Spike watched as Buffy followed Riley to the lower level of the crypt. His heart shattered, but he finished dressing before leaving. She seemed different tonight somehow and now he knew why. Riley was in town, and she just wanted to forget what the sod did to her. He should have known that Buffy wouldn't have defended him when Riley came into town, but he couldn't help but hope. And she was going to find those eggs, and there would be no time for explanations. He knew she wouldn't listen to him. As if she would believe him over her ex about why he had the eggs in his basement. And when she walked away from him to follow Riley downstairs, he shouldn't have been surprised.

He let himself in the front door of the Summers' house and noticed Dawn in the living room, watching T.V. This was definitely going to be hard. He had been basically ignoring her since Buffy came back, and now all of a sudden he was coming to say goodbye. What kind of jerk did that make him?

Dawn's head shot up and she grinned at one of her best friends. "Spike!" she exclaimed, jumping off the couch and walking over to him. This was defintily a nice surprise.

Spike managed a small smile. "I gotta talk to you bit, and it's important," he said softly. He was worried, because she'd been so torn up when Buffy died, he didn't want to break her heart again.

Dawn frowned. "Back porch?" It sounded important, and she didn't want Buffy's friends nosing in on their conversation.

She didn't wait for an answer; just assumed he would follow. When they got to the back porch, she looked at him oddly. "What happened?"

"I've been keeping secrets from you," he said carefully. He hated lying to her, and it had been killing him to stay away from her and not tell her about what he'd been doing. Buffy hadn't really allowed him to come to the house, so even if he wanted to see Dawn, Buffy would have broken his nose for trying.

Dawn crossed her arms. "You promised not to keep secrets," she scolded. How could he do that to her? How could he lie? After the whole summer that they had spent together, making promises, helping each other get over their grief.

"I know," Spike said, stumbling over his words. "I didn't… I didn't want to."

"So, what's the secret?" Dawn asked snipped. "Has to be big, if you had to break a promise to me."

"Buffy and I have been sleeping together, so to speak," he said, avoiding her eyes. Thank god he was leaving. Buffy would have his head on a plate once she found out he had told Dawn her dirty little secret. Well it wasn't really a secret. Riley had caught them easily enough.

Dawn sighed in relief. "Oh, that. I already know," she said, in a very teenager-like voice, as if it was no big deal. She thought it was something really bad, like he had been in danger or was killing people or hurting someone. But it wasn't anything bad.

Spike stared at her in surprise. "What?" He'd been prepared to deal with anger from her, screaming, stamping and even the odd punch to his face, but not this. She just accepted it like it was no big deal.

Dawn smiled. "Spike, come on. You think I'm blind? I never see you. When I do see you, it's when you and Buffy are 'patrolling'," she teased but became serious again. That couldn't have been the only reason for Spike's visit. "Why are you with all the upset face? This is good right? You love her and she must like to be with you."

"'Cause Finn walked in on us and she chose him," Spike spat. His anger wasn't directed at her, but he was hurt. Buffy hadn't hurt him this badly in a long time. She had made her choice and pushed her past his point. He couldn't do this anymore. "I'm not gonna argue with your sister about her ex. You know the demon they're hunting?"

Dawn nodded. "Yeah they're looking for…..eggs." She paused and looked at him. Realization began to dawn on her face. "You know about the eggs."

"I don't know what they do or what they are, but I know that I could have gotten $5000 for them," he said. He hadn't expected soldier boy to ruin it, or that they were of any value to anyone. He just knew he had to help Buffy. That restaurant was going to kill her slowly and he couldn't just sit by and wait for that to happen.

Dawn glared at him. "What would you need $5000 for?" she flared. She couldn't believe what she was hearing. Spike was using dangerous demon eggs to get money, it just didn't sound right at all.

"Not for me," he protested. "For you and your sister. Money's kinda tight right now and I can't stand her working at that hellhole. I had to take it. I couldn't pass it up, knowing it could help you and Buffy."

"Oh," Dawn said. "You should have told her or at least me. I could have helped." She should have known he wouldn't have done anything wrong. He was just looking out for them. As he always was.

Spike moved down the stairs and paced the back yard. "Well, 'sides all that, I came to say goodbye," he said softly. Now was the hard part, saying goodbye to his favorite girl. One of them.

Tears of hurt came to Dawn's eyes as his words sunk in. "What? You're leaving?" He couldn't leave her. He couldn't be like everyone else. Buffy wasn't the same, her mother was dead, Giles had left, and now Spike wanted to leave. As usual it was all Buffy's fault.

