"Spike?" Buffy asked quietly, trying to get a reaction from the vampire seated at the end of the bed. He had been completely silent for the past few minutes, his eyes locked on the floor, careful to avoid her. She had known from the time he had showed up that there was something he wasn't telling her, but it wasn't until now that she realized how serious it really was. Spike never clammed up. She swallowed, pulling the blanket from her lap and maneuvering herself on the bed so she was sitting beside him. "Spike?"

The vampire closed his eyes, rubbing the palm of his hand over his forehead. "Bloody hell…"

"Hey, come on. It can't be that bad, can it?" Buffy asked, giving him a reassuring smile as he gazed over his shoulder at her. The smile faded when she saw the look on his face. "Oh…"

He straightened a bit, a small nod confirming that, yes, it was that bad. "When I left… when I left, I never really planned on comin' back. I was just gonna leave, 'cause hell, I can't hurt you if I'm not here, right?" He looked over at her, a small pang going through his chest at the sight of her hurt expression. "Yeah, and that's why I couldn't… I knew that I'd hurt you that way, too. I remembered how you told me that everyone leaves, and in the end you'll wind up alone. I didn't want to be part of that. I wanted to stay here, I wanted to come back and stay with you, even if I couldn't have you."

"But you never came back…"

He shrugged. "Life has a way of muckin' up everyone's plans, 'specially mine." He said, taking a rather deep breath. "I went to Africa. I went halfway across the bloody world in search of a legend that I wasn't even sure existed. The thing could have been a pile of rocks for all I knew. Anyway, so I'm in Africa, some little run of the mill tiki lookin' village, huts and all, and I go into this big cave. And, as luck would have it, the thing was real. Scary lookin' bugger too, all lurkin' in the shadows and glowin' and whatnot."

Buffy raised an eyebrow at him.

"Uh, right, I'm gettin' a bit off topic, ain't I?"

"A little." Buffy confirmed, a small smirk planted on her lips.

"Right. So, me and Lurky make this little deal. If I could survive these trials, he'd grant me … something."

"Something?"

"Whatever I desired."

"And you passed the trials?"

"I'm alive, ain't I?" He replied.

"So you had to fight him." She stated matter of factly.

"Not him. A bunch of other demons, critters, all sorts of things."

"Oh…"

"Yeah, well. After I finished kickin' around some demon arse, Lurky pops up and tells me that he's going to give me what I wanted…"

"What was it?"

He looked down, twiddling with his fingers. "… to give me what I needed… so I could give you what you deserved." He mumbled, his voice nearly silent.

"The chip." She said flatly, hurt evident in her voice. "He deactivated the chip… so you could kill me."

The vampire shook his head, wincing at her harsh tone. "No. I thought that's what I wanted, but Lurky had other ideas. Yeah, the chip was deactivated, but that wasn't the grand prize, pet…"

"What happened, Spike? What did you get?"

He swallowed back the lump in his throat, his eyes not meeting hers. He couldn't say the words. "I can feel 'em. All of 'em. Everyone I've ever hurt, killed… I can feel you, and what I did to you. It burns. Sometimes I think that hell would have been better than this, it hurts so much. I'd do anything to make it stop, but at the same time, I'd do anything to keep it." He said softly, looking back up at her. "It's yours, Buffy. I got it for you…"

She was silent, staring at his in disbelief as realization washed over her. "… your soul…"

TBC…

A/N: yes, short chapter, but I haven't had much time to write anything new. I thought I'd get this out there just to hold you off for a bit J please keeps up the reviews!