Disclaimer: I own none of the characters except the one's you've never heard of. Song lyrics are from the Carpenters. (Don't laugh, it works with the story.)

Author's note: This is just something I came up with. I hope you like it. It seemed really good in my head, but transferring it all into words was more difficult than I thought. :) Enjoy.

The Sacrifice

Spike sat alone in his crypt. He held the bouquet of flowers in his hand and the small box of candy on his lap.

"This is never gonna work." He muttered to himself. The last time he was going to give her a gift, he ended up destroying it before he ever got the chance. This time he decided it was better to just do it, and not think about what he was going to say first. It wouldn't be good to get all upset again thinking about her reaction.

It was her birthday tomorrow, after all, so a present was called for, he tried to reason with himself. One of these times, his attempts at good deeds, was bound to be noticed and appreciated.

"Who am I kidding" He laughed irritably to himself.

He would just do it anyway. No harm in trying. He had to try, right? His mind was racing. He knew this was crazy, but he just couldn't help himself. He got up with his presents and decided to head over to her house.

He made his way slowly to her house. Trying to think of what to say to her. He swore he wouldn't rehearse this time, but his mind wouldn't stop. His head was down and he was muttering to himself. He figured he looked like some insane idiot walking through a graveyard with flowers and candy, talking to himself.

He didn't even see Buffy standing there watching him. He almost bumped right into her, but stopped just short of collision.

"Ahh! You scared the bloody hell out of me, Slayer." He said nervously wondering if she heard what he was saying.

"Good." She said smiling evilly at him. " So, what, you're talking to yourself now? That's really pathetic."

"I was just...um..." He stammered. He felt like such a fool. He didn't understand how she could turn him into such a blubbering imbecile.

"What's that?" She said pointing at his flowers and candy. "Are those for the imaginary friend you were talking to?" She laughed.

"I don't have an imaginary friend." He said irritated. "They are for... Well, they're...Oh, bloody hell, they're for you." He said thrusting the gifts at her. "Here take them." He said quickly.

"For me?" She said skeptically reaching out for them. She held the box of candy like it was covered in something nasty and she didn't want to touch it. "What are they poisoned, or something?"

"No, they're not poisoned." He said sarcastically. "It's a gift."

"A gift? From you?" She said disbelieving.

"Yes, a gift. It's your birthday tomorrow, remember?"

"Really? Hmm, oh yeah. Well, I kind of stopped celebrating my birthdays. Strange, horrible things always seem to happen to me." She looked down at the candy and flowers in her hand with mild disgust, "And it appears to have started already. Here, I don't want your poison candy. Nice try, though." She said handing the box back to him.

He took the candy and could barely contain the hurt he was feeling. His hurt was quickly turning to anger. "You know, you really are an incredible bitch. I don't even know why I bother. You're stubborn, aggravating as hell, and impossible to please!" He shouted at her.

"What? Did I hurt your feelings? Is your cold, dead heart broken." She said with mock sympathy.

"You think I have a dead heart?" He asked her full of hurt.

Buffy gave him a look that said 'Hello, you are dead!'

"Well, fine then, I do, but that's because I am dead. What's your excuse?" He said hurtfully.

"Excuse me?" She said angrily.

"Your heart is even colder than mine! You're the one that's dead inside, Buffy. I have spent the last few months trying to do right by you. I've helped you and your friends. I-I listened to you when you were sad about your mum. I haven't even thought about killing anything. I even brought you a gift and still, you spit on me. What is it going to take?" He said completely exasperated by her.

She looked at him completely shocked by his outburst, and also completely baffled. "What are you talking about? What's it going to take for what?" She asked.

"What will it take for you not to hate me?" He said.

"Is that what you want? Me not hating you? Well, forget it. There isn't anything you could do to change that fact. You disgust me! You-"

"Oh, enough already!" He cut her off. "I get it. I'm a blood-sucking fiend. I'm useless. Blah, blah, blah. I've already heard this one before. It's getting old." He said looking at her with total despair and anger. "You know, you are a real piece of work. No wonder all of your boyfriends left you."

Buffy hauled back and smacked him hard across the face. He put his hand to his cheek and turned to her with a smirk on his face. "Truth hurts, doesn't it?"

Buffy was truly pissed now. "Just shut up! Shut your stupid face or-or-" She stammered angrily.

"Or what? You're going to kill me? Jam a stake right through my heart? Well, guess what? My heart can't possible hurt anymore than it does already. Why don't you just go ahead and do it already? I'm tired of all your idle threats and being your punching bag. Either do it and be done with it, or shut the bloody hell up." He said to her suddenly not caring what she thought anymore. He was beginning to think she wasn't worth his trouble.

Buffy just stood there, speechless. She had no idea where all this was coming from.

"Well, if you're not going to do it, then I'm leaving." He told her, finally giving up. He started to walk away then he turned to her again. "And give me back my flowers!" He said snatching them from her grasp.

He threw them onto a nearby grave and looked back over his shoulder at her. "I think he will appreciate them more than you do." He said sarcastically as he walked back home hurt, angry, and to his dismay, still completely in love with her. He threw the chocolates to the ground and stomped on them. Another perfectly good box of candy ruined because of her, he thought.

Buffy stood there for a minute, not sure what to do. She decided that she should just leave. Spike made her so angry. He acted like he knew her, but he didn't know anything, she thought. She was not a bitch, was she? Well, maybe to him, but he deserved it. She wasn't dead inside. He was the stupid dead vampire! She thought to herself. She was not going to let what he said get to her.

Buffy walked to the magic shop to see if her friends were still there. Maybe they could all go out and do something. She just wanted to forget about that disastrous encounter with Spike. She walked in and found Xander sitting at a table alone.

"Hey. Where's everyone?" She asked.

