Soul Searching by Weeza
Summary: Set after season 6. Buffy is missing Spike. Spike returns and Willow gets the help she needs. All characters are involved but mainly a B/S story with a S/W friendship also involves W/T. Mostly Drama with a side of fluff. It's a little rough on Spike in the beginning but gets better later. Lots of twists and turns with a surprising conclusion.
Categories: General Fics Characters: None
Genres: Romance, Action, Angst
Warnings: None
Challenges:
Series: None
Chapters: 15 Completed: Yes Word count: 35369 Read: 14340 Published: 07/30/2006 Updated: 08/13/2006

1. Missing Him by Weeza

2. Confessions by Weeza

3. The Meeting by Weeza

4. Forgiveness by Weeza

5. All About Buffy by Weeza

6. Discoveries by Weeza

7. Rejections & Regrets by Weeza

8. Decisions by Weeza

9. Jealous Much? by Weeza

10. Microwave Popcorn by Weeza

11. Gains & Losses by Weeza

12. Prayers, Hopes & Worries by Weeza

13. Trials & Tribulations by Weeza

14. Coming Home by Weeza

15. The Wedding by Weeza

Missing Him by Weeza
Author's Notes:
Disclaimer: None of these characters are mine. They all belong to the brilliant mind of Joss Whedon.

Side Note: I originally wrote this story during the summer between seasons 6 & 7 . It includes a lot of things that I would have liked to have seen happen on the show. I thought I would post it here to see what you all thought of it. I hope you like it. This story is heavily edited from it's original form because it was my first story and I felt I had to fix a lot of common writer's mistakes.
Coming home from a long uneventful night of patrolling, Buffy looked around at her empty and painfully quiet house. Dawn was sleeping over at a friend's house and she couldn't help but wish that she were there to keep her company. She just didn't feel like being alone tonight but couldn't call Willow because she was in England with Giles trying to make amends with herself for her fall off the black magic wagon. Giles was trying to help her get through this. She needed to come to terms with what she'd done. After the death of Tara, she killed Warren in a grief stricken rage and tried to hurt every person she cared about. It was going to take a long time until she would be able to forgive herself.

Buffy decided to take advantage of the alone time instead of wallowing in it. She drew herself a bath and soaked into the warm bubbles. She considered calling Xander later but she was too afraid that their conversation would travel to the subject of Spike. Trying to relax in her tub, Spike thoughts kept invading her mind. It had been 4 months with absolutely no word from him. She couldn't help but wonder where he was and what he was doing at that very moment.

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"Are you all right? Do you need me to get you some help?" A slender young girl, obviously not even old enough to drive, crouched down by a weeping Spike who settled into a dark corner in the alley behind the Bronze.

"No thanks, luv. I think I'll be all right." He stood up and wiped the tears from his face and the girl watched him as he slowly walked away with his shoulders slouched forward and his head facing down toward the ground.

Spike had another one of his reminders from the past. He had spent all this time trying to deal with it all before he even considered coming back to Sunnydale. The nightmares were horrible and his memories were scattered. He didn't remember everything all at once after his soul was returned to him. Instead, the memories came one at a time and out of nowhere. It usually resulted in huddling himself in the corner of wherever he was when the memories came back and crying painful tears in front of complete strangers. He never knew when it was coming, so for 4 months he's had to deal with the stares, pointing, and whispering of all who were there to witness his breakdowns.

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Wraping herself in a towel, Buffy strolled into her room, fairly relaxed from her bath. Opening her closet, she searched for a pair of comfortable silk pink pajamas that she had purchased a few weeks ago but hadn't worn yet. She was hoping she would lose herself in their comfort and get the good nights sleep that she'd been missing out on. Worried and stressed over Willow, sleeping hadn't come easy to her in about a month, her nights spent thinking of ways she could help her friend through this after she returned from England. She tried to think of something she could say to her that would make things better but she always came up with nothing. Continuing her search for the pajamas, she tried to clear her mind. Suddenly, she smelled the distinct scent of cigarette smoke and alcohol that usually went hand in hand with Spike. Thinking that he had to have been near, she turned around expecting to see him, but saw nothing but an empty room.

"Spike?" She called out to him only half expecting an answer, but she got none.

Then she saw it, hanging in the back of her closet. His leather duster. She had hung it up there after he left, but forgot about its presence. Hardly ever seeing him when he wasn't wearing it, she couldn't believe that he had gone anywhere without it. She had always planned on giving it back to him when he returned but after 4 months she wasn't really sure if she'd ever see him again. Reaching out and touching the soft leather of his duster, she pulled it off the hanger and brought it up to her face, breathing in and surrounding herself with his scent. It almost felt like he was right there with her. She stopped her pajama search, dropped her towel and wrapped his duster around her body, once again breathing in his scent, never realizing how much she missed him until now.

She realized that she wasn't angry anymore. After he tried to force himself on her, she was so disgusted with him that she considered burning the leather after he had left, but she could never bring herself to actually do it. She's had a long time to think about things and she finally realized how much she had hurt him. They both did some unspeakable and unforgivable things. Neither of them were completely at fault. Feeling tears well up in her eyes, she lay on her bed curled up inside his duster and for the first time she drifted off into a full night of dreamless uninterrupted sleep.

Buffy woke up with a start. She quickly sat up and looked around, smelling Spike's familiar scent of cigarettes, alcohol, blood and that musky smell she could never quite place. Looking down, she realized she was wearing his duster and slowly began to come to her senses. She remembered putting it on the night before and the comfort and feeling of peace that came with feeling so close to him.

"Buffy?" Dawn stood in Buffy's bedroom doorway glaring at her. "What are you doing and why are you wearing Spike's duster?"

"Oh. Dawn I...I guess I just felt a little down last night and put it on. I guess I'm kind of missing him." Buffy frowned then looked up at a confused and slightly angry Dawn.

"You miss him? After what he did to you?"

"Dawn, It's complicated." Buffy explained.

"God! I wish everyone would stop telling me that! I'm not stupid Buffy! I understand what's going on. I just don't understand how you could be missing someone who tried to rape you!"

"Dawn, it's not that simple. Besides, I'm the one who should be mad here."

"Then why aren't you Buffy? Why are you suddenly acting like he did nothing wrong?"

"Because I screwed up too!" Buffy exclaimed in a shaky voice. "You don't know the whole story Dawn! What he did was stupid and desperate but I wasn't treating him all that well either. I just never realized how badly until now."

"I know I don't know everything that happened between you two but when I stop and think about what he tried to do to you, it just makes me sick." She walked over to Buffy's bed and sat beside her. "I guess I just thought too much of him. I was so completely convinced that he'd changed and then Xander told me what he had done and it broke my heart. I couldn't even imagine that he would do something like that. I guess it kind of destroyed my faith in him and now I'm not even sure if I'd want to see him if he ever decided to come back."

"I get that. I do." Buffy sighed. "But I'm not sure you even have to worry about that anyway. It's been so long since he's left and I haven't heard one crumb of information about what happened to him. I'm starting to think he may never be coming back."

"So, when is Willow coming back?" Dawn asked, trying to change the subject.

"I talked to Giles last week. According to him, she should be back any day now."

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Willow walked through a nearby Sunnydale park not exactly sure where she should go. She knew that Buffy would welcome her but she was afraid. She had begun to forgive herself for her actions but she still wasn't sure how her friends would react. Part of her knew that she would be forgiven but another part of her thought she didn't deserve to be.

Trying to decide what her next move should be, she sat down on a park bench. She jumped when hearing a nearby scream and tried to figure out where it was coming from. She could tell that it was close. Staying perfectly quiet, she stood still, waiting for more sounds that would clue her in. She started to hear whimpers and moans and slowly followed the cries. There was some movement in a dark corner surrounded by trees. Caustiously stepping closer, she saw someone's head peaking out from the shadows. The moonlight shined on the unmistakable peroxide blond hair and she immediately realized who it was that was crouched, shaken and curled up into a ball on the ground.

"Spike?"

To Be Continued....
Confessions by Weeza
"Spike?" Willow stepped closer to the vampire and began to reach out to him.

He whimpered and pulled back from her as if he thought she was going to hurt him.

"Spike, it's ok. It's me, Willow."

"Red?" He carefully lifted his head to examine the person standing before him.

"Yes, Spike it's me. Did someone hurt you?"

Spike suddenly stood up so abruptly that it startled Willow enough to make her take a few steps backward. He tried to wipe the tears from his eyes fast enough so that she wouldn't realize that he was actually crying, but after hearing his whimpers there was just no hiding it.

"I'm all right Red. I'm fine...Really. I'll see you around ok."

"Spike! Wait! What's wrong with you? What happened? Something obviously had you spooked. Just tell me what it is."

"It's nothing. I'm fine. It's something you couldn't possibly understand." Spike started to walk away but stopped when Willow yelled out again.

"Try me!"

Spike stopped then turned to face her. "You've been good all your life. Sure, you've made your mistakes as humans often do but you've never tasted my side of evil. You'd be clueless to what I feel."

Spike started to walk away again but Willow quickly caught up with him and grabbed his arm to stop him.

"What now?" he growled. "I told you I can't talk to you about this."

"Geez Spike, I knew you left town but I didn't think that you would have been completely clueless."

"What are you talking about?"

"Spike, I know we've never really talked but I've done some things...evil things. A lot happened after you left. I have tasted your side of evil. So I may be able to understand what it is that's going on with you better than you think."

"All right. I'll bite." Spike sauntered over to a nearby park bench and sat down. Willow followed and took a seat beside him. "You tell me what you've done that you think is so evil and I'll consider telling you what had me so spooked."

Willow noticed that the entire time they had talked so far, that he had not once looked her in the eye. He avoided it at all costs as if there were something in his eyes he didn't want anyone to see.

She began by telling him about Warren coming after Buffy in the backyard with a gun. She explained how she was shot but assured him that she was all right before he could even get the question in. He listened while she described in gruesome detail the way that she was forced to watch Tara die and how, even though she tried, there was no way of getting her back. She paused quite a few times during her story to take a deep breath and try to stop her voice from shaking.

Spike sat there, listening to her, trying to take in this huge load of information that she was giving him. She told him about the rage and despair she felt when she decided to go after Warren and the others. She winced as she described the look on Warren's face when she pierced his chest with a bullet and how he plead for his life. She described the feeling of satisfaction she had felt when she had peeled off his skin so easily with her black magicks and watched him burn up into nothingness in front of her and her friends and the horrid smell that filled the air afterwards. She then told him about the months she had just spent with Giles in England where she tried to get her life back together, describing the endless therapy sessions and how she would lock herself away for days at a time to just cry and scream and wish all of these memories away. The only thing that kept her even remotely sane during that entire time was the thought of Tara. She knew that it would break her heart to see her like this and each and every day that she lived, she lived for Tara. She tried not to fall apart because she knew in her heart that even though Tara was gone that she was still out there somewhere, watching over her and she wanted to make sure not to disappoint Tara by letting her watch her life fall apart.

Spike was stunned speechless. He was still avoiding her gaze and looked down toward the grass as he tried to soak in everything he had just heard. He couldn't believe that Willow was capable of something like that. She was always so sweet and good but he understood all too well what losing someone you loved could make you do.

"I'm sorry luv...about Tara." He finally spoke. "I know how much you loved her. She was a sweet girl. I liked her a lot." His voice cracked as he spoke those last words and Willow saw him wipe his eyes with the back of his hand.

She looked at him but didn't say anything. Was he crying? Crying for her? Crying for Tara? She had only seen him like this once before. When Buffy died he was a total wreck. That's when she realized how very deeply he loved her. She always doubted his love for her because she just couldn't imagine a vampire feeling true emotion for anyone but he had always seemed different in that way. But this time something was off. She could understand his emotional breakdown over Buffy but this was different. Seeing him whimpering on the ground like a scared puppy. Seeing him empathize with her. She knew that something had changed. She put her hand on top of his and he turned his head toward her but he still avoided her eyes.

"I do know how you feel, pet. When I lost Buffy it was like the world had come to a screeching halt. I was just about to ask one of you scoobies to stake me good and proper until I remembered a promise I made to her. I told her I would look after Dawn and that's what I did. My every moment was spent looking after that girl and when I wasn't doing that I would come visit Buffy at her grave and talk to her. I told her that I was trying to do right by her, and every time, I would try to explain that while searching for her in the stars. Then I would cry and tell her how very sorry I was that I couldn't save her and how much I wish she were there with me, even if she was just beating me up. I wouldn't have cared if she had risen in her grave just to stake me as long as I got to see her one last time. Everything I did after that was for her. I wanted to be noble and good and everything she would want me to be. That's what you have to do, pet. Be the girl that Tara fell in love with and just do right by her and then someday you can be together again."

"Thanks Spike." Willow smiled "As strange as it may be, you've actually made me feel a lot better about Tara. You're right. I just have to continue to be all the things she saw in me that she found to be so special. If I can do that, then she'll always be in my heart."

Spike finally looked into her eyes and she felt a jolt. She took in a quick breath as she searched to find what it was that was different in his eyes. He noticed her shocked expression and quickly looked away.

"Spike, What happened to you? Something is different. I can see it. I can feel it."

Spike sighed and locked eyes with her once again. She searched his face for answers but only saw a blank stare. He looked off past her shoulder as if he were contemplating how much he should actually tell her.

"When I left, I went to Africa."

"Africa? What for?"

"I don't know if you know about this but I did something really stupid toward Buffy and that's why I left."

"What did you do?" She looked panicked and feared his answer.

"I was just so desperate for her to love me. For a while I thought she might but I guess I was wrong and now she'll never trust me again." He sighed and ran his hand through his hair. "I was trying to force her to admit she loved me and things kind of got out of hand."

"How out of hand?" She asked.

"I thought if we were together again that she would feel something for me again. I was so stupid."

"Did you rape her?" Willow asked his horror filled eyes.

"No." he said, his voice raised. "But the truth is, I was so crazed that if she hadn't of kicked me away, I don't know what I might have done. So I left for Africa. I left so I could be the man she wanted me to me, the kind of guy she deserves. I went through tests. I fought to the death a couple times and I had insects crawling through my insides. I was strong enough to pass every test he threw at me. I would have done anything to get what I wanted. I would have done anything to win."

"Well, what did you win?" She asked still looking confused.

"My soul. I got my sould back."

Willow's jaw dropped. She was speechless. She finally knew what it was that she saw in his eyes. For the first time in months she completely forgot about all her troubles and surrounded herself with his.

"She probably won't ever love me with or without a soul, but I had to try. I had to do everything I could to try to be with her. All I want in the world is for her to love me back. In the end I'll probably realize that I did this for nothing because I know deep down that she could never feel for me what I want her to. But I'd never be able to go on if I didn't at least try."

"You have to tell her, Spike, you have to let her know. Does she even know that you're here?"

