Dawn heard her sister's cries from her room, and crept downstairs. Buffy hadn't cried since their Mom died, and if Buffy was crying, something big had happened. Dawn peeked into the living room and frowned at her sister, who didn't look up. Buffy was hysterical and sobbing in Tara's lap.

What happened that was so bad?

Tara looked at the younger Summers and mouthed 'Spike.' Dawn wanted to talk to Buffy and find out what was wrong. She could help. She was Buffy's sister and Buffy needed someone to comfort her. Buffy has been very distant lately, but she still needed someone. Dawn took a step closer to the girls, but Tara shook her head vigorously. She mouthed 'Spike" again.

Dawn slipped out the door reluctantly. If she had to go get Spike in the middle of the night, it couldn't be good. How would Spike be able to help her sister if she couldn't? Spike was going to pissed that she was out by herself at night.

Tara sighed as Dawn left and chanted an incantation to protect her. She was risking sending Dawn out, but Spike was the only who could help Buffy. A simple protection spell would get Dawn to Spike's crypt and home safely.

Spike sprawled in his chair, facing away from the door, and drained his glass of blood as the crypt door opened behind him. Dawn's scent drifted around him. It was so much like Buffy's, but had a little girl scent to it as well.

"Nibblet. What have I told you about being out late?" he said.

He was too sore to be angry with Dawn; his ribs hurt, his face hurt, and his heart ached from Buffy's beating. Heartless bint just left me in the alley for the sun to kill me. Didn't even look twice.

"I know I'm not supposed to, but Buffy's in trouble. We gotta get home."

Spike grabbed his duster and followed Dawn out of the crypt liked the obedient puppy that he was. She beat the hell out of him and here he was, running to her rescue. As usual. His love for her blinded him to his physical and emotional pain. When she needed him, which seemed to be always, she knew he would be there in a heartbeat. No matter what she did to him.

"What happened?" he asked, lighting up a cigarette with his shaky hands.

"I don't know," Dawn said, rushing to keep up with his long strides, even with his pronounced limp. "I woke up and heard Buffy crying and came downstairs. She was crying in Tara's arms and Tara sent me to get you, but I don't know why."

"Glinda sent you?" Spike asked, perturbed. Why would she send for him?

Dawn rolled her eyes. "Yeah," she said. "It probably ties in with going to the police station." Earlier that evening, Buffy came into her room and told Dawn that she was going away again. Dawn had been so angry at Buffy for wanting to leave.

"What happened to your face? she asked.

Spike sucked in his cheeks. "I had a run-in with some vamps, Nibblet," he said, the lie rolling off his lips easily. "This has nothing to do with Buffy."

"I don't know why you guys lie to me," Dawn grumbled. "I'm not stupid. I know something is going on between you and Buffy and it's only a matter of time before I figure it out."

Dawn and Spike quietly entered the house. Buffy's sobbing had dwindled to sniffling, but she was still resting her head in Tara's lap like she was hiding.

Tara saw Spike, and smiled in relief. Spike could help Buffy and pull her out of the hole she had gotten herself in to.

"Buffy?" Spike asked.

Spike frowned and looked at Tara. Spike had never seen Buffy like this. Not ever. She seemed broken and lost. He hadn't seen her cry either. His heart twisted with pain when he heard her tears start up again. Had something happened at the police station? If she had killed the girl and admitted to it, she wouldn't be here. So, that wasn't it. Something else must have happened after she left him in the alley.

Tara winced at the sight his face. His lips were bloody and swollen. His right eye was swollen shut and his left barely escaped that luxury. He had limped through the door.

She prayed that Buffy hadn't done that to him, but she knew her prayers were going to go unanswered. Buffy would be the only person to get away with beating Spike so badly. No demon would get past one or two punches against Spike, but Buffy would have been allowed to go all the way.

She motioned for him to come over and Spike sat on the floor next to Buffy without question. His ribs throbbed at his motions, but he gently pulled Buffy away from Tara and into his arms. He cradled his abuser in his strong embrace and stretched his legs out in front of him make her more comfortable.

"Spike," Buffy whimpered, in surprise, when she felt his arms surround her. He's touching me after I bashed his beautiful face. He's here, holding me, after I left him for the sun to kill him. That thought brought more tears to her eyes. She may be a Slayer, but she wasn't a murderer, yet she had almost murdered Spike. She'd tortured him, just like Glory did, and he let her. Then, he came to her when she needed him.

