Alex Hill’s skin starts to feel prickly as he follows Spike off the plane. He absently scratches his chest as he tells himself not to panic. Spike said the monsters hadn’t broken through yet, so there probably won’t be monsters waiting to attack them in the airport.
Except his head is full of those red cracks he saw in the sky. No matter how many different things he tries to to get those red cracks out of his head, it seems like he can’t make them go away.
As soon as he and Spike are off the walkway and into the waiting area, Spike grabs his arm and drags him over to the big glass windows. Alex closes his eye and looks away as Spike drags and drags him. Alex trips over his feet and stuff on the floor (because he refuses to open his eye), but Spike doesn’t stop moving or let Alex go.
When Spike finally stops, Alex bumps into him. Even then, Alex refuses to open his eye.
“I don’t think we even have a week,” Spike says.
“Spike!” It’s Buffy’s voice. “There you are!”
Alex hunches close to Spike and keeps his eye closed. He doesn’t want to look at anything. He’s afraid he might accidentally see the sky.
“That sky looks pretty normal to me,” Faith says.
Faith’s voice is so close that Alex jumps and spins around to see where she is. He almost trips over his feet when he does, but he somehow manages not to fall down. Faith and Buffy are standing right behind him and Spike. They’re obviously looking out the window behind Alex, but they don’t look like they see anything scary at all.
Alex takes a chance. It’s possible he’s seeing things (although if he is, Spike is seeing things, too). He keeps his eye open and he slowly turns around to face the window. As soon as his good eye catches the first hint of a red crack in the sky, he spins right back around so he’s facing Buffy and Faith.
“Seems to me that both he and Spike are seein’ the same shit,” Faith says as she jerks her chin at Alex.
Buffy looks worried as her eyes move from the window to Alex. “What do you see?”
“Black sky. Red cracks,” Alex says through chattering teeth.
Faith hits Buffy’s upper arm with the back of her hand, although it’s more of a tap instead of a hit. “The spell, you think?”
Buffy looks down at her feet, like she doesn’t want to look at anyone. “Must be,” she mumbles.
“What spell?” Alex asks.
“There’s no spell ’round ’ere,” Spike says in a really angry voice. Spike moves so that he’s standing between Alex and Buffy and Faith. “There’s no spell here, ’cept what we used to get airborne,” Spike repeats.
Faith crosses her arms and glares at Spike. Buffy just keeps staring at her feet.
Alex clears his throat. “Spike? The sky. Do you think it’s too late? Do you think—”
Spike turns around to face Alex. “Now, I told you, didn’t I? ’S not too late. We’re just a bit more behind than I thought. If it was too late, we’d be already fightin’ our way through a reg’lar treasure trove of monsters and we’re not.”
Alex thinks that Spike probably doesn’t know if it’s too late, but there’s no point in arguing. It doesn’t really matter if it’s too late or not too late. They still need to get to L.A. very fast because that’s where all the superheroes are. “Okay,” Alex finally says.
Spike nods. “You two are going to have to lead us to the runabout. And not too fast, yeah? Alex has to keep up.”
Buffy looks up very quickly and glares at Spike. “Alex is going to be in the middle of all of us, so there’ll be no keeping up for anyone. Faith? You take the lead. Spike? You stay next to Alex. I’ll be behind everyone to make sure we’re not being followed.”
Alex doesn’t like the fact that Buffy will be behind them where he can’t see her, but before he can say anything, Faith says, “This way,” and heads off. Spike grabs Alex by one of his arms and starts walking really fast, almost too fast for Alex to keep up.
Buffy drops out of sight.
Alex doesn’t feel comfortable that he can’t see Buffy. No matter how hard he tries, and no matter how much Spike and Faith act like Buffy is their friend, he can’t seem to like her. Alex thinks he doesn’t like Buffy because he can tell that Buffy doesn’t think he’s very smart. Some part of him wonders how long it’ll take for Buffy to decide that it’s too much trouble to protect him from the monsters.