"No. She doesn't know yet. I haven't seen her. I'm afraid to. After I got my soul back I've had these constant reminders of the horrible things I've done. I'll have nightmares about it or they'll just pop into my head all of a sudden. I see in graphic detail all the poor innocent people that I've slain and my mind just can't handle it. I'll have breakdowns out of nowhere. They are the same every time. I'll end up crouched down in a corner somewhere screaming and crying and trying to push the images away. That's what was happening when you found me and that's why I have to keep my distance. I don't want her to see me like that."

"But you have to tell her. You can't keep this from her. How do you expect her to be able to trust you again if you keep hiding things from her? You've come this far, you can't turn back now. You did all of this for her and life is too short to let fear stop you. Trust me, I know."

"I'll tell her." Spike said in all seriousness. "When the time is right, I'll tell her everything."

To Be Continued...
The Meeting by Weeza
The next night, Willow walked into Spike's crypt just minutes before sunset. She climbed down the ladder and found him lying on his bed in nothing but his black jeans. She walked over to him and poked him in the shoulder.

"Spike!" She poked him again but he didn't even stir. "Spike!" she yelled even louder this time and grabbed his shoulders and started to shake him.

He sat up with his eyes only half open and his hair plastered to one side of his head. Willow tried to hide her amusement at his disheveled appearance.

"Willow?" he shot her a confused gaze and shook his head trying to get back to reality.

"Yeah, come on get dressed."

"For what?" he asked, still kind of grumpy.

"We're going to the Magic Box. I went to Xander's last night after we talked and I told him I wanted him to get everybody together to meet at the Magic Box for a meeting after sunset. It's about time you show yourself and if I had told you about it sooner you'd have more time to freak out about it so I thought it was best to wait until the last minute."

"I don't think this is such a good idea, pet. Did you tell Xander I was here?"

"No way! He'd totally freak!"

"Gee that really makes me wanna see him even more," he said sarcastically.

"Sorry, but you know he's still sore about the whole Anya thing. You really can't blame him for that, can you?" She handed him a shirt and he put it on.

"No, I guess not but who's to say he won't stake me right when I walk in the door."

"He won't. I promise. That's why it's better for us to go together. I'm just as nervous about seeing everyone again as you are. Having you with me will take some of the uncomfortable feeling away from me and I can be there to stop anyone who starts flying toward you with weapons." She had that way too cheery grin on her face and he just rolled his eyes.

"Fine." He groaned. "I might as well get this over with."

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Xander and Anya sat at the table after setting down some munchies for their meeting. They sat in silence but kept stealing glances at each other after Xander started holding her hand under the table. They had recently gotten back together and they were in that lovey dovey shy with each other kind of stage. It was like starting all over again.

Buffy walked in the door and took a seat across from the lovebirds.

"Hey guys." Buffy said as she grabbed some chips from the bowl on the table. "What is this meeting all about anyway? You hung up so fast I didn't even get the chance to ask."

"Actually Buff, Willow came by last night and asked me to call this meeting."

"She's back? Why didn't she call or come see me?"

"I think she was afraid to. I can tell that the time in England has really helped her a lot but I'm sure she's still having a rough time with everything. She's probably just afraid that everything will be weird with us."

"I guess you're right. I mean, a lot has changed but I've gotten past that and no matter what she will always be one of my best friends. I just want to help her. I just don't know how."

Buffy stared off into space and started to get really nervous about seeing her again. She was never really good at comforting people. She never knew exactly what to say and it seemed that most of the time, whenever she tried to help, she'd just end up saying the wrong thing. This time she planned on watching her words carefully or just keeping her mouth shut all together. She decided it's probably best to let her do the talking and just let her know that she would be there for her.

Spike and Willow walked up to the Magic Box and paused in front of the door.

"You ready?" Willow asked looking up into a nervous Spike's deep blue eyes.

"Not really, no." he admitted.

"Good." Willow sighed. "Me neither. Shall we go then?" She grabbed Spike's hand and they made their way through the door.

Buffy heard the little bell on the door ring as it opened. She stood up and saw Willow walk in with Spike right behind her.

Buffy's breath caught in her throat and her heart began to beat wildly. She couldn't believe her eyes. The man that she never thought she'd see again was suddenly there. She had imagined this moment for a long time and her daydreams always had her running toward him and wrapping her arms around him but she didn't do that. She didn't do anything. She just stood there completely dumbfounded. Her eyes traveled down and she noticed Spike and Willow holding hands. She felt a pang of jealousy and looked up at Willow. Willow noticed the confusion in her eyes so she let go of Spike's hand and stood there uncomfortably, waiting for someone to say something.

Suddenly Xander leapt up from his chair, grabbed Spike by the shirt and slammed him against the wall.

"Dammit Spike, I thought we finally got rid of you. Why can't you just stay away? No one wants you here. How could you even show your face here again after what you've done to Buffy?"

Spike stole a glance over at Buffy and as soon as they locked eyes she quickly looked away and stared down at the floor.

Xander pulled Spike forward and slammed his head into the wall.

"Xander no!" Willow yelled. "That's enough!"

Xander let go of him and faced Willow.

"I can't believe this! You're sticking up for him now! What is wrong with all you women? Am I the only one who can see that all Spike will ever be is an evil soulless monster?

Silence filled the air and Xander became enraged. Obviously no one was planning on joining his side. Not even Anya stuck up for him and that hurt more than anything. Buffy continued to stand there like a statue. She just stood there frozen as Xander grabbed his coat and headed for the door. He slammed the door so hard that some of the items on the shelves shook.

No one spoke for what felt like an eternity. Anya grabbed her coat and headed for the door.

"I better go after him." Anya said before she gave Spike an awkward glare and walked out the door.

Dawn walked toward the Magic Box and noticed an upset Anya running out the door and down the street. She strolled into the Magic Box and was about to ask what was going on when she spotted Spike and Willow. She walked up to Willow but completely ignored Spike.

"Willow, you're back." Dawn stated uncomfortably. "Um, how did everything go? Are you doing better?"

"Yeah Dawnie, I'm doing a lot better. I got a lot of help from Giles and a lot of other people in England and I just want you to know how sorry I am for everything that happened. I couldn't bare it if you hated me."

"I don't hate you." Dawn sighed. "But it's gonna take some time to get back to where we were. You said some pretty awful things to me and I just need some time before we can be friends again."

"I know Dawn. I am so sorry and I'll do anything to make it up to you. I was crazed. I swear, I didn't mean any of those things."

"I know." Dawn said and gave Willow a small smile. "I'm so sorry about Tara. We all miss her a lot."

Dawn knew she should be angrier with Willow but she loved Tara so much and in a way she understood how that could make Willow do what she did. Dawn couldn't stop thinking about finding Tara shot to death in the bedroom and not wanting to leave her there alone. She just sat there watching over her for hours until someone came home. She just huddled herself in a corner and watched over her body.

"Hey Niblet." Spike said interrupting Dawn's thoughts.

He reached out to touch her hair but Dawn backed away from him.

"Don't touch me!" she hissed.

Spike gave her a hurt look. Dawn turned to look at Buffy who was still standing in the same spot she had been since Spike first walked in the door.

Dawn walked over to Buffy.

"Buffy, I suddenly don't want to be here anymore so is it ok if I go to Janice's house."

Dawn shot a hateful glare at Spike and he looked away from her and turned toward Willow who gave him a sympathetic look.

"Sure Dawn, It's fine." She said flatly while continuing to look at the ground.

"Thanks." Dawn saw how distraught Buffy was so she leaned over and gave her a hug before quickly walking out the door.

Buffy finally looked up and her eyes traveled to Spike. He looked at her with hope in his eyes.

"Spike?" she continued to look at him as if not believing that he was really there.

Spike walked over and stood before her not exactly sure what to say. He just waited for her to take the lead. Buffy took a quick glance at Willow and then studied Spike's face. He couldn't quite read the emotion on her face. She was feeling so many things at once, but her sullen expression turned to anger and he watched her features harden. He suddenly saw disgust in her eyes as her arm swung back. She slapped him across the face so hard that he stumbled back a few feet. He saw tears start to form in her eyes and she ran out the door and away from him. She just couldn't handle this right now. All these memories came flooding back to her. The attempted rape, sleeping with Anya, and most of all leaving her with no word until she got the impression that he was gone for good, just like the others.

Spike rubbed his face where he was sure Buffy had left an imprint of her hand. He sighed and looked over at Willow.

With tears rolling down his cheeks and a pain in his heart he said, "Home sweet home."

To Be Continued....

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I know….poor Spike. But don’t worry, things won’t be this bad for him for long. I know this story will never be as popular as Married By America but it was the first one I wrote and I knew how I was going to end it before I started writing it. I’m very proud of this one. There are a lot of twists and turns so hopefully you’ll like what I’ve done with this. I wrote this before season 7 so I guess it’s what I had imagined and hoped for these characters. Thank you ash, PhotographyNut, cordykitten and klylu for the reviews!
This story has 15 chapters and I will update one a day until it’s done.
Forgiveness by Weeza
Buffy was patrolling the cemetery the night after she saw Spike. Every vamp she encountered got beaten to a bloody pulp before she dusted them. She needed to let out some aggression. Why did he have to surprise her like that? Couldn't he have given her some kind of warning that he was back so she didn't have to deal with this in front of everyone she knew? Where was he all this time? Why was Willow with him and why the hell were they holding hands? It just didn't make sense. She knew she should have stayed around long enough to ask questions but her heart hurt too much. She missed him while he was gone but she didn't want him to know that. At least, part of her didn't want him to know. The other part wanted to hold onto him and never let go. Why did everything always have to be so complicated? Why was it that every time she made a decision she always had to consider what her friends would think first?

Buffy's brain was on overload and she suddenly found herself about twenty feet from Spike's crypt. She stared at it from a distance wondering if she should pay him a visit and ask all the questions that needed asking. She jumped when the door to his crypt opened. Oh no. Now she would have to talk to him. But it wasn't Spike that walked out.…. it was Willow. What the hell was going on?

"Willow?"

Buffy started walking toward her and Willow stopped dead in her tracks. She looked at Buffy as if she had been caught with her hand in the cookie jar. That made Buffy nervous. She wondered if something was going on between them after all.

"Oh hi Buffy." Willow looked past her as if making sure no one else was around.

"Willow, what's going on?" Buffy asked.

"What do you mean?" Willow asked even though she knew very well what she meant.

"Well, first, you and Spike walk into the Magic Box together, holding hands no less and then I catch you walking out of his crypt. Are you two involved? Buffy inwardly cringed when she asked that question.

"What? Buffy, you think we....that we...oh my gosh! No! No! A hundred times no! Why would you think that?"

"Well, you guys did seem kind of chummy." She blushed and suddenly felt very stupid.

"Buffy, I wouldn't do that. I know that you guys were sort of …..together and besides in case you've forgotten, I'm kind of gay now."

"I'm sorry." Buffy let out a small giggle. "I feel like such an idiot."

"That's ok. It's totally understandable but I couldn't be with anyone right now. I miss Tara so much and just the thought of being with someone else is just ridiculous to me right now. Besides, Spike would never want to be with me."

"Why not?" Buffy asked.

"Duh! Because he's in love with you silly! Spike was just helping me get through some stuff. He understands the whole being evil thing and we were just trying to help each other out. I guess we both just needed someone to talk to"

"Willow, what do you know about Spike? Where has he been all this time?"

"I'm sorry, Buffy. I can't tell you that. That is something you are gonna have to ask him yourself." Willow put her hand on Buffy's shoulder and gave her an apologetic smile.

"I know. You're right. I was just trying to take the easy way out." Buffy sighed.

"You have to face him sometime Buffy. In fact, he's in his crypt right now." Willow said nodding her head toward the crypt.

Willow gave her a quick hug and walked away. Buffy watched her go with a racing heart and wobbly knees. She stood frozen and scared to death of seeing him again.

"Why am I so nervous?" she said to herself out loud.

She turned around to walk toward his crypt and gasped when she walked right into Spike.

"Hello, luv." He said without a sign of his trademark smirk.

"Spike, you scared me." Buffy said slightly irritated.

"Sorry, luv." Spike remembered when those words used to please him. He would get such a thrill when someone actually admitted that he frightened them especially after having that chip for so long. But that feeling was gone for good now.

"What do you want Spike?" she snapped.

He looked at her with disappointment at her coldness.

"I just....forget it. I never should have come back here."

Spike quickly walked back to his crypt and slammed the door before Buffy could even process what had just happened.

‘Real nice Buffy.’ She thought. ‘I can't just let him walk away from me again. I can't risk him leaving for good this time.’ She walked over to his crypt and paused at the door. She opened the door slowly and found him sitting in his chair with his face in his hands. He looked up at her with tear filled eyes.

"Are you crying?" she asked

"Yeah, what of it?" he wiped the tears off his face and glanced back at her.

"I just don't think I've ever seen you cry before." Buffy said sadly.

"That's because I cried the most after you died. I cried so much I thought I'd run out of tears. But you weren't exactly around to see it now were you?"

Buffy felt a twinge of guilt. No one really ever spoke of how badly Spike had taken her death. She knew he blamed himself for it but his reaction was never talked about by her friends. They purposely avoided it so it must have been bad and she could tell it destroyed him. She knew deep down that taking care of Dawn was probably the only thing that kept him together.

"Buffy, I'm so sorry." He started to cry again. "What I did to you before I left was unforgivable. I never meant to hurt you. That was never my intention. I was just so desperate. I just wanted you to love me so badly. The whole time we were together I became so hopeful. Every time you came to me I kept thinking that maybe there was a chance that you were actually falling in love with me. You have no idea the effect you have on me. I love you so much. I would die for you. I know you could never feel that way about me but I just wanted you to know how sorry I am. Whenever I think about that night I feel sick. I would do anything to take it back but I can't."

Spike felt his tears start to fall again and he heard Buffy sigh. She walked over and sat next to him on the arm of his chair.

"You really scared me that night." She admitted. "I've seen you change so much in the past couple years and it killed me to think that you could hurt me in that way. But I've thought about it a lot and even thought I probably shouldn't, I forgive you. But I need you to forgive me too."

"Forgive you?" he asked. "For what?"

"For using you the way I did. For playing with your mind and for making you expect things that I'm not sure I could ever give."

"I forgive you, pet. I'll always forgive you."

Buffy gave him a gentle smile. She looked into his teary eyes and felt a jolt go through her body from the love she saw in them. The feeling she saw in his eyes was more intense than it had ever been. She reached over and wrapped her arms around him in a warm embrace.

He deeply inhaled her sent and brushed his fingers over her soft hair. He couldn't believe how wonderful it felt to be able to touch her again. She pulled away from him and once again looked into his eyes. She wanted to lean over and kiss him but she resisted. She couldn't do that to him again. She couldn't lead him on. Nothing like that could ever happen again until she fully realized what it was that she felt for him. She stood up and took a few steps toward the door.

"I have to go." She said in almost a whisper. "Dawn is waiting for me. I've got to get home. I wish I could stay longer so I could grill you with questions like, where the hell have you been for the past four months?"

"There is a lot I need to tell you, pet, but I guess it'll have to wait." Spike smoothed his hands through his hair and grabbed the arms of his chair in frustration.