Spike bowed his head. "I'm leaving, Li'l Bit. I'm Sorry." It was so hard for him to look at her, knowing he was shattering her heart into a million little pieces.

Dawn went up to him. "You can't," she said. "If this is because of Buffy, we'll figure it out. I'll talk to her, and I'll make her fix whatever she did. Things will get better."

Spike shook his head. "It's beyond help now, Nibblet," he said, pushing her hair back. "I just can't take her abuse anymore. She doesn't want to be with me and I can't handle having my heart stomped all over anymore. This is what she wants."

Tears flowed down her cheeks as he wrapped his arms around her. Dawn shook in his arms as she cried. How could Buffy be so mean to the best thing in their life? He would do anything for them, all they had to do was ask, and Buffy was screwing that up. "You took care of me and you were my best friend," she whispered. "I can't… I can't just be okay with you leaving." She just couldn't let him go.

Sometime during their talk, Xander, Willow, and Buffy had come back. They stood inside the house, watching them through the back door. Buffy raised an eyebrow, and looked at her friends. "I can't hear what they're saying," she said. "I can't make out why Dawn is upset. I'm going out there. He's upset her and I'm going to kick his ass."

Willow grabbed her arm. "Just wait," she whispered. "You don't know that it's Spike's fault. He'd never hurt her. You should know that, Buffy." She didn't really like Spike, but she knew him well enough that he loved Dawn and would do anything to keep her safe. She couldn't believe that Buffy would think such things.

Buffy looked at her friend but moved away from the door as they continued to listen. Spike would never hurt Dawn, but she didn't want him telling her sister about their… affair. He wouldn't tell anyone. He had promised he wouldn't. Of course, she did just up and leave him to go with her ex, and she hadn't looked back. She heard a faint 'ow' from Xander as Willow elbowed him to keep quiet. No doubt Xander wanted her to kick Spike's ass.

Spike pulled away and kissed her forehead, as her tears slowly died down. "I'll write to you. And I'll call. Okay?" he asked, wiping her wet cheeks. "But it'll just be better. Buffy might be a little happier and you guys can patch things up yeah?"

"How can I patch things up with her knowing that she's driving someone else away?" Dawn sniffled, but she didn't expect an answer. Spike's heart had been broken, and Buffy didn't care. Dawn couldn't make Spike stay to keep getting hurt. "Promise you'll call?"

Spike smirked. "Yeah. I won't be far so if something really bad happens, I'll be here. I'm gonna get a cell phone and I'll give you the number." He would never go far. He still loved both Buffy and Dawn. He couldn't just leave, not without being able to come back for an emergency. "I would never just abandon you; I just need to get on my own feet. Have a life without her."

Dawn nodded. "Okay," she said. "I get it. I don't agree but I get it, I don't want Buffy to hurt you anymore either."

Spike kissed her forehead again. "Tell Buffy I love her," he said softly. Not that the slayer would care, but he couldn't just leave Sunnydale and not tell her. What kind of man was he?

"I will," she mumbled, wiping her tears again. She wasn't a baby; she could do this. "And if I don't hear from you in the next few days, I'll get worried," she added. "Just call when Buffy goes out on patrol or something whenever you can."

"Be good, okay?" Spike ordered, walking toward the edge of the yard.

"Spike?" He turned and looked at her when he heard her whisper. "I love you."

Spike smiled. "I love you, too, Nibblet. Now go inside before you get in trouble," he told her. He didn't need her getting in trouble on the account of him. That just wasn't fair. Buffy was being a right bitch, and she had been taking her misery out on everyone. He didn't want Dawn to be subjected to anymore then she already had been.

Dawn smiled sadly and reluctantly headed towards the back door. She couldn't stand to watch her best friend just walk away. It was too hard.

Spike returned to his crypt, feeling empty. He didn't want to leave, but it was killing him to stay. Buffy wasn't going to change how she felt; she had shown that much tonight. There was no reason for him to stick around and wait for something that would never come. However, that didn't stop tears from forming in his eyes. He really did love her. He wanted to be everything for her, but she wouldn't accept it. Saying goodbye to Dawn had been the hardest thing though. Buffy would be pissed off and she wouldn't care, Dawn at least loved him, and wanted him around. If anything he should stay for her, but he wasn't that strong. Maybe he'd come back but right now he just couldn't do it.