Now she knew why she let Spike do those things to her. She knew why she always went back to him for cold comfort. Because he would always come back to her, no matter what she did. He'd never leave her alone, or abandon her, unlike the other men in her life. Dad, Angel, Riley, Giles - they all left. Spike would be with her when she needed help, no matter how many times she told him to leave her alone.

And, no matter how much she wanted to deny it, she longed for Spike. She might not love him, but she wanted him with her.

Tara stood up and approached Dawn. "We should leave them alone," she said, quietly as she glanced at the Slayer who was rapidly losing her composure. Tara smiled reassurance at Dawn and shooed her to the kitchen.

Spike stroked Buffy's hair and held her tightly. "Shhh. It's going to be okay, Buffy." He was unsure of what had made her upset, but false promises might be what she needed right now. Maybe he needed them, too.

"How can you even look at me after what I did?" she asked through her tears.

"You outta know why," Spike responded, gently. He pushed her away a little and kissed her tenderly. "I would do anything for you."

Buffy sniffled and kissed him back gently, knowing she had hurt him badly. She shifted so she could wrap her arms his neck, taking care not to injure him again.

Spike deepened their kiss. He didn't care about his pain anymore. All he wanted to do was make her feel better, which would make him feel better as well. He didn't know what was going on, but he felt responsible. She was crying because of him.

"I'm so sorry," she said.

He was still angry at her and if she was bawling her eyes out in his lap, he would forget how angry he is and he didn't want to forget, not this time.

"Buffy, come on. I'll take you upstairs. Everything's daffodils and teddy bears, mate." He didn't want to argue with her tonight. That way they could get some rest.

Buffy snuggled into Spike's arms as he carried her upstairs. "Spike?"

"Yeah?" he asked, walking into her room. He'd never been invited in here. It's the place he would get to be if Buffy would tell their friends about him. That would never happen.


"If you want me to," Spike said. "But, if I'm just gonna get a kick to the head in the morning, you can forget it."

Buffy shook her head against him. "I need you tonight and then tomorrow, everything is going to get fixed."

He laid her on the bed and tried to step away but, she pulled him down with her.

Spike lay next to her and allowed her to snuggle into his arms. "Go to sleep, Buffy."

"Are you gonna stay?"

"Yeah. Tomorrow, we'll talk," he said. He kissed her hair. Yeah, they were going to talk alright. But, more than likely, it would end up with them arguing and him fending her off again.

Buffy nodded. "Okay." She was going to have tell to him what happened at the police station and do some major groveling. He was going to stay with her. That was enough to help her close her eyes and sleep.

Buffy was alone when she woke up.

He didn't answer. He skunked her like all the rest and that hurt. He promised he'd stay, but just like with Angel, she woke up alone.


He entered her room. "Sleeping Beauty awakes," he said, settling on the bed next to her.

Buffy got out of bed as he sat down next to her. She needed a little bit of distance so she could think. He confused her and she needed to be focused. "I thought you were gonna stay. Then, I woke up and you weren't there." No wonder Spike always begged her to stay with him. It hurt to wake up alone. At least, it hurt when there was someone in the bed next to you.

"Sorry, didn't mean to upset you. Dawn knocked on your door and I didn't think it was a good idea for her to come in here until we talked to her."

"You didn't upset me. I thought you were still mad at me, and okay, fine, you upset me a little," she rambled, wrapping her arms around herself. She was making an idiot out of herself. She decided last night that he wouldn't just up and leave her, but there was a possibility that she had pushed him too far for him to want to stay with her.

"At least I know I'm not crazy when I wake up alone," he muttered under his breath, but loud enough for her to hear.

Anger swelled in Buffy but she tried to remain calm. "So you what… wanted to give me a dose of my own medicine?"

"No, Buffy," Spike said. "That's not what I wanted. Dawn knocked and I told her that you and I would talk to her later."

"You didn't tell her about us?" she asked carefully.

"Oh yeah, I'm gonna tell Dawn that you like to fuck me into the ground. You made me swear not to tell anyone."

"Nice choice of words," Buffy clipped.

Spike looked at her closely. What the hell was wrong with her? "Buffy, I you need to get your head screwed back on. You aren't making any sense." They needed to get this sorted out. He was tired of her games. He was tired of being beat up, being used. He was tired of her hiding her relationship with him, like she was ashamed. And, he was tired of being hurt. He gave up Drusilla for her, and it was beginning to look like the biggest mistake of his life. "Buffy, I love you and you know that. What you did, crossed the line. My love isn't that deep that I'm gonna let you beat the crap out of me and leave me for the sun whenever you feel like it."