He wanted to tell her everything right now. Get it over with. But how could he tell her something like this? Oh, by the way I went to Africa and got a soul. I did it all for you. Will you love me now? Stupid wanker.

"I'll come by within the next few days. I want to know everything." She said. Like how could you just take off like that and leave me feeling all alone, she thought, but would never dare say it out loud.

She walked toward the door and opened it. She turned her head so she was half facing him.

"I missed you." She said softly, then walked out and closed the door.

To Be Continued……..

Your reviews are very much appreciated! Thank you!
All About Buffy by Weeza
She missed me? She missed me. She really missed me! Spike lay there staring up at the ceiling of his crypt. The same thought rolling around in his head over and over again. He was almost afraid that if he stopped thinking about it that the memory would just fade away like it never happened. She missed me. He tried to make himself stop thinking of her words. He wanted to stop becoming so hopeful because deep down he knew that if he expected too much, he would just end up with a broken heart...again. He pushed the thoughts out of his head and attempted to drift off to sleep even though he knew all he would do was dream about her.

While Spike was having Buffy filled dreams, Buffy lay in her own bed staring at her ceiling thinking about how nice it felt to let him hold her. As much as she enjoyed being around him, she could never let herself get lost in him. She saw how Xander had reacted at the Magic Box. She saw the hate in his eyes. Even Dawn was so angry that she wouldn't even speak to him. She didn't even want to be near him. Buffy wondered how she could have forgiven him so easily for the things he'd done to her when everyone else seemed so determined to hate him. She knew why. She knew she had some kind of feelings for him. She knew how she felt when she was around him and she just wanted more of that. But she couldn't let herself fall for him. Things had gotten so bad when their "relationship" first came to light. There was anger and sadness and a surprising indifference from Dawn. She was the one person who she thought would have gotten a thrill over the fact that she had been with Spike but she didn't. She talked about it with her so matter-of-factly like she didn't care either way. Why did things always have to be so messed up? Couldn't something go her way for once?

*****************************************************

Anya heard a knock at her door. She knew it was Xander before she had even opened it. Who else would be visiting her at this hour? She felt nervous because the only time Xander came around this late at night was when something was bothering him. She was afraid they would end up fighting again. She really loved him but sometimes he was just so difficult and there was just no getting through to him.

She opened the door and just as she suspected, Xander stood in the doorway with that look of worry on his face that usually came hand in hand with another Buffy story. She wished that he would give that much care and concern when it came to her but all his energy and strength always seemed to be with Buffy instead.

"Xander, is something wrong?" she asked as she gave his shoulder a soft squeeze.

"I wanted to talk to you about something."

"What is it?" she gestured for him to come inside.

He walked into the apartment she had been staying in and sat on the sofa. With a sigh he hunched over and clasped his hands together as if trying to figure out where to begin.

"I tried to find you the other night." She spoke first. "But you ran off so quickly that I couldn't find you."

"I see, and here I thought you stayed there so you could side with Spike."

"Why would I want to side with Spike?"

"Well, no one seemed to come to my defense at the Magic Box including you and because you had that...thing with him I just thought...."

"God Xander!" She screamed. "How many times am I going to have to apologize to you for that? I want to be with you and no one else. It's always been you. I was hurt that night. I was upset and I was drunk and I wanted to get back at you for leaving me standing there all alone and having to walk back in that room, in my beautiful wedding dress with red and puffy eyes and explain to everyone that the man I love doesn't want to marry me!"

"Are we back to that again?" he asked. "I told you how sorry I was for that. I didn't want to hurt you. I was just being stupid."

"Well, we can apologize to each other until we are blue in the face but it doesn't seem to be doing us any good now does it?"

"Anya, I don't want to fight anymore."

"Well, neither do I." She sighed. "But you seem to keep bringing up Spike all the time no matter how many times I tell you that it didn't mean anything. How many times do I have to say I'm sorry? I'm trying to get past you leaving me at the altar, so why can't you get past this?"

"I am getting past it. I'm trying, I really am."

"Then why does it seem like you keep coming over here trying to pick a fight and why does it always have to end up being about Spike? Let me ask you something Xander. Are you this upset about me having sex with Spike or are you really upset because Buffy did?"

"What are you talking about? This has nothing to do with Buffy."

"You keep saying that but it has everything to do with Buffy. Every time we talk and every time we fight, it always ends up being all about Buffy! Why can't you just let her go?"

**************************************************

After Xander left Anya's he began wandering around town. An hour had past and he still couldn't stop thinking about what she had said. Could it be true? Could he really still be hung up on Buffy? He realized that he was way more understanding when it came to Anya sleeping with Spike than Buffy. He knew how much he hurt Anya and that she simply found solace in Spike's arms. But what about Buffy? What did she have to gain by being with him and why did the thought of them being together tie his stomach up in knots?

Xander walked through the cemetery and decided to pay Spike a little visit. He couldn't understand what on earth could make him come back here. Did he actually think that anyone would want to see him? Xander walked into the crypt and slammed the door. He started yelling to wake Spike up, his voice booming in loud echoes throughout the crypt.

"Hey, evil dead! Wake up!"

Spike abruptly sat up in bed. If his heart could beat it would be racing. He woke up dazed and confused. He looked over at Xander and immediately searched him with his eyes to check for stakes or other weapons but he saw none.

"Harris, what the bleeding hell are you doing in my crypt?"

Spike was pissed. Xander and just come in and ruined this great dream about Buffy. All dreams about Buffy were great but this was the first dream he'd had in a long time that didn't have to do with his horrid past.

"I wanna know what you're doing here?" Xander simply asked. "I wanna know after all that has happened, why you would even think about coming back?"

"I wanted to set things right. I wanted to make things better." Spike admitted.

"Well you can't. There is nothing you can possibly do to make any of this better. The only time you ever made things better is when you left!"

"Don't you think I know that?" Spike asked in just barely a whisper.

"Then why are you here?"

"Xander, what happened between me and Anya was a mistake. It never should have happened. You two were so in love with each other and even though things were already messed up with you two, I know I just made it worse."

"Are you apologizing to me?" Xander looked baffled.

"Is that so hard to believe?"

"Well....Yeah! Xander answered. "Ok so you're sorry. So what? I don't know how you can be sorry anyway without a conscience but just this once I'll give you the benefit of the doubt. You both were hurt, upset and angry....yadda yadda yadda....I've heard it all before. But I still can't figure out what Buffy was doing with you."

"Buffy?" Spike looked at Xander slightly amused. "Is she what you came here for? I thought you were here to bash my head in about Anya but once again you've decided to play the role of Buffy's knight in shining armor."

Xander was stunned. Was he the only one who had never noticed his major overprotection of Buffy? Maybe Anya was right. He finally started to realize why Anya was always so upset with him. If she were constantly obsessed with the well being of some other guy, he'd be a little ticked off too.

"I'm not trying to be anyone's knight. I'm just trying to understand what happened."

"I don't understand it any better than you do, Harris. All I was doing was trying to help her get through this hell called life. Everyone else was smothering her with concern and I seemed to be the only one that she could be honest with. Next thing I knew she was kissing me. So sweetly, so gentle, then rough and passionate. There was this unmistakable fire between us and...."

"All right! That's enough! I don't need the graphic details." Xander interrupted.

"A little jealous are we?" Spike asked with just a hint of his famous smirk.

"Of you? Never!"

"Ya know, I think I finally figured you out."

"Oh great. I can't wait to hear this one." Xander sat down across from Spike and started to make himself comfortable. "Ok wise one. What is this revelation you have about me?"

"That no one will ever be good enough for Buffy where you're concerned. No one but you of course."

Xander didn't hide his look of irritation but he continued to listen anyway.

"Think about it. You never liked any of Buffy's boyfriends, not that I would actually consider myself in that group but any guy she was ever with never made the cut with you. Isn't that right?"

Xander didn't answer him. He just glared at Spike silently fuming. He couldn't think of the words to tell him off with because deep down he knew he was right.

"You even resented Riley didn't you?" Spike continued. "You played the part of the friend all the while wishing it were more. With Riley you felt like you had to pretend to be his buddy. Had to pretend to like him because he was actually this stand up guy who didn't have a demon inside him that you could use to convince her of some huge mistake she was making. You say you're in love with Anya but everything you do always seems to be all about Buffy. Doesn't it?"

Xander was enraged. Spike words cut him deep because they were the truth. He just never saw it before. He hated Angel, he did resent Riley and he definitely couldn't stand Spike. He knew Spike had done some noble things where Buffy was concerned but he would never let himself give Spike any sort of respect no matter what he did.

"You are totally off base and out of line Spike." Xander lied. "The truth is that Buffy would never want to be with you. You are a disgusting monster and after what you did to her she would never ever forgive you."

"Too late for that. She already has forgiven me. Hugged me even. Said she missed me." Spike said proudly. "She even asked for my forgiveness. Turned out she actually felt bad for hurting me."

"She wouldn't do that. Xander said, his anger building. I saw her crying on the bathroom floor that night. I saw the bruise on her leg. She would never forgive you. I was all prepared to do you in that night. Did you know that? I wanted to fetch my stake and jab it right through your unbeating heart."

"So why didn't you?" Spike asked curiously.

"Because Buffy stopped me." Xander gritted his teeth at the thought.

Spike chuckled. "And why do you think that is?"

To Be Continued....
Discoveries by Weeza
Xander couldn't believe how he let Spike get to him. What made him think that he was so insightful? Spouting out opinions about him as if he actually knew him. Please, Spike wouldn't know a real human emotion if it jumped out and staked him. These thoughts of denial claimed Xander's brain trying to replace the thought that every single syllable that came out of Spike's mouth was the gospel truth. After he finally gave into the harsh truths of Spike's words, Xander spent the rest of his sleepless night trying to find a way to make things up to Anya.

***************************************************

Willow awoke from a wonderful dream about Tara slightly before the sun had risen. It was one of those dreams that had made you feel so warm and happy inside that when you woke up all you felt was calm and peaceful. Then reality set in once again when she realized that it was in fact only a dream and that Tara was really gone. Tears cascaded down her face and she buried her head in her pillow as she sobbed.

Willow spent the rest of the day sulking in bed. She felt no reason to get up or get dressed. The love of her life was gone now and things would never be the same again. How could she go on knowing that she would never again see the love in Tara's eyes or the looks that she gave her that made her feel like the most special person on earth? When you grieve, every day is supposed to get a little bit better, so then why did these feelings seem to be getting worse?

Willow finally decided to get out of the bed that Joyce Summers had once occupied. She was so grateful that Buffy had let her come back and stay with them. After everything that had happened she never thought that she would be forgiven. She never fully realized how wonderful her friends really were. For them to forgive her for her sins and continue to help her cope was priceless. She really loved each and every one of them but even that didn't seem to be enough to drag her out of her depression. To be without Tara was to try and live without breath. It was almost impossible to function on a daily basis and every time she smiled or felt happy even for a second, she couldn't help but feel guilty. How could she let herself feel any kind of happiness knowing that Tara was gone forever?

She finally decided that maybe it would make her feel better to go visit her at her grave for a while. She desperately needed to talk to Tara and knew deep down in her heart that she would hear every word. Walking across the moonlit cemetery, she stopped when she saw the large tree that stood beside her grave. It was a willow tree. She had purposely picked that spot as if it would somehow bond them together even when they couldn't be. Willow started walking closer to the grave but once again stopped when she spotted Spike sitting on the ground in front of it, curled up with his knees toward his chin. She could tell he was talking but couldn't make out the words so she got a little closer but hid herself out of view.

"...so that's how I got my soul, he said. I did it for her you know. She forgave me....for hurting her, even though I bloody well don't deserve it. She actually said she missed me, can you believe that? I almost felt my heart start beating when she said it. She probably still won't ever love me but I don't regret what I've done. Even though this bloody soul hurts like hell, it makes me feel like more of a man. Hopefully the kind of man that Buffy would some day want to be with but I won't hold my breath, not that it would matter much since I don't have to breathe,” he babbled. “Anyway, enough about me. Willow really misses you. I can really see the pain in her eyes when she thinks about how she's lost you. All of this is just really unfair. You had your troubles but you two always seemed so happy together. You were meant to be. I always thought that. Of course it's this soul that is making me actually admit it out loud. Otherwise I would have just kept it to myself in fear of sounding like a bloody poof."

Spike suddenly heard a rustling sound mixed with the faint sound of laughter. He turned around to see Willow standing behind him.

"Willow....how long have you been here?" he asked.

"Oh, since right before Buffy forgave you all the way through bloody poof." She smiled.

"I was trying to have a private conversation here, Red."

"Sorry." Willow sat down beside him. "I was just coming here to have a little chat with Tara myself. I didn't mean to eavesdrop. I just couldn't help myself."

"That's ok. I didn't say anything you haven't heard me say before." Spike shrugged.

"Well, except for you thinking that Tara and I were made for each other. I never knew you felt that way."

"Yeah, well I do." He looked down shyly and started playing with the grass. "Every time I saw you two together, I couldn't help but wish that someone would love me like that someday. It was different with me and Dru. We spent a lifetime together but I still don't think she ever loved me the way I loved her. I think she was just overly lacking in the sanity department to really know what she wanted. I knew she wasn't completely devoted to me and I was constantly reminded of that every time Angelus was around. She dumped me like yesterday's trash when he came around again, like the past century meant nothing. But it was different with you and Tara. You birds had the kind of relationship where you'd never want to be with anyone else but each other. I admire that." He looked at her with a respectful smile. "All I ever wanted was the kind of love that you two had. After 128 years you'd think it would have at least happened once but I'm starting to think that it just wasn't meant to be."

Willow studied him sadly. She had never really thought about it that way. She had never realized that Spike was never completely loved by another. What she had with Tara made her feel extremely lucky, even though their time together was cut short. Her heart ached for Spike. It must be horrible to think that you will never get the chance to have that kind of love. She could tell he loved with his whole heart and never having that love fully returned must be devastating.

"Well, I'll leave you two lovebirds alone to have your chat" Spike stood up.

"Thanks Spike. I'll stop by your crypt for a while after I talk to Tara. Is that ok?"

"Sure pet. We can talk more if you like."

Spike returned to his crypt and left Willow and Tara their privacy under the willow tree.

"Hey Tara." Willow greeted. "Things are so hard without you here with me. I really don't know how I've lasted this long. I miss you more than you could ever possibly imagine. I want you to know that I am doing well with the magicks. I've gone completely cold turkey this time. I know I've said that before and look what happened. But this time I truly mean it. No magical supplies will ever touch my hands. No chants will ever come from my lips. Never again. I love you too much for that. Spike was right; I have to do right by you. I have to make you proud."

Willow sat by the grave in silence after that as if awaiting a response. She just felt so comfortable there that she couldn't bring herself to leave yet. She felt warm and comforted as if Tara was right there with her.

***********************************************

Xander arrived at Anya's door with a bouquet of red roses and an apologetic smile. Anya wasn't sure what he was up to. She figured he just felt guilty and wanted to come over for some make-up sex.

