Buffy felt the urge to scream and run away despite the fact that the very crowded hallway and the heels she was wearing probably meant it wouldn't end well for her.

But seeing Riley lumbering towards her, his mouth set in a grim line of determination made her want to chance it, heels be damned.

Before she could make her getaway, Riley was standing in front of her, glowering down. "Buffy, we need to talk."

"We do?" Buffy asked, taking a step backwards. "I thought we already said everything we were going to say."

"You screwed me over the other night, Buffy. I demand an explanation."

"Look, Riley, I'm sorry, but I don't have to give you one."

Riley took hold of her arm, pulling her over towards the wall and out of the stream of people filing from their classes. "Yes, you do. You ditched me for your brother, Buffy. I can't even begin to tell you how twisted that is."

Buffy groaned inwardly. What had she ever seen in this guy? "He's not really my brother," Buffy said, pulling her arm away from Riley.

"Why did you lie to me? Were you sleeping with him the whole time we were together?"

"Okay, for the record, we weren't 'together.' We were casually dating. And no, I wasn't."

"But you are now."

Buffy gaped. "How is that your business?"

"I want to know who he is, Buffy. Seeing as you humiliated me the other night in favor of him, I think you owe me that much."

Buffy sighed. "Fine. He's my step-father's son and he's been living with me for a while. Just roommates though, until recently."

"I thought you said he's not your brother," Riley said with a frown.

"He's not."

"But if he's your step-father's son, that makes him your step-brother.."

"Technically, I guess. But we didn't grow up together or anything, all right?"

Riley backed away from her, his hands slightly raised. "You are so not the girl I thought you were, Buffy. You're having that sort of relationship with your step-brother? Not to mention how he looks. He probably has some sort of VD…"

"Look, Riley, I understand that your ego got bruised," Buffy snapped, her eyes flashing with anger, "But you keep your judgments concerning my life to yourself."

"Whatever, Buffy. I'm just glad I learned the truth about you." Riley turned and walked away.

Buffy took a deep breath, telling herself to calm down. What right did he have to act like something was wrong with her just because she didn't fit into his idea of how people should behave? She was in love with Spike, and…

Buffy stopped her thought right there, her eyes growing wide. Yesterday it had been possibly falling in love and now she was all the way there? She frowned. No, that couldn't be right. It was too soon. She wasn't ready.

Only it was right. When she thought about Spike, she felt something stir deep inside her, something she'd only felt once before. She loved him. Somewhere in the midst of everything that had happened since he'd shown up on her doorstep, she'd fallen in love.

A huge smile blossomed over her face as she practically floated to her next class. She was in love.

And if felt damn good.

Buffy stopped outside her apartment door. She could hear Spike inside, singing and playing his guitar. It was muffled through the door and the wall, and she wanted to be closer, hear it clearly. She opened the door slowly, hoping that Spike wouldn't stop when she entered.

He did, leaving Buffy disappointed. She liked the sound of his voice, and had wanted the live show. "You don't have to stop on my account," Buffy said, shutting and locking the door behind her. She put her things on the kitchen table. "I heard you out in the hallway. Sounded nice."

Spike was sitting against the wall under the window, guitar in his lap. "I was just working on a new song."

"Can I hear it?" Buffy asked.

Spike shifted. "I just started it. It's really rough. Haven't gotten all the words yet."

Buffy came over and sat on the floor across from him. "I can give you feedback."

Spike hesitated for a moment. "All right. Just don't laugh too hard if it's horrible, okay?"

"It won't be horrible."

"We'll have to see if you still think that in a minute, pet," Spike said with a nervous chuckle.

"I will."

"I just started writing it today…"

"Spike, sing the damn song."

That got her a glare that quickly melted into a smile. He started strumming the guitar and Buffy leaned back on her hands, listening.

"In, I'm falling in again
I didn't want to
Not so fast, boy
Don't wanna hurt the girl…"

He stopped singing, though he kept playing the guitar. "Don't know where to go with rest of that verse, but I have the chorus."

