Where do we go from here?

Chapter 1: Decisions, Life Changes, and Uncertainty

"I'm going to learn how to drive." Buffy announced. The gang looked up: Giles from his book and tea, Willow and Tara from their ancient scroll, Xander from his work schedule, Anya from her bridal catalogue, and Dawn from her homework. Buffy, who until that moment had been somewhere other than the middle of the Magic Box, looked around the room. Xander was the first to speak. "Buffy what's wrong with us driving you, I mean...Will, help me out here?" Willow's eyes widened searching for the words. "Buffy, you remember when Giles and your mom were young and let you drive?" Buffy nodded. "I've matured since then and..." she broke off glancing at a sunbeam on the floor. Anya broke in. "I think if Buffy wants to learn how to drive then let her! Besides it's better than letting her sit around here missing Heaven. I think it's the least we can do!" Everyone glanced nervously at Buffy who smiled weakly. "Thanks Anya." Giles cleared his throat. "Of course Buffy, if you truly wish to learn I'm sure we could find a suitable teacher." Buffy grinned. "I knew you'd be the one to teach me Giles! It's the fatherly role after all." Giles glanced up eyes wide. "Me?! I was thinking perhaps an instructor, or a stunt man." Buffy laughed. "No Giles you teach me. It'll be great. Go bring your car around I'll be right out."

She stepped into the alleyway to see the familiar figure in the shadows and was amazed at how he was there when she needed, but didn't want him. Her shadow of a Guardian Angel. 'Yeah Guardian Angel my butt' she thought. She walked into the blinding sun and continued into the enveloping darkness. "What're you doing out here Spike?" He smiled. "Well I figured you'd come out here sooner or later and I thought we should talk about what happened the other night. Then I heard you needed driving lessons and decided to get Rups off the hook." Buff looked at him and could still feel her lips sizzling from their kiss a few days ago. She wanted so badly to feel that, anything, again. But she couldn't let it happen. If her friends found out...this just couldn't continue. It didn't matter if he was smiling with those utterly sexy lips. It really didn't matter that she could see the ripples of his muscles under his nicely tight, black t-shirt. And it completely didn't matter that those sexy light blue eyes were radiating desire and penetrating into her soul. She shook her head as an attempt to return to the previous conversation. "Why would you teach me? Besides Giles is happy to do it!" Spike sighed. "Look Slayer, Rupert thinks you'd be better off driving a bulldozer. I'm just offering you a teacher who's a little harder to kill…If you're willing to pay the price." He finished seductively stepping dangerously close to her. She felt her heartbeat pick up and apparently so did he because he chuckled and stepped even closer. She loved this feeling. Just to have any sort of feeling at all running through her veins. Being with Spike gave her a sense of finally being truly alive and actually belonging to the world she lived in. She raised an eyebrow attempting to put on her sarcastic voice. "And what price is that?" He smiled and was so close to her she could hear his pseudo breathing, smell the ever present smoke, whisky, and leather that was Spike and such a comfort to her, could feel the cold radiating from his skin onto hers, even in the California heat and she wanted so badly to lose herself to those smirking lips. He looked down at her. "We finally have an honest conversation, without the violence, about what happened between us."

His smirk was gone, replaced by a shy, scared, and weak smile. Buffy blinked, looking confused at his sincerity and vulnerability. She looked at him and knew she couldn't do it, she just wasn't ready. Not yet. She stepped back, into the sunlight, where he couldn't follow her. He tried to mask the hurt in his eyes. She shook her head. "Giles...is waiting." She looked at him, then down, whispering "I'm sorry. I just can't yet." It was so soft that only with vampire hearing could Spike even hear it. She backed away but could feel her friend, her ally, her protector really, staring after her and for some reason she felt like weeping.