He led her over to the couch while remaining silent. She sat down and he held her hands in his own while he sat down next to her on the edge of the sofa. He looked into her eyes and swept a strand of hair away from her face. She smiled at his gentleness.

"You know I love you right?" he finally spoke.

"Well, yeah I used to think so but..." Her voice faded.

"Well I do. I thought a lot about what you said and I understand why you were so angry with me. I do spend too much of my time and energy on Buffy. It's just that we've been friends for a really long time and I just don't want to see her get hurt."

"Xander, if you really love her I don't want you wasting your time on me. I promise I won't punish you by the way of vengeance. I'm over that now. But I don't want you to pretend to want to be with me if you really want to be with her."

"I don't want to be with Buffy. I want to be with you. There was a part of me that was afraid that I may still be hung up on her but every time I tried to let myself think about being with her, I just kept thinking about you. I love her. She's my friend but that's all she is. I couldn't bare it if I thought I lost you again."

With that he gave her hand a soft squeeze and lowered himself to the floor on one knee.

"You mean the world to me. I love you with everything I am and I was stupid to have ever had any doubts about us. I realize I'm not my father and never will be. My parents have a horrible relationship and it kills me to see how my father treats my mother. But that's not me and I won't let that stop me ever again from wanting to be with the one girl that has made me happier than I ever thought I could be. Anya, will you please marry me?"

Tears formed in Anya's eyes. She tried to stop herself from crying but finally gave up and let the tears fall.

"Are you sure Xander? Do you really mean it this time? Cause I couldn't handle having my heart broken by you twice."

"I've never been more sure of anything in all my life. I promise you that." Xander gave her a sincere smile. "I will never let you down ever, ever again. I want to be with you forever. I couldn't even imagine a life without you."

"If that's what you really feel, then YES! Yes of course I want to marry you!" she exclaimed.

She gave him a hug and held on so tight he thought she'd never let go. He pulled back from her just far enough to give her a very sensual slow and lingering kiss. She pulled back from him and looked at him with a very serious expression.

"There is just one little problem Xander."

"What is it?" he asked, his tone worried.

"This time, I want to have a small wedding. Without all the relatives."

He grinned. "I wouldn't have it any other way."

******************************************************

Spike sat in his favorite chair in his crypt trying to figure out a way to tell Buffy everything that had happened to him since he left. Should he just come out and say it? Should he start slow and give her every little detail first? Or should he just let her do the talking and answer her questions as they come?

He jumped a little as the door to his crypt opened and interrupted his thoughts. Buffy walked in looking a little nervous.

"Hey." She greeted him with a small smile. "Is it a good time for us to have that talk now?"

"Sure pet." He answered. "You know I always have time for you."

She sat down near him and took a deep breath trying to slow her heart rate down but it didn't work. She was a bundle of nerves and had no idea where this conversation was going to lead.

"So, where have you been all this time and why did you just leave like that? You didn't even let anyone know."

Spike sighed. He was relieved that Buffy was taking charge in this because he never would have known where to start.

"To answer your first question, I went to Africa. As for your second, who would I have told? In case you've forgotten everybody hated me, including you. I didn't even think it would have mattered to you that I left. I thought you would have been delighted to have me gone."

"First of all I didn't hate you. And as for being glad you took off, you couldn't have been more wrong. I did miss you Spike. You can't have someone be around as much as you have and not miss them when they're gone."

Spike was thrilled but tried not to show it. He didn't want her to see him grin like a bloody git. These crumbs of acceptance that she was tossing his way mean more to him than he would have liked. He didn't want to give himself the wrong impression again so he tried to bury his giddy feelings deep down and hoped they wouldn't resurface.

"What was in Africa? She asked, knocking him out of his dreamlike state.

"After what I'd done to you, I was disgusted with myself. I didn't fit in anywhere. I could never be the man you needed me to be and I knew I could never again be the monster that I was. Things needed to change. I....I was...Oh God."

He stood up suddenly and Buffy noticed a look of pain on his face.

"Oh God please not now!" he screamed in agony.

Spike crumpled to the floor with his head in his hands and started steadily rocking back in forth from a curled up position in the dark corner he had slumped into. Screams of pain and anguish escaped his lips, which turned into sobs. Buffy watched as tears invaded his face and whimpers escaped his throat.

"Spike what's happening?" she asked in a panic. "What should I do?"

She crouched down next to him and reached out to touch him but pulled back in fear. She started to cry, not knowing what else to do.

The door to the crypt suddenly whipped open and Willow came running in. She saw Spike slumped to the ground just as she had seen him that first night she returned from England.

Buffy stood up and looked at her. Her eyes pleading for help.

Willow knelt down beside Spike and wrapped her arms around him. She rubbed his back, trying to get him to calm down.

"Its ok, it's ok." She whispered to him.

Buffy felt that pang of jealousy hit her in the gut once again. Why couldn't she let herself be that way with him? It should be her down there soothing him, not Willow. She suddenly felt completely helpless.

"Oh God." He cried. "There was a little girl. I slit her throat. I've got blood on my hands." He continued rocking back and forth, tears still flooding from his eyes.

Buffy's eyes widened. She stared at him in horror as the realization hit her like a ton of bricks. She suddenly remembered everything that Angel had gone through and this was no different.

"Oh my God!" Buffy's hand shot up toward her mouth and tears started to once again form in her eyes.

She bolted out the door, desperately trying to catch her breath. She landed hard on her knees in the grass. With her face in her hands she uncontrollably sobbed. She felt completely horrified and touched at the same time. She knew he did all of this for her.

After Willow finally calmed Spike down she went outside to look for Buffy. She spotted her right away. She was still on her knees.

When Buffy spotted Willow she stood up and walked over to her. Willow looked at Buffy and her reddened face and puffy eyes.

"What has he done?" Buffy asked. "He has a soul doesn't he?"

Willow nodded.

"Are you ok Buffy?"

Buffy looked down. Confusion and fear were written all over her face.

"I might as well fill you in." Willow said. "He went to Africa to get his soul. He knew someone that could help him. He had to endure all these awful tests to get what he wanted. He only wanted you to be happy. Buffy, you need to go see him."

"I....I can't. How can I go in there knowing that he did all this for me? He's in there right now curled up in a ball, crying his eyes out, remembering every single awful thing he has done throughout his entire unlife and it's killing him. How can I look him in the face knowing that I did that to him? I can't do it. It's just too much."

Buffy ran off leaving a bewildered Willow and a tormented Spike behind.

To Be Continued....
Rejections & Regrets by Weeza
Seven days had gone by while Buffy mustered up the courage to go and talk to Spike. The more days that went by without seeing him, the more her guilt grew. She couldn't face him. She wouldn't know what to say. Spike had constantly been on her mind for days now. She just couldn’t seem to figure out why this whole situation scared her so much. She'd been through so much, fought so many demons and had encountered the most frightening things that no one in their life should have to see. Yet, the thing that terrified her the most was a bleach blonde vampire with a soul. How does that make sense?

She knew she had to talk to him but every time she thought about it her heart would race and she would completely freeze up. She went by his crypt a few times while on patrol but she'd walk to his door and reach for the handle but just chicken out and walk away. No more hiding. She needed to see him now and get this over with. How bad could it be?

Buffy quietly opened the door to Spike's crypt and saw him sitting in his chair and looking completely exhausted. Poor guy. He must be having such a hard time with this. She noticed that his hair was different. He must not have bleached it in a while because there was quite a bit of his natural brown hair below the soft looking bleached curls that lay on top. She took deep breaths to try and slow her heartbeat down which she found herself doing quite often when he was around.

She sat down across from him on a small coffee table in front of his chair. She looked at him but he didn't move. He wouldn't look up at her. He wouldn't even acknowledge her.

"Spike I...... I'm sorry I waited so long to come and see you." She said.

Spike still didn't move. He just blinked and continued to look down toward the ground.

"Spike! Look at me!" she commanded.

He still did nothing. The tears that rolled down his cheeks were hidden by the shadows that covered his face.

Buffy stood up in frustration and started pacing.

"I shouldn't have run off like I did that night." She said, still pacing. "I just got scared. I couldn't handle seeing you like that knowing that it was all my fault."

"What?" he asked, finally looking up at her, "Your fault? You think this is your fault?"

"Well yeah. I mean, you did all this just to please me didn't you?" She silently hoped the answer was yes because she didn't want to appear self centered again.

"Yes. I thought it would bring me closer to you. I thought it's what you wanted. I knew how much it bothered you that I didn't have a soul so I decided to take a chance. But Buffy, you can't blame yourself for any of this. This thing that I'm going through with the nightmares and the visions is not your fault. I'm seeing the horrible things that I've done and there's no one to blame for that but myself."

"But you wouldn't even be going through that at all of it wasn't for me. I'm the one who made you feel like you had to change."

"Now I won't have you feeling guilty, pet. I don't regret getting back my soul for one solid second. It's worth every bit of hurt if it means I finally get a chance to be with you."

He walked toward her intending to put his arms around her but when he got within a foot of her she backed away from him.

"Spike, don't."

"What's the matter now?" he sighed.

"I really appreciate what you did for me. No one has ever gone that far to try and please me. It means the world to me. I need you to know that."

"But..." He said, knowing that this wasn't going to be good.

"But you know this could never work right?"

"So, we're back to that again." He ran his hands through his hair in frustration.

"Spike, you know that I have some sort of feelings for you. I have told you that before."

"So what's the problem then?" he asked.

"The same problem that there always was. You're a vampire. I'm a slayer. It was hard enough to deal with the first time.... with Angel. I can't do that again. And my friends, they couldn't handle it....I just....I can't lose them.

"Willow doesn't seem to mind and not one of your friends has been perfect. They have all made mistakes. You forgive them every time. Don't you think they could get past this?"

"That's not the point." She argued. This thing with us, it's wrong. It's not supposed to happen like this."

"So, what are you a psychic now? Then tell me pet, what exactly is supposed to happen."

"I'm supposed to find a nice, normal, sweet man with a sense of humor and a great career. We're supposed to have two point five children and a white picket fence and live happily ever after. But that's not gonna happen is it? I'm the slayer and I constantly save the world but for some reason I'm not allowed to be happy because of it. Being the slayer is all I am and all I ever could be. Nothing is ever going to change that."

"It can change if you want it to." Spike said. "Why can't you just let yourself be happy with what you've got?

"Because it's not enough!" she exclaimed.

"You mean, I'm not enough." He said, his voice shaking.

"Spike….I"

"Save it slayer. I get the point."

Spike felt a hurt that he had never felt before. He thought his emotions were intense before but with this soul they were ten times worse. He swore that he could actually feel his heart breaking.

"Look, I don't want to end up hating each other again. We've come to far for that." Buffy looked at him but he refused to meet her gaze. "We both have to move on now. I'm sorry but we just can't be together. It's not gonna happen."

They stood there in silence for what seemed like an eternity. When she realized that neither of them had anything more to say, she quietly turned on her heel and walked out once again on a broken Spike.

**************************************************************

Buffy made her way to the Magic Box. It was closed now but Anya gave her a key in case she ever had to get in for some emergency research while on her nightly patrols. Sometimes she went there just to be alone when life got to be too stressful. This was one of those times.

She sat at the research table reflecting on what had just happened. She didn't mean for their conversation to turn out like that. No matter what she intends to say when they talk, it always ends up coming out utterly brutal.

The bell on the door to the Magic Box rang as someone opened it. 'Damn I forgot to lock the door,' she thought. Buffy looked up to see Anya's vengeance demon pal Halfrek standing there.

"Anya's not here." Buffy said coldly, remembering how Halfrek had locked all of her friends and family in her house during her birthday party with no way of escaping.

"Oh that's too bad." Halfrek whined. "I so wanted to talk to her. I came by and saw that the light was on so I thought she might be here."

"Well she's not." Buffy replied in the same frosty tone.

"I'll just look for her somewhere else then. But before I go, since you're here, I wanted to ask you something."

Buffy just glared at her and waited for her question. Halfrek strolled over to the table and took a seat next to Buffy.

"How do you know William?" Halfrek finally asked. "He is a vampire. Isn't that right?"

"You're very observant" Buffy said sarcastically, not wanting to answer any more of her stupid questions.

"If he's a vampire, what was he doing at your birthday party?"

"To make a long story short, Spike was evil, the government put a chip in his head so he could no longer hurt humans, and he started helping me and my friends so he can feel useful again. Any more questions?" Buffy asked obviously irritated but Halfrek paid no mind to her attitude.

"Spike? Is that what he's calling himself these days?" the demon chuckled. "Well, his look has certainly changed since the last time I saw him, that's for sure."

"How do you know each other?" Buffy asked, suddenly interested.

"William and I go way back. It was the late 1800's if I remember correctly. That boy was madly in love with me." She said with a reminiscent smile on her face. "He was quite a piece of work. Always following me around with those bloody awful poems of his. All my friends thought he was such a bore. One day, at a party, a male friend of mine stole one of William's poems right out of his hands and started reading it aloud to all the guests. I was deeply embarrassed and ran off. I knew the poem was about me and my friends knew it too. He chased after me as he always did and started going on about how his poems may be no good but they were just words. He told me he loved me and said that he may be a bad poet but he was a good man. I replied to that by telling him that he was nothing to me. He was beneath me."

"Cecily." Buffy said. "You're Cecily?"

"So you've heard of me? I guess it's good to know I've been remembered. Although I'm not surprised he still carries that with him. People always tend to remember the bad things in life more than the good, don't they?"

Her last statement really made Buffy think. It was true. Buffy was spending so much of her energy remembering all the awful things that Spike had done that she just let the past two years and all of his heroic intentions fly right out of her mind.

"Boy, I really screwed that one up didn't I?" Halfrek asked, mostly to herself.

"What do you mean?" Buffy asked, now totally engrossed with their conversation.

"That night is the beginning of my story on how I became a vengeance demon. In a strange way, It was William that had led me to my decision."

"How so?" Buffy questioned.

"After the incident at the party, I told all of my friends about what had happened between William and I. We all had a good chuckle at his expense." Halfrek continued. "Later that night I met a ravishingly handsome man. He courted me for a while and was a perfect gentleman. However, his kindness didn't last very long. He beat me, cheated on me and belittled me every chance he got until I couldn't even remember why I was with him in the first place. One night he just stood there and watched while some thug manhandled me. He didn't even try to help me. He was a pathetic excuse for a man who was so overcome with fear for his own life that he didn't even think to try and protect mine. I finally got up the courage to leave him but that didn't stop me from running into the arms of at least three more men that ended up treating me the exact same way."

"So it was those bad experience that made you turn to vengeance?" Buffy asked.

"Yes. For fifty years I was part of the man haters club just as Anya is but when I heard of Anya and what a great job she was doing, I decided to let her take over completely. That's when I went in a different direction and started helping all the neglected children. I guess I just got tired of seeing all those poor women with broken hearts. Anya doesn't even know that I started out that way so could we just keep that bit of information between us?"

Buffy nodded. "So what does all that have to do with William?"

