"This is Cordelia's..." Buffy held up the bracelet wrapped around the rock she'd caught a moment before, unwrapping the note and reading aloud. "Come to the Bronze before it opens, or we make her a meal."

"They're gonna cook her dinner?" Xander quipped, shrinking under the glares from around the table. "I'll pretend I didn't just say that."

"Actually," a low, British-accented voice said, "Turns out the restaurant delivers."

They whirled; Cordelia stood at the library doors, shaken up, unharmed, and turbo flirting in the direction of the shockingly blonde, leather-clad man next to her.

"He saved me," Cordelia gushed, beaming up at the newcomer.

The man tried unsuccessfully to dislodge his bicep from between Cordelia's breasts. "First things first, alright? Name's Spike, from the future, here to help, and I brought donuts."

Spike held a box of Krispy Kremes in front of him like a shield. "Extra jellies, so Rupert doesn't have to kill Xander."

"Er... I'm not quite sure which part of that to disbelieve first," Giles stuttered.

"Well... I liked the donut part," Xander said.

Spike took a step forward... staggering back suddenly as a thrown stake embedded itself in his chest.

"Buffy!" Cordelia shrieked. "Oh my God! Rude much?"

Spike pulled the stake from his heart, twirling it in his fingers, chuckling. "Slayer... you don't change."

"He's a vampire!" Buffy said defensively. "I could... feel it. You... um... are a vampire, right?"

"Fair cop, pet. Come with some fancy accessories, though. Got a soul, chip that won't let me hurt humans, fewer than usual allergies. Can sunbathe on a cross drinkin' an extra-garlic holy water smoothie if I feel so inclined, so..."

Buffy caught the stake he gently tossed back to her, scowling. "Angel's the only vampire with a soul in the world. He told me so."

"Well yeah, that's right. Now. Said I was from the future, didn't I? In the future, there's two of us. Look, I can prove it, alright? Secret ingredient in Buffy's mum's hot chocolate is cayenne pepper. Ripper here's got a crush on that CNN bint Christiane Amanpour an' a stash of Dairy Milk inside a saltine box on top of his fridge. Xander does the Snoopy dance at Christmas, Willow's got a frog thing, Buffy wanted to be Dorothy Hamill when she grew up..."

Giles startled. "Christiane Amanpour is..."

"Look, um... Spike, right?" Buffy snapped. "This is all very special and I'm sure we can't wait to see your DeLorean, but I've got the Master to kill again, so..."

"Spike already did it," Cordelia cooed, eyelids fluttering like hummingbird's wings. "Smashed his bones with a sledgehammer, dusted that Anointed guy. It was like he knew exactly what to do!"

"Well, I did," Spike said matter-of-factly. "Heard the story, hadn't I? Only last time, it was Buffy who did it... the Master bit, anyway. Fryin' the Annoyin' One's just me bein' a few weeks ahead of schedule."

Buffy exhaled sharply. "The Master's dead... he's really, really dead?"

And for the first time since his arrival, Spike met her eyes. "Never gonna bother you again, pet."

"Time travel," Xander sighed, helping himself to a donut. "Well, that's the one thing we haven't dealt with yet... does that make you Reese? 'Cause I gotta say, the excess leather is just screaming Terminator."

"If you're... um... back from the future," Willow winced a little bit, "Then you must be here to stop something... something really bad, right?"

"Well... yeah," Spike said uncomfortably. "The, ah, witch who sent me back... she sent me back to stop somethin' specific. A murder. Thing is... it doesn't happen for almost five years. Looks as she overshot a bit..."

He took a long look at Willow, gears seeming to turn in his head. "Or maybe I was meant to stop somethin' else entirely."

"Mmm, vague," Xander said around a mouthful of sprinkles. "Hey, personal favor... could you say 'Come with me if you want to live'...? C'mon, just once."

Noting Xander's lack of poisonous death, Giles reached for a raspberry-filled. "I believe... er, Spike, is it? Is right to be less than specific. His presence here is creating a temporal paradox, is it not?"

"It does in all the movies," Cordelia offered. "If he tells us what happens to us, it doesn't happen, so he doesn't get sent back, so he fades out of the photograph and gets hit on by his mom..."

Spike seemed to wince more than the comment required.

"But he already killed the Master instead of me. He's already changed history," Buffy chewed on her lip. "What, does the future suck so much you just don't care about it?"

