After Dawn left for the lacrosse game with the really great Davie Smith on Friday, Willow and Buffy settled down to watch My Fair Lady. Buffy popped the tape in the VHS player and grabbed the popcorn. Andrew was sitting in the corner, chewing a box of jujubes. They had invited Xander but he passed saying he wasn't in a very musical mood.

Willow picked up the remote, hitting pause just as the overture began to swell. "Is Spike coming?" She was being supportive of the whole keeping Spike around and searching for vampire diseases. So far, though, they hadn't come up with anything useful.

"Uhm," Buffy looked at her best friend in surprise. "I didn't think he would be into a musical."

"Did you even ask?" Andrew glared at Buffy in an accusing manner.

"No," she admitted. "I can though."

Buffy hopped back up, heading down into the basement. Spike's living conditions had been improved by adding a pillow and some blankets. He was stretched out on the cot now, eyes closed, apparently sleeping.

"Spike?" Buffy quietly approached the cot.

He lifted one lid. "Yeah?"

"Andrew is concerned that I didn't invite you to watch My Fair Lady, but I kind of figured that –"

"With Audrey Hepburn?" He sat up swiftly.

"Yes . . ."

His eyes narrowed. "Who all is watching?"

"Me, Willow, and Andrew."

He thought this over.

"Do you – do you want to watch it?" Buffy asked, completely bewildered.

"Audrey Hepburn with a cockney accent?" He snorted. "What do you think?"

"Honestly? Super confused."

"Is he coming?" Andrew yelled down to them. "I want to go to bed by ten!"

Spike stood. "I'm not going to say I want to watch it. I just want to get out of this bloody basement."

Buffy's expression was entirely quizzical. "Uhm, okay, sure."

He held out his hands for her to unchain him. Picking up the key from its post on the wall by the stairs, she walked over, twisting it in each of the locks. He stooped to pick up his nail polish, then preceded her up the stairs.

Buffy remembered Spike liking to watch All My Children, but she hadn't guessed his pop culture interests extended to a 1960s film. It was weird. Creepy weird. My Fair Lady was so docile and not, well, full of people dying bloody deaths.

Upstairs, Spike took the left side of the couch, putting the polish on the side table. Buffy tried to shake off the feeling, but seeing Spike twist off the cap of the black nail polish and get to work only solidified the weirdness of the evening.

Willow gave Buffy wide eyes with an accompanying little smile. Buffy was sure she looked dazed. She sat down between Willow and Spike, leaning towards the comfort of normal Willow.

"Come on already!" Andrew whined.

"If you talk during the movie, I'll bleed you dry," Spike warned, eyes narrowed at him.

Andrew gulped. Willow pressed play. Buffy tried not to faint.

Dawn walked in just as the credits started to roll. "I'm home!"

"No. He's a jerk. A big pretentious jerk. I have no idea why she stays with him," Buffy argued.

"But he loves her," Willow said. "In his own jerky way."

"Great. So she has to settle for someone who verbally abuses her?"

"He's expressing his mind. Which is bloody more than I can say for the lot of you," Spike inserted.

"Anyone want to know about Davie?" Dawn tried again, surprisingly unfazed by the congregation in the living room.

"He treats her like a possession! How is that love?" Buffy shook her head. "No way would I let a guy talk to me like that."

"And look how many guys you have waiting to date you." Spike kicked the heels of his Doc Martens onto the coffee table.

Buffy shoved them off. "You're a pig, Spike."

"You keep telling me," he said cheerfully.

"It's not about his words," Willow interceded. "It's about his actions. He can't admit to himself that he loves anyone more than himself, but it's in his song and in his lament. He loves her."

"Great. He can pine after her and she can go be with Simon, someone who actually cares about her."

"Right. She's going to go be with the boy. Eliza wants a man. Henry is a man. Simple." Spike put his feet back up.

Buffy shoved them down again. "He's a brute."

"Some of the best men are."

"I think Henry looks great in those silk pajamas." Four pairs of eyes swiveled to stare at Andrew. "What? I'm just saying."

"Can we listen to I could have danced all night?" Dawn asked, dropping into a cross legged position by the coffee table. Willow pushed rewind going back to the scene. Buffy stood up, not in the mood to watch it again; choosing to clear the table instead.

Spike grabbed the popcorn before she could. Together, they took the used things into the kitchen. Placing all the cups on the counter, Buffy turned to look at Spike. He was leaning across the island counter, his eyes glinting.