Even though Spike is dragging him through the airport faster than fast, Alex keeps trying to look over his shoulder so he can keep an eye on Buffy. The problem is that every time Alex looks over his shoulder, he has to slow down. Whenever he slows down, Spike yanks him forward to force Alex to keep up. When Spike yanks on his arm, Alex has to look forward again so he doesn’t trip and fall down.
Alex eventually gives up gives up trying to look over his shoulder at Buffy because Spike just won’t give him the chance. Besides, in all the times he tried, he never once saw her at all.
Alex is beginning to think that Buffy may have ditched them.
But not being able to watch Buffy while keeping up with something that must be superspeed isn’t the worst part about running through the airport.
What’s worse is the way Spike is dragging him through the airport and the way that everything is almost a blur. As Alex does his best to keep up so Spike doesn’t yank him forward again, his back starts to really hurt and the muscles in his legs start to burn.
But even that’s not the worst part.
No, the worst part about running through the airport is that Alex’s skin keeps feeling more and more prickly and more and more itchy as they move further and further away from the gate. Alex’s skin feels so much like when he had chickenpox when he was a little kid that he wants to roll up a sleeve to see if he has a really bad rash. Alex wants to tell Spike to stop so he can scratch his body all over until the feeling goes away, but Alex knows that Spike won’t stop just because Alex wants to scratch himself. Spike won’t even let him slow down so Alex can look over his shoulder at Buffy.
By the time they reach the parking garage, Alex is feeling so itchy all over that he wants to scratch and scratch and scratch, even if it means that he’ll scratch off all his skin. He’s breathing so hard that he feels like he’s run on the treadmill at the gym for hours and hours. His legs ache so much that they feel like rubber. His back is hurting so bad that he almost wants to ask Spike for one his pain pills (he doesn’t, though, because he hates what they do to his head when he does take them).
Faith stops next to a very large black Hummer. “This is it,” she announces.
“Now that’s the bad boy we need,” Spike whoops. “We could do some quality damage with that, if need be.”
“Thought you might like it,” Buffy’s voice says.
Alex spins around as he scratches his forearm. Buffy is standing right behind them with this huge grin on her face.
Alex is kind of surprised that Buffy is still with them, but some part of him is also kind of not surprised that she is. Alex still doesn’t really trust her, but so far she hasn’t acted like the Buffy he dreamed about. Even though wide-awake Buffy seems different than the dream Buffy, he still plans to watch her as much as possible. And he’s still going to tell Spike if he sees Buffy doing something funny, even though he’s less sure now than he was back at the hotel that Spike would even believe him.
Buffy walks until she’s standing next to Alex. Alex shuffles two steps away from her just to be safe. Buffy doesn’t seem to notice, because her grin gets even bigger as she looks at the Hummer. “Wanna know what’s better than flying fatality?” Buffy asks.
Alex gulps. He really doesn’t like that Buffy asked that question at all. And he really doesn’t want to know what a “flying fatality” is.
Faith pumps her first in the air and whoops. “Fatality that can crush the ass of anything that gets in our way.”
Oh, Alex realizes, Buffy is saying something nice about the Hummer. He turns to Spike to see if he understood right. He feels even more nervous when he sees that Spike looks worried.
“Just so we’re clear, I’m driving,” Spike says to Faith. “I want to be sure that any fatality doesn’t involve us landing arse over teakettle in a ditch. Just tell me you’ve got the dosh to cover the parkin’ fees an’ we’ll be on our way.”
“Chill, Spike,” Faith says with a grin. “We got the hard, cold cash that’ll cover all our needs.”
Alex Hill feels like he’s broken somehow. If he could just figure out how to fix it, everything would be okay.
The itching and prickling turned into really painful itching and prickling right after they left the parking garage. Just when it got bad enough that Alex thought that maybe he should say something, his arms and legs started twitching and jerking and he couldn’t seem to stop them no matter how hard he tried. He couldn’t seem to control anything. Then he felt these hands on him and he had to fight…fight…fight…
Then it was all black-black-black. There was nothing at all. No light. No stars. Not even red cracks in the sky. So he started screaming and screaming for help, because he thought that maybe a monster maybe attacked the Hummer and grabbed him away from Spike, Faith, and Buffy.
