Spike felt like a right idiot after his date with Buffy had been shot to hell. He didn't know what he had been thinking, going on a date with her. Neither of them had been ready to take that next step. He wasn't, that was for sure. She seemed to think that she could kiss him now, but he didn't know when that had been okay. The look of pain on her face had been like a knife to his heart and he wanted to explain himself but that hadn't worked.

After Buffy had stormed away from him on the porch, he had locked up and gone upstairs, hoping to talk to her. He had sensed her in the bathroom; he had smelled her tears. He stood outside the door for some time, listening to her sniffles, and every time he had raised his hand to knock on the white wood, he had changed his mind. Finally he just left her alone and gone to his room.

That was two nights ago.

And since then, Buffy hadn't looked at him. Every attempt he had made to talk to her, hadn't worked. She didn't write him any notes or even give him a shake of her head. When he asked her a question or said anything to her, she ignored him and finished what she was doing before leaving the room. Spike thought he was going to pull out his hair because of the two girls, since Dawn was a whole different story.

Something was up with that girl. He could feel it. She had done something that she shouldn't have, and whenever he was around her he could feel that she had been into something, the vibes coming off of her were scarey. Every time he had asked her, she would get defensive and it would end up with the two of them having a small argument. Dawn would yell, have a teenage fit and run upstairs, and the next morning everything would be fine. He called Tara and asked her to come over and help him figure out what to do with the girls and to see if there was anything she could do regarding the spell on Buffy.

When she finally arrived, he was more than happy to see her. "Hey, Glinda," he said, when he opened the door.

"Hi Spike," she said, sweetly. "Girl troubles?"

"You have no idea," he grumbled. "It's both of them." He made his way over to the couch, running frustrated hands through his curly hair. "Need to break the spell on Buffy somehow." She needed her voice back. He could handle her screaming at him, but without her voice, he felt there was a barrier between them and it was killing him. They couldn't communicate their problems together if she had no voice.

"Oh, I brought some new stuff that should help," Tara said. "I can trace the origin of the spell. Should lead us to the person who cast the spell. Where is Buffy?"

He shrugged. "She left this morning," he said, glancing at the clock. "I don't know where she went or when she'll be back. Do you need her?" She should have been back by now, and he was a little worried. He was looking for every excuse to go find her, and it looked like he had one now.

"I'm not sure," she answered. "I haven't tried this yet."

"I'll go find her, in case," he said, standing up. "If it does work and we break the spell, she should be here. Don't want to freak her out." Not to mention that there could be side effects and he wanted her to be safe. But it would a lot more difficult to bring her home than just asking her. He knew how mad she was at him, and he still didn't know how he was going to fix that.

"Spike?" Tara asked as he slid on his jacket at the door. "Something wrong?"

He sighed. "Buffy and I… aren't seeing eye to eye on things right now," he said. "She's pretty upset with me." And the more he thought about it, the more it seemed to make sense that she had a right to be. It was half his fault. He hadn't been very consistent with the rules he had set, nor had he been very clear. "I'm going to find her." He smiled at Tara before leaving to find his slayer.

His first stop had been the magic shop, but only Anya was there. When he asked her if she had seen Buffy, the answer he got was horrifying: Buffy came to work out before she headed out on patrol. He nearly lost his mind. She couldn't patrol alone. Usually he picked up patrols, not wanting to put her in danger without knowing what was going to happen with all these spells. After leaving the shop, he found her in one of her favorite cemeteries where she was sitting on a stone bench with a stake in her hand. At least she was prepared. He approached her carefully and sat next to her. "Hey," he said, softly.

She kept up her usual routine and didn't look at him or acknowledge his presence. He deserved that, but she had to come home.

"Buffy, Tara is going to lift the spell. You should come home." His eyes widened as she rolled her own and walked away from him. "Buffy!" he exclaimed, running after her and grabbing her arm. This wasn't going the way he wanted it to. "I'm sorry about the other night. I didn't… I didn't mean to hurt you."

She looked like she was about to burst into tears, and he didn't know what to do. She ducked her head and stared at the ground beneath their shoes. He knew this was hard with everything that had happened, not to mention all at one time, and he wanted to make it better for her, but he just didn't know how. He was about to say something else to her when she started coughing. His brows drew together as he guided her back over to the bench where they were sitting as blue smoke swirled around her. He hoped this was Tara's doing. "Buffy?" he asked once the smoke was gone.

"Guess it worked," she mumbled, shrugging his hand off of her shoulder.

"Thank god," he said, full of relief. Now they could talk and get things worked out. "We should talk about the other night." He regretted the words as soon as they were out of his mouth. He should have waited until they were home before pouncing on her.

"No we shouldn't," she said, glaring at him. "You said everything that needed to be said." She got to her feet and stared down at him. "If you weren't going to give me a second chance, Spike, you should have stayed away. You led me on. I thought you were forgiving me and we were going to move on. And you pretty much ripped out my heart. But you know what, it's okay, I've done that to you plenty of times. Just didn't expect it from you." She turned on her heel and left the cemetery.

Spike stared at her retreating back, feeling like his whole world had stopped on its axis. He sighed and headed after her. This wasn't over.

***

Buffy wiped a stray tear that slid down her cheek. Her heart was killing her. How could he do that to her? She thought he was finally giving her a chance, and she had been wrong. It wasn't meant to be. She slammed the door behind her once she was inside and she saw Tara in the living room. "Hi Tara," she said, softly.

Tara gave her a small smile and came over to her. "It worked," she said. "You okay?"