"Oh, in the back looking for some book. It seems there is some sort of big vampire guy coming to town, Morag, or something like that. Giles is trying to find out more about him so you can kill him." Xander said with a smile.

"Oh goody. I bet he'll arrive just in time to wish me happy birthday tomorrow." She said full of sarcasm.

"No, your birthday is going to be good this year, oh ye of little faith." He told her with a smile.

"Sure it is." She said softly, her thoughts elsewhere. "Tell me what you guys know."

Xander began to tell her the information that they had heard, and didn't notice that she wasn't really paying attention. "So, that's all we know." He said. "Hey, you know, maybe Spike knows something." Xander told her.

Suddenly Buffy snapped to attention. "Spike doesn't know anything! He's just a stupid, annoying, pain in the ass!" She said a little too loudly.

"Whoa! I'm sensing an extra side of bitter with you're usual order of Spike hatred." Xander said wondering where all that anger came from.

"Sorry. I just can't stand him. I don't want to see his stupid face again. There has to be another way to find out about this guy." She said trying to relax and focus her thoughts.

"Okay, a big checkmark in the 'no help from Spike' column." Xander said.

Just then Giles, Willow and Anya came walking in from the back with a stack of books.

"Oh good, Buffy. You're here. Did Xander tell you about the vampire?" Giles asked.

"Yeah, he said there was a big bad coming to town, but do we know why yet?" She asked.

"Well, not exactly." He told her.

"So what's so special about this guy? Why are we all looking so concerned? He's just a vamp, right? I'll introduce him to Mr. Pointy, and poof! End of story." Buffy said confidently.

"Well, it might not be that simple. According to this book, this particular vampire is very old and very powerful. What we do know is that he once was a very powerful sorcerer that became a vampire in order to plague the world with his dark magicks for eternity." Giles said looking at one of the books that contained the limited information.

"Ooh. A magic vampire." Buffy said with false excitement. "That's a new one. So what else does that book say?"

"Not much, I'm afraid." Giles said shaking his head.

"So when is he coming?" Buffy asked.

"Soon. According to what we've heard there is supposed to be some sort of specific lineup of planets exactly ten days from tonight." Giles started.

"Yeah, it's supposed to make your magic more powerful." Willow piped in.

"Precisely, that is why we believe he will be here for the event. He may be trying to open the Hellmouth or something equally distasteful." Giles finished.

"Well, I'll just have to stop him." Buffy said feeling a confidence that she feared was unjustified.

Spike lay alone in his bed listening to cheesy love songs. This is what she has reduced me to, he thought to himself. A bloody, sappy fool. He knew he was pathetic, but he always had been when it came to women. He listened to the words as the music played.

*I'll say goodbye to love. No one ever cared if I should live or die.

Time and time again the chance for love has passed me by.

All I know of love is how to live without it.

Just can't seem to find it*.

He couldn't figure out why he couldn't get her out of his head. She was all of the things he told her; aggravating, annoying, an impossible bitch. But she was the impossible bitch of his dreams. He had no chance of ever getting her. He realized that now. He actually knew it all along, but somewhere deep down he had held a shred of hope.

*All these years of useless searching has finally reached an end.

Loneliness and empty days will be my only friend.

On this day love is forgotten, I'll go on as best I can.*

He was just going to have to forget about her. Her stupid, perfect face. Her dumb hair and that grating, emasculating attitude of hers. He'd just have to forget about all of it. He angrily snapped off the radio.

He had decided that from now on he would stay in whenever he could just to avoid running into her or one of her friends. It was easier that way. He didn't want to torture himself further by watching her anymore. It was too hard to see something that he couldn't ever possess.

It had been a week now since Buffy's birthday. It had come and gone without incident this year. Everyone was a little surprised, but happy. There was still a lingering sense of doom in the air due to that fact that Morag was coming to town soon. He may even be here already for all they knew, but he had made no attempt at contact.

Buffy and the gang tried to find out as much information about this vampire that they could, but were coming up empty handed. None of the books knew much about him or what he planning on doing when he got to Sunnydale.

"If only we had someone who had dealt with him before." Giles said to no one in particular.

"Well, we do know of one person who may have heard of him." Xander said cautiously. He didn't want Buffy to get mad again.

"Spike?" Giles asked.

"No way. I told you before, Xander. I don't want that losers help." Buffy said, still angry with him.

"Buffy, he may know something. Maybe we should at least ask." Giles explained to her.

"No." Buffy said firmly.

"Fine." Giles said, perplexed at her attitude. He knew that Spike was not exactly a favorite person of Buffy's, but he didn't understand why she was so adamant.

"Look, I'm taking off for a bit. I need some fresh air." She told them getting up to leave.

They all said goodbye to her and looked at each other. Willow was the first one to speak.

"What's wrong with her?" She asked.

"Beats me. She got all weird the last time I mentioned Spike to her. Maybe he did something particularly nasty to her." Xander answered.

"Well, I still think that maybe we should seek his advice on this." Giles said looking at the both of them.

"You mean, go behind Buffy's back?" Willow asked.

"Well, I wouldn't put it that way, but yes. He may know something and frankly we are running out of options and time."

"I agree." Xander said. "I'll go talk to him."

Xander made his way to Spike's crypt. The place always gave him the creeps but he went anyway. He knocked on the door.

"Go away!" Spike yelled at whoever was bothering him.

"Uh, Spike? It's Xander. I need to talk to you."

"I've got nothing to say."

"Oh, for god's sake, just open up. This is important." Xander yelled through the heavy door.

Spike got up and opened it for him. Xander walked right past him into the dark, musty room.

"Look, I don't know what she told you, but I'm through with her." Spike said figuring the slayer's friend was there to talk about the other night.

"What? Who?" Xander said, not having any idea what he was talking about.