"So you don't like a man who bosses you around? Who treats you like his possession? You wouldn't much like being my pet then."

She crossed her arms. "Guess not. I have this crazy notion of strong independent women."

Spike smirked. "Who have you ever dated that didn't treat you like you needed to be protected?"

"Who beat me up?" She gave him a crazy look. "Uhm, you. But I wouldn't say we dated."

"Call it what you want."

"Okay," Buffy turned the water on, washing out the cups, "I will."

"How do you want to be talked to? Because the words I remember us sharing aren't exactly for Dawny's ears." He was right behind her now, so close but not touching.

She ignored him, scrubbing vigorously at the inside of the cups.

"Buffy . . ."

His right hand seized her waist, squeezing so hard it was sure to leave a bruise had she not been a slayer. "Spike!" Buffy said in panic, scared he wasn't quite so soulful as he seemed.

His fingers released and so did he, falling to the ground. "Spike!" She spun around. Spike was flat on his back, his eyes rolled up as one hand clutched at his chest. Willow and Dawn came running.

"What's wrong?" Willow asked.

"I – I don't know. Help me get him downstairs. Dawn, lock Andrew back in his room," Buffy said, not wanting Andrew to escape in the excitement. She grabbed Spike's shoulders, Willow took his feet. Together, they heaved him down to the basement.

By the time they got him onto the cot, Dawn was right behind them, Andrew securely locked in for the night. On the cot, Spike moaned, but remained unconscious. "Wh-what do we do?" Dawn asked, her big eyes made even wider with concern.

"Did you find anything, Willow, during your research?" Buffy asked, already ripping Spike's shirt from him. She knew he would hate the charade she was making of it, but Buffy was convinced whatever was happening was related to the black lines. Quickly as she could, Buffy unwrapped the bandages.

"Oh," Willow said, looking at the veins. "Oh!" She beat a hasty retreat upstairs.

"What is that?" Dawn peered down at him.

"Help Willow," Buffy directed.

With a last look, Dawn headed up the stairs after Willow. Buffy went the basement fridge, taking out a bottle of blood. Kneeling beside Spike, she propped his head up. "Spike, wake up."

His head lolled harmlessly against her arm. "Spike!"

His eyelids twitched, but remained closed. Buffy dipped her finger in the blood, it was cold and thick reminding her unpleasantly of syrup. She slid her finger across his lips, leaving a line of dark red. Spike became more alert, moving a little, then opening his eyes.

His tongue ran over his lips. He pulled back in surprise at the taste of the blood. "Buffy," his worried gaze washed over her.

She held up her finger and the bottle of blood. "No, big. Minus the part where you passed out and scared the hell out of me." She handed him the bottle.

He accepted it, leaning back against the wall for support. "Passed out?"

"Yeah. We were talking about . . . the movie was over."

"The movie?" He drank the blood. Pausing, he looked down at his bare midriff. "Are you sure it was a movie?"

"Spike!" Her cheeks reddened.

He put the bottle down, taking hold of Buffy's hand with the bloody finger. She tried to take her hand back, "I just need to wash it." Picking up his shirt, he balled it up and used it to wipe her finger off. "Or, you know, we could do that . . ."

"I didn't attack anyone, did I?" Spike asked, not looking at her.

"No," Buffy said. "Well, technically you grabbed onto me like drowning man, but –"

"I what?" He turned to her, his eyes running over her exposed skin more thoroughly.

"Was I a more delicate woman, you probably would have managed to break a bone or two; thankfully, I'm immune to such petty things." Buffy tried to make light.

He cupped his head in hands. "I'm sorry, Buffy."

"Hey," she said, placing her hand on his knee. "It's okay. You were kind of in a situation."

"I hurt you." He said each word decisively.

"You didn't mean to."

"But I did. No matter what I do, I can't stop hurting you."

Buffy prayed Willow would hurry down with some useful information because Buffy didn't know how to respond to Spike. She decided untimed humor was the best approach.

"You're sounding a lot like another vampire with a soul. I never realized before how similar the two of you are."

He snorted. "Not bloody likely. He's –" Spike looked up at her, his eyebrow lowered in curiosity, having figured out her game.

Buffy shrugged. "No big deal, okay?"

Willow and Dawn clattered down the stairs, interrupting the moment. "I have it!" Willow held up a thick text triumphantly.

