to reach her after that. She’d turned to alcohol and drugs just to feel something … when that hadn’t been enough, she’d turned to powerful magic, often visiting Rack to get her fix.


Dawn and Riley had finally gotten her into rehab and various doctors had diagnosed a myriad of ailments and prescribed a mountain of medications for her – none really seemed to bring the old Buffy back. The best they could hope for from the medications was that they would keep her under control and keep her from killing or hurting herself or someone else.


Dawn led Buffy into the kitchen so she and Riley could work on her hands. They pulled out glass shards, stopped the bleeding, and bandaged them up as best they could.  Buffy sat quietly as they worked, trying to get her mind to focus.  It didn’t seem like Riley had done this to her – why would he go to all the trouble to make a world where he was married to a crazy-ass Slayer who had put him in the hospital more than once? Unless he didn’t know that was what he’d get without Spike… 


“Giles…” Buffy murmured, looking up from her hands to Riley’s face. “Can we go see Giles?”


Riley shrugged. “Sure, if you want.” 


Buffy nodded. “How far is it from Rome to London?” she asked.


“I have no idea…” Riley replied.


“We aren’t in Rome?”


Dawn and Riley looked at each other again. “No, Buffy, we’re in Oxford … it’s about an hour and a half to London on the M40,” Riley explained.


“I thought we were in Rome…” Buffy explained. “Why aren’t we in Rome?”


“Because I started college at Oxford University last fall?” Dawn guessed.


“Oh … that’s good, right? Oxford is all stiff-upper-lippy and hoity-toity as far as colleges go, right?” Buffy offered. “What are you studying?”


“Classics and Modern Languages.” It hadn’t been easy getting admitted to Oxford, especially after missing so much time from school in Sunnydale, but Dawn had worked hard to make up her courses and get good grades and studied her ass off to ace the entrance exams. Giles had agreed to give her a ‘scholarship’ from the Watchers’ Council coffer if she could get into the languages program there – and if she agreed to work for the Council for at least three years after she graduated.


“Languages …” Buffy murmured. Ok, one more thing was as it should be.  Buffy gave her a small smile. “Good, that’s good – you’ll do great at that.”


“Thanks.” Dawn smiled softly. That was the first time Buffy had shown the least bit of interest in her studies or given her any encouragement at all in years. Maybe ‘amnesia Buffy’ wasn’t so bad…






Buffy followed Riley and Dawn into what looked like a Victorian castle – this was perhaps further ‘outside’ of London than Buffy expected. 


“What is this place?” Buffy asked, looking up at the tall stone walls.


“It belongs to the Council – it was their ‘retreat’ … I guess for when they got too stressed out from all that watching…” Dawn offered with a small smile.  She and Riley had given up telling Buffy that she already knew all this – it was easier to just answer her questions.


“Yeah, that always stresses me out, too…” Buffy agreed. She was determined to show them that she wasn’t a lunatic … she was sane, she was in control, and she just wanted to go home.


Dawn and Riley stopped and looked at her … when had Buffy developed a sense of humor?


“What? Do I have something in my teeth?” Buffy asked, baring her teeth for them.


“No – it’s just… nothing,” Riley started and stopped, as he turned and opened the door for Buffy and Dawn to enter the castle.


Earlier, while Dawn finished tending to Buffy’s hands, Riley had called Giles to let him know what was going on; that Buffy was having one of her ‘episodes’, this time with (apparent) amnesia and delusions of being from another dimension, so Giles was expecting them.


Buffy followed Dawn down a long hallway. Dawn knocked on one of many doors that all looked pretty much the same to Buffy and called, “Giles, it’s us,” before opening it and stepping in.


When Dawn moved to the side out of Buffy’s way, Buffy gasped audibly and her bandaged hands went to her mouth in shock.  “Oh my God! What…what happened to you?”


Giles removed his glasses and set them down on his desk as he forced a grim smile to his lips. He had two wide scars running from his right ear down across his cheek – one bisected his lips and the other was lower, ending on his chin.  But that wasn’t the worst of it – his left arm had been amputated just below the elbow… and from the looks of it, not by a surgeon.


