The battle was over, and Spike's body was screaming in pain. But, he seemed to always be getting hurt these days. However, his heart hurt more then anything. Once Dawn had been taken by Glory, he had felt like his world had stopped. He had done everything he could to try and protect her, and now he had failed. Dawn's broken body was laid across a pile of bricks, her long brown hair fanned out around her head. Painfully, he dragged his own body over to her, where he collapsed to his knees. After falling off the tower, it felt like everything had broken, but he ignored it as he reached a shaky hand out to touch her hand. It was still warm. The rest of the Scoobies shuffled around him; the creaking of the tower brought his attention to the scent of vanilla that wafted into his nose and he knew that Buffy had come down, but he couldn't bring himself to look at her.

A hand touched his shoulder and her soft voice drifted into his ears. "Spike," Buffy whispered, tears choking her own voice. "We have to go."

Go where? The sun was prickling his spine, and it wouldn't be long before he was a pile of dust. But he couldn't leave her. Slowly he lifted his bloody face up to look at the slayer. "I'm sorry," he whimpered. "I tried."

Buffy frowned and crouched next to him. "It's not your fault," she said, lifting his eyes to hers. "We both tried to save her." She ran her hand through his hair that was matted with blood. "Come on." She got to her feet, carefully pulling him up with her. "You okay?"

"Had worse," Spike mumbled, his blue eyes staring at Dawn's body. Giles was asking Buffy questions and she told them that they were going back to her house. "Can drop me off at my crypt." He needed to be alone, have a large bottle of liquor to drown his pain.

"Nonsense," she said, leading him out of the construction site. "I'm not leaving you alone this time."

~*~*~

About 15 minutes later, the gang arrived at Buffy's home. Spike had almost passed out in the car, and Buffy could see the pain starting to get to him. Her arm was around his waist as they struggled up the stairs to her room. With each painful step she whispered soothing words and, with tremendous care, she eased him onto her bed. "Spike, we're gunna have to get these clothes off," she said. "I know it hurts, but I can't leave you like this." He was the only one that could understand her pain and he couldn't suffer. She wouldn't let that happen anymore.

"I'm fine," he mumbled, leaning his head back against her pillows. "Just leave me be."

Buffy rolled her eyes and sat next to him before picking up his bruised hand. "Spike," she whispered. "You're crazy if you think I'm just going to leave you like this. You need help and I'm going to give it to you." He could be so stubborn it almost grated on her nerves, but for tonight it could slide. They needed each other, even if neither wanted to admit it.

Once he relaxed, indicating to her that she could continue, she started the long and grueling task of cleaning him up. The broken ribs made it difficult for her to get his jacket off and each whimper and growl of pain went straight to her heart. Once his jacket and shirt were off, she helped him lay back down before moving to his feet. After unlacing his boots, she pulled them off, noticing that he didn't have socks on, before glancing up at him. His eyes were distant but full of emotion as he stared at her ceiling. "Spike?" she asked softly. "I have to take your jeans off."

The blush that crept up her neck and cheeks made her feel really warm, but this wasn't about anything other then comfort. His lack of response told her she could continue without a problem. Slipping the button through the hole and pulling the zipper down, she noticed how loose the jeans were. He had lost weight in the past few months, and it was easy to slide the filthy material down his legs. Each inch of skin that was revealed made her sick to her stomach. He wasn't quite healed from Glory's attack and she could see the source of a lot of his pain. "How could you walk?" She whispered, more to herself then anyone else. She tossed the jeans into a random spot on her carpet; they would be garbage anyway.

His naked state did not bother her, for without the rude comments or the looks, it didn't much matter. She carefully ran her soft hands over his legs, flinching when she felt the break. She met his eyes, letting him know that there was no way to avoid this and he nodded. His jaw tensed and she quickly set his leg, feeling the bones crack into place. Reaching out, she grabbed his hand and gave it a squeeze before she went back to her task.

