Disclaimer:  I own nothing.  Joss Whedon owns everything…including Spike.  L

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Chapter 8

            For forty minutes he'd been waiting in the lower level of the club.  It had been packed for a Thursday night, but the second Morrigan saw Willow she ordered the bouncers to clear the place.  The smell of beer and fresh blood lingered in the air.  There were cups and glasses littering almost every table and there were puddles of liquid on the floor as well.  The bartender was still there serving up drinks to Anya, Buffy, and Giles.  They were all on pins and needles as well.  He couldn't bring himself to drink though, not with Willow upstairs getting her soul.  What the rest of them didn't know was that he was going to get his as well.  It wasn't something he wanted, he'd never planned to have it.  When Willow was alive she was his conscience.  She could still act as it as a souled vampire, but he didn't want her to spend forever worrying that he might give in to temptation one day.  So he was going to get his soul…just like Peaches.

            "Angel's on his way here you know," Buffy said, coming over to sit next to him on a small black leather sofa.

            "I know."

            "He's getting his soul anchored."

            "I know."

            "Is that all you can say?"

            He looked at her.  "No."

            She smiled for the first time all night.  Spike was the only one who could get her to do that.  "I know about you and him."

            He went back to looking straight ahead.  "There's nothing to know."

            "Isn't there?" she said.  He could hear the laughter in her voice and couldn't help but glance at her.  "I read the watcher diaries too.  I know everyone thinks I'm dumb as a box of rocks, but I do know how to read, especially when something interests me.  And Angel interested me.  I wanted to know about him and I found out a lot more than I expected."  She raised an eyebrow, and he knew she read about the claiming ritual.  "Just don't tell Giles.  He prefers to think I'm innocent when it comes to stuff like that."  Her face took on a serious look.  "So you and Angel, huh?  I never would have guessed.  You fought with and hated him so much over the past couple of years I can't really imagine you ever being in love with him.  But you were, weren't you?"  Spike didn't say anything.  He didn't even move.  "Or should I say you are?"

            That got his attention.  His head snapped towards her so fast she jerked back.  His eyes were nearly black and she was almost afraid for a moment.  "Willow's upstairs getting her soul restored and you want to discuss me and my sire?  Is there something wrong with you?"

            "No.  I know Willow's in good hands and will be just fine.  She has no guilt.  She's never killed.  It's going to be a lot more difficult for you."

            "What did you do, have some psychic go inside my head and dig up all this personal shit that you could ask me?"

            "Again the answer is no.  I'm pretty good at reading people, a lot like Anya is, except she's got about a thousand years worth of experience over me.  I know you're still in love with Angel.  You wouldn't have gone through with the ritual if you hadn't been sure that you'd love him forever.  I can understand that because he's so easy to love.  I also know that by telling me Morrigan and Willow found a way to anchor his soul you knew you might never have him again.  I appreciate that more than I can say Spike.  No one has ever done anything like that for me.  I never expected a vampire to be the first.  I love Angel.  Some part of me always will but I know now that we weren't soulmates.  I wanted to think so at the time because I was sixteen and head over heels in love.  But he wasn't meant for me, Spike.  He was meant for you."  She paused, noticing that Spike wasn't moving a muscle.  It was as if he'd been frozen in place by her words.  She smiled, knowing that what she was saying must come as a shock to him.  He wasn't one to hope and that's what she was giving him.  "As for the soul…I figured that if Willow had one and Angel had one you'd feel bad because temptation would be so much easier for you to give in to than them.  And you'd worry that they'd be disappointed or stop loving you if that ever happened."

            It took him a minute but Spike finally managed to form the words that he wanted to say.  "I can't believe all of that just came out of your mouth."  He saw her frown and start to rise, but he stopped her with a hand on her arm.  "I didn't mean that in a bad way, it's just that, lengthy speeches aren't your thing, slayer…I mean Buffy.  Those usually belong to your watcher or Willow.  I don't know how I feel about you knowing so much about me, but I do have to say thank you."

            "For what?"

            "For hope.  It's something I haven't had in a long time."

            She smiled, enjoying this new found friendship with Spike.  "Just remember that when Angel gets here.  I expect you to say something.  I don't think Willow would mind sharing you."  She saw his entire body go taut.  "It won't be as bad as it seems.  Just tell him how you feel."

            "You don't understand.  The last time I saw him I told him to never touch me again."

            "He'll understand Spike.  He's pretty good at that."

            He was about to contradict her when Morrigan looked down at them from the walkway to her loft.  "It's done.  She's asleep right now.  But she'll be just fine once she rests.  Who's next?"

            Spike stood up, prepared to get it over with, but Buffy stopped him.  "Wait until you talk to Angel.  It'll be easier if you do it before.  He should be here in about an hour or so."  He went to pull away, wanting to avoid the conversation with his sire, but Buffy looked up at him with a silent plea in her eyes, and he couldn't take another step. 

            He looked at Morrigan.  "We're waiting on one other person, and there are some…things…that need to be cleared up before we go through with it."  Morrigan smiled, an all-knowing, motherly smile and went back into her loft to check on Willow.

            "Thank you, Spike," Buffy said softly.  All she wanted was for Angel to be happy and she was pretty sure that Spike could do that for him.

            "Bloody hell, I need a drink," he replied, stalking toward the bar.  "Whiskey.  Neat.  Now."  He tossed back the drink and set the glass on the bar.  "Gimme another."  He was about to drink the second one down, when Buffy pulled the glass from his hand. 

            "No getting drunk to talk to Angel."

            "Ah, slayer, why do you have to make everything so bloody difficult?"

