Disclaimer: I own nothing except for the story. The characters are all borrowed, but I wish I did own them. I wouldn't mind having a Spike of my very own to play with...

Author's note: This is yet another theory explored about Buffy's return. What I've been doing is taking all of the rumors that I've been hearing about how she might come back, and turning them into stories, twisted to fit my crazy B/S shipping mind of course. This story is focused more on what happens after she gets back and less on how she comes back. Hope you enjoy.

Never Say Never...

The two entities watched as the events unfolded before them. They were watching one of their greatest warriors fight for her life. They sat back with a grim satisfaction at the scene played before them.

"Do you think that perhaps this is too much for her?" One of them asked.

"She will be fine. Have faith." The other replied calmly.

They watched as Buffy beat mercilessly on Glory and suddenly her human guise in the form of Ben emerged. Buffy stopped her assault and ran from the room.

"She did not destroy the beast. She has failed the test." One of the entities said, shaking his head in disappointment.

"In due time, Assam." The other one said, without emotion. "The test is not over yet."

They continued watching as Giles stepped forward and smothered Ben until the last bit of life drained from him.

"See, I told you. In due time." The calm one said with a smile.

"But it was not the girl. She couldn't do it." Assam said in protest.

"She was not supposed to. That was part of the test."

Their attention moved back to the large crystal ball where they saw that the ritual had begun. They watched as Buffy freed Dawn and attempted to take her to safety. Dawn attempted to flee and jump into the portal, but Buffy stopped her.

"Lynok, the ritual has already begun. She must let the energy be destroyed." Assam said as he watched.

"There is another way, my brother. This is the truest test. If she is truly worthy, then she will know what she must do." Lynok replied, never taking his eyes off the events.

Buffy spoke with Dawn and they watched as many tears were shed by the younger girl. All at once, Buffy took off running towards the portal. In a flash she leapt off the edge and plummeted through the energy and landed hard on the ground. Her broken body lay in a pile of rubble.

Assam gasped as he saw the horror of what had happened.

"It cannot be. What has she done?" He said with remorse, at the sight of their warriors lifeless body.

Lynok only smiled with satisfaction.

"She has passed the test." He said proudly.

"Passed? But she is dead. The Powers must be crazy. We need her to fulfill the prophecies." Assam argued.

"Do not question what the Powers have in store. Have faith." Lynok told his brother with irritation. "This is only temporary. She will be restored."

"Restored?" He asked.

"This test was necessary. It could be no other way. She was willing to die for love. Willing to sacrifice herself to save innocents. She has proven that she is worthy. The Powers could not be certain she could handle what is to come. That was the reason for the test." Lynok explained.

"When will she return to fulfill her destiny?" Assam asked curiously.

"All in due time." Lynok responded with a contented smile.


It had been two months since that fateful day at the construction site. Everyone was still reeling in shock and grief for their lost friend, sister, and would-be love. They were attempting to return things to a semi-normal state, but it was proving difficult.

Giles had moved into the Summer's house to care for Dawn. With the councils help, custody had been transferred to him. Everyone knew that Buffy would have wanted that. Hank Summers was still unreachable. It appeared as if the man had simply fallen off the face of the Earth. So Giles had readily taken over the fatherly role with Dawn.

Willow was devastated and read spell after spell trying to find some way to bring Buffy back. She knew that resurrections were wrong, but she felt she had to at least research it. Maybe there would be another way. A safe way. But in the end, she had given up, knowing that it was useless.

Tara was back to normal mentally and worried for Willow. She knew what she had been doing, and urged her to just let things be. Buffy had been Willow's best friend and she had felt so guilty at her death. She knew that Buffy had counted on her to be the 'Big Guns' in the fight with Glory, and in the end, the only thing Willow accomplished was restoring Tara. She wished that she had been able to do more.

Xander was completely shut down. He still tried to make jokes and be his normal self, but everyone could see through to the pain he was carrying. He had always loved Buffy. From the moment he saw her for the first time at school, he was instantly in love with her. He had moved on, and was very happy with Anya, but Buffy always had a special place in his heart. She was like a sister to him and he felt as if part of himself died that day.

Anya did all she could to make him feel better, but he remained quiet and withdrawn most of the time. Neither one even mentioned the fact that Xander had asked her to marry him. Somehow, it just didn't seem right now. Maybe in a few months, but not now.

Spike had been hit just as hard, if not even harder than any of them. Buffy had been his sole purpose in life, and now she was gone. Guilt, anger and sadness overwhelmed him. He tried to remind himself that he was supposed to be evil and soulless. Her death is something to shrug off, he tried to tell himself. But it was futile. He loved her, and now he had to live without her.

The only other reason he could find to keep himself going was Dawn. He knew that Giles was now her guardian, and everyone looked out for her, but he still felt as if it were his duty to protect her until the end of the world. He intended to keep up his end of the deal regardless of whether or not Buffy was around to see it.

Despite all of their grief and loss over the girl who had meant so much to everyone, they had to live on. That's what she had wanted. They had to live for her.


"The day is here." Lynok said happily, clasping his hands together with pleasure.

"Why did we have to wait so long? Her friends have suffered so much." Assam shook his head sadly. He had a hard time with the Powers decisions. His spirit brother did not share his apprehension.

"It was a necessary step. Suffering brings appreciation. They too, are being tested, for they all are integral to the prophecies. You let things affect you too much, Assam. These are merely players in a much larger scheme of things. Try not to become involved too much." Lynok scolded him.

"I cannot help it." Assam said defensively.

Lynok only shook his head in dismay. Then he smiled.

"The time is now. She is being returned to her duty." He said as he watched the girl being restored in the Powers chambers.

They watched as Buffy's body materialized in the graveyard, next to her own headstone. In a flash of light, the Powers restored her soul and returned it to her newly formed body. Her eyes opened with a start and she sat up with a bewildered expression.

"They are just sending her back? And in that of all places? No explanation? She will not understand. No one will." Assam said as he watched the frightened girl.

Lynok chuckled softly.

"The Powers have a sense of humor." He said.

Assam only shook his head.

"Relax, brother. These are our greatest warriors. They will figure it out." Lynok said, trying to allay the fears of his worrisome spirit brother.


Buffy sat up suddenly frightened. She had no idea where she was. She looked around and noticed that she was in a graveyard. It was dark and she looked up at the moon shining brightly on her.

"What the hell is going on?" She muttered to herself.

She tried to stand, but her legs were shaky. She reached out to the nearby headstone to steady herself. She looked down at her clothes and realized that she was wearing the same outfit she had been wearing when she fought Glory.

"Glory." Buffy said to herself, trying to remember what had happened with her. "Oh no...Dawn." The last thing she remembered was seeing Dawn on top of the tower. Had she saved her? Buffy couldn't remember.

She leaned on the headstone for support as she tried to un-jumble her mind. Out of the corner of her eye, she noticed the headstone for the first time.

Buffy Anne Summers
Beloved Sister
Devoted Friend
She saved the world a lot...

Buffy gasped at the sight of the grave marker and she instantly felt sick.

"This isn't happening." She muttered to herself, tears forming in her eyes. "What is going on here?"

She pulled herself together and was able to stand on shaky legs. She had to get out of this cemetery. She had to find her friends and Dawn. Something very strange was going on and she needed to know what it was now.

Does everyone think I'm dead? She thought to herself. Maybe I am dead? What if I'm like Bruce Willis in that 'I see dead people' movie? This is so not happening! She told herself.

She walked slowly down the streets until she found her house. She saw that the lights were on and she made her way up the steps. She saw Giles' car in the driveway and wondered what he was doing there.

She put her hand on the doorknob and tried to twist it open but it was locked. She looked around confused. She felt in her pockets for her keys, but found nothing. She wondered if she should just knock. Her heart was beating fast and she could feel it thumping in her chest at an insane rhythm.

I'm not dead. Dead people don't have heart attacks and I think I'm gonna have one. She thought to herself.

She reached out and knocked on her own door. She held her breath and waited. She heard footsteps and then Dawn's voice called out. Buffy sighed in relief, knowing that Dawn was obviously safe and alive.

"It's okay, Giles. I'll get it." Dawn called out loudly just before she opened the door.

The door swung open and Buffy stood there expectantly waiting. Dawn saw who it was and her eyes grew wide. Buffy smiled and started to say something, when Dawn screamed and slammed the door in her face. Buffy stood there with her mouth open, totally baffled.

I am a ghost. She thought to herself. Dawnie looked as if I was some sort of three headed monster.

She heard Dawn's screams and then the sound of Giles' voice.

"What on earth is going on? Dawn, what is it? Who was at the door?" He asked the hysterical girl.

"It was Buffy!" Dawn managed to blurt out.

"That's impossible." Giles said, trying to be calm.

He went to the door and threw it open. Buffy stood there with a blank expression on her face. Giles returned her confused stare. Finally Buffy spoke.

"Uh, what's going on?" She asked him.

Giles only stared at her, while Dawn peeked out from behind him, too freaked out to do or say anything.

"Buffy?" Giles asked, wiping a tear from his eye. It couldn't be her. There was no way.

"Yeah, it's me. What is going on? Did you know that there's a headstone in the cemetery with my name on it?" She asked him, wanting badly to know what was happening.

"Buffy?" Dawn said, as she emerged from behind Giles. She had tears running down her face.

Buffy saw the tears and quickly moved past Giles to her sister.

