Buffy sat slumped over the books scattered on the Magic Box's table, her head resting firmly on her open palm, watching Giles clean his glasses. 'I wonder how many times he's polished those things?' she thought 'It's a wonder that they've lasted so long . . . you'd think the glass would break under the pressure, or fall out or something.' A sudden thought suddenly struck her, and she felt as if a cartoon lightbulb over her head had just flashed on. 'Maybe those aren't the same glasses!' She studied the spectacles carefully, eyeing the frames warily. 'Did they have those little gold thingies on the rim before?' Suddenly a picture flashed in Buffy's mind of Giles polishing his glasses until the frames snapped, and he would exclaim: "Oh, dear!" in a stuffy, ex-librarian way. Then he would just open a secret drawer hidden out of sight and toss them in with the other dozen-or-so pair he would undoubtedly have destroyed over the years, and open another hidden panel filled with new, unbroken glasses. The thought made her give a small snort of laughter, and Giles turned his eyes to her with a questioning gaze. She smiled weakly, picking up one of the books in front of her and pretended to scan the pages.

"Mmm hmm," she murmured, watching Giles stare at her from the corner of her eye, "This all makes sense, now."

Giles raised an amused eyebrow. "I wasn't aware you spoke Latin."

Buffy glanced down at the words in front of her printed in an unfamiliar tongue, and felt a rosy blush creep up her face. She closed the book she was holding slowly, setting it back on the table with a sheepish grin. Giles shook his head and muttered something about 'Irresponsible juviniles' and continued his polishing. Buffy yawned for the thirtieth time that afternoon and stood up, raising her sore arms over her head.

'Yep, definitely lacking in the sleep department,' she thought, walking over to the various magical items stacked on the shelves, 'When you're starting to spend half an hour thinking about Giles' glasses, it's definitely time to consider sleeping pills. That or professional help.'

Glancing at a small, black figurine of - something - in front of her, she picked it up gently, studying it, tracing the slight lines and curves of the ornate carvings with her index finger. She was startled from her thoughts when Anya rushed up from behind the counter, shouting at the top of her lungs, "Don't touch that!"

Buffy dropped it back into place, turning to Anya with a bemused look on her face. "Let me guess, it's really, really expensive? Or does it just turn me into a purple goo?"

Anya pushed her aside and steadied the figurine on the shelf, positioning it until she thought it was perfect. "Both, actually," she replied, finally, her face filled with concern, "And it turns you into *red* goo, not purple." Anya spoke to Buffy as if she were a five year old child that needed everything explained to her, which always managed to frustrate the Slayer. "Your blood is red, the goo would naturally be the same color. It's a commonly known fact."

She turned back to the figurine, studying it quietly. "Besides," she added, "A steaming pile of human remains on the floor would hardly be good for business. Unless you're into that sort of thing," she pondered.

"Are you sure that item should be in public view?" Giles asked.

"Well if it's not in their view, they can't see it, meaning that they won't buy it," Anya explained, frustrated.

"Would you really want the person that wants to buy a person-goo maker thing in the Magic Box?" Willow asked.

"It depends . . . would he have money?"

The bell on the shop's door tinkled as a nervous customer, having heard the conversation taking place, fled the shop quickly. Anya glanced over at Buffy with a furious glare. "You made a customer leave! You made their money go away!"

The ex-demon ran to the door, opening it and yelling at the rapidly retreating woman: "Have a nice day! Come again soon!" She turned on her heels angrily, glaring at her friends. "Now she's never going to come back . . . she'll probably tell all of the people she knows that at the Magic Box we turn our customers into gelatin!" Flouncing over to the cash register in a huff, Xander left his seat and held Anya in his arms, comforting the distraught ex-demon.

Giles returned his glasses to his face and got up from his chair, making his way over to the black figurine Buffy had been fingering. Picking it up gently, he went to the storage room and placed in on a high shelf, away from the customer's sight. When he returned, Giles was holding a notepad in his hand, and Buffy could see various things scribbled down on it, although she couldn't read the exact words.

"Buffy," he said, causing her to shift her gaze to him, "I'm grateful for all of the information that you have provided for me so far, but . . . I need more *details*. Something specific in your dream that could help me search for . . . whatever it is I'm looking for. A prophecy of some sort, most likely . . . but what information you have given me is only . . . sketchy, at best."

