Disclaimer: All rights to Joss Whedon

Chapter 3: Forgiveness

The walk to Buffy's house was silent other than their boots hitting the pavement. Spike had managed to walk on his own as they neared Revello Drive. Occasionally he would steal glances at Buffy and she would look back at him, thus causing both of them to act like school children and look away. Spike was desperate for something to drink and he regretted throwing his only blood bag against a wall. He could imagine the metallic liquid flowing down his throat, filling his senses, healing his wounds, feeding the demon… "Spike?" He looked over at her. "…You okay?"

"What? Yeah, sorry. Bit peckish s'all." Looking down at the blood on his boots didn't help much, he could really use a shower.

"Right, of course. Well once Dawn see's you're not lying in a grave, you can get cleaned up and I still have some blood in the fridge."

"You, you don't have to do this, pet." Spike said quietly.

"Do what?"

"Babysit me. I do remember how to feed myself." Buffy pulled him to a stop as they had just come up the driveway of the house.

"What did I tell you back at the crypt? I am here to help you and if that means heating up some blood in a novelty mug, then so be it." He looked up at her and smiled.

"Using my own quote on me, clever, love." She smiled slightly and placed a hand against his cheek.

"It's all going to work out, I promise." He closed his eyes and nodded slightly, she removed her hand from his cheek and found his hand. "Okay, now c'mon." She led him up the stairs and her hand paused on the door handle. "Ready?"

"Yeah, let's get this over with." She rolled her eyes, but smiled and pushed the door open. The pair slowly stepped into the foyer and before Spike could even register his surroundings, two small arms were wrapped around his neck and he got a mouthful of brown hair.

"Dawn, careful!" Spike staggered back in pain, but slowly put his arms around the young girl and breathed in her scent. He started shaking again as he held her, Dawn was already crying.

"I thought you were gone forever. I was so worried!" Dawn said into his injured shoulder. Spike held her tighter, ignoring the stabbing pain.

"It's okay, Bit. 'M not goin' anywhere." She pulled back and stared into his eyes. Dawn could tell that he had been crying and it only made her cry more.

"Promise?" She sniffed. He leaned forward and kissed her forehead.

"Promise." She smiled and hugged him again. A small chuckled escaped him as he looked over at Buffy who was smiling slightly. He then mouthed help. Buffy quickly went over to remove her little sister from the damaged vampire.

"C'mon Dawn, let the man breathe." Spike smiled to himself as she called him a man. "He needs a shower and some rest." Dawn reluctantly let go and stepped away, looking sheepish. Spike winked at her and left the girls to go upstairs and shower. Dawn turned to her sister and wiped her tears away.

"Is he going to be okay, Buffy?" Buffy tucked a strand of hair behind her sister's ear.

"Yeah, Dawn. Spike is strong, he'll get through this." The younger girl sighed and leaned again the wall, rubbing her hands together.

"What's wrong with him?"

"Nothing is wrong with him, Dawn. He just…look how much do you know about souls?" Dawn shrugged.

"Not much." Buffy joined her on the wall.

"A soul is who a person is essentially. It's everything that makes them human, you know? Like, it's their conscious, their ability to know right from wrong. Their ability to feel regret and grief. When someone becomes a vampire, the demon inside destroys the soul thus only leaving the shell of the person they used to be. When Spike got his soul back, he essentially got his humanity back, but he's still…ya know…dead." Dawn looked at her older sister and saw that this whole situation was tearing her up inside. Dawn was the first one to see that Spike loved her and she was starting to see those same feelings on Buffy's face.

"So why is he acting all uppity?" Buffy smiled at her sister's vocabulary choice.

"Well as I said, a soul allows you to feel grief and guilt. Spike hasn't had a soul for more than one hundred years. In those years, he had done a lot of horrible things, killed a lot of people and now all those lives he took are catching up to him. He's feeling grief and guilt times about a thousand. It'll take time for him to process it all, but it'll happen." Dawn nodded. Then it occurred to Buffy that the house wasn't empty when she left. "Dawn, where did Xander, Tara, and Willow go?"

"Oh, they're downstairs, in the basement." Buffy glanced over at the door.

"Why…?"

"After you ran off to look for Spike, Xander, well he wasn't happy…He started yelling and Tara and Wil dragged him downstairs before he broke anything. He's been taking it out on your punching bag for the last hour. Tara and Willow have been trying to talk him down, but they have just been sitting there watching him." Of course Xander would be angry because she went after him. He was the president of the "Stake Spike Club".

