Buffy felt his lips on hers, then his hands on her back as he guided her through the door back into her
room. She then heard the door close and found her self alone in the hotel room. She wasn't sure
if she should be angry that he kicked her out or if maybe she should be thankful that he had stopped them
from doing something they weren't ready for. She plopped down on the ugly bedspread and buried
her head in the pillow, she wanted him, he wanted her, there was no doubt about that. It was just the
middle stuff of getting to the point where they could act on that want that was so darn confusing and
hard. She understood why he wanted to hold off though, she couldn't blame him, last time she
had given such terrible mixed signals to him. This time if they were going to do this, he was right
they were going to do it the right way.


Spike lay on the same ugly bedspread in his room. He was tossing and turning, had he done the right thing?
He wanted her so badly, to just lose himself in her, let them do what they did so well together. The only
problem was that eventually they would have to get out of bed and thats when things usually took a
turn for the worse. He punched his pillow, no, he had done the right thing, he smiled as he closed his
eyes, by the end of this trip maybe, just maybe they would find their way.

Buffy was up early again, she was blowdrying her hair when she heard the knock on the door between
thier rooms. "Come in." She called as she lay the blowdryer down and ran a brush through her hair.

"You ready for breakfast and the Palace of Wax?" Spike asked hesitantly, not sure of how she would
be feeling towards him this morning.

Buffy finished the last of her repacking, if he could be casual so could she, "That sounds good, I'm
really hungry this morning."

"Me too." Must be all that unrealeased tension, he thought as he helped her with her bags to the car.

She was serious, Spike thought as he watched her eat a large stack of pancakes, hashbrowns and
bacon. Her plate was almost as full as his, it was good to see her eating like this. And she was
laughing and waving at a little boy who kept turning in his booster chair to wave at the pretty blond.
"He's adorable." Buffy commented over a sip of orange juice.

"Adorable and annoying." Spike commented over his pancakes.

"Sounds like someone else I know." The words slipped out before Buffy realized it and she blushed slightly.

"So I'm adorable?" He raised an eyebrow at her.

"You can be," She answered with a smirk, "But more times then not, your just annoying." She balled
up her napkin and threw it across the table at him.

"I'm hurt." He held his hand over his heart in mock despair.

"Hey you kicked me out of your room last night." Buffy chewed on her bottom lip as she waited for his
reply.

He hesitated for a moment before he replied, "You know why I did that." He replied soflty.

She reached across the table and gently lay her hand on his, "Yes, I do." She smiled at him, "So
are we ready to go to the wax museum?"

He returned her smile and relished the feel of her small hand on his, "Let's roll." He left a tip for
the waitress and went to pay the tab.

"This is so cool, I love wax museums!" Buffy exclaimed as the pulled into the parking lot. The Palace
of Wax was a beautiful building, looked somewhat like Aladdin's castle and the parking spaces had
the names of stars printed on them. They parked in Shirley Temple's spot and Spike winced, Dru
had gone through a phase of watching all of the little curly blonds movies and he still could hear
her singing along with "Animal crackers in my soup." He skipped telling Buffy that particular story.


"Look it's Brad Pitt as Louis in Interview with the Vampire." Buffy pointed to the wax statue of Louis, long
hair hanging to his shoulders.

"He needs a haircut." Spike commented.

Buffy shook her head at him as they moved through the movie star portion of the museum. They
wondered how some of the figures appeared so lifelike and laughed at some that didn't seem to look
like their counterparts at all. Buffy was enraptured with the fairy tale land, all of her favorite characters
from childhood brought to life in wax. Rapunzel leaned out of her tower, gorgeous hair flowing to the
ground beneath her, while Snow White and the seven dwarfs danced in thier cottage.

They came upon a caution sign labeled 'Chamber of Horror', it instructed that you could take one door to avoid
the chamber or you could go through, but small children might be frightened by the exhibits. "So you up
to the Chamber of Horror, luv?" Spike asked in his best creature feature voice.