"Buffy. Just tell her I won't be bothering her anymore. Or helping her. You can tell her that for me." Spike said with all his hurt and anger resurfacing.

"Uh, look, I have no idea what you're talking about. But about the helping part. See that's why I'm here actually." Xander laughed nervously.

"She wants my help? After what she did? I don't bloody think so." Spike said crossing his arms to his chest.

"Actually, she doesn't want your help. But the rest of us do." Xander said trying to figure out what was going on between Spike and Buffy. "Look, I suddenly feel like I missed a chapter in this book. What exactly happened the other night? She's been acting more hostile than usual about you, and now you with the charged up Buffy hate."

"She didn't tell you? I figured you would all be having a good laugh at my expense." Spike said wishing he hadn't said anything.

"No. She didn't say anything. So what's the big story? What happened?" Xander asked.

"Like I'd tell you." Spike scoffed.

"Fine. Whatever. Look..." Xander began, not really caring about what happened.

Spike interrupted, "She's just the most irritating, ungrateful, horrible...and beautiful girl I've ever met!" Spike blurted out.

"Excuse me? Did you say beautiful? The other words I understood, but that one..." Xander said looking at him like he was nuts.

"Yes! I said beautiful. You know, I gave her a present for her birthday and she- she- just threw it back at me like it was garbage!" Spike said with renewed anger just at the memory.

"Whoa! Back up. You gave her a present? Since when do vampires give slayers presents?" Xander asked.

"Since I just can't stop thinking about her. She's under my skin." Spike said not even caring that he was admitting his feelings to one of her best friends.

"Oh my god. You have a crush on Buffy?" Xander laughed.

"Not a crush, you silly idiot. I'm in love with her." Spike said as he slumped down in his chair and covered his face with his hands.

Xander just stood there, open mouthed, not knowing whether to laugh or cry at the ridiculousness of what was just said.

"You what? Are you insane?" Xander asked.

"Yes. I am." Spike replied as he ran his fingers through his hair.

Xander couldn't help himself, and burst out laughing. Spike looked up at him.

"What the hell is so bloody funny?" He asked.

Xander suddenly stopped and turned serious. "My god. You were serious?" He asked in disbelief.

"Would I joke about something that humiliating?" He asked.

"Sorry, pal, but you must realize how ridiculous it sounds." Xander said still trying to contain his amusement.

"I know. The worst part of it is, I just don't understand women."

"I hear you there, my friend." Xander replied nodding his head in agreement.

" I mean I tried to do things that would make her happy. I haven't even tried to kill anyone in ages, and still she's not impressed." Spike said sadly.

"Well, gee, that not killing part is really impressing, Spike." Xander said sarcastically. "But, you don't stand a chance."

"Thank you very much for pointing that out, you nitwit. I realize that, and that is what is so pathetic. I still can't stop these feelings."

"Well, good luck. You're gonna need it." Xander said finally, not knowing what else to say.

"Thanks." Spike said irritated with him. He knew he told the truth, but he still hated to hear it.

"Look, as much as I enjoyed this episode of 'Vampire Love Story', I actually did come here for a reason. There's a new big bad coming to town. He goes by the name of Morag De La Vega. You heard of him?" Xander asked.

"Morag? He's coming here? I'll be damned." Spike said full of thought.

"So, you know him?"

"Well, it's not like we were friends, but I knew of him. Drusilla used to talk about him all the time. He used to do spells and such. I remember hearing about this one spell. He needed the blood of a slayer..." Spike said remembering his glory days.

"Wait. The blood of a slayer?"

"Right. Anyway..." Spike began again, then stopped. "Oh no. Buffy. That's why he's here. He always talked about using the blood of a slayer for a spell to make him invincible or something to that effect. I can't believe he's actually coming here." Spike said disbelieving. There was a time when this news would have been music to his ears, but now, the thought of Buffy dying wasn't a happy one.

"Yeah. Well he is. And we have to figure out a way to stop him. Any suggestions, lover boy?" Xander said.

"Suggestions? No. He's not the kind of guy I want to mess with." Spike said quickly.

"Well, unless we think of something, Buffy is going be bubbling in his cauldron or something. Is that what you want?"

"Of course not. I'm sure she can handle this. This is what she does." Spike said trying to feel confident when he was actually starting to worry.

"If you really love her, you'll help us." Xander said trying to appeal to his newfound Buffy love.

"Right then. Well what do you want me to do?"

"Come back to the magic shop and tell Giles what you know. We'll go from there."

"She won't be there, will she?" Spike asked not wanting to face Buffy again.

"I don't know, Spike. Now are you coming or not?"

"I'll get my coat."

They headed back to the magic shop. Xander was still thinking about what Spike had said about his feelings for Buffy. He still couldn't believe it.

"So, uh, Spike. Does Buffy know how you feel about her?" Xander asked.

"No! I can't tell her that." Spike said.

"Well, don't you think she's gonna figure it out? I mean giving her presents and all that. She's bound to be suspicious."

"Well, it wouldn't matter anyway. She hates me. What good would it do to tell her?" Spike asked.

"Probably not much. Anyway, I just wondered why she's been so upset lately. I thought maybe you told her and she flipped." Xander said to him.

"She's been upset?"

"Yeah. I told you. She's going around all anti-Spike. Not that that is anything new, but she has renewed conviction."

"Well, good. I'm glad she's upset." Spike said hurtfully.

"Ah, love is a beautiful thing." Xander laughed to himself.

They walked into the store and found everyone sitting there, including Buffy.

"Xander! What is he doing here?" Buffy said angry at him.

"Relax, Buffy. I know you didn't want his help, but we all decided it was worth a shot."

"You guys went behind my back?"

"I told them it was a bad idea." Willow said.