Buffy sat next to him. "I don't know why I did that," she said, looking at her bed comforter. "It isn't like me. I don't know what came over me. I couldn't begin to tell you what's going on."

"Just start talking and everything will come out," he said. He was angry and his muscles were tense.

Buffy took a shaky breath and moved away from him. "Spike, I tried to love you. I really did, but I can't. I don't want to lose you, and I want things between us to be better. It's not you. Honestly. I just… can't. I don't have any feelings. I'm empty and numb. I don't feel anything with my friends, or even Dawn. But, when we're together, it doesn't seem so dark and empty," she admitted. "I don't know what happened with us. I've been horrible and I don't want to be like that. I'm not...I'm not a monster."

Spike's expression softened. "Buffy, you're gonna have to trust me," he said. His mind raged with questions. "But you can't… you can't abuse me anymore."

"I want to be the girl that you fell in love with. There is no way that this is her."

He trailed off, unsure how to continue. He had to choose his words carefully or this wouldn't work. This could be his only chance to get through to Buffy. "I may be a vampire, but I have feelings. No matter what you've been taught, I can love. I do love. You should know that. Everything I do is for you."

"Maybe you're right," Buffy admitted. "Maybe you can love. Actually I know that you can. But, your chip..."

"My chip stopped working on you weeks ago and yet, here you are."

The chip excuse wouldn't work anymore. She had always told herself that it wasn't for the chip that he wouldn't feel the way he did. But, his chip didn't work on her, and he loved her just the same. His feelings were real and she was running out of reasons not to be with him.

"I'm sorry," she said. "I didn't mean to justify your feelings for me on the chip. But, what if it stops working? How do I know that you aren't going to go back to the way you used to be? What is going to stop you from wanting to kill me and my friends?"

"Buffy, I've tried to take down you and your friends and I failed many times," he said. "There would be no reason for me to keep trying. Falling in love with you changed the way look at things. I wouldn't do anything to hurt you. I know that I was a monster, but I'm not anymore. I don't hurt people just to hurt them. I haven't in a long time. I'm not about to start again with you."

She looked at him with a worried gaze. She was scared of the outcome of what was happening. What would happen if she let herself love Spike? Despite what he was saying, what if he found a way to go back to killing people like Angel did? She'd never seen him torture people emotionally like Angelus did, but he's killed people and liked it. If he wanted to, he could have minions kill her and her friends. That was all in the past. Neither of them had been very good to each other these past few months and it was time to make it right.

"I'm willing to change," she said. "I know I need to change. But, I don't know what I'm supposed to do. This isn't who I am. I'm not someone who abuses people who love me. I don't do that. I don't want to do that anymore."

Spike reached out and ran his fingers through her short hair. He loved it long. She cut it off to hurt him. "Buffy, no matter what you've done, and believe me, you're not off the hook for it, I love you," he said, lifting her chin so their eyes met.

"I'm not… I'm not this perfect angel that you seem to think I am. My friends put me on a pedestal and so do you and that is hard for me."

"I do not put you on a pedestal," Spike argued. "If anything, I'm the one who calls you out every time you mess up. You're not better then anyone better. You save the world, but you're still a girl, you still make mistakes."

"I never wanted to make you less than me, or at least that wasn't my intention," she said. "It didn't start like that. I just… I hated my life. I wanted to blame someone, but I shouldn't have blamed you."

"No, you shouldn't have. I didn't bring you back from the dead, Buffy. It's not my fault that you're miserable. I only tried to help. I am willing to do anything to help you be okay again."

"I know you love me. I've tried to deny it, but I can't. Every time I do, you prove me wrong, and you get hurt. I'm not going hurt you like that anymore."

"How can I believe you, Buffy?" Spike asked, sadly. "You've been hurting me for months, you nearly killed me. How do I know that you're really going to change?"

"I know this sounds silly of me to say, but you're going to have to trust me," she said, repeating his earlier words. "I need a chance to prove it to you, if you'll let me. But I do have something to tell you." She paused and wrung her hands together as she thought about what she was going to say in answer to his question. "I asked Tara to look into the spell that brought me back to figure out why you can hit me. Last night, she told me that there isn't anything wrong with me." So, why am I hurting people? Why am I hurting myself?