Dawn touched Buffy’s arm and Buffy looked with wide eyes from Giles to Dawn. “Angelus,” Dawn said softly.


“Angelus … did …that?” Buffy asked, looking back at Giles with tears glistening in her eyes.


“Indeed … he’s quite skilled with a chainsaw, actually,” Giles intoned, trying to remain aloof despite the anger and resentment he still felt towards Angel and even Buffy.  He’d tolerated Angel because of Buffy’s feelings for the souled vampire – but deep down, on those cold, lonely nights when he could still feel the teeth of the chainsaw ripping into his flesh, he blamed Buffy, at least partially, for what had happened to him.  Things had never really been the same between them since then.


“God, Giles … I’m so sorry,” Buffy sobbed, moving around his desk to pull him into a tight hug.  “This isn’t how it was supposed to be…Spike agreed to protect you – he wouldn’t let Angel do that … God, Spike...”


Giles was gobsmacked for a moment – he stood, unmoving as she wrapped her arms around his waist and laid her head against his shoulder.  Buffy had never before offered to apologize for what Angelus had done.  Giles finally got over the shock and shot a questioning look at Dawn and Riley – Who was this girl and what had they done with Buffy?  He wrapped his good arm around Buffy’s shoulders and gave her a squeeze.


“Thank you,” he murmured finally.


When Buffy released him, he picked his glasses back up and put them on. “I understand you’re having some amnesia…”


“Uh, well, sort of – I think, no, I know, I’m from a different dimension … I think,” Buffy stammered. She wasn’t 100% sure anymore – if she was from a different dimension, why didn’t she have her scars and her jewelry like she’d always had before?


“Ok – that sounds lame…but here’s what I know: this is wrong,” she waved her hand encompassing the whole room, but really meant the whole world. “This isn’t how it’s supposed to be.”


“And how is it supposed to be?” Giles asked her stiffly, sitting down on the corner of his desk.


That was a loaded question … which dimension should she describe? Hers or the one where Buffy and Spike and Dawn now lived in Rome?  Since most of what she’d heard sounded more like the Rome dimension, she went with that.


“Ok … Angelus didn’t hurt you … so badly – Spike stopped him; that was our deal. I’d let Spike and Dru walk, if he helped me and protected you from Angelus,” Buffy started.


“’Dru’ as in Drusilla?” Giles asked with raised brows.


“Yeah – do you know Drusilla?” Buffy asked excitedly – if they knew Dru, surely they knew Spike! Maybe he just used a different name in this dimension.


“Certainly – she came to town and took up with the Anointed One – attacked us en masse on St. Vigeous…” Giles recalled. “We were…”


“Ok, ok – who did Dru come to town with?” Buffy interrupted, stopping his story.


“Just some minions, as far as we know,” Giles told her.


“No one named Spike? Or William the Bloody? Cockney accent, peroxide blond … cheekbones, blue eyes?” she asked expectantly.


“No, no one like that,” Giles assured her.


“What happened to Dru?” Buffy continued her questioning.


“Well, she took up with Angelus – or he took up with her after – well, umm, after he turned evil. She killed Kendra … I’m not entirely sure what happened after Angelus awoke Acathla … I was trying not to bleed to death,” Giles replied sarcastically. “You were the only other person there, Buffy – only you know for certain what happened.”


Buffy sighed and rubbed tiredly at her eyes. She had no idea what had happened. Had she dusted Dru? Or sent her to hell with Angelus? Or let her go? Or perhaps Dru escaped. But still, where was Spike?  This was getting her nowhere.


“Perhaps we should turn in and continue this tomorrow, I suspect it’s been a quite long day,” Giles suggested and everyone nodded their agreement.


Buffy followed Dawn and Riley up a massive stone staircase and down a wide hallway.  Dawn bid them good night and stepped inside a door on the left as Riley opened a door on the right and walked in.  Buffy stood in the hallway, unsure what to do.


