Misc. season seven ficlets

Taken from the episode in which this first sentence was pretty much a throw-away line. Obviously, if Spike had heard it, it would have made his day. ;)


"Why does everyone in this house think I'm still in love with Spike?"

Dozing on his cot in the basement, Spike was only half aware of the conversation going on upstairs between Buffy and Willow, even though his vamp hearing made it possible to hear them if he concentrated. He was vaguely aware that they were talking about Buffy's boss, the new principal at Sunnydale High, and only gradually came to understand that Buffy was going out to dinner with him. He tried to ignore the sudden pain in his chest at the thought of her dating.

That's not where we are now. She's accepted me as her friend and fellow fighter, and that has to be good enough.

Then those shouted words reached his ears and he froze. If he'd had a beating heart, it would have been pounding off the charts. "In love with Spike? still in love?" Had he really heard those words? And to one of the Scoobies? Willow thought Buffy was in love with him? Stillin love; she'd saidstill. Who else thought so? What were they seeing that he didn't?

Fighting the almost overwhelming urge to fly up the stairs and demand an explanation, he reviewed their relationship over the past few months. Granted, she hadn't staked him when she found out he was killing again – even when he'd asked her to. But that could be just her innate kindness refusing to punish him for things that were out of his control. Rescuing him from the First – Okay, that was a biggy. She'd fought and killed the Turok-han to free him. But she had to do that anyway. It was trying to kill her and the potentials.

He remembered the look on her battered face as she cut him loose. Had there been more there than sympathy and determination? Was there relief that he was still alive? She'd fit so perfectly under his arm as she helped him walk out of the cave; it felt so natural to have her arm around his waist while he leaned on her. It hadn't even occurred to him that she could have brought the watcher or Xander to carry him out. He remembered her concern at potential training when she thought she had re-injured his ribs; and how warm her hand felt when he squeezed it and moved it away from his stomach. Neither of them had made any attempt to let go until the sarcastic remarks from the potentials and what did they think they were seeing? hadmade Buffy get up abruptly and resume the lesson.

While he was mentally reviewing every conversation, exchange of glances, or touch of her hands (had she been touching him more than necessary?), looking for clues to her feelings, the conversation upstairs ended and he lost his chance to ask for an explanation. Sighing, he relaxed back onto the cot and tried to smother the small ball of warmth that was trying to grow in his chest.

That small spark of hope was efficiently quelled when he accidentally ran into her in the upstairs hall as she readied for what was so obviously a date with Robin Wood. He couldn't stop himself from telling her how beautiful she looked – and he couldn't help seeing how happy she seemed to have something to look forward to besides an apocalypse. Her stammered explanation for going out and her attempt to make it seem less like a date – obviously to spare his feelings – made his heart turn over and he did his best to assure her that he was fine with it. He thought he'd brought it off pretty well. She seemed convinced that he was all right with her dating. She even suggested he should think about it himself, before rushing off to continue dressing.

Yeah, mate, that's just how a girl in love would act. Stop kidding yourself. All she feels for you is a sense of responsibility – another Scooby for her to worry about.

When he entered the restaurant he paused for a moment and watched the two of them laughing, smiling, having a good time. The look of admiration and awe on the principal's face as he leaned toward her to give her something from his plate was too much. With vampire speed Spike was beside the table just in time to watch Buffy take a bite of pear off Wood's fork. Her startled glance at him and her "What are you doing here?" didn't contain anywhere near the amount of irritation he would have expected. If anything, she looked almost guilty as she swallowed the pear and sat up straight.

"It's Xander," he said, no other explanation being necessary. He filled them in on the way to Wood's car. There seemed no doubt that the hellmouth was the most likely place to look, and Wood drove them there quickly. Spike could see the man throwing glances in the rear view mirror – speculation and something that looked almost like recognition clearly visible on his face. Spike did his best to sit where Wood would not expect to see a reflection of his rear seat passenger, but couldn't be sure that he hadn't already been found out.

Sod him. I might try to make Buffy believe I'm alright with this, but I'm damned if I'll give him any reason to be comfortable. Spike met each glance Woods threw over his shoulder with his iciest stare.