"After all of those horrible experiences I had with men, I couldn't help but realize how wrong I was to have let William go. I didn't even consider giving him a chance. All of my friends thought that I was way too good for him and could do so much better. I knew all along that if I gave him a chance and it didn't work out that my friends would never let me forget it and the words ‘I told you so’ would be forever implanted in my brain. The truth is that I probably wasn't good enough for him. I should have been honored to have a man like him love me. I was so stupid. I might have actually been happy."

"I'm sorry." Buffy told her with a blank stare as she was deep in thought.

"Don't be. That's just the way it goes sometimes. That's actually why I came here in the first place. I need to you tell Anya something for me."

"What is it?"

"Just tell her that I've left town and that I wish her and Xander all the happiness in the world. Before they were going to get married, I said some things to her to make her rethink this whole wedding thing. I guess my bitterness got in the way. I truly want her to have everything that I couldn't have. So tell her that I'm sorry. Xander is a good man. Tell her to never let him go. I better get going. It was nice talking to you."

Halfrek headed toward the door but turned around right before walking through it.

"By the way," she said. "Dawn is doing a lot better now. I no longer hear her cries. I just thought you'd take comfort in knowing that."

Halfrek walked out the door and out of Buffy's sight.

Buffy pondered everything that Halfrek had just told her. Then she panicked. A soft whimper left her throat and she held her face in her hands. Then she picked her head up and threw it back as if she were about to contact the heavens.

"Oh my God!" She cried. "What have I done?"

To Be Continued......
Decisions by Weeza
Once again, Buffy had put off doing anything about fixing what had happened between her and Spike for about a week and a half. She spent her nights patrolling and then lying in bed tossing and turning because she couldn't get him off her mind. What Halfrek had said to her in the Magic Box played over and over in her head like a broken record.

Buffy had always seemed to count on Spike loving her no matter what she did but for the first time she thought what it might be like if he took her words to heart and actually decided to move on. The last time she told him to move on he was so upset that he ended up sleeping with Anya. Buffy could kick herself for waiting this long to do something about it. What if it was already too late? What if she had lost him forever? She couldn't bare it if she lost him just because she couldn't muster up the courage to give him a chance. Halfrek obviously regretted passing him up and Buffy didn't want a life like that, a life full of regrets. The only thing that stopped her was fear. The same fears she always felt when she had to make a huge decision involving Spike.

Buffy slammed a fist into her mattress and violently turned on her side.

"Why can't anything ever be simple!" She screamed at Mr. Gordo, the stuffed pig that lay beside her on a pillow.

"Buffy? Are you all right?" Dawn asked after hearing her frustrated question to Mr. Gordo.

Buffy sat up to find Dawn standing in her doorway.

"Yeah I'm fine." Buffy huffed as she roughly threw herself back on the bed.

"Sure!" Dawn said sarcastically. "You are beating a hole in your mattress and yelling at a stuffed animal because you're fine." Dawn paused for a moment and observed Buffy lying there with her hands over her face. She's never seen her so frustrated before. "This is about Spike isn't it?"

"Of course not." Buffy lied.

"Buffy.." Dawn said in her famous 'give it up cause I know you're lying' tone.

"Fine" Buffy groaned. "Yes, it's about Spike. I just didn't want to bring him up because I know how angry you are with him."

"Buffy, do you think I like being mad at him? I hate it. I don't want things to be like this. Everything is so messed up but I can't just forget about what he's done. But I don't want you to think that you can't talk to me if there is some kind of problem with him just because I'm disgusted with what he did."

"Good. I was hoping you'd feel that way because there is something I've been meaning to tell you." Buffy said.

"What is it?" Dawn asked with fear evident in her voice.

"Don't worry. It's nothing bad." Buffy assured her. "It's just....Spike has a soul."

"What? How?" Dawn couldn't believe her ears.

"After what he tried to do that night, he went to Africa to find a way to get his soul. He found someone who gave him painful tests to pass. If he passed, then he would be granted his soul." Buffy sighed and looked at a confused Dawn. "He did it for me, Dawn. He wanted to make himself a better person."

"Thank God!" Dawn exclaimed. "Do you have any idea how hard it is to try and make yourself feel hate toward someone you love? It's exhausting!"

Buffy was surprised at Dawn's reaction. She knew how angry Dawn was at what Spike had done but she had no idea how hard it was for her to be this angry with him. Hearing Dawn say that she loved him was a little awkward. Buffy wished that she could figure out exactly what it was she felt for Spike. It seemed so easy for everyone else. Everything seemed so black and white as far as everyone else was concerned. Her friends all seemed to either love him or hate him. Buffy's feelings were somewhere in between. She just couldn't seem to define her feelings for him.

"This doesn't mean I can forget about what he tried to do to you." Dawn continued. "But he's obviously trying to turn his life around, so I guess I can try too. Besides, Spike getting his soul for you was just..." Dawn couldn't quite find the words to express how moved she was by his actions.

"I know" Buffy said. "I had the same speechless reaction, except with a lot more tears."

"So what are you going to do now?" Dawn questioned.

"I don't know." Buffy answered. "That's what I've been up here trying to figure out and let me tell you, poor Mr. Gordo has gotten an earful."

Dawn chuckled then stood up to leave Buffy alone with her thoughts.

"Hey Dawn!" Buffy yelled out to her before she could walk out her door. "Can you tell Willow to come in here. I wanted to talk to her about something. I think she's in her room."

"Sure."

While Dawn was off getting Willow, Buffy was trying to come up with a plan. She couldn't just run up to him and say she'd changed her mind. That was getting old and she knew he wouldn't put up with her indecisiveness much longer. She didn't want to be that obvious about it anyway. She knew how Spike was and if she ever admitted that she was wrong, especially when it came to a relationship between them, he'd never let her forget it. She had to be subtle about it. That's where Willow comes into the plan. She was always smart about these things. She'd know what to do. As if on cue, Willow walked into Buffy's bedroom and took a seat next to her on the bed.

"Hey Buffy." Willow greeted. "Dawn said you wanted to talk to me."

"Yeah." Buffy looked down and twiddled her fingers nervously. "Um, Willow, Have you talked to Spike lately?"

Willow gave her a sweet sympathetic smile. Spike had told her all about how Buffy had brushed him off the other day just when he thought that they were getting somewhere.

"Yes. I have seen him quite a few times lately." Willow answered. "He told me what happened the last time he saw you. He was pretty upset."

"Willow, I think I really screwed up." Buffy admitted. "Halfrek came by the magic box after I had that talk with Spike. I found out that she knew him before he was turned. He was in love with her and she just blew him off. She wouldn't give him a chance because of what her friends might have thought and now she regrets it. What if I've made the same stupid mistake?"

Willow couldn't believe what she was hearing. After what Spike had told her, she thought that any kind of relationship between them was completely done for. She was stunned that Buffy was admitting this to her but also relieved that she had decided to start confiding in her again.

"Don't worry Buffy. He loves you. You still have time to change things if that's what you want."

"But that's the thing. I don't know what I want. Why do I feel this way? I mean....It's Spike....slayer of slayers....a vampire. Aren't we supposed to hate each other?"

"Life is never that simple Buffy. The heart has reasons which reason does not know."

"Ok Willow. You are really starting to freak me out now. You sound like a fortune cookie." Buffy giggled.

"Sorry." Willow blushed. "I just meant that you can't help who you have feelings for. It's not something that anyone has ever been able to control. I mean, look at me and Tara. In high school I was head over heels for Xander and then Oz came along and I loved him so much. Who would have ever thought that I would have fallen so deeply in love with Tara? She meant everything to me." Willow looked toward the floor and tried to keep her emotions in check. Every time she thought about Tara, her heart broke just a little bit more.

"You're right. You are. Completely. But I still can't shake this feeling that being with him is wrong. I know that's just the slayer in me. But in spite of all of that, part of me really wants to give this thing with him another try and the other part of me can't believe that I just said that. I just don't know where to start."

"I do." Willow said with a huge grin on her face. "Spike said that he was going to The Bronze tonight. Actually, I think he's doing it to try and get over you. He said that he was tired of loving someone that he knew could never love him back. He looked pretty determined, so you better move fast. Put on your sexiest dress. Make yourself irresistible. We're going to The Bronze."

Buffy looked at herself in the mirror. She had to admit it. She looked good. She just hoped it would be enough. From what Willow had said, he sounded pretty determined to finally move on. She couldn't believe that she was doing this. Getting all dressed up and making herself pretty for Spike is something she never thought that she'd be doing in a million years.

Willow walked up to Buffy's room to see if she was finally done getting ready. Willow took a sharp intake of breath as she saw her. She looked beautiful. She was wearing a gorgeous red party dress with twin shoulder straps, a sloping back and red strappy heels. Her golden hair was shiny and curled slightly at the ends so it gently swept against her neck. Her make-up was perfect. It looked so elegant with perfectly natural colors highlighting her features. She never looked more beautiful. It was as if there was a constant glow around her. She was a vision.

"Wow Buffy! You look.....Wow!" Willow was stunned speechless. "And it only took you four hours." She added.

"Oh my God! Has it really been that long?" Buffy asked with panic in her voice. "We have to get going. The sun has already set. He may already be there."

Willow couldn't help but be amused at how Buffy was acting. From that very moment, she knew how much Buffy liked Spike. She looked like a teenager getting ready for her first date. She'd never seen her so nervous about anything. She couldn't ever remember a time where it ever took her that long to get ready to go out. She put extra special effort into her appearance tonight.

"Are you sure I look ok?" Buffy asked.

"You're gorgeous Buffy!" Willow answered.

"Are you sure?"

"Yes! Now come on, let's go!"

The Bronze was packed. She knew it would be harder to find Spike in here tonight. She couldn't believe how crowded it was.

Willow led her and Dawn over to a table where Xander and Anya were waiting for them. Seeing her other friends sitting there made her uneasy. She knew how Xander felt about Spike, which made it so much harder for her to go through with this.

Before they even got a chance to sit down, Anya waved her left hand in their faces.

"Xander and I are engaged again!" Anya beamed. "We're getting married! For Real this time!

"Anya!" Xander exclaimed. "I thought we were going to tell them together."

"I know. I'm sorry. I just got so excited. I couldn't wait."

Buffy hadn't seen Anya this happy since the first time they were supposed to get married. She couldn't help but be worried though. She didn't want to see either one of them go through the pain they went through at their last wedding. She hoped it would last this time, but she had faith that it would. Xander was pretty level headed. She knew he wouldn't make the same mistake twice. She knew how much he truly loved Anya.

Congratulations were given from everyone along with hugs and best wishes. They were all so happy for them and relieved when Anya told them that it would be a smaller more intimate setting. Buffy didn't think she could handle keeping Xander's relatives away from the alcohol again.

When things started to settle down between them, Dawn started looking around the Bronze.

"Is Spike going to be here tonight? I was kind of hoping to get the chance to talk to him."

"I'm not sure Dawn." Willow lied. "He might show up, I'm not really sure."

Dawn didn't know that the whole purpose for going to The Bronze that night was so Buffy could look for Spike. They wanted to make sure that stayed between just the two of them. It would make everything much too nerve wracking if everybody knew why Buffy was there.

"Why are you looking for Spike?" Xander asked Dawn. "I thought you wanted to get rid of him as much as I do."

"Didn't anyone tell him?" Dawn asked.

"Tell me what?" Xander inquired.

"Spike has a soul." Buffy blurted out. "Willow, fill him in."

Buffy didn't feel like having to explain the whole soul story again. But the real reason she wanted Willow to tell them was so they would be distracted long enough to let her search the crowd for Spike. Her eyes scanned the crowd but there was no sign of him yet.

"And you believed him?" Xander asked, bringing Buffy out of search mode. "He tells you he has a soul and you all just take his word for it? I've seen him since he's returned and he doesn't seem a whole lot different to me."

Buffy considered this. She knew he was telling the truth. She saw his horrible break down first hand but in a way Xander was right. Except for trying to get past his sins, he didn't seem a whole lot different. He was the same old Spike. Still sarcastic when he needed to be but not quite as confident as he used to be. His disposition was a lot sweeter and a bit friendlier but besides that his personality hasn't changed all that much.

"He's not lying Xander." Willow said, trying to convince him. "I've been spending a lot of time with him lately and I know he's telling the truth. He's going through a lot. He's remembering all of his victims one by one through visions and dreams."

"Good!" Xander said with an angry expression. "It's about time he suffered for all the pain he's caused."

No one responded to Xander's comment. It wasn't because they agreed with him but simply because they didn't want to continue the conversation. They all knew that sticking up for Spike wouldn't do any kind of good where Xander was concerned.

Xander secretly respected Spike for what he had done. Of course he would take that bit if information to his grave but in a way it gave him a little more respect for Spike. Also, he knew that if it weren't for that conversation that he'd had with him, he might have never realized how deeply he had felt for Anya. Talking with Spike is what led him to proposing to her once again. Spike was always brutally honest. He hated how he made him see things about himself that no one else could. But at the same time he was glad he did.

Buffy continued to search all over for Spike. She was getting butterflies in her stomach and was frustrated that she hadn't been able to find him yet.

Suddenly she spotted him in the one place she should have looked first. He was sitting at the bar. He was laughing. She moved her head to get a better look at what he was doing. The crowd was so huge that night that it was hard to see with so many people in her way.

She finally got a clear look at him.

He was with another girl.

To Be Continued....
Jealous Much? by Weeza
Buffy witnessed a conversation going on with Spike and some other girl at the bar. He was laughing. They both were. They were leaning into each other and touching each other's arms in a flirtatious way as they chatted and to make matters worse she was beautiful.

She had long dark brown bordering on black hair. Her thick gorgeous shiny hair landed in waves just above her waist. Buffy suddenly remembered the comment that Spike had made about her hair and how much he loved her long golden locks. She instantly regretted her spontaneous haircut even though it had grown a bit more since then.

His mystery woman could have been a model. She had a beautiful face with classic features. She had almond shaped eyes, full lips and a perfect little nose not to mention flawless skin. No matter how great Willow thought that Buffy looked or the great job that Buffy herself thought she did on her appearance tonight, she suddenly felt completely frumpy and plain. Why would Spike want her when there was a girl like that who was undoubtedly interested in him?

This woman had confidence that permeated the room. Every man that walked by her seemed absorbed by her. They all seemed to glare in her direction. Buffy could see the hopeful look in the eyes of many men. She could see the jealousy in their expressions and the apparent wish that it was them that was talking with her like that, not Spike. Her Spike.

After Buffy had intently studied the girl, her visions traveled to study Spike. He looked a lot different than she had ever seen him. His brown hair had grown in even more but he still had some blonde hair covering the top that was gelled and curled. His black T-shirt had been replaced with a beautiful deep blue button down dress shirt that brought out his intense blue eyes. He looked irresistible. He had a smile that lit up his eyes and made them twinkle. Buffy had never seen that expression when he was with her.

She saw Spike lean over and whisper something into her ear which made her belt out a giggle and touch his cheek playfully. Buffy couldn't believe what she was seeing. When did Spike become charming?