"Dawnie, it's me. Why are you crying?" She asked as she touched her sisters face. Dawn flinched slightly and Buffy turned to Giles. "Will someone tell me something besides my name. I already know that. Why are you acting as if you saw a ghost? I'm not a ghost... am I?" She added, suddenly completely unsure of herself.

Giles took a deep breath and closed the door behind them.

"Buffy, I-I don't know what to say. Is it really you?" He asked, perplexed by the turn of events.

"Yes, it's me. Why wouldn't it be me? Giles, I'm really starting to get freaked out. What happened?" Buffy asked, with tears springing to her eyes.

"You died, Buffy. A few months ago. You-you jumped off the tower and closed the portal. You died so I didn't have to." Dawn said, through her confused tears. She couldn't believe that her sister was back. Things like this don't happen. People don't just come back from the dead.

"I-I died? Are you sure? Cause, I don't feel dead. Giles? I really died?" She asked, becoming panicked.

He grabbed her arm and ushered her to the couch. Dawn followed them cautiously. He sat her down on the couch and turned to face her.

"Yes, you died. That is if in fact you are who you say you are." He said, becoming quite skeptical about who this person was in front of him.

"What? You don't believe me? Giles? It's me. I'm not dead!" She said, suddenly angry. She couldn't believe that the man she loved and trusted as a father would even hesitate to know who she was.

"I'm sorry. It's just that...Well, this is most unusual. I-I don't know what to think." He said, sitting down across from her and covering his face with his hands.

Buffy started to cry. She wanted answers and she wanted them now. If she had died, then why was she sitting here? She turned to Dawn who was crying herself.

"Dawn, you know it's me, right? It's me..." She said, trying to get through to her.

Dawn looked at her sister cautiously, then moved forward to embrace her tightly.

"Oh, Buffy! I missed you so much." She cried as Buffy held her tight.

Dawn didn't know what to believe, but she knew what she wanted to believe and that was that everything had only been a bad dream. This was Buffy and she wasn't dead. She clung to her tightly.

Giles watched and couldn't help but feel the emotion. He had no explanation for her return, but he found himself joining the sisters in their embrace.

He finally pulled away and composed himself.

"We need to call the others." He said.

"What are we gonna say? 'Hey guys, guess what? Buffy's here and she's back from the dead'? They're gonna think we're on drugs or something." Dawn said.

"Well, I'm not entirely sure that we aren't. But whatever it is that has happened, they need to know. We will figure this out." Giles said, getting up to make some very unusual phone calls.


"She's what?" Xander shouted into the phone.

"What? What's wrong?" Anya asked him impatiently.

"Are you sure it's her? Maybe Spike got lonely and had another Robo-Buffy built." Xander said into the phone in disbelief.

"I hadn't thought of that." Giles said, scratching his head. He looked over at Buffy and Dawn on the couch and shook his head. "I don't think so. He wouldn't do that." Giles said, trying to convince himself.

"This is Spike we're talking about. Of course he would do something like that. He already did it once." Xander said, getting irritated. If this was Spike's handiwork, he was gonna kill him. No questions asked. It didn't matter that he had helped them and was trying to be Mr. Nice Vamp, Xander would kill him.

"Perhaps, one of us should pay him a visit, then." Giles said, silently hoping that it wasn't true. "But, if this is not his work, then we'll need to get to the bottom of this. I've already called Willow and Tara. They're on their way. You get Spike and let him explain himself, if he is indeed behind this."

Xander slammed the phone down. He rubbed his eyes to push the unwanted tears away. He couldn't let himself believe that Buffy was actually back. It had to be a trick, or another robot. There was no way it was actually Buffy. He looked at Anya who was standing there anxiously waiting for the news that had upset Xander so much.

"What's happening, Xander?" She asked.

"I'm going to have to kill Spike." He said grimly.

"Why?" She asked, still clueless.

"Because, Giles said that Buffy was back and she was at their house. That can mean only one thing." He told her.

"The Buffybot? But didn't that get destroyed?" She asked, not understanding.

"Doesn't mean he didn't have a new one made." Xander told her.

"Oh...Well, that's just creepy. I mean it was icky before, but now that she's dead, it somehow seems worse." Anya said, trying to absorb what he was saying.

"You go over to Buffy's house, I'm gonna pay a visit to our little bloodsucking friend." He said, grabbing his keys and heading out the door.


Spike sat in his crypt smoking his cigarette. He knew he should go see Dawn, just as he did every night. He liked to make sure she was getting by okay. Not that he expected her to be okay, but he had to make an effort.

She was the only part of Buffy he had left and wasn't going to let anything happen to her. The other Scoobies continued to tolerate him, and Giles had allowed him to visit her. The watcher had reluctantly allowed Spike to fulfill his promise to Buffy. Willow had been the most comforting. She had seen his pain and didn't dismiss it.

She knew how much he had loved Buffy, and she was his greatest ally aside from Dawn. It was at her urging that Spike was allowed to remain part of the group, and although patrolling wasn't the same without their Slayer, they had still managed to make an attempt at it a couple of times recently.

Spike's thoughts were shattered by the harsh sound of his door being flung open wildly. He smiled at the sound because it reminded him of how Buffy always used to crash in on him, all fire and spark, ready to give him a good beating or to reluctantly ask for his help. His smile quickly faded when he saw Xander marching toward him, looking none too pleased.

"Something wrong?" He asked him, suddenly worried that something happened to Dawn.

"Oh, you could say that." Xander said angrily grabbing Spike by his shirt.

"Hey, watch the shirt! What the bloody hell is your problem?" Spike asked him irritated.

"Don't act like you don't know why I'm here. We found out what you did." Xander said with disgust.

"Let go of me!" Spike said, pulling out of Xander's grasp. "I don't know what the hell you're talking about. Whatever it is you think I did, please fill me in."

"I know about the robot." Xander said, ready to kill.

"The robot? Everyone knows about the bloody robot. You're just now getting it? Boy, you are slower than I thought." Spike laughed at him, not having any idea why he was bringing that up now. That was ages ago.

"No, I mean the new one. The one that's sitting at Buffy's house right now, claiming to be Buffy back from the dead." Xander told him angrily.

Spike stood there in a state of shock. He had no idea what this bloody idiot was talking about. He had made no other robot. He wouldn't dare. He learned his lesson the first time. Buffy herself had made him see the error in that brilliant plan.

"What?" Spike asked, still reeling.

"You heard me. Now, fess up. Did you make another sexbot? I know you're evil and all that, but how could you do this to Dawn?" He asked, his rage building. If this was all just some sick joke, he didn't think he could handle it.

"I didn't make another 'sexbot'. I have no idea what you're talking about. What do you mean Buffy's at her house back from the dead? Are you tryin' to torture me?" Spike asked him, trying to comprehend the thought of Buffy being alive again.

"You honestly don't know anything about this?" Xander asked, starting to realize that the vampire was clueless.

Spike shook his head and sat back down in his chair. He lit another cigarette and ran his fingers through his hair.

"Buffy's back?" He asked finally.

Xander watched as Spike sat there completely numbed by that bit of information.

Xander's anger melted away at the sight of tears springing involuntarily to the vampires eyes. Xander tried not to notice.

"I guess she is back." Xander said, shaking his head, afraid to believe it. He had thought for sure that Spike was behind this whole thing, but he could see now that he wasn't.

"Come on. We've got to get over there." Xander said to him.


"I am not a robot." Buffy said exasperated.

Everyone except Spike and Xander stood in the Summer's living room staring at Buffy. No one had any idea what to believe, least of all her. Everyone was telling her that she was dead, but here she was, sitting in her own living room, breathing and talking and getting more upset and confused each minute.

"B-but, the robot didn't think she was a robot either." Willow said, still trying to find an explanation for her friend to be sitting there.

"That's true. Good point." Anya chimed in.

"Guys, it's me. I don't know what else I can say. If I did die, I'm back now, for whatever reason. Giles, why don't you break out some of your trusty books or call the council? Anything! Find out what happened, but I am not a robot!" She said, getting up and pacing around.

Xander and Spike walked up to the house neither knowing what to expect when they entered.

"What are we gonna say to her?" Spike asked, suddenly nervous. He still couldn't wrap his mind around the fact that Buffy was alive and inside that house.

"Uh, welcome back?" Xander shrugged with a nervous laugh. "I have no idea, Spike. I'm not used to people coming back from the dead. That's your specialty. What'd people say to you when you rose again?" He asked sarcastically.

Spike thought a moment and realized that bit if information was best left unsaid. Somehow, 'let's go kill something' wasn't appropriate in this case. He shrugged.

"Welcome back, it is then." He muttered.

They opened the door and walked inside. Everyone was sitting around and Buffy was pacing back and forth in the middle of the room. Xander and Spike stopped short and stared at her. She certainly looked like Buffy, they both thought, relishing the sight of her.

She turned to look at them both.

"Xander!" She cried out and went to hug him.

Xander stood there stiffly, but soon returned her embrace.

"Buff...Man, it is you." He said softly into her hair.

Spike stood back and watched as she hugged Xander. He was nearly ready to pass out at the sight of her in front of him. All he wanted to do was shove the boy out of his way and grab her into his arms and kiss her frantically. He knew that would be a dumb move, so he stood there silently. He leaned onto the wall for support as it felt as if his legs would give out.

Buffy pulled away from Xander and looked into his eyes.

"Tell them that I'm not a robot." She pleaded with him.