"Don't have a choice about changin' history, Slayer. Can't go back to my own time, wasn't ever meant to get back... here on a one-way ticket. Only supposed to get sent back a bloody week, y'know, wasn't gonna be an issue. Made a deal. Supposed to stop a girl from gettin' shot and... somethin' else, bit of a personal project. Stuck here, looks like, and I'll change things whether I mean to or not." Spike shrugged. "Specially since I already staked m'self."

Giles hitched up his glasses. "You mean to say... you've destroyed the version of yourself that exists in this time?"

"Had to," Spike smiled enigmatically. "Besides... was cathartic."

"Well, this is quite... quite..."

"So, if you're going to change history anyway," Xander mused. "You could tell us anything we want to know and it wouldn't matter, right? How far from in the future did you say you were, again?"

"'Bout five years, give or take. Was May 2002, where I was."

"Wow," Willow gasped. "So you knew us when we were old."

Giles glared. "Your early twenties -- I'm sure you were all in a state of advanced decomposition." He turned a pleading gaze on Spike. "I don't suppose they mature at all...?"

"Depends on your definition."

"I was afraid of that."

"So you know what's coming," Buffy said thoughtfully. "The monsters we'll face. How we killed them..."

"Wasn't here for all of it. Heard a lot of stories, though. I'd like to help you out, Slayer, if you'll let me."


Spike hung his head slightly. "I... owe you."

"What, did I save your life or something?"

"Bit more than that involved, but yeah, you had a real bad habit of keepin' me alive. Like to return the favor, if possible."

Willow's face lit up. "Were you a Scooby? In the future?"

"More a member of the Scooby Auxillary Club, Undead Division."

"We have auxillary clubs... with divisions," Willow gushed, leaning over her stack of books with a grin.

Buffy sighed. "Okay, Spike... do you have a less silly name than Spike? 'Cause saying that with a straight face? So not happening."

"Um, hello, Buf-fy?" Cordelia snapped. "Pots, kettles?"

Buffy glared at Cordelia, but moved on. "You say you're from the future. Prove it. Who's the next Big Bad, and how do I kill it?"

"Well, er... givin' me a miss means no Judge, no Order of Taraka..." Spike rolled his eyes to the ceiling, racking his memory as Giles mouthed 'The Order of Taraka?' with horror. "Ah... did you know a new Slayer was called when you died? Name's Kendra, bloody suck-up, hopefully she won't show. Wonder what that means in terms of Faith... anyway, near as I can recall, next big hunk on your plate's Giles' old buddy Ethan Rayne."

"Good lord," Giles said in horror.

"May already be here, in fact. Buys a costume shop, puts chaos magic on all the costumes, come Halloween everyone wearin' one turns into what they're dressed as. Slayer goes girly, Red goes ghosty, and Harris... huh. Maybe we ought to let that one go through."

"You're suggesting we let Ethan Rayne tamper with the children of Sunnydale?"

"It's just... Harris here gets turned into Soldier Boy, never really forgets the planted info. Ends up with all this useful army know-how, guns an' protocols and the like."

"I'm, like, MacGyver or something? I can make bombs out of toilet paper rolls and gum?" Xander said eagerly, studiously ignoring Cordelia's eye-roll.

Willow bit her lip. "So theoretically, we could all use this to our advantage? I mean... it sounds like Xander's the only one who it benefited, but if we all chose costumes carefully..."

"I am not allowing Ethan Rayne to do Chaos Magic on innocents!"

"Aw, c'mon, Giles, think about it!" Willow protested. "I mean, I could... I could dress up as a... as a witch! And then I'd remember all kinds of cool spells, and I could really help, and..."

"Think I gotta agree with the Watcher on this one," Spike said quickly.

"Does nobody see this? This could be awesome! I mean, Buffy... we try to help you, but there's only so much we can do, and... if this would let us be, y'know, Super-Us, think of how much more useful we could be to you!"

"So that's it?" Buffy demanded, staring down Spike. "One Halloween of costume freakery? I mean, I guess after dying, everything's kind of anti-climactic, but sheesh. If that's it, maybe Mom won't keel over dead from worry this year."

She recoiled from the stricken look on Spike's face. "What? What'd I say?"

Spike swallowed hard. "Er, Slayer... the other... upcoming Big Bad..."

"Oh, come on, Spike. I died, hello? Defeated the Master? Most powerful vampire ever? Whatcha got?"

"Angel's soul-curse," Spike began tentatively. "It's... got a bit of a loophole. He ever experiences a moment of perfect happiness, his soul goes poof n' he turns back into Big Bad Angelus."

