She blinks awake and there he is, lukewarm and kinda old looking in this badly lit house. Making her warm. Keeping her safe.

She's using him. She always has.

And worse, he's always let her. And he'll always like it.

She been trying, really really trying, not to do it anymore. Because when she uses him she changes into something she doesn't like and he shouldn't either. And maybe if she does it, maybe if she grabs hold of him and takes what she needs just one more time, it'll change him back, too. Because now he's quiet. And now he brushes her hands off, her clinical hands when he's been stabbed or bruised or something because he won't let her, any more. He won't let her use him.

Except she's always been an expert at that, hasn't she? He's trained himself to give in to her when she asks, really asks, no matter what. Sure, this isn't the worst it's been. But it's almost as bad, because he was terrible then. Clawing at her, pulling her further down into the stupid dark pit that was Buffy, New, Improved and Ambulatory with Grave-Escaping Action! Not so bad, that she cut him instead of herself. Not so bad, because no matter how low she sunk, he was there first.

It had been hard for her to imagine the Spike they'd told her about. Maybe not so hard, when you thought about his teary speeches at the bottom of her stairwell. A man, he wanted to be. A helper. Dawn's best friend, she'd said. Best sitter that lack of money could buy. Good help in the graveyard, keeping everyone from getting killed.

But that Spike… Like newspaper you needed to start the fireplace. Use it, just a little, just for a second and it's gone, up in a puff of smoke and all you've got left is the crazy stalker killer who wants you in the dark where he is. Something little, that's enough. Doesn't even take sex to trigger this one. Push him against the wall and kiss him senseless because you're hurt and you need it – and poof. Gone. The good's gone. Disposable goodness. Even now, even when he's done everything he can to make it stick, he's still kindling. Use him and he'll be gone, gone forever. Maybe not evil this time. Maybe. But he can't hold on to this new thing he is, this better thing he is, unless she keeps the matches away.

She can't stay here, sheltered in a big soft bed. She can't, because she can't be propped and he can't prop her. She'll churn him down into nothing and he's not that. Not anymore. Can't let him know that it means so much to her. Can't let him think that it means nothing at all.

If she wakes him, he'll see. He can always see her need. It's just not safe, not for anybody. So she seizes the pad lying on an unfamiliar nightstand – who would have thought the guy she scared off would keep a dream journal! – and stares at it. She'll hide it, her need, behind letters until all he can see is her faith, because he needs that. He's all but told it to her – kinda did, even, muttering restlessly after she'd pried him from the First's foggy fingers.

"Spike," she scratches, because 'Dear' is too much, too close. "Thank you for staying with me. I needed it." Because he'll never believe it, not if she says it so plain. Not if she says it with a pen. "There's something at the vineyard – I could feel it, and you say I'm right. Well, ok. Something tells me I've got to go get it, right now, and it's sunny, so I didn't want to wake you. But, I can do it now, instead of lying here staring at somebody else's wall. So, thanks.

See you tonight. I've gotta go be a hero."

She stares at the paper, like it has the answers or something. Can't write "love," can't spell "sincireley." Maybe that's all she wrote, then. She smiles at her own lame joke and scribbles her name, slides away from him. She's got to go. Got to go be a hero, before he makes her forget how again.