He grabbed what he had left, which wasn't much; his whole lower level had been destroyed. He sighed at the damage and looked at the demon carcasses. Obviously Finn hadn't done his homework. There was more than one way to skin a cat. No doubt Dawn would tell Buffy what happened, and maybe Buffy would feel like a decent fool. He really hoped she would get what she deserved. She had no consideration for anyone but herself. Not even his home that she would come to every night to get her itch scratched. He wondered if she thought about that while she was flaunting around with Finn.

He found his duffel bag and packed the clothes he had laying around upstairs and his blood. He had a few personal items that he and Dawn had shared this past summer and he loaded them into his car. He went back inside the crypt to take one last look around. He would definitely miss the few good memories he had here. Buffy giving him a real kiss after protecting Dawn from Glory, Dawn's stays here when she couldn't stand the house and the memories of Buffy. Buffy's scent still lingered in the air, they did have a few good moments here, only to be out shone by the bad that had come along.

Dawn shut the door and turned around, then noticed everyone looking at her, including Buffy. "I hope you're happy," she said icily. Her eyes were red and puffy, and she felt like strangling her sister.

"What do you mean? What did he do?" Buffy asked defensively. If he blamed something on her she was so going to kick his ass.

"He left. He said he loves you and he's leaving," she spat as she stared at her sister. "How could you be so mean and---and horrible and selfish, Buffy? He did everything for you! And you didn't care!"

"Probably so he could get in her pants," Xander said spitefully.

Dawn ignored him and continued to glare at Buffy. "He was gonna get $5000 for those eggs," she said, livid. Buffy had to know what her actions had caused. "He was gonna give the money to us so you wouldn't have to work at the Palace anymore. He knew you wouldn't let him explain so he didn't bother. Now the only good thing in our life is leaving because of you, you ungrateful bitch!" She ran past them and went up the stairs where she slammed the door.

Willow rested a hand on Buffy's shoulder. "Buffy?" she asked, when she saw the look of shock on Buffy's face. "Dawn will be over this in the morning."

Buffy shook her head. "No she won't," she said, shrugging off her friend. "Spike's her best friend. She's going to hate me." What about what it was going to do to her? Waking up everyday knowing that Spike wasn't going to be around.

"What are you going to do?" Xander asked, folding his arms over his chest. "I think it's a good thing that he leaves. He's annoying and no one wants him around."

"I want him around. I'm going to talk to him," the slayer whispered, looking her friends square in the eyes. She didn't like the way Xander talked about her boy--- he wasn't her boyfriend. He wasn't anything to her, right? "I over-reacted tonight and I may have made a mistake." She headed toward the front door. "I have to hurry before it's too late." She left her house, and broke into a run. She couldn't let Spike leave. Whether it was because of Dawn or for herself, she didn't know. But she had to stop him.

Buffy put on a burst of speed and ran faster then she did when she chased after Riley. How convenient. She just chose Riley over Spike and now she was running to make Spike stay. Why did she always have to run after the guy? Maybe if she stopped chasing them away it wouldn't be so bad. It was almost as if she was flying. She felt relief wash over her as Spike's crypt came into view. She couldn't be too late. He wouldn't just leave her. He wouldn't. No matter how much of a bitch she was, he was different. He loved her despite her flaws.

Spike sighed and turned to leave only to have the door fly open and Buffy jump into his arms. The force surprised him and they tumbled to the ground in a tangle of limbs.

Buffy pushed herself up and sat on his hips. "You can't leave," she whispered desperately. She had been just in time, now she had to figure out what to say to make him believe that he belonged here and that she had made a mistake.

Spike pushed Buffy off him. "I already had this argument with Dawn. Not gonna get into it with you," he said angrily as he got off the concrete floor. "I'm not doing this with you anymore Buffy. You made it quite clear what I am to you, and I'm tired of trying to change your mind."

Buffy sat on the floor and looked up at him. "Why are you leaving?" she asked softly. Her slayer front was rapidly fading. She was feeling more and more like a little girl.

"Because it's killing the both of us and for some reason, your ex made me realize that," Spike said, stalking out of the crypt and away from her. He had to leave while he could still resist her. If she started crying and apologizing, he'd never get away from her, no matter how fake she sounded. It was useless. She was never going to love him, and he had to get far away from her.

Buffy scrambled to her feet. "Spike," she screamed, scrambling to her feet to chase after him. The words were scrambled in her head and she couldn't think to even put things into a sentence to explain anything to him.

