A/N: For those of you who have been following along, I've switched from first person to third person narration since it is better suited to the story. Thanks so much to everyone who has read, favorited, followed, and especially reviewed! You are all awesome!


Buffy was perched on her favorite grave, surveying the cemetery. The grave belonged to one Edward Hanes who had died in 1906. Now, his tree stump styled grave gave her the perfect view of the cemetery to see if any of the undead were coming out to play. Of all the grave stones that had been destroyed in Buffy's six years in Sunnydale, she was forever grateful that this one was still standing. She tapped the stake in her right hand against the polished stone.

Her talk with Spike the day before hadn't really gotten her any farther in the whole what to do with Spike deliberation. Instead, it solidified things she thought it better not to think about. Why didn't she want him out of Sunnydale? Why was she willing to be alone with him after everything? It was all there, but Buffy didn't want to sift through to the answer.

She saw movement coming from the left bank of trees. Jumping lithely to her sneaker covered feet, Buffy crept to the edge of the trees, stake at the ready, harassing jib formulating.

A tall stretch of black parted the trees. A pair of blue eyes took in the stake, then her.

"I didn't think this was a deadly invitation," Spike said.

She dropped her hand. "Not for you at least."

"Unless I eat someone?"

"I don't think you will. Come on." Buffy headed back to Hanes' grave. Spike offered her his hand to give her a boost upward. After a moment's hesitation, Buffy accepted.

He jumped up next to her. "Still squatting on Edward Hanes?"

"I think he has proven to be far more helpful in death than in life. I'm sure he is grateful for our continued remembrance of him."

"Yes. I'm sure he always wanted to be someone's favorite place to sit in a place full of dead people."

"And undead. Maybe Edward hated vampires too and now he is sleeping peacefully as I use him to aid me in killing them."

"Right. Then I guess he wouldn't much care for me sitting up here." Spike made to jump down.

Buffy tried to think of the right thing to say. "You're not – I mean – You're not the evil kind of vampire anymore."

"Aren't I?" Spike raised his scarred eyebrow.

"You haven't bitten me, even with ample opportunities. That's pretty not evil of you." The ominous exception lay heavy between them.

Spike lunged toward her. The stake came up immediately, the tip pressing into the bandage on his chest. He leaned away slowly. "I'd say it was still up for debate."

Buffy laid the stake in her lap. "What are you doing, Spike? This thing that you're doing. This moping, what is that about?"

"Moping?" He looked up in insult. "I've killed hundreds of people, tortured more, and I enjoyed all of it. I tried to rape – no, I'm going to say it," he said when Buffy looked as if she might interrupt. "I tried to rape the only person I've loved more than myself. So yeah, I'm bloody well moping."

Heat tingled in Buffy's cheeks at his words. His causes for mopage were true. They should have made her angry, they should have made her sick. They did none of that. He was repentant, and that's all that seemed to matter, which scared her more than anything and Buffy prided herself on being a tough girl to scare.

Buffy chose to ignore the emotions in turmoil within her, going for the easiest response, the one that put the heat back on Spike. "So. By getting your soul, I get weak, mopy Spike instead of strong dangerous Spike?"

His brows crossed. "Do you even sodding hear yourself? You're trying to tell me that you'd rather have soulless Spike? The one you said was nothing but a monster? A soulless thing?"

Buffy arched her neck back, looking up at the pin cushion of stars above as she worked out the tension headache that this conversation was giving her. "I'm saying that you being all depressed doesn't help me. I've got big fights, fights I need help with. And you can't do anything more than mope about a past you can't change? How am I supposed to feel?"

Spike was clearly getting mad. It showed in his eyes and in his posture. "I go through hell to get a soul for you and now you treat me with scorn?" He leapt to the cemetery ground. "Bugger this."

"Spike." Buffy jumped down after him, catching the back of his horrible black duster. She hated that thing with more passion than she had hated any of her high school outfits.

"Nothing is good enough for you, Buffy. You're always out there searching for something that doesn't exist. No man is good enough for you. And anytime you are happy, you do your best to drive that man away. I thought I was a mess." He jabbed his finger into Buffy's chest, "You're the mess."

Her eyes lit up. "Tell me, Spike. What's wrong with me? You torture yourself, and I can barely stand to have you touch me? Your soul can't take away the taint that you left on me."

"I know that!" He shouted. "Bloody hell. Don't you think I know that?"

"You tried to rape me. You failed, but you tried." She was up in his face, making him look her in the eyes even when he didn't want to.

"What do you want me to say? I can't apologize. I can't undo my actions. I got my soul for you! I tried to make amends. And it doesn't matter to you! I'm still the dirt beneath your feet. I've always been dirt to you. Friends my ass. You never gave two sodding chips about me!" He was pacing in front of her, his hands jammed in the pockets of his duster.

"Yes. I always looked down on you. When you came for me the first time, in high school you almost killed me, but I won. And you ran. You didn't even have enough fight to finish me. Then you come back drunk and sobbing for Dru, oh yeah, that was impressive."

"I loved Dru!"

"And she loved you back, so much so, she left you for a Chaos demon. Impressive, Spike. A little blip with the Gem of Amora, you have all the power in your hand, I still beat you back."