"She's not a robot, guys." Xander said to them with a smile.

"I told you!" Buffy exclaimed, relieved that somebody believed her.

Finally Spike could stand the silence no longer.

"Hey Buffy." He said softly.

She turned to look at him and saw the stricken look on his face. She thought that she even saw the glint of tears in his eyes. Her heart ached just a little bit for him.

"Spike." She said calmly, trying not to show any emotion.

He noticed her indifferent tone and took a step back. She still hates me. She has no idea how much I've missed her... He thought to himself sadly.

"Uh, welcome back." He said awkwardly, silently cursing himself for being so stupid.

She smiled at him, then quickly turned away. She would not let the sight of him affect her, she scolded herself. The night she had invited him back into her house, she had been weakening around him. She found herself being drawn to him and she hated it. She had even forgotten that he wasn't invited into her home anymore.

It had seemed so natural to have him around. When he had told her that he knew he was a monster and that she'd never love him, her heart had wrenched. She wanted so badly to tell him that he wasn't a monster, not anymore, but she couldn't say it. Instead she only looked at him. I'll tell him later. She had said to herself. We'll talk later once this whole mess is over and I can think straight. Only apparently, she never had that chance.

Everyone sat down once more and tried to fill Buffy in on everything that had happened since she had been gone. Giles was on the phone to England demanding answers from the council that they either didn't have or weren't willing to share. Finally after a long and tiring conversation, Giles finally received the information he was seeking. He hung up the phone and walked back into the living room.

Everyone looked up at him expectantly.

"So, what's the verdict? What sort of freak of nature am I this time?" Buffy asked, almost afraid of the answer.

"Well, the council wasn't very forthcoming, but finally they managed to shed some light on this matter." Giles said, furrowing his brow and removing his glasses and wiping them nervously.

"And?" Buffy asked eagerly.

"Well, it seems there is a prophecy." He started reluctantly.

"Oh great. I just love those." Buffy said sarcastically.

"Yes, well, this one supposedly talks of a great warrior that death cannot stop. It seems that this warrior shall be tested and if she passes the test, she will rise once more ready to fight the coming darkness." He said quietly, trying to explain the information he was given.

"Rise again? Coming darkness? Why do I not get a warm fuzzy feeling about this?" Buffy said nervously.

"It would appear that this warrior is you Buffy. The Slayer. I suppose that the fact that you sacrificed yourself to save Dawn and well, the rest of the world, it looks as if you passed the test." He said shaking his head in disbelief. The Powers that controlled the council were beyond comprehension to him. It all seemed so unfair.

"And I didn't even study." Buffy mumbled, still trying to the information to heart.

"This is good, though right?" Dawn asked. "I mean, coming darkness? Not as nice. But Buffy's really back, right?"

"Yes." Giles said with a half hearted smile as he watched his Slayer absorb the news of the prophecy.

Dawn quickly grabbed Buffy and hugged her tightly. Buffy returned her affections, but couldn't help but be alarmed about this prophecy.

"Giles, did they say when this coming darkness was? Cause, you know, I'm not really up to another apocalypse right now. Didn't we just stop one of those?" She asked with a weak smile, trying to lighten her heavy heart.

"Well, I don't believe there's any cause for alarm just yet. It was indicated that it was not for several years, but it is coming. And when it does, we will deal with it." He told her, trying to be of comfort.

"Yeah, Buff. We'll be ready." Xander piped in with a comforting smile.

"A couple of years? Guess that means I'll be around for awhile, huh?" Buffy said with a small smile.

"Looks like." Xander told her with a smile as he hugged her again.

They all sat in the Summer's living room until morning came. Spike was the only one who ducked out before sunrise. He had been watching Buffy all night in silence. He had so much he wanted to say to her, but he knew now was not the time. There probably never would be a time.

He had gotten up off the couch when he noticed that it was nearly morning.

"Guess it's time for me to leave." He said quietly.

Dawn had noticed how quiet he had been and knew it was only because he didn't know what to do or say. She knew how much he loved her sister and they had talked about her so many times since she died. She knew that seeing her again was tearing him up inside.

Buffy saw him stand to his feet and stared at him.

"I'll walk you out." She said finally, knowing that she needed to talk to him. She had been trying very hard to ignore him all night, and to ignore the pain that was so clearly written on his face. She had wanted to say something, and just as before, she said nothing. But something needed to be said, she urged herself.

They walked to the door and they stepped outside.

He turned to face her with sad eyes. She smiled at him.

"Spike...I just wanted to say thanks." She told him quietly, knowing that wasn't all she wanted to say, but it was a start.

"Thanks for what?" He asked he quietly, forcing himself not to look at her or get too close. He didn't think he'd be able to hold himself back from touching her.

"Thanks for helping us that night, and thanks for looking out for Dawn, you know, even after..." She trailed off, her thoughts muddled.

"I promised you, didn't I?" He told her as his eyes finally met her gaze.

"Yes. You did." She said, trying to get a hold of her emotions. She knew he must have been upset by her death. She could see it in his eyes. She knew he was holding back for her sake, and that thought made her hurt just a little.

"Well, Buffy, it's good to have you back." He said, trying to hold it together and not knowing what else he should say to her. He turned and began to walk away slowly.

She watched him walk sullenly away and she moved after him. She grabbed his arm lightly to stop him. He turned to her and questioned her with his eyes.

"Spike...Remember what you said to me at my house that last night?" She asked him nervously, knowing she shouldn't be saying this, but also knowing that she had to.

"Which part, Luv?" He asked, waiting for her to twist the knife a little more in his back. He was wondering if she was going to give him confirmation that she'd always think of him as an unlovable monster.

"The part when you said you knew you were a monster and I'd never love you." She said softly, not wanting to hear herself speak.

"I remember." He said calmly, steeling himself for her rejection again.

"Well, you're not. A-a monster, that is." She said nervously. "I don't think of you like that anymore." She looked away from his piercing eyes.

He only looked at her not sure if his ears were hearing things correctly.

She finally looked up at him and smiled. She saw the surprise in his eyes.

"Don't make me regret I said that." She said, trying to break the energy that had formed between them. She was suddenly aware of how close they were standing to each other and she back away slightly.

"I won't." He said softly, wanting more than ever to kiss her.

She stared at him, the awkward silence was deafening to both of them. She finally moved close to him again and reached up kissed his cheek softly. He melted at the feel of her soft lips on his face and it took every ounce of willpower that he had not to grab her and ravage her with his own lips. She pulled back much too quickly for him and he stood there gaping at her with a smile spread across his lips.

She smiled at him and backed away slowly. She turned around and walked up the steps. He stared after her, still in awe of what she had said to him and what she had done. He slowly turned to walk away, when she called out after him again. He turned around.

"One more thing." She said, with her back still to him. She wasn't sure that if she looked at him, she'd have the nerve to say what she wanted to say.

He stood there hanging on her words expectantly.

"What's that, Luv?" He asked with a smile.

She took a deep breath and silently cursed herself. She glanced over her shoulder at him.

"Never say never, Spike." She said and with that, she was gone. She hurried back into the house before he could even respond to her.

He stood outside and noticed that the sun was beginning to turn the sky pink with its momentary arrival. He didn't want to leave but knew that if he burst into flame now, it would sort of ruin whatever it was that was happening with Buffy.

He turned and ran away, trying to beat the sunrise. All he could think of was how completely surreal the whole evening had been. Only a few hours ago, he had been sulking in his crypt mourning for his lost love, and now she was back. And not only was she back, but she had given him the one thing he had always wanted. Hope.


Lynok and Assam watched as the Slayer and the vampire talked outside of her house. They saw her kiss him gently, then run back into the house. Assam turned to his brother.

"What is happening there? What does the vampire have to do with all this?" He asked.

"Everything is unfolding as it was written. He is vital to the prophecy, Assam. His strength is needed, and his devotion to our Slayer will bind him to her forever, just as it was foretold." Lynok told him, becoming impatient with his brother's incessant questions.

"But a Slayer should be working to eradicate vampires. This one has known love with a vampire before."

"And she will again." Lynok said with a smile.

"But is it not wrong? He does not align himself with us. Won't he endanger the mission?"

"He aligns himself with her. His love for her is his guide. He is a fierce protector, and will serve nicely to keep our Slayer safe until the time comes for her to fulfill her duty. The Fates decided it long ago. The balance between good and evil must be kept and the two of them together create that perfect balance."

Assam nodded his head in understanding.

"Now that their paths are merging, we can sit back and know that things are progressing as they should. Have no fear, the Powers know what they are doing." Lynok smiled as he waved his hand over the crystal and the images disappeared from view. Their work was complete for now.


It had now been nearly a month since Buffy's unexpected return from the beyond. At first, things were a little awkward. Everyone was trying so hard to act normal, but mostly they were failing. Eventually, things got a little less surreal and everyone slid back into their routines.

Giles had had a hell of a time trying to convince the courts that Dawn's sister had not actually died. The paperwork was a nightmare, but the council finally stepped in after Giles threatened to fly all the way to England just to strangle them all. It got their attention. They had some official papers drawn up stating that Buffy's death had been faked because of a top secret undercover operation for the council.

Buffy was now officially alive again and everyone was gathered at her house to have a little party for her.

"Only in Sunnydale would anyone throw a 'Welcome back from the dead' party." Xander said with a smile.

"You can say that again." Willow said nodding her head. "This is all still so weird. But in a good way." She smiled at Buffy.