Spike paused and bowed his head. "Buffy, this is killing us." He turned to look at her with a heartbroken gaze. "I don't wanna be like everyone else and leave you, but I can't keep letting you do this to yourself." And to me, he thought.

"Why won't you even give me a chance to think about it?" Buffy asked softly as tears welled in her eyes. Why was she even caring? She was supposed to hate him. He was supposed to be a thing. Why was she begging him to stay? Part of her told her that she couldn't live without him, but she couldn't admit that to him right now.

"Think about what, Buffy?" he asked, raising his scarred eyebrow. "For once, this isn't about you. This is about me. You're killing me, Buffy, and I've had it. I'm going to do something for me, since you obviously aren't going to."

"You weren't even gonna say goodbye to me?" She whispered. His words had cut her like a thousand knives. She wondered if that was what he felt every time her fist his nose or her words sliced through him. Did it break his heart like it was breaking hers?

"No. That would have made it harder," Spike said, folding his arms. His plan of leaving was going well. In his mind he thought he would have been out of town by now. He hadn't expected Buffy to show up. And certainly not begging him to stay.

"What about everything that we've been through?" she cried, as a tear slid out of her eye.

"What have we been through, Buffy?" he asked, his voice cracking. His control was slipping fast, just as he knew it would be long gone when she started crying. "You've done nothing but hurt me and I allowed it. There's nothing left. I tried to be what you want but, I'm not sure you even know what you want. I don't have anything left to give. You've taken it all and destroyed everything that I am."

"I don't know what I want," Buffy admitted as she wept. But him leaving wasn't going to help her figure it out. She hadn't realized what a bitch she had been or what it was doing to him.

"So what am I supposed to do?" Spike asked. "Watch you kill yourself, doing this until you decide that it's wrong? At least to you." His angry voice softened a little as he continued. "I don't understand why you find this so awful, Buffy, but to me it's the best thing that I've had in my life, other than Dawn. I can't do that. I've already lost you once. It won't hurt as much if I let you go. I can't get my heart broken this way. Not anymore then it already is."

"And what about me?" Buffy asked, not even trying to keep her tears from falling. He really didn't want to stay anymore. She had broken him. "What am I supposed to do?"

"Live." What simple answer. He sure as hell couldn't.

"For what? You are the only thing that's worth it. I can live without everyone else. But I can't do this without you," Buffy whimpered. It was the closet thing to what a little part of her had been saying. She needed to think about that some more before she said any of it out loud.

Spike walked over to her and cradled her face between his hands. He ran his thumbs over her cheeks. "Yes, you can." Touching her was a bad idea. It would really take all his will power to leave now. Of course she had never let him touch her like this before. So why now? Just to make him stay she could go back to the way things were.

"Only if you kill me and send me back to heaven. If you leave and don't kill me, I'll just lay here and let something else do it," she promised. The only reason she hadn't allowed something to get a hold of her already was because of Spike. The way he looked at her, with such adoration and love, she couldn't bear to take that away by dying again.

"That's not fair, Buffy," he growled, "and you know it. You're giving me an ultimatum. Who the hell are you to give me an ultimatum? You should know better after been given one by the one you left me for."

"Riley doesn't matter to me. I'm just giving you a choice. If you leave, I'll die. If you stay, we can try to work things out," she said, her hands coming up to his wrists. "Please, just give me a chance."

"Why should I?" He asked. He wanted to believe that she was serious, but he just couldn't. How could she have just changed her mind after everything?

Buffy bit her lip. "I'm so sorry," she whispered. "I just… please don't leave and I'll prove it to you." She had no idea how she was going to do that, but she was going to. She had to.

"Buffy, you have to want this. If you make me stay, it's going to be forever," he said softly. "No more games, no more abuse, no more lies. It's going to be for real. You can't keep me in the dark anymore."

Buffy wound her arms around his neck. "Yes, I want this. I need to have you with me, Spike," she said, leaning her forehead against his. "And I guess we'll have to talk about every thing tomorrow after some rest, because Dawn told me about the eggs. Just… I need to know that you're going to still be here tomorrow."

"I'll take you home," he said. "And I'll stay for another night, just for us to talk about some things. I need to know that you're serious Buffy, because you're not going to hurt me again."

Buffy nodded in agreement. "I won't. I swear," she said. "Just hold me for a little longer before we go?"

Spike did as she requested, and leaned his forehead against his hers for a few minutes before he walked her home. He had every intention of just leaving after that but she dragged him inside. She told him that they had to tell Dawn that he wasn't leaving, because Dawn was on the verge of hating her. Before he could blink, he had an armful of teenager.

