Buffy fidgeted nervously on the plane as it landed in L

Buffy fidgeted nervously on the plane as it landed in L.A. She rubbed her temples before reaching for her bag in the overhead compartment. She got squished between two rather large men and pursed her lips to keep from forcefully removing them. She couldn't believe she was doing this. After Giles' call saying that Andrew was taking too long to do his job, she had to come over here and do it for him. She wasn't looking forward to this. She didn't want to see Angel.

Buffy got the rest of her luggage, which thankfully hadn't been lost, and made her way through the crowded airport. She knew why she hated flying. She pushed her way through the crowds, pulling her rolling suitcase behind her, and she bit her tongue from firing off words to people that pushed her around. Finally she got to the parking lot and hailed a cab to her house in L.A. She asked the driver to wait for a few moments so she could drop her bags off. Once inside she ran a brush through her hair before returning to the cab. She directed the driver to Wolfram and Hart, but she knew she couldn't prepare for going there. Buffy hated the place, and nothing would change that.

The back seat of the cab was very uncomfortable; Buffy would have been more comfortable on a horse or something. She stared out the window and thought about what her visit was going to be like. She just wanted to get Dana, the psychotic slayer, and Andrew and go home. She didn't want to be here longer then she had to be. And she certainly didn't want a big thing with Angel.

Ever since Angel had been placed in charge of Wolfram and Hart, he had been different. He was even more secretive, and every time she had called he had blown her off, like he was keeping something from her. She didn't trust him. How could she? He was in charge of an evil law firm. All Wolfram and Hart did was manipulate people to their liking, and Angel had manipulated her enough for her lifetime.

The law firm was huge, Buffy noticed, as the driver pulled up to the front entrance. She paid him the fee and climbed out, making sure she had her cell phone in her pocket. She didn't bother with a purse. What would she need it for? She had some cash in the inside pocket of her leather jacket along with her I.D. for whatever she would need it for. Her black leather boots made clicks on the concrete steps, and she briskly walked down the path to the front door. There were men in business suits as well as demons going in and out. The muscles in her body were already tensed up for a fight.

A tall gentleman opened the door for her and she went through with a smile and a thank you. However, he walked in step with her and followed her to the elevator. "Never seen you here before," he said, flashing his pearly whites.

Buffy smiled at him politely. "Just visiting Angel," she said. "He's an old friend." A very old friend at that. "So I won't be staying long." She could already tell that this guy wasn't going to just leave her alone without getting whatever he wanted. But she was fairly certain that she didn't have what he was looking. She was off the market, and she had been for some time.

"Long enough to get coffee hopefully," the man said as he went into the elevator with her. He pressed the button for the top floor and she pursed her lips.

This guy was apparently not going to get the hint. She wasn't here to date anyone. "Thanks, but no thanks," Buffy said, folding her arms. The elevator opened and she rushed out ignoring the man's calls. God, guys were so desperate these days. She glared at Harmony not at all interested in dealing with her crap either. She had to say, when she first heard Harmony answering Angel's calls, she had been more than annoyed. Harmony sunk into her chair and chewed her pink stained lip, but Buffy continued to the double wooden doors that enclosed Angel's office.

Andrew sat in the chair behind Angel's desk as an irate blonde stormed in; he turned the chair to face the door. "Buffy!" Andrew exclaimed, jumping out of Angel's chair and hurrying around the desk.

"Where's Angel?" Buffy asked in a huff of anger. She should have been surprised to find the little twerp lounging about, but she really wasn't. He was so going to pay for making her fly out here on a crowded airplane to clean up his mess. She would much rather be at home than here running around after a psycho slayer. She had better things to do with the Potentials than chase after them.

"Looking for Dana," Andrew replied in his all-knowing voice. "Angel and Sp—Angel said it would be best that I stay here in case Giles calls or something."

"Do you have any idea where?" Buffy asked aggravated. She was not in the mood to put up with his avoidance act. "We didn't send you here for Angel to do your job." Now she had to worry about what Angel was going to do to Dana. That girl didn't need tests or anything from Wolfram and Hart. She threw her hair up into a ponytail as she formulated a plan. "Let's go."

