***Part 6***

Angel hesitated before knocking on the front door. For close to a week now he stood by as Spike patrolled with Buffy, kissed Buffy, touched Buffy, talked to Buffy, and made love to Buffy without benefit of being behind closed doors or in out of sight places. They reminded him, in a less perverse way, of him and Darla when he had seen them go at it in the spot they had dusted a vamp only moments before. Angelus and Darla used to revel in the scents of a fresh kill scene, or just enjoyed torturing some poor person even further by making them watch them together before killing them. He did not want to admit he was jealous, trying to justify this visit by having Buffy's best interests in mind. Right. He had been cast aside, replaced and she had not even had the courtesy to tell him. Well, he was not going to let her tell him, he was going to tell her first.

He knocked and walked to the porch steps, pacing the short distance between the end of the porch and the front door. Finally, he heard someone unlock the door and open it. "Hi, Mrs. Summers, I was wondering if Buffy was home." He offered her his most charming smile, though it did little good on Joyce Summers any longer. He had ruined any chances he had of being on Joyce's good side when he had lost his soul. As if he should be held accountable for everything he did and said as Angelus! Of course, he realized he should be and that was the point, but still there were times he wished it wasn't the case.

"Sure, come on in, Angel," she said holding the front door open for her. He did not need the invitation, but it was nice to hear her invite him in.

"Thank you," he said stepping past her.

"She's upstairs getting ready to go to a meeting at school, but I'll get her."

"Thanks," he said again for lack of anything better to say. He made his way to the living room and sat on the couch. He closed his eyes briefly, but had to open them again from being haunted by images of Spike and Buffy on this very couch more than once this week. He stood then suddenly, not wanting to be near anything they had touched together. Of course, that would eliminate his being close to Buffy, but that was different.

Suddenly, there she was, beautiful and innocent. She was the one deserving of his name. He had expected close up for her to look different, used, soiled, unclean but he was sorry to say that was not the case. She looked just fine to him. Good enough that he'd forgive all if she asked him to. "Angel, hi."

"Hi."

"You look good," she said and Angel knew she was nervous. Good. He could smell fear. Good again.

"Thanks. You haven't been by to work out or to have me go patrolling with you."

"I, well, Spike's been going with me. I figured you'd need your rest to recuperate, get back your strength and all."

"I'm recuperated."

"That's good to know. I wouldn't want you walking around all not recuperated."

"Buffy, I know. Please don't lie to me or play the innocent act with me. I just want to know why. Why haven't you told me? Why him? What did I do to deserve being tortured like this? I came back from unspeakable tortures in hell, to the one bright spot in my entire existence only to be subjected to another version of hell. I'd go back to the other hell to save myself from knowing you were with Spike."

"I don't know what to tell you. It just happened. I," she shrugged slightly and gestured to the front door with her head. She did not want to talk about this with her mother around. That was understandable and so he walked outside with her and sat beside her on the top step once she sat.

"Nothing like this just happens, Buffy. He's using you."

"Angel, that's up to me to worry about, isn't it? I mean, you said yourself we're just friends. Maybe it's not him using me anyway."

"You couldn't use someone, Buffy."

"How do you know? I know you've made love to more women than just me, and yet I was the one that broke the curse. Me. So that means you can go out and sleep with anyone you want so long as it's not me. Well, I can't go the rest of my life like that. I'm not in love with him, I barely even trust him."

"Then how can you let him touch you?" He pushed aside her hair to expose her neck and touched the fresh bite mark there. "How can you let him feed off you? I would never do that."

"He only does it when," she paused and looked away, pulling her hair back to cover the bite mark. As if it was not ingrained in Angel's mind for eternity. His Buffy, the Slayer with a vampire bite she had willingly given.

"So what then? Where does that leave me? Us? I'm just supposed to wait in the shadows until you're done doing whatever it is?"

"I don't know what you're supposed to do, Angel. That's not for me to decide or even to offer a suggestion on. If anything, Spike has made me see one thing this past week. As much as I love you, I would not be happy with you. There would always be that risk that you would lose your soul and go ballistic on me and my family again."

"And you don't think Spike would kill you the second you crossed him?"

"See, but I know that. He's Spike. I don't know what's going to set you off. Last time it was making love, but this time. The spell Willow did was done by a different witch in a different era, who is to say our wedding day wouldn't be a true moment of happiness and break the curse again."