"Okay, I'll go talk to him." She turned to go, but then remembered something. "Uh, there's still some blood in the fridge. Can you heat some up and give it to Spike?" Dawn nodded and Buffy went to go find her friends.

Tara and Willow watched as their friend pounded against the bag of sand. Each punch was accompanied by a slur about the newly souled vampire. "Who does he think he is?" Punch. "Walking back into our lives like this!" Punch. "He's evil! I don't care what happened to him! He's evil!" Three more punches. The basement door opened and all three turned to see Buffy coming down the stairs. Willow was on her feet first.

"Buffy! You're back! Did, did you find him?" Willow asked.

"Yeah, I found him." Tara got up then and looked concerned.

"Where was he? Was he? I mean was he hurting anyone or…h-himself?" Buffy shook her head.

"No, Tara. He was in the cemetery, in his crypt." The girls nodded and the Xander stepped away from the bag.

"So he hasn't murdered anyone, that's great! Now that we know he isn't off rampaging we can continue on our merry lives!" The girls glared at him, well Buffy looked as if she didn't know him anymore.

"Is it true Buffy? Does Spike have his soul back?" Willow asked. Buffy nodded.

"Yeah Wil, it's true. He's not taking it too well, but he'll be better soon. It'll take time for him to adjust, but Spike will get there."

"I guess it doesn't help that he lives in a crypt…" Willow muttered. Tara was then really worried.

"Buffy, y-you didn't leave him there, did you? He looked pretty beat up."

"Yeah, the guy looked like he was thrown in a wood chipper." Willow agreed. Buffy smiled at Tara.

"No, I didn't leave him. He's upstairs taking a shower, Dawn's getting him some blood so he can heal faster." Xander scoffed.

"Now we're playing nursemaid to the undead. Why? Since when has he ever done anything for us besides when we paid him? Hell he deserves all the torture that he's getting, he's a demon for crying out loud." Everyone knew Xander hated Spike, but this was a new level, even for him.

"Xander, he loves Buffy and in my opinion he has changed…I've seen it." Tara said.

"No, he is obsessed with Buffy, there is a difference! The only reason he wants to get her in his bed is so he can snap her neck when she's too distracted to fight back!"

"Get out." Buffy growled from behind the witches. Xander was taken back a bit.

"W-what?" She stalked towards him, full slayer mode.

"I said. Get. Out. You are not welcomed in my house until you can stop being a prejudice asshole. So I repeat, get out." Xander was furious, she had picked a vampire over him.

"You're picking that thing over me?" Buffy grabbed him by his shirt and hauled him up the stairs and towards the front door. Opening the door she pushed him outside. He looked up at her, shocked.

"I'm picking right over wrong." With that she slammed the door in his face. Tears fell over her cheekbones. She never wanted to hurt Xander, but he had crossed a line and she couldn't trust him not to hurt Spike. Willow came up behind her and placed a hand on her friend's shoulder. Buffy turned and fell into the embrace off her best friend. Willow held her crying friend and Tara joined to give reassuring rubs on Buffy's back.

"He'll come around, Buffy. He needs time. After what happened with Angel, I think he has trust issues." Shaking her head Buffy pulled away.

"This is nothing like what happened to Angel. Spike isn't playing us, Wil. You should have seen him, he was, I don't know, broken. Worst part is, he did this to himself, it wasn't a curse. He inflicted his own pain." Tara hugged her shoulder.

"Yes, but what he did was courageous, and from what I could tell, he did this not only for you, but himself. Think about that." Buffy nodded.

"Tara and I are going to watch T.V. If you need us, we'll be in the living room." Buffy smiled and went back into the kitchen to find Dawn absently stirring a cup of hot chocolate.

"I hate Xander." She said quietly.

"Don't say that Dawn." Buffy said.

"It's true! He has always hated Spike, always will!" Buffy sighed and sat next to her sister.

"Xander has his reasons, Dawn. They may not be good reasons, but they're his own." Dawn look at her sister and almost slapped her.

"Are, are you defending him?" She always screamed. Buffy shook her head.

"Absolutely not. All I am saying is that Xander lives in a world full of color, but at times he sees things very black and white. I am not saying that all the things he said were right, because they weren't. Xander has a lot of prejudice towards Spike and that may never change and as much as we can be angry with him, we should never hate someone just because they feel differently than we do." Buffy was quite proud of that speech and mentally gave herself a pat on the back. Dawn stared at her marshmallows before nodding.