"No you didn't." Anya said

"I did too!" Willow protested.

"Guys. Can you be quiet for two seconds? He knows this guy. I think we know why he's coming here." Xander said to everyone.

"Really? Do tell us, Spike." Giles said.

Spike walked over to the table and deliberately turned his back to Buffy.

"Well, I remember him from way back. He was always talking about this spell he wanted to do which required the blood of a slayer. It's supposed to make him invincible." He told Giles.

"Oh dear. I guess it wasn't the Hellmouth he was interested in after all." Giles said.

"So he wants me." Buffy said softly.

"Yes, it appears he does." Giles told her.

"Well we won't let that happen." Willow said determined.

"No. We won't. We'll all fight this together." Xander said.

"We need to do more research about this spell. Do you know what he called it?" Giles asked Spike.

"I've got no idea. I don't know much about this hocus pocus stuff. All I know is that he said he was going to do this and that the timing would have to be just right. I figured it was just big talk, you know? I didn't even remember about it until Xander mentioned his name."

"Well, we'll figure it out. I hope." Said Willow.

"If you don't need me anymore, I'm going to go in the back and train. I need to hit something." Buffy said looking directly at Spike with an evil look.

"Ouch." Xander muttered to Spike under his breath. "I feel your pain."

Spike just ignored him. He suddenly felt the need to confront her again. He knew he shouldn't, but he just wanted to see what she thinking. Obviously what he said to her must have gotten to her, or she wouldn't be mad. As everyone else began looking through books, Spike slipped away and headed for the training room.

He opened the door and watched her. She was punching the bag furiously making little grunting sounds whenever she made contact.

"I think it's dead." Spike said to her.

"Not dead enough." She said not stopping her assault on the heavy bag.

"Look, why are you so pissed? I'm the one who should be pissed." He said matter of factly.

"Why am I pissed? You called me a cold -hearted bitch and said I drove all my boyfriends away. Am I supposed to be grateful that you pointed out my faults?" She said angry.

"I didn't think what I said would mean anything to you. Seeing as how you despise me and all that."

"I do despise you. It's just...You...You hurt me, okay?" She said small tears forming in her eyes. "You said all the things I was thinking about myself and I hated hearing it. Especially from you." She said sadly.

"And you don't think you hurt me?" He asked her seriously.

"No. You don't have any feelings. You're a soulless vampire, remember?" She pointed out sarcastically.

"Is that what you really think? You think I need a soul to have feelings? Is that what your soul-boy told you?" He asked her getting angry again at her callousness.

"He didn't have to tell me anything. That's just the way it is, Spike. You kill things and don't care about it. That doesn't scream 'feelings' to me."

"Just because I don't feel all remorseful about what I've done and I don't brood all over the place, doesn't mean I don't feel. I may not have a soul, but I still have a heart, and it may not be beating, but it sure as hell still feels." He said trying to get through to her. "And you're right, I don't really care about all those people in my past that I've killed. They were food to me, Buffy. Do you feel remorseful and guilty for all the cows that died to feed you?" He said dripping with sarcasm.

"You're sick. That's not even the same thing. We are talking about human beings, not cows." She said angrily.

"I know it's different to you, but not to me. Anyway, the point I'm trying to make is that I don't want you to judge me by past. Believe it or not, I'm trying here. I'm trying to do good. It's not easy for me because I don't know how to act or what to do, but I'm trying, damnit. Doesn't that count for something?" He pleaded to her.

Buffy just stood there listening to his tirade. He had been trying, she knew that, but she just couldn't let herself believe that he was actually doing good deeds without some sort of evil motive.

"I guess it counts a little. But it's not enough."

"Then what will it take for you to give me a chance?" He said completely exhausted by her.

"Give you a chance at what?" She asked suspiciously.

He just looked at her. He wanted to tell the truth and say that he loved her and wanted a chance to be with her, but he knew that would only make her laugh in his face. Finally he said, "I just want a chance to show you that I've changed. I-I just want to...I want to be your friend."

"My friend? You want to be friends with me?" She asked him with doubt.

"Yes. That's all I want. Look, I can't kill you, and you've proved that you won't kill me. Can't we just forget all that and just be civil to one another?"

"I still don't trust you." She said to him, still cautious about his motives.

"You have to trust me, at least a little. I promise that I am not going to hurt you. I don't want that anymore." He said sadly.

"You don't?" She asked.

"No. I only want to make you happy. That's it. I...I care about you." He said nervously. He knew he shouldn't say it, but he wanted her to see that he was sincere.

"You care about me?" She said dumbfounded.

"Yes, the only thing that I care about, really. I know you don't believe me, sometimes I don't believe it myself, but it's true. I don't know when things changed, or if they even changed at all. You were always different. I always sort of liked you."

"It's nice to know that you still try to kill the people you like..." She said with irritation.

"Look, I know this whole thing is ridiculous, but the truth is...The truth is I just..." Spike had no idea what to say. She made him nervous. He couldn't believe that a stupid little girl like her could turn him into a sodding wreck. Finally he blurted out, "Can't we just get along?"

Buffy had to laugh at him. "You want to call a truce again?"

"Yes." He just wanted any reason to be able to spend time with her not hating him.

"Fine. But I still don't trust you. You're gonna have to earn that." She said to him, still not believing he actually cared. She figured this was some sort of game, but she was too tired to figure out what it was.

"Good. Well then. I'm going to go see if your friends need any help." He said as he started to walk out. He looked over his shoulder at her. "See, I'm helping and I'm not even expecting to get paid or anything." He said proud of himself.

She just looked at him and rolled her eyes. "How noble of you."

He walked out the door and shook his head in despair. She was completely impossible. He was never going to break her down and she would never return his feelings.