"I'm so glad you stayed," Dawn squealed, squeezing him tightly. She didn't think that Buffy was going to be able to stop him, but she had watched her sister run down the street when she left. She had been praying that Spike would stay.

Buffy smiled a little. "I convinced him to stay. And it wasn't easy," she said, going over to Willow and Xander. "I guess I have some explaining to do."

Both had wide eyes. They had not expected Buffy to return home with Spike but they nodded in response. They hadn't even expected her to run out like she did.

Buffy bit her lip. This was going to be a very interesting conversation. Hopefully she could get away with a simple explanation and do the rest later. "I'm seeing Spike. I've been seeing him for a while. I didn't think he would leave so I never thought about not having him in my life. I have some stuff to explain to Spike, and then you guys can ask questions, but tomorrow. Right now, I'm exhausted and I wanna get some sleep. But I'm not dealing with you tonight," she said, turning away from her friends to face Dawn and Spike. She knew the full length conversation with her friends was going to be a tough one, but she couldn't do it tonight.

Willow looked at Xander, whose mouth was hanging open, and then back at Buffy. "Buffy," she said, following her friend. "I know that you have other things to deal with, but you can't just drop a bomb like that on us and expect us to just be okay."

Buffy glared at her best friend. "Yes, I can, Willow," she growled. "It's my life and I have other things to deal with that are more important than your and Xander's petty attitude." She turned away from them again and joined her sister and Spike. It felt like a huge weight had been lifted from her shoulders, at least telling her friends about her and Spike.

Spike looked at her. "You okay?" he asked, dropping one arm from around Dawn in case he needed to do something. She had told her friends, most of the truth, which was what he had asked for. They knew about him, and that was a good first step. Maybe she was serious. If she didn't want him to stay, she wouldn't have told them. Her secret would have been safe.

Buffy smiled. "Yeah, much better" she promised, and then reached over to touch Dawn's back. "Dawnie?"

Dawn picked her head up from Spike's chest. "Yeah?" Her anger towards her sister was dwindling, but she was still upset that Buffy had done what she did in the first place. What she had done wasn't okay, but she was making good baby steps.

"Bed time," she ordered, grinning. "He'll be here in the morning."

Dawn rolled her eyes playfully. "I'm going," she said, looking up at Spike. "Good night, Spike."

"Night, Nibblet," Spike said, kissing her temple. Something good had come out of tonight. Dawn was smiling and happy for the first time since before Buffy had died. As far as he knew she had been really depressed lately and he was so happy he could bring a smile to her face.

Dawn reluctantly left Spike's arms and went upstairs with a smile on her face. Things were going to be okay. She just knew it. And if they weren't, she'd make sure that Buffy grew up and made up her mind.

Buffy looked at Spike. "Come on. We're going to bed too," she said, pulling him upstairs. She had made the choice on a whim to bring him home to her house. She had ruined his crypt, and she was okay with him staying with her.

In her room, Spike stopped short. He had never been allowed in here, and it just seemed like they were going too fast for him. "Buffy…" He wasn't ready for them to jump right into sex already. They had already been at it for hours earlier. It was a little soon in his eyes. And with her sister right across the hall.

Buffy placed a finger over his lips. "We're just going to sleep. I don't wanna start our new relationship with sex," she said shyly. "That's okay, right?" she asked. "I mean I know I didn't ask if you wanted to stay here, but I thought you'd want to."

Spike smiled back and kissed her fingers that were resting over her lips. "That's more than okay, Luv," he said. "I'm willing to give us a real shot if you are. And I'm willing to wait for it to be right before we take too many steps."

Buffy sighed in relief. "Um… how did you get this thing off?" she asked, gesturing to her ninja wear. It wasn't comfortable and she wanted to burn it. It wasn't even her size.

Spike turned her around and undid it. "Like that," he said, kissing her bare shoulder tenderly. He noticed a bruise appearing on her skin, and it hadn't been there earlier. "Did you get banged up after I left?"

She shook her head. "I am sorry about your crypt, but I'm fine. Just part of the job. I don't know how people move in these things," she said, pulling on her t-shirt. She didn't like wearing another woman's clothes anyway. "That's better."

Spike shook his head and smiled. He shrugged off his duster and placed it on Buffy's chair. "You're one very weird girl," he said, sitting on her bed. "And I'll live without the crypt." If he got to stay here with her every night then he didn't care about anything else.

