It had been a very long, very tiresome evening. Buffy's mind was spinning from Spike's confession. She didn't know what to think. He had a soul now. For her. No one… she couldn't wrap her mind around that. Everything she knew about vampires and souls, she learned from Angel, and Spike was doing everything backwards. Vampires didn't seek out their souls. But Spike did. That's where he had been for three months. All this time, she thought he'd left her, and he had gone to atone for what he had done, even though she had forgiven as soon as he left the bathroom. After pulling him off the cross, she helped him out of the church, and with a lot of arguing from Spike she led him to her house.

Dawn and Xander were in the living room, but she ignored them as she headed to her room. With care, she laid him down on her bed. "You should get some rest," she said, softly. He couldn't go back to the basement. It was making him crazy, and for someone like Spike, it was doing him a lot of harm. She grabbed the first aid kit from next to her bed, and pulled out the burn salve. "I'm going to…" she paused, remember how he flinched away from her. "It'll help." There was no response from him, and she took that as a continue. Gently, she applied a layer of salve to the outline of the cross on his chest.

When she was finished, she stood up and stared down at him. He was really skinny, too skinny. He obviously hadn't been feeding properly for quite some time. "If you need me, I'll be downstairs," she said, pulling the blanket up to his waist. She paused in the doorway to glance back at him. "Spike, it's okay for you to be here. I want to help." With that, she headed downstairs to face the music.

Dawn approached her at the bottom of the stairs. "Buffy? What's going on?" She asked. "What is Spike doing here?"

"Spike has a soul," Buffy said, softly, folding her arms and going to sit in the overstuffed chair in the living room. She still couldn't believe it, it was still such a shock to her, that she couldn't… how was she going to deal with this? What did this mean for them?

"Oh please. He probably only said that to get into your pants again," Xander growled.

"Xander," Buffy snapped. "You don't know. The things he said. The tone of his voice. He draped himself over a cross." She did not want to deal with Xander's jealousy right now. He needed to get over his beef with Spike and stop getting in her business.

"Buffy that doesn't mean anything," Xander said. "He's a killer. You cant keep letting him slide. He raped you."

"He did not!" She flared, scowling at him. "You have no idea what happened between me and Spike and you have no right to make assumptions and tell people things that aren't true. I believe him," she said, her gaze landing on Dawn. "He didn't rape me."

Dawn crossed her arms as well. "But he did hurt you," she stated. It didn't take a genius. "So I can't excuse that Buffy." She paused and bit her lip. "But I'm willing to move past it and help him through what he's going through."

Buffy smiled at her sister. "Thanks, Dawn," she said, climbing to her feet. "I'm tired, so I'm going to head to bed." She climbed the stairs and paused outside the door to her room. She could feel the tears sliding down her cheeks and she angrily wiped her cheeks. She found the courage to enter her room and she stared at the still form of the vampire asleep on her bed. He looked horrible. She pulled a blanket out of the closet and dropped her pillow on the floor beside him. Yup, a long night in deed.

The next day, Buffy had to go to work. But she left a note for Spike on the pillow next to him letting him know where everyone was, and that there was blood for him in the refridgerator. She wanted to be able to come home and see him on her lunch break but she wasn't sure she'd be able to, but she would be home around 4 as soon as she was able to get out of the office.

After being at work for two and a half hours, she wished she'd call in for a personal emergency. It seemed like more kids then usual had problems, and she wanted to help them all, and thankfully, none were that serious. But she wanted to go home. All she could think about was Spike, and if he was okay. Did Xander sneak over to her house to try and finish him off? Was he going crazy and trying to walk into the sunlight? She couldn't help her thoughts from running through her mind.

"Ms. Summers?"

"Hm?" She asked, jumping out of her thoughts and noticing her boss standing next to her. Great. Now she looked like she was slacking off on the job. That wasn't an impression she wanted to make. She took her job seriously, it was just today was a stressful day.

"Are you okay?" Principle Wood asked, leaning against the filing cabinet next to her desk. "You seem… distracted."

She bit her lip. "I have a friend that just came back into town with some serious problems," she said. "And I'm just a little worried about him that's all. I'll be fine." She had chills up her spine every time this guy was around. It was definitely weird. His office was directly over the hellmouth for crying out loud. Something was definitely up. With a few more meaningless words, he left her alone and she finished her day, which dragged by.

When Buffy returned home the house was quiet. "Spike?" Too quiet. The worry was already starting to well up inside of her and she was about to freak out when she heard his voice from the kitchen. A sigh of relief escaped her lungs as she joined him.

"How was your day?" She asked. Something simple, just to get a feel for what his state of mind was this afternoon.

"It was okay," Spike said. "How was yours?" Easy enough. He was coherent, responding normally to her. Being out of the basement had to do wonders for his state of mind. His physical appearance however, would take a lot longer to come back to normal. She knew they had a long, rocky road ahead of them.

"Pretty boring," Buffy said, sitting at the counter. "You okay?" She didn't want to be nosey, but she wanted to help him. She wanted to be able to talk to him again, figure things out. And for that to happen, she needed him to open up to her. But with everything they had been through, everything she had put him through, she wouldn't blame him if he didn't want to talk to her. "With the whole soul thing because you know I'm here if you wanna talk," Buffy said.

Spike sighed and carefully sat next to her. "Some nights are harder then others. Sleeping and eating are near impossible," he said. "I can't remember the last time I ate, or slept. The voices never stop. Not really. Makes me sick to eat. Anything that I put in my stomach I just end up throwing up later."

