Chapter Three: We're OK Now

Spike hadn't made it too far and was pacing on the back porch when Faith came up behind him. "Since when you do go for the dramatic exits?" she tried to tease. Spike stopped pacing to reach into his jeans and pull out a cigarette before lighting it. The small fire illuminated his face and he turned to her.

"Boy doesn't know I killed his mum. Otherwise I'd be fitting into a dustpan right now," he whispered. Faith saw the haunted look in his eyes-a mixture of pain and fear. He wanted to run and she knew the instinct all too well. His body was tense from the conflict of it. A part of him was grounded to this house and the other needed to escape the crushing guilt. "Orphaned him, I did."

"The way this whole thing usually works is that vampires and Slayers kill each other. I know we live in bizarro world over here but that is the basic principle."

He tapped his forehead with his index finger, his gaze dark and intense as he approached her. "Think that I don't know that? That somewhere under all of this that I shouldn't feel guilty?"

"I'm not going to let you do this," she almost yelled. "You need to get your shit together. Talk it out with Buffy. Hug it out or something. But this? This is not an option."

"If it were you-"

"You'd tell me to grow a pair. And I'd probably hit you because I have anger issues. But I'll listen because you are the only person who gets to say that to me. We're OK now. No one is going to tell Robin and , my carnal attraction for him aside, I won't let him touch you. No one here will."

Spike's shoulders relaxed as her words sunk in. He hated the nameless feeling swirling inside of him. He hated that Faith was right. It was very unsettling because he truly did know that no one in that house thought he was a monster anymore. Deep inside, he understood that they truly accepted him and had accepted him despite him being with Buffy. What hurt more is that he expected to see it in Buffy's face when he had told her- some kind of shame or disappointment.

"It's not me," he whispered to himself. When Faith looked at him questionably, his chest felt like lead. If he said the words, it would be real. If he said them to her, she would be too honest to deny it. "I just thought I was less, not good enough for her. Why she kept saying no-because I killed people. Because of what I am."

"Oh," Faith sighed. "The walls around here are pretty thin you know. This is about her being your mate, isn't it?"

His lips contorted into an angry grimace and he threw the cigarette to the ground, his combat boots stomping on it. "I should have seen this coming. Bint did the same thing to Riley. Hasn't changed one bloody bit."

"Wait, what? This is completely different," Faith began, taken aback by his sudden anger towards Buffy.

"No, it's not. This is what she does. You love her and she gives you pieces."

"Slayers aren't normal lovesick teenagers, Spike."

"You're a bunch of fools," he spat out.

Faith held up her hands. "Hold up now. This is starting to get offensive in the personal way now."

HIs eyes softened as his anger dissipated. But he didn't apologize. "They all die alone, you know. Even Robin's mum-all of you. Well that's her bloody choice. It a choice."

"Or maybe," Faith whispered. "You just don't get it because you're the reason we die. That threat is always there. Not that I am a huge fan of keeping other people's feelings into consideration, but it's a burden to know you have people to leave behind."

"Like a son," Spike almost spat in disgust.

"Don't make this about you, Spike. She doesn't get to leave and have people mourn her...again."

"She will have me!" Spike shouted. "i'll be her mate. I can't just leave either."

"You can die. You aren't immortal. You can leave her."

They both turned when the door slowly opened, revealing a pensive Buffy. Spike hung his head in realization. The girl could pretty much hear anything if she wanted to. Faith took a deep breath and started to walk back in.

Buffy gave her a small appreciative smile as she passed and closed the door gently behind her. When her eyes met Spikes they were dark and conflicted. "I don't know how to say this without hurting you," she said honestly. "Or sounding cold."

Spike raised an eyebrow and huffed. "Give it to me then. I can take it."

"I don't know how you can pretend that things are normal enough for us to be considering this claim issue," she said almost angrily. "I put on this facade for Dawn...for Faith even...but I didn't think I'd have to explain this to you of all people. We don't have time to deal with this right now. Or this Wood issue. Maybe after-"

"The world is always going to be ending, Slayer."

"No," she said firmly. "You know what I saw-"

"Not every prophetic dream you have comes true. That's the whole point of getting them, love! Slayer see bad things so Slayer can stop bad things!"

"You think I don't want to stop it? I'm willing to see Willow to get her help-to save you! Spike, I love you so much that I can't breathe sometimes. I have no idea how I'd be a functioning human being without you but how dare you? How can you ask me to be your mate when-" and she stopped. Her eyes shimmered with tears as they met his. He went to reach out to her and she moved away from him. "The First sent me a message. It's not enough-that's it. I need a plan. I need a way to win this without you-"

"Say it," Spike whispered, amost as a challenge. "Do you really think we won't find another way?"

She hung her head. "Right now, the only is way is you bursting into flames."