Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.

This story is dedicated to my beta: Sweetprinciple, without your help and encouragement this would never be here. Any errors or if it's just plain bad blame me. I also want to thank hulettwyo for being a beta too. I appreciate your help.

After a few weeks of Spike digging for the treasure, he found it and Joyce held an auction. True to his word he gave Giles the ring for safe keeping. With the proceeds from the auction, Spike finally moved out, buying a townhouse not too far from Revello Drive. Joyce went with him to Willy's to look at the property that was available. The two went to look at the townhouse together and Joyce offered to help him furnish it. Joyce made him promise to come by at least once a week for dinner. Buffy and Spike continued to patrol together and they hung out with the gang often at his house. Surprisingly to Spike they had a good time watching movies together as a group.

One night, while waiting for Buffy to come home to go on patrol, Spike and Joyce were enjoying their cup of cocoa, now a pre-slaying tradition. "So, Spike, how long have you been in love with my daughter?" Joyce asked with a smile.

Spike choked on a marshmallow. "Joyce, um… you've got it wrong. We're just friends - that's all, friends," Spike stuttered. He really didn't want another axe to the head, and Joyce was right protective of her daughter. Even though they were friends, he didn't think Joyce would approve of his feelings for Buffy.

"Spike, I know you care about her, I can see it every time you look at her. Have you tried asking her out on a date?" Joyce pushed a little.

"No! I mean, no, Joyce. I told ya' just friends, is all." Spike drained his hot chocolate and put the mug in the sink. Making his way to the back door, he said goodnight to Joyce, not waiting for Buffy to patrol. In his hurry he missed the calculating look on Joyce's face.

Joyce spent the next week working on her daughter, asking Buffy how she felt about Spike. Joyce wasn't stupid, she knew Spike was a vampire, but she also knew that the chances of Buffy having a normal man in her life that could understand and respect her calling were practically impossible. She was also coming to understand that her dream for her daughter of getting married and having children wouldn't happen. Buffy would always be in danger and a husband and children would be in danger too. Joyce was saddened by the thought of Buffy not having children but she wanted her daughter to be happy as happy as she could be. She liked Spike, and she figured that if Buffy and Spike fell in love both could have a good life together, one that even might extend her daughters life. With Spike by her side and fighting by her side Buffy might find some happiness in her life and with her calling. That Monday, Joyce waited for Buffy to stop over. Joyce figured subtle was the way to go in the beginning, so she asked Buffy if Spike was still helping her with her class work and how patrols were going with Spike helping her.

"Patrol has been great, Mom. Spike is a big help. Between the two of us, we managed to take out a few nests and find the vamp that was responsible for the all the turnings lately."

"Well, I'm glad to hear it. I feel better knowing my baby has a strong man helping her," Joyce replied with a smile on her face.

The next night Joyce decided to step things up a bit. "I was wondering if you'd met anyone interesting on campus. I hate to think of you alone, Buffy. I do want you to find someone. I know it isn't easy being the Slayer, but that doesn't mean you can't date."

"Nah, I mean sure, there are some cute guys at school. But how do I explain having to run out of a restaurant because I see a vamp or demon killing someone across the street? Plus, a lot of guys really don't like it when the girl is stronger than them." Buffy gave a sigh at the thought of being alone for the rest of her life.

"Well, maybe the problem is that you can't date ordinary guys. You need someone who understands your world, someone as strong as you, and who enjoys the fight as much as you do."

Joyce kissed her daughter goodnight and hoped she'd planted the seeds in her mind.

A few nights later, Joyce decided to push a little more. "Hi, honey, how was your day?"

"Not bad, patrol is going to be tough tonight. Spike heard there's some new demon in town that wants to open the Hellmouth. We're going to try to stop him tonight and make sure he can't try again."

"Spike is going with you, right?" Joyce asked with concern in her voice.

"Yeah, we figured between the two of us, we should be able to take the demon out." Buffy assured her mother.

"Well that's good to hear. It makes me happy knowing you have someone who understands these threats and who is strong enough to help you. Plus, we know how much Spike likes to fight." Joyce laughed.

"Mom, are you trying to set me up with Spike?"

"Well, yes, yes I am. I know he has feelings for you. Plus, he is everything I would like to see in a man for you. But what do you think?"

Finally Buffy admitted that she liked him, he was smart and funny, and that she wouldn't mind going out on a date with him.

Buffy told her mom that she could see that Spike had changed from when he'd first come to town. He seemed sincere about wanting to help, and it was actually great having someone just as strong to patrol with. He'd become friends with Tara and Anya, helping the girls fit into the group as much as they helped him. He was smart, even helping Giles research, and had even been nice to Xander. Amazingly, the two had started playing pool at the Bronze two nights a week.

Joyce smiled to herself as Buffy told her about these events. Now she just needed to put the final plan into action.

The next time Spike came over, Joyce started talking about how much Buffy used to love ice skating and how she hadn't gone in years. Joyce suggested that Spike take her skating.

"Joyce, your daughter isn't going to want to go skatin' with me. Evil vamp, remember?"

"Not so evil." Joyce poked his ribs and handed him a tea towel so he could help her dry the dinner dishes. "Spike, trust me - just ask her, okay? Do it for me?"

Grumbling, "Okay, for you - only for you, the things I do..." Spike left to find the Slayer. He found her in Restfield cemetery taking on some big nasty demon. When she spotted Spike, she tossed him a weapon and between the two of them the demon was dead in minutes.

Spike stepped back, lighting up a cigarette and looking at Buffy as the moon glinted off her hair. Really, she was worth the risk. What other girl came with a demon killing package, really got into her carnage, and still looked stunning with blood on her chin? "Do you want to go skating with me tomorrow?" Spike blurted out.

Buffy was shocked and didn't answer right away because she was thinking a mile a minute. Sure, she knew her friends kind of liked Spike and they were starting to trust him. But how would dating Spike go over with them? Wait, why do I need their permission? Xander has Anya, an ex-demon. Willow had Oz and now Tara. They never asked me for permission. And let's not even think about Mom and Giles and the badness of cursed candy bars. Those images were still burned into her brain.

"Never mind was a silly idea anyway," Spike said as he turned to go. As the time had dragged on, Spike grew more nervous. Stupid idea, he'd thought, she doesn't want to go out with me. What in the world was I thinking? I never should've listened to Joyce about this.

"Spike, wait! I would love to go skating with you tomorrow," Buffy answered hurriedly.

Spike's smile lit up his whole face. "Pick you up tomorrow at six, Slayer," he said as he jumped over a tombstone and left the cemetery. Spike was happier than he could remember, he had friends, a place in the world and a date with the slayer. His unlife was turning out pretty good after all.

~The End~