Disclaimer: I don't own any of the characters… At least not the ones from the show… blah, blah, blah… You know the drill…

~*~Okay, just another one of my fics. This one's pretty short, and I don't think I'm going to continue it… At least not in chapters or anything. I might do a follow-up story or two, maybe I'll even turn it into a series… But it'll be short stories, I think. Anyway, if you've read my other fic, 'Revelations', it's basically written the same way… Of course, that's probably because I wrote it, and that's the way I write, so anyway… This one takes place just after 'Intervention'.~*~

No Longer Denied:

Confusion was inevitable at this point. She didn't know what to do… What to say. They were so strange, these feelings. Never once before had she ever felt this way towards anyone. Not even Angel… And she didn't know why she felt it. She just did. Maybe it was the way he looked at her… The way their eyes would lock, and all she could see in those deep blue pools was love. Or maybe it was the way a simple touch of his hand could make the rest of the world disappear. Or maybe it was the way he understood everything she was and everything she wanted to be… But those couldn't be the reasons. Those were the results. They were rooted in the reason, but they weren't it. And she did know what it was. No matter how much she desperately tried to deny it, she knew…

It had all started when she kissed him that first time. Not under Willow's spell… After that. When there had been no influential magicks involved. The first time she had really kissed him. He had protected them… Protected Dawn. Somehow that seemed to cancel out everything bad and evil that he had ever done. Even the whole sexbot incident had been forgiven immediately when she had heard those words pour from his bruised and swollen lips…

~*~*~*~

'No! You can't ever. Glory never finds out.'

'Why?'

''Cause Buffy…The other, not so pleasant Buffy… Anything happened to Dawn, it'd destroy her. Couldn't live, her bein' in that much pain. I'd let Glory kill me first. Nearly bloody did.'

The most incredible thing she had ever heard, by far. How could he care that much? Xander had been right, Spike was thrashed… So many burns and cuts and bruises… The torture he had endured was so very evident by his swollen face. It was so swollen… To the point that one of his beautiful blue eyes couldn't have been pried open if his life depended on it, the other almost in the same state… So bad she was sure he could barely see her. Cuts littered his face, red with the blood that had been earlier spilled by Glory. A few of them were focused around his one, barely open eye.

She could've cried right then and there. He had gone through so much, and for nothing more than to protect her and the little family she had left… The only family she had left… Dawn. All she wanted in that long moment before she brought her lips to his was to take away all of the pain he was in. Briefly, she wonder if her friends would have done the same. Would they have given their lives for her? Maybe they would have… But she didn't know. She didn't know whether they would have endured the pain and torture that Spike had for her… To save her… To protect her. She knew it was a terrible thought. One she shouldn't be thinking, but all this made her wonder. Caused her to question exactly how loyal they would have been, had they been in his place. That much pain could make anyone go insane. It could make you talk… Even if you're not fully aware that you're doing so… But Spike… Spike hadn't talked. He hadn't let her down. Even after all the hell she herself had put him through, he had stayed true. Been loyal to her when she needed him the most.

And suddenly, in that moment, he was no longer evil. No longer her mortal enemy. Now he was an ally. A companion. One of the most treasured people in her life. In a mere instant, he had shifted from being the source of all her hatred and anger, to being the only person in this world that she could trust… Completely and wholly. In that moment, he was her everything.

Then, she was leaning in, gently touching her lips to his, carefully avoiding the swell at the right side of his bottom lip. The kiss was gentle, soft, chaste… And yet it meant the world. To both of them. In that moment, he knew it was her, not the bot. As she looked at him, she fought back the tears. Whether they were thankful tears because what he had done for them, or tears brought about by the terrible pain she knew he must be in, she couldn't tell. She only knew they were there. And it didn't matter anyway. It wasn't important where they came from. It was probably a little of both, to be honest. She didn't care. She only cared that he was there. That he loved her the way he did… Enough to do what he had done for them.