This gave him a moment of happiness. Marriage? Him? To someone like Buffy? He had dreamt about it, of course, dreamt that she would stoop low enough to accept a proposal from him but never had he imagined she would think of it herself. "You've thought of marrying me?"

"God, Angel, of course I did, but it can't happen. We couldn't make one another happy. You know it as well as I do. There's too much water under the bridge, too many unknowns in the equation."

"But why Spike? Why not some human guy that you go to school with?"

"I wish I could tell you, but I can't. He's here for a reason right now and I'm enjoying it. Even Xander has learned to tolerate him somewhat."

"I don't like it. He's going to kill you one day, Buffy. You're when all is said and done, the Slayer, and Spike has already killed two of them."

"That's assuming he can kill me, Angel, that I'm not prepared for it, that I'm never completely unguarded when I'm with him."

"Then why do it?"

"Maybe that's part of what I like," she met his gaze steadily for a brief moment and Angel knew she was not entirely sure of what she had just said. She looked away then and shrugged. "I don't know."

Angel nodded his head slightly, rubbing a pad of one thumb over the nail of the other thumb. It was true, Buffy had a dark side to her, Angel knew that but he had wanted to keep her fresh and pure and untainted and had not wanted to bring it out of her. She was no Drusilla or Darla that was for sure, but she was no vanilla either.

"I've done a lot of thinking this week, while I waited to see if you were going to tell me or if you were just going to keep me in the dark."

"I didn't mean to, I just didn't know what to say. How do you tell ex-boyfriend that you're sleeping with ex-boyfriends sort of friend, sort of enemy but that you still love ex-boyfriend."

"You still love me?"

"Always, Angel. I will always love you. I still love you after seeing you as Angelus, how can you doubt that?"

"I don't know. It hurts, knowing he can have what I want but can't have."

"It's not like I planned on it."

"That doesn't really help make it better, but I know you didn't." He took her hand in his and squeezed it. He sat there for a moment, quiet, content just to have her let him have this contact with her. "Buffy, I came to talk to you about Spike, to make sure you were thinking straight, knew the dangers. Not that I didn't think you did, I know you know what Spike is, but that's not the only reason. I came to tell you also that I'm leaving."

"You're what?"

"Well, it's clear my presence in Sunnydale is problematic, if not for you than for me. Maybe you'll be done with Spike in another week, but there will be someone after him and someone after that and I just can't handle that. As much as I'd like to say we could have a happily ever after you and me, it's not going to happen and I just think a clean break is best."

"Are you accusing me of being a slut?"

"No, I'm not accusing you of that. Focus, Buffy, focus. I'm not saying you're going to sleep with every guy, but I do know that you're funny and attractive and can be smart when you want to be. You can also be not so smart when you want to be, but that's one of the things I love about you. Other guys are going to love it, too, and they are going to hit on you. I'd rather not be around to see it."

"So you're going to leave. Just like that."

He was quiet a moment, digesting her question. He had thought on this throughout the week, but he had not really thought on the finality of it. "Yeah. Just like that. It's best for us both if I go, Buffy. You have to stay here, this is where the Slayer is needed. I can help you elsewhere. I'm not going clear across the world or anything and it's not like we can't call one another if we need or want to. But I think a clean break is best."

"This is so sudden. I mean, if it's Spike."

"It's not Spike. I mean it is, but there are things I can't forgive myself for doing and saying to you, and I wouldn't be good for you. I could get you killed by being distracted."

"But I don't want you to go."

Angel laughed lightly and released her hand, brushing her cheek with his hand. "I don't want to go either. I love you, don't ever doubt that or believe otherwise. If I did not love you I would stay."

"When will you go?"

"I leave tonight. I'm packed and ready to go, booked a train out of here that leaves around nine o'clock."

"So this is it?"

"It is. Please be careful with Spike, Buffy. I don't want to read about you in the paper or get a call from Giles that you are dead by his hand."

"He's not going to kill me, Angel."

"I hope you're right. He's a killer, Buffy, just remember that. He and I were if not friends companions who stayed together because of a common bond once upon a time because we were both sadistic bastards."

"I know," she said softly and Angel knew he had brought up the wrong subject. Good going you idiot, he cursed to himself.

He leaned in and kissed her, lightly ending it before she could respond. "I'll let you know where I am when I get there."

"You'd better."

