Spike put on his coat, checked the pockets, and headed for the door of his hotel room in Santa Fe. He'd spent a week helping Buffy and Dawn move into their new apartment, and now he no longer had an excuse to stay around. He kept telling himself he just wanted to make sure the girls were settled, and then he'd move on, but he really didn't want to leave. After spending the past two days thinking, he decided he had to. Being around Buffy was too painful. That was why he had stayed in a hotel room and not with her and Dawn.

The final battle with the First had taken a lot out of him. Buffy had given him the amulet, and once it had started to work, it felt like he was being ripped apart. For some reason, Buffy had ripped the amulet off of his chest, and they had escaped.

He heard a knock on his door and sighed. It had to be Buffy. Her scent drifted to his nose making his heart ache. He had been hoping he could leave without her knowing, but he supposed it wasn't meant to be.

"Hi, Spike," she said, smiling. Spike looked so gorgeous in his usual black attire that Buffy struggled to drag her eyes away from him. Spike moved aside to let her in, and that was when she saw the duffle bag. He didn't have much after the collapse of Sunnydale, but apparently what little he did own, he'd packed up. "Where are you going?"

He sighed and turned to look at her. "I'm leaving, Buffy."

"You can't leave," she gasped. What was he talking about? Spike couldn't leave. He had been around forever- nagging, stalking, annoying, talking too much, watching her back, and most of all: loving her. Loving her the way no one else had ever loved her. The thought of him not being there for her, for Dawn, made it hard to speak, tears threatening to fall from her eyes.

Spike wanted to stay. Every part of him cried out to take Buffy in his arms, but he didn't. He didn't have the right anymore. Not after what he did to her in the bathroom. She could never forgive him or trust him after that. Even if she could, Buffy could never love him. He didn't deserve her. "Why? Buffy, we beat the First. I don't have a reason to stay."

"What about me? Don't I matter to you?" she whispered the last part. The word 'anymore' lingered on her tongue.

"You always matter. That's why I'm goin'. You don't need me watching your back. You have more in you than you think; you just need to find it. You don't need to rely on people anymore, on me. You just raised a world of Slayers. You can have your normal life." Voice cracking with emotion, Spike swallowed hard, adding as he turned away, "I'm not normal Buffy." He did not dare to look back at her.

Spike picked up his bag and walked out of the hotel room into the rain. The rain poured down, soaking him to the bone. But he just needed to leave. He'd planned to say goodbye, and then he would head… where was he heading? He didn't know. He just had to get away from her. Saying goodbye had been harder then he thought.

Buffy stood in the middle of the empty room as numbness began to overtake her. She barely registered moving her lips, unaware she was speaking aloud. "Spike, don't leave, please."

Tears slid down her face, the only movement she was capable of. She couldn't move her feet; she felt paralyzed. They seemed to be unbelievably heavy. She saw his duster lying across the bed. In a daze, her hands reached out to run her hand over the smooth leather. She loved this coat. It looked so good on him. It was part of him. A part she loved.

Spike threw his duffle bag in the back of his car and reached for his cigarettes only to realize he wasn't wearing his duster. He couldn't leave without that, so he sucked up his courage and headed back to the room. Upon opening the door, he saw Buffy holding his coat with trembling fingers. "Luv… um…" How was he going to manage this one?

"Please don't leave," she whispered, not looking at him.

Spike's heart broke even further at her tone. "Why?" Why did she care that he was leaving? It was what she wanted, wasn't it? "You told me I was your best fighter. Well, the fight is over." He felt he had no use anymore. He was just a waste of space. He needed his own life, even though the idea of leaving was killing him even more than he thought it would. He apparently wasn't as strong enough as he thought.

"Because I'm not ready to lose you again. You're my friend, Spike. I want you here with me." Her eyes finally traveled up to his as they glittered with tears. Why did this always happen to her?

"Buffy, you'll never lose me. I just need to get away from all this for a while." Spike felt guilty after saying that; like he was giving her false hope he'd be back. He always wanted all or nothing, including her, selfish bastard that he was. But, that was how he felt. He paused, wondering what to say, only coming up with, "I need my coat."

Buffy had to think fast. She couldn't let him just walk out on her. She couldn't lose another man she loved by not telling him how she really felt. Heart pounding, she grabbed the duster off the bed and turned towards Spike. She took a deep breath, forcing her voice to be steady. "No."

Before he could say anything, she continued. "Spike, I'm not scared anymore. It wouldn't be like before. My friends would know, and you could stay here. It wouldn't be a dirty little secret. I promise you," she said. "I don't… things are going to be different. I…I love you."

"You don't," he said quietly, but full of conviction. Buffy couldn't possibly mean that, not after, well, everything. It felt like someone had wrapped his or her fist around his heart and began squeezing upon hearing her say that. Despite their few precious nights together, Buffy had only needed him for the battle, and now, that was over. "You can't just toss those words around Buffy."