"Sing it then. I like it so far," Buffy said.

"And I get blinded when she opens the door
It's like the sun looking in, you know
And I'm blinkin', mumblin', starin' at my shoes
And she just looks at me and smiles
Smiles, smile."

He stopped playing, watching her with badly-concealed nervousness. "So?"

"I like it. Really. It's very pretty." Buffy glanced down, then asked softly, "Is it about me?"

"Well, yeah. You've been quite the muse since you came into my life, kitten."

Buffy looked up again. "Really?"

"Yeah. Probably has something to do with the fact that you're just about all I ever bloody think about. Seems like no matter where I am, what I'm doing, there you are. My mind has turned into the all-Buffy channel."

Buffy leaned in, her face inches away from his. "And could this all-Buffy channel be shown on network television?"

Spike gave her a leer, leaning in until their lips were almost touching. "Oh no, baby. We're talkin' premium channel here."

"Mmm…care to give me a free preview?"

Spike tossed his guitar off his lap, his lips on hers as he tackled Buffy to the ground.

"Okay, next time we do this on the floor, I am so on top," Buffy said, shifting uncomfortably. "I have carpet burn."

"Sorry, pet," Spike said, kissing the top of her head. "Guess we should've aimed for the bed."

"Nope, couldn't have made it that far. I wanted you right then and there."

Spike grinned. "Well, it's nice to know I have that effect on my girl."

"You have quite an effect on me," Buffy said. "I've never been this way with anyone. I want you constantly. Even when you're inside me, it's like it can never be enough." She glanced down. "Not that he's not more than enough, 'cause wow, weren't you blessed in that department, but…"

Spike tightened his arms around her. "I know, kitten. Feels the same way with me. Can't get my fill of you."

Worry crossed over Buffy's features. "Do you think you ever will?"

"Get my fill of you? Don't think so. You set me on fire, Buffy. You make everything brighter, more intense. Just thinking about you makes me feel things I never could've imagined."

"What about that woman you told me about before. The one in England."

Spike stiffened slightly beside her. "Drusilla."

"Yeah. Her."

"Dru wasn't like you, Buffy. I loved her, but she…she wasn't warm like you are. I used to call her my dark princess. That's what she was. All darkness and cold comfort. But being with you, Buffy…it's like tasting sunshine." Spike moved slightly so he was over her, looking down into her eyes. "It may be too soon for this, and it might scare you off, and if it does, know that I'm running after you, but…" He took a deep breath. "I love you, Buffy."

Buffy blinked. "You…you do?"

"Yes. But I'll understand if it's too soon, and you…"

Buffy silenced him with a kiss. "I love you, too," she said when she pulled away.

Spike looked down at her in shock. "Really?"

"Yeah. And I get the whole sudden thing, because hey, we've only been together a couple of days, but I do. I've been falling in love with you since the day you showed up here, I think."

Spike kissed her forehead. "I fell in love with you the moment I saw you. Just took me a while to realize it."

"Back at the wedding?" Buffy asked with a frown. "That was years ago…"

"I know." Spike caressed her cheek. "Saw you dancin', up in your window. You were amazing. Such fire. Beauty and strength. Called to me, you did."

"And yet you were a total jerk when you actually met me."

"Well, you weren't exactly Miss Charming."

"What happened to beauty and strength and fire, huh?" Buffy teased.

"I think that was the fire," Spike said, dropping a kiss on her nose.

"So you like my inner bitch, huh?"

Spike quirked his eyebrow. "Inner?"

Buffy lightly slapped his chest. "Watch it, mister. Cause if I wasn't all boneless right now, I'd so kick your ass."

"Mmm…pretty words, pet," he replied, nipping at her lip with his teeth.

Buffy rolled her eyes. "Perv."

"Oi. You were into the bondage thing yesterday."

Buffy tried not to blush. "Your point?"