Buffy suddenly noticed that her knee was bouncing up and down in anger underneath the table. It should be her sitting there with him making him smile like that. Was she jealous? She tried to convince herself that she wasn't by making her leg stop shaking. But that still didn't stop her imagination getting away with her as she pictured herself gouging out this girl's eyes and chopping her head off with an axe. Violent? Absolutely, but that's a slayer for ya.

"I'll be right back. I'm gonna run to the bathroom." Buffy said before quickly rising from her seat.

Buffy decided to take the long route to the bathroom, which meant having to walk past the bar. Coincidence? I think not.

Buffy strolled slowly past Spike. She watched him out of the corner of her eye as she walked past. She wanted to see the look on his face when he saw how dressed up she was tonight. But as she walked past, he made no effort to look her way. He did see her out of his peripheral vision but did his absolute best not to let her catch him staring.

As Buffy walked past, her slayer senses told her something else about the girl that Spike was with. She was human.

Rage formed in the pit of her stomach. She was angry because he hadn't even attempted to look at her and she was angry because his "date" was human. What was the deal with that anyway? It would be one thing if the girl were a demon of some kind. At least that would have made Buffy feel a little better about the whole situation. But no! She had to be a nice normal human girl, which would make it even harder for Buffy to compete with.

Buffy walked into the bathroom and looked into the mirror. She lightly dabbed some cool water on her face and did her best to avoid messing up her make-up. She took some deep breaths to try and calm herself down. She couldn't believe this was happening. She finally realized what she wanted and now it might be too late.

Buffy went back to the table where her friends were. She didn't bother passing Spike again. What good would it do?

"Hey Buffy!" Dawn said. "Did you see Spike over there? Looks like he's got himself a date. She's pretty and he's looking pretty good himself."

Buffy shot Dawn an evil glare. She knew her kid sister was just trying to get a rise out of her.

"I hadn't noticed." Buffy fibbed.

"Right." Dawn rolled her eyes. "I'll be right back. I'm gonna go over and talk to him for a minute."

Dawn got up off her chair but Buffy grabbed her arm.

"Why? Why are you going over there?" Buffy questioned.

"Buffy relax! I'm just going over to say hi and maybe start to patch things up between us. I just want him to know that I'm not upset anymore that's all. But don't worry, I'll give you a full report. Dawn winked at her and headed toward Spike's direction.

As soon as Spike spotted Dawn coming toward him, he immediately got up off his barstool and stood to face her.

"Hey Nibblet." Spike greeted.

He was extremely nervous that she decided to come over to him. He didn't know what to expect. He was afraid that she'd end up slapping him across the face too just as Buffy did even though he thought he deserved it.

"Hi Spike." Dawn smiled.

Her smile made Spike relax slightly. He smiled back at her as he tried to decide what to say next.

"Um, Dawn, I'd like you to meet my date. This is Joanna."

"Hi!" Dawn greeted. "It's nice to meet you."

"Hi." Joanna said as she shook Dawn's hand.

Dawn's attention veered back toward Spike.

"I really like your hair that way Spike. You should have it like that all the time."

"Thanks, Bit." Spike said confused.

He wasn't sure exactly what was going on. The last time he saw her she treated him like a disease. She didn't even want him coming anywhere near her although he perfectly understood why.

"Spike let me cut to the chase." Dawn said as she gently pulled him a few feet away from his date so they could have a little more privacy. "I came over here because I wanted to patch things up with you. I was so angry with you and seeing you again hurt me more than I thought possible. It's just that I loved you so much and when you tried to hurt Buffy, you hurt me too. I just couldn't stand the thought of you hurting one of us like that."

Spike lowered his head and tears formed in his eyes and threatened to fall.

"But Buffy told me where you went when you left. What you did for her was amazing." Dawn touched his cheek and his teary eyes met hers. "I see now how much you love her. I always knew you did but getting your soul back for her at any cost proves to me that you would do anything for her. I forgive you Spike and I love you."

Dawn pulled Spike into a huge bear hug. He let a few tears fall but tried to contain himself so he wasn't embarrassed in front of his date.

"Thanks Nibblet. That means a lot to me. I love you too. Unfortunately though, it didn't do a whole lot of good where Buffy is concerned. I know this soul doesn't make a difference in how she feels about me. She still can't love me." He sighed and tried harder not to cry.

Before Dawn had a chance to respond, she heard a huge aggravated sigh come from Spike's date. Joanna stood up, walked over to Spike and pulled him toward the dance floor and away from Dawn.

Spike was angry at her rudeness. He wasn't finished talking to Dawn yet but he didn't say anything to her about it. He was suddenly a bit depressed after thinking about Buffy and didn't want to rehash past uglies with a woman he barely knew.

Joanna had pulled Spike into a very slow and sensual dance. She wrapped her arms around him and Spike pulled her closer to him silently wishing that it were Buffy in his arms.

Buffy watched as the couple swayed on the dance floor. Dawn came back to the table fuming because his date so rudely interrupted their intense and personal conversation.

"That woman is a bitch!" Dawn snarled.

"Dawn, watch your mouth!" Buffy scolded but was secretly smiling inside knowing that this woman was far from perfect.

"I'm sorry." Dawn groaned. "But Spike and I were in the middle of a conversation and she just pulled him away from me. What is her problem? Spike could do so much better."

Buffy just grinned at that. Maybe she still had a chance after all.

Buffy and Dawn continued to watch Spike dance with the dark haired girl. She was all over him on the dance floor and it was making them both sick. Buffy's knee started bouncing in anger once again and the murderous thoughts she was having about this girl had returned.

"Oh my God!" Dawn exclaimed. "That bitch just grabbed Spike's butt!"

"What?" Buffy shouted as her bouncing knee went flying up in a rage and hit the table from underneath making everyone's drinks spill over.

"Gee Buffy, Jealous much?" Dawn said after seeing Buffy's unintentional outburst.

Buffy ignored Dawn, barely even noticing the spillage and suddenly got up from the table and angrily walked over toward the dancing couple. When she was within a few feet of them she stopped to take in a deep breath and settle her anger. She walked up to them and politely tapped his date on the shoulder.

"May I cut in?" Buffy asked ever so sweetly.

"No. We're busy." His date snapped.

Buffy pushed her aside holding back her slayer strength. But she put enough muscle into it so the girl knew that she meant business.

"Thanks." Buffy said after pushing her and grabbed Spike to start dancing with him.

"Hey!" Joanna yelled. "I thought I said No!"

Joanna actually had the nerve to grab Buffy's arm and try to pull her away from him. Buffy chuckled to herself as she shook her arm away from the girl and wrapped her hand around her wrist with extreme strength. Buffy waited until she winced in pain before she started applying even more pressure to the girl's delicate wrist.

"You really don't want to mess with me." Buffy snarled.

Joanna was obviously surprised at the petite blonde's strength and rubbed her sore wrist after Buffy had finally let go. Joanna knew she wouldn't be able to take this girl on so she just gave Buffy a venomous look and stormed off.

Spike just stood there in complete disbelief as he watched this little cat fight play out before him.

Buffy watched him stand before her with a stunned expression.

"What?" Buffy asked with apparent anger in her tone.

Spike just shook his head and intelligently decided not to start with the obviously ticked off slayer.

"I just wanted to talk to you and she was being rude." Buffy answered an unasked question.

"Right." Spike said smiling inwardly. "I guess I should thank you though."

"Why?" Buffy looked confused.

"Because after she pulled me away from Nibblet, I knew the date was over. Nobody pulls me away from a moment with my Lil' Bit and gets away with it. I was just trying to be a gentleman and finish our date before I told her to get lost. It was the least I could do. Besides I'd only just met her last night so no big loss. So what was it that you wanted to talk to me about?"

Buffy quickly searched her mind for a good reason to have pulled him away from his date.

"I just came over here to tell you that the gang is having a movie night tomorrow at my house. I was wondering if you'd want to come. Dawn really wants you there."

Buffy hoped that wasn't too obvious.

"Well, if the Bit wants me there then I'm all for it."

Buffy got closer to him as they continued to dance and smiled as she put her face against his chest.

Spike was surprised that she continued to dance with him. He thought that she would run off after saying whatever it was she wanted to say. But she continued to hold on tight as they gently swayed to the music.

"By the way Buffy, you look beautiful tonight." Spike said into her ear in just above a whisper.

Buffy's heart jumped and the butterflies in her stomach fluttered wildly.

"I didn't think you noticed." Buffy said.

"I always notice."

They both smiled and finished the rest of their dance in silence.

To Be Continued.......
Microwave Popcorn by Weeza
Dancing with Spike felt a lot better than it should have. It felt so good to let him hold her in his arms while they danced. Surprisingly enough, everyone must have been too busy cleaning up the mess she had made of their drinks to notice what was going on between her and Spike. At least that's what Buffy wanted to think. She didn't really know what her friends had seen but not one of them had said a word about it. If Xander had witnessed anything he was sure doing a good job of hiding it. He was the first person she expected to be on her case about the whole scene. Maybe he was too preoccupied with his engagement to care or maybe he had actually gotten past her attraction to Spike. She seriously doubted it but at least he seemed to be trying.

**********************************************************

Anya woke up in Xander's arms feeling more content than she has in a really long time. She looked up at his sleeping face and smiled. She was so relieved that things had worked out between them. She couldn't be happier knowing that she was going to be able to marry her best friend after all.

"Xander." She said waiting for him to open his eyes. "I'm so proud of you!"

"Huh?" Xander was still trying to wake up and not at all sure what she was talking about.

"Well....you know, the Spike and Buffy thing."

"And again I say, huh?"

"You didn't make a fuss last night while they were dancing. I'm proud of you." Anya explained.

"Anya, I'm not getting involved with Buffy's life anymore. She's a big girl. She can make her own decisions. If something happens that I think she needs to know to keep her from getting hurt then I'll let her know. Other than that, I'm going to let her live her own life. I'm not getting involved anymore. Besides, I have a more important woman in my life to tend to." Xander stroked her hair and looked down at Anya who had her head rested upon his chest.

Anya sighed happily and lifted her head to give Xander a sweet morning kiss. She once again rested her head upon his chest and wrapped her arm around his waist.

"I love you Xander."

"I love you too Anya." Xander said as he continued to lovingly stroke her hair and smiled.

**********************************************************

Buffy spent the whole day trying to clean up her house for the gang's popcorn and movie night. To say that she was nervous would be an understatement. All of her friends were going to be over at her house including Spike. She wanted things to go better for them this time around but she still didn't feel comfortable getting all cuddly with Spike in front of her friends. She was afraid Xander would make a scene because she still didn't know how he felt about everything that has happened recently. She really hasn't had the chance to talk to him lately considering the second try at a wedding he and Anya still had to plan for.

Buffy kept glancing at the clock in a panic. She would look at the time, about every three minutes as if the time would speed up or slow down if she didn't. She asked Spike to come over earlier than the others. She wanted to be comfortable in his presence and figured it would be less awkward if she could spend some time with him before her friends show up. The sun was almost down so she knew that he would be there soon.

Buffy still didn't get the chance to shower and change out of the sweats and T-shirt she usually wore when she went into cleaning mode. She had just sent Dawn to the store to get more snacks for the group. She hoped Dawn would get back quickly so there was someone there to answer the door if anyone were to arrive. Her shower would just have to wait since she was the only one to get the door in case anyone did show up. She just hoped that Dawn would get home before Spike got there. Buffy was sweaty and tired from cleaning and her hair was a complete mess. She'd be horrified if Spike arrived to witness the mess of her appearance.

Ten minutes of waiting impatiently had passed and there was still no sign of Dawn. Buffy finally heard a knock at the door and hoped that it was Dawn who just forgot her key or something. She peeked out the window and saw Spike standing there. She let out a quiet groan at the thought of how worn down she must look. Her lack of self-esteem at that very moment almost prevented her from opening the door.

She slowly opened the door with a smile. Spike smiled back and he couldn't help but think about how cute she looked even without the make up or combed hair.

"Hello luv." Spike greeted with a shy smile.

"Hi." Buffy said and looked awkwardly at Spike. "I'm sorry I look like such a mess. I haven't had a chance to get ready yet. Dawn's at the store and I needed to be around in case someone showed up and that's why I look so awful." Buffy pouted.

Spike looked at her with a completely stunned expression. He stepped toward her and stood right in front of her. He looked at her with his intense blue eyes.

"Don't be silly. You always look beautiful to me."

Buffy's heart sang. He always seemed to know just what to say to make her feel special. She just wished that it didn't take a vampire to make her feel that way.

"Thank you." Buffy said as she looked down and blushed.

She backed away from Spike and stepped up on the first step toward the bedrooms upstairs.

"I'm going to go upstairs and get showered and changed. Could you answer the door if anyone shows up?"

"Yeah, no problem luv." Spike nodded.

"Great. Thanks. Could you maybe make some microwave popcorn too? I don't know when Dawn will be back and I want to have some kind of snack ready for when people get here. The popcorn is in the cabinet over the stove on the first shelf."

"Sure. I'll get right on it." Spike said.

Buffy headed upstairs to take her shower while Spike headed off to the kitchen. She felt so much better after her shower and started to search her closet for something cute but comfortable to wear. They were only going to be sitting around on the couch after all so there was no need to over do it. She finally chose a pair of dark blue jeans and a cute but plain black shirt.

She looked herself over in the mirror when she thought she smelled something burning. She sniffed twice thinking that it may just be her imagination but quickly discovered that it wasn't when the fire alarm started to go off.

In a panic, she rushed downstairs and entered a smoke filled kitchen.

"Spike!" She coughed. "What happened in here?"

"I don't know." Spike answered. "I'm so sorry Buffy. I must have left the popcorn in too long."

"Spike, how could you burn microwave popcorn? Didn't you read the instructions?"

"Instructions?" Spike looked bewildered.

"Yes Spike, instructions. You know, those little words on the package that tell you how long it should be in the microwave?" Buffy said with a sarcastic tone.

Spike frowned and looked down feeling like a complete idiot.

Buffy stood up on a chair and snatched the batteries out of the smoke alarm to stop that loud and annoying high-pitched beep that came from it.

Buffy tried to fan the smoke away from her eyes which were starting to burn and opened the microwave to find the charred remains of the bag of popcorn that Spike amazingly managed to screw up.

Buffy looked over at an embarrassed Spike. She gave him a disbelieving look.

He looked at her expression and started to get angry and defensive.

"Stop looking at me like that Slayer! What did you expect? I'm a vampire! I barely even eat anything else besides blood and you expect me to know how to make microwave popcorn? You're the one who asked me to make the bloody popcorn!"

"Yes, but I didn't ask you to burn down my kitchen!"

Buffy stalked up to Spike with an angry expression but her expression faded when she saw his hurt and angry face.

Her frown turned into a smile and she started laughing hysterically. She started snorting within her laughter and she could barely breathe. The whole situation suddenly seemed so funny to her.

Spike looked confused as he stared at the laughing slayer who now had tears rolling down her face from laughing so hard.