About forty-five minutes later, Spike was sound asleep. Buffy stood in the doorway, watching him carefully, but he slept like the dead, minus the rising and falling of his chest. A small smile formed on her lips, realizing that he wasn't that different from her, but she was too tired to deal with that now. With a soft sigh she headed downstairs where Willow met her. "You okay?"

While helping Spike get cleaned up, it had taken her mind off of Dawn, but no one else had that luxury. "I don't know. I just can't believe she's gone," Buffy said, her voice cracking. The emotions rushed through her, almost suffocating her. How could this happen? Her arms folded over her chest as tears streamed aimlessly down her cheeks. Willow reached out to hug her, but Buffy batted her away. "I can't Willow," she whispered, with a shudder. The rest of her friends looked at her with sad eyes and she wiped her tears. "I'm going upstairs. I'll talk to you guys in the morning." Without waiting for any protests, she took off for the second floor. Not wanting to wake Spike up, she calmed down before going into her room. Spike would wake up in a heartbeat if she was distressed.

She opened the door to her room and frowned. Silently, she changed her clothes, and slipped in beside him, trying to calm down his tremors. Running a hand over his forehead seemed to calm him down slightly and he turned toward her, seeking her warmth. She laid her head on the pillow above him as silent tears ran down her face. Soon after that, her eyes drifted closed and she fell asleep.

~*~*~

It felt like it was only minutes after she closed her eyes when Buffy drifted awake. However, she was alone. Sitting up, she rubbed her puffy eyes and sighed. Throwing the covers off, she got up to go find the injured vampire. She didn't have to go far, she found him in the doorway of Dawn's room, staring at the unmade bed. "Spike?" The pants he had on, the ones that Xander had brought, were almost falling off his hips, making her more concerned for him.

He jumped as if he hadn't noticed her presence. "It wasn't supposed to be her," he whimpered.

"I know." Tears pooled in her eyes as she wrapped her arms around her middle. She buried her face in his neck as he pulled her into his arms, forgetting his own pain and whispering soothing words to her. Her knees wobbled and he sank to the floor with her, rocking her shaking body back and forth. His own tears started leaking into her shirt and she was about to tell him they should go back to her room in his condition when someone came charging up the stairs.

"Buffy!" Angel's voice boomed through the house. The brunette vampire stopped short when he saw a shirtless Spike, holding Buffy. He crouched next to them with a worried expression. "I came as soon as I could."

"You didn't have to," she whispered, climbing to her feet. She helped Spike up and slid an arm around his waist. "Let's get you back in bed," she said, leading him back to her room, feeling Angel close behind her. But she wasn't about to deal with it now. "You okay?"

He raised an eyebrow. "Silly question, innit?" He asked as she laid him down on the bed. "What happens now?"

"I can't stay here," she whispered, sitting next to him. "I just can't. I need to get out of Sunnydale for a while and I want you to go with me." She stared at the floor feeling like a little school girl asking someone out on a first date. And having Angel hovering in the doorway didn't help one bit. She raised her eyes to meet his. "You don't have to, but I thought you might want to get out for a little bit."

Spike reached out to touch her arm. "That's silly, Pet," he whispered. "Don't think such a thing. Just need some things from my crypt and some blood and I'll be ready to go."

"Okay," she said, off of the bed. "I think we have blood here. I'll heat you up some and we can stop at your crypt on the way." She sighed and glanced at Angel then back at Spike. "Just rest for now." Then she shooed Angel out of the room. "I don't have time for whatever you're going to say." Angel followed her downstairs as she headed to the kitchen to make Spike something to eat. "Angel, I'm serious."

"Buffy," Angel said, grabbing her arm gently. "This isn't like you. You need your friends."

"No," she said, glaring at him. "I need to get out of here." Pulling blood out of the fridge, she cut the top off and poured it into a cup. Sticking it in the microwave, she leaned against the counter and looked at Angel. "Look, I appreciate that you came, I do. But I'm hurting, Angel, and no one will understand. Probably not even Spike. But I can't stay here right now. Without mom and Dawn, there isn't anything keeping here."