Xander's demon girl turned out to be quite a handful, and even with Spike vamped out it took both he and Buffy to subdue her. While Spike was on the ground trying to recover from a particularly violent blow, Buffy managed to whack the demon's head off. It wasn't lost on any of the men in the room that Buffy ran to Spike before she even looked to see if either Xander or Robin had been injured. As soon as he squeezed her hand to let her know he was okay and appreciated her concern, she ran to Xander to help bandage his wound.

When Xander made a joke about having his usual luck with demon-women, he asked Buffy how her date was going. She looked back and forth between the dark man and the very pale man glaring at each other over her head and just rolled her eyes. Spike held the principal's gaze until he turned away to help Buffy with Xander. He knew everything about his posture was screaming, "My girl – keep away or you're dead," but he didn't care. There was something about the guy and the way he was looking at him that made Spike's vampire senses tingle. He knew the man had seen him vamp out, but he looked more thoughtful than scared.

Later that evening, after Buffy had explained to everyone who Robin was and why he was in Sunnydale, and after Andrew had repeated the First's comments about it not being time for Spike yet, they found themselves alone finally. They sat on the couch, close but not touching, while Spike suggested he should leave town. Buffy's response, that she wasn't ready for him to not be there, sent the little spark of hope burning again. "And what about the principal?" he asked. "Where does he fit in?"

She met his gaze for a few seconds, then shrugged and reached out to take his hand. " I… I need you here, in my life, by my side, watching my back," she said carefully. "I know that's not fair, and I know—"

Spike took her hand in both of his and kissed it gently, interrupting her. "I'm here for you. You know that. As long as you need me, or, or want me…. in any capacity; I'm yours, Buffy. I think I have been since I first saw you dancin' in the Bronze. Will be till I'm dust – or beyond if that's what having a soul means."

"Spike, I don't want to hurt you any more than I already have." To his surprise, she had tears in her eyes. "Everyone thinks we're together anyway. Maybe we should just…."

"Maybe everyone should just mind their own business," he said roughly. "We are what we are – and they can just sod off."

But, what are we?" she asked. " Giles said we're together whether we're being physical or not. That we rely on each other too much."

Spike snorted, "Wanker!"

"We're not lovers anymore." That brought a quick look from under his eyebrows. "And we're certainly not enemies – haven't been for years. Are we friends?" As she said it, she remembered Spike's admonition to her and Angel years ago, "You'll never be friends. You'll fight and shag and love, but…." When he looked at her and smiled, she knew he was remembering the same speech.

"We can try to be friends," he said softly, putting one hand up to her face, "but you know me, Love's bitch. Always have been. Always will be. It's your call, Buffy."

"I have friends," she said carefully, "I need something else. I need someone who will let me be tired or hurt or scared and just hold me till it's better. I need someone to love me just for me – not for what I am or what I can do."

"Are you taking applications for the position?" he asked hopefully. " 'Cause I think I know just the person. He's got years of experience, won't want much in return, and he already loves you very much."

"Then I guess he's got the job. I don't think anybody else could do it anyway. Not the way he can." Buffy blushed as she realized how easily that statement could be interpreted to mean more than she had intended. She peeked at Spike from under her eyelashes, but instead of the smirk she expected to see, he was staring at her intently, raw desire reflected in his eyes. For a second she could have sworn those eyes were flecked with gold, but they quickly dissolved back to their normal blue and his look softened.

She felt her heart rate increasing as the heat from her face spread throughout her body. She knew from experience that he would know how she was reacting, but she forestalled any move on his part by putting her hand to his face. "Spike, I didn't mean… I mean, you know it's true, but I wasn't thinking about… I'm not ready to…."

He stopped her by gently touching her mouth with his fingertips. "Shush, love, I know that's not what you meant. I'm not ready for that either – I'm not sure I even could without a flashback to…." His face crumpled for a second and the guilt and shame he felt for his attempt to force her last year was clearly visible. "Just let me love you. It's enough for me that you want me here."

Buffy's lips were acting independently of her brain as they planted gentle kisses on his fingers. "I will always want you here," she said softly.

"And I will always be here," he answered. "Always"

The End

Another glimpse of a fill-in-the-blanks/might have been that begins with a scene from the episode.


"...thought I'd see what was going on down here" As Buffy finished speaking, still glaring back and forth between the embarrassed vampire and the other slayer, the temperature in the room went down several degrees. She could read Faith's thoughts in her body language and bravado.

