Dawn tapped her foot impatiently as she flipped through the book in front of her. "There's nothing here!" She exclaimed and slammed the book down – which caused Giles to visibly wince. "Are you even trying to find anything?" She asked in irritation. Giles hadn't even made an effort to help her this past hour. He just paced around, wiped at his glasses and muttered to himself. Dawn was finally starting to pick up on how weird he was being. "What's got you all twitchy and weird?" She asked him and he sighed. Placing his glasses back on, he turned and faced Dawn.

"I have a confession to make," he paused and put a little bit of distance between Dawn and himself. If she was anything like her sister . . . he almost grinned at the thought. "Spike is back. He has been for a long while, I just never told any of you." Giles trailed off, waiting for the inevitable explosion.

Dawn's mouth gaped open like a fish out of water for a few seconds before she shot out of her chair, knocking it backwards into the wall. "What!?" She all but screamed at him, red in the face. "Buffy has been absolutely miserable! She doesn't show it, but I know she is. How could you keep something like that from her? From me!?" Her voice was still raised, but it had calmed down slightly.

"Angel called me a few months after Spike disintegrated in the Hellmouth. I was wary since he'd become the leader of an evil law firm called Wolfram and Hart, but he told me that Spike was back. He made me promise not to tell any of you, so I obliged as a trade. I wouldn't tell Buffy that Spike was back in exchange for Angel using his resources to help track down slayers for us," Giles explained to her. If he was completely honest though, he thought it was better for Buffy to not have Spike in her life, or either vampire for that matter. He knew Angel would stay away, but Spike was a different matter entirely. The sudden appearance of the amulet at Buffy's place was worrisome. Somebody wanted her to know he was back, and he had the suspicion it was the very blonde vampire he wanted to keep away from Cleveland.

"I cannot believe you! I'm telling Buffy," she all but snarled at him and grabbed her things. She was already out the door by the time Giles was able to protest. He sighed and sank down into a chair, placing his head in his hands. He winced when the door slammed loudly and he heard the sound of Dawn's car roaring to life and tearing out of his driveway.

Faith poked her head into Giles' study. "What's got lil sis all in a tizzy? She all but ran me over in the hallway," she told him and walked inside the room. He just shook his head and Faith shrugged. "Alright. The girls and I are going out," he shot her a look, "slaying – not partying, I'm too old for that shit gramps," she replied and left the room, yelling out for the slayers to grab their weapons because they were going on a hunt.

Dawn pulled into the driveway and noticed all the living room lights were on. Good, Buffy was home. She was so pissed at Giles. Why would he keep that from them? He saw how good Spike could be, how good he was! Dawn slammed her car door and stormed inside. She flung open the front door. "Buffy!" She yelled and turned to head into the living room. He jaw dropped at who was sitting across from her. "Spike . . ." she trailed off before squealing and running towards him. She hugged him fiercely and despite the current situation with Buffy, he chuckled.

"Looks like I can't call you Lil Bit anymore," he replied. She then pulled back from the hug.

"Oh yeah, about that," she said before slapping him upside the back of the head.

"Oi! What was that for!?" He asked and rubbed at the back of his head.

"Not telling us you've been alive – er well undead – this whole time. You're not the only one at fault here though," Dawn glanced towards Buffy, who nodded.

"Yeah I know. Angel was in on it too . . . and Giles," Buffy sighed. This wasn't the first time her Watcher had kept something important from her. Spike had filled her in on all that had happened up to the fight in L.A. before Dawn interrupted.

"So . . . you're staying now right?" Dawn asked with a hopeful gleam in her eyes. Spike shrugged.

"Suppose you'll have to ask big sis that," he turned his attention back to Buffy, staring at her as if they were the only two in the room. "If you want me gone it just takes one word and I'll leave," Spike admitted despite the fact that was the last thing he wanted. Buffy's eyes narrowed slightly because at that moment, Dawn was glancing at her with a pleading look in her eyes.

"Oh no, don't put this all on me," she complained. "I mean – do you want to leave?" She asked, her voice wavering slightly despite her efforts to appear neutral. Before Spike could reply Dawn groaned and threw her hands up in exasperation. Both Spike and Buffy shot her similar confused look and she sighed.

"I can't even handle you two right now! Just fuck already, sheesh!" She exclaimed and left the room. Mere seconds later she popped her head around the corner. "But – uh if you do decide to do that, I'll be at the library studying. Ya know – just in case." By this time Buffy was blushing and absolutely floored by Dawn's words. There was a sound of jingling keys, the front door opening and closing, Dawn's car driving away, then silence. It wasn't long before Spike broke it.

"Now that Dawns had her input . . ." he trailed off with a slight smile. Buffy laughed and shook her head. "Buffy, are you off your bird? I never want to leave. I just wanna do what's best for you," he was about to say more when Buffy's entertained expression completely disappeared from her face and she nearly growled in frustration and shot up from her chair to pace the room. Spike shot her an odd look. He sure as hell wasn't expecting that.

"Everybody's always rushing to do what they think is best for me. Angel, Giles, Xander, now you too? Of all people!? Couldn't you just have been your normal compulsive self and come see my when you came back?" Spike opened his mouth to say something, but she held up her hand and cut him off. "And don't pull that whole 'heroic death' bullshit. I don't care about that. I loved you – still do even! You left me, like every guy does!" She was crying now as she yelled this. It wasn't common for her to break down, in fact it rarely happened, but everything had finally boiled over and she was an emotional wreck. At this point, Spike stood up and his hands hovered slightly in the air like he wanted to comfort her somehow, and apologize for how much he'd fucked up. "Can we – can we just pretend for a little bit?" She asked, tears staining her cheeks. He moved forward and placed his hands on her hips.

"What'd you have in mind?" He asked with a smirk that made it obvious he knew where this was heading. Buffy rolled her eyes.

"I think you can guess," she replied and wrapped her arms around his neck. He pulled her flush against him and she pressed her lips against his. They were cold, and soft, and tasted just how she remembered. Spike groaned and deepened the kiss, slipping his tongue into her mouth when she parted her lips for him. When he pulled away to let her catch her breath, she smiled at him. "This might just be the best Buffy birthday ever," she remarked, which caused Spike to shake his head and laugh.

"You're gonna jinx it now, luv," he replied, cupping her cheek with his palm.

"Guess you'll have to make sure I don't keep up with the talking then, huh?" Buffy responded with a wink and kissed Spike again. It looked like tonight was going to end a lot better than the dream version of this.