"My point is maybe you like me being a perv, baby."

"Never said I didn't," Buffy replied, giggling as she pushed up against him.

"That's my girl," Spike said, his voice deep as he kissed her again.

After a moment, Buffy pulled away, her brow furrowed. Spike could tell there was something on her mind other than another round of mind blowing sex… "What is it?"

"Why were you such a jerk at the wedding? I've gotten to know you now, and you aren't like that. So why act that way then?"

Spike rolled off of her, lying beside Buffy on the floor and staring up at the cracked ceiling. "It was because of my mum. I felt…it felt like my father was replacing her."

"She…she died, didn't she?" Buffy asked softly.

"Yeah. She had lung cancer. Never smoked a day in her life, but it got her anyway. I was just a boy when she died, and we were close. I certainly wasn't over it then, and I didn't think he should be either."

"I…I don't think he really got over it. Not like that. When…when someone you love dies you don't really get over it. But you learn to keep living. Learn…learn to move on."

Spike turned on his side, facing her. "I know. More now than I did then… And I don't hold that against him anymore. But I was hurting then, and I took it out on you and your mum. I'm sorry for that."

Buffy gave him a small smile. "Don't be. It's okay."

Spike kissed her gently. "I love you."

"I love you, too."

Buffy watched Spike as she slept, a smile tugging at her lips. He looked so beautiful like this, all of the bad boy image he tried so hard to project during the waking hours gone. He looked like an angel.


Buffy closed her eyes, a shiver going through her at the thought of her first love. At one time, she'd thought he'd be her last love, too. Even when he was gone and she was alone. But now…

She traced Spike's cheekbone softly, wanting to touch him but careful not to wake him. Despite her best efforts to guard her heart, she was in love. She was already so far gone, and yet she could feel herself falling deeper every day.

Carefully, she got out of the bed, watching as Spike reached out for her even in sleep, a frown marring his face at the loss of her heat. She pressed a kiss against his forehead, watching as he relaxed again.

Buffy walked over to her dresser, opening up her jewelry box and taking out the top layer. She reached behind her and grasped the clasp of the chain she wore around her neck, undoing it with shaky hands. She pulled it off, staring at the Claddagh as it now rested against her skin.

In the years since Angel's death, this was the first time she'd taken the ring from around her neck. She hadn't been able to bring herself to before. It had felt too much like forgetting him…

But she wasn't forgetting. She was moving on. She was living

She turned to Spike, watching him as he slept in their bed. It was time for her to make this step, to face the future instead of the past.

"Goodbye," she said softly before dropping the ring into the jewelry box.

Buffy let out a long, slow breath before rejoining Spike.

Please, please, please review. I can't stress how important feedback is…

Song is "Smile" by James Marsters.

Okay, I normally don't address specific reviews in author's notes. If I say anything, it's because it's been an issue in several reviews. But this one upset me, and since the reviewer apparently wasn't brave enough to leave an email on his or her criticism, I can't respond any other way.

The review was:
nice story...but you need something bigger. some very big event that screws everything over and the characters struggle to fix it and the happily ever after is said...yeah, so maybe you are making this very typical, everyone is. why dont you try something different? its not impossible...how about both of them dying tragically and meeting up again in some heavenly dimension? hey, its something less overused at least.

Okay, what I want to say is this. You don't know what I have planned for this story. I doubt you're a mind reader, or have access to my notes. Maybe what I have planned is "typical." Maybe it's not. But don't insult me by essentially telling me my story is bland and that nothing is going to happen in it. I work very hard on this fic, and that's just rude. It's my story, I'm writing it my way. If you don't like it, you don't have to read it. If you think my plot is "overused" and "typical" go find something that isn't. But seeing as this story is nowhere near done and, like I said, you don't know where I'm going with it, you have no way of knowing if I need "something bigger" or not. Furthermore, this is an all human AU, and I'm keeping it that way. If you want alternate dimensions and whatnot, go read a Buffyverse fic.