Oh shit.. He's in total busted-boyfriend mode. Only been here a day and I've pissed Buffy off already. How the hell was I supposed to know?

Faith quickly commented on how Buffy knew all the cool vampires, and escaped to the upstairs, leaving Spike to explain. He kept his eyes turned away, head down, hand rubbing the back of his neck. When he finally looked up, he seemed shocked at the expression of despair on her face.

"I was just flirtin' with the silly bint, Buffy. We weren't doing anything but bragging at each other."

Buffy squeezed her eyes shut for a second, then turned to leave. "Didn't say you were," she mumbled as she headed for the stairs, shoulders slumped and fighting back tears.

"Slayer?" he said quietly. "Buffy?"

She stopped, but didn't turn around.

"Come back here, love. Tell me what's going on. There's more here than jus' you catchin' me flirtin' with a pretty girl."

Buffy tuned around, sighed and walked back toward the cot. "It was Faith, Spike. It wasn't just any pretty girl. It was another slayer."

He gaped at her. "So? What – you think because she's a slayer I'm gonna try to shag her in your basement?"

"Faith has a... history," she said quietly.

"We all have history, pet"

"Yeah, well, hers is that she sleeps with my boyfriends."

Spike raised his eyebrows at the "boyfriend" comment, but wisely didn't pursue it.

"So, Angel? and Captain Cardboard? I'm not surprised at Angelus, but I've got to say I'm disappointed in the Boy Scout..."

"It was when she was in my body – but he should have known it wasn't me. You missed that particular trick of hers."

"Actually, love, I didn't." he said carefully, watching her reaction out of the corners of his eyes.

"What?" When did you...?"

"She was in the Bronze. Came right up to me and rattled my cage pretty good, I'll tell you."

"She had sex with you too? Is there anybody she missed?" Buffy's voice was going higher and higher as she became more agitated.

"No, no. No sex. Not with me. She was just messing with me. Got me going, then laughed at me and walked away."

"What did she do? To 'get you going', I mean. Did she... I... touch you? What did she do?"

"Forget about it, love. I told you, she was just baiting me. Wanted to see if she could get a rise out of me. And when she had me going, she left me hanging and laughed. You have no idea how I hated you right at that minute," he added.

"You couldn't tell it wasn't me either? I can't believe this! Super slut takes over my body, and nobody can tell it isn't me!"

"Didn't know you as well then, pet. I doubt she could make it fly now. But then, I just thought you were drunk and feeling mean."

"See what I mean," she grumbled. "All my boyfriends..."

"Com'ere, love" he said, patting the cot beside him. She hesitated for a second,then sat down beside him leaning her head back against the cinderblock wall. They sat together, leaning on the wall in silence for a few minutes. Finally, she turned her head to look at him and smiled ruefully. "Pretty stupid,huh? Apocalypse coming, and I'm worried about..."

He picked up her hand and kissed it gently. "You've got nothing to worry about, Buffy. Don't you know that by now? Yeah, I was flirtin' with her. It's what I do. Doesn't mean anything. You know I'd never..."

"You did once," she said flatly, laying her head back against the wall and closing her eyes.

He took his time responding. They had never actually talked about what happened between him and Anya, except when he'd tried to apologize shortly before trying to rape her into admitting she loved him. He took a deep breath and plunged in. "Buffy, that was two very unhappy people, a bottle of scotch and a whole bloody lot of pain. She was hurting' really bad – thought there was something wrong with her that Harris would leave her like that. And I wasn't in real good shape myself. The woman I loved didn't want me anymore; and here was this sweet girl, who'd always been nice to me, cryin' because she wasn't wanted. It just happened. Neither one of us expected anyone else to know about it – or be hurt by it. It was just solace, pet."

Her eyes slid to the side for a second. "That's what Anya told Xander when he accused her of doing it for revenge. Those where her exact words – 'It wasn't vengeance, it was solace'. "

"That's what it was, love. That's ALL it was. And if I'd had any idea you'd ever know about it, or be... be hurt by it, it never would have happened."

Buffy sighed again and turned toward him, "I know that. It just – it did really hurt, you know? And when I came down and saw Faith here and you were laughing... I'm sorry, Spike." She gazed at him apologetically. "I didn't mean to be a bitch – it just seems to be my MO lately. I'm just too overwhelmed with everything that's going on right now. I just don't want... I can't take time to worry about us on top of everything else."