"I don't really think it would be a good idea for you to go where he is," Andrew said. "It's dangerous and Angel has enough help." Whatever else he was going to say, she stopped with a look. "Yeah okay, let's go." Andrew said, leading her out of the door. "But maybe you'd like to stop and get something to eat first."

Buffy smacked him upside the head. "Andrew," she growled. She didn't know why he was trying to keep her away from Angel and Dana but he knew better then to keep things from her. She would eventually find out and whatever it was, it concerned her and she didn't like anyone meddling in her life. "We don't have time for this. We have to get back to Europe so stop." They got in the elevator and she looked at Andrew. "So where are they?"

Meanwhile, Angel was fighting Dana in the basement of an abandoned warehouse. After doing the research with his friends, they had put the pieces together. Angel hadn't expected to find his childe in the state he was in. He had seen some pretty gruesome things in his life, but nothing like this. After throwing her into the wall he chased after her flying body to grab her, holding her arms to her sides in a bear hug. "Now!" He yelled at the men standing around him. Several tranquilizers were shot into Dana, and she slumped into Angel's arms, unconscious. Slowly, he lowered her to the ground. "Get a medic unit down here!" He ordered going over to Spike. "Spike?" Angel prodded, as he took the chains off.

Spike leaned into Angel numbly as he was released. He tried to talk but no sound came out. Abandoning his attempts at communication, he could only stare at his missing hands. The bloody stumps made him sick to his stomach; the torn flesh was a stark contrast to his pale arms that weren't touched. He still felt like he was made of jelly from the drugs that Dana had given to him and he just wanted to sleep, or die.

At that moment, there was a commotion at the top of the stairs.

"Ma'am, you can't…ugh," floated down the stairs just as footsteps thundered down the stone stairs and Buffy came in to view, coming to an abrupt halt at the bottom of the stairs.

"Angel, are you…" she paused when she saw Spike in her ex-lover's arms. "Oh my god," she whispered. She hadn't expected Spike to be alive - he had died, for her, for the world. Yet here he was in Angel's arms, with bloody stumps where his beautiful arms used to be. Her hand reached blindly forward, instinctively wanting to go to him.

Buffy took a step forward but Andrew held her back. "Buffy, don't," he said. He tried to pull her back toward the stairs to get her out of here, but she held fast.

"What happened?" Buffy asked, tears in her eyes. She wrenched her arm free from Andrew and took a step toward both vampires. She still couldn't believe her eyes. Her whole world felt like it had tilted on its axis and she could feel it deep inside her. Now she knew why Andrew had wanted to keep her away.

Wesley stepped forward. "Dana had a traumatic experience when she was a child and thought Spike was the man that killed her family and then hurt her, but it was a mistake," he explained, assisting Angel in helping the injured vampire to his feet. Spike leaned heavily on Angel, unable to move his eyes away from his arms.

Fred came running down the stairs. "Spike, oh my god," she exclaimed, rushing over to the damaged vampire. "I can fix them," she stated with certainty. Looking at Angel, she continued. "We have to get him back to the firm. Right away. He needs medical attention as soon as possible." She tilted Spike's head up and looked at his eyes. "He's pretty drugged up."

"His hands," Buffy whispered, clearly shaken as her hands going to cover her mouth as she stared in horror. She felt sick to her stomach at the site before her. Her vampire was tortured, beyond what she had ever seen before and she was crushed. She should have been here with him.

A medic team moved down the stairs in to the basement crowding the small room. They pushed Buffy aside as they made their way to the blond vampire. They loaded Spike onto a stretcher and begin to push through the throng of people that made up the supporters of Spike.

"Back up, Miss," a medic said, referring to Fred, who was examining Spike's arms. Buffy was as Fred moved her gaze, laced with concern, which had lingered on his arms. She could the young woman had already formulated her plan of action, but it first required him being moved to a suitable facility.

