Chapter 9: Souls and Singing

.....Last Chapter....

"...Now, you, my friend," Lorne turned back to Spike. "What would you like to sing?"

Spike replied, "Huh?"

Before anything could be explained, Cordelia jumped in. "Wait a sec, I say we skip the singing and go straight to the staking. I mean, has everyone here forgotten what he was? How he tortured Angel for that Gem thing?"

Not surprisingly, Xander piped up. "I agree. Let's just stake the bloodsucker."

"There's no reason why he shouldn't at least have a chance to sing," Giles said patiently.

"Um, and why is it again that we want him to sing?" Willow asked, confused.

Lorne explained about his unusual talent, and both Giles and Angel vouched for his ability to accurately read people.

"I still say we stake him. You shoulda seen what he did to Angel!" Cordelia insisted.

Spike snorted belligerently. "Aw, come on, what's a lil' torture between family?"

"I bet you wouldn't be saying that if it was you who'd been tortured like that, buster!" Cordelia shot back.

Spike switched into vamp face, stalking closer towards the seer. All of the fighters in the room moved into defensive stances.

"I didn't do anything to your precious Angel that he hadn't already done to me a hundredfold!" Spike snarled. He turned and stomped his way over to Dawn, who gave him a supportive hug. He absentmindedly gave her a one-armed hug back, an action which was noted by many present.

"That was Angelus, not Angel!" Cordelia pointed out stubbornly.

"Cordy, we may as well let him sing," Angel muttered gruffly. He remembered that William had been a nice young man, a poet, in fact. Even after he was turned, he had bloodlust, of course, but didn't particularly relish the kill. Angelus and his family had essentially tortured him till he felt otherwise. Between the torture and his desire to please Dru, Spike had become a terrifying, bloodthirsty, evil creature who exulted in violence. Was there a chance that Spike's evilness had been little more than an act, a part he'd been forced to play for over a century? Perhaps a bit of the gentle poet was still there. Perhaps at least a bit of Angelus' evil could be redeemed.

"What? But, Angel -" Cordelia protested.

"Cordy," he growled. "That's enough."

She subsided unhappily, upset with Angel for reprimanding her so in front of her former and present friends.

"No, that's not enough!" Xander ranted. "Spike has the blood of thousands on his hands, and not a speck of remorse! For that alone, I think we should stake him."

To Xander's surprise, Spike didn't reply verbally. Instead, he merely looked intently at Anya.

Even Xander, thick as he sometimes was, got the message. "Hey! That's totally different, she's human now, she has a soul."

"How do we know that?" Dawn asked softly. "For that matter, how do you know I have a soul?"

There was a general outcry from the Sunnydale contingent at that. Angel and his friends were watching intently, Angel explaining quietly to his friends that Anya had been a vengeance demon.

The unproductive hubbub continued for several minutes, until Tara let out a piercing whistle. After apologizing to the vampires and Lorne, whom the sound had hurt, she took charge.

"I-I want to say a f-few things, without being interrupted. First of all, Anya and Dawn do have souls. Next," she continued over the 'I told you so!' coming from Xander. "I'd like to point out that having a soul d-doesn't always mean as much as we'd like to think. Being good or evil has to do with the choices we make, our actions, and while demons do tend to be drawn towards evil, they still have a choice.

For those of you who don't know, I grew up believing I was half-demon. Not knowing whether I had a soul, I did some research on this matter, so I'm saying all this with references to back me up. Having a soul isn't enough to make you 'good' - murderers, abusers, rapists..."

Everyone was staring at the normally quiet girl, stunned by both her words and her suddenly commanding presence. Having said her piece, she sank back down in her chair and tilted her head forward, allowing her hair to form the protective shield she'd used for so long.

"Wow. That was incredible, baby," Willow said softly.

Dawn jumped in. "So if a soul doesn't make that much of a difference, why does Anya deserve to live any more than Spike? After all, she doesn't seem very repentant, and she didn't even choose to become human! Spike may not have chosen to have that chip put in his head, but he did choose to help us out... and to stay with me last summer."

Xander struggled. "But... but... the difference is Anya feels bad about what she did! Don't you, Ahn?" he asked desperately, begging her to answer yes.

She shook her head slowly, eyes sad. "I don't know what I ever did that would make you think that, Xander. I don't have that urge to maim and torture anymore, but I don't particularly feel sorry for what I did. I was a vengeance demon; I did my job, and did it well for over a thousand years."

The room was still and silent as all waited for Xander's reaction.