"There's an us?" he questioned, tilting his head at her.

"Everyone seems to think so." She gave him a wry smile. "At least everyone except Faith, apparently."

"Wish somebody'd told me about it," he muttered half-seriously. Buffy just looked at him with an unreadable expression on her face. Then she shook herself and went back to worrying.

"You looked like you were having fun. We've never had fun. I don't make you laugh."

"Never seen yourself drunk, have you, then?" he teased her. She swatted at him with her hand and he grabbed it and brought it to his mouth. He kissed her fingers, then turned it over and kissed her palm. "Buffy, I like flirting with pretty birds, you know that. Feeds my ego." She rolled her eyes. "But it's got nothing to do with us, or how I feel about you. I can't believe you don't know that."

"I don't think you realize how much I depend on you," she said, almost shyly. "Giles saw it a long time ago – he told me I relied on you too much. And that you relied on me. That even if we weren't being physical about it, we were together. When I saw you with Faith, I wasn't just jealous. I was terrified."

He stared at her in shock.

"Terrified of what?" he asked. "That you could lose my love to that..."

"No," she said, looking him in the eye for the first time, "Terrified that I was going to lose my support system. You – you're my rock. My anchor. The source of my strength. I don't think I can do this without you."

Spike pulled her over and onto his lap, his arms forming a protective barrier. "You don't have to, love. I'm here for you, in whatever way you need me. I'll always be here. You know you can't get rid of me. You've tried to do it often enough." He tipped her face up and smiled at her.

She smiled back at him, then put her head against his chest and just allowed the safe, cherished feeling to flow through her body. Too soon, Dawn was yelling down the stairs that the potential in the hospital was awake, and Buffy reluctantly sat up to go upstairs. She started to walk away, then turned back suddenly and leaned in to kiss him hard. "I'll be back," she whispered against his mouth. "Don't go anywhere."

The End

This one's a bit longer. It's a twist on the episode where Buffy and Spike take a group of potentials out for a training exercise. Goes AU from there.

Training Potentials

After she had knocked Spike into a tombstone while demonstrating how to take out an attacking vampire, Buffy was dismayed to see that he was wincing and rubbing his chest. She immediately dropped her stake and fell to her knees beside him.

"Let me see," she demanded, pushing up his shirt and running her hand along his barely-healed ribs. He covered her hand with his. "I'm all right, pet," he said softly as he moved her hand off his rib cage.

Their eyes met and suddenly Buffy was very conscious of their hands touching, and the way his body felt. Except when she had helped him walk out of the First's cave, this was the first time they'd touched since he'd come back with his soul. Her body filled with warmth, and she could see from the way his eyes darkened that he could feel it. For just a second, they were the only ones in the universe.

"So, after we knock them down, we're supposed to what? Make out with them?"

Rhoda's snide remark reminded Buffy of the purpose of tonight's cemetery visit, as well as the audience of teenage girls watching her every move. She jumped to her feet and launched into another lesson on staking vampires as they emerge from the grave. She was greatly relieved to see one climbing out a short distance away and pointed to him quickly.

"There you are, girls. There's something to practice on."

"I almost feel sorry for him," she said as the group of potential slayers rushed in the fledgling's direction. They were elbowing each other in their eagerness to be the first one there.

The fledgling's initial joy at seeing so much fresh blood coming in his direction quickly turned to panic when he saw the stakes in their hands.

While the girls vied to be the first one to dust her own vampire, Buffy and Spike stood side-by-side, shoulders barely touching. It felt so good to have him working beside her again, to be able to brush against him as if by accident, that it took her a while to notice that every muscle in his body was rigid. Even as she noticed, and turned to him, he moved away from her.

"What's wrong?"

"Nothing, Slayer. Just think we need to be a little closer to the action in case one of them makes a mistake."

"If one does, she's got ten more girls watching her back," she snapped. "What's wrong with you?" She reached out her hand to touch his arm and was surprised both by the way he flinched away and by how much it hurt that he did.

"If you don't want me touching you, just say so," she said angrily, pulling her hand back.

"I don't want you touching me," he whispered; the lie burned his throat even as he spoke.

"Fine, I won't!" she huffed.


He moved away, and they stared in opposite directions until a shout from the girls made them both whirl around to see the new vampire's dust drifting away.