Riley turned around and looked at her. “Are you coming to bed?”


“Uhhh…maybe I should just bunk with Dawn,” Buffy suggested.


“Because you’re afraid that I’ll, what? Attack you? Give it a rest, Buffy,” Riley moaned as he walked further into the room, opened a dresser drawer and pulled out a pair of pajama bottoms – apparently they stayed here regularly.


“I just…I just don’t want there to be any misunderstandings… We’re not – I’m not your wife,” Buffy explained, stepping into the room.


“And there’s only one bed…” Buffy pointed out worriedly – there wasn’t even a comfortable looking chair to sleep in.


“And? Buffy, we’ve slept in the same bed for years – what’s different now?”


“I’m not your wife… I’m not having sex with you.”


Riley sighed heavily. “And that’s different than most nights how?”


Buffy looked at him with a furrowed brow as he folded and unfolded the PJ bottoms that he’d retrieved from the drawer.


“Why did you marry me?” she asked him softly.


Riley looked up at her and folded his arms across his chest. “Because I loved you.”


“Why did I marry you?”


Before he could answer, Buffy clarified, “The real reason.”


Riley sighed and rolled his head back, uncrossing his arms and resuming his task of folding and unfolding the PJs. “Because you somehow knew you were going to die … you wanted Dawn to have a legal guardian – you were looking out for her.”


“That’s a terrible reason to marry someone,” Buffy pointed out and Riley shrugged.  “Why did you stay…after?”


Riley looked up from his fidgeting. “’Cos you needed me – Dawn needed me – you weren’t the same person. You’ve never been the same since.”


Buffy lowered her eyes and spun the plain wedding band on her finger. That much was true – when she was brought back from heaven, she hadn’t been the same person. The only person that could touch her in either dimension had been Spike.  What would’ve happened to her if he hadn’t been there?  Apparently, she was finding out.


“It wasn’t like this … it wasn’t supposed to be like this. You married Samantha – you were very happy,” Buffy offered, looking back up at Riley.


At the surprised look on Riley’s face Buffy guessed, “You know Samantha, don’t you?”


“How…? She … she came with Graham one time to try and get me to join their new demon eradication team… I never told you – how did you know?”


“You should’ve gone…” Buffy sighed, turning and sitting down heavily on the edge of the bed.  She heard Riley go into the bathroom and shut the door and then heard water running in the shower.


Buffy lay down as close to the edge of the bed as she could get, still in her clothes, and curled into a small ball, pulling her knees up to her chest. Her mind whirled with confusion as she tried to make sense of everything that had happened today, but it was like a tangled, jumbled mess in her mind – nothing made any sense.


“Happy birthday…” she muttered to herself as tears spilled down her face. Her heart ached for Spike, for Annie, Dani, and Billy – and for her friends. Willow and Tara, Xander and Anya – all lost in this world, and for Giles, so horribly disfigured, living a lonely and bitter life.


She hadn’t just imagined that life with Spike like Dawn and Riley said – it wasn’t her mind playing tricks on her. This was the world that wasn’t real … she just had to figure out how to get back.  If she could just talk to Spike … he could help her.  Buffy touched the finger that used to have the ‘promise ring’ Spike had given her … she had promised to never give up on him; he had promised to never let her walk alone again;  but she felt alone – completely, utterly alone.






“Strange, isn't it? Each man's life touches so many other lives. When he isn't around he leaves an awful hole, doesn't he?” ~Clarence Oddbody, Guardian Angel, It’s a Wonderful Life, 1946



“What a Difference You’ve Made in My Life”

BJ Thomas



What a difference you've made in my life

What a difference you've made in my life

You're my sunshine day and night

Oh what a difference you've made in my life


What a change you have made in my heart

What a change you have made in my heart

You replaced all the broken parts

Oh what a change you have made in my heart


Love to me was just a word in a song

That had been way over used

But you gave love a meaning

So I've joined in the singing

That's why I want to spread the news


What a difference you've made in my life

What a difference you've made in my life

You're my sunshine day and night

Oh what a difference you've made



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