Buffy ran the back of her hand across his face and Spike flinched slightly. He relaxed when he realized she wasn't going to hit him. "Please don't be afraid of me," she said, softly. "I'm not going to hurt you ever again." God she hated that. He couldn't even be close to her without flinching away. How could she have done such a thing to him? Reduced him to this… whimpering excuse for a vampire. He used to be so strong and confident, and she had ripped that all away.

"I'm not gunna hurt you either," Spike whimpered, meeting her eyes. "Buffy I never wanted to hurt you. That's not why I was there. I wanted to tell you that what happened between me and Anya didn't mean anything. It was an accident," he said. "I was trying to find a spell to make the pain stop."

"I didn't mean to hurt you," Buffy said, shaking her head. "After things got out of control I got scared. I thought you were just trying to get into my pants then I thought you were gunna leave. I don't think I could've handled it. It hurt so much when you left and we weren't together. I can't imagine what I would've been like if I had loved you and then you left."

"I didn't want to leave," Spike said. "When you stopped me and I realized what I was gunna do, I had to leave. The look on your face broke my heart. I wanted to be a cold blooded killer again so that you would kill me. I got my soul and I just wanted you to know how sorry I was. I never thought you'd forgive me."

"So much happened after you left," she whispered. "Warren shot me and a stray bullet hit Tara. She was killed and Willow got consumed with dark magic. She tired to destroy the world she almost killed Dawn," she said. "It was horrible."

Spike's eyes widened. "Tell me everything."

"Well I took Dawn to your place so you could watch her and you weren't there. Clem said you weren't gunna be back for awhile and had I not been so focused on Dawn, I probably would have broken down. If you had been there to watch dawn she wouldn't have gone looking for Willow and I would have been able to tell Dawn myself what happened between us and why her best friend wasn't here to protect her," she said.

Tears welled in Spike's eyes. "I don't know if she'll ever forgive me," he whispered.

"She will. She's really mad at you but if you talk to her, she'll forgive you in time," Buffy said, comfortingly. "Come on. Let's see if we can get you to eat." She led him to the kitchen and he sat at the counter as she warmed up a little bit of blood. The microwave beeped and Buffy handed the mug to him. Spike sniffed the blood and almost gagged. She wrapped her arm around his shoulders. "Are you okay?"

"I cant Buffy," he answered softly. "Sorry."

Buffy kissed his temple and guided his arms around her waist. "It's okay. I might be able to help. Close your eyes," she instructed softly. He couldn't even bare the smell of blood. It made him sick; causing him to be unable to keep anything down.

Spike closed his eyes and Buffy moved away from him slightly. She grabbed a straw and put it in the mug. "Try not to smell anything," she said, slipping the straw into his mouth. She saw Spike's chest stop rising and falling with unnecessary breaths and smiled. "Try to drink now." He drained it easily, thank god. "See? That's good. I just have to give you a little at a time."

The front door opened, indicating Dawn was home. "Hi Buffy," she said, and paused when she saw Spike in her sisters arms. "You're still here."

Spike looked at Dawn and tried to read her emotions. "Dawn."

"No," Dawn said, tears in her eyes. "Don't say you're sorry, Spike. Tara died and Buffy almost did. You left us to deal with this and I've never felt so alone in my entire life. You promise you would never leave me and you did anyway." She shook her head as Spike tried to talk to her again and ran upstairs. Spike looked at Buffy before going up after her. He heard her sobs coming from her bedroom and he knocked on her door. "Go away!"

"Dawn please," Spike said, his own tears, choking him. "Just let me explain."

The door flung open and Dawn glared at him. "Where were you when Tara was dead on the floor? When I found her body? And when Willow tried to kill us? Where were you? You could've said goodbye to me to at least make me feel like you love me. You could've came and told me instead of just taking off. I would've been more forgiving if I had heard what happened from you or Buffy not Xander. felt like you were abandoning me. Do you know how that makes me feel?!"

"I do love you," Spike said, firmly. "That has never changed. But I had to go. Things were so messed up with me and Buffy and I couldn't live with what happened. I don't know what she's told you, but things were very bad with us. We hurt each other a lot. But I never… I didn't think. Not really. I just took off. I didn't mean to hurt you," Spike said, looking at her with tears in his eyes.

"But you did," Dawn said, softly. "Whether you meant to or not, Spike, you did. I can't just forget it. Don't you remember all the promises you made to me? How much time we spent together when Buffy was gone? Just poof! Gone."

"I'm not asking you to forgive me. I can wait," Spike said.

Dawn sighed and crossed her arms. "When I forgive you, I'll let you know," she said closing the door in his face.

Buffy appeared at the top of the stairs with a sympathetic look on her face. "Come on. Let's leave Dawn alone. You should get some rest," she said, pulling him to her room. "You need to relax. You have a lot of healing to do. The basement wasn't exactly the best place to relax and get your strength up."

"I don't know why you want to help me, but thank you," he said, sitting on her bed. "I never… I never thought you'd… Just… Thank you."

"You're welcome," she said, resting her hand on his shoulder. "I want things to be different Spike. After you left, I realized a lot of things. I have a lot to make up for what I did to you, but I want to make it right. I want to help you make things right too. With your soul and everything else you're going through. I want to be here for you. So, lie down for a while and get some sleep."

Spike stared at her for a moment, but did as she said and curled up under the covers. His burns had started to go away, but they were still pretty bad. He reached a hand out to grasp hers and met her eyes. "You know I love you," he said.

She smiled and brought his hand up to her cheek. "Good," she said, leaning down to kiss his forehead. "Forgiveness goes a long way, Spike. We'll be fine."