"I think I can handle it." She grinned as they opened the door , the sound of wind and a howling wolf
greeted them as they walked by the Wolfman and an figure of Lon Chaney standing beside him. The
next exhibit was an open casket with Bela Lugosi's Dracula lying in it. "Doesn't look like the real deal
to me." Buffy laughed softly.

"You're probably one of the few visitors they get her who have met the real deal." Spike rolled his eyes
at her and took her hand in his.

She looked down at his hand intertwined with hers, "Are you scared, need me to hold your hand?" She
quipped.

Spike's expression changed suddenly and he dropped her hand, "I just thought....."

She reclaimed her hand in hers, "Spike you know, if we are going to do this right, you are going
to have to learn when I'm teasing you." She stretched and kissed his cheek.

"Eww....." A boy and his friend of about twelve said simutaneously.

Buffy flashed them a smile, "You can walk through this horror stuff, but kissing makes you go
eww?"

The boys grinned back at her, "Well, yeah."

Spike winked at them, "You won't always feel that way."

They made thier way back to the beginning of the exhibit and went into the Ripleys Believe it or Not
portion of the museum. "This stuff is just weird." Buffy told him as she pointed at the stuffed two headed
calf and the shrunken head sitting in a display behind glass.

The walk through the tornado room was fun, the bridge swayed as the wind whipped around them. They
made it across and ended up in room with stoves in trees and the model of a man still in his bed on a roof.
The left the museum after buying a small shot glass for Dawn.

"That was fun." Buffy told him as he opened her car door, "This is a real treat for me you know."

"You like staring at three headed chickens, that much?" He teased her as he started the car.

"You know what I mean, this ...all of this non slayer, non bill or Dawn worry time." She sighed as
she leaned back, "It's just nice."

"I'm glad you're enjoying it." He drove along with a happy smile on his face, "Buffy, look there!"
He pointed towards a large RV next to them, "I think thats the Delaware plate you need."

Buffy opened her eyes and scanned the road, sure enough there it was, "Thanks!" She told him
as she dug out her pad and pen, she neatly wrote Delaware on the paper, it was looking a bit worse
for wear she had spilled a coke on it and dripped part of an ice cream cone, but it only lacked one state
now, Hawaii.

"What's that?" Buffy pointed towards a billboard.

"It says visit Puddin Hill Chocolate Shop. Has a dollhouse made of chocolate?" Spike turned to her,
"I'm not in a hurry, want to stop?"

"Yes, let's go look at it. You can't go wrong with chocolate!"

The shop was full of all things chocolate. True to their ad, they had a dollhouse and it's furnishings
completely made of chocolate, and even a sculpture of Forrest Gump sitting on his bench, holding
a box of chocolates all made out of chocolate. The toured the chocolate factory in the back of the shop
and each got a large peanut butter cup before leaving.

"I'm gonna gain fifty pounds before we get back." Buffy sighed around her peanut butter cup.

"I'll still love you." Spike assured her with a wink and a grin as he polished off his own chocolate.

She only smiled at him, but inside she was telling herself, that yes I know that you'll love me no matter
what. Why couldn't she say it out loud? She fell asleep pondering that question and was surprised when
a couple of hours later Spike woke her up.

"I'm getting gas, you need to use the restroom?" He asked her as got out to fill the tank.

"Thanks, I better do that." She found her shoes and got out of the car, they were in Arkansas now. She
looked on a board posted in the station. Spike said they were going to Hot Springs next and the little board
said that was about sixty miles down the road. She bought a coke for herself and one for Spike on
the way out.

"Here this is for you," She handed him the coke.

"Thanks, I guess you don't want to be the only one who has to take a bathroom break next time?"

"I was being thoughtful." She pouted knowing he couldn't resist that.

"I know, I'm sorry. So when we get to Hot Springs we can go see the natural hot springs they have
right down town. They use them in bathhouses there, you can get a bath and a massage. I think
they also have some really good restaurants too. And lakes, lots of lakes."