"I will. I couldn't go the rest of your life without hearing from you from time to time. As much as it will hurt to hear about your life, know I'm not in it when I want to be I won't turn my back on you. We've been through too much together."

She smiled and Angel knew there were tears threatening to spill from her eyes but she was being brave and holding them back for all she was worth. Well, this was his queue then to go. He did not want to remember her teary eyed. He kissed her again. "I love you. Say good bye to your mom and everyone for me," he said as he stood. He hesitated in removing his hand from her cheek, his eyes never breaking from hers until he felt like he could get convinced to stay just by looking at her.

"Angel," she called after him when he was almost to the public sidewalk. He turned to face her, her face shadowed somewhat by the night sky. "Be careful."

He smiled and winked, though she probably could not see it. "Always, Buffy, always. You do the same." And with that, he walked away and promised not to look back no matter what she did or said. It was the hardest damned thing he had to do, but it was for the best. It had to be, because if he was going through this much hurt unnecessarily he'd kill someone for sure.

***

Buffy polished off the last of the pint of ice cream and licked the spoon clean. Willow sat next to her on the couch holding a box of Kleenex in her lap. They were watching chick movies tonight. Buffy needed to cry and watching movies like Sleepless In Seattle and When Harry Met Sally were the only way she knew how to go about it without letting on anything was wrong.

Angel was gone. It was after ten o'clock now and Buffy somehow had forced herself to remain at home and not go to the train station to stop him from going. She wanted to believe that it was because she knew he was right, his leaving like this was for the best. But another thought crossed her mind that she was not so pleased about.

Spike. Spike was part of the reason she was not as upset as she should be about Angel's leaving. She was sad, sure. She and Angel could talk about anything and everything. He had been her friend and her confidante and she had loved him, had given herself to him as a result of that love. But somehow in the past week of spending time with Spike she had moved on.

She was sad about his leaving, sure, because her friend was leaving. He said they'd keep in touch and talk, but how could they go from what they had to something distant and remote and survive as friends? They couldn't, at least Buffy didn't think so. Sooner or later, the visits would stop, the phone calls would dwindle down and there would be only memories.

"I can't believe you finished off that ice cream, Buffy," Willow said, bringing Buffy out of her reverie.

"I know, I can't either. I guess Meg Ryan gets to me and makes me all ice creamy."

"I guess so," she said softly.

"How are things with you and Oz?"

"Nothing new to report, still in a holding pattern."

"Xander and Cordelia?"

"They're finished I think," Willow said sadly. Buffy hated asking the questions, but she wanted to know how her friends were doing.

"I'm sorry, Willow. It's not your fault. I know you think it is, but if Xander was truly happy he wouldn't have kissed you."

"I try to tell myself that, except I am happy with Oz. I love him."

"I know you do, but you and Oz are different entirely than Xander and Cordelia."

"No patrolling tonight," Willow asked and Buffy understood Willow was done talking about the love quad situation.

"No, I'm taking the night off. Giles said it was all right."

"You deserve it. You should have invited Xander over, too."

"I wanted it to be just us. A girl's night, you know? We haven't had one of those in a long time and it's about time."

"So, Spike's not going to be showing up either?"

"I didn't invite him, but that might not stop him from coming by. If he does, I'll just tell him to go."

"You know, you don't have to tell him to go, Buffy. I mean, well," Willow grew quiet.

"What, Will?"

"Well, I just mean, just because Xander and I have love lives that are messed up doesn't mean yours has to be, too."

"And you think Spike has anything to do with my love life because?"

"Hmm, let's see, could it be that you two go off on your own all the time even if Xander and I come patrol with you? Could it be that I haven't seen Angel in over a week?"

"Well, you won't be seeing him again I don't think."

"Buffy, you didn't…"

"No, Will, I didn't stake him." Buffy laughed lightly. "He left town tonight. He came by earlier to say good bye."

"Oh Buffy, I had no idea. I mean, why didn't you say something instead of sit there and eat a pint of Ben & Jerry's?"

"Because I like Ben & Jerry's."

"Well, I do, too, of course. Ben & Jerry's is the best, but still if you think I can't listen to you because of what's going on with me and Oz, you're wrong."

"No, Will, that's not it at all. I know if I was in a talky mood you'd talk to me or listen to me. I just," she shrugged and focused on the spoon balanced on the pad of her middle finger. "I just don't know what there is to say. He's gone. He left. He left because of me." She shook her head.

"No, Buffy, that can't be true."