"The way he broods? So not happening," Xander laughed.

"Yeah, well, certain... activities could cause him to quit broodin' for a bit."

"Activities?" Giles asked.

"Pleasurable... activities..."

Blank faces.

"Statutory... activities..."

More gaping.

"Oh, bloody hell!" Spike snapped. "He shags the Slayer, goes all evil, kills Jenny Calendar and Willow's goldfish, tries to suck the world into hell with a big rock named Acathla and Buffy has to kill him. So much for trying to be bloody tactful about it. In short, to sum up, keep your soddin' knickers on and you n' the great poof can live broodily ever after."

Bad bad bad bad bad bad bad...

Stupid soul. Now he felt all guilty, and there was a time when he'd have enjoyed the hell out of this: Xander was shooting Buffy a look of pure, unadulterated betrayal; Giles was reduced to mumbling and frantic lens-polishing; Willow's eyes had gone huge and she was making little 'meep' noises; Cordelia looked... well, bored, and Buffy...

And now the guilt-knife twisted; he knew that look, couldn't ever forget it...

Ask me again why I could never love you...

Not fifteen bleedin' minutes in her presence, minutes where he'd actually managed to be civil to Rupert and Harris, minutes of her treating him with a modicum of respect, stake in the chest aside... and he'd blown it already.

Damage control, damage control...

"Look, pet, it's not carved in stone," he tried. "Besides, Jenny's part of the gypsy clan that cursed Angel in the first place, here to make sure he doesn't get too happy... she was workin' on re-soulin' him when he killed her, right? So we'll have her get the spell and one of those Orb things ready just in case, have his soul popped back in before you can say..."

"Jenny is a what?" Giles asked, enunciation so sharp you could bleed from it.

"Oh, hell," Spike felt his stomach sink. "Hadn't told you yet, right. Look, Rupert, don't hold it against her..."

The set of Giles' jaw indicated that he intended to do just that.

"I kill Angel?" Buffy whispered, tears shining in her eyes.

"You had to, love. It was him or the whole world. Besides, he came back later, all souled up. In the time I come from, Angel's as alive as a vampire can be. Didn't hold it against you, neither. Knew you had to do it. An' hey -- now you don't. No harm, no foul, right?"

"And we're still together?"

Spike struggled for his kitten poker face. "Er. Angel started a second front versus the nasties in L.A., so you don't see each other much as you'd like."

There. That was true, wasn't it?

He'd thought the soul would make this being good rot easier, would mean that every time he had a decision to make, some big flashy neon sign reading "RIGHT CHOICE" would turn on over the appropriate door... and it wasn't a bloody bit like that. Instead, he just had more voices in his head... annoying ones at that... all yelling at him to do something different.

Voice #1 said up with total honesty, wanted to tell Buffy the truth and nothing but the truth.

Voice #2 didn't want to hurt her, couldn't stand to see the beginnings of tears in those eyes that, damn it, not only were Buffy but somehow also spoke to him of the Nibblet. Making her cry? Like bathing in razor blades.

Voice #3 said he didn't deserve her, didn't deserve to be in the same room with her, could only hurt her, and should bugger off until such time as he did what he came for and saved Tara from that Warren git.

Voice #4 said he wasn't going anywhere until he'd dusted protecting Buffy from anything and everything that might look at her funny.

Voice #5 was hoping Rupert wouldn't take the custard-filled donut, but he was pretty certain that wasn't a soul thing.

He realized the others were speaking to him, asking him questions about the future, and Spike held up a hand.

"Look, if it's all the same to you lot, I'd like a bit of alone time with the Watcher. Got... stuff to discuss."

"You honestly mean to say that Willow... little Willow Rosenberg..."

"Pulled a major Anakin, yeah. Wait, has that piece of crap come out yet? Never mind. Look, here's what I know; I was in Africa, had just gotten the soul stuffed in, right? Layin' on the cave floor, hurtin' like hell, and suddenly, demon-boy starts laughin'... says something about redemption waitin' for no man, and boom I'm gettin' teleported across the bloody planet, end up in Joyce's bedroom. Red's all Pollacked up with blood, holdin' her dead girlfriend in her arms, eyeballs doin' that X-Files thing, tells me Osiris has refused her request."

"She was trying to... resurrect her girlfriend?"

"Yeah, but it didn't work. So... she shoves her girlfriend at me, tells me to vamp her."

