Longest chapter so far!

Hope you enjoy, please review.

Joss is master!

In the two days that followed the Slayer and I had started up patrolling again and Rupert was spending time with Tara trying to figure out the schematics of the spell that she had been placed under. Unfortunately, two days were all we got of normalcy; Giles hadn't been able to deter Angel from coming over to check on Buffy and so here we were, me and Bit sitting in the dining room playing cards, the Watcher in the kitchen and then Buffy sitting alone in the living room waiting for the arrival of Tall Dark and Forehead.

The Slayer was clearly anxious; her knee was bouncing up and down quickly and she kept wringing her hands, occasionally wincing when her knuckles came into contact with her other hand. I think we were all on edge really, for different reasons of course, but still on edge.

Rupert was worried about the strain it might put on Buffy, and not to mention the fact that even if it was a few years ago, Angelus had killed his girl. A guy doesn't ever forget that type of thing, he'd probably be wary of him for the rest of his life.

I was just scared that as soon as Buffy saw the big poof that she would go running into his arms and ask him to help her and not me. They had history, whereas Buffy and I were only just starting out in this new type of bond that we had created.

He knocked on the door about an hour after sunset. Buffy stood up from the sofa but didn't move towards the door at first, when he knocked again she moved into action. As she crossed to the door she looked my way before she opened it, she looked nervous so I gave a quick reassuring smile. "Just call me over if you need me pet, okay?" I whispered loud enough for her to hear. She nodded quickly at me and then turned to open the door.

She opened the door slowly, as if trying to buy as much time as possible before facing him. Once it was fully open though neither of them made a move and it was dead silent for a few moments. "I don't know if you've been invited in or not since I was," Buffy pauses, "dead. If you haven't, come in Angel."

Slowly Angel crosses the threshold and just stands there in front of Buffy. "You're really back?" Angel whispers so low that I'm sure it was only meant for Buffy's ears, but hello, vampire hearing here. "In the newly reanimated flesh" Buffy answers slowly reaching across to take his hand.

Angel looks down at their intertwined hands and a small smile spreads across his face. Please God don't let them go all soppy and mushy, I'll end up chucking my guts up all over the dining room floor. The slayer leads my grand sire into the living room and closes the door behind her blocking my view, but at least I'll still be able to hear. It's nosey and intrusive but I don't care, I wanna know what the great lump says to her.

At first the conversation sounds awkward, like they're both either nervous or just uncomfortable. I listen in, but it's not the great reunion I was expecting. I thought there would be cheering and tears of happiness; I guess things really had changed between them.

I found it pretty interesting that Buffy didn't confide in Angel how hard things had been for her and how she had felt them first few days. She told him vaguely that Willow had gotten herself in some trouble recently but she didn't let on that she had been the victim most times.

After an hour or two, Bit went up to bed and Rupert took her place playing cards with me. Neither of us was willing to leave Buffy here alone with Sir Brood A-lot, so switched to some hard liquor and I only listened into the conversation going on next door sporadically.

Soon enough their little talk got onto the topic of me, but before anything was really said I heard Buffy talking to me and not Angel. She hadn't raised her voice at all, it was still the same volume she had been speaking to Angel in.

"Spike I know you're listening," then she paused and I smiled and chuckled as she called me out on it, "can you come in here please. Oh and tell Giles to put his glasses down, he'll break them otherwise. Angel has that glass you were talking about in his car, tell him to call Xander and ask if he could come over tonight to start on them. It's probably better they get done at night anyway."

I looked up from my cards and noticed the Watcher was indeed cleaning his glasses again. He was oblivious that Buffy had even said anything. "The lady wants you to give Harris a quick bell, see if he'll make a start on the windows tonight, Captain Forehead has the glass with him now."

The Watcher looked at me with squinted eyes for a second, clearly confused for my random outburst. "She knows I can hear her," I said, nodding in the living room direction "and she was just talking to me. Told me tell you to stop cleaning your glasses too."

"Ah right, certainly," he said, getting up from the table, "I'll do that right now then." After the cards were tidied away I brought the two glasses me and Rupert were using and the alcohol into the living room. "Peaches," I say, nodding in his direction, "always a pleasure to see your smiling face" I declare with obvious sarcasm.

The Slayer is sitting on the sofa with Angel across from her on one of the chairs so I stroll in and sit down next to Buffy. "Figured you'd need one of these luv," I say, pouring her a small drink, "God knows I would" I whisper as I lean close to her ear quickly. When I lean back Buffy takes her drink and I wink at Peaches when he looks between the two of us with a puzzled look on his face.

"I don't understand why Spike is here Buffy, you asked him to move in?" Angel asks. The Slayer lets out a lengthy sigh and downs her drink. "For a start he stayed here every night anyway to make sure Dawn was safe when I was dead so when I came back it made sense that he stay here seeing as I couldn't protect anyone and I was the more dangerous one of the two of us."

"What do you mean you were dangerous Buffy?" He asked, eyes focused only on Buffy.
"Angel, I haven't been completely honest with you. I was scared of what you would think of me. I wasn't brought back by choice, if I had my way I would have stayed dead" she pauses and pours herself another drink.

"My resurrection wasn't a happy one," she declares shuddering, "there was no one waiting with open arms for me. I had to fight my way out of my coffin by myself and I was traumatized, I was having such a hard time being here and I was pretty much a ticking time bomb" she says, staring at the floor.