"No, Will, it is. But not in a bad way. We've been trying so hard to be friends, to deny we love one another and that this whole soul thing doesn't exist, isn't the real problem. Spike was right about one thing, Angel and I will never be friends. I mean, he is my friend. In some ways, he's my best friend." Buffy paused seeing the hurt look on Willow's face.

"In a way different than you, Will. Just like your friendship with Xander is different than what you and I have. You know, it's boy/girly rather than girl/girly. And, well, if it weren't for the soul thing things would be different. That's hard to live with every day, to see every day. I think he knew that one day it would be so easy to give into temptation and try. I mean, years from now when Giles is long gone and maybe, just maybe I've gone all senile and forgotten what Angel is like without a soul, or in a moment of drunken stupidness or in a moment of adrenaline rush after killing a huge bad guy or whatever. It hurts, I won't deny it. But I think he's probably right."

"But still, to leave town."

"Yeah, well, what else could he do? Just avoid seeing me. Like either of us could really do that."

"I mean, even this week with Spike helping," she shrugged. "I still could never just know he was nearby and not talk to him. I mean, even when he was all soulless, he beckoned and I went, right? He said he'd be a hindrance to me, a distraction, and in a way I think he's right. I've never thought about it, never needed to think about it, but the worrying and the feelings tie me up sometimes."

"And you don't have that when Spike patrols with you?"

Buffy shrugged. "Not in the same way, no. Spike is not Angel, Will. No one but Angel can be Angel."

"But he's your boyfriend, right? I mean, well, he is, isn't he?"

"Who Angel?"

"No, I know that Angel's not your boyfriend, Buffy. I meant, Spike."

"I don't know, Will, I don't know."

"Well, that's not a no, so that must mean that he could be."

"But he's Spike. I mean, he is a vampire."

"And so was Angel."

"Angel had his soul."

"Yeah, but Buffy. You get to see the big picture with Spike, you know what he's like good and bad. You had no idea what Angelus was going to be like because you had never seen Angel truly bad. Doesn't that say something?"

"And what am I supposed to do? Sleep with a stake under my mattress for the rest of my life?"

"Well, I don't think I was suggesting you marry him. But you like him, right? And he's got to be a help to you patrolling. Do you think he's killing vamps with you because he just wants to? I mean, he's killing his own people, Buffy."

"Well, yeah, but again, this is Spike we're talking about. I don't know that I'm all that surprised by that."

"Well, he certainly doesn't seem to be out for Slayer blood like he was when he first came to Sunnydale."

Buffy's face grew warm and she looked away. Sure he was not out for Slayer blood anymore because he was getting it willingly on a daily basis. She wasn't his source of feeding, she had told him after he took without asking in her shower that she would not be that for him. But she did not mind partnered with their climaxes or after a particularly brutal fight where a bit of replenishment was necessary having him drink of her. "No, I suppose he's not. I guess that's something."

"I think you might find Giles and Xander, and even me, might be a little more patient with you if we knew what was going on. Right now, we're not sure if we should watch your back or turn ours. Xander was all freaked out when he saw you two at the Bronze last week."

"Yeah, I know he was. It was the first night we went anywhere together or anything. I mean, it's not like I was hiding anything or anything."

"You mean, like you did with Angel coming back."

"Yeah, like that. I learned my lesson. I mean, obviously, we went out in a public place, so I wasn't hiding." Honestly, Buffy didn't trust Spike enough that first night to hide. She had wanted to be out in public with him. Now, she still was unsure whether trust was something she felt she could do where Spike was concerned, but it was better than before.

"Okay," Willow said pouting a little and Buffy was not sure what she had said wrong.

"I don't know what else you want me to say. I don't know what's going on between Spike and me because it hasn't exactly come up. I mean, it's not like we get all deep and conversationally together or anything."

"Why don't you try asking him," Spike's voice came from the archway that led to the hallway. Buffy and Willow both looked at him. Buffy wasn't sure what Willow saw, but to Buffy he looked sexy as hell. He was dressed in a pair of black jeans, his black boots and his black leather duster, nothing unusual there. But he had a black shirt on that was so see-through it might have well not even been on his body. Buffy gulped slightly because the shirt left nothing about his chest to the guess about. And the look in his eye, it was all for Buffy, he was not angry but there was emotion there that Buffy did not quite understand.

"Spike, I didn't hear you come in."