"I'm sorry," Giles said, "But I simply can't imagine Willow doing something so... well, to be perfectly frank... idiotic. She knows better than to expect she'd get... Tara, you say? Back that way..."

"Tried to explain that. Moreover, girl was too far gone, even if I hadn't had the chip. Told Red that, said I wasn't gonna be able to vamp her anyway unless she bloody well turned back time... and that was when I saw what the Resolve Face looks like when it's evil-flavored."

"She decided to send you back in time."

"Yeah, to the day Tara got shot. Only I convinced her to send me back a week, instead... let me round up the nerds, stop... some other bad things."

Giles chewed on the earpiece of his glasses. "And why, exactly, are you telling me this?"

"Red's little trip to the dark side didn't start when Tara got shot. Been buildin' up for years. Hell, the first spell the girl ever did was that soul-curse on Angel... did it for white-hat reasons n' all, but that's a nasty bit of dark magic to cut your teeth on. Think the girl might do better with... well, with a Watcher, right? Trainin' n' all. You saw her in there, Rupert... she's already fascinated by the mojo, not gonna be able to keep her from it. Better to give her some direction." Spike sighed. "Can't believe this is me talkin'..."

"That does sound logical, Spike, but it is Buffy who is my primary responsibility, and her training takes up all of my..."

"Well... what if I did that for you? Physical bits, anyway. Know her fightin' style better'n anyone but you, know where she needs work... plus, me bein' undead and all, she could fight me harder, right? Look, Watcher, I know Slayers, I've killed two of 'em..."

"Dear lord," Giles gasped, "You're William the Bloody."

"Yeah, I am. Slayer of Slayers an' all that rot. She trains with me, she learns to avoid every trick in my arsenal, yeah? No Slayer's ever gotten that kind of training."

"I don't understand. You're... you're infamous. Cruel, vindictive, savage, legendary..."

Spike couldn't stop the smirk. "Flattery will get you everywhere."

"It's bloody well not flattery! If you think I'd entrust my Slayer to one of the most evil vampires in recent history, you're..."

"Watcher? Your Slayer is probably off snogging the most evil vampire in recent history as we speak. You haven't met Angelus, all right? Well, he's my bleedin' granddad, and I'll never admit this to him, but he made me look like Mother Soddin' Theresa."

"Yes," Giles said suspiciously, "And he told me it took a century for him to deal with receiving his soul. If I understand correctly, you've had yours roughly a week. How am I to believe..."

"Peaches spent a century nancin' about eatin' rats because he didn't know yet what I know, all right? Only thing shuts the bloody soul up is actively doin' good, much of it as possible. He wrote the book on gettin' souled, an' I got to read it and skip to the end. I'm here an' I'm stuck an' if you won't let me help Buffy, I'll run off somewhere an' get all caped avengery, 'cause otherwise I'm gonna go bug-shaggin' crazy from the guilt."

Giles sat in silence, staring at Spike through narrowed eyes.

"Look," Spike snapped. "Comes down to this, right? I'm strong as hell, I'm a damn good fighter, I can't be killed by normal means. Unlike Angel, I can get around in the daytime, pass for human unless someone takes my pulse. I've got info on every Big Bad comin' your way for the next five years, I've got a chip in my head means I can't hurt you even if I wanted to, got a soul means I'm desperate to get my good on, I'm hopelessly devoted to your Slayer an' want nothin' more than to keep her safe n' happy. You seriously tellin' me I'm not someone you want on your side?"

"That is... a rather compelling argument," Giles admitted.

"Wouldn't be the Rupert I know if you trusted me right away. So put me on trial, yeah?"

Giles sighed deeply. "Very well, Spike. You are on trial."

"Watcher? One more question?"


"What's the rent like? On your flat?"

Spike tossed the duster across the hotel bed, falling onto his back next to it.

Bizarre, how shiny it looked to him. Not like he hadn't been wearing it for decades, but key parts of its character were missing; the knife-wound from Doc, the hole from that acid-demon that had jumped him and Harris The Bad Summer, scrapes and slashes and scorches sustained on patrol.

Stealing from yourself wasn't really stealing, was it? Soul wasn't giving him too much hell about it, far more concerned with the first person he'd killed to obtain it than the second... and sliding behind the wheel of the DeSoto again had felt almost marvelous enough to shut up the voice in his brain hollering at him for not killing Drusilla when he had the chance.

