He opened the door, looking to his right. He shook his head even before the anticipated question was asked.
“Did you find Buffy?” Giles inquired around something he was chewing.
It took him less than a second to answer, “No.” It felt like an eternity in his mind. Everyone was watching him, waiting for him to add something to that.
Instead, he moved away and felt them all following him. He could distinctly hear the conversation going on behind him as his mind countered it silently.
“But, you did that spell with the little lights? Ah-- the locator?” Andrew asked as if he somewhat belonged now, was one of them.
Anya, right on his heels, answered Andrew, “It crapped out on us though.”
Those two had been getting along lately. Better the new kid than…
Dawn interrupted his thoughts, “No, it didn’t-- exactly.”
“It just took us to an empty house,” Willow explained, trying to sound confident and failing. “She must’ve moved on already.”
Yes, she had, but someone else was still there…
“I’m afraid we have slightly worse news here,” Giles’ voice was lost in the background as Xander quickly flashed back, less than an hour ago…
“It’s here.” Willow nodded at the house where the green blink of light disappeared into moments before. Xander, Dawn and Anya stood with her. And all four did nothing but look at the silent house.
Anya spoke up after a moment, “Shouldn’t we like, check out the scene of the crime?”
“There was no crime!” Dawn said with a little too much force. “Faith told us to…” she trailed off, still unsure of what they were supposed to do.
Willow opened her mouth but lost what she wanted to say when Xander blocked her view of the house as he stomped forward, “We go in.”
The girls followed his stiff stride, thirteen steps later found them pulling to a quick stop inside the dark house so not to slam into the broad back.
“Let’s split up,” Willow whispered. Light nods from the three before a pause to take a breath as if they were attempting a great feat.
Xander barely caught glace of the rest as they headed to their destination before he instinctively let his feet guide him through the foreign house. A fleeting thought about what had happened to the original occupants passed his mind… but he soon found himself standing in the doorway to a bedroom.
If Xander was completely honest with himself, he would admit to not really being all that surprised at what he found there. When Spike had made the ‘self-righteous humans’ feel as if they were ungrateful traitorous children kicking out their caretaker and had nearly nicked a third slayer into his belt, Xander knew without any doubt that Spike had went after Buffy.
So, really, his eye moving from the discarded duster to the right to seeing Spike asleep in that unkempt bed was not that shocking, although the now soul-ed vampire being fully dressed and alone in it was. It was a comforting sight and yet at the same time, not.
Xander took a step into the room and mentally berated himself at being an ungraceful oaf when the floorboard creaked. With his remaining eye, he peered at the dead body which merely demonstrated its animation by making a sleepy shift in position.
Something had to be said about the big bad vampire, feeling comfortable around humans, that or he was truly worn-out from the recent events. But for once, Xander was at a loss for words, even in his own mind. It might be that he was overwhelmed at the moment or that he was just growing up, he gave both reasons no more than a fleeting thought.
What interested him at that point in time was the intense curiosity at this current corner he found himself in. However, something told him that the crumpled piece of paper that had been tossed to the bottom of the bed could satisfy it.
All it took were several careful movements for him to find himself unfolding the paper. He spared no thought as to why he bothered not to disturb Spike’s slumber. His narrowed eye finally broke from its intense scrutiny of the sleeping figure and quickly scanned the message that Buffy had left for Spike.
He read it twice, during which his gaze continued to flicker to the unmoving figure. Done, he balled the paper so it resembled its prior shape and replaced it on the covers. He turned and left.
He met the others right outside the house.
“Anything?” Willow asked.
Xander, knowing how he was going to reply for that, answered, “Everything’s dead quiet in the bedrooms.”
Dawn looked saddened. “So, now what? What do we…?”
“Faith hasn’t returned with the other girls,” Giles said in his the ‘world is ending’ tone, what a better way to snap someone out of their memory flash. “Something’s wrong.”
They had to handle this, because if what Buffy had said in her letter to Spike was true, their Slayer might have found it. She had figured it out.
“I’ve been here keeping moral up,” Andrew’s overly cheery voice cut in. “Because that’s important.”
She would come home.
“We have to go to her,” Willow asserted with a hasty breath.
They could win this.