Disclaimer: Whedon owns all. All hail Whedon.

To be a Monster

You know, everything always used to be so clear. Slayer. Vampire. Vampire kills Slayer, sucks her dry, picks his teeth with her bones. It's always been that way. I've tasted the life of two Slayers. But with Buffy... It isn't supposed to be this way. It's the chip. Steel and wires and silicon. It won't let me be a monster. And I can't be a man. I'm nothing.

"Come on, Boy. You know it won't work. None o' your plans ever do." The thing definitely didn't know what it was dealing with. Spike finally whirled on 'Angelus' and just laughed.

"Really? That's the best you could come up with? Listen, Peaches spent the first twenty years of our association berating me on how terrible of an apprentice I was. All it did was make me want to rebel, hence," He gestured lazily at his attire, "so if that's the plan, to get me to rail against you and do everything contrary to your big evil plot," he leaned in close as though about to tell a secret. "It's not gonna work." Then he turned and walked further down the street where she lived.

He walked right through 'Dru' . "You're being a bad doggie…"

"Why? Because I boffed the Slayer? Boohoo." Spike cringed when he heard the next voice.

"No, because you thought a demon could love and all you did was hurt me." Spike looked up. He was at her lawn now. He looked 'Buffy' in the eye.

"You know, you're not her. Not even close. And you're provin' it right now by deigning to actually talk to me." He was at the start of the porch now.

"Then why are you here, Blondie Bear?" Spike raised his hand, pointer finger in the air, and waggled it just slightly. "See, that's strike three, you're out. Harm couldn't get me to do shit."

'Harmony' huffed, stomped 'her' foot and disappeared.

Dawn let the blinds close and stared back at her sister. "Doesn't it look like he's fighting with himself?"

Buffy leaned against the sofa, arms crossed and stared stubbornly across the living room. "At least tonight it looks like he's winning."

"Buffy," Dawn looked kind of constipated.

"No, Dawn. I am not going out there." Dawn wondered if Buffy knew that she was pouting as she ignored the 'Bleached Menace'.

"Buffy, he's been out there every night this week, don't you think that means it might be important?" Her sister stayed stony and Dawn started to lose it.

"Why does it matter so much?!" Buffy looked aghast. "I don't mean that it was okay, but, it was what you could expect from a monster. And you were always telling him that was what he was. I mean you were just with him to feel, you told me that. You never let him say he loved you, thanks for that tidbit. So if you didn't think you could love or trust him then how is what he did a betrayal?" Buffy's mouth was working but no sound would come out. "I'm just saying that if you really thought he was still evil then that was something to expect. Then why didn't you?"

"Erhaaa." Buffy stood up and glared at her sister. "If you think this is getting you out of going to school tomorrow you are dead wrong little missy," She walked to the door and touched the doorknob. Before she twisted it she looked over her shoulder at a smirking Dawn. "Are you happy now? Pushing your only sister to go and talk to a crazy vampire? After I was so kind as to train you tonight?"

Dawn placed her hand on the bandage on her neck. "Oh yeah super grateful. Now stop stalling." Buffy opened the door just as Spike was about to knock.

"Oh, hello." Spike put his hand to his forehead. "No that's not right." He took in a deep breath. "I'm here to help, uh, bollocks, that's wrong. Listen, I had a speech. I learned it all. But you're not gonna understand if I keep flubbing it, now are you? No."

"Cut the crap and get to the point, Spike." She had her eyes narrowed and her arms crossed now.

There's my Slayer. "Alright. After last year, when I left I decided to give you what for. I was a bit big in the britches and went to the fertile crescent. See, there's a Wish Demon out there that I thought would prove useful. So I went and found him."

"Oh, god, you know you're not to say the 'W' word."

"Well, I didn't. I just said I wanted what I came for. A lot. It kinda became a mantra."

"And what did you want Spike?" Buffy was leaning against the jamb.

"I was angry. At everybody. Figured, this behavioral modification chip was what had caused it so I wanted to return things to the status quo. You know, I hate you. You hate me. That way it wasn't one sided no more."

"There were times last year when I didn't just hate you."

"Yeah I know, that was when you absolutely loathed me but aside the point. You know how you make a deal with something evil and you don't get exactly what you wanted?"