"Shut up!"

"Or what? You'll kill me?"

He grabbed Buffy's shoulders and pushed her from him. She could see the war going on as he fought to keep himself in his human form. He just need a little more and he would break. With only the slightest hesitation, she went for the breaking point.

"Then you come back and get a chip in your head. You can't do anything. You're impotent. I didn't even have to bother with you. I could look the other way and nothing. I could rest my neck against your lips and nothing. You couldn't bite me if it killed you. And then, of all things, you fall in love with me! How pathetic, you know I couldn't care less about you and yet there you are, following after me with puppy eyes."

"I didn't want to love you!" He was panting now, his shoulders heaving up and down as everything in him sought to go feral. "Loving you was the worst thing that ever happened to me!"

"Show me," Buffy taunted, moving with him as he paced.

Her slayer sense heard the twigs crack behind her. Spike's attention swung past her, his nostrils flaring as he took in the new scent. To regain his attention, Buffy crowded in on his space, leaving him no room, just inches separating them. "Show me," she repeated.

His hands trembled. "No."

"Is there anything left of William the Bloody?" She moved closer, now able to smell his distinct mixture of leather, oak, and tobacco. A smell Buffy identified singularly with Spike.

They were close enough that she could whisper and he would still be able to hear her. "It was William the Bloody that I liked in bed, that made me scream, and you aren't even close –"

Spike grabbed Buffy's shoulders and threw her from him once more. She looked up from the ground to see his smooth features replaced by vampiric ones. She scrambled to her feet, ready to fight.

He growled at her. "Stay away."

She came at him, angling for an upper cut. He threw one first, Buffy dove to the right, rolling on the ground and coming back up. She kicked back with her leg, catching the back of his knee. He dropped, but his right hand snatched her ankle, bringing her down with him.

His hand moved up Buffy's leg, dragging her to him. Buffy rolled onto her side, and when his hand relaxed to move farther up, she twisted out of his reach, springing back to her feet. He kept pace, jumping up in front of her. Buffy threw a punch at his ribs, he dodged.

In the close shave fight that followed, Buffy led him backward, toward the place where the twig had snapped. It was obvious to her that neither one of them was trying too hard to hurt the other, but it was the fight instinct she wanted to arouse in him, that was all she needed.

Spike threw a punch; Buffy let his fist collide with her cheek, sending her to the ground. Buffy saw the self-disgust flickering in his eyes, before his features could soften again she shouted, "Now!"

Andrew stumbled forward. Spike's attention shifted from Buffy to the ready-made meal. He leapt over her. She pulled herself up, ready to intervene if it looked like Andrew was going to be made into a light snack. Spike tilted his head from left to right, taking the possible meal in.

"Well, well. Weren't you part of the gang that made Buffy invisible?" Spike asked, circling closer to Andrew.

"Ye-yes. But-but I'm reformed now. Like you," Andrew stuttered with blatant terror.

Spike chuckled, a sound that sent shivers down my spine. It was so dangerous, so evil, and despite herself, Buffy loved that sound, it sent tingles down her spine. "I'm not so sure about that."

She tensed to run. Spike grabbed Andrew by his shirt, reeling Andrew into him. He pressed his face to Andrew's neck. Buffy started to sprint, but before she reached them, Spike had thrown Andrew from him to the ground.

Spike glared at Buffy over his shoulder. "Did I pass the test?"

She was at Andrew's side, combing over him with her eyes for any injuries. Beyond being a blubbering mess, he was perfectly fine. Standing, Buffy swiped the dirt stains from her jeans. "You," she started to say, but when she looked around, Spike was gone.

Willow and Xander came out from the mausoleum they had been stationed behind, each with a weapon in their hands.

"So, was that the way this was supposed to end? Because I, for one, have to admit confusion. Did we want the blood sucking fiend running off on his own? Was I the only one who didn't see the chip causing him life ending pain?" Xander looked from Buffy to Willow.

Willow was attending Andrew, reassuring him that he had in fact not been bitten and wouldn't be turning into a vampire any time soon. Buffy rubbed her face. "He didn't seem to have a problem with the chip. Which means there is definitely a problem with the chip."

"But – but he also didn't eat Andrew. That's a good thing, right?" Willow said with her typically cautious optimism.

They all looked to Andrew. "Debatable," Buffy said.

"Hey!" Andrew gasped. "I'm reformed! I – I don't do evil super genius things anymore."

They ignored him. "I'll go see if I can find him," Buffy said.

"Probably a good idea, before he sinks his fangs into some innocent dog walker." Xander gave Buffy a look of disapproval.

She gazed across the cemetery. "The plan didn't go, well, according to plan, but I don't think he –"

"But you don't know," Xander interrupted. "For all we know, he didn't eat Andrew because he isn't into drinking pathetic would-be villains."

"Reformed would-be villains!" Andrew protested.

"Buffy will take care of it, Xander," Willow said with quiet conviction. "She always does, okay. Let's get Andrew back home." She turned to him, "I can make you hot chocolate if you want."

"Really?" Andrew asked, cheering up considerably.

"See you at home, Buff."

"See you." Buffy straightened her jacket and took off through the cemetery.