He looked around the room, all the faces staring back at him. "This is crazy. You're all crazy! I'm getting out of here. Come on, Ahn."

He marched towards the door, and had opened by the time he realized Anya hadn't moved. He turned back to her. "...Ahn?"

She smiled sadly, and walked over to him. He looked pleased for a moment, until she took off her engagement ring and handed it to him.

"You obviously think I'm someone I'm not," she said softly, trying to hold back a sob.

Xander's face reflected first his shock, then his anger and confusion. "You- you're all insane! Crazy! This - this can't be happening... I know, it's a spell!" he exclaimed, relieved to have figured it out. "Will, what have you been up to?" He dashed over to her, and lifted her up out of her chair. "Willow! Break the spell!!" In his delirium, he began shaking her, all the while begging her to break the spell.

Most of the room's occupants sat in horror, unable to move as the appalling spectacle unfolded before them. Spike was the first to move, jerking Xander away from a frightened Willow.

"There! You see? See what he did?" Xander shouted, pointing at Spike, who was staring at the boy incredulously.

"What I did? I saved Willow from you!"

"What?" Xander shook his head in confusion. "No, I was just -" he broke off as he caught the look of fear and anguish on his oldest friend's face. "No, Willow, I was only- I didn't mean-"

Still shaking his head in denial, Xander ran out the door, leaving the stunned group behind him.

All was quiet for a brief moment.

Willow took a shaky step towards the door. "I... I should go after him..."

"After what that guy just did to you?" Gunn asked disbelievingly.

"He's been my best friend since kindergarten! And he's hurt and confused, and he's not thinking clearly. I have to do this -"

"Fine, but not alone," Spike said, understanding her need to help her friend, even as he remained furious at the Whelp. Between Dru and Buffy, loyalty to someone - no matter what they did- was something he was all too familiar with.

Willow nodded jerkily. "Um, so who..."

"I'll go with you, sweetie," Tara assured her.

The two witches left. Anya began sobbing, with Dawn trying to comfort her.

"Wow. Drama, angst, a little violence.... reminds me of L.A.," Lorne commented drolly.

"Well," Giles said, polishing his glasses, "I suppose we may as well get on with the singing, then?"

Dawn piped up. "Wait, does he really have to sing? After what Tara said about souls and stuff?"

"Yes, Dawn, he does. Tara may have been right, but that doesn't change the fact that we can't be certain that we can trust Spike," Giles explained.

As Dawn began to protest again, Spike stopped her. "It's all right, Bit, I'll sing. 've got nothin' to hide, anyway." He was pretty sure he didn't, anyway.

"Know what you want to sing, sweet cheeks?" Lorne asked.

"Hmm... yeah."

"Better not be that punk crap," Buffy muttered, fidgeting nervously.

"Uh, maybe we should leave..." Cordelia suggested.

Angel looked at her in surprise. He wanted to watch Spike make a fool of himself. "Why?"

"In case he sounds like his grand-sire," Gunn laughed.

Spike chuckled. "No, no worries, I sound nothin' like the Poof."

Angel's friends all breathed a relieved sigh, while Angel still looked puzzled.

"Well, whenever you're ready," Lorne prompted.

Spike took a deep breath. "Right then."

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Beauty queen of only eighteen
She had some trouble with herself
He was always there to help her
She always belonged to someone else

I drove for miles and miles
And wound up at your door
I've had you so many times but somehow
I want more

I don't mind spending every night
Under your tree in the pouring rain
Look for the girl with the broken smile
Ask her if she wants to stay awhile
And she will be loved
She will be loved

Tap on my window knock on my door
I want to make you feel beautiful
I know I tend to get so insecure
It doesn't matter anymore

It's not always rainbows and butterflies
It's compromise that moves us along
My heart is full and my door's always open
You can come anytime you want

I don't mind spending every night
Under your tree in the pouring rain
Look for the girl with the broken smile
Ask her if she wants to stay awhile
And she will be loved
She will be loved

I know where you hide
Alone in your car
Know all of the things that make you who you are
I know that goodbye means nothing at all
Comes back and begs me to catch her every time she falls

Tap on my window knock on my door
I want to make you feel beautiful

I don't mind spending every night
Under your tree in the pouring rain
Look for the girl with the broken smile
Ask her if she wants to stay awhile
And she will be loved...

("She Will Be Loved," by Maroon 5, with slight changes to the lyrics. Found at http:www. azlyrics. com/lyrics/maroon5/shewillbeloved. html)

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"Wow," Fred breathed. "That was great!"