"I know you guys had a major wiggins when I showed up, but I'm glad you've all stopped staring at me like I was an alien or something." She told them, relieved to have things back to normal.

There was a knock at the door, and Buffy looked up wondering who it was. Everyone was already there. She looked at Dawn who smiled sheepishly.

"I-I invited Spike." She told Buffy.

Buffy looked at her and felt her heart start racing. She had seen him a couple of times since the night she got back. She had asked him to come along on patrol with everyone else a few times. Neither had said anything to each other about what had happened, and Buffy preferred it that way. At least for now. She still didn't know what she was feeling.

"Oh...Well, I'll get the door." Buffy said nervously, unsure of seeing him in any kind of social setting.

"Why'd you ask him to come?" Xander asked Dawn with an irritated look. He still didn't like having Spike around, even though every else seemed okay with it.

Xander thought it was fine to let him help, if that's what he wanted to do, but inviting him to their party and being buddies with him was not his idea of fun.

"Because he's Buffy's friend too Xander." Dawn said with an irritated sigh.

"She's right. Cut him a break. He missed her too." Willow said, in defense of Spike. She knew that he had mourned Buffy's loss deeply, even if he was a vampire. Willow still felt bad for him and she knew he was trying to do good. Not always succeeding, but definitely trying and that counted for something.

Xander just rolled his eyes. He couldn't help but feel that it was a mistake to let him into their lives. He knew the way Spike felt, but he still didn't trust him. Just because he loved Buffy didn't make him a cool guy. It didn't make him a guy at all. He was still a vampire. Buffy had done the whole 'I'm in love with a vampire' thing before. He silently prayed he wasn't going to get a repeat performance.

Buffy went to the door and opened it slowly. Spike stood there smiling at her, and her heart leapt into her throat.

Don't let him get to you...He's not that attractive. She tried to tell herself. Yes he is! Look at him. Why did you not see it before? Because you were too busy hating him and wanting him dead...She argued with herself back and forth in her mind.

"Uh, hi." She said, not knowing what else to do.

"Can I come in?" He asked with a smirk. "Or do I have to stay outside all night?"

"I've already invited you in. You don't need to ask again." She told him.

He continued smirking at her.

"Well, yes Luv, I realize that, but you're standing in the doorway. So unless you'd like me to pick you up and toss you out of my way, you're gonna hafta' move." He told her.

She instantly felt like and idiot and felt herself getting flustered around him. She laughed a nervous laugh and moved aside and motioned him in.

He breezed past her, trying to act like it wasn't killing him being near her. She watched as he walked into the room where the rest of her friends were talking and laughing. She took a deep breath and followed him.

"I'm glad you're here, Spike." Dawn said with a smile.

"Wouldn't miss it." He told her.

"So who wants pizza?" Willow asked everyone.

They all sat around talking and catching up. It was a good time for everyone. Xander and Spike had even shared a few laughs together. Buffy smiled when she looked around the room and saw all the people that she loved. And it was true, she did love them all. Every single one of them... She thought to herself.

Later on, everyone was worn out. It was nearing midnight and Buffy turned to Dawn.

"It's way past your bedtime, kiddo." She told her as she brushed the hair out of her face.

"Buffy, I'm not nine. I can stay up late and stuff." She protested.

"No, Dawnie, She's right. It's late. We should all be going anyway." Willow said, noticing the sleepy look in Tara's eyes.

"I'll walk you guys to the door." Buffy said getting up.

Xander and Anya followed them all to the door. They said their goodnights and Xander hugged Buffy goodbye. Over her shoulder, he saw Spike still sitting on the couch talking to Dawn.

"Bleach boy is leaving too, right?" He asked.

"Don't worry Xander, he's leaving." Buffy rolled her eyes, knowing how protective Xander could be.

"See ya tomorrow." He told her with a smile as he walked out the door.

Buffy walked back into the room to see Dawn and Spike talking in hushed tones. When she walked in, they quickly stopped talking. She knew they were talking about her and it made her uncomfortable.

"So, where's Giles?" She asked them.

"He went to go make tea. You know, he's British and all. He can't sleep unless he has his tea." Dawn said rolling her eyes.

"Well, you should get to bed yourself. It's late." Buffy told her.

Dawn started to protest, but then she saw the look on Spike's face, urging her to leave them alone. She smiled a knowing smile and looked at Buffy.

"Right. I'm totally tired. I'll be going now." She said as she gave Buffy a hug and ran up the stairs.

Buffy watched her go and suddenly panicked realizing that she and Spike were alone again. She looked at him nervously.

"So...alone at last." He said with a smirk.

"Yeah..." She said trying to think of something to say.

She stood there looking down at her feet, knowing that she needed to tell him to leave, but for some reason the words were not coming. He noticed her awkwardness and wished that she wouldn't be so uncomfortable around him. He didn't want to make her feel that way, he only wanted to make her happy.

"So, you wanna go for a walk?" She asked him.

"A walk?" He asked, not expecting that question.

"Yeah. I think I just need to clear my head or something. I mean, you don't have to go...If you have something else to do..." She said, wishing she could back out of her invitation.

"Right. I do have a pretty busy schedule for tonight, but I can try to squeeze you in." He said sarcastically.

"Shut up and let's go." She said, teasing him for making fun of her. "Let me just tell Giles that I'm going out."

She went into the kitchen and found Giles sipping his tea.

"Buffy. Are you going to bed now?" He asked.

"Actually, I'm gonna go for a little walk. Just need to clear my head a little. I mean, it's not everyday a girl gets to be guest of honor at a 'Welcome back from the dead' bash. I just need to think, you know?" She told him with a smile.

"Do be careful. I don't want to have to throw another party like this one." He said with seriousness in his voice.

"Don't worry. Spike's coming with me." She said softly.

"I see. Well then, still be careful." He said, knowing that his Slayer was softening towards the blonde vampire. He had to admit that they all had. After Buffy had died, Spike had been so devastated that none of them could help but feel sorry for him.

Buffy said goodnight and walked back out into the living room. Spike stood there waiting for her casually. He was trying to act cool, as if it didn't matter one way or the other that they were going out alone together. He wasn't about to make any move on her for fear of ruining whatever this was. He had learned his lesson. If she wanted him, then she'd have to be the one to make that move. Until then, he was gonna be cool.

They walked outside and headed down the street slowly. At first they didn't talk at all, but then finally Buffy spoke.


"Yes Luv?"

"What was it like without me around?" She asked, knowing it was a stupid question, but one she had been curious about. She didn't want to ask anyone else, but Spike was always honest about things.

"What was it like?" He asked, thinking her question odd.

"Yeah. I mean, was Dawn okay? She wasn't mad at me or anything?"

"Mad at you? What for? For saving her life?" He asked.

"No, I mean for leaving her alone. I-I know I didn't have a lot of choices, but I did the one thing I thought was best, but I still worried that she would be alone." She said sadly.

"Well, she wasn't alone. She had Giles, and your friends...and me. Now, I know that I'm no substitute for a big sis, but I tried."

"I know you did. She told me all about it...She also told me how upset you were..." She said, knowing he probably didn't want to talk about it, but she did. Dawn had told her how Spike had broken down and cried in front of everyone. She had also told her how they would talk for hours about her.

"Course I was upset, Buffy." He said stopping to face her. "You were everything to me...You still are. I hoped you'd realize that by now." He said softly.

She looked away from him, his emotion too raw on his face. It hurt her to see it.

"I do realize." She said softly.

"When you died, I felt as if I had died all over again. I wanted to give up. You had been my reason for everything, Buffy. Without you...well, I just didn't see the point anymore." He told her seriously.

She stared at him and felt a tear starting to fall from her eyes. Before she could wipe it away, he reached up and did it for her. She felt her knees go weak at the touch of his cool hand across her cheek.

She wanted to run away from him, and from the feelings she had that were so wrong and so scary for her. She wasn't supposed to care about him. She told him time and time again how much she despised him. Now she realized she told him so much because she had wanted it to be true so badly. So much so that she had to repeat it over and over in order to convince herself.

But she had hated him, that much was true. But that was such a long time ago. Things had changed a lot, and her feelings had changed. She wasn't sure when, but somehow and some way she had come to rely on him. She didn't know how it happened. She could hear herself telling him that she despised him, and yet when she was in trouble and needed help, he was the first place she ran to.

She couldn't deny that. The fact that he would still help her even after everything she said to him, made her realize just how deep his feelings ran. And no matter how hard she tried to avoid it, she somehow always ended up back at him. That fact only proved to her that her feelings ran deeper than she knew or would care to admit.

He watched the emotions on her face as he touched her cheek. He could see that she was conflicted. He wished that she would just take that chance with him and stop worrying about everything. He wanted to tell her that, but he couldn't.

She leaned up to him and brushed her lips across his. He stood there frozen, too afraid to move because then the moment would be over. He felt her body move closer to his and no matter how hard he tried to fight it, he couldn't stop himself from grabbing her tightly and pulling her into a deeper kiss.

She was startled at first by his arms encircling her tightly, but soon she was lost in his kiss. A kiss that had started out so gentle was now fraught with passion. She wanted to push him away, but her body wouldn't allow it. She wrapped her arms around his neck and pulled him even closer to her.

Finally she regained some of her senses and pulled away from him abruptly. She stood there panting as she looked into his eyes that were so obviously filled with desire and longing.

So this is what he meant by heat and desire... She thought to herself.

