"It was good to talk to you too." Angel sighed as he hung up the phone.

"Was that her?" Spike asked from the other side of the desk he had walked in during the last few moments of the conversation.

Angel shook his head and looked towards the ceiling, "Yes, Spike. That was Buffy."

"I want to talk to her." Spike placed both hands on the desk and stared hard at Angel.

"Why? Spike she's moved on, she's doing great work with the potential slayers and she has a chance at normal Spike. She can have a life now, do you really want to be the one to hold her back?"

"Don't you think she should make that decision? Or is that what you're afraid of - that she'll choose me? That's it isn't Peaches? You're all noble and self sacrificing, giving her up but you really don't want anyone else to have her either do you?" Spike stomped around the office, "You know I can find her phone number, I can find her!"

Angel nodded his head, "Yeah you could do that just call her or drop by without warning. Is that fair to her? She probably wouldn't even believe it was really you, you can't play with her mind that way, Spike. Let me call her...feel her out and then we'll see, okay?"

"You'll do that...for me? Whats the catch?" Spike asked eyeing Angel with suspicion.

"There's only one catch." Angel responded as he leaned over the desk.

"I knew it."

"The catch is you have to abide by her wishes, if she for any reason doesn't want to see you then you have to let her go. Can you do that?" Angel asked knowing the answer before Spike did. He knew that Spike would abide by Buffy's wishes no matter what.

"I can do that." Spike replied boldly.

"Fine, get out of here. I'll let you know what she says." Angel shooed him out of the office.

"Why can't I stay?" Spike asked before stepping out of the door.

"I won't be able to talk to her with you fidgeting all around me." Angel grumbled.

"Fine." Spike smiled as he left the room, his heart full of hope.

Angel ran his hands over his face and through his hair before he picked up the phone, he knew his plan was wrong, but it was their own good. Buffy and Spike together could only end in heartache for them both. He dialed the number, i"Yeah, Buffy it's me."

Buffy's voice came over the line, "That was quick, did you forget to tell me something?"

"Actually I have a confession to make, it's something I should have told you but it's going to be hard." He answered, the last part of the sentence was true, he hated lying to her but it was for her own good.

Buffy's voice showed her worry, "What's wrong?" Her voice soft.

"Buffy...it's about Spike." He began to twist the phone cord.

"Spike? What is it?" She asked as her curiosity grew.

"He's back, Buffy. He's here at Wolfram and Hart."

"Spike is back?" Buffy put her hand over her mouth her eyes began to tear, "How? When?"

"We aren't sure how. It's been a few months now."

"It's been a few months and you haven't told me.....Spike didn't try to contact me?" Buffy's voice broke slightly, she wondered why he wouldn't contact her, fear rose up in her, "Is he okay?"

"He seems to be fine. The reason I didn't tell you is that Spike didn't want me too. He....he's not sure why or how he's back and he needs to work things out for himself."

Buffy sniffled as the tears now rolled down her face, "I could help him."

"Buffy, as hard as this is ....he doesn't want to see you. And I think you should honor his request." Angel closed his eyes and held in a sigh as he hammered the last nail in his story, he could tell she was crying now, soft sobs, and he almost broke and told her the truth but no....this was for the best. After a moment, he spoke again, "I'm sorry, Buffy."

"No, it's not your fault. Of course I'll honor his wishes, I won't contact him. But please let him know that I am glad he's back and if he ever wants to talk to me.....I'm here."/i She sniffed again as she said goodbye and hung up the phone. She lay back on the bed and burrowed into the blankets so Dawn wouldn't hear her crying.

Angel stared at the phone for several moments after he replaced the receiver, he could tell how hurt Buffy was but he knew that in the long run this was better for her and for Spike. On one hand he hated the blond vampire with a passion on the other hand he was part of his family and he was protecting Spike as well as Buffy from the inevitable pain they would end up causing each other if they were together. He just knew that would never turn out well, he kept telling himslelf this over and over again. He pressed the button on his intercom, "Harmony, get Spike in here."

A few moments later, Spike entered the room, "Did you talk to her?"

"Yes, I did." Angel kept his facial expression neutral.

"And when can I see her?" Spike asked anxiously.

"You can't." Angel replied softly.

"And why not?"

"She doesn't want to see you. She said that she hopes you're well but that those last few months in Sunnydale are very hard for her to think about and she doesn't need a reminder of them." Angel told the lie easily.

"I want to hear her say it!" Spike stood up angrily.

"She doesn't want to see you Spike and you said you would honor her wishes." Angel reminded him of their earlier conversation.

"But she said..she said she love....." Spike began to pace around the room remembering those last few moments with her.

Angel winced at the almost finished sentence he hadn't heard that part of the story before, "It was a stressful time, what did you say when she told you that?"

"I told her that she didn't but thanks for saying it." Spike admitted wistfully.

"So you didn't believe her anyway, Spike. It's better this way." Angel stood up and clasped his large hand on the Spike's shoulder, "I'm sorry Spike. But I truly believe this is for the best, both of you need to start over again."

Spike's eyes were watery as he ducked his head and mumbled, "I won't try to see her. Thank you for making the call."

Angel nodded as he watched Spike leave the room. Spike had always worn his heart on his sleeve and at this moment Angel could almost see it cracking in two. He sat down with a heavy sigh, it was done - and he had to believe it was for the best.

TBC