            "Cause I'm the slayer.  It's my job.  Besides, I have a favor to ask you."

            "What could I possibly do for you?"

            "I want you to make me a promise."  He looked at her, intrigued.  "I'm tired of being the slayer.  I am tired of fighting every night worried that I may not make it home again.  I don't want to die at the hands of a demon or vampire."

            "So what are you saying?" he muttered sarcastically.

            "In two months I want you to turn me and have Morrigan restore my soul."

            Spike's eyes got huge.  A slayer was asking him to turn her into a vampire.  His night just couldn't get any more weird.  "You've got to be joking.  If your watcher didn't stake me, my sire would."

            "I'm dead serious, Spike.  I am going to need two months to explain my decision to everyone and let them come to grips with it.  But this is what I want."

            Everything in him told him to say no but he knew she'd just find someone else to do it.  "I'll do it, slayer.  In two months, I'll make you a vampire."  Buffy smiled and Spike sighed, crossing his arms on the flat surface of the bar, resting his head on them, trying to find some peace before the arrival of his sire, wondering if he hadn't just guaranteed a quick stake through the heart.

            Angel watched the dark road in front of him, ignoring Cordy who was chatting with Doyle.  They probably didn't realize that it was taking all his concentration just to stay on the road.  He was tense, his entire body taut with anticipation.  They were going to anchor his soul.  It was as if a huge weight had been lifted off his shoulders. 

            When Buffy called to tell him about Willow, he'd wanted to kill Xander for his actions.  No one messed with his childe.  Angelus had been straining at his bonds, the demon demanding revenge, but Angel managed to keep him under control.  Willow was a vampire now…with a soul.  He couldn't help but wonder how his childe was feeling.  It must have hurt him immensely to have to turn Willow.

            His childe.  William.  Spike.  Whatever incarnation he happened to be right at the moment.  The last time he'd seen him it had ended badly yet again, with Spike running off into the night.  But it hadn't been his childe's fault.  Angel had expected too much from a kiss.  They never talked, never said a word of apology.  He just kissed him and obviously it hurt Spike to remember just how much he would have done for his sire's love.

            He wondered what it would be like this time.  The chances were very slim that Spike would even speak to him.  If he ever laughed anymore he would have found it funny that Buffy would probably talk his ear off yet the only person he wanted to hear speak was Spike.

            Cordelia and Doyle had stopped talking when Doyle sat back and fell asleep.  Cordelia looked at Angel.  "You okay?"

            "I'm fine, Cordy."

            "Then why do you look like you're about to face a firing squad?"

            "I don't look like that."

            "Is it Spike?"  She smiled when he frowned.  "Worried that he still won't want you?"

            "Cordy…please don't."

            "You never did tell me what happened the last time you were up here.  You just came back and locked yourself away for days.  Was it that bad?"

            "It couldn't have been any worse."

            "Oh, Angel.  I'm sorry."

            "Don't be.  It was my fault.  I kissed him."  Cordelia's eyes got wide as saucers, but he continued anyway.  "I shouldn't have done it.  It was so stupid of me to think…I just shouldn't have done it."  He frowned, memories filling his mind.  "Spike used to believe in hope.  He used to believe that almost anything was possible.  I robbed him of that.  And when I kissed him I could feel all this hope inside of him just waiting to be released, but he held it back, refused to believe in it.  I stole all that innocence that made me want him in the first place."

            "He was innocent?" Cordelia laughed, trying to imagine Spike that way.

            "Yes, but you have to remember it was a different time.  He was young, only twenty-two, but he was a romantic.  He believed in true love and happy endings.  It might sound silly, but I wanted that.  As a human I never believed in any of those things.  But when I saw him I wanted to be able to believe in the same things he did.  I, one of the most feared vampires ever, wanted to believe in something as idealistic as true love.  I wanted to have that same innocence, which angered me, but I dealt with it.  I wanted him.  Hell, I loved him and that's what really pissed me off.  So, being Angelus, I watched him for weeks, like I did with Dru, only I had a different plan for him.  I cornered him in an alley one night and seduced him with words.  I told him about eternal life and how I would love him forever.  It was enough.  He wanted me, but even more so, he believed me.  He let me turn him.  And then I systematically destroyed everything he ever believed to be true, so that I wouldn't long for it anymore.  By the time I claimed him everything that made him so desirable to me in the first place was gone or buried.  It was the only way for him to survive.  The way he is today is the way I made him.  The sad thing is he never stopped loving me.  Not ever.  Which makes what I did to him even worse."

            Cordelia watched Angel with tears rolling down to her chin.  "That wasn't you Angel.  That was Angelus."

            "It was Angelus who loved him and used it against him.  But even now, with the soul, I still love him.  How do you explain that?  How is it that my feelings for Spike never changed, yet I can't stand the sight of Dru or Darla, the two women Angelus adored?"

            "I can't explain it Angel.  You can't explain away how you feel about someone or why.  You just do.  You need to put the past behind you and deal with the present.  You're about a half hour away from getting your soul anchored.  It's time for you to make a decision.  Do you want Buffy or Spike?  You can't have both.  It's time to be an adult and make up your mind."  Cordelia huffed when he said nothing and turned to look out the window.

            He didn't respond but he knew the answer.  He knew exactly who he wanted.  It was like he told Willow the night of that kiss, Spike was it for him.  Buffy never even came close.  Maybe now he could change things and make up for the past.  Maybe now he could learn about his childe all over again and see if any of that innocence still remained.  Maybe this was his chance at a whole new life.  He looked out the windshield and couldn't help the feeling of peace that came over him when he saw the sign:  Sunnydale   25 miles.