Disclaimer: I don't own the characters of BTVS, Joss Whedon does. And the
quote from the poem is by Robert Frost, The Death of the Hired Man

The pickup truck stopped at the Welcome to Sunnydale sign, "Thanks for the
ride." Spike told the couple inside.

"Your welcome." The old man replied with a grin.

"Sure hope you find that girl and make it right." The woman in the
passenger seat told him as she patted his arm.

"How did you know it was a woman" Spike asked suspiciously.

"When someone looks as down as you it's always a woman." The man winked at
Spike before they drove off.

Spike watched them leave with a half smile, they were good people, the
naive type that would pick up a hitchiker and treat him like a friend, the
type that once would have made easy pickin's for the vampire.
He looked at the sign and sighed, of all the places he had made his home
this seemed to be the one that he kept coming back too.
He should really find shelter soon, but the yearning to at least check on
her was overwhelming. He soon found his feet taking him in the direction
of Revello drive. The lights were out except for in the kitchen, it was
well past midnight and he assumed everyone was sleeping but a peek in the
back door window showed Buffy and Dawn eating what appeared to be ice
cream at the kitchen island.

He pressed his ear to the door carefully and
caught bits and pieces of the conversation, "It was a good movie." Dawn
commented as Buffy shook her head in disagreement.

"It was a gross movie, Dawn. Don't we see enough real gross things?" Buffy
was grinning as she complained.

They talked a few more minutes when Buffy turned towards the door and
stood. Dawn frowned, "Did you hear something?"

Spike jumped off the porch and crouched down to hide. Buffy opened the
back door slowly, "Didn't really hear anything, it was just a weird
feeling." She stepped outside and looked around briefly before going back
into the kitchen and closing the door., "You better get to bed, if you and
Janice are going to the mall tomorrow."

"Okay, need help washing up?" Dawn asked as she put her bowl in the sink.

"Nah, I can do it." Buffy turned on the water, "Goodnight."

Dawn yawned loudly, "Goodnight."

Spike watched as Dawn left the kitchen and Buffy washed the icecream
bowls. When she sat them on the drainboard she turned off the light and
walked towards the back door, he assumed she was just checking the door so
he stepped away. Instead she opened the door and stepped out, he was
caught.

"So there you are." She stared at him, taking in the haphazardly buttoned
white shirt and the blue jeans, his hair was longer and darker now.

"Yeah,,,,,,,,,I didn't come to bother you, I swear." He almost stuttered
as he began to leave the porch, "I'll go."

"So that's it then, you attack me and stay gone for five months, then
decide to come back and stalk me?" Her tone was soft but her eyes were
demanding an answer.

"It's not like that, I'm not stalking, just wanted to make sure you and
Niblet were okay." He was nervous now, he hated that sick feeling in his
stomach.

"We're fine. No thanks to you. Do you have any idea what happened after
you left?" She sighed as she leaned against the door and crossed her arms.

"What happened?" He asked hesitantly not really sure he wanted to know.

"I needed you to look after Dawn, I took her to your place and Clem said
you were gone. Then all hell basically broke loose." She moved to sit on
the step and nodded for him to sit beside her as she explained the Willow
debacle.

"Tara's gone? Warren shot her, why?" He asked slightly confused.

"She got caught in the crossfire when he shot me." Buffy explained.

"He shot you?" Spike's voice raised, "Are you okay?"

"Yes, I'm fine and thats another Willow story, but the gist of things is
that Willow is in England with Giles getting help and Dawn and I are
trying to be a real family again." Buffy sighed and rested her chin on her
knees.

"I'm sorry about Tara....about everything that happened, but you have to
know that after what happened..that night, I couldn't stay."

"Spike that night was another mistake in a long line of mistakes we've
made with each other. I guess I just thought that we would chalk it up to
that and go on, I really didn't expect you to leave like that." She turned
to him really looking at him for the first time that night, angry red
scars peeped out from where his shirt was unbuttoned. She sat up straight
then and placed her fingertip gently on the scar that she could see.
"Where did you go and what did you do?" She nodded at the scar as her
fingertrip gently traced it.

"Been lots of places over the last few months." He grasped her small hand
in his and pushed it away from his chest.

"What happened to you, Spike?" Her eyes were filled with sorrow now and he
realized it was genuine.

"Got these nifty scars for you, luv." He stood and opened his shirt
revealing a network of scars across his upper chest in varying degrees of
healing.

"For me?" Buffy stood up horrorstricken, "Spike why?" Her eyes were glued
to the mess that was once his beautiful smooth chest. A chest she had
kissed more then once.

"Wanted to give you what you deserve." He sighed, "So I went and after
several trials, got myself a soul. Not that it really makes a difference.
Still don't deserve you." He turned from her and walked down the steps.

"You went through all of that for me?" She stood now calling after him.

"Yes, but it's still not enough." He continued to walk away from her.

Her heart beat rapidly as she tried to think of something to say to make
him stay, "Spike!" She called after him, he continued to walk, "Spike!"
She called again as she began to quickly follow him around the house.
"Hey, just answer me one question." She told him as she caught his arm and
spun him around to face her.

"What, Slayer?" He asked patience running thin.

"It's Buffy thank you, and if it wasn't enough, why did you come back to
Sunnydale?" She let go of his arm, standing before him, hands on her hips.

"It's home, I guess, Didn't you ever read that poem, you know 'home is the
place that when you have to go there they have to take you in.' I got
nowhere else to go Slay........Buffy." He lowered his head, he was not
going to let her see the tears forming in his eyes. "Just let me go, I
only wanted to check on you and Dawn."

Buffy chewed furiously on her bottom lip for a minute before stepping
closer to him, close enough to place her hand on his chin and lift his
face to hers, softly she placed a kiss on his lips.

He wasn't sure what to do, this was an unexpected turn of events, so he
stood motionless as she kissed him, he felt her pull away and he opened
his eyes not even realizing he had closed them, she was speaking to him
now and her words gave him hope and a smile crossed his face.
"Spike haven't you also heard the saying 'Home is where the heart is'? "

She reached out her hand to him and he let her lead him into the house,
into her life, into her heart.

He really was home at last.

The End