Probably bite him in the ass later, but he just hadn't been able to do it... and there it was again, the damned useless soul he'd gotten, cacophany in his head. Kill Dru, she's evil. Don't kill Dru, she's mental and trusts you. Kill Dru, she might kill Buffy. Don't kill Dru, if you do, Angel's prophecy sprog won't happen. Blah blah blah blah soddin' blah... what kind of fuckin' 'moral compass' pointed in every direction at once?

Soul hadn't been a damned bit of help on the Gem of Amarra business either. On the one hand, he'd known exactly where the bloody thing was, and knew he could use it for good... better it on him than some other vamp, right? And he sure as hell didn't want to introduce himself to the Scooby Club... or worse, run into Peaches... without protection against their stake-first-ask-questions-later policy.

So he'd gotten it, and taken a page from earlier humiliations; he was wearing it on his toe, where anyone who wanted to take it off him would have a hell of a lot of unlacing and sock-removal to do first.

And... he hadn't told the Scoobies about it. Was that right? Soul didn't have a buggerin' clue.

He'd carefully packed up every last bit of jewelry in the cave with the Gem, which was stealing... sort of? He was fencing said jewelry for startup money, which was probably wrong too, and the thoughts he'd had about dumping most of the money into internet stocks and pulling it before the economy crashed? Well, that was insider trading, right? Not to mention his little trip to Willy's to start the fake ID process.

So far, it appeared that the only thing the soul was any good at was showing a 24-hour marathon of Spike's Evil, Parts I-MCXVIII, every time he let his guard down a fraction. How the bloody buggering fuck did Peaches deal with this every day?

Maybe the fumes off his nancy-boy hair gel kept him too high to hear them?

He touched his hair experimentally. Nah. Just not worth it.

He pulled out the list he'd written several days ago, when he'd first arrived -- and how bizarre was it to have a to-do list that started with killing yourself? -- and stared at it, crossing off "Go meet Scoobies, take donuts" and "Kill Batface" with the little hotel ink pen.

Never thought he'd have occasion to wish he'd actually listened to Harris' basement litany of back-in-high-school stories. Bunch of crap with robots, he remembered that much... didn't one of them even put the moves on Joyce? Some mummy thing trying to eat Harris, some fish thing trying to eat Harris, some spell that had made Dru try to eat Harris... hell, maybe the boy was as moist and delicious as claimed.

What had Angelus come back all peeved about, with the fountain scrub-down? Homicidal ghosties? He'd been too busy glaring at Dru staring at Angel's bigass bear chest to really remember.

Not that the little bads were first priority, and here the time thing really made his brain ache -- say he went and found that wanker Ben, killed him right now... would the monks have ever made the Nibblet? Was there any way to save Joyce? If he worked on making Glinda's life in Po-Dunk Wherever less of a living hell, would she have ever come to Sunnydale? What about dog-boy, or bloody hell, Anya, who was out there getting her vengeance on?

What makes you think you're going to be able to fix anything? You'll just make it worse. You always make it worse. You've been a fuck-up all your life, you'll just find new ways to fuck this up...

Right. Time for a visit from that voice.

And it's not polite to have a visitor without offering them refreshments...

Spike pulled the bottle of Jack Daniels out from its paper sack and set out on the road to oblivion.

"Soooooo..." Willow grinned, bumping her binder against Buffy's as they walked down Revello Drive, "What do you think about our new friend Spike?"

Buffy kicked at a pile of leaves, grimacing. "I think there were enough vampires in the present without any need to start importing."

"Aw, c'mon. A vampire with a soul, here from the future to protect you? Kinda cool, and the vampire in question? Not at all bad-looking... and hey, bonus points for hot accent..."

"Hey, if you want to start the Buffy-and-Willow matching souled vamp set, have at. Maybe doofus Xander would finally realize what sweet Willow-love he's missing out on..."

"Fat chance," Willow sighed, hugging her notebook. "Y'know, I almost thought we had a moment there... while you were gone? But no, apparently it was all an ice-cream-induced, get-Willow's-hopes-up-then-dash-them-cruelly big ol' fluke. Did you see the shirt he was wearing today? I've never seen it before... brings out the color of his eyes..."

"I'm sure it was mega-dreamy. So, you planning on seeing what's beneath the duster?"

"Yeah, right. He'd never notice me. Besides, I think Cordelia practically branded him with her nipples."

"Yeah, and I noticed he was majorly making with the get-off-me squirmies. And did you notice? He knew all kinds of personal stuff about you, me, Xander, Giles... diddly-squat about Queen C. Maybe he doesn't know her... and you know what that means..."