Just when the pain got so bad and his throat got so sore from the screaming, Alex just kind of lost…everything.
There was nothing. Not even him.
Next thing Alex knows everything is white, white, white. It’s so white that it hurts his eye and he has to close it again, except that reminds him of the black-black-black, so he opens his eye a little bit. All he can see is blurry shapes that he can’t bring into focus no matter how hard he tries.
He thinks he might be lying down on the backseat.
His limbs start to twitch, but they don’t spazz out like they did before. He can’t figure out what anyone’s saying, even though it sounds like everyone’s yelling. It’s like he can hear the volume, but not the words. Or maybe it’s just that he can hear some words, but not all of them.
“Hurry!” At least that’s what Alex thinks someone is yelling. “Hurry, hurry, hurry!”
“…fast as I…”
“Fuck. Didn’t you guys…”
“It’s going to be okay. Just hang on. Just hang…”
“I’m right here…just be okay…Xander…”
Alex arms and legs start jerking again. He can feel his head shaking back and forth so hard that he thinks he hears his neck cracking. His teeth are grinding. Then he feels someone prying open his mouth (it has to be superstrength), and he feels something slide into his mouth (he thinks it’s his mouth…it could be his nose…it could be his eye…) and he can feel something holding down his tongue and….
Alex Hill slowly wakes up. Everything is still blurry, but he doesn’t hurt any more. Instead, it feels like he’s got goose pimples. It’s not bad, but it’s not comfortable. He’s kind of aware that there’s a cool hand on his forehead.
“Spike?” The question sounds like a whisper.
“Unh, no. Spike’s right here, though. Right Spike?” a woman says. Her voice sounds like it’s coming from an orange blob that’s floating somewhere above him.
Alex narrows his eye and tries to figure out what the orange blob is, but everything around it is too bright. He can’t seem to make his eye see anything.
“Gave us quite a turn,” Spike says. “But Red says she’s solved the whole lot, so you should be right as rain.”
The orange blob bobs up and down. “How are you feeling?”
Alex closes his eye and tries to think of a word. Any word. He knows he needs to answer, but he can’t remember any words that could answer the question.
“Ummm, hold on. I think the dimensional tear is still running interference with the Keyeloche Spell and doing a short circuit-y thing with his brain. I just have to do a little adjustment. This isn’t going to hurt,” the woman says.
Alex opens his eye again and watches the orange blob. He can hear a woman mumbling something. The words sound kind of fake, like they’re not real words at all.
Suddenly, he’s staring up into the face of a woman with red hair instead of an orange blob. He’s kind of worried about that. He knows he saw orange, not red.
“How are you feeling?” she says. It’s the same voice that asked the same question before.
“Better,” Alex whispers. “Like I have goose pimples.”
“Can’t be helped. Sorry,” the woman says as she brushes his hair off his forehead.
That’s when Alex realizes that he’s very sweaty, which makes him feel a little embarrassed. To stop her from touching his sweaty face again, Alex tries to sit up, but he feels so dizzy that he ends up flat on his back again. The impact reminds him that his back still really hurts and he groans in pain before he can stop himself.
“We should get him to roll over, or at least sit up.” Spike’s face appears over the woman’s left shoulder. “His back’s a fright and he probably shouldn’t be putting pressure on it. Only reason why he’s not in worse pain is I’ve been sneaking half-a-pill into his water whenever he’s distracted.”
“You wha?” Alex asks. His mouth feels like it’s stuffed full of cotton.
“Couldn’t get you to take them otherwise,” Spike says with a shrug. “You were in too much pain when you went without, so…”
“Hate the pills,” Alex mutters.
“Was only a half-a-one so you could keep your wits about you while takin’ the edge off,” Spike says. He frowns down at the back of the woman’s head. “Leastwise, the wits they let you keep.”
The woman hunches her shoulders. “C’mon. Lemme help you sit up,” she mumbles.
“Am I sick?” Alex asks. His voice sounds really hoarse.
