Into the Night


see title page for notes



Chapter One

As Wesley turned off the light on his desk in his office, he thought about the night's events. About how Fred had worked so hard to help Spike and how Spike had risked everything to save Fred. Wesley had saved Fred's life, of course, but he hadn't made a sacrifice on quite the grand scale that Spike had. If they did, somehow, manage to bring back his body, Fred would fall right into Spike's waiting and open arms; Wesley could picture it all so clearly.

He heard a noise and turned to see Fred standing in the doorway, tears rolling down her cheeks. He almost thought for a moment that his thoughts had made her materialise. She looked distraught, helpless, and more than anything Wesley wanted to be her knight in shining armour. She looked lovely as ever and the longing in his heart made his chest ache.

"Spike just left my office," she informed him; her voice caught and a small hiccup escaped at the end. Through her tears, she didn't see Wesley's face fall before he quickly got his expression back in order.

Wesley knew she was upset about Spike's incorporeal condition and he prayed – again – that it was only heartfelt friendly concern, not what he was beginning to suspect might be something deeper. And now that Spike had given up his only chance at being restored in order to save Fred's life, the future looked grim indeed.

"He's given up," she continued. "He's resigned himself to staying a ghost and moving closer into…" She couldn't continue, couldn't voice the nightmare that woke her up sobbing. Spike being pulled into a fiery pit of Hell. Her eyes pleaded with Wesley. "He's a champion. He saved the whole world. We have to find a way to help him. Science didn't work. Maybe it's time to give magic a try. I promised I wouldn't give up on him, Wesley."

Wes sighed and turned his light back on. He'd do anything for Fred, even this. And she was right; Spike deserved their loyalty and respect. He walked over to a table holding a series of large, leather–bound books, picked one up and whispered into the binding, "Gerard's Compendium of Magics."

He handed the book to Fred saying, "You start with that one." She smiled, took it and sat, listening as he whispered, "Any known reference to magical recorporealisation" into another.

Fred was revived. She'd known she could count on Wesley. This felt blissfully like the real world again; her and Wesley studying books until they found a solution to a problem. It wasn't the surreal world of dealing with mass–murdering demons on trial in either human or other–worldly courts. It was the old business of saving a soul worth saving. It felt good.

Harmony brought them coffee at two, humming a Celine Dion song. She seemed happy to be able to lend a hand to help Spike. Gunn came in a little after six and after learning what they were doing, pulled up a book and found a bit of floor space, and began researching with them.

Another hour crept by, the friends doing the only thing they could think of to help someone who needed saving. At least it was something, which always felt better than feeling helpless.

Angel came in and asked if he had forgotten a meeting then, after hearing their explanation, gave them a strange look before he went on to his own office; Fred couldn't tell if he approved or not, but that didn't matter. Spike was a champion and Angel hadn't even informed them all of the part he had played in taking down The First Evil. As far as she was concerned, Angel's feelings toward Spike, whatever they were, had no bearing on her – their – quest.

She tried not to feel discouraged as hour after hour passed with no result. Tacos for lunch, Chinese food for dinner – at least Fred assumed it was dinner, she did notice it was dark outside. Time held no meaning. They had to find a solution and as soon as possible. The non–appearance of Spike all day had left her worried and she was determined to find a solution before he slipped into Hell for good.

Another night and morning passed and nothing much in the room had changed, save for their positions. Each one of them were in various stages of nearly giving up, but no one wanted to be the first to say it.

Harmony had just come to collect the morning's coffee cups when Gunn asked, "Wes?" He sounded slightly hopeful. "Does anyone love Spike?"

Wesley rubbed the sleep out of his eyes and considered the question. He hoped the answer wasn't 'Fred'.

Fred noticed that Charles still had his head in a book as he asked the question, so she asked, "Why? Does it matter? He's still worth saving, even if–"

"No," Charles interrupted. "I think I might have – if this is right, that is. Half of it is in what looks like gibberish, maybe Wes can translate it – but it says that you need a person who truly loves the spirit to say the words. And maybe dance, I'm not sure."

