Author's Notes and Disclaimer: None of the characters, events, places, etc, in BtVS belong to me. They belong to Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and a bunch of other people who are more creative than I am. I'm just borrowing them for my amusement and your entertainment. I'll put them back when I'm done, I promise. They may be a little scuffed around the edges, but I (probably) won't damage them permanently.

Many thanks to for the transcript.

I realize that my take on the attempted rape in "Seeing Red" will be controversial to some. I make no apologies for it.

The final fifteen minutes of the "Beneath You" episode still haunt me. So, a drabble mouse (as opposed to a plot bunny) has been nibbling at my neck for awhile. I'm sure this has been done to death, but this is my take on Buffy's point of view in the chapel when Spike is telling her about his soul.

Chapter 1: Buffy's POV

"I dreamed of killing you," Spike said.

Keeping a wary eye on him, I bent down to pick up a makeshift stake from the smashed pew in the chapel--the pew that had smashed when I'd thrown him onto it. Planting my feet firmly, ready for anything, I watched him as he paced back and forth, restless as a caged panther.

He continued. "I think they were dreams. So weak. Did you make me weak, thinking of you, holding myself, and spilling buckets of useless salt over your...ending? Angel--he should have warned me. He makes a good show of forgetting, but it's here, in me, all the time." He walked around behind me, and I twisted my neck to watch him. "The spark. I wanted to give you what you deserve, and I got it. They put the spark in me, and now all it does is burn."

Spark? What was he...Oh, my God. "Your soul."

He laughed bitterly. "Bit worse for lack of use."

I turned to face him. "You got your soul back. How?" How on earth...? Was that where he'd been all summer?

"It's what you wanted, right?" He raised his eyes toward the ceiling. "It's what You wanted, right?" He pressed his fingers into his temples, looked down, and walked toward the altar at the front of the church. "And now--now everyone's in here, talking. Everything I did, everyone I--and him...and it...the other, the thing beneath--beneath you. It's here too. Everybody. They all just tell me go...go..." He looked back over his shoulder at me. "To hell."

I was still processing the part where he got a soul. "Why? Why would you do that?" For me? He did that for me? And look what it's done to him. Dear God...

"Buffy, shame on you. Why does a man do what he mustn't? For her. To be hers. To be the kind of man who would nev--" He looked away. "To be a kind of man."

Soulless, evil thing. Those words came back to haunt me now, didn't they? You're a pig, Spike. Convenient. You're bent. If you tell anyone, I'll kill you. Words used to cut, to keep distance, to remind myself of what I thought he was. To fool myself into thinking that I didn't have feelings for him. So that I wouldn't have to examine those feelings more closely--because an examination might reveal more than I wanted to see. Might reveal that I really did care. I still wasn't ready to call it "love"...but I did care.

He was continuing, but it didn't sound like he was talking to me anymore. "She shall look on him with forgiveness, and everybody will forgive and love. He will be loved." He was standing just a foot away from the cross on the altar, staring at it. "So, everything's okay, right?" He sighed and, to my horror, embraced the cross, placing an arm over each crosspiece and resting his head in one corner of it. My eyes filled with tears as the smoke rose from his body. "Can--can we rest, now? Buffy...can we rest?"

The stake fell, forgotten, to the floor. "Oh, Spike." I crossed the room in three strides and gently put my hand on his shoulder. And, dear Jesus, he flinched. He was standing there hugging a cross, almost on fire, and he flinched from my touch. "Come away from there." He didn't move, and the smell of burning flesh was almost overwhelming, and, "Dammit, Spike, don't do this to me."

I regretted the words as soon as they left my mouth. Still the selfish bitch. Still about me. I'd berate myself about it later, but right now I had to get him off of there before he combusted. I softened my tone. "Please, Spike." I tugged on his arm, but he wasn't letting go, and I finally had to yank him bodily away from it. Both of us fell to the floor, and he put his arms over his head and lay there, shivering. I scooted over to him and lifted his head into my lap, stroking his hair. "It's going to be okay. Really."

"Not going to be, though. Not ever again. You should have left me there, on the cross. Should have let me burn. I hurt you."

"No more than I hurt you." I'd had a lot of time to think about what had happened in my bathroom right before he'd disappeared. To get his soul--my mind still boggled. And I'd reluctantly come to the conclusion that it hadn't been all his fault. How many of our sexual encounters had started with mixed signals? "No" didn't always mean "no," not with us. Violence was foreplay. How was he supposed to know that it was any different, that particular time?

"No. What I did...that was unforgivable. I can't ask..."

"You don't have to ask," I murmured. "I forgive you, Spike."

He scrambled away from me, his eyes wide with horror in his burnt face. "You can't possibly. I don't deserve..."

"It doesn't matter what you think you deserve. Both of us did wrong. How can I not forgive you when I was as much at fault as you were? There's enough blame to go around. It's time to start healing."

"No." He shook his head wildly and leaped to his feet. "Can't. Won't."

Still sitting, I held my hand out to him. "Spike..."

"No!" He turned and ran out the door.

And I bent my knees up, rested my forehead on them, and cried.