Buffy stood up, distancing herself from Spike. The females grouped together, Spike still resting on the cot. "What does it say?"

"It's not in English, so nothing I can read," Dawn said.

"It's very old, that's why I hadn't checked it yet. It never occurred to me that vampires might have been walking around with souls since their beginning. I mean, who would have thought? You think vampire, you think soulless fiend. But apparently, Angel wasn't the first vampire to get cursed with a soul, and Spike wasn't the first to get his back," Willow spoke in an excited rush, one Buffy had grown used to over their many years of friendship.

"Great. Nothing like making a soulless fiend feel special." Spike closed his eyes.

"You are!" Willow was quick to say. "I mean, well, there's only about one vampire per century who gets his soul back, if that. Especially during the Middle Ages, vampires with souls were unheard of, which is why the texts don't talk about them. But this one! It's about the third vampire to have a soul."

"Which helps us how?" Buffy asked, not feeling into the history lesson.

"Right!" She pointed to a passage of the handwritten text. It was written in a strange set of symbols that Buffy was grateful Willow understood, because she surely didn't. Though, to be fair, books had never really been her thing.

"What's it say?" Dawn asked.

"It talks about the valiant vampire, a vampire like Spike who fought for his soul."

"Valiant vampire . . . Wait! You told her?" Spike asked, outraged.

"She's my best friend," Buffy said unapologetically.

Spike groused. "A bloke thinks a thing like that would be private, but with a woman, oh no, never."

"Shut up," Dawn and Buffy snapped.

He glared.

"Go on, Willow," Buffy said.

"Okay. It says that a vampire who fought for his soul is one apart from those who are cursed. This vampire sought out his soul. He had started to remember what a soul felt like. An event of such importance had occurred to dislodge the demon in him, just enough to leave a yearning for a soul."

Spike and Buffy regarded each other uncomfortably.

"And?" Buffy asked, hoping to move past the awkwardness.

"Well, because this vampire wanted the soul, because he risked his immortal existence for it, because he had dislodge the demon, he placed himself in a precarious state. Without the soul, he would continue on as a shell. With a soul, he would be complete once more. That's where it gets tricky."

"Get's tricky?" Dawn shook her head. "I'm already lost."

"Souls. Tricky stuff," Spike mumbled.

"Anyway," Willow turned the page, "it says here that if a vampire should get his soul, that he might reject the soul." They all looked to Spike who glowered back.

"It's not exactly a bleeding ball of sunshine now is it?"

"But," Willow continued," unlike the cursed vampire who cannot lose his soul unless the curse is broken, or in Angel's case, fulfilled, the vampire who wanted his soul, can reject the soul. If he rejects the soul, it starts to kill him, from the inside."

Buffy's eyes went to the black lines on Spike's chest. He tried to cover them, tugging on his soiled shirt. "I'm not rejecting the soul," he said stubbornly.

"Right, because trying to carve it out is the picture of acceptance." Buffy rolled her eyes, but her heart was in turmoil, fear for his safety weighing heavily on her. "Is there anything we can do?" she asked Willow.

She flipped through the yellow pages. "That's kind of the part I'm still translating. I think there's a way . . . but. . . "

"But what?" Buffy asked. "We have to save him."

Willow closed the book. "It's a little tricky."

"Trickier than what you just told us?" Dawn folded to sit on the ground. "I think I liked it before when I was kept out of the loop."

"Dawn," Buffy gave her a look, "please."

"Fine." She held up her hands.

"What does it involve, Willow?"

"Well," She sucked in her bottom lip, "you."

Buffy's brow furrowed. "Me?"

"Buffy?" Spike asked at the same time.

"Yes. The demon in Spike is dislodged, it isn't as strong as it used to be. It can't fix what the soul is destroying. But . . . but you could."

"I could? What? Have a heart-to-heart with his soul and tell it to stop killing him?"

"No. It's not you so much as your blood."

Spike's gaze swiveled to Buffy. "Why her blood?" Traces of anger were evident in the angle of his jaw.

"Slayer strength," Buffy said quietly.

"Yes. Like when Angel was poisoned . . ."

Buffy's hand went automatically to the scar on the right side of her neck. It was still marble smooth, overlaid by two puncture wounds from where Dracula had bitten her. Surprisingly, the Master's bite hadn't left a scar.

"No," Spike said angrily. "I'll let the soul kill me."

"I – I need to think. I need to –" Buffy left without finishing her thought.