"I've got nowhere else to go," Spike said. He sounded heartbroken and sad. He was huddled in a ball on the concrete floor of the high school basement.

"Spike, you can't stay here," she said, in a soft voice while she knelt in front of him. She tried to hide any trace of pity from her voice, since she felt guilty enough over Spike's situation; this was all her fault. She had driven him to insanity with her games this past year and she knew she had to make it right. It was up to her to make sure that he got better, starting with getting him out of the basement.

"When the sun goes down you're going home with me."

"Buffy, I can't," he whispered with shame, how could she possibly want him anywhere near her after everything? "I hurt you so much…I shouldn't be anywhere near you."

"Spike, you told me you have a soul. Prove it," she ordered sitting on the floor next to him. "Show me that you are different."

"How?" He asked, a spark of hope ignited in his eyes when he looked at her. He wanted more then anything to prove to her that he was different and he'd never hurt her or anyone that she loved. All he wanted was her forgiveness, but with Buffy everything seemed to be trial and error.

"Come home with me," she repeated "show me that you've changed."


"I can help you get better," Buffy said with promise. "you are coming home with me. No arguments."

Spike closed his eyes and swallowed his tears. She smiled and kissed his forehead with soft lips. "You're going to be okay," she whispered. "I promise."

Spike shuddered at her gentleness and nodded. He was so used to her fists and her angry touches, she never kissed him the way she just did; maybe he really did have a chance to make things right. Then maybe the voices would go away.

Reluctantly, Buffy stood up. She didn't want to leave him here alone, but she had to go back to work. "I'll be back," She said, looking at him with longing in her eyes. "I promise."

That night, as soon as the sun had set, Buffy returned to the basement, and to get Spike. She knelt in front of his sleeping form and smiled a little bit. "Spike?"

His eyes fluttered open. "Buffy?"

She gave him a soft smile. "Come on, Dawn knows you're coming and she wants to talk to you."

Spike allowed her to lead him out of the basement and to her house. Only on the front porch did he pause, "Buffy I can't," he protested. It didn't occur to him that other people would be at her house. Now that he was here, he remembered that she never had an empty house. Buffy was one thing, but her friends and Dawn? He couldn't do that yet, he wasn't ready.

Buffy slid her hand into his. "I know you're scared but it'll be okay," she assured, opening the door. She hadn't told anyone except Dawn that Spike would be coming to the house, but she knew she wouldn't be able to get him upstairs easily. She hadn't really thought about what her baby sister would think if Spike was in their house, but she knew it wouldn't be a pleasant experience. Dawn had said she wanted to talk to Spike, but there was so much to be resolved.

Spike trembled as Buffy led him to the couch. "Just sit here for a minute," she said, moving toward the stairs. "I'm only going upstairs to make sure it'll be safe for you in the morning."

Moments later, two sets of footsteps came down the stairs. Dawn came down right behind Buffy and he stood up. Dawn approached him with hesitant steps, since Buffy told her that he was a little skittish, and wrapped her arms around his neck. Tears slid out of her eyes but she held her sobs back. Spike didn't need her to lose her composure right now. There would be time for that later.

Spike held his own tears back and hugged her tightly. "I'm so sorry Dawn," he said. His arms were tight around her tiny waist.

"I missed you so much," she whispered.

Spike sat back on the couch and cradled Dawn in his side. He was exhausted, and to stand with the young girl required too much energy.

Buffy took a deep breath and let it out with a slow rush of air. Getting him up to bed could wait he needed this time with them right now, it would help him feel more at ease in their home. She made her way to the couch and sat next to him, leaning her head on his shoulder and inhaled his scent. "I missed you too," she admitted. "even if I didn't act like it."

Spike looked at both of them. "What does this mean?" he asked. It couldn't be this easy, he hadn't done anything. He tried not to get his hopes up. That's all he needed; to believe that he had everything he'd always wanted and to have it ripped away.

Dawn sniffled. "I'll forgive you," she answered. "but you're still not off the hook."

Buffy looked at her sister. "Dawnie, I need to talk to Spike. Can you go back upstairs?" she asked. "He'll be here in the morning if he chooses to stay the night," Buffy said, looking at him then back at Dawn. "I know you want lots of time with him, and you will. But there are things that we need to take care of before then. I promise you can make up for lost time after school tomorrow."

Dawn picked her head up and wiped her eyes, she looked at Spike. "I love you," she whispered.

Tears came to Spike's eyes. "I love you, too," he said. The word 'nibblet' almost fell off his tongue out of habit, but he bit it back.

Dawn climbed off the couch and kissed his cheek before going up to her room.

Spike watched as she went up stairs before looking at his hands. "Are you gunna yell at me?" He couldn't meet her gaze because if she was going to yell at him, which was inevitable, he needed to keep his composure. He needed to be able to pay attention to her words if they were going to work things out.

Buffy shook her head. "We haven't had a talk since you've been back and I think it's time that we did," she said, wiping his tears. "I'm going to go first because I have a lot to say."

She stood up and moved away from him. "That night, you really hurt me," she said. She held up her hand when he tried to interrupt. "but when you left, I sat down on the floor and cried. I drove you to do that and I realized I really hurt you. I didn't mean to hurt you, I didn't," she said with tears in her eyes.