Spike's expression also started to take a more humorous turn after seeing the slayer bent over with her hand on her stomach, completely hysterical.

Spike started laughing himself and his chuckles got even louder as he looked around the kitchen to see what a mess he made trying to do a simple thing like use a microwave.

Buffy wiped the tears off her face and stood up. She took deep breaths and tried to calm herself down. She looked over at a laughing Spike who was also trying to contain his amusement.

Their eyes met and they both stopped laughing at the exact same time. Silence filled the room as they continued to stare into each other's eyes.

Spike took a deep unnecessary breath and leaned forward to press his lips against hers. A pleasured moan escaped her lips as her arms wrapped around his neck. She pulled him closer to her and deepened the kiss.

She pulled back from him and smiled. She rested her forehead upon his as they continued to hold each other.

"I missed this." Buffy whispered.

"What did you miss?" Spike asked.

"Your lips on mine."

That was all the invitation he needed and he pulled her forward for another spine tingling kiss.

She couldn't believe how much she had missed being with him like this. She knew this was what she wanted but she couldn't help feeling that this was still wrong somehow. Part of her was just afraid that it wouldn't work out and they would both end up completely broken hearted. She just couldn't seem to resist him no matter how hard she tried.

She pulled away from him again and looked into his eyes.

"Why can't I just stay away from you?" She asked breathlessly.

"Because you don't want to." He answered.

He leaned in and kissed her again. This time it only lasted a few seconds before he felt her pull away again. They barely noticed the light sound of a bell that was coming from the living room.

The doorbell rang.

To Be Continued...
Gains & Losses by Weeza
Buffy opened the door to be greeted by two smiling faces.

"Hi guys!" Buffy smiled. "Come on in."

Xander and Anya walked into the living room and they both spotted Spike standing across the room looking nervous.

"Spike." Xander acknowledged him with a nod.

"Hey, Uh, Willow told me about your engagement. Congratulations! I'm glad you two decided to give it another go." Spike said almost a little too enthusiastically.

"Thank you!" Anya responded, trying to break the tension. "Did you see my ring?" She asked as she walked up to show him her new piece of jewelry.

Spike took her hand and inspected the ring.

Xander inwardly cringed at the sight of Anya's hand in Spike's. Xander knew that there were no romantic feelings between the two but he couldn't help but still feel that twinge of jealousy wash over him every time they were near each other. His wounds were still too fresh to be able to completely get over past events.

Willow walked in the door and pulled Xander away from his intense observation of Spike and Anya's continued discussion about her engagement ring.

Willow shot Xander and Buffy a huge grin before making her way over to a very uncomfortable looking Spike. She knew he was probably hoping someone would save him from Anya's incessant yapping about the planning of her new wedding.

"Hi Anya!" Willow greeted, now standing between the two of them. "I'm sorry to interrupt but I really need to speak with Spike."

"Oh, that's ok. We'll just finish up later then." Anya said and then started to make her way toward Xander.

Willow pulled Spike into the kitchen and he let out a sigh of relief.

"Thanks, Red. I owe you one. Hearing Anya talk about her wedding is one thing but when she starts asking my opinion about material for brides maids dresses, that's where I draw the line."

Willow chuckled. "I hope she goes traditional this time because if I end up in burlap & blood larvae I may be the one skipping out on the wedding. So, how is everything going with Buffy?" Willow asked suddenly changing the subject.

"Pretty good." Spike smiled. "Actually, it's been very good. We kissed tonight. It was here in the kitchen right before Xander and Anya showed up. You know, I swear I think Xander has radar sometimes. It's like he can sense the very moment that I'm happy and then shows up to purposely cut my moment short."

Willow completely ignored his comment about Xander. She was way too engrossed in the fact that Spike and Buffy had kissed.

Willow squealed. "That's great! It's about time you two started with the smoochies. How did it happen?

It seemed strange to see Willow this excited over a potential relationship between he and Buffy. He never thought that he would see the day when one of her friends would want them to be together but it was nice to have someone on his side for once.

"It happened right after I almost set the kitchen on fire trying to make microwave popcorn"

"You almost set a fire making popcorn?" Willow asked with a look of disbelief. "I was wondering why it smelled burnt in here."

Xander walked into the kitchen just in time to hear Willow's last comments. He looked over at Spike with amusement and started laughing.

"Awww, what happened Spike? Did the ex big bad try to slay the evil popcorn?"

Spike was about to retort when Willow spoke before he got the chance.

"I wouldn't talk if I were you Xander. If I remember correctly, the last time you tried to make popcorn for us, Buffy's mom had to save you from making the grave mistake of defrosting it."

Xander opened his mouth to fight back but stopped when Buffy walked in.

"Looks like the party has moved into the kitchen and someone forgot to invite me." Buffy said. "Come on guys. Let's move it into the living room. Dawn finally got here with the snacks. She said she took so long because there were long lines but the smile she has on her face tells me that she was probably flirting with the check out guy."

The gang strolled into the living room to get settled and watch a movie.

Xander settled down on the floor with Anya comfortably leaning back against him. Dawn took a seat in the recliner they had just recently purchased. Spike sat on the middle cushion of the couch with Willow seated to his right and Buffy to his left.

As the movie started Buffy shut off the lights and let the glow from the TV screen illuminate the room.

About fifteen minutes into the movie, Buffy draped a blanket around herself and partially over Spike. She waited another fifteen minutes before she grabbed his hand underneath the blanket and entwined her fingers with his.

She didn't want to make it look obvious that she draped the blanket over themselves for the specific purpose of holding his hand. She also didn't want him to think that she was trying to hide her feelings for him again for the benefit of her friends. She knew how much it would upset him even though hiding their developing relationship was exactly what she was trying to do. She wasn't quite sure why she was still trying to hide it. Spike and Willow had a very close friendship and Xander at least seemed to finally be tolerating Spike's presence.

In spite of all those things Buffy still felt that she had to hide and in spite of all the things that Spike had done for her, she still felt a little bit ashamed. She hated feeling that way but Spike was still a vampire after all. Her morals were screaming at her in her mind because being with Spike was the exact opposite of what she should be doing in her life. Slayers were supposed to kill vampires, not have feelings for them. That is just the way it was supposed to be yet she continued to hold on to his hand even though her every ounce of common sense was telling her to let go.

She finally let go of his hand and stood up to head toward the kitchen.

"I'm gonna go grab some more snacks." Buffy said.

"I'll give you a hand slayer." Spike stood up to follow her. "Hey Xander, I'm gonna grab a beer. Do you want one?"

Xander gave him a suspicious look. "Uh yeah, sure I'll have one. Thanks."

"Anyone else want anything?" Spike asked.

"I'll have an orange soda." Willow answered.

"Me too." Dawn said.

"Nothing for me. I'm fine." Anya said.

Xander was a bit unnerved by Spike's politeness. In the past, his kindness always came with selfish reasons. He just wasn't used to Spike acting like a human being but he was through obsessing over what was going on in his mind and decided to let it go. Maybe he was just trying to get along but he couldn't help but think that there was some ulterior motive.

Spike walked into the kitchen to find Buffy putting chips into a big bowl. She looked up at him when he walked into the room and gave him a sly smile.

"I see you're trying to be the good little host out there." Buffy said.

"I'm just trying to be nice slayer." Spike growled.

"Wow, that's a first." Buffy said still smiling slyly.

"Very funny."

She continued to look at him with a mischievous grin.

"What?" Spike said, feeling uncomfortable with her stare.

She slowly walked up to him until she was just a few inches in front of him.

"Kiss me." She commanded.

Spike smiled and lowered his head toward hers until his lips were so close that he could feel her breath on them.

"You're command is my wish." He spoke before pressing a soft kiss upon her lips.

Buffy smiled at him and a contented sigh escaped her throat. They walked back into the living room to deliver the snacks and drinks to her guests.

Buffy tried to hide her smile but failed miserably. No one noticed except for Willow. She was so happy that things were working out for Buffy and Spike. She knew what Spike was willing to do for her. She's never seen two people so full of love. She just wished that Buffy would finally decide to give some of that love to Spike. Willow was so full of love for Tara and didn't want to see them make the same mistakes as she did. They argued so much over magic and Willow wished that she could have realized that Tara was right sooner. They lost so much time together and she would do anything to get that back.

After the movie had ended everyone started to stand up and get ready to go home. Her friends were grabbing their jackets and Buffy was heading toward the group at the door to say goodbye. She suddenly felt two hands start sliding around her waist from behind her. Buffy panicked, grabbed Spike's hands and shoved them away from her before anyone had the chance to see.

Spike silently fumed until everyone was safely out the door.

"What was that all about?" Spike asked after everyone was gone and Dawn had left the room.

"What?" Buffy responded looking confused.

"You won't even let me put my arms around you. What are you embarrassed or something?"

"You just startled me that's all. I wasn't embarrassed." Buffy answered.

"If you're not embarrassed, then why did you make sure the blanket was covering us while you held my hand. I know that wasn't a coincidence."

Damn. He did notice.

Buffy opened her mouth to say something but then quickly closed it. She had no idea how to respond to his accusations especially since they were true.

"Fine." Spike spat in aggravation from her silence. "You know what slayer? Why don't we just forget all of this? I thought you were actually starting to like me but I guess I was wrong."

"I do like you." Buffy said in a whisper while eyeing the floor.

"But you’re ashamed of me, is that right?"

Buffy didn't respond. She just continued to stare at the floor.

"Buffy, I can't do this anymore. Either you want to be with me or you don't. I can't read your mind. I don't know what you really want but if you want to be with me then it has to be completely. I'm sick of hiding. It seems that everyone has gotten past the fact that I've been hanging around you except for you. Why can't you accept the fact that I've changed? No one else seems to have a huge problem with me anymore so why are you still running away? In spite of Spike's many questions Buffy remained silent.

"This obviously isn't working out." Spike continued.

Tears started to form in Buffy's eyes but she still said nothing.

"If you don't care about me and you don't want to be with me, then I'll try to accept that. We can continue on as friends or whatever it was we were before. But if you want to work this out and you really do care, then you better let me know soon because I refuse to wait around for you forever. I can't go on with you like this anymore, so you better figure out what you want fast because if you wait too long this time, I might not be here when you've finally come to your senses."

Spike talked to her as calmly as he possibly could. He waited a few seconds but when he realized that she was still determined to remain quiet, he let out an aggravated sigh and stormed out the door, slamming it behind him.

***********************************************************

Buffy tried to sleep but was unsuccessful. She couldn't stop thinking about the argument she had with Spike. Her mind was screaming at her to stay away but her heart was telling her to go to him. She was tired of having the same fight with herself over and over again. She knew what she really wanted. She just had to let herself accept it.

She shut out her arguing thoughts and opened her heart. She stood up to get dressed and get ready to talk to Spike. She thought it would take longer for her to make up her mind but the thought of losing him was just too much to bare. She couldn't take that chance.

Buffy made her way in the darkened streets toward his crypt. As she walked there, she felt like she was in the Twilight Zone. It was way too quiet and there was no sign of anyone, not even vampires. This made her nervous. She was the slayer so the darkness never bothered her but the quietness is what unsettled her nerves. She knew that every time all signs of life disappeared that it meant there was some evil brewing.

She breathed a sigh of relief when she spotted Spike's crypt. She was almost there and thankfully without any hassles.

She knew it was too good to be true as she suddenly encountered a Lorac demon. It was black and scaly, almost snakelike. It has no legs, only a huge tail that it slithered along on. Instead of arms it had huge sword-like blades protruding from it's shoulders. This was one demon that she had seen in Giles' books that she hoped she'd never have to encounter. Of course it would be this night of all nights that she would end up running into one. It seemed that whenever she made her mind up about anything that there would always be something to interfere and stand in her way.

The demon slithered toward her in a super fast motion and tried to cut Buffy with its sharp replacement for arms. Buffy moved quickly to the side to avoid being sliced into. She moved carefully and dropped to the ground and with a swift motion, kicked her leg to the side and made contact with its large tail. She watched it fall to the ground as she kept her distance from it's now flailing blades.

Off in the distance Spike heard some commotion from outside his crypt and ran out to see what it was. He witnessed Buffy trying to fight off one of the scariest looking demons he had ever seen.

He started to run toward her because she obviously looked like she needed some help as the battle between them continued.

He got within a few feet of her, when he heard a blood-curdling scream come from Buffy's throat. He gasped as he saw the demon's sharp limb stab into her back.

"Buffy!" Spike screamed.

He ran toward her body that was now lying on the ground. Spike growled at the demon that quickly started slithering away. He stared to run after it but it made its way away from him too fast. He knew it would take him way too long to catch up with it and he didn't want to leave Buffy. She was seriously hurt and she needed some help.

He ran back to her and a strangled cry escaped his throat as he saw how much of her blood was now pooled around her on the ground. He kneeled next to her and listened to her shallow breaths. Tears started to fall from his eyes as he looked down at her pale face.

Buffy's eyes fluttered open and she looked over at Spike.

"Spike." She whispered.

"Stay quiet Buffy. Don't strain yourself. You're hurt badly. I need to get you some help." Spike's tears continued to fall.

Spike saw the utterly horrified look in her eyes. After she was brought back to life over a year ago he watched her try to find a reason to live after being dragged out of heaven. Now he saw the eyes of a scared little girl who would give anything to stay alive.

"Spike." Buffy continued to speak despite his instructions. "I love you ,Spike."

Spike's heart sang and shattered at the same time after hearing her words. He wrapped his arms around her and lifted her head slightly off the ground. He watched as her eyes closed and he suddenly felt her body go limp.

"Buffy! Please don't leave me!" Spike cried in hopes that she would open her eyes.

She remained still.

"Buffy!"

To Be Continued.....
Prayers, Hopes & Worries by Weeza
A doctor walked down the hospital corridor toward the waiting room with a sullen expression on his face. He headed toward the group of people seated on a row of chairs. They had fear in their eyes as the doctor approached them. He looked upon their faces and reflected on the fact that this was the only time he ever truly hated his job.

"I'm sorry." The doctor spoke softly. "We did all that we could to help her but unfortunately it wasn't enough. She passed away a few minutes ago. I'm so sorry."

Tears rolled down flushed cheeks and Spike watched the tragedy from a distance and silently prayed that neither he nor Buffy's other friends and family would have to suffer that same fate.

His heart cried out for the group of people across from him that just found out they lost a loved one forever. He knew all too well how that felt. He lost Buffy once and he didn't want to lose her again.

Spike had called the entire gang and had them come to the hospital after he had rushed Buffy there. He noticed she still had a faint heartbeat and got her there as fast as he could. He just hoped that it was fast enough.

Willow walked over to Spike and took a seat next to him. She started gently rubbing his back.

"How are you doing?" She asked him in a worried tone.

"Terrible." He replied. "I can't stand sitting here. I hate all the waiting. I hate that all we can do is sit here and do nothing. My stomach is in knots."

Willow continued to rub circles on his back.