Another team of medics recovered his severed hands and placed them into a cooler filled with ice. Fred followed as close as the medics and space would allow, causing jealousy to flare through Buffy, and leaving her wondering just who that woman was. Spike was covered with a blanket, hiding the horror he had just been through and given a sedative. Even as a vampire, Buffy was pretty sure he could bleed to death. The blood flow needed to be stopped and she vaguely saw his arms being wrapped up. He seemed to welcome the drug because he relaxed against the stretcher and his eyes closed. The rest of the L. A. team followed close on the heels of the second medical team.

Once outside of the building, Spike and his hands were being loaded into the back of an ambulance. Buffy was climbing into the ambulance on one side, while Fred was climbing in on the other, on her cell phone, getting her medical staff ready for emergency surgery. Halfway into the amubulence, Angel grabbed Buffy's arm.

"Buffy, let Fred take care of him." he said.

Buffy yanked her arm free. "No. I'm going with him," she insisted, her anger at him overriding her concern for Spike for a brief moment. Climbing the rest of the way into the ambulance, she settled in near Spike's head and stroked his hard, bleached hair. "It's okay, Spike. You're going to be okay," she whispered. No one was going to keep her away from him.

The woman who was helping hook Spike up to IV's and was writing things down on a clipboard looked at her. "I'm Fred," she said, in her sweet southern accent. "You must be Buffy."

The slayer lifted her tear-stained head to look at her. "Yeah," she said. "How did you know?" Did Spike talk about her? What had he told everyone about her? About their past? And why hadn't he called her? Or maybe Fred knew who she was because of Angel. She hoped it was because of Spike and not Angel making remarks about her.

"Spike talks about you all the time," Fred answered. "Don't worry. I'm going to fix him. He saved my life once or twice. Can never forget that. He loves you Buffy, in case you didn't know."

Buffy looked at Fred for a moment as a soft smile came across her face. So he hadn't forgotten about her. So then what was his explanation for not telling her that he was alive. She would get her answers but right now, that wasn't her main concern. Spike had to be okay first.

Fifteen minutes later, they arrived at the W&H hospital wing. Buffy didn't even notice the second ambulance that brought Dana in; she just wanted to be with Spike. The medics took Spike back to an operating room, forcing Buffy to stay in the stark white waiting room. She hadn't been in a hospital waiting room since her mom died and this wasn't any better. Buffy hadn't looked at Angel or spoken to him since she got in the ambulance.

After an arduous two hours Fred appeared in the doorway. She just wanted to know how Spike was and when she saw Fred, she stood up from the blue chair she was sitting in. "Is he okay?"

"He's unconscious. He'll be waking up soon though," Fred said. "Do you want to see him?" she asked, "I know Spike would want to tell you what happened before Angel says anything to you."

Buffy nodded. "Please?" she whispered.

Fred led Buffy to a hospital room where Spike was unconscious on the bed. "He won't have use of his arms 'til the drugs wear off. But after that he should be right as rain, you know, as right as rain can be in any circumstance," Fred rambled until she saw Buffy staring at Spike as if she were seeing a ghost. Which she kind of was, Fred figured. "Well, I'll just be going now."

"Thank you." Buffy said, going over to his side. She didn't even watch Fred leave. Tears slid down Buffy's face as she climbed into bed next to Spike. Carefully, she laid herself against his chest and gently brought his arms around her. They were covered in bandages, from his knuckles all the way up his arm. She sniffled quietly as she ran her delicate fingers over the bandages, as if she could heal him with one touch, but she knew she couldn't. After a few minutes, of gently stroking her vampire, she was asleep.

Spike awoke an hour later and felt two things. The first thing he felt was the pounding in his head and the tingly feeling in his arms. Then he felt the unmistakable feeling of a soft body against his. Only one person had a body like the one against his, and only one smelled of vanilla. He looked down and his eyes widened at the sight of the sleeping slayer in his arms. He tried to move his arms but quickly realized he couldn't, and reluctantly relaxed, cursing the drugs and the deranged slayer.

