A.N. Thanks so much for reading, reviewing, etc. This post is a slightly longer one for me, I have everything written in sections and I usually divide up the chapters that way but one of the reviewers requested longer chapters so I'm trying that out. If longer chapters are preferred I can just rearrange the sections to accommodate that, just let me know, thanks!

Buffy was in the cemetery before she realized she only had one stake. The night was cold and she wasn't wearing a jacket. The grass was wet and she only had on a pair of beat up tennis shoes. Overhead, the moon scrutinized her foolishness.

She couldn't be certain what she was running away from. The only certainty was that Buffy was running. Then, she did what she was best at. Buffy spent the next two hours, ravaging the cemetery of any and all undead. Her attacks more pointed and vicious than usual, her quirky remarks at an all time low.

Yet, when Buffy had nothing left, when she was sitting atop Edward Hanes, her blood was still racing. Whatever she had been trying to fight off, it was still there with her. She had given her blood to Angel, letting a vampire drink from her was something she had done before. But with Spike, she knew it would be different. She felt as if she would be surrendering, giving up the fight that had been between them from the start, allowing him to win after all this time.

What did that mean though? He wasn't the same vampire he had been. Buffy knew that. Still, when she thought of him sinking his fangs into her, it wasn't the Spike with the soul she saw, it was the Spike who had tried to kill her in her own high school. The one who had kidnapped Xander and Willow, had fought with the Gem of Amara, had sold them out to Adam.

Buffy's thoughts were full of trepidation; she still feared the evil lurking in Spike. Why was he rejecting the soul? He had said he wanted it. And now that he had it? It was killing him because he didn't want it. That worried her.

A trail of pink smeared across the horizon. Thank god it was Saturday. There was no way she could have gone to work after this night. Buffy hung her head in her hands, exhaustion prickling at her.

"Hey." His voice was instantly recognizable. Even if he somehow lost the accent, Buffy would always recognize him by the deepness of his voice, the way it reminded her of a waterfall.



The twigs cracked beneath his feet. She looked up; he was standing before her, hands shoved down deep in his jeans pockets. It bereaved her to note that he looked wildly disheveled without the hideous duster swaying from him.

"I'm not going to ask you to do it. I wouldn't want you to."

"You wouldn't want me to save you?" Buffy narrowed her eyes, taking out her confused frustration on him.

"No. You heard what Willow said. You saved me long before I got my soul. You saved me when I fell in love with you." He leaned back on his Doc Martens. "Not that I'm big for love declarations and all."

"So what's your plan? Let the soul degrade you to nothing?"

"I've been alive longer than my fair share."

The sun was still a glimmer of a thought, not enough to hurt Spike, but soon enough, it would tower overhead, burning his pale skin into dust. "Why are you rejecting the soul?" The question had been burning her up.

He sighed, rocking forward again. "Because it's painful. Hating everything you've ever done. Reliving every moment of it, over and over again. Not quite the walk in the sodding park Angel always made it seem."

"So you'd rather live without remembering. Are you sorry you got your soul back?"

"No," Spike said sharply. He walked up to the edge of the headstone, looking up at Buffy. "I wouldn't change anything that made you – made you proud of me."

Buffy's heart pinched. "I'm not very proud now."

He looked behind him, checking the sun. "I'm not either. I thought I could handle it, I thought I could bear everything I've done." He lifted his shoulders in a heavy sigh. "I can't. I belong in hell, and it looks like my soul knows that too."

"So you're just going to give up?"

"I'm taking the moral high road," he frowned.

"You're being a coward."

"Jesus. What now? I don't want to drink your blood, which you haven't even offered in case you forgot, and yeah I'll end up in hell where I belong and now I'm a coward?"

The headstone was uncomfortable beneath her, prodding Buffy to get up and into action. She clamped down on it, unwilling to move. "I don't want you to go, Spike."

He looked up in surprise. "Is that right?"