They arrived in Hot Springs and found a lovely old motel called the Arlington. It was pink stucco and
several stories high. It was situated right down town so they could walk wherever they wanted to go.
This time when Spike went to get the rooms, Buffy made a surprise request, "Why don't we just get
a double room, you know one with two beds, cheaper and well.....you know that way we won't get lonely."

He nodded his head, "That sounds good to me." He grabbed the bags and went to the desk.

"We have time to do a bit of sightseeing before supper if you want to take a walk." Spike told her
as she put her bag on her bed.

They walked across the street along Bath House row admiring the houses that had been built at the turn of
the century. They went into the Forsyth Bath House and took the tour, "This just isn't fair." Buffy told Spike
as she looked at the beautiful stained glass ceiling in the men's dressing room. The women's room
was plain and look what the men got."

"Well they didn't think as many women would take the baths as men, did you look out there on the roof,
it was for 'private' sunbathing." They admired the piano in the solarium and finished up the tour hand
in hand. Walking down Central Avenue they passed another Wax Museum, Bill and Hillary Clinton waved
from the front glass. "Do you want to go in?" Spike asked her as they stared at the figures of the former
President and First Lady.

"No, I think we've seen enough wax today." Buffy pulled him towards the small gift shop next door. "Let's go
in here."

Buffy picked out a souvenier for Dawn as Spike paid for his own purchase. Once out on the sidewalk
again, he handed her the bag.

"You're gonna spoil me." She told him as she pulled out the Arkansas charm, "Oh, this will look so
good on my bracelet." She stopped right on the sidewalk and gave him a hug, "Thanks!"

"Your welcome, I'll put it on your bracelet when we get back to the room. Now lets find a restarurant."
He casually draped an arm around her shoulders as they continued to walk. "Do you like German
food?" He asked as they crossed the street.

"I don't know that I've ever had it." Buffy admitted, "I'm willing to try it though."

"There's a restaurant in here called the Brau Haus, someone at the hotel mentioned it was good" He
opened the door to let her enter the restaurant.

The interior was small and it was softly lit, very comfy. Buffy let Spike order for her and drank a coke,
while he ordered a german beer. "This was a good idea, it's such a nice place." Buffy told him
as she sipped her cola.

"I'm glad we came too." Spike took another drink of his beer and sat down the mug, "Buffy, you keep
saying thanks for this trip, I have to thank you for coming, for giving me a chance."

"Your welcome, it's really my pleasure, as for the chance you deserve it." Buffy smiled at him as he
took her hand in his and placed a soft kiss in her palm.

***
A dark haired man sat at a table in the corner, he almost choked on his own beer when he noticed
the pretty blond a few tables over. It was Buffy, beautiful and smiling and holding some guys hand.
He could only see the man's back but something about his posture was familiar, he had brownish
hair with the tips bleached blond. He debated going over to her but decided against it, he was in town
on business and obviously Buffy was here on pleasure, for some reason their reunions never went
well so he thought maybe he could just watch here for a few minutes and go.


He watched as the couple ate their supper. Then the man paid the waitress and stood to go pull
out Buffy's chair for her. Angel gasped out loud when he got a good look at the guy, it was Spike. Spike!
What the hell was Buffy doing here with Spike? His resolve to stay away from her quickly broke, as
he strode over to the other table. "Buffy?"

Buffy turned at the sound of a familiar voice calling her name, she was stunned when she saw the
owner of the voice, "Angel?"

Spike could only look between the woman he loved and the one person he hated most in the world.
Could things possibly get worse? As he felt Angel's fist connect with his jaw he had his answer.


****
Buffy watched in horror as Angel's fist plowed into his jaw, causing him to tip back and fall over his chair.
She knelt on her knees beside him as Angel looked on in shock. "Spike, you okay?" She then turned
towards Angel, "What did you do that for?" She turned back to Spike placing her hand gently on his
already bruising jaw.