"So what are you saying?" Angel asked. "You're going to give up slaying?"

"No," she sighed. "But Angel, I need some space. I need…" She paused. "I don't know what I need. I just need to get out for a while." The microwave beeped, and she pulled it out. "I need you to understand. This is what I need right now." She left her ex alone in the kitchen and headed back upstairs. Spike was still awake, sitting up in bed. "Hey," she said, handing him his blood. "I think it's the right temperature."

"Thanks, luv," he said, taking it from her. "You sure this is what you want?"

What a question. "Yeah," she said, standing up. "I know you heard me downstairs talking to Angel with your heightened hearing. I'm not changing my mind." She dug in her closet for a duffle bag and started packing. She had no idea how long she'd be gone for, but that didn't matter. She threw some jeans and shirts in there. She wouldn't be impressing anyone while she was away. She grabbed a picture of her mom and Dawn and put that in her bag as well. "You sure you're up for a trip?" she asked, zipping her bag.

"I'll be fine, Buffy," he said. "Just find me some clothes and we'll be good to go."

She giggled. "I have some sweats that you can wear for now. I wouldn't recommend putting on your tight clothes right now. You can change when we get to our first hotel." There was a pair of sweats that were too big for her in her dresser somewhere. Pulling open the bottom drawer, she found them in the back. "Got 'em." She went back over to the bed and paused. "Think we can do this?"

"Just need some help, Pet," he said. "Already healing."

She lifted his arm around her shoulders and carefully helped him off her bed and on his feet. His cocked bobbed against his stomach and the blush returned in full force.

"Sorry," he said, ducking his head. "Usually like that around you."

Buffy smiled and helped him into the sweats. "I'll let it go for now," she said. "Come on. Lets get you downstairs and I'll help you put your boots on and we can leave." His arm went back around her shoulders and hers around his waist as they made the painful journey downstairs.

"Buffy?" Giles said as the two blondes came downstairs.

"Giles," she answered, helping Spike sit on the couch. "I have to run upstairs for a minute. Be right back." She smiled at Spike before rushing upstairs. She was soon back down with her bag, his boots, and his duster. "You're not talking me out of this Giles." Buffy turned her grief stricken face toward them. "Spike's taking me away from Sunnydale. Giles, I need to get back on my feet and I need to do it elsewhere. Away from the memories," she whispered, before going back to helping Spike put on his boots.

"Where are you going?" Giles asked, whipping off his glasses to give them a clean. "We understand you need some time, but to make such a rash choice…"

"It's not rash," Buffy said. "I don't know where we're going. Just away." She looked at Spike. "Ready?" At his nod she handed him the keys to her mom's SUV. "I'll call to check in." She picked up her duffle bag and helped Spike off the couch. Without anymore words to Giles they left. Spike's limp wasn't as bad as the night before as she got him into the driver seat. She quickly went around the passenger side and hopped in. "Your place? I'll grab some of your stuff. Just don't want you moving around a lot."

"Then where?" he asked, starting the ignition.

"Don't care. Just somewhere private," Buffy said. "I've got enough cash for a few weeks." She buckled up and stared at the window. The familiar surroundings weren't helping her try to make herself strong as Spike drove toward his cemetery. But for once, she couldn't wait to see the sign for leaving Sunnydale. All she wanted was to get out. And she didn't realize how badly she wanted Spike with her. They could do this together. There was just no other way.

~*~*~

A few days later, Buffy walked into her hotel room. "Honey, I'm home," she said, with a smile. It had been about four days since they had left Sunnydale and she didn't know where they were, but it was nice. She had talked a lot with Spike, told him things that she never thought she'd be ever to tell anyone. And in turn, he told her about his family. She felt like they had gotten very close in a very short amount of time, but she wasn't sure where that was headed. He was healing very nicely, but that was her doing as well. It took a lot of convincing and a lot of tears, but eventually he was able to get Spike to drink some of her blood at least once a day so he could heal faster. He was back in his own clothes, just a slight limp with his healing leg. They shared a bed, only because it was cheaper to get a room with one bed, and it never went beyond some innocent touches. They hadn't even kissed. And to be honest with herself, she was really okay with the way things were going.

