This takes place just after Show Time. While I think the plot is all mine, I'm sure I've unconsciously borrowed a lot from other fanfics which I've read (and I've read a lot of them!). If so, sorry!
Disclaimer: ok, I'm disclaiming that I own any of these characters. Did anyone think I was claiming before?
Please read, enjoy, and review. It's my first fic, so don't be too harsh!
Oh, anything in italics is a thought.

Chapter 1

He hung limply from the wall, zoning in and out of consciousness.
Suddenly a slight noise made him look up. He saw Buffy standing there,
holding a knife. Spike worked up the energy to make another sarcastic
remark. It was his way of resisting, as there wasn't much he could do

A knife, now, is it? Spike scoffed. What'll...what'll—you can't hurt me. You're—you're just a bloody figment, you are. You're just... He trailed off. Buffy- or something with the appearance of Buffy- approached him, her expression softening slightly. She cut him loose from his bonds. Since the First wasn't corporeal, that alone should have been enough to make Spike realize this really was his Slayer, but in his dazed state, the truth only really became clear when his hand fell onto her shoulder.

You. Oh. He put his arm over her shoulder, and she put her arm around his waist. Buffy helped the weak and limping Spike towards the exit of the cave.

Just as they were about to exit the cave, Spike abruptly stopped, causing both Buffy and himself to stumble.

For the first time since her arrival, Buffy spoke, concern evident in her voice. Spike? What's wrong? He looked at her.

One word said it all:

She took a moment to process this. Spike had been in this cave, being tortured, for... how long now? She had lost track. But although he obviously had no desire to remain where he was, he was safe now. No more ubervamp, and she could handle a few Bringers if any happened to come along. She lowered Spike gently until he was sitting up against a wall, then settled herself beside him. They were close enough that their shoulders touched, and he jerked away, seemingly out of habit. She sighed. Perhaps it was just as well that he wouldn't let her get near him. While she was starting to acknowledge she had some feelings for him, a relationship was definitely not what she needed. Not when she had an army to lead.

Buffy glanced over at Spike. The eye which wasn't swollen shut regarded her hungrily, drinking in the sight of her. So many times he'd seen her, only to find that the image was really the First. Feeling a bit uncomfortable with his intense gaze, she cast about for something to say. Sorry I didn't think to bring blood with me. Didn't know how late -or rather how early- it was.

S'ok, I've lasted this long, I can go another day, he croaked.

More silence, not much more comfortable than before. Spike felt it as well, and shifted uncomfortably.

Slayer, shouldn't you be gettin' back to the Scoobies? Probably wonderin' what happened to you.

she sighed. Don't really want to go back and deal with all of them, she admitted.

Despite everything, sometimes Spike was still the only one she felt she could really tell anything to. Still, she supposed, she ought to go home and do something, at least let them know she was OK. Thank goodness today was a Saturday; work would have been just too much to deal with.

You're right. Guess I'll head back. I'll be back by sundown to help you back home.

Don't need help. I'll make it, he rasped, rather unconvincingly.

Buffy snorted indelicately. That was Spike all right; some things would never change. Spike, you could barely make it to the cave exit with my help. Don't try to be all macho-ey.

He started to protest; then, realizing he lacked the energy to do even that much, nodded mutely in acquiescence.

As she rose and started to leave, Buffy realized something. She handed Spike her knife. At his look of confusion, she explained The Bringers. If they come back... Damn! Maybe I shouldn't go. The idea of staying, hiding, here with Spike was rather tempting.

They haven't been round much lately. No worries.

she hesitated. Just keep yourself alive -undead, whatever- till I get back. I need you. Both of them realized how that sounded - his eyes widened in pleased shock, while she tried to rectify her error. You're the best fighter I have, she added hastily, implying that was why she needed him. While true, she knew that he was important to her for other reasons, but those issues would have to be dealt with later. Ok, um, then... see you at sundown.

As she walked out of the cave into the sunlight, she heard Spike mutter, The sun sets, and she appears. That was what he had said to her the night she had come to his crypt during the whole singing-dancing fiasco. Right before he had asked her -or rather sung her- to let him rest in peace. The same night they had kissed for the first time.

Guess I didn't listen to his song very well. Peace... what a weird idea. Maybe when this is all over, I'll let him get that peace. Let him go... The thought of him not being there for her was a frightening one. When the First was defeated, one of her first priorities would be to get things straightened out with him, one way or another.

A/N- thank you so very much for reviewing! I tried to take your suggestions, hope this helped.

By the way, I thought about having Buffy cut herself and force Spike to take a drink of her blood when she realized how weak he was and the danger of the bringers. I decided that would be a little over the top.... what do you, oh readers, think of that idea? Like I've said, still very new at this.