Buffy stirred and snuggled deeper into him. "Spike?" she moaned.

"Slayer." Spike's voice was raw and quiet. How was she going to react to him being alive? From what he knew about Buffy, she was going to be mad, so it was better to keep his guard up. Once she got over her concern for his arms, he was pretty sure she was going to kick his ass into next week. And she had every right to. He lied to her for months, but he didn't know what else to do. He didn't know how to tell her. When she picked up her head, there were tears in her eyes and he frowned, "Oh, love, don't cry," he pleaded with her. He could never stand to see her cry and by the looks of her swollen and flushed face, she had been crying for hours. He never wished more in his life, or afterlife, to be able to use his arms, if for nothing else than to comfort the woman lying in his bed.

Buffy shifted so she could sit more comfortably in his lap. Her hands went to his face, her fingers brushing across his prominent cheekbones, down the bridge of his nose, whispering over his lips. "You're really here," she whispered. "Fred said you wouldn't be able to use your arms 'til the drugs wore off." He could tell that she saw him struggling to raise his arms. He looked up when she put her hands carefully on them, to let him know it was okay.

He pursed his lips. "Figured as much." He eyed his hands with disdain, but found his eyes being drawn back to her. He just couldn't stop looking at her, cataloging all the changes. Her hair was longer, but she had it layered and it framed her face nicely. It was the same golden color that he loved and he ached to run his hands through it. She had gained a little weight, but it had just filled out all her curves. She looked so beautiful.

"What happened?" she asked softly.

"Well," he took in an unneeded breath, "there was this crazy girl that had gotten kidnapped and tortured for a good minute when she was a tike. She was called when Red did her "chosen all" spell and…" He looked up to see a look of frustration on the Slayer's face. "But that wasn't what you were askin' 'bout now, was it?"

"No, it's not," she said in a strained voice, trying to keep her anger in check. "Why didn't you tell me?"

"I wanted to, pet. I did, but I didn't think it was right." He finished in a whisper, looking away from her to his hands, willing his fingers to move. How could he just walk back into her life after he died for her? And after what he said to her right before he burst into flames.

"Not right?" Buffy asked, curiously. "I loved you, Spike and I still do." His eyes met hers at her declaration. "I thought there'd be a small chance that you'd come back and I waited. God, every night I waited for you to slip into bed beside me, and every morning you weren't there. A large part of me had died, it made me feel so empty," she whispered. "It was like being pulled from heaven all over again." Now it was her turn to look away. Spike could see how much losing him had affected her.

Spike frowned. He had told her that he didn't believe her love for him, but had secretly hoped it had been true. "Buffy, I've been so lost and confused since I came back. Angel told me you were in Europe but I had no idea where to begin looking. I didn't want anyone to tell you because I didn't know how to explain things to you. I just wanted to get back on my feet," he said, tears pooling in his eyes to match hers.

"But I could've helped you," her voice full of desperation and hurt. "I would've been able to be here for you and I have a really good feeling that Angel's been making you crazy…" Spike interrupted her.

"Ha, he's been doin' more than that," he grumbled. He wanted to fold his arms, to have some kind of physical barrier. He could never forget those words that Angel had spat in his face. At her confused expression he answered her unasked question. "Saying you didn't love me," he said, meeting her eyes. "Because I wasn't him."

"That's not true," Buffy moved her hand to caress his face again. "Spike, please, believe me." She swallowed hard. "I was already planning on having a few words with Angel and they aren't going to be pretty."

"Buffy, I don't know what to believe anymore," Spike lamented, shaking his head. For years Buffy had told him she hated him and that she'd never love him. And when she had finally told him the words he had longed to hear, he was already burning up. It was hard not to listen to Angel's words when just over a year ago, they had been so true and Spike had believed that. Where things really different now?

At that moment, Fred walked into the room, putting a pause to their conversation. "Oh good, you're awake," she said, smiling as Buffy got off Spike's lap so Fred could work. "How are you feeling?"