Spike emerged from the bathroom. "How was your walk?" he asked.

"Lonely. Why didn't you come?" She pouted, going over to sit on the couch. She had been taking walks at night since they left and she knew it was hard for him to come with her. His leg was still bothering him and really, sometimes they both just needed time alone.

"Tired," he answered, sitting next to her. "You alright, Luv?"

Buffy snuggled against him. "I miss her," she said. She missed her mom and her sister. Terribly. It was hard to even think about going home. Home to an empty house and bills and slaying. Nothing to look forward to.

"I know. I miss her too," Spike said, stroking her hair. "When do you want to go home?"

"Tomorrow night," she said, sighing. She'd thought about this for a while, but she knew the longer they stayed away, the harder it would be to go home. And she still had a job to do. "It's easier to pull my mind together away from Sunnydale. I do wanna go home and say my final goodbyes." She paused and looked up at him. "Spike, I have to clean the house of Mom and Dawn's things. You wanna help? I don't think I could do it by myself." She knew that would be the hardest of all, and just as hard for Spike and she felt bad for asking him in the first place.

Spike smiled. "What are you gunna do with the two empty rooms?" he asked.

"Well I was thinking I could move into Mom's room…" Buffy looked down and blushed. "I was wondering if you could…you know…move in? I mean I know it'll be a big adjustment, but I really want you around." She had a feeling he'd say yes, but she didn't want him to feel like he had to do what she said. It wasn't about that. She would be fine on her own, or she thought she would. But it'd be easier with him around.

Spike shifted and put his finger under her chin to lift her gaze. "If you really want me too, I will," he said, softly. "But I won't do anything with you halfway Buffy."

Buffy smiled and shifted. "Spike," she said, softly. "Ever since we left Sunnydale, things have been less complicated and less hard. The fist couple of days, I'll admit, tore me apart. You didn't try to tell me that things were gunna be okay, and I was grateful to get my frustrations out," she said, leaning against him. "We were not good friends but I knew I could trust you anyway. Now we are, and possibly more. I just don't want you to leave because I'm a stubborn bitch and I make you crazy. You are the only good thing that's keeping me here." She looked up at him. "Think you can put up with me no matter what?"

His eyes pierced hers. "Buffy, I'm not leaving. Not ever. Promise," he whispered.

There were no more words needed as she cupped his cheek and gently kissed him. His hands sank into her soft locks as she shifted closer to him. There was no reason to rush. They had a lot of time. She shivered as his hands ghosted down her arm and he pulled her closer to him. She knew this was what she needed.

~*~*~

As planned, the two of them returned home the next night. Spike opened the door to the Summers house and carried a sleeping Buffy inside. Much to his disappointment, Angel was still there. This wasn't going to go well. He and Buffy had taken a huge step together and the last thing he needed was for Angel to ruin it and talk Buffy out of things. He pulled Buffy closer to him as Angel approached him.

"Spike," Angel said. "We gotta talk."

This was a conversation he really did not want to have. "Let me get Buffy in bed first," he said, heading upstairs. Gently, he laid his precious cargo in her bed and she sighed as his arms slid out from under her. He pulled her comforter over top of her body before leaving the room. Might as well face the music sooner rather then later. He headed downstairs and found Angel in the kitchen. "What do you want?" he asked, tiredly heating up some blood.

"How's Buffy holding up?" the older vampire asked.

Spike sighed. "I think it helped us to be away, but she's not doing too well," he said. "She doesn't eat or sleep that much anymore. She has to deal with funeral arrangements, and she has to go through their stuff." He hadn't even thought about that. The slayer had just made arrangements for her mom's funeral that had all but ripped her apart, and now to make them for her baby sister, that was just cruel. Did the powers have no mercy for anyone?