"Yeah, I'm familiar."

"Ha,ha. No. I wanted the chip out. He did that. But he put something else in and seeing the last time I got something shoved inside me that I didn't ask for, you were able to help, I figured it couldn't hurt to ask." He looked down, scratching the back of his neck like a schoolboy.

Buffy took a fortifying breath and stood up straight. "What did he give you Spike?"

Spike looked up. "I've got a soul."

"You got a what?" Buffy stared at Spike as though he had grown a second head.

"A soul. A big old spark burnin' its way through my chest. And it tickles but not in the fun way. Don't know how serial killers do it."

"They're usually sociopaths." Buffy whirled on her little sister.

"Dawn go back in the house."

"Hey nibblet!" Dawn folded her arms

"I'm not happy with you."

Spike pursed his lips. "Buffy tell ya?"

"No. Xander."

Spike muttered something that sounded a lot like "Fucking Whelp" and Buffy clapped her hands over Dawn's ears. "Hey! No swearing in front of the minor."

"Sorry." Spike rocked back on his heels

Dawn moved Buffy's hands and studied her Surrogate-Brother-cum-Abandoner. "You don't look like Angel."

Spike smiled. "Thanks ever so."

Dawn sighed. "I just meant you don't seem all broody, rodent-feeding, or 'whole-world-is-on-my-shoulders."

Spike bit his lip and nodded his head but it was Buffy who spoke. "That's because he's not Angel."

"Finally someone sees it."

Buffy and Spike started in on a weird staring contest slash high-noon shootout.

Dawn cleared her throat. "Spike, day's approaching. So…"

Buffy started waving her hands and shouting. Dawn placed her hand on her sister's shoulder. "I wasn't about to invite him. I was just gonna warn him back to the sewers."

"Thanks for the concern Bit, but, don't need to worry about that no more." Spike pulled a rough-cut green stone about palm-sized out of his coat.

"You know I'm not Superman, right Lex?" Buffy studied the odd stone

"It's not Kryptonite. It's Amarite." Spike put it back in his pocket.

"Ama-who?"

"'S the stone that the Gem of Amara was hewn from."

Dawn remembered when Spike had had that last even though she wasn't really Dawn then. "So now you're invincible and chipless." Buffy placed herself between Dawn and Spike.

"Not gonna hurt you. Something's comin'. And it's dangerous. Here. I had some time on the trip back to write down everything I found. Give it a look over and, if you believe me, meet me in the basement of the high school tomorrow."

He strode off in the direction of the school and Buffy stared down at the book Spike had thrust into her hands. "Dawn, Go upstairs and go to bed. You have to be at school in six hours."

"O-Okay." Dawn headed up the stairs and looked down at her sister.

Buffy closed the door and walked over to the couch. Sitting down on a sigh she opened the journal. "Maybe cryptic messages of impending doom are just how souled vampires communicate."

Spike and Buffy were surrounded in the bathroom. "What are they?" Buffy looked at the three Zombie-ghosts.

"Manifest spirits being controlled by a...talisman!" Spike leaned down and shot through the Janitor's legs. Breaking the crystal-twig-feather thing in half that had been lying there the ghosts disappeared. "A four year old could have figured it."

Buffy swiped at her forehead. "No need to get smug, big britches."

"Never gonna live that down am I?" He called out to her as she started walking away.

"It was a very odd phrasing for 'ran away'."

"It was an unfortunate sentence. Are we gonna bring up everything I've ever said."

"I don't know...Randy." Buffy walked out knowing that she had a scythe to find, a seal to keep closed, and a new class of Sunnydale High to keep alive. But for the first time in a while she felt purpose.

Spike smiled as he followed his Slayer out of the school and into the sunlight.

"I must be a noble vampire." Joan looked dubious. "A good guy. On a mission of redemption. I help the hopeless." Randy chuckled. "I'm a vampire with a soul."

Joan frowned. "A vampire with a soul?" She thought for a second. "Oh my god, how lame is that?"

A/N To Spike, a soul can destroy a vampire so the effects of his soul are dulled with the Amarite and that is why the First can't get to him. Not as much guilt. And yes he got the Amarite to fight Buffy once he had the chip out. He wasn't planning on being fair.