Summary: Spike discovers that having a Buffy made in his own image presents problems. . .

Disclaimer: I don't own any of the characters portrayed here, they remain the property of their respective owners/creators.

Rating: PG-13, for themes and intensity.

Time Frame: Following "I Was Made To Love You" and "The Body." (spoiler warning)

Archiving: Be my guest, but e-mail me (eilandesq@aol.com) to let me know. . .I like to know where stuff I write ends up and I might want to see what else you've got.


ETHICS


. . . .Buffy 2.0 now operational. Power reserve: 100 percent. Core memory check: complete. Reviewing operating directives. . . . .locate Spike.


The robot, wearing a rather flimsy black dress, stood and looked around the crypt until she spotted the leather-clad vampire, then began walking towards him as her processors continued to whir.

. . . .Await instructions. . .have received nonverbal command 6a-

Spike reached out and seized the robot by the shoulders, then kissed her hard on the mouth-

. . .Execute subroutines 15b and 16d. . .

The robot reached behind her back, and the black dress fell to the floor. Spike inhaled sharply, which was cut off as the robot pulled Spike harder into the kiss.

. . .Execute programs 1 through 25, inclusive, pattern gamma omega delta, then await further instructions.


Spike flopped to the floor of the crypt, thoroughly exhausted. He looked up, looking for the robot and wondering how long it would take him to recover for another go. She sat quietly, looking at him without a trace of interest, just mindlessly waiting for another command. Spike frowned, then asked, "Aren't you going to say anything, luv?"

. . .Execute scripts 17 through 19, random endearment choice.

The robot blinked, then began speaking in a cooing tone that made Spike twitchy: "Oh, Spike. . .you were the best. . .what a lover you are, baby. . .I just can't get enough of you, studmuffin, I-"

"Stop!" Spike sounded angry.

. . .Response deemed inadequate. Execute programs 63 through 65, inclusive, using scripts 75 through 77, inclusive.

The robot reached for a pink silk robe, then slipped behind Spike and began purring, "Had a rough day, baby? I know it's rough. . .let Buffy make it all better for you. . .I can rub your back and make all that nasty tension go right away. . ."

Spike turned around and stared at the robot, snapping again, "What kind of game are you playing at? Harm was a bloody Rhodes Scholar compared to the drivel I'm hearing from you! You're supposed to be Buffy, damn it. . .don't you have anything interesting to say?"

. . .Accessing. . .Accessing. . .Accessing. . .no matching file found. Execute default entertainment program.

Spike was startled when the robot got up and began cleaning up the crypt, still wearing the short pink robe and giving Spike an eyeful every time she stretched. In any other circumstance, he would be enjoying the view, but whatever he had been bargaining for, this hadn't been it, and even the ridiculous amount of great sex he had just had wasn't going to change that. With a sigh, he deactivated the robot and prepared for a drive.


* * * * *

Warren sighed and looked nervously at the visibly angry vampire standing in front of him. He steeled himself and commented, "Look, Spike, I'm sorry she didn't live up to your expectations, but if I could make a robot with a personality just as interesting as a human being's, don't you think April would have been a bit more deep than she was?"

Spike winced inwardly, realizing that Warren had a point, but did not show any dismay as he pressed, "Well, maybe, but at least April had a bit of fire. . .she threw my ass out a window just because I made an indecent suggestion. . .I threw a punch at Little Miss Stepford Wife here and she just stood there and blinked. . .what bloody fun is that?"

Warren stared at him and asked incredulously, "You're a badass vampire, and you want a girlfriend who can be a bodyguard? I thought you might want to cut down on the collateral damage." He winced and commented, "You wouldn't believe how many times I had to see the doctors for bruising and cracked ribs until I got the programming right."

Thinking back a few hours and extrapolating down to the probable effect his experience would have had on a human, Spike decided he damned well could imagine it. He regrouped and replied, "Buffy's a Slayer, and I want Miss Nuts and Bolts here to have a bit of that fire, too. . .keeps things interesting. . .and her dialogue makes her sound brain dead. . .Buffy's sharp as a tack. . .can't you bloody well write a script that makes her sound like she's got some wits?. . .and it wouldn't hurt if she threw an occasional insult in the mix. . .part of the fun." He stared at the young man, then asked bluntly, "Can you do it?"

Warren thought about it, then nodded and replied, "I'll need some time, and a few more details about Buffy, but I should be able to handle it. . .give me a few days." He blinked, then commented, "This is new territory for me, Spike. . .I should be able to get her to act more like you want, but the whole package. . .I don't know how well it will work out for you."

