Spoilers: Season 5. This story takes place directly after "Crush"
Rating: PG
Content: Spike/Buffy
Disclaimer: They are Joss's! All Joss's! I'm just *cough* borrowing them for a bit.
Feedback: Your words are literally keeping me writing on this one. I need all the help I can get! Thanks!

Chapter One

The woman paused in front of him, a look of annoyance flashing behind those beautiful, but vacuous brown eyes.

"Naughty," she purred suddenly. "Shh..." The silence screamed with tension as she continued to regard him with those incredible eyes. "You needn't make up stories. I already know why you aren't coming. Tin soldiers put funny little knickknacks in your brain. Can't hunt. Can't hurt. Can't kill. You've got a chip..."

His dead heart seemed to fall to his feet as he pushed himself up out of the chair and away from his former lover. How the mighty have fallen, he thought ironically as he turned his back to her. How I've fallen.

"Right," Spike spat as he looked to the wall, "so you've heard. Poor Spike's become a cautionary tale for vampires. Better be good, kiddies, or else they might wire you up someday."

Drusilla smiled slightly at the outburst of temper. Her brown eyes were strangely innocent as she stood before the rampaging vampire, almost as if his anger were nothing more than a dissertation on weather patterns.

"I don't believe in science," she started softly, forcing Spike to look at her. "All those bits and molecules no one's ever seen. I trust eyes and hearts alone. And you know what mine is singing out right now?"

Spike looked at her blankly, a part of him wondering how his hand seemed to have appeared so magically upon her chest.

"You're a killer. Born to slash and bash and..." Drusilla gasped out, her thick accent drowning with the panting, "bleed. Like beautiful poetry. No little tinker toy could ever stop you from flying."

"Yes," he looked at her sadly, his heart filling with despair as her words tore at him. Spike looked into those mesmerising eyes, praying to whomever would listen to a godforsaken vampire that his former lover would understand and stop tormenting with her visions of his old life. "But the pain, luv, you don't understand. It's... it's searing, so blinding..."

Gentle fingers suddenly danced over his scalp as he begged those same powers that be for the strength not to show more weakness before this graceful lioness.

"All in your head. I can see it...little bits of plastic spiderwebbing nasty blue shocks. And every one is a lie," she murmured softly, her unique voice echoing through the darkened room. "Electricity lies, Spike. It tells you that you're not a bad dog, but you are."

He inhaled deeply, his self-control nearly lost as his mind processed her seductive words. Electricity lies, he repeated silently as he looked upon his black queen's face. She was truly beautiful in her evil, he thought as his face suddenly gained a will of its own and transformed. Purring softly as he teased her neck with his fangs, he considered killing her where she stood so he could keep this beautiful image in his mind forever unchanged.

"What the hell is this?" a new voice interrupted suddenly, the rage evident in the sharp tones.

"Bloody hell," he cursed under his breath as he brought his eyes up to look at the newcomer. His hands began to tremble as the Slayer's bright blue eyes looked at him in undisguised revulsion. "Bloody hell," he repeated as he willed his face back to the human visage.

Soft, full lips were drawn tightly together as she continued to regard the heartbroken vampire.

"Buffy..." he started uncertainly, a part of him wishing to truly die as he felt the force her full disgust.

"I want you out. I want you out of this town, I want you off this planet. You don't come near me, my friends, or my family again. Ever," Buffy raised her chin as she stared penetratingly at him. "I hate you, Spike. I hate you."

And looking into her beautiful eyes, he suddenly knew that the woman he loved with all his heart meant every single word.

Spike suddenly sat up in his bed, his body shaking as he tried to expel the horrible nightmare from his mind. Lowering his head into his palms, he choked on his unrelenting tears as he finally admitted to himself that she could never love him back.

She sighed deeply as she slowly raised her head from the sanctuary of her cupped hands and looked around her room. It had been a long day, she thought as sat in her room clothed only in her undergarments. Buffy rubbed at her eyes with the back of her hand, content to sit motionless for a few moments longer.

"Bastard," she grumbled as she suddenly pulled on a pair of sweats. "That undead bastard," Buffy repeated with a little more force as she pushed herself to her feet. She stalked off to her vanity, only to sigh in frustration as she noticed the dark circles under her puffy, red eyes. "Bloody bastard."