He was trying to be a part of a world that he didn't remember how to act in. He thought he was saying the right things, but in her eyes, it was always wrong. Still, much to his dismay, he still wanted to try.

Buffy stood there for a few minutes thinking about their conversation. Spike was acting so strange lately. She just didn't know what was going on with him. He had actually said he cared about her, which to her was laughable, but he seemed so sincere. She knew it must be a trick or something. There was no way he actually had feelings for her.

Buffy resumed her training, hitting the heavy bag with a little less enthusiasm than before. She wasn't seething with anger anymore. She had called a truce with Spike. However strange it was, part of her did believe that he meant what he said. She had felt herself softening her anger towards him. When he wasn't trying to hurt people, he could actually be sort of okay. Sort of.

Spike went out to where the others were still talking and reading. They didn't notice when he entered the room or when he sat down amongst them.

"So, what's the plan?" He asked them.

They all looked up, surprised that he was still there. They figured he had done his part and left. "Oh, you're still here." Giles said.

"Yeah, so what's the plan?"

"Uh, well, we don't exactly have one yet." Xander said.

"Well, let's get to work then. We don't have much time." Spike said grabbing a book.

They all just looked at him in stunned silence. No one assumed he was going to be part of this plan other than giving them the little information that he had.

"Y-You're going to help us?" Willow asked.

"Yeah, Spike, I'm afraid I don't have any money right now to pay you, what with the troll damage to my shop..." Giles began.

"Forget it. Free of charge." Spike said not looking up from his book. "I told the slayer I would help, and that's what I'm going to do."

They all stared at him for a moment, then shrugged and went on with the research. Only Xander knew why he was doing it. He nudged Spike's arm. Spike looked up at him.

"I know why you're doing this, and it still won't work." Xander said to him.

"Still got to try." Spike said to him concentrating on the book again.

Xander just shook his head and went back to his reading.

They had sat there for hours reading and reading. They still had very little to go on. Buffy had been in and out of the room most of the time. Everyone was getting tired. They were trying to find out what spell it was exactly that he may be trying to perform. They found nothing about the blood of a slayer.

Spike was bored. All this research was not his thing. He was more of an action guy. Finally he threw his book on the table loudly. Everyone looked up.

"This is getting us nowhere. I think we need to have a different approach." He told them.

"Such as?" Giles asked.

"Well, this guy is a vampire, right?" They all nodded their heads. "Right, so who knows more about them than me? See, I think that if I can find out if this guy is here and where he is, I can find him and talk to him. You know, get some information out of him." Spike told them excitedly, the plan forming in his head.

"I thought that vampires didn't like you anymore, what with you killing them for fun and all." Willow said.

"Sunnydale vampires, yes, but this guy doesn't know anything. I still have a few friends that owe me favors. They might know if he's here."

"Okay, so what are you going to do? Just find him and ask him what he's going to do? I don't think he'd just tell you, would he?" Buffy asked him.

"I wouldn't ask him. I would let him think that I knew already and that I wanted in on it." Spike answered.

"So you'd tell him that you wanted to help him? Why would he let you? If this is about absolute power, I doubt he would want to share it." Giles said.

"No, he wouldn't, but if he knew I could deliver him the slayer, he might think otherwise." Spike said looking at all of them.

"So you're just going to offer me up on a silver platter for him? See? This is where I don't trust you." Buffy said to him.

"I'm not really going to do it. But if he thinks I am, then maybe he'll let me in on it. Wouldn't it be better if we controlled the when and where rather than let him surprise you? We'll set a trap." Spike said trying to convince them that this would work.

"He may be on to something." Giles said taking off his glasses and pondering the idea.

They all decided that it was their only option at this point. They worked out the details and Spike said he would try and locate Morag.

Spike went back to his crypt and tried to work out the details in his head. He wanted this to work so badly. It would mean that Buffy would trust him, he was sure of that. Plus, he actually did want her safe. He couldn't bear the thought of her dying anymore. He was also having fun with this. It felt good to do something other than sit around watching TV or stalking Buffy. He felt useful for the first time in a long while.

The next evening Spike went to see one of his former associates, Tony. He hoped that he wouldn't get killed, but this guy owed him a favor. If anyone knew anything, it would be him.

Spike went into the dark cave where Tony lived. Tony confronted him angrily before he recognized who it was.

"Spike? Is that you?" He asked.

"Yeah, it's me, mate. Remember that debt you owe me? I'm here to collect. I need some information."

"I heard you were working the other side now." Tony said to him suspiciously.

"Rumors, not your concern. Look, I need to know if Morag De La Vega is in town."

"Why?" Tony asked suspiciously.

"Because I want to give him a fruit basket." Spike said sarcastically. "Just tell me where I can find him."

"He's in a mausoleum somewhere. He got to town a couple of days ago. Everyone is talking about it. He's after the slayer."

"Yeah, I know. I want in on the action. Which mausoleum?"

"I'm not sure. Chandler, I think was the family name. I don't know which cemetery."

"I'll find it. Thanks, mate." Spike said as he walked quickly out of the cave. He knew exactly the place where Morag was. It was nice, he had even considered that place himself. He set off, in hopes that this would work.

He went to the mausoleum and cautiously opened the door. He peered inside and saw the faint glow of candlelight. He called out, "Hello?"

He heard nothing and stepped inside. The heavy door slammed shut. Suddenly a hand grabbed his throat and pushed him up against the wall. It was a good thing he didn't need to breathe because he wouldn't have been able to.

"Who dares enter without permission?" Morag said to him.

"Morag..." Spike squeaked out his windpipe being crushed by the strong hand.

Morag let go and Spike slumped to the floor, holding his throat.

"Who are you and why are you here?" Morag asked.

"You don't remember me? It was a hundred years ago, or so..." Spike started.

"I do not know you. Be gone or die." He said with a booming voice.