Buffy smiled and finished changing her clothes. "I'm not weird. I'm unique," she said, sitting next to him on the bed. "And don't tell me that you don't love it."

"That you are," Spike said, turning to give her one of his rare smiles. "And yes I do. It's nice to see that part of you more often." She seemed, happy tonight for some reason. Must have been all the emotional stress she'd been under, mostly because of what had been happening between them.

"Dawn told me about the eggs," she said again, shifting on her bed so she could face him. "And I'm really sorry I didn't give you a chance to explain. But why didn't you tell me about them when I got there, because I asked you about them."

"You asked me about a doctor," Spike pointed out. "And I didn't know anything about that. And I couldn't have you see the eggs; because you would have flipped out that I was trying to help you. Can't get off your high horse sometimes when people are trying to help you."

"Yeah," Buffy admitted. "You're probably right. I'm still sorry. Especially when I ruined them on you. I know you were trying to help me like you always are, but they hatched and they would have slaughtered Sunnydale. I couldn't… slayer side of me took over. I'm Sorry."

"I know you are," he responded gently. It was plain as day that she was. Being love's bitch was making it really hard to stay mad at her. Especially when she was now giving him everything that he had been asking for.

Buffy sniffled. "You let me get away with too much. You shouldn't always brush it off," she said, looking up at him with a serious gaze. Time for a big girl pill.

"I'm not gonna yell at you for being scared," Spike said. "You haven't had the greatest life, Buffy. I'm not saying I'm okay with what you did, because I'm not. But I'm willing to work through it, if you are."

"Yeah, but..." Buffy started. She wanted to explain things to him, and make him understand how sorry she was.

Spike silenced her with a small kiss. "Shhh. Tomorrow, we'll talk. Right now, you're gonna get some sleep," he said, picking her up and laying her in bed.

Buffy smiled a little as he climbed in next to her. He spooned against her back and nuzzled her neck. "Goodnight, Pet," he whispered.

"Night, Spike," she whispered, her eyes falling closed as she drifted off to sleep.

Spike lay awake, propped up on his hand as he gazed at her. She wanted to be with him. She wanted to work things out and make things better. He wanted so badly to be with her. She had already made two huge steps which was more then he could ask for. She had told her friends, and she had invited him into her bed. Those were defintily points for him to stay and think about them being together. Maybe this really could work.

The next morning, was the dreaded talk. Buffy didn't know if she could handle this, but she had to. She needed to be honest with Spike about what she had been feeling the past few months. That didn't excuse her actions, but it might help them move on from the pain she had caused.

"I guess we should talk," Buffy said, in a monotone. She had no idea where she was going to start. They had woken up late the next morning, but they couldn't bring themselves to leave her bedroom. Buffy had just rolled over and hugged him and they snuggled in silence. It was nice.

Spike sighed, hoping that she wasn't going back on anything that she had said the previous night. He didn't really want last night to be a ruse to make him stay. "I guess." What else should he say?

"It's easier if I just lay here and tell you everything," she said softly. "I'm scared of what we have and I can't make it stop. I didn't intend to be so mean to you or push you away, but I don't want you to leave and I don't know if I can make you stay. I'm not… I'm not perfect and I don't know how to be everything that you want. I haven't been good enough for anyone in the past.

"Giles didn't think I was good enough to stay and teach, Riley didn't think I was good enough to stay with him, Angel didn't think I was good enough for his life, Parker didn't think I was good enough after one night. Everyone keeps leaving, and I thought if I pushed you away I wouldn't get hurt." She bit her lip and waited for his reaction.

Spike held her closer to him. "Buffy," he said, lifting her chin so she would look at him. "I'm not like them," he said, "I'm not like everyone who has left. I wouldn't hurt you like they have."

"How do I know that?" She whispered. Everyone always says that they won't hurt her or leave but then they did. With Spike, she would be devastated if he left, he was the best thing that ever happened to her.

"I would have left after the first morning you left me," Spike said, seriously. "If I wasn't so in love with you to try and make you happy, I would have been long gone."

Buffy smiled and relaxed against him. "I never want you to leave," she said. "I need you in my life. You have been the best thing in my life and in Dawn's. I was just too… stupid to admit it."

"You girls are the best thing in mine too," he said softly. It wasn't the great declaration of undying love that he was looking for, but it was something. Maybe someday, it would be more, but he had a crumb. Or a slice. He'd continue to hope for the whole loaf. He just couldn't fuck it up. He still loved her. He probably always would.