Barely restraining herself from shattering the mirror, she began to roughly brush her hair.

"The nerve. Good god, telling me he's in love with me? What kind of undead moron is he?" Buffy complained to her distraught reflection. "I can't believe he had the gall to compare himself to Angel. Like, hello, Mr Evil. Angel has a soul. You. Freaking. Don't. And even if you did, I still could never love you back. Stupid bastard. I should really stake you."

Scowling angrily, she threw the brush to the floor. "But I can't stake you. You are a major pain in the ass, but no can do. It's not like you can hurt anyone anymore. I can't kill you as long as you are defenseless. Bloody evil bastard."

"Buffy? Is everything okay in there?" a soft mezzo-soprano called out, her voice uncomfortably close to the door.

"Yeah, Mom. Sorry. Just dropped my brush," she lied quickly, bending over to pick up the item from the ground.

"Well, okay," Joyce's voice resounded through the door, her tones betraying her worry for her daughter.

"Really, Mom," Buffy crossed to the other side of the room and opened the door. Smiling uneasily at her mother, she gestured for her to come in.

Joyce cocked her head at her daughter, light brown curls dancing to the side as she looked intently at her child's face.

"You've been crying," Joyce said blandly as she took a seat upon the unmade bed.

Buffy frowned as she reexamined her face in the mirror. There seemed to be lines about her eyes that hadn't been there just yesterday. She looked dreadful, but she had the small consolation of being able to blame, this too, on Spike.

"Maybe a little," Buffy admitted as she quickly knotted her hair into an impromptu bun.

Joyce nodded as she waited for her daughter to turn back and face her mother.

"I hate him," Buffy blurted suddenly as she threw herself down on the springy mattress. She closed her eyes as she listened to the fading squeaks of the springs, seemingly content to keep silent.

"I cant believe I was so stupid, Mom. I could have gotten you or Dawn killed. Good god, I can't believe I actually trusted him to protect you from Glory. What the hell was I thinking?" The words came out in a torrent rush, her voice shaking as she squeezed her eyelids tightly together. "He's a bloody vampire. Not just that. He's a soulless one. He'd kill you or Dawn in a second if he thought that would get him closer to me. The bastard."

Joyce frowned as she watched her oldest child slowly sit up, her lower lip quivering from bound emotion. "Buffy, he can't kill..."

"He's a vampire, Mom," Buffy corrected, her tone much harsher than she intended. She opened her eyes only to see her mother's worried expression. "He's a vampire. Killing is what he does."

Joyce remained silent, her hazel eyes trained on her daughter's pale, tense features.

"I don't know what I was thinking. I gotta wonder. Maybe I'm just as big of a moron as he is," Buffy snorted harshly, her long fingers working at the ties on her sweatpants. "When Glory came here, Mom, I freaked. I mean, she kicks my ass without even trying while I've been giving it all I got."

Buffy sighed as she leaned her head upon her mother's shoulder. Joyce began to stroke her daughter's back comfortingly.

"I can't handle the idea that she's going to go after you two. And I know she will. She's like that...."

"Buffy," Joyce interrupted, her voice firm but sweet. "but you've kept us safe. With all things considered, you've done an amazing job protecting us."

"But how long will it last, Mom? I can't be here 24/7, no matter how much I want to be. At least, before, I could get Spike to help. I mean, he's a jerk, but he's really the only one strong enough not to be killed instantly by the hellbitch," Buffy collapsed against her mother's side, her voice unsteady from the unshed tears.

She hugged her daughter tightly to her chest, murmuring soft words of comfort into the blonde hair. Joyce closed her eyes in sympathetic pain as she realised exactly what her daughter had lost when Spike decided to confess his love: the only person whose skills Buffy had trusted enough to take some of the burden of being the Slayer off her shoulders. And now, all the stress had returned to haunt the young woman with a vengeance as she was facing a creature more powerful than even her great talents.

"Mom," the Chosen One ventured uncertainly as she looked up from the embrace with shimmering eyes, "how do I keep you safe now?"