Spike inhaled smoke into his dead lungs as he awaited his turn in the spotlight. The dingy L.A. club reminded him of The Bronze.

A nancy-looking teenage kid finished his song, bowed diffidently and left the stage. As he passed Spike he muttered, "All yours, dude."

Spike took a last drag then flicked his cigarette to the floor. He stubbed it out with the toe of his boot, then strode onstage while settling his guitar strap over his shoulders. Vampire power allowed his eyes to pierce the bright lights to scan the crowd. He saw couples holding hands, hunched conspiratorially together. At the bar singles milled about, blokes hitting on birds and of giggling girls looking for trouble. In the back a table of giddy teenaged girls whispered behind their hands and giggled conspiratorially.

Spike knew their types, knew their stories, and he both liked them and was bored by them. He was adjusting the height of the microphone when he saw her, took a sharp intake of breath at sight of Buffy in the crowd. Her golden tresses tumbled over a black, V-cut blouse topping matching, skin-tight jeans. She looked back at him and their eyes locked and held. Intense green clashed with icy blue in silent violence.

Spike had to steady himself after the unexpected sight. He fingered the guitar's neck, finding the frets, and gave a couple of strums. He began to play and sing, finding Buffy's eyes again.

What do we have but illusions

Where one man's absolute is another's choice

Giving in to confusion,

Till love and hate both tempt with the same voice.

His chest started to hurt. Regret stabbed at his brain, a phantom reawakened. His insides, the leave-alone spaces inside, smoldered. He translated the pain to the lyrics he sang.

Won't you take me to a higher ground

I need to see again the way I'm bound

N' choose the uneasy redemption,

Run by fear and the flaws of attraction

Her image burned into Spike, his eyes locked on her face, while swirling through his thoughts came recognition that he had wished her dead. Yearned to end the insanity of loving her.

Run by fear and the flaws of attraction,

Rewind, I wanna go it again,

light up the dark, halo on the side

So I'll know it will not leave me wanting

Lust. It was the lie he felt returning, the lie she believed. Now he wanted her, but it was not lust that welled up in his chest until his voice choked, the crowd taking it as a style variation, digging it. He felt alive, recalled being a living, breathing mortal – because here was the pain.

I see my heart, waving me bye-bye

Rewind, I wanna go it again,

Light up the dark, halo on the side.

If life itself has a meaning

His voice caught, too much. He stopped singing, and his fingers screwed up the chord. He leaned away from the mic and coughed, and his fingers found the proper seating.

Is it anything more than what we choose to call it

Sweet words make appealing,

But they only serve to mask the smell of what you buried

Is it worth your while to spend on a lie.

Spike's eyes fogged and he lost her. A couple of blinks and he found her again. Nothing to read in her eyes – just watching him, expressionless, yielding nothing.

His fingers clawed through the next chords, his voice flinty.

Even though you cannot see eye to eye

N' give in to the rumor seduction,

Run by fear and all the good intentions

Rewind I wanna go it again, he said to her. He wanted to rewind and to do it again. Did she realize he was speaking directly to her now? He was mystified that she could stand so impassively, so unaffected as he beseeched her. His soulful tones were bringing several in the audience close to tears. He could sense their empathy, but in their reaction he had no interest. It was rubbish. Only her. Buffy must crack. He must see something, some surrender in her face, a blink, a twitch, anything but stone!

Light up the dark, halo on the side

He once taunted that she didn't belong in light, but with him, in the dark. Badboy. Wildman. He cut her with his tongue, bloodletting until he was weary.

So I'll know it will not leave me wanting

Like my love kissing me bye-bye

That night in her basement, before the last battle and his burning to a cinder, there was a connection. Love? Was love. Love making, love giving, lips had touched. Is love. Love, being.

Rewind I wanna go it again.

His eyes begged Buffy's.

Light up the dark, halo on the side

Then the bad recollections.

If this is how we think we make amends

Hurting her, raping her.

Could she … forgive?

He forced his weakening fingers to strum with greater force.

If this is how we think we make amends

Then we're in for a race that never ends

Weariness clutched at Spike's throat, and he wanted to stop singing.

And where is it we think we'll go

And what is it we think we know

He staggered a little, his face dropping. From somewhere a new, stolid strength filled him, and his fingers flew with renewed energy over the strings. The words became new, springing from his voice as his own creation.

I see my heart, waving me bye-bye

Rewind I wish I could go it again

As Spike finished the crowd erupted into a cacophony. The clusters of girls stood clapping, moues of admiration on their lips, their faces streaked with wet makeup. He took off the guitar strap and hopped off the stage. He wended his way through the people toward Buffy, who stood unmoving. Hands slapped his back, voices cried out their approbation, all ignored as he moved intently toward her. In his head he repeated the last line of the song, a bitter smile creasing his mouth at the realization that it was less a song than it was his most fervent wish. He wondered if Buffy could possibly have missed it. He recalled how often she had seemed made of solid steel.

She was there, in front of him. He stopped, saying nothing. He could not meet her eyes, so he locked his gaze on her mouth.

Behind him, a woman with curly brown hair said softly, "Wish granted."

Buffy went pale.