Fred ran and grabbed the book but it looked like gibberish to her too, so she took the book and laid it on Wesley's desk. Wesley turned it around until he could read the text. He read the five pages over and over again, referencing other books to make sure his translations were correct, then looked up into Fred's eyes and smiled. "I think we have it. I want to double check this Palaic translation. I'm not as up on ancient Turkish as I once was. But if it checks out, we just have to find someone who truly loves Spike."

Gunn could see in Wesley's eyes that he was afraid Fred would speak up, but Fred took no notice, and turned instead to Harmony, who shrugged. It seemed that she did not fit the bill.

Fred thought and then turned, running out the door and yelling, "We have to get Buffy's number from Angel."

Charles saw the look of relief that passed over Wes's face but Fred was long gone. "She doesn't love him. Fred, I mean," Gunn clarified. "You know Fred. She wants to save everybody. Doesn't mean she's in love with him."

"I know," Wes replied, following Fred out of the room. But it seemed to Gunn that he hadn't known, not until that minute anyway. Looked like Wes still had it bad for Fred.

"Dawn, this is Fred. Winifred Burkle. I'm a friend of Angel's, and I know Willow Rosenberg, she can vouch for me. Is Buffy there?" It hadn't been hard getting Buffy's number in Rome from the slayer who answered the phone at the number Giles had given Angel months ago. Of course, Fred hadn't mentioned Wolfram & Hart. Best not to take a chance that this slayer knew of its evil reputation.

But the number in Rome didn't bring much better results. Only Dawn was in residence at the moment.

"Sorry," Fred heard the voice at the end of the line reply. "Buffy's out on Council business. She's been gone for a week, no idea when she'll be back. What's up? Maybe I can help."

Fred sighed and Dawn heard the disappointment, so she went on. "I'm good at helping, really. I know more than Buffy does about most things. Not about slaying, obviously, she still won't let me do that, even though I'm more than old enough. But I've been studying to become a Watcher and I'm up on all the other mystical stuff. Whatcha need?"

Fred sighed again before answering, "It's not the mystical we need help with – just the opposite actually." She began to tell the story of Spike's materialisation out of the necklace and in between Dawn's screams and gasps and crying, Fred explained briefly about their attempts to get him back into his body. It took a while, and Gunn had to get on once or twice to explain things in non–science speak, but by the end Dawn was listening very intently.

"So you need someone who loves Spike for the spell. I love Spike – he's the big brother I never had. I could come right now–"

"I don't think that's the kind of love we need." Fred broke it to her as gently as she could, but she could tell Dawn was disappointed. "I think we need Buffy for this one."

Luckily, Fred couldn't see the expression on Dawn's face or she would have given up right then and there. Dawn knew that Buffy was grateful to Spike, but if she loved him at all, it was for saving the world. It wasn't the kind of love Fred was talking about. It wasn't the kind of love Spike needed right now. In fact, mentioning Spike's reappearance to Buffy might not be a good idea at all. The nature of his death had given him a new status in the eyes of most of the former Scooby Gang and a live Spike would, Dawn was sure, diminish the new respect they seemed to have for him.

But Dawn wasn't a watcher junior for nothing. She saw things. Things that maybe even the people involved hadn't admitted out loud. There was a solution to Fred – Spike's – problem. But could she find her? And would she even go once Dawn explained the situation?

"I'll…see what I can do," Dawn told Fred. She'd gotten away from lying, that wasn't who she was anymore and wasn't going to start again with Willow's friend across the globe. "I can't promise anything, but I think I can convince her." Okay, so she didn't tell the whole truth; that wasn't lying, right? No need to tell Fred that it wasn't Buffy she was going to contact. "I'll get back to you as soon as I can."

Fred and Dawn hung up and Fred shrugged at her friends, unsure what to tell them. She didn't know if Buffy was coming; she didn't know if Buffy even still loved Spike – or if she ever had.

"I guess now we wait."

They didn't have to wait long. Two days later at nine in the morning, the elevator doors opened and Wesley, who had been standing there waiting to take the lift up to Mergers and Acquisitions, looked up to see Willow Rosenberg step out of the elevator and say to him, "Dawn emailed and said you needed me. Whose soul did you lose this time?"