Spike frowned at him, then replied flatly, "Just get it done." He stayed a few more minutes, supplying the information that Warren needed, then got into his car and left, anticipating the new arrival in a few days.


* * * * *


. . .Buffy 2.1 now operational. Power Check: 100 percent. Core Memory: intact Reviewing Primary Operating Directives:

1) Kill all vampires and other demons posing threats to the safety of human beings.
2) If directive one is impossible to complete, cause as much bodily harm as possible to demons.
3) You love Spike and should have sexual relations with him whenever he wishes to.
4) Spike enjoys it when you quarrel with him and insult him, so do both wherever possible.
5) Do not kill Spike.

. . .locating Spike

The robot stood up and looked around the room, spotting Spike.

. . .CONFLICT! CONFLICT! Spike is a vampire, subject to termination under Directive One, but who must not be killed under Directive Five.

. . .Conflict resolved. Execute Directives Two and Four. Activating Martial Arts programs and scripts 23 through 40, inclusive.

The robot glared at Spike and strode purposefully over to him. As she was preparing to throw a hard right to his gut, the vampire smiled wickedly and commented, "Now, that's more like it, luv. . .how would you fancy a nice bit of shagging about now?"

. . .CONFLICT! CONFLICT! Directive Three activated: Apparent inconsistency with Directives Two and Four.

The robot paused, puzzling Spike-

. . .Conflict resolved. Activate S & M programs 3 through 15, removing safety protocols, and continue running Martial Arts programs and scripts 23 through 40, inclusive.

Spike staggered back as the robot began a barrage of attacks that he was far pressed to defend against, accompanied by a flood of invective quite equal to anything he had heard the real Buffy use. He shed his jacket for purposes of freedom of movement, and the robot took the opportunity to seize him by the head and begin kissing him ferociously. Spike leaned into the kiss and frantically carried her over to the bed, ignoring the blows that continued to rain down on him.


* * * * *


Spike opened his eyes, and immediately regretted doing so. Just about every inch of his body hurt, and he was rarely so grateful as he was just then that he could not see his appearance in the mirror. He looked over at the far wall of the crypt, where the robot sat, inactive. He had taken the abuse from the attack crazy automaton for as long as he could, feeling bones break and flesh bruise, but also feeling the incredible pleasure that it knew how to deliver. He wouldn't give up this experience for the world. . .but he also knew that if he ever did it again, he was likely to end up a pile of dust, either directly from the experience, or when one of his many enemies wandered by and took advantage of his condition. He sighed: that wanker Warren hadn't done a bad job, really. . .but even though this faux-Buffy was more interesting than the first, it was ultimately no more satisfactory. Spike shook his head: there was little point of taking the robot back to Warren, as he probably had gone as far as he could go in improving her to his specifications. He thought for a moment, then it hit him: magic and technology had been used in concert in this town before, so why shouldn't he be able to do something similar?

He began taking notes, listing qualities about Buffy that he liked, and ones that he didn't, or that would get in the way of her wanting him. After a week, he had a good solid list. . .and not a clue as how to go about imparting those qualities to the robot. He was frowning, wondering whether he should try breaking into the magic shop again to get some spell books when he felt a familiar presence behind him. He turned, and Drusilla was standing there, smiling coldly. He rolled his eyes and snapped, "Look, Dru. . .I know you think I'm pathetic and useless now, and I don't really give a rat's ass. . . so why don't you just leave and we can spend the rest of our unlives ignoring each other like exes usually do."

Drusilla laughed, and replied, "All fire and light outside. . .ashes cold and dark inside. You sought the heart of the Slayer, and she has spurned you in favor of a cold, empty bed. . .and you seek solace in the arms of a phantom." She gestured emphatically at the inert figure of the robot sitting against the wall, then continued, "But the lies of science have not served to warm your heart, and you seek answers elsewhere." She pulled a large book from behind her back and placed it in front of Spike, concluding, "Perhaps here, then."

Spike picked up the book, opening it where it was clearly marked, and began reading the spell there. His eyes widened, and he quickly read to the end of the spell, confirming his growing suspicions. His eyes narrowed, and he looked up again, snapping, "So, you're just dropping this in my lap and going on your merry way. . .what's the catch, Dru?"