"I have to go now." She said quickly, trying to get out of the situation before she did anything else she was going to regret. She turned around and walked away from him.

He couldn't believe she was leaving him now after that kiss. It didn't make sense.

"Buffy!" He called out after her.

She turned around and faced him.

"What?" She asked, trying to be calm and trying desperately to pretend that the kiss was not a big deal. Trying to convince herself that it hadn't made her knees weak and her heart beat out of her chest.

"You're just gonna go now? After that?" He asked dumbfounded.

"It's really late and I'm tired. I'll see ya around though." She said with a nervous smile. She knew she was being terrible. She had been the one to kiss him after all, but somehow it was just easier to pretend to herself that she didn't want this. That she didn't want him. She turned and walked again. He started to get irritated, but then his irritation turned to amusement.

She was playing with him. Making him suffer, he thought. If she wants to play, I can play. He told himself.

He called after her again.

"You're killing me, Summers. You know that don't you?" He said with a smirk.

She turned around and smiled coyly.

"I know." She told him as she walked away from him. Then she muttered to herself, "You're killing me too..."

He watched her go and couldn't contain the smile that spread across his face. He was in the game, that much was for sure. What game it was she was playing, he wasn't sure, but he was definitely in.


Another month had passed since Buffy's return, and things seemed to be pretty much as they were before everything had happened. Giles had decided to move out of the Summer's home and get a place of his own again.

Buffy had told him that he was welcome to stay as long as he wanted. She told him that it was his house now too, but he thought it would be best if he were on his own again. He didn't want to feel as if he were intruding into the girls space. Plus, now that Buffy was back, he didn't feel it was necessary for him to be there any longer.

Tonight Buffy was alone in the house. Dawn had pleaded with her to let her spend the night at a girlfriends house and Buffy had agreed to it. She was actually looking forward to a nice normal evening alone.

She had rented several old 80's movies and was lounging on the couch painting her toenails when the there was a knock at the door. She thought it might be Willow, because she had told her to stop by if she wanted. Will had told her that she and Tara had a special evening planned, but if anything changed she'd come hang out.

Buffy strode carefully to the door trying not to ruin her half painted toenails. She was dressed only in a skimpy tank top and boxer type shorts. She was alone, so comfort was her only concern. Her hair was pulled into a messy ponytail on top of her head.

She pulled open the door with a smile expecting to see Willow.

"You changed your mind." She said as she opened the door.

She saw Spike standing there with his mouth open at her outfit which showed a lot more of her than he usually saw.

"Changed my mind about what, Luv?" He said with his trademark seductive grin.

Her eyes widened in surprise that it was him and quickly jumped behind the door so that he couldn't stare at her.

"Spike. What are you doing here? I thought you were Willow." She said, flustered.

"Sorry to disappoint. I just saw that the light was on, thought maybe you wanted to do a patrol or something." He told her, knowing that he had only wanted to see her. Patrolling was just an excuse.

"Oh... Well, no. I'm just gonna hang out tonight. Dawn is at a friends house, so I'm just watching some movies." She told him, still self conscious about her outfit and the fact that her hair was a mess. Not that he was looking at her hair.

"Oh...you're alone, are you?" He asked suggestively.

She looked at him and smiled, knowing exactly what he was thinking.

"Ben and Jerry will be coming by later though." She said with a small laugh.

"Who?" He asked, immediately feeling his jealousy rising. Then he understood what she meant. "Oh, Ben and Jerry. You mean the ice cream? I get it." He said his seductive smile returning.

"Yeah. Ice cream..." She said meekly, her attempt at humor going down in flames. She wished he would just go away. Being around him complicated things too much for her. She wanted him to stay, but she knew it was wrong.

"So...Guess I'll leave you alone with your 'friends'." He said, sensing that she wasn't going to let him in.

He waited for her to say something, anything. But she didn't, so he turned away to leave. She watched him and sighed. She didn't want him to go. Sooner or later she was going to have to face up to what she was feeling. She knew that, but she had been desperately trying to prolong it.

"You can join us if you want. Ben and Jerry aren't much for conversation." She said with a small smile.

He turned and met her gaze. A smile spread across his lips as he walked back up to the door.

"I thought you'd never ask." He said oozing sex appeal.

She took a deep breath and allowed him to come in.

Keep hold of yourself, Buffy. Don't do anything you are gonna regret. She said to herself. Too late...

He walked into the living room and sat down on the couch. She hung back in the doorway. She looked back down at her outfit and wondered if she should put something else on, but shrugged and figured he'd already seen her, so what the hell?

"So what sort of movies are we gonna watch?" He asked her, still unable to take his eyes off the way her tank top clung to her every curve.

"Umm, just some old stuff. You know, nothing you'd like." She said awkwardly.

"Okay." He said shaking his head. He noticed that she was still standing in the doorway. "Are you gonna stand there all night or are you gonna sit down?" He asked her.

She shrugged her shoulders and moved to sit in a chair as far away from him as possible. He rolled his eyes at her.

"What?" She asked defensively.

"You. Do you not want me here or something? Cause if you don't then just tell me. I don't have the plague or anything." He said, with amusement tinged by a little irritation.

"I know that. It's just...Forget it." She said giving up and moving to the couch next to him, but still at a safe distance.

He only shook his head. Sometimes he just didn't understand her, but it was part of her charm. He loved the way she wrinkled up her nose when she was thinking about something. She was doing it now, and he watched her intently.

"Well, start the show already." He said handing her the remote.

She took it from him and flipped the movie on. They sat there together, trying to concentrate on the movie, but neither one were really paying attention. Spike was acutely aware of her body sitting next to him. All he could think was that he still couldn't believe she was actually here.

He had mourned her death so deeply and had resigned himself to the reality that he'd never see her again. Never touch her, never hold her, and never kiss her. Of course he knew that even if she hadn't died, he most likely wouldn't ever get the chance to do any of those things either. But here he was with her. She had kissed him the other night, and before that she had told him the three little words he'd been dying to hear. Never say never she had said.

Buffy wished she could just turn off the feelings she was having. He was sitting there staring at the television, and all she could do was look at him. She knew it was wrong to feel this way. She knew that the more time she spent with him, the more she really saw him. She had started to see beyond the monster and see the man that was inside.

She liked the man. Not only was he extremely easy on the eyes, he was also funny and smart. He was tough and confident, and when he let down his guard, he was extremely sensitive and sweet. When he cared for someone, he'd die before ever letting anything happen to them. He was definitely devoted and loyal. But he's still a vampire. He may act like a man, and talk like a man, but he isn't, she tried to remind herself.

She sighed and decided to continue painting her nails. He watched as she opened the small container of nail polish and propped her foot up on the coffee table.

"What are you doing?" He asked.

"What's it look like?" She said rolling her eyes at him.

"I know, but that color? Pink? Isn't that a little... I don't know, girly?" He asked her with a smile.

"Well, duh? I am a girl. What would you have me paint them? Black like you?" She said sarcastically.

"No. Red would be nice." He said with a smirk, unable to take his eyes of her small perfect feet.

"Why? Because it reminds you of blood?"

"No, it's just sexy is all." He said honestly.

She didn't know how to respond to that except to look away from him uncomfortably.

"Well, I like the pink." She muttered.

He shook his head and smiled at her.

"You know if I had realized that we were going to be painting our nails, I would have brought my own polish. I could use a touch up." He said examining the chipped black polish on his hands.

Buffy rolled her eyes.

"You know it's lame for a guy to wear nail polish anyway, Spike." She told him.

"It is not. Not if it's black. It's cool." He said defensively.

"No, it really isn't."

"Please...It makes me look tough and dangerous." He scoffed at her.

She laughed at him.

"Is that what you think?"

"It doesn't?" He asked seriously.

"No." She told him through her laughter.

She sighed and put her polish down and picked up the bottle of remover that sat on the table. She grabbed a cotton ball.

"Come here." She said to him, saturating the cotton with the remover.

He moved closer to her and she took his hand in her own. He couldn't help but shiver at her gentle touch. She took the cotton and started wiping away his old polish. He sat there still, allowing her to do her work. When the last trace of black was gone, she let go of his hand and smiled up at him.

"See? Now that's better." She said to him.

"Are you sure it wasn't cool before?" He asked her.

"Positive." She said with a smile. "I'm gonna go wash my hands. We'll talk about your hair later." She muttered as she got up to go to the kitchen. She needed to get out of there. Being so comfortable and close to him was starting to make her dizzy. As she had held his hands, she couldn't help but feel the electricity between them.

He watched her go and smiled. Then he registered what she had muttered about his hair.

"Hey! What's wrong with my hair?" He called out after her.

She disappeared into the kitchen without answering. He sat back and waited for her, a million thoughts running through his head. She was treating him like a person and it made his heart ache for her even more.

She returned from the kitchen with her container of Ben and Jerry's. She plopped down on the couch next to him and stared at the television. They were watching the Breakfast Club. She tried not to look at him, and concentrated on spooning the cold ice cream into her mouth. Being so close to him had suddenly started to make the room feel a little too warm and she hoped that the coldness of the ice cream would refresh her.

He looked over at her and smiled. He was silently wishing he could be that spoon. He moved a little closer to her and tried to focus his attention back onto the movie.

"I've seen this before. It's pretty good." He told her, indicating the movie.

"Yeah, it's like a classic." She said absently.