“Oh, no,” the woman says as she shakes her head. “Just some…ummmm…well, see, there’s a lot of mystical energy floating around and we think that it somehow reacted with the Keyeloche—”
“What Red’s tryin’ to say is that, yes, you got sick, but she fixed it,” Spike interrupts. “She’s feeding you a bit of a line because she didn’t want to scare you, since she used some magic to heal you up.”
Alex takes a closer look at the woman. “You’re Red?” He looks at Spike. “She’s the witch, right?”
“No.” The woman shakes her head. Then she starts nodding, “I mean yes.” Then her head starts making a circle, like she can’t decide whether she should be shaking her head no or nodding her head yes. “What I mean is, yes, I’m a witch, but no my name isn’t Red. It’s Willow. Spike just calls me Red. But no one else does. At least not to my face. Everyone else calls me Willow. Usually.”
Alex just stares at Red…Willow…Red…Willow…whatever her name is. He’s never seen a witch before, well, not a real witch (except for the evil black-haired witch in his bad dreams but this witch doesn’t look at all like her). The only witches he’s ever seen while he was awake were Halloween witches, which he knows aren’t real witches (although before he met Spike, he was pretty sure there was no such thing as a real witch). She doesn’t look anything like a Halloween witch. Her skin’s normal, and not green. And her nose is normal, too. There’s not even a wart on it.
In fact, Willow isn’t ugly at all. She’s actually kind of pretty.
“Oi!” Spike exclaims as he snaps his fingers in front of Alex’s face.
“Sorry,” Alex says. “It’s just that I’m surprised you’re a witch.”
Willow grins at him. “Don’t look the part, hunh?”
Alex just shakes his head.
“Most of us don’t, I promise,” Willow says. “Hey, you think you might want to try sitting up again? You should be okay, even if you’ll be feeling kitten-ish with a side of wobbly colt-ish.”
“Got it,” Spike says as he moves to help Alex sit up and swing his legs over the side of the bed.
“That’s better, yeah?” Spike asks Alex after he helps Alex sit up.
Alex nods as he looks around the room. He moves his head really slowly, because it feels like it’s stuffed full of pillows. He’s in a bedroom, but it’s not a hotel room. At least, it doesn’t look like a hotel room. It’s too nice. The bed’s a lot better than the beds he’s been sleeping in for the past few days and the sheets are really very thick. The drapes that are blocking the window look like they’re made of velvet or something and they’re a really dark green color. Plus, he sees pictures of people on the wall — photos, not paintings — although no one in the picture has blond hair like Spike or red hair like Willow.
The home must belong to some other superhero, then.
“Just so you know, we’re safe and sound in L.A., just like I promised,” Spike says. For some reason, Spike’s not looking at Alex at all. Instead he’s looking at some point on the wall just behind Alex.
Alex frowns. “Is something wrong, Spike?”
“Wrong?” Willow asks. “Nothing’s wrong.”
Spike shakes his head and starts hunting through his pockets. Alex is pretty sure that Spike’s about to pull out his cigarettes.
“Should you be smoking in here?” Alex asks Spike. “The people who live here might get mad if their bedroom smells bad.”
Willow and Spike exchange looks.
“Oh, they won’t mind,” Willow says. Her voice sounds a little funny. “They, unh, they moved and said we could use the place for as long as we needed to.”
Oh. So the house doesn’t belong to a superhero. Just normal people like Alex. He doesn’t know why, but Alex is kind of disappointed to know that.
The bedroom door suddenly swings open. Alex is so startled that he almost falls off the bed, but Spike grabs him by the shoulder so he stays right where he is. Alex looks up at the door. He’s surprised to see that it’s Buffy and not Faith.
Buffy’s grinning this big grin when she walks into the room. She opens her mouth like she’s about to say something, but when she sees Alex her grin turns right into an open-mouthed frown.
Willow stands up and turns around to look at Buffy. Her shoulders are hunched. She looks like she just did something bad, and that she’s afraid to admit it.
Buffy’s head slowly moves until she’s looking at Willow.
“B-B-Buffy…” Willow begins.
“We promised,” Buffy whispers.
Alex looks at Spike. He’s surprised to see that Spike looks very, very angry as he pulls his pack of cigarettes and a lighter out of one of his coat pockets.