"You know it is. I want you here. With me. Making a mess of the lives we've been given. How am I supposed to do that if you're roasting in hell?"

"You could always join me for the bonfire."

Buffy laughed despite herself. "Mr. and Mrs. – "

"Big pile of dust," he finished for her. "Something like that, yeah."

"Isn't it enough that you're sorry?"

"Sorry doesn't change what I've done or how I felt at the time. I liked killing people, Buffy. Hell, I loved it. I can't un-feel that. It haunts me."

She hopped down from the grave as the first rays of light began to spread across the ground. "Let's go home." Buffy held out her hand.

He accepted.

Buffy chained Spike up in the basement then went to bed herself. The entire time she slept, her dreams were haunted; Spike biting her, Buffy staking him, Spike screaming in pain, her hand at the wound on her neck. She woke up in a twist of sweaty sheets.

It was noon when Buffy stepped into the shower. Downstairs, Willow had left a note saying she had taken Andrew with her to the Magic Box. Dawn left a note saying she was out with friends. Buffy picked lifelessly at her breakfast.

Eventually, she settled on eating in the basement. Spike was sitting up on the cot, he didn't move at her approach. She got him a bag of blood from the basement fridge, and sat down next to him, cereal bowl in hand.

"How can you eat that?" He asked, looking with disgust at the cereal.

Buffy spooned a mouthful between his lips; Spike spluttered. "Don't spit it out!" she warned. Glowering, he chewed and swallowed. Buffy smiled in satisfaction, "Delicious, isn't it?"

He wiped his mouth. "Going to use that spoon with my cooties on it now?" He sank his teeth into the bag of blood.

Buffy licked the spoon, "Mmm, Spike cooties." Then laughed.

He grinned. "If you'd rather get them from the source . . ."

His lips were flecked with red, somewhat dampening the invitation. She leaned forward anyway, avoiding his lips and settling for a kiss on the cheek. "Ask me," she whispered.

Spike stilled, his breathing stopping. He didn't need to breathe of course, but they say old habits die hard. "I can't."

"Why not?" They were speaking in whispers even though they were the only two in the house.

"What I've done to you, Buffy . . . I could never."

She took the hand that wasn't holding his bag of blood and pressed it over her heart. "Ask me."

"I won't."

"You can't live your life apologizing for things that a demon did. You're a man now. You have a soul. Accept that and let the rest go. Leave the brooding to Angel, it doesn't look as good on you."

"Why are you so willing to forgive me?" He took his hand back. "You think you know what I've done. You don't know. You couldn't possibly imagine and I wouldn't want you to."

"I know who you are, who you were."

"You have no idea. You never met William the Bloody, you've only ever known Spike, and he's a rather decent bloke compared to the former."

"And now I know William, minus the bloody part."

He cringed at Buffy's use of his Christian name.

"William, ask me."

"The Scoobies wouldn't approve."

"I'm not asking their permission. It's my blood."

"They did raise you from the dead. I'd argue they think they have some sort of claim over it." He pulled out a cigarette, leaning the not empty blood bag against the wall. Lighting the cigarette, he turned his head to exhale.

Buffy stood. "You're going to die, Spike. And if you die without ever having tried to live, I will never forgive you." She headed up the stairs.

Needing time with people who could speak louder than her thoughts, Buffy walked to the Magic Box. Swinging open the door, she saw the whole gang gathered around the round table, including an eager looking Andrew.

Xander pounced on her first. "We aren't saving him this time. Soul or no soul, he's still a stalker vampire who tried to kill you and us on multiple occasions."

"And if it was Angel?" It was a slippery question, Buffy knew.

"I'd still say no. Come on, Buffy. You don't need to do this. It's not your fault the dumb vampire is rejecting his soul."

She sat down with the rest of them. Willow had the text open before her, a pile of notes gathered next to it. "I'm trying to see if there is another way to . . ."


"It's not looking too hopeful," she admitted in defeat.