"That Judd Nelson character, now he's cool. See, he's a tough guy not wanting to take any crap from anyone. That's the kinda guy I respect." He told her.

"Yeah, but it's all an act. Underneath, he's not so tough." She told him, suddenly realizing that there were some parallels between Spike and the character on the screen.

"Still, he's cool. And look? The snooty beautiful girl can't help but want him, even though she knows it's wrong." He said looking at her pointedly.

Buffy rolled her eyes.

"Are you trying to get at something?" She asked.

"No. Just that girls like bad boys, that's all." He said with smirk.

"Not all girls." She said, wishing it were true in her case but it wasn't.

He looked at her and shrugged. Clearly he wasn't getting anywhere with this analogy. He sat back and continued to watch her slowly eating her ice cream. He wanted her so bad he could taste it. Being this close to her and not touching her was making him crazy. She took another bite.

"Is it good?" He asked softly, never taking his eyes off her. He knew that his presence was affecting her and he was enjoying it.

"What? The ice cream? Yeah. It's kind of melting though." She said with a mouthful.

"Can I try it?" He asked.

She smiled at him and handed the carton over.

"Knock yourself out." She told him.

He took a bite of the melting ice cream.

"You're right. It is good." He said handing it back.

She took the spoon and took another bite. Some of it dripped on her chin and before she could wipe it off he reached out and wiped it away with his finger. She stared at him feeling the heat that was growing between them. Everything about him was sexy and she knew that he knew it.

He licked the ice cream off his finger and smiled at her.

She gulped and thought about jumping up and running out of the room, but for some reason she was paralyzed. He figured it was now or never, so he'd better just do it. He leaned into her and pressed his lips against hers. She felt his tongue run gently over her lips and she held her breath. He pulled away and looked at her.

"It tastes even better that way." He purred to her.

She sat there in silence, too stunned and too excited by him to do anything. He leaned into her again and this time he kissed her harder. At first, she wanted to push him away, but it didn't take long to forget all about that. The ice cream container dropped to the floor making a messy puddle. She wrapped her arms around him and pulled him closer.

He shifted his weight so that he was half on top of her and pressing her back into the couch. An involuntary moan escaped her throat which only furthered his excitement. His lips broke free from hers and he kissed his way down her neck. She closed her eyes tightly and felt herself shudder at the feel of his cool lips and tongue trailing down her flushed skin. She grabbed his hair and pulled him back up to meet her mouth.

He was in complete and utter heaven. The feel of her body crushed beneath his was almost too much to bear. He wanted her so badly he was hurting. He ran his hand down her back and shifted it forward until he felt the exposed skin of her stomach. He ran his hand over her skin and brought it up underneath her tank top.

She felt his hands exploring her body and she was almost numb with pleasure. She wanted him. She knew it was wrong and yet she somehow couldn't seem to care. She reached her own hands under his shirt and ripped it over his head. He closed his eyes in sheer pleasure at seeing her so excited by his touch. He kissed her harder, his tongue exploring her mouth passionately. The were lost in each other and neither wanted to be found.

Just then, the doorbell rang shattering their moment of bliss. Spike jerked his head up in surprise at the intrusion and he saw Buffy's eyes grow wide.

"Ignore it." He whispered to her as he kissed he again.

She wanted to but now all she could think about was the person standing outside.

"It could be Willow." She said to him, pushing him away slightly.

"So? She'll go away." He said, trying to make her forget with his lips.

The doorbell rang again and she heard Xander's voice.

"Buffy? Are you in there?" He called out.

"Oh my God! It's Xander!" She cried out, shoving Spike off of her frantically.

He fell to the floor with a thud.

"Ow!" He cried out with a perplexed look on his face.

"Get up! Put this back on!" She said tossing his shirt to him, and nearly tripping over his feet as she ran to the door.

She turned and looked at him desperately.

"Xander cannot know about this...Whatever this is. Keep your mouth shut." She said firmly.

He smirked at her and pulled his shirt back on as she opened the door.

"Hey, Buff, you are in there." Xander said with a goofy smile. "Anya and I wanted to see if you wanted to go to the Bronze with us."

He looked at her disheveled appearance and got inquisitive look on his face.

"Oh, um, I don't think so. I'm just sorta hanging out watching movies tonight." She said nervously.

"Is something wrong?" He asked curiously. She was acting nervous.

"What's wrong with your hair? It's all messy." Anya asked.

Buffy touched her hair and realized that it was in worse shape than before.

"Oh, well I'm slumming tonight. You know, no makeup, messy hair..." She said with a laugh trying to cover her embarrassment.

Xander started to laugh a bit when he noticed Spike sitting on the arm of the chair in the living room.

"Well, you're definitely slumming tonight. What's he doing here?" He asked with irritation as he motioned at Spike.

Buffy turned around and silently prayed he wasn't going to give anything away.

"He just stopped by for a minute. He's getting ready to leave." She said turning to Spike, who only smiled but made no move to get up.

"No, it's alright. I can stay." He said with a smirk.

Buffy rolled her eyes at him and silently cursed herself for losing control before.

Xander and Anya looked at each other then back at Buffy.

"Are you sure you don't want to come with us?" Xander asked.

"Yeah, we could wait while you make yourself presentable again." Anya said with a smile.

"That's okay. Maybe tomorrow or something. I'll call you." She said impatiently, but with a smile.

"Okay..." Xander said hesitantly.

"Bye." Buffy said as she watched them walk down the walkway and she shut the door. She leaned against it and closed her eyes. What am I doing? She said to herself.

Xander and Anya walked to their car slowly.

"She was acting a little strange, don't you think?" Xander asked.

"Very strange. But it was probably because she was embarrassed that we caught her having sex with Spike." Anya said thoughtfully.

Xander turned to her sharply. Sometimes her brutal honesty was startling.

"What? They were not having sex, Anya. Buffy wouldn't do that." He protested with disgust.

"Sure they were. I know that look, Xander. And her hair? Please. That was bed hair." She said confidently.

"Bed hair? What are you talking about? That was so not bed hair, that was just Buffy letting herself go a bit." Xander said forcing the unpleasant thoughts out of his head.

"Whatever. Are we going dancing or not?" She pouted.

"Yeah...let's go." He said, getting into the car. He never took his eyes off the house and couldn't stop his mind from wandering to the horrors that might be taking place in there.


Buffy slowly moved away from the door. Spike stood silently waiting for her return and what he hoped would be them finishing what they had started. She walked over to him with a vacant look on her face.

She was too stunned by her earlier actions to say anything. Just looking at him now made her stomach flip nervously. She was pretty sure that Xander knew what she had been doing, with Spike of all people. My god! What had I been doing? She asked herself.

Part of her was irritated that Xander had come by and ruined whatever it was that was happening, but then another part of her was relieved. He had stopped her from making a huge mistake, and she knew it.

She looked at Spike who continued to stare at her, knowing she was again deep in thought. He moved closer to her and took her into his arms. He kissed her ear.

"Now, where were we?" He whispered to her seductively.

Momentarily she felt herself shudder at his touch but she forced herself to snap out of it. She nudged him away from her.

"You need to leave." She said with a determined look.

"What?" He asked confused.

"Y-You need to go, Spike. We-we can't do this." She stuttered anxiously.

"Yes we can." He said becoming annoyed with her.

"No we can't. Or at least I can't. I don't know what I was thinking. I-I just lost my mind for a minute." She stammered, trying to be strong and not cave into the desire she was feeling.

Spike was getting angry. He was getting tired of her games. Taking him to the edge only to yank him right back again.

"What is wrong with you? Are you trying to torture me?" He asked her.

"No, I'm not trying to torture you. I-I just can't do this." She said, hanging her head sadly.

"And why the bloody hell not? You want it don't you? You want me. What are you so afraid of? Because it's wrong? Please. Or maybe you're afraid of what your friends will think? Is that it? To hell with them." He said angrily.

"To hell with them? They are like family to me, Spike. They won't understand this. How could they? I don't even understand it. I'm not supposed to feel this way, don't you see that?" She cried. She felt her emotions that she had been hiding for so long, bubbling to the surface and she couldn't contain them.

"Of course I bloody see that. You think I wanted to love you? You think I wanted to care at all about you and your stupid friends? No. I didn't. Of course this is wrong, but it doesn't mean it isn't happening. You may have denied it before, but you can't deny it now." He said heatedly.

"Yes I can! This isn't gonna happen. I-I don't want you. I hate you! Don't you see?" She yelled at him.

"You hate me? Didn't seem like it a few minutes ago when my tongue was in your mouth." He told her angrily, knowing he was pushing her buttons.

"You're gross! Just get out!" She screamed.

"I'm gross? It's the truth, isn't it? You wanted me so bad you were quivering. Why won't you just admit it?" He asked her furiously.

She just stared at him with tears in her eyes. She knew he was right, but she wouldn't admit it. She hated how he always saw right through her.

"Please, just go." She said softly.

"No. I won't go! This is insane, Buffy. Sometimes you make me so furious!" He shouted at her desperately. He was tired of her indecisions.

"Good! Go with that. Hate me all over again. See if I care! It's easier that way." She shouted.

"You know what? You're right. It was easier that way." He said grabbing his coat and pulling it on quickly. "If you ever wake up and step out of denial land, let me know. But until then, I'm done."

He brushed past her and out the door. He slammed it hard behind him and she winced.