Drusilla looked at him sadly, then replied, "Poor lost lamb. . .so far gone that none can find him. . .only he can find his own path back." She shook her head at him and concluded, "Through despair lies salvation. . .or doom." She turned her back on him and swept regally out of the crypt, and Spike was left there, remembering just how damned annoying Dru could be at times. He shrugged, then began making a list of the ingredients he would need, and checking his list of qualities as he glanced over at the still form of the robot.


* * * * *


Spike watched as she opened her eyes, and found himself reflexively catching a breath he didn't need. He had dressed her in one of Buffy's short sleeves and miniskirt Slaying outfits, and she looked positively stunning as she scanned the room for potential threats, then paused as her eyes fell on Spike. She blinked, and Spike tensed, waiting for another invective-spewing charge at him.

Instead, she smiled at him, and Spike felt a chill go down his spine as he remembered seeing Buffy direct that particular look at Angel or Riley. He walked up to her, smiled, then asked, "How do you feel?"

She shrugged, looked at him, stretched like a cat, then replied, "I feel fine. . .like everything in the world is good or getting better." She looked back at him, and saw a touch of sadness in her eyes before she continued, "It'll be dark soon. . .we could go out and patrol together. . .get some bad guys."

Spike nodded and replied, "That might be fun, pet. . .but wouldn't you rather do that with Willow, or Xander, or maybe your Watcher?"

She chuckled and responded, "They'll call if they need me. . .why would I want them there when I can have you?" She smiled at him and continued, "Or we can stay in and talk. . .Spike, I love listening to you. . .you seem to know a lot about things, and think about them. . .which is weird with all of the time you've been a merciless killer, but there it is."

Spike grinned at the last sentence: the semi-insult certainly reminded him of the real Buffy. He leaned in and whispered, "Staying in sounds fine to me. . .but the topic of the hour should be how many things we can do to each other while lacking our clothing."

She was silent for a moment, then slowly and hesitantly she shook her head. Spike blinked, and was shocked into saying, "I beg your pardon?"

She met his eyes, and Spike could see the genuine sadness in them before she shook her head again and elaborated, "No, Spike. . .I can't make love with you."

Spike bit back the less than savory retort that was on the tip of his tongue and asked quietly, "I thought you loved me?" He made a point of putting on his "hurt puppy" look that had been known on occasion to even sway Darla for a few moments before the inevitable reckoning.

She blinked, and tears appeared as she looked back at him and replied, "I do. . .more than anything in the world. . .but you're evil, and my only hope that you'll change for the better is to withhold that which you most want from me. . .and what I most want to give to you."

Spike regrouped for a moment, then responded, "Look, luv. . .with this bloody chip in my head I can't really hurt anyone. . .and if it makes you happy, I'll swear off the evil stuff and even chip in with your little friends. . .isn't that enough?"

She looked at him and shook her head gravely, replying, "If I was as long-lived as you, perhaps that would work. . .sooner or later, you might actually come to believe in the good you were only doing for my sake. . .but my time on this Earth is probably short, and if you were to revert to what you were after I died, it would mean I had failed and doomed you to remaining evil forever." She shook her head emphatically and concluded, "No. . .I must be strong. . .stronger than I think I can possibly be, to save you."

Spike cursed inwardly. * Dru must be laughing her head off right now * Abruptly, he had a thought, and his face turned cold as he met her eyes and intoned, "I am a soulless demon, Slayer. . .circumstances may cause me to not behave evilly, but nothing will ever change the essential meaning of that fact. I am evil, and I will stay that way until I am dust."

She recoiled, and seemed to collapse into herself as she whispered, "So. . .you're saying that there's no hope. . .that the one I love more than anything in the world is doomed to be evil forever?"

Ignoring her tone, Spike only registered that she seemed to be going along with his plan and nodded emphatically before replying, "Yes! That's exactly what I'm saying. . .I'm evil. . .deal with it." He grinned wickedly and concluded, "So, can we start the good part now, or what?"

His grin faded as he saw the light fade from her eyes and heard her whisper, "Good-bye, Spike." She walked away, and walked out the door of the crypt: with half an hour remaining until sunset, he was helpless to follow her. He was cursing and kicking at the furniture when a sudden moment of clarity hit him.

Spike had taken great pains to leave Buffy's basic psychology intact in the robot: at her core, she was a Slayer. At the same time, to give himself a place in her affections, he had specified that her ties to her friends and family were far less substantial than in Buffy herself; basically, he stood in the place of Angel, Giles, Joyce, Dawn, and the Scoobies combined as far as emotional attachment went. Weighing those facts in his mind, he remembered suddenly what he had told Buffy about Slayers a few months back: ". . . The only reason you've lasted as long as you have is, you've got ties to the world. Your Mum. Brat kid sister. Scoobies. They tie you here but you're just putting off the inevitable. . ."