Most everyone agreed with her, commenting on his performance. A few, however, had already moved past the sweet song. Angel, Buffy, and Spike were all staring anxiously at Lorne, waiting for his pronouncement.

After dabbing away a few faux tears with an ugly polka-dotted handkerchief, Lorne congratulated Spike on his singing.

"Thanks, mate, but will you tell us what we want to know, now?!" Spike replied, irritated. What if Lorne saw that Spike actually was going to do something bad? He thought he could keep his bloodlust under wraps, but he could be wrong...

Lorne smiled. "Well, you're one trustworthy vamp. So, I'd say no pesky binding spell - on one condition."

"What's that?" Spike asked suspiciously.

"Just give us your word that you won't harm a human, except in self-defense or the defense of others. I think actually saying the words will help keep you on the 'straight and narrow.' "

"All right. 'I won't harm a human, except in self-defense or the defense of others.' " Spike repeated Lorne's words verbatim. "We good?"

"You're all set!" Lorne assured him.

"Ha! I knew it!" Dawn shouted gleefully.

"Wait, Lorne, you can't be serious!" Angel protested. "There's no way a vampire could control himself like that!

"Angelcakes, I know that wasn't what you wanted to hear, but it's the truth." Lorne told him gently, "Just because Angelus couldn't do it, or most vamps, in fact, doesn't mean that William here can't. He's always been special, different, hasn't he?"

"Yeah," muttered Angel sullenly. "Not to mention stubborn."

"See? That's exactly what will get him through this! He's too stubborn to give up."

"Hey, where did Buffy go?" Dawn wondered, suddenly noticing her sister's absence. "And Spike?"

"I believe they both left... needed some time to think what this means to them," Giles responded. "And, Angel, although I must agree that the level of control Spike will need does seem incredible, remember that he has been conditioned, over the past several years, to equate harming a human with pain."

Angel grumbled so more, and Cordelia argued with Lorne over his readings. After several minutes of this, Fred, Gunn, and Wesley dragged them out of the Magic Box, and back to LA.

The few remaining Scoobies - Giles, Dawn, and a red-eyed Anya - closed up the store, and headed to the Summers. Anya slept in the missing witches' room, while Giles took the sofa.

..............Later that night...............

Buffy had just finished staking a couple of vamps when Spike stepped out of the shadows, clapping, as he'd done when they first met.

"Nice dance, as always, luv. But where are those awful quips of yours?"

"Not really in a quipping mood tonight."

"No?" Spike questioned, trying to draw her out.

"No..."

"Hear back from the witches yet?"

"No, not yet... "

The two remained quiet for a minute, until the uncomfortable silence was more than Buffy could bear.

"Um, you sounded really good, with that song earlier... nice lyrics, too."

"Thanks, pet," Spike muttered, somewhat abashed.

"Are - are you mad at me?" Buffy asked in a small voice.

"What? No. Why would I be?" Spike could actually think of a number of reasons why he could be mad at her, such as her refusal to accept that he loved her, or -

"Because I didn't trust you until some green demon said I could."

"Oh, that." Spike thought for a moment. "Not really angry about that, luv. I woulda liked you to trust me without Angel's buddy's say-so, but I get why you were scared to... so you definitely do trust me now?"

Buffy took several moments before answering. "Yeah, you know, I guess I do." She laughed happily. "I really do trust you!" Buffy came over to Spike, and looked him in the eyes. "I trust you," she repeated again.

"Glad to hear it, luv," Spike replied somewhat warily. The Slayer was acting a bit oddly, had a funny expression on her face, like she was trying to figure something out.

"So, now that we know I trust you... how 'bout I also tell you that I... like you," Buffy said softly. No way she was gonna say the dreaded word 'love!' Well... not just yet, anyway.

"R-really?"

Buffy smiled. "Yes, Spike really."

To prove her point, she leaned forward and kissed him. The kiss got a little out of hand, and when she finally drew back for air, she panted, "Believe me now?"

"Think I could use a little more convincin'," Spike smirked as he recaptured her lips.

A/N: Hah! Bet you all thought I wasn't gonna finish! But no, I FINALLY did... my muse up and left me, but between reading good Spuffy fics, and a few lovely reviews (thanks for those!), I managed to get this out. Hope it's satisfactory. I'm off to school tomorrow, so no more till next summer, probably.

Hope you all enjoyed my lil' story, and thanks once more to all those who reviewed!