Fred took the bandages off, to reveal the stitches and cuts on Spike's arms. "Well, you're healing quickly, which I expected. It shouldn't be too long before you're able to use your hands," she said, putting fresh bandages on them. You have to take it easy for a little while. But you should be alright."

"Thanks Fred," Spike said. "How's the psycho slayer?"

"We're waiting for Buffy's orders," the scientist said. "Andrew said she's going back to Europe with you guys, where she's going to get therapy."

"That's good," he said, flexing his hands, finding he could move his fingers. He didn't dwell on what Fred had said. Fred thought he was going with Buffy, but they hadn't talked about it, and he didn't want to get his hopes up. "That's better." There were still some painful tingles in his arms, but he was better now that he had feeling in his fingers.

Fred smiled. "I'll check on you later and maybe you could go home," she said. "I'm sure you're both dying to get out of here."

Spike smiled back at her. "Thanks," he said, as Fred left, leaving the two blonds alone.

Buffy joined him on the bed and slipped her fingers into his, squeezing them gently. "You're gunna be all better before you know it," she said. "I'll have to stop and get you something to eat. I don't trust this place to give you anything."

"I've missed you so much Buffy," he admitted, relaxing against the pillows. "You have no idea how much. And I wanted to tell you. That's all I wanted to do, was come find you, but I just got scared. I didn't know how you'd react."

"It's okay," she said, softly. "I'm here now. And everything is going to be fine. Wait 'til I get my hands on Angel. I'll kick his ass into next year," she said, softly yet full of menacing certainty. She carefully climbed in next to him and kissed his temple. "You always did love me differently than Angel did. Don't listen to what he says," she said, laying her head on his shoulder. "When you're released from the hospital, you can stay with me. I have a place. I just need to make sure all the arrangements for Dana are made then we can go home."

Spike felt tears prickle his eyes at the thought of going home with her. There was nothing he wanted more. "Get some sleep, Pet," he said, leaning his head against hers. He wanted to pull her close to him, but he was happy just being close to her. He smiled down at her as her arm slid over his waist and her eyes fell closed. He felt at peace with her for the first time in many months, and nothing could ruin it, not even his damaged arms.

Later that day, Buffy helped Spike change out of the hospital gown and into his clothes. She had to smile when she lifted the last thing – his old duster. As she slid it up his arms and settled it on his shoulder, she kissed him softly. She gave him a smile after that with a blush and they headed for Angel's office at the top of Wolfram and Hart hand-in-hand. Harmony had told them that Angel was at a meeting on the third floor so they went into his office to wait for him.

"How's Dawn?" Spike asked to fill the silence, something he was no longer comfortable with since being a ghost. Buffy fit herself into his sore arms and laid her head on his shoulder. And he had been wondering about Dawn, he was worried about her.

"She's good. She was a little upset that you died. She felt bad because she never got to tell you she loved you. She thinks you didn't know but I told her you did," Buffy said, snuggling into his arms. "She's in her freshman year in Rome. She kinda had to since Sunnydale was destroyed. We didn't have any proof that she had even gone to school. But they said she could start her freshman year over, considering the circumstances."

"That sounds good." Spike kissed her forehead. "I miss her. But, Italy, huh? What's she think of it? I remember when I did a lot of gambling there. Wait – she's not dating or anything, is she?" He knew what Italian boys were like and he didn't want his Nibblet anywhere near them. They were bad news, and she would definitely have her heart broken. And then he'd have to eat a few people.

"She's probably on a plane here," Buffy was saying, looking up as Angel walked in. "Look who's here." She glared at him briefly but finished with her conversation with Spike. "She hates when I go out without her. But she has school so I didn't take her with me. But she still doesn't really listen to me so I expect her to be at the house when we get there." She turned her gaze back to Angel and it wasn't a pleasant one.

Angel paused when he saw an angry Buffy and a smirking Spike. "Thought you guys would be long gone by now," he said. "Was actually kinda hoping."

"I thought you and I should chat," she said breezily, climbing out of Spike's lap. "Or maybe I'm just going to kick your ass."