A sudden rush of fear clawed at Spike, and he impatiently crouched beside the crypt door, waiting for the sun to fade so that he could stop her. . .before it was too late.


* * * * *


She strode along the bike path, unheeding of those around her. Her mind, augmented by the spell to include the intuition that was the birthright of the Slayer, scanned through the list of Glory sightings over the past months, then analyzed them to determine the most likely location. A ninety-five percent probability was quickly assigned to a certain hotel suite, and she headed towards it at a fast jog.

A familiar face popped in front of her in the near-twilight and called out, "What's up, Buffy?" Xander reached out to tap the jogging figure on the shoulder, only to be casually shoved back fifteen feet as she headed towards the lobby of the hotel.

Xander recovered quickly, and ran to the nearest pay phone, where he dialed Willow. He began talking the instant the line was picked up: "Willow. . .I'm near the hotel and Buffy just shoved me down, hard, and ran off. . .something's wrong."

There was a pause, and the voice at the other end of the line replied, "You don't know the half of it, Xander." Xander blinked: it was Buffy. He began to speak, only to be cut off by the Slayer: "We'll be there in ten minutes, Xander. . .don't move." There was a click, and Xander waited impatiently for his friends, wondering how long it would be before all hell broke loose.


* * * * *

She exited the elevator on the tenth floor and began marching towards the large set of double doors. As she did so, various electronic switches and fail-safes were being activated inside her: a faint odor of ozone began to exude from her body.

She reached the doors, and a single powerful kick ripped them off of their hinges, sending them tumbling into the suite. Two of Glory's minions stepped forward, only to be disabled with quick, efficient blows that rendered them unconscious.

"Well, that's no way for a guest to behave." She turned and saw Glory shaking her head at the shattered doors and downed minions before turning to the intruder and commenting, "You know. . .I backed off of you for a while. . .figured you'd be bummed for a while with your mom kicking the bucket, didn't want you to get all 'last great act of defiance' on me before I killed you. . .and this is the thanks I get. Well, I've had it. . .I'm going to beat you bloody and suck your brains out, make you babble your little heart out about my Key, then turn you loose on your friends. . .does that sound like fun?"

The intruder was silent, and Glory shrugged, moving forward with the intent of grabbing the Slayer and choking her into unconsciousness. The goddess was startled when the intruder sidestepped her charge and threw a spinning kick at her that sent her rocketing across the room. . .and through the large window overlooking the nearest cemeteries.

A hundred and thirty foot fall will disorient even a goddess, and Glory was still shaking loose some cobwebs when she glanced up and saw the intruder leap down from the tenth floor. . .leaving a small crater in the lawn that she immediately got out of and began stalking towards Glory. The goddess raised an eyebrow: Vampire Slayers weren't THAT resistant to punishment. . .what in the hell was going on?

Glory moved up to the charging Slayer and tagged her with a roundhouse right, sending her hurtling into a nearby tree and causing the goddess to wince with discomfort. * What in the hell is her chin made of? * Preliminaries over, the two combatants leaped at each other and went toe to toe, slugging away at each other, with the smell of burning circuitry getting more and more obvious by the moment, though there were no other observers close enough to discern it.


* * * * *

Spike glanced at the small device in his hand as he kept sprinting along the pathway. Warren had provided a convenient tracking device for locating the robot, should she wander off or be taken, and Spike was gripping it like a life preserver as the dot continued to move toward the center of the screen.

He heard loud thumping noises, and he knew that he had found her. . .just as the light on the tracker flickered and died. He forced down the feeling of panic and ran towards the noise.

He saw Glory fighting with the faux Slayer, each punishing the other with little visible result. . .though Spike's sensitive nostrils picked up the smell of burning plastic and realized that something was very wrong. He slipped around, grabbed a length of iron pipe, and was swinging it at Glory's head when abruptly the pipe was blocked and Glory had him by the throat. "No time to talk: Bye now." The goddess tossed Spike twenty feet into a nearby brick wall, stunning him and forcing him to watch helplessly as the fight continued.

Glory saw her opponent slowing and sensed victory. She stepped forward, then experienced a familiar sensation. "No. . .not now!" she shrieked, but her plea was not answered, and she stumbled away, leaving the remaining combatant swaying on her feet.