Angel remained speechless as he watched Spike take a deep breath and get to his feet, it registered
after a moment, 'deep breath' and Spike do not go together, Angel thought as he listened to the extra
heartbeat, the one coming from Spike. What was going on here?

The manager of the restaurant made his way over to the scene, "Do you want me to call the police sir,
have this man arrested for assault?" He asked Spike as he cut his eyes towards Angel.

Buffy looked at the manager, she was angry with Angel, but didn't want to risk him frying in a jail cell,
"No!" She answered for Spike.

The manager ignored her and looked again at Spike, "Sir?"

Spike stood then and shook his head, "Might do him some good to spend a night in jail."

"Spike, please." Buffy asked him pleading soflty.

"Fine," He sighed with disgust, "I'll just go, it will be okay."

The manager didn't seem sure that it was okay, but Spike lay some money down on the table and
turned to walk out of the restaurant.

"Buffy what is going on here? Why is Spike among the breathing and why are you here with him?"
Angel asked as he dropped money on the table along with Spike's.

"It's a long story, Angel." Buffy told him as she turned to go after Spike, "Spike!"

The blond didn't turn to face her as he exited the restaurant. He ran when he got outside, not sure
where he was going and yes, the cowards way out, but he couldn't bear to see her with Angel for
another moment. He finally found a bar called the Ohio Club, the sign boasted that it had been
visited by gangsters and presidents. He gave a bitter laugh as he entered the club and sat down
at the antique bar, "Bourbon, and keep it coming."

Angels hand on Buffy's arm kept her in the restaurant long enough to give Spike his head start. He
was no where to be seen when she finally shook Angel off of her arm and emerged outside.
"Where did you go, Spike?" She looked up and down the quiet street.

"Buffy, we really need to talk." Angel spoke in a soft voice trying to calm her.

"Angel, it's really good to see you, but really terrible timing." Buffy sighed as she walked towards one
of the benches that sat in front of the old bathhouses.

The dark haired vamp sat beside her on the bench, "So explain to me why you are here with Spike,
why Spike is alive and why you seem to be *with* him?"

"Any easy questions you want to ask ?" Buffy lay her head on the bench back and closed her eyes.

"Well, yeah, his hair looks really good? I've thought about doing some more highlighting." Angel
laughed soflty.

Buffy opened her eyes and joined in the laughter, "Okay, we'll get to the hair, but I guess I should start from the beginning.
Do you have awhile?"

"Forever." He smiled at her.

"That's not fair, I'm supposed to be mad at you for hitting Spike." She grinned, "So don't try to charm me."

"Okay, no more charm. Serioulsly Buffy, what's going on?" He watched her nibbling on her bottom lip
and it reminded him of simpler times.

"Well, after I came back from.....well you know. I didn't adjust very well."

"When I saw you, you said you were good." Angel reminded her of that very awkward meeting.

"What did you want me to say? You and everyone else, wanted me to be good, so I did
my best to be that way for them. But inside.....inside it hurt and the person who could take away that
hurt even if just for a little while turned out to be Spike." She took a deep breath and continued,
"Even before I ....left, he had told me he loved me and he had helped out with the whole Glory mess,
even took some torture for Dawn's sake. I knew then that I had these weird new feelings for him, but I
tucked them deep inside, too much was going on."

"I wish I could have been there to help." Angel told her as he took her hand and gave it a squeeze.

"You have you own life in LA, Angel. I don't blame you. But when I came back , he was the only one
who made me feel anything, sometimes it was just anger at him but it was feeling, then one night,
he discovered that his chip didn't work on me. He taunted me about it and we ended up pummeling
each other in an abandoned house, before the night was over we were in the basement and weren't fighting anymore."
Buffy gave Angel an anxious glance to see if he caught her meaning.

"You stopped fighting and ........" Angel prodded her.

"We uh......we had sex. Lots of it." Buffy shrugged, if she was going to tell the story she should tell it right.