Willow tries talking to her again. “Buffy, we can’t—”
“We promised!” Buffy yells. “One thing, Willow! He just wanted one thing!”
Buffy is yelling so loud that Alex wants to cover his ears. He doesn’t though. Instead he clutches the edge of the bed and wonders what Buffy promised and who she promised it to.
“We don’t have time. The dimensional—” Willow begins.
“MAKE THE TIME!” Buffy screams at Willow.
“Give her hell, Slayer,” Spike mutters. He shoves his cigarettes and lighter back into his coat pocket, and crosses his arms.
Alex looks at Spike because he’s really surprised. Spike called Buffy “slayer.” If Buffy is a good superhero, why is Spike calling her “slayer”? Maybe that’s her superhero name. If it is, that doesn’t sound like the name of a good guy. It sounds like the name of someone who kills good guys.
A male voice yells, “What is all this racket?”
Alex’s head quickly turns toward the voice. The movement makes him feel so dizzy that he’s afraid that he’s going to slide off the edge of the bed and land on the floor. He suddenly feels a hand on his shoulder that stops him just in time.
It’s Spike. Again.
“Steady on,” Spike quietly says to Alex.
The new person is a really old man with glasses. Alex thinks that he must be at least 40. He looks really angry.
Buffy points at Willow. “We promised!” she yells at the man. “We promised Xander that—”
Alex is left wondering what Buffy promised Zander, because the old man doesn’t let her finish.
“It appears we’re fast running out of time. Given the current level of mystical energy present it would take…” Here the old man stops talking and glances at Alex before looking away, taking off his glasses, and pinching his nose like he has a headache.
Alex suddenly feels really mad, because the man barely looked at him. He doesn’t know why he feels really mad, though. It’s not like the man even knows who he is.
“Even under optimal circumstances, and given the complexity of the masking spell and personality created, it would take at least two hours to free him, possibly more,” the man says as he puts his glasses back on his face. “The current level of ambient mystical energy in the region is rather off the charts and I don’t have to tell you that it’s running interference with the Keyeloche Spell. I was under the impression that you had a rather graphic demonstration of that before you reached us. Needless to say, our current estimate of two hours to completely banish—” The man once more barely glances at Alex. “Well, let’s just say that two hours would be highly optimistic under present conditions.”
Alex is so confused. He didn’t understand a single thing the man just said. He doesn’t think he’s the only one who’s confused, because everyone is quiet and is just looking at the man. Although when he looks around the room, he’s a lot less sure that’s true. Willow looks like she wants to hide. Spike looks so angry that Alex wonders if Spike wants to kill the man with his bare hands. He thinks Buffy is probably the only other person confused because her face is scrunched up like she’s thinking about what the man said.
Alex just hunches his shoulders and hopes that someone will explain something to him really soon.
“That’s not the point,” Buffy finally says. She isn’t yelling now. Instead, she sounds like she’s begging. “We can’t just do this to him. And it’s not fair to Xander. After everything we’ve asked him to do, after everything he’s done, we at least owe him keeping our promise.”
“She’s right, Watcher.” Spike lets go of Alex’s shoulder and takes a step forward.
“You agree. Now there’s a bit of a shock,” the man mutters.
Spike looks like he’s going to explode.
“Dunno what the witch has been whispering in your ear, but this isn’t cricket, an’ you know it,” Spike says.
“Hey! ‘The witch’ isn’t the only person saying that the end is a lot more nigh than we thought. There are a few other witches agreeing with me,” Willow says.
Willow turns, marches over to the window, and yanks open one of the drapes.
Alex gasps as he jumps off the bed. He stumbles backwards until he crashes into someone.
“Watch yourself!” Spike yelps before he grabs Alex by the arm to stop Alex from stumbling around the room even more.
Alex can’t stop looking at the sky, even though it looks really, really bad. Worse than what it looked like when he got off the plane, even. There are so many red cracks in the sky, that it looks like there’s as much red as there is black in it. He wants to look away, but he can’t. All he can do is stare out the window. He’s not sure, but he thinks the cracks might be moving like snakes across the sky.