For only a moment, she stood there, gazing at him intently. Wondering what was on his mind. And then she remembered that she wasn't supposed to care… Even though she knew she did. And always would from here on out… And it scared her. Then she had turned, intent on leaving as fast as she possible could. She had just given him his crumb… That tiny flicker of hope he had begged for that night he had chained her up in his crypt, Drusilla in the same position merely a few feet away, promising to kill his insane ex-lover for her. How could she have done that? Given him that much? It was too much… She was sure he'd think there was a chance after that display. But there was none… Right?

And before she could make it out the door, he had asked about the bot. Not because he really cared what happened to it, she knew, but because he was desperately trying to keep her there. He didn't want her to leave, no matter how passive he seemed on the outside. He was good at masking his true feelings, but she knew him better than that. No one could ever tell what was really going on in his mind… Not unless they knew where to look… She knew where. Those eyes… Not that it was easy this time, considering he only had the use of one, and even that was nothing more than a swollen slit. But she could see it. She could always see it. And it terrified her… It played with her emotions too much to be a good thing…

With her next words, as she told him that his bot was gone, that it had been gross and obscene, she tried her best to sound angered. To sound firm and disgusted with him. It hurt how well she pulled it off… She hadn't expected to sound so convincing. And his protest only made it hurt worse when she saw the pain flicker in his eyes after hearing the tone in her voice… So she cut him off, mid-sentence, not able to listen to any more of it, and this time her voice was even more harsh as she insisted that the bot hadn't even been real… Which it hadn't. But she knew well enough that he had convinced Warren to create it so he would have someone to love… Someone who would love him back. Had she never talked to April, the robot Warren had built for himself, she wouldn't have had the same view… But she had. That encounter had proved that he had in fact made a girlfriend, not a sex toy, but a girlfriend.

It was strange, but she understood it somehow, and that was what scared her the most… Knowing that he loved her. That he wanted her to love him. Before, she hadn't believed that a vampire, one without a soul, could love or bear any emotion for that matter… But he could. She knew that now. And honestly, why wouldn't that make sense? He could hate, couldn't he? For a fleeting moment, she wondered if the way he loved was as passionate as he could hate. If he could hate, he could love. It was true. There was a very thin line between love and hate. A soul was a consciences. It had nothing to do with feelings. How often was it that conscience came into play when love was involved anyway? Not often…

And as she stood there, still staring at his beaten and battered figure, she knew all too well that everything she was thinking was true. She had to get out. Had to go… Before she did, or said something she would come to regret later. So she turned, ready to flee, forcing her legs to keep a steady, slow pace… But even as she made her way toward the entryway of his crypt, all she could see was the way his head was hung in shame, bruised and broken… Possibly more so than the rest of him, and she knew she couldn't leave like that. Not after what he had done for her… What he had given to keep her and her sister from harm. So she paused, a little over halfway to where she was headed, and glanced over her shoulder to look at him as she said that one final thank you…

'What you did… for me. And Dawn. That was real. I won't forget it.'

~*~*~*~

And in that light, confusion wasn't even the word for it. There was no word for it. She had finally seen who he really was. She had seen beyond the monster and found the man. That incredible, loving, caring man that he tried so feverishly to hide. And she didn't understand why he did that. Probably because it wasn't supposed to be in his nature… But it was. It always had been. When Drusilla had been around, he had covered it completely in order to keep her from seeing who he truly was. Understandably, considering the girl a was a psycho. But even then, he had loved the girl… Did everything in his power to keep her safe.

But now it was no longer Drusilla. It was her. It was Buffy. And she felt it, too… In all the times they'd been around one another… Whether it be fighting with each other or fighting side by side… She had developed feelings for the pain-in-the-ass vampire. She had deceived herself for so long. Denied everything she felt toward him. But after what he had done… No longer could she put off facing the inevitable… She loved him…

~*~I know, I'm totally sappy when it comes to this crap… What can I say? Honestly, I'm not usually like this when I write. It's just… well, you've been watching Season 6, I'm sure… What else am I supposed to do? LOL… Anyway, review if ya get the chance. Thanks!~*~