"You slept with Spike? You're sleeping with Spike?" Angel tried to remain calm but thoughts of Buffy
and Spike and sex were giving him a massive headache.

"Yes, I slept with him, but no, I'm not currently sleeping with him. Let me finish the story okay?" She
took another deep breath and continued her story. Angel didn't interrupt, but did ball up his fists and
growl when he heard the bathroom story,. "So he showed up again about six weeks ago and he was
human and souled and very regretful and he didn't even talk to me at first, he saw Dawn first. But
a few days ago he brought up going on vacation, a road trip and well I decided to go. I thought things
might work out....but now I don't know."

"You don't know how much this pains me to ask but do you love him, Buffy?" Angel sighed, he had
heard bittersweet love stories before, in fact he'd been involved in one with the girl sitting next to him,
but the way Buffy talked about Spike, about how she had used him and how there had been too many
misunderstandings between them, how things had come to a head in that bathroom, how she
had forgiven him. He hated to admit it but he had to believe that his Buffy did love Spike.

"I wasn't sure before, or maybe I was and I fought it so hard, but he's changed Angel, and he did it for me."

Angel shook his head, the headache was getting worse now. "If you really love him, you need to let him
know." I can't believe I'm actually encouraging this, but he wanted his..no not * his* Buffy anymore to be
happy.

"Well, I would like to do that, but he seems to dissappeared." Buffy replied sarcastically..

"You know what, why don't you go back to the room and see if he's there? Meanwhile I'll see if I can
find him."

"And if you find him?" Buffy eyed him suspiciously.

"Then I'll bring him back to you." Angel smiled at her, "Where are you staying?"

Buffy gave him the name of her hotel and room number and set out walking, hoping that Spike
was in the room and that he would be willing to listen to her. She fished the key out of her purse and
opened the door, the room was empty. "Where are we going Spike?
Are we there yet? Is this it?" Her questions remained unanswered as she curled up on the bed.

****

Angel tried three clubs before he found Spike. He sat down on the stool next to him. Spike was staring
at a glass of bourbon. "So you decided to you prefer drinking to Buffy's company?"

Spike looked from the glass to Angel, "Gee and I thought you'd be happy to have her all to yourself, catch
up on old times, maybe a bit of....oh wait I forgot that pesty curse and all." He lifted the glass and took a deep
swallow of the amber fluid. "Why do you care?" He asked his voice dead serious.

"I could easily say it's only Buffy I care about here, because she is my primary concern. But for some reason,
I find myself caring about you too, maybe it's because you've got a second chance, maybe since I'm partially
responsible for taking away that first chance at a life, William. I want to make sure you don't screw up this one."
Angel nodded at the bartender who brought over another glass.


Spike glared as he watched Angel pour himself a drink from his bottle, "Who said I was sharing?"

"We've shared more then booze in the past, Spike. We share more then that now, Buffy says you love her.
Do you?" Angel asked as he sipped his drink.

"And if I do?" Spike asked defensively, "You come to put me in my place, show her I'm not good enough for her?
You're right we've shared alot, Angelus - starting with Dru, you got to drive her insane and I got to take care of what was left of her,
your a real giver."

"Spike this isn't about Drusilla. It's about Buffy." Angel shook his head and sighed.

"Cause I guess we share her now too right, you break her heart so she can never really give herself to another
guy and I guess I get what's left. I tried not to think about it before, I just knew that if I could spend some
time with her away from everything and everybody, I could make her happy, I got the soul, got the
heartbeat now, she could love me. But you waltzed up and interrupt a really romantic dinner and punch me out,
and she's worried you'll be arrested. Just like Dru....Angel comes first. Maybe I was right when I told Finn that
she liked a bit of monster in her man. In my grand scheme I forgot that important part." Spike poured himself
another glass full.

"Are you done feeling sorry for yourself now?" Angel asked his patience running out, "You were always
melodramatic. Must be the poet in you."