Anya threw a book to Buffy. "Do you know what he used to be like?" Buffy cracked open the cover of the dusty tome. "Chapters eight and nine."

Buffy turned to the according pages. "William the Bloody," she read. "I'm not sure Spike would appreciate being our book of the month."

"Slayer book clubs tend to cover unpleasant topics," Xander said.

"I'm sure he'll get over it, and if he doesn't, he's dying anyway," Anya added cheerfully.

Buffy's eyes ran over the first lines, they detailed when Spike had been transformed, his sire and his grandsire; Drusilla and Angel. "This feels weird."

"You should know, Buffy. You should know who he really is before you go about saving him. If he's rejecting his soul, maybe there's a reason." Xander pushed the book closer to her.

"Xander's right," Willow agreed. "I mean, if you want to save Spike, that's up to you, but you should still know who exactly you are dealing with."

Buffy skimmed the first page. The contents talked about Spike's preferred method of killing and torture, railroad spikes, and his preferred victims, slayers and young girls. Her skin crawled. This much she knew. But seeing it in black and white, it made the memory of Spike with a soul seem horribly distant.

"The sun's out, the birds are singing, why not read about his dastardly deeds in the daylight, you know that force he can't step into without erupting into flames." Xander nudged the leg of Buffy's chair backward. "We can pow-wow it out tonight, after you've read up on our favorite dearly departed."

Nose buried in the book, a look exceedingly unusual for her, Buffy wandered out of the Magic Box. She wound up at the cemetery, gracing Edward Hanes with her presence.

In total, Spike's chapters were a hundred pages. Not Buffy's idea of light reading. It took her until five o'clock to finish up, when she did, she felt sick. The gruesome images the text had described, Buffy could see them so clearly. She knew Spike, she knew what he looked like when he attacked, she knew his favorite moves, she knew the way he laughed when the sport was on.

The book tumbled from her hands to the ground below. "Sorry, Edward," Buffy said hollowly.

The pages flapped idly in the evening breeze. The sun was just beginning to set, a red orb bathing the world in blood light. Spike had told her how he killed his first two slayers, in agonizing detail, he had told her. Buffy had been disgusted that night; it was nothing compared to how she felt now.

At that moment, Buffy felt more alone that she ever had. There was no one to talk to about what she was feeling. There was only her and the grave. All of the things that made her certain of Spike wavered in the face of his destruction. All of the reasons she should let him die stood opposed to everything she believed. But there it was.

She had killed Angel to save the world, Angel with a soul whom she loved, she had killed him because it meant saving the world. Letting Spike die, what would that change? Who would it save? Saving him, who would that kill?

The sun continued its descent, abandoning Buffy to her conflicting thoughts. Letting Spike die would mean letting a piece of herself die with him. The piece of her that was more open with Spike than anyone she knew, even her mother, her sister, Willow. Saving Spike would potentially risk others for the sake of her happiness. Buffy knew what Giles would say, she could hear him in her head. His disapproval, his downright disagreement.

The air rippled with electricity. Something was coming. Buffy could feel it, rumbling beneath the earth's surface. Something evil, something she wasn't prepared to fight. She wanted Spike beside her; Giles would see him as a liability. The decision was left up to her.

Could she live with this new knowledge of Spike? Could she look at him and still see the new man? Buffy decided she wouldn't know until she tried.

She scooped up the book and said good-bye to Edward Hanes.

Willow caught her before she could go to the basement. Willow hooked her arms swiftly through Buffy's and directed her upstairs. Once they were safely sequestered in Willow's room, Willow asked, "Do you love him?"

Buffy faltered. "Love who?"

"Spike. Do you love Spike?"

"No, I – I . . ."

Willow sat down at her vanity, Buffy took up residence on the edge of her friend's bed.

"I talked to Spike."

"You did?" Buffy asked, uncertain where this was going.

"He told me he doesn't care what you want, he doesn't want to be saved."

"Well, he hasn't been exactly sane lately has he?"