"Amanda did it," they all cheered. "She got her first vamp."

"Ok, girls, I guess that's enough for tonight. Good job everyone. Let's head home and..."

Suddenly, Buffy went flying through the air, propelled by the arm of an enormous and extremely ugly demon that had somehow crept up on them while the girls were shouting and cheering. Her headfirst landing against a tall monument made a sickening sound, and her body slid down to the ground and was still. The potentials stood, frozen with shock for a second before rushing toward her. Faster than any human could move, Spike was there – checking first to see if she was breathing. Blood trickled down onto the ground from a large cut on her head where it had hit the large granite tombstone.

Spike could hear her steady heartbeat, and heaved a sigh of relief. Then his face changed and he threw himself at the demon. He was in full vampire mode for the first time since he'd come back from being tortured by the First, and the girls watched in awe and horror as he systematically beat the demon to death. He inflicted the maximum pain in the process, breaking bones deliberately as he went about reducing it to a mewling pile of flesh on the ground. When he was sure he had hurt it as much as he could, he ripped its head off and tossed it away.

The girls had never seen Spike as anything except a quiet presence in the basement or a semi-passive demonstration dummy for Buffy. They all knew he was a vampire, but hadn't really understood the reality of that until now.

Ignoring the fearful looks they cast his way, he ran back to Buffy who was now leaning against the tombstone, barely conscious and still bleeding from her head. By the time he got to her, his face had settled back into its startlingly beautiful human form and there was no sign of the raging monster the girls had just seen destroy a creature twice his size. In its place was a human face full of anguish and concern.

With infinite tenderness, he picked her up and started to carry her out of the cemetery. He paid no attention to the suddenly quiet group of potentials accompanying them. Several of the girls ran ahead to alert everyone that Buffy was injured and to hold the door for Spike as he carried her in.

"Put her down here," Willow said, gesturing to the couch. "What happened?"

"Demon. Caught us – caught me – by surprise," Spike stated flatly. Giles raised an eyebrow at him questioningly. "And the demon...?" Spike just looked back at him with cold eyes. Giles nodded. "Right, dead then." He cleared his throat and went to help Willow with Buffy. She had cleaned up the wound and put an ice pack on the sizable lump forming on Buffy's forehead.

"Is she going to be all right?" Dawn asked anxiously.

"I think she will, Dawn. She's going to have to rest for a couple of days. I'm sure she has a concussion. But you know Slayers, their heads are pretty hard." Willow smiled at Dawn, who giggled back.

"Hey, right here, witchy-woman," Buffy said indignantly as she struggled to sit up. "Oooh, ow! Room in motion." She quickly put her head back down. "Maybe I'll just stay here for a while."

"Good plan. Just stay there and try to get some rest. The girls can sleep in your room tonight."

As the house got quieter with the subdued, but chattering girls going upstairs, Giles became aware of a pounding sound coming from the basement. He and Willow exchanged glances and Giles rose to his feet. "I'll go," he said with a sigh. "I think I know what this is about."

Giles opened the basement door and walked carefully down the dark steps until he could see the source of the noise. Spike was hitting the training bag as hard as he could, pounding over and over and growling incoherently.

"Spike! Spike!" Giles raised his voice to be heard over the thudding punches. "Stop it".

The vampire slowed and eventually stood still, his exhausted arms and bleeding knuckles hanging at his sides. With astonishment, the watcher realized that those normally piercing blue eyes were clouded with unshed tears. Spike glanced up quickly at the other man, then, just as quickly, looked away.

"I'm sorry, Watcher," he said, so softly Giles could barely hear him. "It's my fault. I let myself be distracted."

"Spike..." Giles began haltingly.

"She could have been killed! I'm supposed to watch her back!" He turned and hit the bag again, sending it rocking back on its chain.

"You're supposed to help her fight, Spike. You're not her guardian angel." Giles found himself trying to soothe the obviously tormented being in front of him. When did I start to care about how Spike feels? he wondered as he polished his glasses. Replacing them on his nose, he moved to get between Spike and the bag.

"You need to save your strength for the demons you haven't already killed," Giles said softly. He paused, and for a minute, the Ripper was visibly present in the usually gentle Watcher's demeanor.

"The one who did this, he regretted it before he died?"

"Oh yeah, he did." The two exchanged looks that required no additional words.