Spike could see the muscles in her body tensing up, knowing she was ready for a fight. He loved this girl. But Angel deserved whatever he got. Buffy had her life messed with enough times by him, and for once Spike was going to walk away the winner. And he couldn't be happier.

"Buffy, I know you're upset, but can't we talk about it?" Angel asked, backing up and moving around the desk, putting it between them.

"I think you did enough talking," Buffy said jumping over the desk. She pushed Angel in to the wall behind it causing a few of the weapons mounted there to fall to ground. "How dare you assume how I feel for Spike?"

"What?" Angel asked, confusion written on his face. "I never said anything." He retorted, glaring at Spike.

Spike stood up. "You said that I'm less than you. That's why Buffy never really loved me. Because I wasn't you" It killed him to think about that day, and how much he had thought about those words. Not only that, the cup of life they were fighting for was exactly what he needed to make Buffy happy, to put him in front of Angel. But it was clear now that he was the only one in her heart and she loved him just the way he was and he wasn't going to let her go for anyone.

Buffy, who had pinned Angel to his weapons wall suddenly released him, causing him to stumble forward. "How could you say something like that? You knew I loved him. Why didn't you call me and tell me he was back?" Buffy glared daggers at him, "He needed me," she ground out. "And you kept me away."

"Because I thought it would be better for the both of you," Angel said, moving away from them. "You had a good life in Italy."

Buffy crossed her arms. "Angel, why can't you ever let me decide what's better for me?" she asked, the softness in her voice belying the rage Spike saw blazing in her eyes. He could tell this was the absolute last straw. She was sick of Angel assuming what was best for her and making decisions for her. If he didn't have a damned good explanation for his actions she might just have to punch him in the nose, and Spike would get a kick out of that.

"Because I love you," he stated, as if that would fix it all.

"Then why would you want to keep me from the one I love?" she asked sounding almost defeated by his inability to get what was best for her right. "Why wouldn't you want me to be happy?" Sighing, she shook her head and changed the subject. "We're going now. And we're taking Dana," she said, sliding her hand into Spike's. He almost laughed at the dumfounded look on Angel's face as they left and Buffy just couldn't seem to care.

Buffy and Spike hailed a cab back to her house. Before leaving Wolfram and Hart she had made arrangements for Dana to be sedated and put on a private plane with Andrew. She had told Andrew that she was going to stop at the house to get her stuff and maybe have a day's rest, and then she would head to England to check on Dana before leaving to Europe. That was when Andrew informed her that Dana would need a lot of work and Buffy may have to stay in England for some time to help out. But Buffy didn't want to worry about that now.

The ride wasn't too long and when they entered Buffy's house Spike was pretty impressed. It wasn't huge, just big enough for Buffy if she had to come to L.A. for a few days. It had a cozy living room with a beige couch and matching chair in front of the fireplace. What they needed a fireplace for, he had no idea, but it was cute. Buffy led him by the hand into the living room where there was already someone occupying the chair.

The youngest of the Summers girls stood up when she saw the blonde vampire. "Spike?" she whispered.

"Hey, Dawn," Spike said, shyly. He could tell she was surprised. She obviously wasn't counting on seeing him here when she came to visit Buffy. He hoped it was a nice surprise for her.

Dawn ran and jumped into his arms. "Oh, God. I missed you so much," she cried, sobbing into his shirt.

Spike hugged her as tightly as he could with his sore arms, but he could at least lift them a little. "I missed you too, Nibblet," he whispered in to her hair. It felt so good to hold her in his arms, he hadn't seen her in a long time, and he hadn't parted with her on good terms. She had no idea how badly he had missed her.

Buffy raised an eyebrow. "How did you get here so fast?" She asked, locking the door behind her. "It's like a nine hour flight here."

Dawn looked at her sister. "I was on the same flight as you," she said with some triumph. "Do you have any idea how hard it is to hide from you on the same flight, at the same airport? I hung out at the L.A. airport after you left in case you came here. Then I got a cab to bring me here. I've been here for hours. I was starting to get worried." She released Spike and looked up at him. "This is incredible," she squealed.