"Obviously," he said with the arch of an eyebrow. He pulled the coat closed a little more covering up more of his shirt - or his lack of shirt - than was covered a moment ago. It did little to push the thoughts out of Buffy's mind of what his chest and abs looked like. God, why did he have to be dead? The undead? Whatever he was.

"Hi Spike," Willow volunteered with a cheerful smile from beside Buffy. "We're just watching When Harry Met Sally. Have you seen it?"

"Didn't sound like you were getting much movie watching in, but no I'm afraid I must have missed that movie when it came out."

"We've got ice cream and root beer and popcorn."

"Sounds like a regular feast."

"Don't you knock? I mean, I realize you're invited to come in here, but most people do still knock."

"I, uh," he stammered not quite looking her in the eye any longer. "Could I talk to you a minute, Buffy, alone?"

Willow stood from the couch. "I'll just take a trip to the bathroom, upstairs in Buffy's room. Just give me the all clear when I can come down. Unless," she blushed and looked at Spike. "Unless you wanted her bedroom."

"Willow," Buffy interjected.

Spike smiled slightly. "No, here is fine."

For a moment as Willow walked from the room, Buffy's heart stopped beating. First Angel had left her today and now Spike was here to do the same thing. She felt it spreading through her as sure as Spike's being a vampire was. He had overheard Buffy and Willow talking, lord knew for how much of the conversation. They had been talking like high school girls, seventeen year old girls, about Spike as if he were a boy not a vampire that had lived for a century and then some.

Strangely, she cared. She didn't want him to go. It was different than the loss she felt due to Angel's leaving. With Angel it was the only way they would get the closure they both needed. She was unsure what it meant with Spike. She did not love him. A week was not enough for her to fall in love with Spike, but she liked him and well she had hoped to see if maybe she could love him.

She stood after using the remote control to turn off both the movie and the television. She did not know what to say. She was not going to give him the satisfaction of leaving him first.

"I'm glad to see you're not alone."

"You're what?"

"Are you ears full of cotton or something, Slayer? I said I'm glad to see you're not alone."

She crossed her hands over her chest and stared at him, unsure what to say to that. "Thanks, I think," is what came out.

"Well, a little birdie told me that you might not be doing too well tonight and I thought I'd check on you."

"A little birdie?"

"Yeah," he shrugged his shoulder. "Angel paid me a visit before he left. He was worried about you, a little worried about what his leaving might do to you and me which surprised me, and well I saw you through the window talking to your friend there." He paused and looked at his boots for a minute. "Well, I wanted to know what you were talking about. I needed to know you weren't blubbering over his leaving."

"Spike," she started to say offended that he would have the audacity to think that she would not be at least somewhat upset by Angel's leaving.

"Hear me out, Slayer," he said holding up his hand and she said nothing further. "I wouldn't blame you, love, for being upset, for wishing he wasn't leaving, for a lot of things, but I couldn't bare thinking that you were in here thinking I was the cause of his leaving. I don't want your shell, Buffy. I don't want what's left over after Angel. I needed to know."

"So you spied on me?"

"Yeah. Hey, I'm a vampire, remember? I don't exactly follow the straight and narrow like you do, Slayer."

"I thought you were here to tell me it was over."

"Why would I do that?"

"I don't know. A part of me I guess thought this was some sort of way of punishing Angel some more. Sleep with the Slayer, his girl, really twist the knife good."

"I won't say that delightful thought hadn't crossed my mind a time or two. I'd be a liar if I said it wasn't, and you'd know I was lying. So ask me."

"Ask you what?"

"What you were talking to your little witch friend about."

"About us? What's going on between us? We were just talking Spike. It's not like I need an answer."

"Don't you? It sounded a moment ago like you might want one, love."

"She was just saying that the gang aren't sure what to do about you, they don't know what we're doing so they're sort of in a," she paused searching for the right word, "holding pattern I guess."

"Well, it's been a week, Angel's gone. Or is that the problem? Angel's gone? Do you need to think about us now? Maybe it's not me that was punishing Angel."

"No. I mean, no, that's not true. I'm sorry to see him go, but he's right, Spike. I've known it since he was sent back. I've known we couldn't be all friendly together and not go crazy."

"So you do still love him?"

"Of course I do. I've never claimed not to love him."

"That night at the magic shop?"

"We maintained we were friends. I love my friends, and I love Angel in a way that's way different than that. He was my first. He stood by me as I struggled with what being the Slayer meant, he fought with me, and he hurt me so much."