Giles nodded and started back up the stairs.


Giles turned his head.


"The girls – the ones that were with us. I s'pect they're not going to be too comfortable around me for a while."

"They don't have to be comfortable; they have to be strong. Don't worry about it," he replied tersely as he continued up the stairs. Willow glanced up anxiously from her place beside a sleeping Buffy.

"Is everything okay?"

"As much as it can be with a vampire who holds himself responsible for every unpleasant thing that happens to her." Giles sighed. "When did Spike become so complicated?"

"When he got his soul – no, that's not fair. Actually, when he started falling in love with Buffy. He just has a whopping load of guilt on top of it now. That can be a real day-ruiner, let me tell you." Willow smiled ruefully.

"Yes, well, I suppose we should be grateful he's on our side."

"I suppose... The girls were talking about what he did to the demon. I don't think any of them are going to be wanting to spend quality time with him anytime soon."

Giles shook his head. "Nor should they – but we need him. And Buffy inexplicably trusts him, so..."

"Giles, why don't you go to bed? I'll stay with Buffy in case she wakes up and needs something."

"All right. Thank you, Willow. Good night. Call me if you need me."

"I'll be fine. Good night, Giles."

Willow sat up with a start, realizing she had drifted off while reading in the low light of the only lamp. She quickly glanced at Buffy to see if that's what had awakened her, but the Slayer was still sleeping, breathing easily with her mouth slightly open. A barely perceptible sound from the hallway made her look up and she saw Spike standing at the entrance to the room.

"Why don't you get some sleep, Red? Let me take the night shift."

"Aren't you tired. With the demon-killing and all?"

Spike smiled slightly, but it didn't reach his eyes. "Creature of the night, remember? This is my daytime."

"Oh, yeah, right. Well, okay then. You'll call me if..."

"We'll be fine, Red. Go to bed."

For a long time after Willow left the room he sat as still as only a vampire can, just watching the slight figure on the couch as she breathed in and out. She is so thin; so small to be taking so much on her shoulders. As he watched, she rolled on to her back and soon began to frown and move around in her sleep. She pushed her blanket to the floor as she tossed and turned, clearly having a bad dream of some sort. Spike watched her restless squirming for as long as he could, but when she started to cry out in her sleep, "No, no!" he moved quickly to her side.

Putting the blanket back around her trembling body, he turned her on her side and began to rub her back and arms repeating, "It's alright, love. I'm here. It's alright."

As she gradually relaxed and her breathing became more regular, he shifted his hand to her head and began to gently stroke her hair. He became so caught up in the feel of her silky hair, the unique smell of her, the softness of her skin, he didn't realize her eyes were open until she spoke.

"No fair." she whispered. "If I can't touch you, you can't touch me."

As she turned her head to look over her shoulder, he snatched his hand away as if it was on fire.

"I'm... I'm sorry. You were dreaming. I just wanted to..." He started to move away back to his chair, but she turned completely over and grabbed his wrist in a grip that belied the frail-looking arm attached to the hand.

"That was meant to be funny and you know it," she growled at him. Then her expression softened. " I... like it when you touch me. I miss it, Spike."

He pulled away from her roughly. "You miss what? What do you miss the most, Buffy? My hitting you to prove there was something wrong with you? Or when I tried to rape you?" His face was a mask of pain as he shook off her hand and moved across the room to stand trembling, with his back to her.

Buffy pulled herself up on the couch and tried to stand. "Spike, please, stop—" She gasped as dizziness overtook her and she started to pitch forward. With supernatural speed, he was in front of her, catching her in his arms as she collapsed.

"Bloody hell, you stupid bint. What are you trying to do to yourself?"

"I'm trying to get you to look at me. To talk to me," she mumbled into his chest.

He lowered her gently to the couch and covered her back up with the blanket.

"Please stay put, pet. If that had been anyone but me, they wouldn't have reached you in time."

She looked at him with pleading eyes. "I wouldn't have tried to do that for anyone else. I wouldn't have needed to. Why can't you just sit here and hold me?"

"Buffy, I... I don't want to be that close to you, touching you. It's too hard."

"You had to touch me to carry me here. You touched me just now. You were touching me when you thought I was asleep."

"That's different. You needed me then. I had to touch you to help you."

"I need you now. I need the security of knowing you still love me. I need the comfort of..."