"Of course you wouldn't remember me. Spike? Listen, I know why you're here though, and I want to help." He said getting to his feet.

"I do not need your help." Morag hissed.

"I can get you the slayer." Spike said to him.

"You? You know this slayer?"

"Yeah, I know who she is and I can deliver her to you. I know you need her for your spell." He said confidently hoping that he knew what he was talking about.

"If you know of her, then why is she still alive? Or better yet, why are you still alive?" Morag said to him with disgust.

"It's a long story. Look, I've killed two slayers in my time, and this one is feisty. If you want to get her, you'll need help."

"What do you want in return for this help?" Morag said eyeing him suspiciously. "I will not share my power with anyone."

"I don't want your power. You need her blood, right? Well, I just want the privilege of drawing a little of that blood myself." He said with a smile.

"That is all you want? Then why have you not done it already?" He asked his eyes boring a hole right into Spike. "I am sensing a great weakness in you. You are of no use to me. Something is not right with you."

"Well, I've been kind of out of commission for awhile. The government put some sort of gadget in my head, but that's not important. I can still help you. I can give you the slayer, no fuss. She trusts me. That's the beauty of this. She thinks I'm weak and helpless too, but I'm not."

"Why should I trust you? I do not even know you." Morag said still continuing his evil glare.

"I just want to see her suffer. With your help, I can get what I want, and with my help, you can get what you want." Spike said, hoping he was being convincing enough. This guy made him nervous, it was as though he could see right through him. He hoped he couldn't read his mind.

Morag thought about this for a moment then finally sat down and motioned for Spike to do the same.

"I will consider this." Morag said to him. He did not trust this strange vampire. He sensed another motive for his help, but he did not really care. This creature was weak. If he delivered him the slayer, he could be forgiven for that. If he was being duplicitous, it did not matter. He was going to die anyway.

Spike left the Morag's lair. He had gotten the old man to trust him enough to tell him about the spell. It was to be done on the full moon a few days from now. All the planets were lined up in a way that they hadn't been for more than five hundred years. He would capture Buffy, render her useless with his magic, then perform the ritual which ended with him offering Buffy as some sort of strange sacrifice. At that time, all her power would enter him and he would also gain the power of all the demons in Hell. Spike didn't understand any of that magic nonsense, but he hoped that Buffy and her friends would know what to do with the information.

He went back to tell them the details. If Buffy still didn't believe he was trying to help her, then he was ready to give up. This Morag guy was probably going to kill him anyway. Vampires didn't have much loyalty outside their vampire families. Even then, loyalty was not expected.

Spike entered the magic shop and found everyone there. They all stopped talking and looked when he came into the room.

"I have your information." He said to them.

"Spike, sit down. What did you find out?" Giles asked.

"It wasn't easy, but he told me about the ritual."

"What is it?" Buffy asked.

Spike began to tell them what he learned. He kept looking over at Buffy and watched as her face grew concerned. She knew this wasn't going to be easy to defeat him while he was using magic. He hoped they could figure out a way to stop him.

"Well, what we need is some sort of protection spell." Willow said. "We need some way for Buffy to be protected from falling under his powers."

"Yes, exactly. If she becomes entranced, she will be helpless. If she can retain her power, then we have a shot." Giles said.

"I am not going to let this guy get me." Buffy said with determination.

"We'll figure it out. Let's find some spells that will be helpful and go from there. We have three days to devise a plan." Giles told her.

Buffy just looked lost. She was growing tired of all this. Why couldn't she just have a normal life?

Spike looked at her and sensed that she was starting to give up. He wanted to take her in his arms and tell her that it wasn't time to give in. But he knew that she would push him away, so he held back.

They all worked long into the night devising a plan that would work.

The day had come. Tonight Buffy was going to meet Morag. They had laid out a plan, complete with magic of their own. Buffy was beginning to think that she should do this alone. Her friends might get hurt and she didn't want to be responsible for their deaths along with her own.

Maybe it would be best if she just kept them out of this. She could do the magic herself, even though that was Willow's specialty. She decided to tell them that this was her fight, and they needed to stay out of harms way.

"What? Are you crazy Buff? You can't do this alone." Xander said as she told everyone her decision.

"Xander, I can't go in there worrying about you guys. I need to focus. I'm afraid I won't be able to protect you." Buffy explained.

"But Buffy, I thought we were in this together? What about the spell?" Willow asked.

"Will, I can do it myself. You just have to tell me what I need to do. I just can't have you guys getting hurt." Buffy told her.

"Perhaps she's right. Maybe she should do this alone. She will have Spike with her." Giles said unsure if this was the right thing to do, but understanding her point of view.

"Spike? We don't even know if we can trust him." Willow said.

"He'll take care of her Will. I don't think he's going to pull anything." Xander said, still knowing about Spike's feelings.

"It's done. I need to do it myself. I'll be fine guys, trust me." Buffy said.

They all relented and went over the revisions for the plan with Buffy performing the magic this time. Everything was set when Spike showed up.

"It's time, slayer. Are you ready?" He asked.

"Let's go." Buffy said sure of herself. She wasn't going to lose and she just hoped that she could trust Spike.

They walked out the door and made their way to the woods where the meeting would take place. They didn't talk and the silence was deafening to Spike. He was afraid that this whole thing was going to blow up in their faces and this would be the last moment he would be with her.

He wished he could just be honest and tell her he loved her. If they were going to die, he wanted to at least be able to kiss her and feel her lips on his.

"This better work." Buffy said breaking the silence and stunning Spike out of his fantasy.

"It'll work. It has to." He replied.

"If you get me through this, I'll have strong feelings of not hating you, Spike." Buffy said with a slight smile.

"Really? With that kind of incentive, I guess I'll just have to try harder." He said with sarcasm.