"That's not the point, Buffy, and you know it. If Spike doesn't want you to save him, then there is nothing you can do. He told me he already expressed his death wishes to you. So I'm wondering, why are you still worrying about saving him?"

Buffy lay back on the bed, staring at the plastic stars Willow and Tara had stuck up on the ceiling. They hadn't wanted to feel contained by the house. It did have a charming effect. "Because I feel it."


Buffy closed my eyes. "Who knows what love is? It's not how I felt about Angel. It's not how I felt about Riley. It's so very different from that. I feel right when Spike is around, it's not always a good right, but it's right. When he's not around, even after what he did, when he left, it was wrong. I felt wrong. Knowing where he is, knowing I can reach him if I want, that's what feels right." She bit her lip. "If that's what love is, then I'm in love."

Willow curled her legs up. "I don't know either. That's not what I think love is, I mean some of it. Having Tara around, that was essential, but it was the other things that made it love. Needing her approval, wanting to feel her embrace, wanting to show her I loved her too, those were the things that made it love."

"Then what do you think I'm feeling?"

"You're friends, Buffy. You wouldn't want anything to happen to your friend. But you know better than anyone else, your friends don't always know what's best for you. They don't always know when to let go. And maybe, the right thing to do here, is to let Spike go."

It wasn't until Tuesday night that Buffy ventured back to the basement. She had spent the days before looking at the situation from every possible angle. Every way she turned it, Buffy came up with the same questions and hesitations. Spike's time was waning, it was now or never.

Leaning against the banister, Buffy said hi. Spike looked up at the sound of her voice, he had been staring dejectedly at his hands, already the nail polish was chipping. He looked better that way, like she remembered him looking.

"Finally come to see me, Pet?"

"I'm sorry about that. But I'm here now."

"You've talked to Willow. She told me so." His chained hands clasped over his knees.

Buffy nodded. "We talked."

"And you see now, it's the way things should happen?"

Walking the length of the basement, she turned, taking in his striking figure. The jet black of his clothes clashing with the white of his skin. The darkness of his eyebrows just below the bleached blonde of his hair.

"What color was your hair, before?" she asked.

He frowned. "What?"

"Your hair. Before you bleached it. What color was it?"

He ran a hand over his hair. "Brown."

Buffy squinted, imagining Spike with brown hair, she shook her head, making a face. "Definitely better this way."

He laughed. "Guess so. It's been so long, I don't think I'd know how to be a brunette anymore. Although, Harmony's infectious Blondie Bear did have me thinking about changing styling products."

Buffy turned again, walking to the far right of the basement. "I read about you."

"I don't have a diary, Pet."

"No. I read about you in the Watcher Diaries."

"Ah." He leaned against the wall, fishing out a cigarette. "Made for a good light read, did it?"

"A lot more dark than light I would say."

"We can't all be glowing balls of energy like the Niblet."

Her eyes moved towards the basement door, Dawn was upstairs watching My Fair Lady with Andrew since she had missed out on last week's movie extravaganza. "Probably not."

Silence spanned between them. Finally, Spike broke it. "Did you like what you read, Love? All fun and games?"

"I can see you doing it."

"What?" His brow creased in confusion, he flicked the cigarette to the ground with a well practiced motion. Buffy stepped on it, grinding the butt into nothing.

"Everything, I can see it clear as day. I know you. I know what you look like in a fight, I can read your body language like the back of my hand . . . if I had any idea what the back of my hand looked like." She threw her arms up, annoyed by her momentary distraction. "The point is, I can see you doing it all. Killing those people. Torturing those girls. Murdering those slayers. I can see you doing it, I can see you enjoying it. I can hear what you would have said, the way you would have laughed."

Spike opened his arms wide. "This is who I am, Love. All the ugly dirty things you ever had nightmares of, I've done them. I've enjoyed them."

"I know. I've always known that. Maybe not the full details, maybe not the gory brutality of it, but I always knew. That's why I could never trust you. You were a monster, no good deeds could cancel that out. It was all written there, in your eyes." Buffy wrapped her arms protectively around herself, pacing back in front of him.