"It's too dangerous, love." he interrupted. "I'm too dangerous. I don't want to risk hurting you... ever... again."

"You're not dangerous. Not to me. I've never felt as safe as I did while you were carrying me home tonight. I could have happily stayed there, in your arms, all night."

He spoke softly with his body and face turned away from her, "You know, pet, time was, having you in my arms all night would've..." He shook himself. "But you were right. You didn't belong there – and you still don't."

"I was wrong!" she cried, then quickly lowered her voice again. "I was wrong, and I'm sorry for the way I rejected you and what you wanted to give me." She stopped what she was saying to demand, "Will you look at me please? I was a bitch. I hurt you – you hurt me – can't we just call it even?"

"We'll never be even," he ground out between his teeth as he turned to look at her. "There is no forgetting what I tried to do to you."

"There's forgiving," she said quietly. "I forgave you a long time ago – long before you came back with your soul. I forgave you. Why can't you forgive me?" Her eyes were brimming with unshed tears as she asked plaintively, "Does having a soul mean you can't love the person who pushed you so far over the edge you had to get it? Don't you want me anymore, Spike? "

She could see the tension in his body from her place on the couch. He was holding himself so tightly in check that his entire body was trembling.

"I never stopped loving you, Buffy. You know that. I never will. I will love you until I'm dust – and beyond if having a soul means that's possible."

"Then be with me," she pleaded. "Let me feel that love again. I never knew how much it meant to me until it wasn't there anymore. I miss you, Spike," she added softly.

Exhausted, she slumped back onto the pillows and shut her eyes briefly. When they fluttered open again, she found herself gazing into adoring blue just inches from her face.

"How do you do that?" she complained, half seriously. "Vampires should wear bells."

Even as she complained about not knowing he was there, she knew it wasn't true. She could feel her whole body responding to his nearness. She could feel his presence with every fiber of her being. And she could tell he could feel her blood racing and the heat from her body. Could feel and hear the rapid pounding of her heart.

She stared at his mouth and remembered how it felt to kiss it; the things he could do with it... glancing up into his amused eyes, she knew he was aware of exactly what she was thinking. Suddenly, she felt herself blushing. As though, after all the things they had done with and to each other, they were about to kiss for the first time. As he gently put his lips on hers and applied soft, tentative pressure, it occurred to her that, in a way, they were.

When Willow came down in the morning, she found them there on the couch. The smiling Slayer folded up in the arms of the former Big Bad; both looking much too happy and peaceful than anyone had a right to with an apocalypse looming.

The End

An explanation of how Buffy might have been able to persuade Xander to let Spike stay in his apartment… filling in between the lines.


"Buffy, this is just…No way! I don't care how many souls he got – he's evil, undead and crazier than Drusilla was!" Xander was not budging on his refusal.

"Xander, I know he's crazy – that's the point – he needs to get out of that basement. He can't hurt anyone. He still has the chip and the soul besides." She took a deep breath. "I need you to do this for me… please?"

Spike just stood quietly behind Buffy; not indicating he had any interest in the answer one way or the other. Anya busied herself in the kitchen, but listened carefully.

"I don't understand you, Buffy. You should have as many issues with Spike as I do. Why do you want to help him?"''

Buffy was silent for a moment, then she looked Xander in the eye.

"Because I'm as responsible for those issues as he is," she said softly. "I owe him this."

Spike's body jerked, but he didn't respond in any other way to the surprising declaration.

"You don't owe him anything!" Xander began his thousandth rant against Spike and why he should be dust.

Buffy let him vent for a while, then grabbed his arm and said firmly, "Come with me," pulling him toward the bedroom. She slammed the door, leaving Spike and Anya to avoid looking at each other, pretending they weren't trying to listen. She shoved Xander down on the bed and glared at him.

"Okay, we are going to have our first, last and only conversation about these 'issues' you think we have. Name one."

In the living room, Spike and Anya glanced at each other and then quickly away. Spike sat on the couch and hunched his shoulders miserably. Anya sat upright in the chair furthest away from him and stared at the closed door.

""Fine!" Xander snorted, "Let's start with the obvious. Although, more my issue than yours, I guess. He seduced—made lo—had sex –—with my girl friend…on a table…on camera!"