Oh God, Alex thinks. The sky’s broken and the monsters from the evil universe are already here. We’re too late.
“The sky looks bright blue to me,” Buffy says.
If Alex could turn his head away from the sky, he knows that he would be looking at Buffy like she’s gone crazy.
“You see bright blue skies. Just about everyone sees that. Even Giles,” Willow says. “Know what I see? Know what the other witches see? The sky tearing itself apart, that’s what we see. Everyone would think we were eating crazy flakes, except there are vampires walking around in what’s supposed to be a bright sunny day in L.A.”
“I can see it,” Spike says.
“I can, too,” Alex whispers to Spike. “Why can I see it? I’m not supposed to, am I?”
No one answers him.
Alex isn’t sure if he should be mad about that, mostly because he’s kind of afraid of the answer.
“Just how nigh are we talking?” Buffy asks. She’s staring out the window with her face all scrunched up like she really can see nothing but blue skies and is trying to see the same sky that Alex sees.
“Nigh,” Willow says. “Very, very nigh. Like within 8 hours nigh. Probably less.”
Alex begins to shake and the feeling of fluffy pillows in his head disappears. Something cold and hard settles in his stomach. Something’s gone wronger than wrong. Spike said they had at least a week when they talked in the diner. Eight hours is not a week. Eight hours isn’t even a day.
Alex hopes Zander can still cast the spell, and fix the sky, and stop the monsters. Alex hopes that Zander does it really, really soon.
“Eight hours? That’s not possible,” Buffy says. “Last I heard we had days. Plenty of time to—”
“What we’re trying to explain, despite constant interruptions,” the man interrupts, “is that the energy from the portal is feeding off itself, thus forcing it to open at a much accelerated rate. Certainly far more quickly than we had anticipated. And neither you nor Spike can convince me that Xander would want us to risk an apocalypse just because—”
“An’ you know what he would want, do you?” Spike stomps over to the man until he’s standing nose to nose with him. Spike waves an arm around the room and says, “This is what he would want, is it? Begged for this, did he? I know for a fact that Harris’d rather rip ’is own head off than live like—”
“You know for a fact, do you? Good Lord, man, do you think we’re heartless?” The man yells in Spike’s face. “Is that it? Do you honestly believe that we’d willingly — how did you so charmingly put it — ‘rip out his teeth, chop off his claws, and scoop out his brains’ unless he—”
Spike steps one step closer to the man. So close, in fact, that Alex wonders if Spike is standing on the man’s toes.
“I was tied up in that basement. You weren’t,” Spike growls.
The man looks confused. “Basement?” he asks.
“You remember, yeah?” Spike snarls. “Back when I first lost a bit o’ my bite and thought that I’d been tossed out of the sandbox for good.”
Alex is openly staring at Spike. Spike lost his powers? Well, no, that’s just stupid to think that because Spike’s still really fast and really strong. But maybe Spike lost some of his powers. Or maybe Spike only thought he lost them.
The man’s face gets very still. “I wasn’t under the impression that you much cared.”
Spike steps back so quickly that at first Alex thought that maybe the man slapped Spike without Alex seeing it. Except that Spike doesn’t look like he’s been slapped. Instead, Spike looks like he’s surprised, and maybe a little confused, too.
“We’ve no time for this nonsense just now,” the man says as he turns to Buffy. “As you feel so strongly about this situation, I feel it’s best if I explain why I told Willow to…ahhh…strengthen the masking spell rather than banish it.”
“Strengthen,” Buffy says with a growl.
The man glances at Alex again, but this time Alex sees…something. He’s not sure what he sees, but it’s something that makes Alex feel a little sad.
“It’s best if we have some privacy so we can properly explain things,” the man says.
“How about here?” Buffy asks as she crosses her arms. “I think Alex should hear this so he can remember your really good reasons for breaking our promise to Xander when this is over.”
Alex is confused. Why does Buffy think that Alex would want to hear about why the superheroes broke their promise to Zander? Zander doesn’t even know him and probably wouldn’t like it if Alex knew something secret about him — like the fact that the superheroes made a promise to him and don’t plan to keep it.