He shifted his jaw, smiling without feeling. "The eyes are the portal to the soul and all."

"Something like that."

"So you see now, why I've got to die."

Buffy nodded. "I do."

The barest flicker of pain flashed across his face, it echoed in his eyes. She could see him withdrawing from her as if she had slapped him. "Then it's settled."

"It is."

"Bloody perfect." His hands balled into fists, he smacked his head back hard against the cement brick walls. "Now if you'll only leave me to die in peace." He squeezed his eyes shut.

Buffy watched him for a moment. He was able to hold pain in like no one she knew. She had thought Angel was the king of silent sorrow, but she could see now that it was Spike. His emotions ran closer to the surface, he wasn't hard pressed to cover his emotions, but the true pain, the one that split him to the core, he'd rather suffer it alone.

Quietly as she could, Buffy kneeled before Spike, in the space between his legs. His eyes opened at the glancing touch of her waist against the inside of his knee. "I thought I asked you to leave."

"When have you ever left when I asked?"

"I'm evil. I don't have to be polite." He stared down at her, his pale blue eyes watching her in agony. "What are you doing, Buffy?"

"Tell me you don't feel it."

Spike exhaled long and slow. "Shame, sorrow, guilt?"

Buffy shook her head. "You know that's not what I'm talking about."

"Should I get out my Orphan Annie decoder?"

"When you came back, I felt it. It was how I knew something was different about you."

His eyes were fixed on her. "What did you feel?"

"What do I feel? You feel it too. So you tell me, tell me you don't feel it. Tell me I'm imagining it and I'll let you die in peace. Even help you along if that's what you want. Just tell me you don't feel it."

"I don't feel it."

His words clenched around her chest, squeezing her insides. Heart physically aching, a dull thud against her ribs, Buffy began to get to her feet. As she straightened up, Spike grabbed her waist, pulling her into him as he stood up.

His lips were on hers before she had time to think of protesting. The kiss took all of Buffy's faculties away, she was only conscious of his lips, the taste of him, and how she should respond. The heat between them, which had before always simmered, exploded. They were grasping, clinging, impossible to separate.

Where he ended and where she started Buffy couldn't have said. That was the whole point. Buffy couldn't exist in a world where Spike wasn't there to foil her. He kept her honest, he drove her insane, he made her bleed, he reminded her that she was alive. Buffy gasped, dragging his mouth back down when his lips made the mistake of leaving hers.

Spike hoisted Buffy into his arms. Her legs locked around his back, her hair spilling over them, shielding them from the harsh basement light. Her heart raced against his chest as if trying to make up for the heart that didn't beat in his. She felt an anxious rush, one she hadn't felt before. Because Buffy wanted to crawl beneath his skin. She knew the horrible deeds he'd done, but she wanted to know more. She wanted to know everything about him.

Spike clung to her with the same frantic need and Buffy knew that the last of her walls, the ones that had kept even the best of friends at bay, crumbled before him. At that moment he wasn't William the Bloody, he was William the Conqueror.

An eternity seemed to pass before they finally separated, slid back down into two people. All they had done was kiss, nothing more, but it said everything.

Buffy tilted her neck to the side. Spike stared at it, he brought his mouth down, his tongue licked a line up the smooth skin, sending shivers down her spine. Finally, he pressed his lips to the place where her pulse beat. She had bent left, not right, so that he would bite skin unblemished by other vampires.

Buffy tensed, waiting for the pain.

It didn't come.

A puff of breath against her moist skin, then nothing. Spike grasped her shoulders. "You need to tell the others, before we do this."

She stepped back. "Tell them what?"

"That I've decided to go on not living, that I've asked you to save me. That I've asked you to let me bite you."

Heat spiked in her core. Buffy decided to worry about that later. "Tomorrow night."

"Tomorrow night," he repeated.