"You're right," She looked up at Buffy. "As usual. I'm still angry at him." Buffy laughed and ruffled her hair.

"You're allowed to be, trust me I am not his biggest fan right now either." Buffy then realized the empty blood bag on the counter. "Dawn, where's Spike?"

"He's out in the backyard, smoking and having his breakfast." Buffy looked towards the back door to see the faint glow of the sun slowly rising. Sighing, she headed out to join him. Buffy found Spike in the shadows of the back porch.

"Enjoying the sunrise?" She asked as she approached him. Spike took a draw from his smoke and smirked.

"Don't worry, love, I won't make you clean up a bunch of dust, I was just about to go inside." She smiled. Spike drank from his mug and his eyes glowed gold for a second then returned to normal. He looked wrecked.

"Spike I…" he put up his hand. Stomping out his cigarette he turned and walked back into the house. Dawn had left to join the witches. He leaned up against the counter.

"Don't need to say anything. I heard everything."

"How much is everything?" She asked as she sat on a barstool.

"Well, from when Niblet asked if I was okay to you defending the bloody whelp." His face was hard again. Exasperated, Buffy ran a hand through her hair.

"I wasn't defending him, Spike." He nodded.

"I know. It's just Harris, he's that little insipid ray of sunshine that won't seem to ever leave me alone and comin' from a vamp, that isn't good." Spike always hated the whelp and it wasn't just because Xander was a bigot, he was an ass to him all the time, usually for no reason. "Throwing me about when I wasn't helpin' out, he did and when I was trying to help or be nice, he just always threw it in my face." Buffy never realized how much Xander got under Spike's skin.

"What do you mean?" Spike took another gulp and looked at the ceiling.

"When your mum died. I came by." Confused, Buffy tried to remember when he had stopped by.

"I don't remember you coming by." Spike snorted.

"Cause the boy never told you. I liked Joyce, one hell of a woman she was. When I heard she died I was bringing you flowers, Harris wouldn't let me. Practically threw them back in my face. I later left some at her grave, surprised he didn't throw those away too." Buffy got up and approached him.

"I'm sorry, I didn't know. She liked you, you know? Always talked about the lovely gentleman that Spike was." He looked down at her and smiled. His bruised face was already healing.

"Thanks, pet." She smiled at pet name.

"How are you feeling?"

"Better, still a little jumpy, but this juice is good. Got the legit stuff, huh?" He finished the mug and licked his lips.

"Yeah well, we had a supplier from the hospital that we used when you got your ass beat by Glory. Willow still picks some up occasionally. I figured human blood would speed things up a bit more than animal." He nodded.

"It helps. If you don't want me to drink it, I don't have to, love." She shook her head and straightened out a curl on his head.

"Nobody died for you to have it, it's fine. Besides the faster you are better, the faster you can help us." His eyebrows came together.

"New big bad?"

"More like three. Three nerds to be exact." Spike understood.

"Ah, so the three musketeers are still kickin'? Should have known. There's Warren, Jonathan and that other bloke…" He trailed off forgetting his name.

"Tucker's brother."

"Right." They both smiled. He smirked and ran a hand over her cheek. "Buffy, I'm sorry." She leaned into his hand and nodded.

"So am I." He shook his head.

"You have nothing to apologize for, you were just being honest. I was the one that tried to kill you, many times and you know chained you up and the bleeding robot…" She stopped him.

"Yeah, well I used you not only for comfort, but a punching bag, so yes I have to apologize. I am sorry, William." He smiled as she used his real name.

"Alright, I forgive you." She smiled.

"I forgive you too." He opened his arms and gave her a little pout. Annoyed, but still smiling, she hugged him.

"Aww." The peanut gallery had gathered in the kitchen doorway. Tara and Willow were holding hands looking at them and Dawn was silently cheering.

"Glinda, Red, nice to see you." They waved back. Dawn stepped forward and hugged both of them.

"Glad to see this. C'mon let's go watch a movie." So they did, it was nice. Spike didn't try anything. He just sat next to the Slayer and her friends and watched whatever Dawn decided on, it was nice and for the first time he felt, human.

A/N: Sorry for the delay I was sick with the flu, but I am back! Review! Hope you enjoyed chapter 3!