She watched the emotions play across his face, and he really didn't believe her. She bit her lip before moving around him, closing and locking the door of the hotel room. His duster was still dangling in one of her hands as she leaned against the door. "I do. I'm not letting you go." She couldn't do that. Not again.

"Buffy..." How did she still do this to him? He thought he was strong enough to leave and let her get on her with her life. Now, she was admitting that she loved him, and it was making leaving all but impossible. His feet seemed glued to the carpet.

She smiled, and the duster slipped from her fingers. She walked up to him, fingers gently grabbing his tee-shirt, and pulled his lips down to hers for a tender kiss. She hadn't kissed him in what felt like forever, and it still made her weak in the knees. She shouldn't expect anything different. She felt the heat slowly spreading through her body as her hands released his shirt to slide around his neck.

It took all of his will power to pull away from her soft kiss. "Pet, we can't do this," Spike said, but his arms automatically banded around her. He had no control around her. He could get drunk off her kisses, and he wanted to kiss her for days. Not only kiss her…but his mind had no right to think those thoughts. After what he did, Spike knew he had no right to be holding Buffy, but his heart and body were overruling his mind. He simply couldn't let her go.

"I know you don't really want to leave." Buffy pulled him in for another kiss, and this time Spike kissed her back passionately. She kicked off her sneakers before bending at the knees to hoist her body onto his waist, smiling when he toed off his boots and carried her over to the bed. She didn't even care that he was wet from the rain. He couldn't leave her now; she knew he wouldn't. Not when she offered her heart up to convince him to stay.

"You sure?" Spike asked; hovering over her before sliding his hands up her ribs and then letting them wander over her skin as he slowly undressed her. He had missed her creamy smooth skin. He kissed her forehead, then her nose. His hands cradled her cheeks gently as his lip moved over her face. She was so beautiful.

Buffy nodded. "I've never been more sure of anything," she whispered. "I love you so much Spike." Her hands ran over his soaked t-shirt. She pulled it out of his pants, and Spike helped her lift it over his head. She threw it across the room where it landed with a wet plop. Her hands warmed his cool skin easily as she shifted under him.

"I love you so much, Buffy," he whispered back, her words breaking down his resolve. He would never be able to get enough of this woman. How could he? He finally got what he wanted. Whether he deserved her or not, she was his. And he would spend the rest of her life proving to her just how special she was.

After several hours of getting to know each other intimately again, Buffy collapsed on Spike with a happy sigh. "It's nice to be like this again. I missed you so much." Her bones felt like jelly as she draped over him. Her legs were quivering in pleasure that she couldn't believe she had lived so long without. She kissed his chest softly as her eyes closed, just enjoying the moment.

He smiled as he stroked her hair. "I missed you too," he said, kissing the crown of her head. He never thought he'd be "here" again with her. Feeling her strong thighs around his waist as she finally let him make love to her. It hadn't been rushed, or rough. It had been just two people getting to know the other's body once more.

Buffy lifted her head to look at Spike. "I think we should go away for awhile. I haven't had a vacation since I was called as the Slayer, and we could have some privacy together. Dawn could stay with Willow, and we could go somewhere with no phones. Be alone." She smirked at him with a knowing look. They would definitely need some time alone together. To do some catching up.

It made him smile. "Where? Because, personally, I'd rather avoid the sun." He grinned at her. "I know you like your sunshine, Pet, but you're going to turn orange if you're not careful." Spike kissed her nose playfully to let her know he was just teasing her. They both needed a little humor every now and then.

Buffy smacked him playfully. "Don't make fun of my tan," she said giggling. "I was thinking England. I always wanted to go there, but there's phones there, so we'll have to unplug them." She moved sensually against him as she slid next to him. She smiled to herself at his groan of disappointment when she slipped off of him. "Don't worry. I just need to rest up."

His smile became a delighted grin. "Okay, we'll go to England." Spike didn't really care where they went. He loved being with her, and he would follow her to the ends of the earth if that was where she took him. Buffy loved him. That was all that mattered. That he got to be with her was a bonus. In truth, he would love to go England. There was so much he could show her there. So much they could do together. It would be a great trip. Just the two of them.

"I think it'd be nice to have a change of scenery," Buffy said. "Might even stop you from leaving me." Her tone was jovial, but her eyes still held a hint of terror at how close she'd come to losing him. She didn't want to think about it. Sliding her arm over his waist, Buffy tucked her head beneath his chin. She just wanted to move on from what had almost happened earlier and start their life together.

"I'd never leave you," he said, kissing her softly. How could he after what she had just given him? "But we'll do whatever you want, luv. As long as I'm with you, I don't care where we are." That was all Spike had ever wanted in his whole life; just to be with Buffy and to make her happy. And he was going to. Now, no one could stop him.