"I'm serious. I can't believe you actually went through all this trouble to help me." Buffy told him.

"I told you I would." Spike said. Maybe she was softening a bit towards him? She better be, he thought.

"I need to do the protection spell now, before we get there. It only lasts for a short time, so I hope we can get this right the first time." She said to him.

They stopped and Buffy fished some herbs and incense from her backpack. The lit the incense and started the spell.

"Goddess, I call upon thee for protection from what I cannot see..." She recited as Spike watched her. "Protection from evils and harmful magicks..."

Spike just stood there silently watching her. He was not going to let her die. Not like this. He just hoped that the spell was working.

Buffy finished and blew out the incense. "Okay, let's kick some magical vampire ass." She said with a smile.

This is why Spike loved her so much. She was so strong and confident. Maybe that was why he could never beat her? No, he just never really wanted to beat her.

They walked on until they reached the clearing. There were torches burning and they could see some sort of makeshift altar with candles all around it.

"It's show time." Buffy said looking at Spike.

"Let's go." He said as he grabbed her tight and started to drag her into the clearing.

She was struggling against his grip in effort to make it look like she was there against her will. "What the hell is this? Why did you bring me here?" She shouted at Spike.

"Just shut up, Slayer. Your time has come. Tonight you die and my friend here will be able to take over the world." Spike said sinisterly.

"Friend?" Buffy said fearfully.

Just then, Morag appeared from behind the altar. He was an old, ugly man with long white hair. He was wearing a long blood red velvet robe.

"Ah, this must be the slayer." Morag said to Spike.

"I told you I would deliver her. I told you she trusted me." Spike laughed as his grip tightened on Buffy.

Buffy looked up at Spike and for an instant she wondered if she had been had. What if he really was planning on helping Morag kill her?

"Excellent. Bring her to me." Morag hissed.

Spike dragged Buffy over to him. Morag reached out and stroked her cheek. "So pretty. What a shame that pretty face needs to be destroyed." He laughed at her.

Buffy just stared at him expressionless. He began to recite something to her in Latin. She didn't know what he was saying, but she assumed he was doing the spell that would render her helpless.

She felt nothing and prayed that it was because the protection spell had worked. She played along, pretending to be entranced by him. He finished his ritual.

"Now, you are powerless, young girl. You will do as I say." Morag said as he waved a hand in front of her face.

Buffy let out a gasp and said, "Morag, whatever you need, I will provide." She hoped that sounded good enough. She knew she needed him to think her defenseless if she was going to get close enough to kill him.

"Exactly, my sweet. Come to me." He said motioning for Spike to release his grip.

Spike let go of her and she walked towards Morag. He couldn't tell if she was faking or if she really was under his thrall.

Buffy approached Morag and held her breath. He enveloped her in his arms and held her tight. Then he reached down and pulled her backpack off and threw it to the ground.

"You won't need those, will you?" He said, knowing she was armed with vampire weaponry.

Spike watched the pack fall to the ground and Morag guiding Buffy to the altar. Suddenly she backhanded Morag in the face and stunned him. He fell to the ground and Buffy ran for her bag.

Morag cried out in anger and grabbed her legs as she ran. She slammed to the ground. Everything was happening so fast that Spike stood there motionless, watching the events unfold.

Buffy got to her feet quickly and punched Morag with a series of punches. It was like hitting a brick wall. Nothing fazed him.

"Your little magic trick didn't work on me." Buffy said between punches. "Guess you didn't count on that, huh?"

"You will pay for this. You cannot defeat me, little girl." Morag said as he picked her up and hurled her through the air. She crashed right into Spike and they both tumbled to the ground.

"Uh, a little help, please." Buffy hissed at Spike.

"Sorry Slayer, I thought you had it under control." He answered her.

She just glared at him, and then they noticed Morag coming straight for them. Buffy scrambled to reach her bag but couldn't get to it before Morag came and grabbed her from behind.

He lifted her up over his head and she was not in a position to do anything to him, but she struggled anyway.

Spike rose to his feet and grabbed the backpack full of supplies. He grabbed some stakes and a couple of vials of holy water. He shoved the water in his pockets and ran over to where Morag was carrying Buffy to the altar.

He came up behind him and was ready to plunge the stake in when Morag turned and roared at him.

"You betrayed me, you weak one! I knew you could not be trusted!" Morag shouted as he threw Buffy again, this time onto the concrete altar. She was momentarily stunned and just laid there.

Morag attacked Spike full force, knocking the stakes out of his hands. They rolled on the ground and Morag pounded Spike's head into the hard dirt.

Buffy regained her senses and jumped on Morag's back. She grabbed his long, white hair and yanked his head back. Spike managed to kick the old vampire off him and Buffy along with him. Spike retrieved the vials of holy water from his pockets and poured the water onto Morag's face.

Morag screamed in pain and Buffy managed to get out from under him and kick him in the stomach. Spike picked up a stake and tossed it to Buffy. She caught it and was ready to plunge it into the vampires chest, when he suddenly rose up and grabbed the stake from her hand and bent her wrist with such force that it snapped.

Buffy cried out in pain and the vampire pushed her off of him and she went flying headfirst into the concrete altar. She was out cold.

Spike was furious now. This old man was hurting his Buffy. He lunged at him full force but the old man was ready. He knocked Spike aside with such power that he continued flying through the air and landed headfirst, next to Buffy, into the concrete. He was knocked unconscious as well.

Morag walked over to his victims and smiled.

"Such fools." He hissed at them. "Soon I will rule this pathetic world."

He grabbed Buffy and placed her on the altar. He chained her arms and legs firmly to the altar. Buffy began to wake up, when she saw that she couldn't move she started to panic. She began to struggle against her bonds but it was useless.

Morag stood above her and began his dark ritual.