"Hold on. Let me finish" she whispers before Angel interrupts. "Spike could see all this; all the effects being back were having on me when no one else did. I'd probably be lying in hospital somewhere in a comatose state if Spike hadn't been here. He brought me back when all I wanted to do was go and he help me come back to myself when I went back to being in my coffin. He understood what it was like and it helped."

"Now though, I want to be here, and that's all Spike's doing as well. He helps me channel all my anger into fighting so that I don't hurt any of my friends. He willingly puts himself in danger to keep my friends and Dawn safe, even if it is from me" she whispers the last few words and her eyes start to tear up.

I slid a little closer to her and Buffy reaches for my hand, I give it a reassuring squeeze and she finally looks up from the floor. Buffy smiles at me and lets out a strangled type of laugh while she wipes her eyes. I think she might be shaking, clearly talking about everything had gotten to her.

Angel hadn't uttered a word during Buffy's little speech but as soon as he noticed Buffy clinging to my hand still he finally looked at me and gave me menacing stare. "Buffy, it sounds like you're going through a lot and I am sorry for that, but I really think you're making a mistake letting Spike live here with you. He hasn't got a soul Buffy, he could turn on you at any moment."

"Oh as if Peaches! I still neutered thanks to this sodding chip remember. Don't get all pissy jus' 'cause you're jealous that I actually have the balls to stick around when things get hard and you don't. I even stuck around when she wasn't here, but where were you friend? Off brooding about a lover that you didn't even care enough to stay with," I said, standing up from the sofa and pointing a finger at Angel, "You of all people don't get to judge mate, I'm twice the man you'll ever be Angel and I don't even have a soul."

Angel had gotten up too and now we were only inches apart from each other, Buffy forgotten for the moment. This was a rivalry that had been forged the very day I was turned and had been raging ever since. "What makes you think you know what she needs Spike? What's best for her?" he shouted.

"Well you made bloody sure that you wouldn't know what it was mate didn't ya? Who are you to come into our house and criticize?" I replied. Angel barked out a sarcastic laugh in my face, the guys face was going to meet my fist in a minute. "You might have fooled Giles and even Buffy momentarily and squirmed your way in here but this isn't your house Spike, you'll never truly be welcome here. You honestly think she'd willingly choose you to help her over me?" Angel declared shoving my chest

A sly smile spread across my face as I answered his question. "Take a look around mate, seems to me that she did just that. You only know Buffy is alive because I told you!" I spat at him. "She could have called you any time Peaches and she didn't. Now take a step back you bloody blind idiot and you think about that."

I had got him, as soon as I had said it his brave face had fallen. He blinked a few times and stepped back finally. His hand moved to the bridge of his nose and unnecessary sigh escaped without looking at her he spoke in an exasperated tone. "Buffy, you're clearly not thinking straight, I might not know what is best for you but it certainly isn't Spike."

But the Slayer didn't answer him so finally I turned towards her and so did Peaches. "What's she doing?" he asked. Buffy was sitting on the edge of her seat shaking. Both her legs were bouncing up and down with one fist clenching and unclenching and then the other rubbing her palm against her forehead quite roughly. She was taking long ragged breaths and her eyes were doing that weird flickering without blinking.

"Oh bloody hell." I rushed to kneel in front of Buffy and pulled her hands into mine but she ripped them away and rested her forearms against the top her head and started rocking back and forth. Angel must have been a little freaked because I heard him calling for Giles.

"Hey kitten, it's me," I whispered, "You want to come on back?" But she didn't respond. "Buffy luv, you're not there," I said, stroking her hair, "You're safe." Still nothing though. I heard movement from behind me somewhere but I my attention was so fully on Buffy that I didn't dare talk to the Watcher. "You've been doing so well Buffy, we haven't had to do this in a while, why don't you come back, pet?"

"Spike?" she whispered desperately without looking at me and still rocking.
"Yeah cutie it's me, I'm here" I replied, but she didn't say anything back after that. I kept trying to talk to her but nothing seemed to be working, one minute she was with me and there a lucidness in her eyes but then the next it was gone and her pupils were dilating to the size of marbles and she was starting to mumble.

A few moments later in a moment of clarity she finally spoke again. "I can't come back Spike," she said starting to sob, "Help me come back." So I did. I stayed in front of Buffy and kept reassuring her that she wasn't there and that she was safe. I rubbed her arms and I stroked her hair. I did all the things that usually brought her back and more.

Minute by minute my golden warrior came back to me. She stopped crying, then rocking. After that Buffy lowered her arms and took hold of my hands. Eventually her breathing and heart rate evened out and then finally she was sitting still and finally looking back at me.

"There you go luv, I told you I would always come for you, no matter what." Ever so slowly Buffy leans forward and shyly puts her arms around me and pulls herself close, hugging me. For something so simple it felt so special. It was proof that our relationship really had changed. Not wanting to waste the opportunity I slid my own arms around her. "It would take more than a lifetime for me to repay all things you've done for me Spike."

Before I could reply to the sweet sentiment that Angel clearly had heard thanks to his enhanced hearing he rudely butted in. "Umm is someone going to tell me what the hell just happened. Buffy?"