Spike reached her as she fell to her knees, and lowered her gently to the ground. Her eyes focused on him in the dim light and she smiled softly at him, whispering, "Spike. . .you came back to me."

Spike looked at her and nodded, replying, "Of course I did, pet. . .and after we take you back to Warren to get fixed up, you can try to convert me all you want. . .just don't do anything like that again."

She smiled at him, then shook her head sadly and replied, "It's too late for that now. . .between the burnouts caused by the power overloads and the damage done by Glory. . .Warren would almost have to start from scratch." She chuckled, then replied, "Besides. . .I don't think those last modifications you did were exactly in Warren's area of expertise."

Spike nodded, then shook his head angrily and snapped, "It can't be over. . .I have to get you to Warren. . .I can't have screwed up everything so badly. . ." He closed his eyes, then opened them and whispered, "I'm so sorry."

The green eyes fixed on his own, and widened momentarily in joy as they perceived the emotion there. . .then they flickered closed as the light left them forever. Spike closed his own eyes and shuddered, failing to hear the footsteps coming up to him. When he looked up, Buffy, Willow, and Xander were standing there. Xander and Willow's faces showed abject shock, while Buffy's was a mask of rage. The Slayer turned to her closest friends and ordered, "Go call Giles and have him meet you at the Bronze. . .I'll meet you there."

Xander seemed ready to protest, but Buffy glared at him, and the two friends left immediately after that. Buffy turned to Spike, and there was death on her face. The vampire looked up at her, and Buffy was taken aback at the desolate quality of his expression: Angel had rarely looked so morose. She thought of just ending it for him right there, but curiosity had always been a failing of hers. She raised an eyebrow and asked, "Well?"

Spike sighed and replied, "Summers, I have only one thing to ask of you. . .listen to the whole story before you stake me." No hint of sarcasm or bravado in that voice. . .just a flat request.

Buffy glared at him and demanded, "Can you think of any reason why I should?"

Spike blinked, then replied, "Because someone should know."

Buffy sighed, then nodded: "Go ahead."


* * * * *


Spike spoke for half an hour, and told the entire story, without changing details to make himself look better or to enhance the sleazy parts. Buffy was hard-pressed to keep from beating him senseless during the early part of the story, but by the end she was fascinated. She waited quietly as Spike finished the story and looked up at her, waiting to die.

The Slayer shook her head and began to leave, commenting sadly, "Spike. . .I can't do anything to you that is anywhere near as bad as what you've just managed to do to yourself. . .I'm leaving. . .you're on your own." She took a step, then turned back on him and demanded, "Spike, damn it, do you have any comprehension of why she acted the way she did?"

Spike nodded and replied, "She loved me."

Buffy nodded and responded, "Yes! She loved you. . .she loved you so damned much that she was willing to sacrifice her happiness to save you from yourself. . .and you told her that was hopeless, threw it in her face. . .no wonder she went on that suicide mission."

Spike looked down and whispered, "I tried to save her."

Buffy nodded again and replied, "Yes. . .and she died loving you. . .and with a tiny bit of hope." Spike looked at her quizzically, and Buffy elaborated, "Spike. . .I heard it in your voice. . .you were genuinely remorseful for what you did. . .not just that it blew up in your face. . .but for doing it in the first place." She shook her head in disgust and concluded, "The sad thing is, that tiny little feeling makes you way more human than that bastard Warren will ever be."

Spike blinked, and looked at Buffy with hope in his eyes. The Slayer shook her head emphatically and dashed that hope: "I'm not her, Spike. . .I know about the evil you've done, and how you've yet to show anything resembling the remorse you showed here today about what you've done in the past. Even if you did manage to change your ways. . .I can't ever see myself loving you, Spike." She turned to go again, then turned back for one last comment, "But if you can just keep that moment in your mind, and remember it when you're thinking about how you want to live the rest of your life, maybe someday I'll see your face and not want to walk in the other direction." She turned away and left, gliding silently into the darkness.

Spike sat there for several minutes, then picked up the limp shell in his arms and began walking. After some time, he reached an open stretch of space in a graveyard and began digging with a shovel that had been sitting nearby. After some time, he finished and gently placed the still form at the bottom of the grave, after which he filled it up again. He found a flat stone, and used a hammer and chisel to form rough letters on it. He examined his work, then carefully lodged the stone in the ground next to the grave. He stared down at it for several moments, then walked away. The stone lay there silently, displaying its message to what would be decades of uncomprehending viewers:

"Mea culpa."


As always, comments are welcomed and desired