The dam broke as Buffy burst into tears. She buried her face in her hands as she sobbed. She missed Spike so badly and she knew that he would never forgive her. She just couldn't believe it had taken her this long to figure out her feelings. Feelings that he didn't seem to care about. She vaguely felt Tara put her arms around her shaking body.

The witch guided the shaken slayer to the couch and sat down with her. "What happened, Sweetie?" she asked, gently.

Buffy hiccupped and sniffled as she pulled away. She wiped her cheek with the back of her hand. "Nothing," she whispered. "Just had a rough night." She couldn't bring herself to tell Tara that she and Spike were officially over. And he had made more than sure of that.

Tara sighed and was about to say something when the door opened and Spike came in. "I'm glad you're both here. We have to talk," she said. She motioned for Spike to come over and join them, but he just leaned in the door way. "Dawn is the one that did the spell."

Buffy's head came up. "What?" she asked. "Why would she do that?" Dawn did this to her? For what reason? Payback? She got up from the couch and moved around the living room, never even looking at Spike as thoughts ran a fury in her head.

"She doesn't know that I know," Tara said. "I didn't know how you guys wanted to handle it."

"Thanks, Glinda," Spike said.

After Tara had left, Spike and Buffy were left alone in the living room. He bit his lip and took a step toward her. "Buffy," he said, softly. "Please let me explain, luv."

Buffy shook her head. "It's okay," she said, looking up at him. "This was a mistake; I was stupid to think anything else." She moved around him, intent on going to confront Dawn. Her sister was in such trouble after this stunt. Nothing would make this okay. Everything that she had worked so hard to rebuild with Spike had been destroyed.

Spike grabbed her arm and spun her back around to his body before pressing his lips against hers. He cradled her cheeks in his hands as his lips pulled at hers softly.

Shock didn't even describe Buffy's initial response, but slowly she relaxed against him. After a few moments she pulled away. "Wha-?" she asked, her breathing slightly labored. "Why did you do that?"

"Because I love you," he whispered, leaning his forehead against hers. "And I'm sorry about what I did the other night. I really am, Buffy. I didn't want to hurt you. I just… I didn't think we were ready." When she tried to pull out of his arms, he held her closer to him. "Don't do that. I know I hurt you Buffy and that I confused you, but I'm sorry."

She nodded but she didn't seem like she was really listening. "Let's go talk to Dawn," she said. Her lips were tingling from that kiss and every cell in her body was straining toward him. She hated feeling like this. She didn't want to need anyone, but she needed Spike. But for now, she wanted to be mad. She had a right to be mad and she didn't want him to erase that with one simple kiss. It wasn't fair.

"Can we talk about us later?" He asked gently. "I want us to work this out."

She shuddered and for a moment she didn't answer. "Okay," she said, softly. "Can I… would you mind if I talked to Dawn alone?" Dawn seemed to be out to get revenge on her for god knows what, but she had to deal with it alone. She felt that if Spike came with her, she would end up letting Spike take care of it and that wouldn't be right.

"Yeah," he said, kissing her forehead. "Sounds like a good idea." He squeezed her hand softly before releasing her. "You know where I am if you need me."

"Thanks," she said, offering him a small smile before heading upstairs. Her stomach was turning, nervous as hell at confronting her sister. This was silly. But she had to do this. Whatever petty drama Dawn was holding on to was unnecessary. Buffy wrung her hands nervously as she stood outside her sister's door before knocking. "Dawn?"

"Go away," snapped her sister from behind the wood.

Buffy bit her lip before taking a deep breath. Turning the knob, she went in. "We have to talk," she said, closing the door behind her. "Tara reversed the spell, obviously." Buffy had no idea how to even start this conversation, and Dawn seemed absolutely uninterested in talking to her. Her sister was sitting on her bed, looking at a magazine, her lips pursed tightly.

"Good for you," Dawn said. "You can go back to ignoring everyone and abusing Spike."

"Dawn," Buffy said, angrily. "Spike and I are none of your business. And maybe I wouldn't ignore you if you weren't such a brat." She crossed her arms and sighed. "Look Dawn, I know I'm not exactly the best sister but you aren't helping me out any."

"Not like you care."

"That isn't true," Buffy said, taking a step toward the bed. "I love you. But we're in a very rough spot right now. We could lose our house and you could end up in a foster home. Then what? You want to be taken away?" How did her mom ever put up with all of this? She had no idea how to deal with a teenager, one who was as disturbed as Dawn appeared to be.

"At least I might be with people who want me around," Dawn said, meeting her sister's eyes. "Instead of you and Spike who are too worried about yourselves to think about me."

"What is that supposed to mean?" Buffy asked.

Dawn laughed bitterly, throwing her magazine aside. "Are you so blind Buffy?" she asked, getting to her feet. "Spike worships the ground you walk on. He loves you so much. And you treat him like garbage. Whereas I've loved him for years and he barely looks at me. Explain to me how that is okay? How you get all his attention and treat him like dirt?"

"I'm sorry, Dawn," Buffy said, softly and she really was. The last thing she wanted to do was hurt Dawn. "I didn't ask Spike to fall in love with me and I certainly didn't ask to have feelings for him either, but it happened. That doesn't give you the right to do what you did though, Dawn. Haven't there been enough problems with spells? Does it ever solve anything? If you had such a problem, why didn't you just come to us?"

"What good would it have done?" Dawn asked. "You guys are so absorbed with each other and you just fight all the time. How much are you going to hurt him, Buffy, before he finally leaves us for good?" With that, Dawn pushed past her sister and ran out of her room.