"Yeah, that's unfortunately the way love works, Buff."

"You love, you fight. The marital vows make it legal in the eyes of the law, but you can feel all of those things, adhere to those vows without the legal obligation. To have and to hold, through sickness and in health, for richer and for poorer, until death do us part, so on and so forth."

"But Angel and I," she said softly and sat again on the couch, her hands rubbing her arms.

"Can never fight and make up, can never love as man and woman were made to love. I know, pet, I know." He moved to sit next to her on the couch, his arm going around her. "But you can do those things with me, pet. And we will fight, you know it as well as I do if not better. I don't mind patrolling with you, being your right hand man as it were, but one day we're going to run into a vamp who's a friend of mine and you're going to want to slay and I'm going to want to let him go. We know we fight well together and we know we love well together."

"Yeah, we do, don't we," she asked looking up at him. She smiled slightly. "So you were afraid what that I'd go all depressed like on you and tell you to get lost?"

"The thought did cross my mind, yeah."

"Spike, I don't know what we're doing you and me. Willow asked if you were my boyfriend and I don't know what to say to that. I like you and well, we've been together - in every possible way - every day since that night at the Bronze. But there's a part of me that is still afraid to trust you."

"And you don't think I don't wonder one day if I'm going to wake up in time to see you plunge a stake into my heart? The risk runs both ways. It's up to you whether it's worth that risk. It seems your friends are willing to let us do what we need to do, they just want to know what we're doing. And as much as that drives me crazy, I'm glad to know that they're here to look out for you when I can't."

"I know. I've been taking the risk so far, so I guess that means I'm willing, but I never really thought of asking you what we were doing until Willow asked. I didn't want to scare you. I'm sure the girls you normally deal with don't take a week to mean much of anything."

"Buffy, love, other than Drusilla, there really haven't been that many girls. I won't say after Dru cheated on me as she did I didn't try and get both of you off my mind, but it was never the same girl more than once."

"Eww, too much information, Spike."

"You sounded as though you were fishing in a way. Figured I'd better lay your mind at ease that you aren't one in a long string or anything."

"I'm glad he told you he was leaving."

"Actually, I doubt he would have except for, well, he gave me the mansion."

"You're going to be living there now?"

"Well, I said he gave it to me. I didn't say I was going to live there. I might, it'd be better than that factory until I found someplace better. But I'm not sure I want to bring you there."

"Oh I don't mind."

"Now. One day you might."

"So I'll tell you it bothers me and we won't go back there."

"And we'd see each other during the day how then, Slayer?"

"Listen, Spike, you have a place to live now that isn't going to fall down around you at any moment. Should you really be worrying about me?"

"Let me concern myself with what I want to worry about, pet. I just don't want the ghost of Angel and Drusilla and the past to be around us when we make love."

"All right." She leaned toward him and kissed him. "I must have the most interesting diary to leave for my grandchildren."

"Why is that?"

"What other Slayer can say they've had two vampire boyfriends?"

"Not many I wager."

"Okay. Well, now that we've had our little talk and I'm done being mad at you for just walking in my house and eavesdropping on my conversation with Willow, it's time for me to get back to Willow."

"Is she spending the night?"

"She was going to, why?"

"Well, I was going to say I could go upstairs and wait for you if she wasn't."

"Well, there is a guest bedroom up there."

"Right and your mom walks in to see me lying there and calls the police."

"Mom likes you. I'd just tell her you were resting before or after our nightly patrol. She knows you've been coming with me."

"You're naughty, Slayer."

She moved to straddle him, unable to resist running her hands along the nearly non-existent fabric of the shirt he wore. She had resisted for too long already. "And you just hate every minute of it, don't you?"

He tilted his head back and peered at her, his blue eyes wide and genuinely happy. "Oh yeah."

"Besides I need to work off that ice cream I ate tonight," she said with a smirk on her lips.

"Oh well, in that case, maybe I'd best go on upstairs and wait impatiently for you to come to bed."

"I'm not going to rush Willow to bed, though, Spike."

"I know, love, I have all night after all. And so long as the guest bedroom has heavy enough curtains, I have longer than that."

"The curtains will do," she said sliding off of him and offering him her hands to help him off the couch. Not that he needed it. "Come on, I'll show you and tell Willow it's safe for her to come downstairs."

"All right, love," he said following her upstairs.

The End