She sat down on the chair and started to cry. She was mad at herself for hurting him and leading him on, when she knew it wasn't fair. She was also angry because she didn't want to feel this way at all. She liked things better when she was blissfully ignorant of her attraction to him. She was comfortable insulting him and hitting him. Kissing him and wanting him, were not thoughts that made her comfortable.

In fact they were downright scary. She was terrified. She was completely and utterly terrified of the feelings she had for him. But he was right when she said she couldn't deny it anymore. Something was happening and she was powerless to stop it. All she could do was hope it would go away if she ignored it long enough.


The next day Buffy sat at the Magic Box while Dawn did her homework and Giles worked in the back. Anya was happily tending to some customers hoping they were going to spend a lot of their precious money.

"Buffy? What's wrong with you? You look all pouty today." Dawn said, noticing her sisters sullen look.

"What?" Buffy asked, lost in thought.

"Earth to Buffy...What's wrong with you?"

"Nothing...It's just...never mind." She told her sister.

"Come on. You can tell me." Dawn said with a comforting smile.

"I just...Spike and I had a fight." She finally said.

"A fight? Like you beat him up or something?" Dawn asked.

"No, more like the yelly, screaming sort of fight."

"Well, that's nothing new, Buffy. You're always yelling at him." Dawn said with a small laugh.

"This was different Dawnie. It's too complicated. You wouldn't understand." She told her sadly.

"Why? Cause I'm too young? I know stuff. I know lots of stuff." She said defensively.

"No...you wouldn't understand because I don't even understand." Buffy tried to explain.

"Try me."

"Just forget it." Buffy said, trying to get her off the subject.

"Fine, it's not like Spike won't tell me later anyway." Dawn said casually.

"What?" Buffy asked.

"We're like friends and stuff, Buffy. He tells me everything, especially about you. In fact, that's all he likes to talk about." She smiled.

Buffy knew she shouldn't be surprised at this bit of news. She knew that they had become close while she was gone. She still wasn't real comfortable knowing that Dawn had grown so attached to him, but she knew that Spike adored Dawn. Buffy sighed and looked around to make sure no one else was within listening distance. She turned to Dawn.

"Fine, but you have to promise not to tell anyone what I'm about to tell you." She whispered.

"Oh, a secret! I swear I won't tell anyone." Dawn said excitedly. "Did you have sex with him?"

Buffy nearly choked at Dawns question and she looked at her surprised and horrified.

"What? Dawnie, no!" She said not comfortable with her baby sister even saying the word 'sex'. Also, she was alarmed at how close she was to the truth. She added softly, "We didn't get that far..."

"Oh my god! What happened?" Dawn asked with excitement.

"Well, we kissed but that was it. Then Xander came over and we stopped." She said, not sure that she should be telling her this at all. She was just a kid.

"That's so cool. So are you guys like together now or something?" She asked, pleased that her sister had finally come around.

"No, we aren't. In fact I think he hates me again." She said sadly.

"I seriously doubt that. You said you had a fight. What was it about? I mean, first you're kissing him and then somehow it ended in a fight?" Dawn asked confused.

"This is Spike, Dawn. Every time we're together it ends up in a fight." Buffy said.

"That just proves that there's a lot of passion." Dawn said matter of factly.

Buffy stared at her surprised.

"Where did you hear that?" She asked.

"Well, Spike told me."

"Figures..." Buffy muttered. "Look, I can't be with him Dawn. He's a vampire, I'm a Slayer. These sort of things are just doomed for failure. Remember? I've been there before." She explained.

"This is different. It doesn't have to be doomed. Buffy, come on. He loves you so much. He like totally fell apart when you died. So what if he's a vampire? I mean, I would totally kill to have a guy love me that much." Dawn told her seriously.

"But..." Buffy started.

"No. No 'buts'. Do you love him, Buffy?" She asked her sister.

"I-I don't know. Maybe?" She answered.

"Then you should take that chance. Buffy, you died and you got a second chance. Don't waste it. A lot of people never find love. You're lucky because you have it sitting right in front of you but you're too scared to experience it. Stop being scared and start living again." Dawn told her earnestly.

Buffy eyed her sister suspiciously. She smiled at her.

"When did you get so wise and grown up and good at giving advice?" She asked her.

"I had to grow up a lot lately." She said quietly.

Buffy hugged Dawn tightly and kissed her forehead.

"Thanks for the advice. You know, you should really write your own column or something." She smiled.

Just then Xander walked into the shop. He walked over and kissed Anya on the cheek and let her continue on with her customers. He saw Buffy and Dawn sitting at table talking. He walked over.

"Hey beautiful ladies. Mind if I join you?" He smiled.

"Sure. I need to go get something to drink though. I'll be right back." Dawn said getting up.

Xander looked at Buffy and smiled. He took a deep breath and sat down across from her.

"So...Any deep, dark secrets you wanna share?" He asked prying her for information. He couldn't stop thinking all night about what Anya had said to him about Buffy and Spike.

"Huh?" Buffy asked with a confused expression.

"It's just last night...Things seemed a little off..." He said, trying to keep from flat out asking her what was going on.

He looked at her and noticed she didn't really appear to be listening to him.

"Buffy?" He asked.

She saw Giles emerge from the back room and she got up to see him.

"I need to talk to Giles for a minute." She said absently as she walked away from Xander.

Xander shook his head.

"Damn! She's avoiding me now. She knows that I know her wicked little secret." He muttered to himself.

Buffy walked up to Giles. She wanted to talk to him. He was the closest thing to a parental figure that she had and right now she needed someone wise to talk to. Someone to talk some sense into her. Dawn meant well, and she really wanted to believe what she said, but she remained skeptical.

"Giles? Can I talk to you?" She asked quietly.

"Sure, Buffy. What is it? Are you upset by something?" He asked concerned by the grave look on her face.

"It's just that my whole life is in total chaos." She sighed. "Can we go somewhere private?"

"Of course." He said ushering her to the empty training room.

They walked in and he looked at her with concern.

"What's wrong, Buffy?"

"Giles...I am so stupid." She said, not knowing entirely where to start or what to say.

"Stupid? Why?"

"It's Spike. He's just driving me crazy. I mean, he's always hanging around complicating things for me. I tell him to leave me alone, but I really don't want that. But then I think, he's a vampire, Buffy. Wake up! You shouldn't be letting him get to you. But he does get to me...Ugh! I can't believe I'm saying this to you. I wish the ground would just swallow me up right now." She ranted to herself. She turned to face him. "Giles...I think I love him." She finally said with a sigh.

Giles listened patiently as she finished her nearly incoherent tirade. She lost him at first, but he definitely understood her last desperate statement. He rubbed his temples and lowered his head. He sighed and looked at her.

"Buffy, I already know. I mean I suspected this might happen." He said calmly.

"What? You knew and didn't even think to tell me? I didn't even know until just now." She said flabbergasted.

"Buffy, it's alright." He said calmly.

"No. It's not alright. Giles...You're supposed to be my level headed voice of reason. You're supposed to smack my hand and say 'Bad Buffy!' But instead you say it's 'alright'?" She said getting irritated and more confused. She had expected Giles to flip out over her confession and instead he said that he already knew.

"Buffy...sit down." He said seriously.

"Why? So you can give me a good talkin' to? Slap some sense into me?" She asked hopefully.

"No. Listen to me. There are some things that I haven't told you." He said hesitantly.

"Oh, I don't like the sound of this..." She said worried.

"You remember the prophecy?"

"Of course. It's the whole reason why I'm sitting here miserably confused instead of peacefully pushing up daisies."

"Well, I had the council send me a copy of this prophecy. I-I wanted to study it further. They hadn't wanted to send it, but that's beside the point. I read it over carefully."

"Am I going to die again? Cause that's getting a little redundant." She said sarcastically.

"No you aren't going to die again. The prophecy talked about the balance of good and evil. It stated that love would forge an unlikely alliance between the darkness and light. It talked of a dark warrior merging sides with the light and that this union would create the proper balance in order to defeat the coming darkness which they spoke of." He tried to explain to her.

"The what merging with the who? I'm lost. What does this have to do with anything?" She asked dumbfounded.

"Buffy, you are the light. I wasn't sure who the dark warrior was but I had my suspicions. I think that it may be Spike. He certainly is an unlikely ally and his love for you has forged this alliance, so to speak. A long time ago, after he first got the chip, I had my suspicions that he had a higher purpose. I proposed the idea to him which he of course scoffed at. But, now I do believe that this prophecy is indeed referring to him. To the both of you." He told her hoping that he was making some sort of sense.

"Let me get this straight. Spike and I were meant to be together? Like fate or something?" She asked, trying to grasp the thought.

"Well, yes, in a way. I suppose so." He said apprehensively.

"Well that sucks! I mean, why him? Why couldn't it be some nice normal guy? And who writes these stupid prophecies anyway?" She said getting up and starting to pace nervously.

"Buffy..." He started, knowing she was having a hard time understanding.

"No. I just don't get it. I mean, is my whole life already mapped out for me? Does it say what I'm going to have for breakfast tomorrow? Maybe it knows the winning lotto numbers too." She ranted.

"Buffy, as you've proven before, prophecies are not absolute. If you detest the idea so much, then perhaps I misinterpreted it." He said, scratching his head.

Buffy stopped pacing and sat down roughly.

"That's just it. I don't detest the idea." She said sadly. "I don't detest him, I just don't want this to be something that was engineered by some higher power. I wanted it to be real..."