"I'm sorry," Buffy apologized, feeling a bit guilty at not being able to provide a more accurate description, "But it's kind of hard to remember. The rundown is: There's a girl. Some faceless fighter that's sparring with Spike, and then, for some reason they kiss, and then they're in this funky timewarp thing. He's leading her down a street dressed in this horrible tweed thing" she eyed his outfit, blushing, "not that there's anything wrong with tweed . . . and these glasses. The whole thing is totally un- Spike like. Then they lay on the ground and start up with the smoochies, and bam! we're in a totally different place. Not modern day, I think, because Spike's still looking like the biggest loser in Loserville . . . and he's talking to some other woman who's dressed up all Victorian-ish, too." Buffy sighed; taking a seat at the table where she had previously been seated in front of, resting her tired eyes for a moment. "She's talking to him about some party," she continued, "'Why aren't you at the party?' or something like that. Then it's back to the first area, fighting with the other girl, more kissing, and the ground starts the rumble, like an earthquake or something, and the sky parts. That's all I can remember so far . . . and it doesn't make any sense. I don't think that's all there is to it . . . but it's really getting frustrating having the same damn thing in your head night after night. I'm starting to miss those dreams I used to have where I went to school but forgot to wear pants. Humiliating? Yes. Mundane? No."

"And that's *all* you can remember?" Giles asked, exasperated.

"Yeah . . . wait, I'm remembering something . . . there was hay! There was definite hay," Buffy paused, considering this, "Maybe we're going to be attacked by some giant hay monster of doom," she joked.

"That's enough!" Giles said, his voice angry, "I will not have any more of your - your shenanigans! It's high time that we buckle down and figure out what this prophecy is and what we're going to do about it!"

Buffy watched him breathe heavily, taking his glasses off and polishing them with the hem of his shirt furiously. "My God, Giles. Did you just say 'shenanigans'?" she asked, her voice tinged with laughter.

"I do believe I did," he answered, "I'm sorry for that outburst, it's just that this is starting to feel like some sort of maze, and I'm the rat trying to find the cheese. Or prophecy, in this case. In actuality, I'm starting to think that no such thing exists."

"Yeah, I hate it when the world treats you like a small rodent," Buffy joked, "But in all honesty, Giles, these dreams have to mean *something*. It's not like it's every day - or month, for that matter - that I dream about Spike. I can't stand the guy; I ran him out of town for a reason."

"I very well wish you hadn't," Giles said, "If he does play a major part in this prophecy of yours, as the dreams suggest, then he would be a great deal of help to have around."

"You think he might know something?" Buffy wondered aloud.

"I wouldn't doubt it," he replied, "In any case, we would need to keep him under safeguard just in case he is planning some sort of apocalypse and, uh, prevent it from occuring. However much I hate to say it, Buffy, we need Spike back . . . if only for the good of humanity."

Buffy sighed, resting her head on her open palm, as she had been earlier. 'Could this day get any worse?' she wondered. "So we need to find Spike," she said, "the only problem is - where do we look?"

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

He glanced down at the business card in his hand and sighed, taking a long draw on his cigarette. Blowing lazy smoke rings, Spike stubbed the cigarette with one scuffed boot and headed across the street towards the large, foreboding building.

To most others, the business wouldn't have been intimidating in the slightest; it was merely a large, old building, the paint peeling from age. In Spike's opinion, however, it signaled his descent into madness. Anyone in his situation would have to be insane to come there in the first place, no doubt about it.

He couldn't help it, though; he had nowhere else to turn. He couldn't go to the Scooby gang for help with his troubles . . . Buffy had threatened to stake him if he ever showed his face in Sunnydale again. Spike had decided that he'd rather live with the dreams than live as a big pile of dust. But he had to do something . . . at first, the dream hadn't seemed so bad . . . just your average, run-of-the-mill prophecy. He had learned to cope with having the same bloody images running through his mind all day, though it would be enough to drive a man insane. Or a vampire, in his case.

What had driven him to lower himself to this level had been a particularly nasty time he had had three nights before while sleeping. Spike had awoken from the same dream to discover that he had been sleepwalking, which wouldn't have bothered him so much if it hadn't been for the fact that he opened the crypt door and was stading halfway outside. Halfway into the blistering sun.

Spike wasn't really sure what caused him to wake up, be it the pain of his skin sizzling or the smell of the burning flesh greeting his nostrils, but he awoke with a start. Having never sleepwalked before in his lifetime, he was almost 100% positive that it was tied with the dream. So he waited the next day, slept for a good hour or so, before he found himself out in the sun again. Whatever his unconcious mind was so eager for him to see, his body tended to dislike the idea of being burnt to death by UV rays, and he rushed back inside, unable to sleep the rest of the night.

He had gone two days without sleep, so far, and he knew that he could go much longer if necessary. The problem was, he liked his sleep, uninterrupted and unadulterated. Spike also found out that, when he went too long without it, he became slow on his feet; the previous night, a Gaknar demon had gotten the better of him and had nearly snapped his head off. A mistake that deadly is rarely made twice.

So he found himself poised outside the hotel door, ready to suck up his pride and ask for help in the last place he wanted it. Pushing the handle on the large wooden door, he entered the room with his head bowed, cringing at the familiar, perky voice that greeted him.

"Welcome to Angel Investigations, where we help the helpless!"

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

TBC . . .