"Lords of the underworld, I offer thee this sacrifice..." His voice bellowed out.

Spike was still lying on the ground but was beginning to wake up. He heard the old man's voice and quickly tried to shake away his confusion. He looked up and could see Buffy's feet and arms chained down. He began to crawl on the ground to the other side of the altar.

"The blood of the Vampire Slayer will be joined with mine. I implore thee to grant me the power..." Morag chanted raising a jeweled dagger high into the air.

Buffy gasped and tears started to roll down her face. She knew this was it. She knew that this duty would get her eventually, but she just wasn't ready. She continued to struggle in vain as the dagger was poised to plunge into her chest

Just then, Spike arose behind Morag and grabbed the dagger out of his hand. Morag was stunned and horrified.

"What are you doing? The ritual is nearly complete. You will pay for this!" Morag shouted.

"Sorry friend, but no one touches my slayer." Spike said as he sliced the dagger across Morag's chest. He knew the wound would not be fatal, but it would hurt him and slow him down.

Morag cried out and lunged at Spike, but he ducked out of the way and Morag fell to the ground.

"You are making a mistake. Why are you helping her?" Morag asked venomously and he stood to his feet. He looked deep into Spike's eyes and saw something there. "I see. You love her. You are weaker than I thought. She does not love you. She will betray you too." Morag said as he lunged at Spike once more.

"Well, a man's gotta try, right mate?" Spike said as he raised a stake into the air just as Morag plunged down on it.

Morag let out a piercing cry and exploded into dust. Spike stood there for a moment still in shock at what had happened. The old man could read his mind, either that or he was just completely transparent.

"Get me out of here!" Buffy shouted, breaking Spike out of his revelry.

"Are you okay?" He said as he rushed over to her. He began undoing the chains.

Her wrist was badly swollen from the break and from being chained down. She cried out as he released the chains around it.

"Sorry, Buffy." He said with genuine concern.

"It's okay." She said as she looked at him. For the first time, she actually saw a man there. A man and not a vampire. A friend and not her enemy.

Spike gently helped her up and supported her with his arm around her waist.

"You saved me, Spike." She said softly.

"I know. Better not get mad at me for it. This time you needed saving." He said to her with a smile.

"About what that guy said..." Buffy started.

"He was crazy." Spike cut her off.

"Was he? Are you in love with me?" She asked quietly.

Spike looked at her and thought about whether he should tell the truth or lie to her. He decided that he had had enough of the secrets. It was time to come clean. If she still hated him after this, then there was no hope.

"Yes, Buffy. I am in love with you." He said looking away from her.

Buffy just looked at him, completely touched by his words. She knew it was insane, but she actually thought she felt her heart skip a beat when he answered her. It was almost as though she was happy at this news.

"You are? But why? How?" She asked him.

"I don't know why. I mean you are an incredible pain in the ass." He said with a smile.

"Be serious!" She said laughing at him.

"Okay, okay. It's true. I do love you. I have for a long time. But you never saw it. Either that or you just never cared. I knew that you would never feel the same, but I had to give it a go." He said almost embarrassed by his admission.

"Wow. That's just...Wow." She said not really knowing what to say.

"Well, it's not a big deal. I mean, you can still go on hating me if you want..." He said nervously.

She turned and looked at him. He looked so sad and vulnerable. Spike was actually acting like a human being. It was new and different, but she liked it, a lot.

"I don't hate you. Remember, I said if you got me out of this, I wouldn't hate you." She smiled at him.

"Right. You did, didn't you." He said remembering her words. "But you don't have any feelings for me? Not that I expected you would, but is there any chance..." He was rambling on trying to think of the right words to say.

Buffy reached up to him and put her good arm around his neck and kissed him softly on the lips, effectively shutting him up.

He was stunned and thrilled by her touch. Her soft, warm lips melted into his. He wrapped his arms around her and held her tight. She finally pulled away and looked at him and smiled. He smiled back at her.

"We better get out of here. All this magic sacrifice stuff is giving me the creeps." Buffy said to him.

"Right. We better go. I'm sure your friends are worried." He said wondering what had just happened between them.

They began walking slowly out of the woods. Spike held onto Buffy's good arm and steadied her as they walked. She was still a little shaken up.

He looked at her and said, "So, uh, Buffy, what now?"

"Well, we go back to the shop and tell them that we kicked a little magic ass." She smiled.

"Right, yeah, um, I meant what now with us. You and me?" He asked nervously.

Buffy thought for a moment and then said, "Oh. That 'what now'. Well, I don't know."

"Oh, I see. Okay." He said not wanting to pressure her, but he was dying to know what her kiss meant.

"I don't hate you anymore, so that's a start." She said with a small smile. "I guess you'll just have to keep being nice to me and see if succumb to your charms."

Spike thought about this. She wasn't turning him down flat, but she wasn't running into his arms either. He liked that. He liked a challenge. He smiled at her.

"This could take some time. I mean there could be presents involved and wooing. Lots of wooing." She said.

"So I have a shot, is that what you're saying?" He asked.

"We'll see." She said as she looked up into the sky.

"You're awfully hard to please, you know that?" He said jokingly.

"I know, but that's why you love me, right?" She said teasing him.

"That's right, Luv." He said softly pulling her closer to him as they walked slowly together.

The moon was full and all the stars were shining down on them as they walked back. They walked in silence, neither knowing what the future was going to hold.

For Spike, he had a chance to be with the woman he had loved for so long now. For Buffy, she had a chance to find love again. It wasn't in the place she thought she would find it, but sometimes love was funny that way. Just when you least suspect it, there it is. If you're looking for it, you can't find it, and when you don't want it, it finds you. That's the way life works.

They walked towards the future, not fearing it, but embracing all mysteries it held.