“Buffy, things are really delicate right now,” Willow says. “The city’s crawling with demons with psychic abilities just waiting get a sniff of Xander. We can’t take the chance and do or say something that might give them that sniff. We really need to go somewhere else and talk.”
Alex feels a little dizzy, because he doesn’t understand what’s going on. He can see why the superheroes don’t want to talk about Zander’s secrets in front of him, but he thinks he should know about the rest of it — like how many monsters are in L.A. and why the sky keeps getting worse. But none of them seem to want to answer the question why he can see the sky falling apart. He’s not a witch like Willow and he’s not a superhero like Spike. So he shouldn’t be able to see it.
Buffy throws up her hands. “Fine!”
As Spike moves to follow Buffy, Willow, and the man, Alex can feel his heart sink. They’re just going to leave him in this room all by himself? He doesn’t even know where he is. Well, he knows that he’s in L.A., but he doesn’t really know where in L.A. he is. What if the monsters attack the house and he has to run? He doesn’t know where he should run to if the monsters attack.
Buffy stops and turns her head so she’s looking right at Alex. She looks really upset.
“Spike?” Buffy asks. “Can you stay with…with Alex, please?”
Spike stops and crosses his arms. “Not a chance.”
Alex closes his eye and lowers his head. He should’ve known that once Spike was back with his superhero friends that Spike wouldn’t want to hang around with him.
“I’m not givin’ up on this,” Spike says. “I want an explanation for ol’ Alex here and I’m not resting easy until I get it.”
Alex looks up then and feels a little hope in his chest. Spike isn’t ditching him, but what does Spike mean when he says that he wants an explanation for Alex?
Buffy shakes her head. “Look, I know what you’re thinking, but you’ve got it wrong.”
“Do I?” Spike says. “That precious Watcher of yours would sacrifice every last one of us if it suited him.”
Alex shivers when Spike says that. Now he understands. Some of the superheroes don’t want to protect him, and Spike is fighting with his friends about it.
“That’s not fair,” Buffy says.
Spike points at Alex. “That’s fair, is it?”
Alex’s knees feel weak. He has a very bad feeling that it’s more than just the superheroes not wanting to protect him. He thinks that maybe some of the superheroes aren’t happy that Spike brought Alex to L.A. at all.
That’s when Alex knows: The broken promise that Buffy’s yelling about must be about the superheroes not wanting to protect Alex from the monsters. Faith said that Zander wouldn’t do the spell to stop the monsters unless the superheroes protected Alex, so that has to be it. They’re probably planning to lie to Zander and tell him that Alex is protected, when really they plan to leave him on his own while they go save the world.
“No, it’s not fair,” Buffy sighs. “It’s just not not-fair in the way you think it is.”
Spike crosses his arms. “Then educate me.”
“Spike, not now,” Buffy says. “Later, okay? I’ll explain everything later. Right now there’s a whole thing with world-endage and Xander-hiding that’s going on and I gotta deal with that first. Your issues? This? This is not so important right now.”
Spike looks like he still wants to keep fighting, but instead he says, “After the hell we’ve been through, I best get that explanation.”
“You’ll get it,” Buffy promises. She moves her head so she can look right at Alex. “Don’t worry. I’m going to fix this, or at least find out why I can’t. Just…just hang tight, okay? I’ll be right back.”
Alex is surprised. Buffy seems like she’s on Spike’s side (even though Alex knows that Buffy did try to feed her friends to the monsters once). It’s strange that Buffy is one of the superheroes who wants to protect him. It doesn’t make him feel any better, though. He still feels like someone punched him in the stomach, even though he knows that stopping the monsters from invading is more important than protecting him.
As Spike closes the door after Buffy, Alex stumbles to the bed and sits on the edge of it. He wants to tell Spike to go away. He wants to make Spike promise that he’ll stay. He wants to ask Spike to close the drapes because he doesn’t want to accidentally see the sky. He wants Spike to tell him that he’s got it all wrong, and that the superheroes are just trying to figure out how to make sure Alex will stay safe from the monsters.
He wants someone to give him a hug, but he’s pretty sure that Spike doesn’t like hugging.