"Is that why you were upset?" Spike asked, raising an eyebrow. He felt a pang of guilt for telling her there was something wrong with her. That was wrong on his part, but he was desperate at that point. She had all but driven him insane with her back and forth – she wanted him, she didn't want him. He wanted to prove that she wasn't better than he was. "Glinda told you that you were fine, so you didn't have an excuse to be beating the shit out of me all the damn time?"

"No!" Buffy gasped in horror. "That wasn't it at all."

Spike stood up and walked away from the bed. He clenched and unclenched his fists. "Then, what the hell is your problem?" he growled. "You come to me to scratch an itch, when it's convenient for you. Then, when you have to go back to reality, you want to pretend it didn't happen. Last night in the woods, all I did was try to help you and keep you safe and what did you do? You beat the shit out of me and left me for the sun. You didn't even care, Buffy! You just left me there. I know you were worried about that girl and what happened but, you didn't care about me."

"That isn't true," Buffy whimpered, tears sliding out of the corners of her eyes. "You let me hurt you. Why didn't you stop me?"

"Oh, no. You do not get to blame me for what you did." Spike ran his hands through his hair. "Why do I do anything for you, Buffy? I thought you would wake up and realize that all I was trying to do was make sure that you didn't throw your life away. One girl isn't worth the number of people you saved. You think I wanted you to go to jail over one mistake?"

"I didn't want to go to jail, Spike," she said. "But, I thought I killed her. I couldn't live with that."

Spike smiled bitterly. "But, you can live with what you did to me," he said, crossing his arms and moving away from her.

"You're a vampire, Spike," Buffy said, then placed her hand over her mouth. "That didn't come out like she wanted it to.

"What the hell is that supposed to mean? If you kill a girl by accident, and you're willing to be punished for it, but if you beat up a vampire, that's okay, that's excusable?"

"I thought she was an innocent girl caught in the crossfire. But, I found out Warren killed her," Buffy said. "You've killed hundreds of people, and you don't even feel sorry for them."

"How would you know?" Spike's anger flared. "Just because I don't go around moping like Angel doesn't mean I don't care. When the hell is he going to stop being your model for everyone in your life?"

Buffy sighed and rubbed her face. "I'm sorry, okay? That didn't come out the way I wanted it to."

"How did you want it to come out, then?" Spike asked. "Tell me right now, because I'm tired of your games, Buffy."

"I thought I killed someone. I had to turn myself in. It was really hard for me to do that, but I had to. It's part of being a Slayer, my moral duty. You've studied me for a long time and you should know that, Spike."

Spike shook his head at her. "It's not that, Buffy," he said, softly. "You compare everyone to Angel. I don't have a soul, so how could I possibly love you. Captain Cardboard, he wasn't monster enough for you. I would never hurt you and I don't want you to hurt yourself. Everything I do Buffy, I do for you. I didn't think that you'd beat me so bad that I couldn't move, but I wasn't about to let you throw your life away."

"Spike," she said, reaching out to grab his hand. "I'm not comparing you to Angel. I haven't in a long time. I'm sorry if I make you feel like that." She took a shuddering breath and pressed on. "I am sorry about what I did to you. You didn't deserve that. I'm going to earn your trust back and I won't ever hit you out of anger again."

Spike admitted her words sparked some hope in him, but there was more. "What about when you need me to itch a scratch ?" he asked. "I can't bear this thing with you anymore. As much as I love you, and believe me I do, I can't keep sleeping with you only to have you walk out on me."

Buffy shook her head. "No more of that," she said, softly. "I'm ready to start over, start with dating maybe."

"I want to believe you," he said, pulling his hand from hers. "I do. I don't know if I can."

"Will you give me a chance to prove it to you?"

"I'll see," he said, moving away from her. "I wanna talk to Dawn before I leave."

Buffy raised an eye brow. "We'll talk to Dawn," she agreed. "but, it's daylight. I don't plan on having you burst into flames. I'll stay away from you if want. I'll go out even. You can leave once the sun sets."

Spike nodded and left the bedroom to find Dawn.

Buffy pressed the heel of her hands to her eyes and took a few deep breaths. He didn't want to be around her and she deserved that, even after he'd spent the night in her bed. If she wanted things to work with Spike she had to do things his way . That didn't make his distance hurt any less, but a few days apart was better than Spike walking out of her life forever.