"So why are you really here, then?" Spike asked as he took a large drink from his glass.

"Buffy loves you." The words were soft and Angel's voice melancholy as he said them.

"She told you that?" Spike asked his scarred eyebrow arched.

"Yes, she told me and for reasons I can't begin to fathom, she'd like to tell you." Angel stood up, "So are
you going to sit here and get drunk ,so maybe your new human body can relearn the fine art of throwing up on her
shoes or are you going to be a man," Angel sighed and put his hand on Spike's shoulder, "The man I know
you can be. Go to her."

"You're serious?" Spike wore a confused expression. "She loves me? "

Angel looked exasperated, "Yes she is in love with you.I want her
happy, You make her happy. So I'm asking do you love her?"

"Of course I love her! I did all of this for her!" Spike stood thumping his chest over his beating heart, "I can't even
imagine life without her in it, and I was willing to take friendship if that was all that she offered, but she loves me?"

Angel smiled at the giddy look on Spike's face, " *Yes* she loves you. Don't waste this Spike." He told him as he turned and
left the bar.

Spike paid the bartender. I make her happy. He repeated the words over and over
as he walked back to the hotel.

*****
Buffy sighed as she stood by the window, hoping to catch a glimpse of Spike coming back to the room.
Is this love? Wanting to see a glimpse of him even though she was angry with him for leaving. Was love what
was making her heart break a little bit more every minute he stayed gone? She walked away from the window,
when the phone rang. Her heart jumped to her throat, maybe that was him, he was calling to tell her he was
on his way back. "Hello!" She answered excitedly.

"Buffy, it's me." Angel's voice came over the line.

"You didn't find him, did you?" Buffy's voice broke.

"I found him and I talked to him and he's on his way back to you. Can't say I'm ecstatic about your choice,
but he loves you and that is one thing Spike knows how to do well..love. Good luck." Angel hung up the phone
and sighed, he should have taken Spike's bottle, being this understanding took a lot out of a vampire.

Buffy hung up the phone and went back to the window, soon she saw him coming up the street. He had a bounce
in his step and he was smiling brightly. A few minutes later she heard the key in the door. Spike entered the room
with an apology on his lips, "I'm sorry for runnig like that."

"Are you going to do that often?" Buffy asked him.

"What?" Spike asked looking innocent.

"Run away? I mean if you are going to run away and not discuss things we shouldn't even try to have a relationship."
Buffy sat down on his bed and patted the mattress beside her.

"I won't do it again, promise. Do we have a relationship?" His face was so very hopeful that Buffy had to touch him,
to let him know how much he meant to her.

"I love you." She told him as her fingertips caressed his face.The words were simple but spoken with such
honesty he thought he might cry.

Placing his own hands on her's he took a deep breath, "I never thought I would hear those words from you.
I've imagined them in all different scenario's but none of my dreams ever measured up to actually hearing you say
them just now. I love you too."

She leaned raised her lips to his and kssed him softly. Her hands came down from his face and began to carefully
unbutton his shirt, he sighed when she leaned down and trailed soft kisses down his chest. He was afraid to move,
afraid to break the spell, a very small part of him was afraid that in the morning it would be a repeat of the past
morning afters, a bigger part of him told him to take the chance, she loves you.

Later, as they lay together in a tangle of limbs and bedsheets, Buffy smiled up at him, "You said we were going
somewhere? Are we there yet?"

He laughed out loud, "Yes, luv, I think we're almost there."

He kissed her again and she whispered against his lips, "Almost?"

"You know what they say, pet. Life's a journey not a destination. I'm
really enjoying the journey."

*****


In the far future, their children and grandchildren would cherish the picture that stayed on the mantel in Buffy and Spike's home. A photo taken at a theme park, so long ago of two people embarking on a life together.

Many years later when the journey had ended for Spike, he left the world knowing he had been loved, long and true. And a few years later
when Buffy followed him, she knew without a doubt that his love would
be there to greet her at the end of her journey too.



The End