"She has had so much loss in her life," Angel said, softly. "I just hope she can get through this."

Spike rubbed his hand over his face. "Me too," he mumbled. He drained the blood in his cup and rinsed it out before setting it in the sink. He just wanted to go up and be with Buffy. Being close to her really helped him feel better. Knowing that he could be strong for her helped him deal with his own pain.

Angel looked at his childe closely. "How are you holding up?" He asked, taking a step closer to him.

Spike looked at his sire in surprise. It wasn't like Angel to be concerned about him but he could see that Angel really was worried. "If I could sleep, we'd be in good shape," Spike said. "Buffy has been having nightmares, so that keeps me up. Don't know how to make them stop." It was a constant thing. She'd give him a shot to the nose or a kick to the shin, totally unaware of it. Every night they seemed to get worse.

Angel went over and lifted Spike's gaze to look deep into him. "Have you dealt with what happened or are you just worrying about Buffy?" he asked.

Spike looked away from Angel's gaze. "Buffy," he admitted. There was no reason to lie. Angel would figure it out anyway. But he wanted to deal with this on his own. He didn't want Angel's help, but at this rate, there might not be a choice.

Angel frowned and gently ran his hands through Spike's ungelled hair. "You're grieving too," he said. "Buffy's not gunna be mad."

Spike trembled. "I can't," he said, pulling away from Angel. "Not until I'm sure that Buffy is gunna be okay." If he lost control, Buffy would too. It wasn't about her being mad. It was about helping her through this. He'd always put her feelings before his own. That wasn't about to change.

Angel rolled his eyes and took his hand. "Come on," he said, leading him out of the kitchen.

"Where are you taking me?" Spike asked, tiredly, as he took him upstairs. This felt like an intervention and he hated it. But he was mildly confused when they headed in the direction of Buffy's room. Angel said that Spike needed to sleep as he silently opened Buffy's door. The poor slayer was trembling a little in her sleep and Spike didn't need Angel's encouragement to climb in next to her. He curled around the broken slayer as she continued to fight her dream and whispered calming words of love to her. His eyes followed Angel as the brunette vampire shrugged off his jacket. Angel went to the other side of Spike and took off his shoes, before climbing in behind him.

Spike was surprised when Angel spooned against his back and nuzzled his neck. "Go to sleep, Spike," he said, in a soft commanding tone.

Spike settled down and buried his face in Buffy's hair as Angel's arm came around his waist. He pressed back into him a little and closed his eyes as sleep claimed him.

~*~*~

The next day, Buffy woke to her vampires still slumbering. She kissed Spike softly. "I'm going to take a shower," she whispered. "Don't worry." To wake up and see them both in her bed was a little odd. But Angel was curled protectively around Spike just like Spike was with her. She knew Spike was having a hard time, more then he was letting on. But she didn't know how to help him and maybe Angel did. She grabbed some clothes and headed for a hot shower.

Once she was done, she noticed her dark eyes in the mirror. She looked like crap. Sighing she went back to her room where both vampires were awake. "Hey," she said, joining them on the bed.

"You okay?" Spike asked, as Angel rubbed his back.

Buffy nodded. "I do have to ask, why was Angel in here with us?" It was a little awkward for her, but she could sense the difference in the atmosphere with the two of them.

"It was the only way I could get Spike to sleep," Angel said, from the other side of Spike. "He would have just stayed up all night watching you. Again. Buffy didn't have that many nightmares after you came in here with her. You did. Which is reason enough for me as to why you don't sleep. And it's not just about Buffy having nightmares. You don't want to deal with yours."

Spike opened his mouth to protest but didn't know what to say.

Buffy touched Spike's knee. "Spike, you don't need to be strong all the time," she said, softly. "I'm going to see if I can eat something. You stay up here, and talk to Angel." Spike opened his mouth again but she was gone before he could say anything. He needed to do this and she had just been too selfish to see. But now was the time to deal with the grief and the pain.