Spike bit his lip. He'd known he hurt her, but to hear her say it was like a knife to his already battered heart. That was the last thing he wanted to do. He stood up and approached her. "Buffy, please don't cry," he begged. That was one thing he couldn't handle; her tears. "I never wanted to hurt you. That isn't what I wanted at all. I just wanted to explain things to you. I didn't want you to think that I didn't love you anymore because of what happened with Demon Girl. I don't care if you don't love me. I don't know what came over me to make me do that to you."

Buffy wrapped her arms around herself. "Spike, I wanted to love you," she said. "and I tried but it just wasn't in me. I didn't have the strength to give myself to you because I didn't want you to leave me. And then you did and I thought one night you'd come back. But you never did."

Spike reached up and wiped her cheeks. "I didn't know you wanted me to," he murmured. He expected her to flinch away from his touch but she didn't, much to his amazement. He didn't deserve to have her trust him after what he did.

Buffy sniffled and leaned against his hand. "I did. I care about you so much, Spike, and I want you to be with me again. I need you and I can't live without you. I want to give my heart but I won't if you're going to leave again."

"I'm just not ready yet," Spike said, dropping his hand. "It means a lot that you care for me, Buffy, but I have to forgive myself. I have to live with what I did before we can be anything more than friends. But I won't leave unless you give me a reason to, I never wanted to leave you."

Buffy raised her eyes to meet his. She felt like a school girl, like a sixteen year old virgin again. She was scared, but that never stopped her before. She nodded in acceptance. "Whenever you're ready," she said. "I'm willing to start fresh and do this from square one."

She pulled away and sniffled. "You can stay with me tonight," she offered, then back tracked as she began to babble. "Well, I mean if you want to. You don't have to sleep with me. You could sleep on the floor or I'll sleep on the floor and you can have the bed. But I don't want you to go back to the basement. It's not good for you."

"Are you sure, Buffy? 'Cause you don't have to do this."

"No, I want you to stay here with me tonight." Buffy assured. "Please?"

He sighed in defeat and nodded. He wasn't getting anywhere with his noble act. Staying in her room with her, no matter where he slept in it, created butterflies in his stomach. He wasn't sure how he felt about that.

Buffy slid her hand into his and led him upstairs.

Spike stood in the doorway of her room looking at her, not sure what he should do. This was all really up to her, in his eyes anyway. She was trying to help him and he was trying to make sure he didn't make her uncomfortable.

Buffy read his thoughts and helped him out. She squeezed his hand. "It's okay," she whispered.

"Doesn't feel right to me," he said.

"It's okay," she whispered again. "I'm going to change and you are gonna make yourself comfortable in my bed. Okay?" She kissed his cheek tenderly before disappearing into the bathroom.

Spike shuddered and toed off his boots. It didn't seem right for him to take her bed while she changed in the bathroom. The place that he'd hurt her. He'd sleep on the floor.

A minute later Buffy came out in pajamas. "You okay?" She asked, seeing him just staring at her.

Spike crossed his arms in a nervous jesture. "I'd feel better if you slept on the bed and I slept on the floor," he said, his voice barely above a whisper. He didn't want to over step his boundaries but he didn't really know where they were. He was trying to feel his way around and hoped he didn't get her fist to his nose.

Buffy looked at him carefully and nodded after a minute. "If you'd be more comfortable," she said, going to her closet and pulling out her sleeping bag that she barely ever used. She laid it on the left side of her bed the sun wouldn't get to him even through her vampire safe drapes. She took a pillow off her bed and laid it on the floor. "There you go."

"Thanks, Luv," he said offering a small smile. "I don't know what I did to deserve this from you, but thank you."

Buffy gave him a warm smile. "You'd be surprised at what you've done Spike," she said. "Try to get some sleep okay?"

Spike watched as she moved around her room, just turning off her light and making sure her drapes were closed. He unzipped the sleeping bag and slid into it as she climbed into her bed.

She looked down at him over the side of her bed and smiled. He seemed tense, his body rigid. "Just relax, Spike", she whispered. "We're going to be okay, try to get some sleep. It's okay for you to be here." She laid on the edge of the bed and let her arm fall down so she could stroke his hand.

Spike looked at her their hands and turned toward her bed. "Goodnight Buffy," he said, closing his eyes, trying to attempt a peaceful sleep.

"Goodnight Spike," she responded. She looked at the clock and it was only midnight. "Oh, and Spike?"

He cracked an eye open and looked up at her in the dark. "Yeah Buffy?"

"If you need me, you can wake me up," she said. "I know you probably haven't been sleeping well, and I know that Angel had a tough time when he got his soul back. I just... I want you to know that I'm here if you need me, no matter what."

Spike squeezed her hand. "Hopefully there will be no nightmares tonight," he said. "But if there are, it's good to know that you're here for me. I know you think I deserve this, but I don't think I do, and it means a lot to me that you're letting me stay here with you."

Buffy smiled and closed her eyes but didn't let go of his hand. "It means a lot that you came back," she said. "They never come back."

Her heartbeat evened out, but Spike found it hard to sleep. He he couldn't stop looking at her peaceful face, despite being tired. He ran his thumb over her hand and listened her slow and even breathing. All he could hear were voices in his head, telling him how bad and evil he was. That's all he could hear all through the night.