"A Cordelia-free future? I can only dare to dream."

"Besides... he was talking to you way the most. Maybe in the future, you're his girlfriend."

"I don't know... I kinda got a vibe off him whenever he looked at you..."

"What, the won't-make-eye-contact, suck-up vibe? He's a vampire. It's probably the uh-oh, girl who can kill me vibe. I mean... if he got cursed with a soul, he had to do something pretty bad, right? Maybe I gave him a big-time smackdown, put the fear of Buffy into him."


"Driveway alert, switch to non-Slayage convo in 3... 2... 1..."

"So, I think Snyder's gotten even more evil this year... do you think that's humanly possible?"

"Who said Snyder was human?" Buffy laughed, pushing the front door open. "Hey, mom!"

"Hey, honey! I'm in the kitchen... is that Willow with you?"

"Hi, Mrs. Summers!"

"Can you stay for dinner, Willow? We're having an old family recipe I just read off the back of this soup can." Joyce kissed Buffy on the cheek. "Guess what, honey? A friend of yours came to see me at the Gallery today... Mr. Giles' assistant?"

"Giles has an assistant?"

"That nice English man with the silly name. Spike. We got to talking, and it turns out he likes Passions just as much as I do... and he tapes it, which is so great for me. It's like Murphy's Law of soaps, I swear... the gallery will be dead all day and the minute Passions comes on... everybody in Sunnydale has a sudden need for art. He's coming over Saturday with the tape." Joyce smiled a little to herself, pulling a dish out from the cabinet. "Er, honey... how old is Spike?"

Willow's eyes widened in alarm. "Um. Old. Really, really, old."

"Oh, honestly, girls, you think anyone over thirty has one foot in the grave. Is he? Over thirty? I really couldn't tell and I hated to ask, but... he had sort of an... ageless face, you know? Like Dick Clark. I'd think he was twenty-five and then the light would hit him and I'd think he was in his early forties, and..."

"Mom..." Buffy said in confusion, "Why do you care?"

"Well, it's not an earth-shattering question or anything," Joyce tittered nervously. "I just thought you might know. He was a good listener, friendly, knowledgable... and... rather attractive. I was just wondering."

"Mom, I really don't... you don't want to get involved with Spike. And I'm not sure it's such a good idea for him to come over on Saturday."

"Buffy, your father and I have been divorced for..."

"It's not that! It's... he's a... a..." Buffy gulped. "Gay? I think he's... gay?"

Joyce sighed. "Smart, gorgeous, funny man... in Sunnydale? Should have known. Oh, well. At least it looks like I have a new Passions buddy... that's something, right?"

"Can't have too many Passions buddies," Willow agreed over-enthusiastically.

"Where are the..." Joyce looked around the counter, brow furrowing. "I think I must have forgotten a grocery sack. Be right back..."

"Buffy," Willow hissed as Joyce walked out the door, "Spike? So not setting off the gaydar!"

"What did you want me to do? Let my Mom mack on the undead? Sorry, that is not a mother-daughter bonding activity! And hello, secret identity much?"

"Buffy... do you maybe think that the weird vibeyness of Spike was 'cause he's... your stepdad in the future?"

"An all-you-can-eat buffet of no! Come on, she's my mom, and he's..."

"The guy who hasn't bothered to schedule alone time with any of us, but has a date with your mom on Saturday? It would definitely explain the away-from-Cordelia squirmies... to him, it'd be like Xander hitting on your mom..."

"What is it with you and your ever more horrific mental pictures? C'mon, he's Spike, you saw him, he's... and she's..."

"He's like, a century old. Or more. I mean, he may look not that much older than us, but... I mean, to him, she's way young. And maybe in the future, your mom is in-the-know about the Slayer stuff... and hey, I bet she'd be all kinds of cool with the Angel thing if she were married to her own hot vamp..."

"My squick knows no bounds. I refuse to..."

"And he did know the secret ingredient in your mom's hot chocolate..."

"I don't even know the secret ingredient in my mom's hot chocolate..."

"See?" Willow said knowingly. "Buffy, just imagine how cool it must be. No need to hide from your mom, no more getting in trouble for world-saveage, no more having to sneak out to patrol. Heck, in the future, you probably have an allowance for weapons and replacement Slay gear."

"Potential of shopping does somewhat allay the squick..."

"And hey... if he grounds you? You can dust him."