Buffy wrapped an arm around Spike's waist. "I know and we have lots of catching up to do."

"Oh yes," Dawn said. "We might as well get comfy. This is going to take a while, I'm sure."

The three of them sat on the couch and Spike proceeded to tell his story. Reluctant at first to relay his fears of being inadequate after his blaze of glory death, their gentle words and nods of encouragement allowed for the last few months to flow rather steadily and in great detail.

By the time he was done, both of his girls were crying and he was holding them. "Easy girls, I'm still tender." He winced slightly at an overzealous hug. He didn't really care. Any pain was worth it as long as it was from his girls. Nothing else really mattered. He heard Buffy sniffle and she got up off the couch and went through the French doors to the balcony.

"She took that a lot harder than I thought," Spike mused. In truth he wasn't sure what to expect from Buffy when he finally told her everything, but her reaction right now was one of her better ones, he thought.

Dawn sniffled and wiped her eyes. "She took what happened to you pretty hard," she said. "She really missed you. It's just a lot for her to take in. So, are you going to be here in the morning? I hope you don't leave again. I want Buffy to be happy again, and I wanted everything to go back to normal. Like it's supposed to be."

"Probably," Spike replied, with a smile. "I don't plan on going anywhere any time soon." If ever if he had any say in it. He wanted to be with both his girls, but Buffy hadn't asked him to return with her.

"Good. Then I'm going to bed so you guys can be alone," she said, kissing his cheek.

"Goodnight, Nibblet," he said, kissing her forehead.

"Love you, Spike," she answered, disappearing into her bedroom.

Spike stood up and flexed his arms. He had imagined this day a million different ways, mostly ending with rejection or death, but he was happy to have it end with Buffy only sad at his unwillingness to call her because of his own insecurities. Sighing, he moved out to the balcony to join Buffy. "Pet?" Her back was too him as she looked into the night, seeing the lights of the center of L.A. in the distance and he could smell the faint smell of tears.

"I missed you," she said softly without turning to look at him.

Spike wrapped his arms around her from behind. "I missed you, too, love."

"So you're coming home with us, right?" she asked, leaning against him. "We live in Rome now, but you already know that," she said. "We just wanted something different and I needed something to forget what happened."

"To forget me?" he asked with a twinge of hurt. That thought was like a knife to his heart and he had felt that many times around Buffy. Right now, he wanted nothing more then to wipe the slate clean for them, get rid of all the hurt, so they could have a new life together.

Buffy shook her head and lifted her gaze. "No, of course not," she whispered. "To forget what you said and that you wouldn't be in my life anymore."

"You know I had to do that," he whispered his eyes closed against the hurt he knew, now, that he would see there. He hadn't said that to hurt her. He wanted her to get out alive and do what she did best, live. She didn't deserve to die in that hole with him. He didn't think she had that many second chances left. "I wanted you to be safe, Buffy."

Buffy nodded. "Didn't make it hurt any less."

"Do you really want me to go with you?" the hope in his voice clear for the world to hear. He couldn't bear leaving her again. It would devastate him. Before it was easier, but now to have her again, only to lose her, would kill him. "To Rome, I mean?"

"Yes, I really do. We missed you. You can't possibly want to stay here while I go home. Besides, since Dawn has seen you she's not going to be so quick to let you go." Buffy paused and turned to face him, looking into his eyes so he would know that she was telling the truth, she added, "and neither will I. Think I've been without you long enough. Don't you think?"

Spike smiled and kissed her softly. God he had missed her mouth. Her lips were still as soft as ever, and still sent shocks of pleasure through his body, even through his tender arms. "I guess I don't really have a choice then, huh?" the laughter in his voice letting her know that he wasn't really distraught about it. Buffy shook her head. "Guess I'm with you then, my Goldilocks."

Buffy smiled and leaned in to kiss him hungrily. Her hands traveled up his chest and locked around his neck as his hands flexed at her waist. They were so lost in their passion for each other that they didn't even notice as the sun began to rise over a sleepy Los Angeles.