"It is real. Destiny is real. There is a bigger plan for everyone, Buffy. Every choice we make, every action we take has a purpose. The prophecy didn't make anything happen. It merely states what is supposed to happen. You are always free to make your own choices. We all are. This is why it's not a good idea to be privy to this sort of information. I only told you now because I didn't want you to feel as if you were doing something wrong." He told her sincerely, wondering if had made a grave mistake telling her at all.

She looked at him and sighed.

"So what you're trying to say is that what I'm feeling isn't so strange. It was supposed to happen this way all along?" She said, calming down and trying to get used to the idea.

"I would have to say yes." He told her, wiping his glasses nervously.

"Guess it's a good thing we never managed to kill each other, huh?" She said with a tiny smile.

"I suppose so." Giles said with an uncomfortable smile.

"So you're cool with this? I mean, the whole 'me and Spike' thing?" She asked skeptically.

Giles looked at her for a moment and sighed.

"Well, 'cool' would not be the term I'd use... but if he indeed has a higher purpose, it very well might be up to you to help him along. Keep him on the path, so to speak." He told her hesitantly.

"But what about the whole 'soulless vampire' thing? I mean, doesn't that mean he's still evil? Just because he can't hurt anyone doesn't mean he's good right?" She asked wearily.

"Well, no. The chip doesn't make him good. But that's where you come in Buffy. Apparently, it's you that has that effect on him. It's almost as if you're his conscience. The truth is that even with the chip, he is still quite capable of doing harm. He's had plenty of opportunity to return to his evil doings. A perfect example is when Glory kidnapped him. It would have been extremely easy for him to give Dawn up. Instead, he endured hours of torture to keep her safe." He explained.

"I know. I still can't really believe that." She said shaking her head.

"I suppose what I'm trying to say is that if the prophecy is true and referring to him, then perhaps his changes are indeed real. I'm the last person who would like to admit that, but I have noticed."

"But if it's me that's changing him, then when I died, he should have gone back to the way he was before, right?" She asked.

"Well, no. Your memory was still with him. He told me about his promise to you, to keep Dawn safe. He said he intended to keep it regardless of whether or not you were there to see it. I must admit, I was a bit thrown. I expected him to merely disappear after you were gone, but he didn't." Giles said shaking his head.

Buffy sat there absorbing his words. She still couldn't believe what she was hearing.

"So, what should I do now?" She asked him sullenly.

"I suppose you should do the only thing you can. Which is to follow your heart." He said softly. He wasn't sure how to feel about the situation. He didn't want Buffy getting hurt, and the fact that his Slayer had fallen for not one but two vampires, was certainly unusual. But, Buffy wasn't your usual Slayer.

Buffy sighed and put her head into her hands.

"I came to you to clear my head and now I feel worse than before." She whined.

"I'm sorry. Perhaps I shouldn't have said anything." He said troubled with himself.

"No. It's okay. I'm glad you told me." She said softly still not knowing what to do with the information.


Buffy and Dawn went home. After talking with Giles, Buffy somehow felt a little less guilty for her feelings, but still remained unsure about what to do. She knew that after last night, she really had to talk to him. He had been so hurt and confused by her throwing him out. She had wanted to run after him, but she hadn't.

"You want me to make something for dinner?" Buffy asked as they walked into their house.

"I'm not really hungry. I think I'm gonna go upstairs." Dawn told her.

"Okay. Is all your homework done?" She asked.

"Yes. You watched me do it at the magic shop, remember?" Dawn answered with a sigh.

"Right. Okay." Buffy said absently as she sat on the couch.

Dawn started up the stairs and looked back at her sister.

"Why don't you just go and talk to him?" Dawn told her.


Dawn rolled her eyes.

"You don't have to pretend with me, Buffy. Just go see him and tell him how you feel. Stop being all mopey." She told her.

"I can't leave you here alone." Buffy said, trying to make excuses.

"Yes you can. I'm not a baby. I'm fifteen. You were already slaying vampires when you were my age, Buffy. I think I can manage being on my own for a few hours." Dawn told her defensively.

Buffy sighed and stood up.

"You're growing up too fast." She said with a smile. "I won't be gone long."

"Yes you will. If you do it right, anyway." Dawn teased her with a smile.

"Dawn!" Buffy said, surprised at her sisters comment.

"Just go already."

"Fine. I won't be long." She reiterated firmly.

"Whatever." Dawn said with a smile, as she walked back up the stairs.


Buffy walked slowly to Spike's place. She wondered if he'd even want to see her. She knew she was driving him crazy with her mixed signals. But she was driving herself crazy too. She wondered if she should even mention the prophecy to him. She decided against it. She didn't want him to know.

She came to his door and for a moment thought about knocking. Then she sighed and pushed it open quickly. Why tamper with tradition? She said to herself.

Spike sat in his chair watching TV. He heard the door come crashing open and he sighed to himself. He knew she'd be back eventually. She always came back, but he wasn't expecting it to be so soon.

"Spike?" Buffy called to him.

"Miss me already? What do you want now?" He asked indifferently.

"We need to talk." She told him.

"Well, hurry up. Dawson's Creek is coming on. I don't want to miss it." He said casually, trying to irritate her.

She walked over and flipped his television off. She stood in front of it and crossed her arms.

"Forget about the TV. We need to talk about last night." She said determinedly.

"I don't think there's anything left to say. You made it quite clear that you still detest me. I don't need a recap." He told her.

"Look, I know I said some things..." She started to tell him, but he cut her off abruptly.

"Yeah, you said some things alright. Look, I'm tired of this. Have you any idea what it is you're doing to me?" He asked exasperated.

"What I'm doing to you?" She said angrily. "What about what you're doing to me?"

He stood up to face her.

"And just what is it that I'm doing? You know how I bloody feel about you. You're the one who's playing games with me, and I'm tired of it." He said irritated.

"You want to know how I feel, Spike. I'll tell you how I feel. I'm angry." She said bitterly.

"Angry? What the hell for?" He asked.

"I'm angry because every time I'm with you I lose my mind. I hate that you have any effect on me at all. It wasn't supposed to be like this. I liked hating you. It was natural and easy. I'm angry because the more time I spend with you, the less I feel that hatred and that scares me." She told him angrily. "But most of all, I'm angry because I didn't want to fall in love with you..." She added softly, instantly wishing she could take the words back.

"Fine! Be angry! If you want to hate me..." He started to yell at her, then he stopped. Her last words had just hit him. "Wait a minute. What did you say?" He asked her.

"You heard me." She said crossing her arms tightly again.

A smile crept to his face and he moved closer to her.

"Did you say that you loved me?" He asked her.

"No." She said nervously, looking away from him.

"Yes. You did." He said with a smirk.

"Okay. So maybe I did. So what?" She said with a sheepish smile. Nothing was ever easy with him. She couldn't even tell him that she loved him without getting defensive.

"I want to hear you say it again, maybe this time with a little less contempt." He said with a satisfied smirk.

She gave him a hard look, then she sighed and smiled at him.

"I don't wanna." She said with a pout.

He smiled at her and shook his head. She was impossible. But that's why he loved her so much. She was maddening, and it only made him want her more. He moved closer to her and leaned into her. He whispered in her ear.

"Say it..." He told her, as he kissed her neck.

She stood there trying not let the feel of his lips on her skin turn her to mush. She looked up at him and smiled. There was no denying it. She was crazy about him. She didn't want to be, but after talking to Giles, she realized that some things were just meant to be. Even if they didn't make sense.

"I love you." She said softly.

He looked at her longingly. He had wanted to hear those words from her lips forever. He couldn't believe that it was real, but it was. All of the anger and resentment he had been feeling earlier completely vanished. He reached forward and pulled her roughly into his arms and kissed her hungrily.

She melted into him and it wasn't long before her remaining doubts drifted away. She had decided just to let fate take over. This was how it was supposed to be she thought to herself.

She pushed him back into his chair and sat on his lap. He kissed her gently as she stroked his face. He looked into her eyes.

"What took you so long?" He asked her playfully.

"I don't know. Terror, maybe." She said with a laugh.

He smiled at her.

"You realize that only you could say the words 'I love you' with such hostility." He smirked at her.

"What can I say? You bring out the worst in me." She teased him as she kissed his ear.

He closed his eyes at the feel of her mouth on his ear. He moaned softly.

"That's funny, because you bring out the best in me." He told her sincerely.

She looked at him and remembered Giles' words about the prophecy. It's you that is changing him...She smiled and kissed him again.

He pulled back from her and looked into her eyes. He had so much love in his heart for her. Love he never knew his dead heart could feel. But when he was with her, he felt alive again. Maybe he wasn't supposed to feel like this, but he did. And it was real.

"I love you Buffy." He told her sincerely.

"I know." She said softly, kissing him.

"I think maybe I always have." He whispered to her between their kisses.

"Maybe it was meant to be." She whispered back as her lips found his again, silencing all doubts from either of their minds.


Assam and Lynok looked on as the lover's discovered each other for the first time. Lynok smiled satisfied and waved his hand over the crystal, fading it back to black. It was best to give the lovers their privacy.

"Tonight the darkness and light shall become one. Their fates will be sealed." Lynok said happily.

"But I thought she would never love him." Assam said shaking his head at the turn of events.

"Never say never, my brother. This is the way it was intended."

"But are you sure their bond is strong enough to last?" He asked him.

"Of course, my brother. As it is written, so shall it be." He told him with a smile. Everything would be just fine.