Buffy took a deep breath and keeping her voice low, she began. "Okay, FYI, trust me when I tell you that hurt me as much as it hurt you. I was just more surprised that it did. But you know how much pain they were both in – because of things we did to them – and how drunk they were at the time. So if you want to stake Spike because he got drunk and comforted the woman you left at the altar, just keep in mind that from my point of view, that woman got my—got Spike drunk and seduced him with her tears. So, guess who I wanted to kill?"

Xander stared at her in amazement. "You wanted to kill Anya? Over Spike?"

Spike snuck a look at Anya to see if she'd heard what Buffy said about killing her, but she didn't give any indication she had. He breathed an unnecessary sigh of relief that only vamp hearing could pick up the conversation.

"Well, both of them, actually," she admitted, shamefaced. "It's a Slayer thing – get mad – slay something. I got over it. The point is," she said, quickly changing the subject, "here are the people who put them in that situation."

She pulled Xander to his feet and turned him toward the dresser where he could see their reflections and held him there until he dropped his gaze and turned away.

"Okay, okay, fine," he reluctantly grumbled his agreement. "Blocking the image of Spike and Anya from my mind. But, here is the one I really don't get. He tried to rape you, Buffy. He hurt you!"

Buffy bit her lip and turned away from the mirror. "Yes," she said softly, "he did. And that hurt me more than you can imagine because I trusted him not to…."

Out on the couch, Spike squeezed his suddenly damp eyes shut.

"Then, how…."?

Keeping her head turned from him, she continued as though he hadn't spoken, "But, in all fairness to Spike, he had no way of knowing I really meant 'no'."

Xander stared at her defiantly. "The word pretty much speaks for itself, seems to me."

She glanced sideways at him, her face reddening. "Okay, I'm about to tell you waaaay more about my… love life… than you ever needed or wanted to know." She took another breath. "Spike had no reason to believe I wouldn't respond, because fighting was such a big part of our… our… the sex we had. I would tell him, 'no,' tell him he was evil and disgusting, and ten minutes later I would be ripping his clothes off. I was the queen of mixed signals for months."

Buffy shook her head, remembering Spike's words that night.

"He thought if he just got me to respond physically, I would see that I was… that I… cared about him and we would…." Her voice trailed off. "Well, I don't know what he thought would happen next, but I know he wasn't trying to hurt me. In his own warped way, he was trying to mend what was broken. When I realized he was out of control, I stopped him."

She looked her friend in the eye again. "Xander, I saw his face when he realized what he'd done. I had the same look on my face when I beat—Let's just say I understood what he was feeling and how shocked and disgusted with himself he was.

"That's what drove him to get his soul back. I was still upset when you found me, and I didn't want to talk about it. But I should never have let you go on believing what you saw was anything more than another episode in the ongoing train wreck that was Buffy and Spike last year."

There was an uncomfortable silence in the room for several minutes while Xander digested the things she'd been saying. Finally, he blew out the breath he'd been holding and asked, "So, you and the evil undead – where do you stand now? You're forgiving him?"

"I forgave him by the next morning. But he'd already left and I couldn't tell him."

At those words, Spike's eyes flew open so wide Anya stared at him.

"I don't know that we stand anywhere. But I know I'm the reason he got that soul, and I'm going to take care of him until he learns to live with it. And getting him off the hellmouth and out of that basement is the first step."

"All right," Xander sighed, "He can stay here. But I refuse to be nice to him!"

Outside, Spike snorted, causing Anya to look at him with mild curiousity. He just shook his head to indicate it wasn't important and went back to listening.

Buffy smiled at Xander. "He'd think the real Xander had been stolen by aliens if you were."

They emerged from the bedroom to Anya's, "Well, is he going to stay here? Will he pay rent? Cause I think—" Seeing Buffy's eyes narrowing as she looked at Anya, Xander quickly silenced her and said, "Okay, Evil Undead. You can stay in the walk-in closet. Just don't get blood on my clothes."

"Thank you," Spike whispered, effectively rendering Xander speechless for several minutes.

Buffy took advantage of that silence to touch Spike's arm and tell him it would be okay. She tried not to notice how he flinched when she touched him, and pretended it wouldn't have hurt if she did notice. But, somehow, the thought that he didn't want her touching him created an ache in her chest and caused her eyes to prickle.

Shaking off the momentary sadness, she practically ran out the door, promising to bring blood for him in the morning.

the end