"I'm sure we'll hear something soon." She tried to reassure him. "In fact, Dawn went downstairs to give blood as soon as she got here. She knew Buffy would probably need it after you described what happened to her."

Spike slumped forward and put his head in his hands.

"This is all my fault."

"How can you say that?" Willow asked.

"I should have known sooner. I should have been able to stop that demon. I could have saved her."

"There was no way you could have known. She was lucky that you got there when you did."

Spike lifted his head and looked into Willow's eyes.

"We had a fight after you left. She pushed me away when I tried to put my arms around her. I told her I didn't want to hide anymore. I didn't want her being ashamed of me. I told her she had to make up her mind and decide what she really wanted. She was probably on her way to see me when it happened. In fact, I'm sure she was coming to see me. What have I done? What if I lose her again?" Spike said with tears in his eyes.

"You're not going to lose her." Willow said with a determined expression. "Buffy is the strongest person I have ever known. She will make it through this. You have to stop blaming yourself."

"Do you know what the last thing she said to me was?" Spike asked.

Willow shook her head.

"She told me she loved me right before she passed out." Spike confided.

Willow's heart sank. Buffy had finally told him how she really felt but in the worst way she could possibly imagine.

"I screwed everything up. I couldn't stop her from getting hurt last time and I failed this time too. I'm good for nothing." Spike said in a harsh tone while pulling at his hair.

"Spike stop that!" Willow yelled. "Stop talking like she's already dead! We are NOT going to lose another part of this group!"

"I just wish there was something more I could have done." Spike admitted in a calmer tone.

"I know. Don't you think I feel that way every time I think about Tara? I wished so many times that I could have known about Warren ahead of time or that I could have pushed her out of the way of that bullet so she didn't get hurt. Do you know how many times I have wished that it were me that got shot instead of her? She didn't deserve that. She was the greatest person I have ever known and she should be here with us right now but she's not and I can't understand why!" Tears were now streaming down Willow's cheeks and she was fighting to catch her breath.

"I wake up every morning, roll over in bed and expect her to be there." Willow continued. "Sometimes I try and convince myself that she just got up before I did to make me breakfast. I try to imagine that she's still in my life and that she's going to walk in the door any minute and serve me breakfast in bed. But I have to eventually come to my senses and when I do it's like I lose her all over again. Is this pain ever going to go away? Is it ever going to get better?"

Tears were now streaming down Spike's face and he turned to hug Willow with all his might.

Willow finally settled down a bit. She took a deep breath and pulled back from Spike.

"I don't know how to live without her." Willow admitted softly.

"Willow, I'm so sorry." Spike said. "You're right. Tara didn't deserve to die. Not one of you deserves the hell that life has handed you but you have to keep on living. Things will get better. I promise. You're a good person who deserves to be happy and I'm sure someday fate will intervene and make sure that you are."

Silence filled the air between them for a moment. Spike looked down at his hands as if embarrassed. "Thank you Willow, for being such a good friend to me. I don't think I've ever had a friend like you before. Buffy is lucky to have you. The time I have spent with you has really helped. My nightmares and visions are less frequent now. I've learned to handle them better when they do come. I'm actually starting to feel normal. Well, as normal as a vampire with a soul can feel anyway. I just want you to know how much I appreciate all your help."

Willow leaned over and kissed Spike on the cheek.

"Thank you." She said. "Buffy is really lucky to have you too."

"I'm not so sure about that." Spike said.

"Well I am, and when Buffy gets better, and I know she will, just remember not to let the petty things make you fight anymore. The one thing I learned from Tara's loss is that you have to enjoy every moment you have with the people you love. Don't let stupid meaningless problems tear you apart."

A doctor suddenly appeared before them and Spike looked at him with pure terror in his eyes. He was scared to death at what the doctor might say. The rest of the gang walked over to where the doctor was now standing.

"Are you here for Buffy Summers?" the doctor asked.

"Yeah." Spike replied. "Is she going to be ok?"

"Yes, Buffy is going to be just fine. That is one strong girl you've got there. She lost a lot of blood so we supplied her with the blood that her sister had donated for her. Fortunately, none of her internal organs were hit or damaged. She's going to need a lot of time to heal but she will be fine." The doctor smiled.

Everyone breathed a deep sigh of relief and Spike lunged forward and started hugging the doctor.

Spike pulled back from him and wiped tears away from his eyes.

"Sorry." Spike said. "That's just the best news I've gotten in my life."

"It's understandable." The doctor said. "She was lucky you were there in time to bring her here. You saved her life."

Spike was startled at what the doctor had said. He hadn't thought of it that way. He just kept blaming himself instead, but he felt good knowing that he finally did what he wasn't able to do that fateful night on the tower when Buffy was forced to jump to save her sister and the world.

"She did regain consciousness but she is sleeping right now. However, you can visit her if you'd like." The doctor offered.

"Thanks." Spike said and he watched the doctor walk away before he turned to face everyone around him.

Dawn ran up to Spike and wrapped her arms around him while tears of joy fell from her eyes.

"Thank God she's ok." Dawn cried.

She pulled away from Spike and wiped away her happy tears.

Xander walked toward Spike and put one arm across his shoulders.

"Why don't you go and see her. I'm sure she'll want to talk to you." Xander said kindly.

Spike walked toward her hospital room and he took a deep breath as he reached the door. He walked in and was surprised to see how much color had returned to her once pale face. She was still sleeping and he didn't have the heart to try and wake her. She needed to rest.

Spike took a seat in the chair next to her bed and stayed beside her to watch her sleep. After about a half an hour Dawn came in to check on them and noticed that she was still sleeping. She told him that she and the rest of the gang were going to leave and come back tomorrow after she's had more rest.

He stayed beside her for another hour until he started to drift off to sleep himself. He tried to stop himself from dozing off but it became an impossible task to accomplish. His eyes kept fluttering closed and he continued to fight to keep them open.

Suddenly he heard Buffy stir, his eyes snapped open and he was suddenly wide awake. He watched her and waited for her to open her eyes.

Buffy's eyes slowly opened and she turned her head to see Spike sitting in the chair next to her.

"Hey." Buffy greeted with a tender smile.

"Welcome back, luv." Spike smiled and stood up.

He walked over to the side of Buffy's hospital bed and stood beside her. He leaned down and placed a soft kiss on her forehead.

He started to back away but she stopped him by grabbing his hand and holding on to it.

"I'm glad you're here." Buffy said as she gave his hand a squeeze.

"How are you feeling?" Spike asked.

"A bit tired but much better. They gave me pain medication so it doesn't hurt quite as much." Buffy explained.

There was a short pause and then Buffy tilted her head up and looked into Spike's eyes.

"I want you to know that I remember what I said to you and I don't want you to think that I said it only because I thought I was going to die. I love you, Spike and I should have told you sooner. I was so afraid that I'd missed my chance again."

"What do you mean missed your chance?" Spike inquired.

"When Warren shot me, I remember lying on the ground with a bullet in my chest. I was in such pain and all these memories came flooding back to me as I lay there. It was like I was so close to death that my life literally flashed before my eyes and in the end all I ended up thinking of was you. I admit I was using you at first but I did have feelings for you that I was trying so hard to deny. Those feelings grew so much stronger each time we were together. All I could think of was that I missed my chance to tell you how I really felt. It was more than lust and passion. I cared about you."

Spike pulled up the chair closer to her bed and took a seat without ever letting go of her hand. He never thought he'd hear her say those words and truly mean them. Buffy telling him that she loved him was his greatest wish. He just hoped she would still feel that way after doing what he was about to do.

"I love you so much Buffy. I was horrified that I'd lose you again." Spike admitted.

"I'm leaving town for a little while." Spike continued. "I know this is a bad time but there's something I really need to do. I just wanted to make sure you were going to be all right before I left."

"Where are you going? When will you be back?" Buffy asked in utter confusion.

"Where I'm going isn't important but I will be back as soon as I can. It shouldn't take more than a week or two. There's a chance that you'll decide against being with me when I get back, and if you do, I just want you to know that I'll understand."

"Spike you're scaring me." Buffy said in a shaking voice.

"I'm sorry. I don't mean to scare you. I don't want you worrying about me. I'm going to be fine. I just need you to take care of yourself while I'm gone. Don't worry yourself about what I'm doing just concentrate on healing and getting better. I love you."

Spike leaned down slowly and kissed her lips gently. He reluctantly let go of Buffy's hand and headed for the door.

"Spike! Wait!" Buffy exclaimed.

Spike didn't stop, he just continued to walk away from her. He knew if he turned back that he might not be able to go through with it. He knew he had to leave now when Buffy wasn't able to try and stop him.

**********************************************************

Spike walked into the darkness of the dank and familiar cave. He flicked open his lighter to shed some light before him. It felt strange to him. It felt like going back in time. He'd never thought that he would have to come back here.

Bright green and glowing eyes appeared out of the shadows and glared at Spike

"So I see you've returned, vampire." The demon spoke in a deep and harsh voice.

"That's right." Spike replied. "I wanna make a deal."

To Be Continued......
Trials & Tribulations by Weeza
"So you want to make a deal, vampire? I usually don't make deals." The demon said harshly.

"But there's something I need." Spike explained.

"I understand but no one has ever had the nerve to return a second time. Although, not many have survived my tests to be able to return."

"I survived." Spike said proudly with his chin up. "I did quite well and if you give me what I want, you'll never have to see me again."

"You do understand, vampire that If I accept your deal, you will have to go through my trials once again and this time they will be even more difficult to conquer." The demon said as his green eyes glowed brightly.

"I get it. I can handle anything you throw at me."

"Very well. Since you did so well with the trials last time, I will grant you another chance to get what you need. However, this is the last time so you better make sure it's worth it. Stay alive and I will grant your request. Are you still sure that you want to go through with this?" The demon asked and waited patiently for Spike's response.

"I'm sure. I need to do this." Spike replied. "Now, let's get this over with."

***************************************************************

"I can't wait to get out of here." Buffy said as she violently started throwing her belongings into her duffel bag.

"At least you only had to stay 4 days." Willow replied. "I thought the doctor was gonna pass out when he saw how quickly you healed. He called you a 'medical miracle' when he looked at your scar."

"I know. I just told him that I got lucky this time by healing so quickly. It's not like I could tell him that it was my amazing slayer healing power that did the job. I'm just thrilled that I can finally go home. These four days have felt like a month to me." Buffy groaned.

Buffy walked around her hospital room in search of the rest of her things. She looked in the closet once more and checked the drawers, in which she slammed closed so hard that Willow knew there was something bothering her.

"Buffy what's wrong?" Willow asked. "You seem so angry."

Buffy stopped cleaning out the room and sighed deeply.

"It's just...it's Spike." Buffy admitted

"What about Spike? Did you have another fight again?"

"No. He left again." Buffy said in an irritated tone.

"Left? Left where?"

"That's the thing. I have no idea. He wouldn't even tell me. He just took off knowing that I couldn't chase after him. I can't believe he did this to me just when things were starting to get better between us." Buffy said, her voice wavering.

"Do you know why he left?" Willow asked sympathetically.

"No." Buffy sighed again. "He just said that there was something he needed to do."

**************************************************************

The green-eyed demon led Spike toward a door within the cave. It looked so out of place within the darkness of the cold and damp cave. It was a huge white door placed within a wall of jagged rocks.

"In this room is where the trials will take place," explained the demon. "The entire test will consist in this room only. In the end, when I return, if you are still alive I will give you what you came for."

The demon opened the door and Spike walked toward the threshold. He ducked his head inside the room to see nothing but white throughout it. The floor and ceiling was white as well as the walls, which were padded. It resembled a room in the hospital made especially for mental patients.

"What the bleeding hell am I supposed to do in here?" Spike questioned.

The demon did not answer him. Instead, he pushed Spike inside and slammed the door closed. Spike heard the door lock behind him.

*************************************************************

Buffy returned to the comforts of home. She walked in the door and dropped her duffel bag to the floor.

"Finally!" She exclaimed as she walked over toward the couch and collapsed onto it.

She took in the comfort of the couch and stared up at the window while she thought of Spike. She wondered where he could have run off to. She wondered what the big secret was. After all she had told him and after all they had just been through, how could he leave her like this again? He had told her not to worry but how could she not? He takes off to some mystery destination without any explanation except for a vague time limit of how long he would be gone.

"Get out of my head!" Buffy yelled out loud to an empty house.

She wanted to be alone for a while so she left Dawn to hang out with Willow after they had dropped her off. She had a hard time trying to assure them that she would be fine by herself but they eventually got the point that she just didn't feel like having company.

She was so frustrated with herself that she couldn't stop thinking about Spike. He wouldn't leave her thoughts no matter how hard she tried to get rid of him. It was actually ironic because he'd entered her thoughts just like he had entered her life. Even when she wanted him to leave her alone, he would always find an excuse to be around her. Now that she actually wanted Spike around he decides to do a disappearing act. Why isn't she surprised?

She got up off the sofa and headed upstairs to her room. The only way she could clear her mind is if she crawled into her warm comfortable bed and drifted off to sleep. Although something told her that even in sleep she wouldn't be able to get rid of Spike. She would just end up dreaming about him.

She opened her closet door to find something more comfortable to change into and groaned loudly when she spotted Spike's leather duster, which was still hanging in her closet. She was surprised that he had never asked for it back. She would have returned it but so much had happened since he came back and there had been so much on her mind that she had just completely forgot about the coat that he could never seem to live without.

She took the black duster off of the hanger and wrapped it around her body just as she had done before Spike had returned. She collapsed back into bed with the duster once again wrapped around her small form and continued to miss him all over again.

***********************************************************

Spike looked around the bright white room wondering when his tests were going to begin. He couldn't figure out what kind of torture could possibly befall him in such a small ordinary room.

He suddenly heard an extremely loud humming noise. It sounded like a giant motor but he couldn't figure out where it was coming from. He was starting to think that he had been tricked and was just being held prisoner because it had been a few hours already with no sign of the trials the demon spoke of.

The motor continued to hum and he started getting nervous. He spun around and observed the room once more and waited for some beast to jump out at him. He had no idea what to expect.

Spike felt a burning pain on his arm and noticed wisps of smoke rising up in the air. He realized that his arm was beginning to start on fire. He lifted his head and glanced up at the ceiling where a panel had opened up to let in the morning sun. He quickly moved his arm away before any flames had appeared on his skin.

He ran into a darkened corner to get away from the sun but the first panel closed and another one had opened right above him letting in more sunshine. He ran to the opposite side of the room to try and escape the light once again.

He continued to run around the room and into the padded walls on all sides to try and escape the sunlight coming in from above him as panel after panel opened and tried to burn him.

He quickly and successfully dodged the beams of sunlight. He sped gracefully away from certain death as he mentally assumed that this test was almost over. He was proved wrong as he felt a burning on his skin once again and looked around the room to notice that sprinkler heads were peaking out of the padded walls spraying him with holy water.

Spike ran, dodged and jumped around the white room continuously to avoid bursting into flames. This continued for another half an hour until Spike was so weary that he thought his muscles would collapse from exhaustion.

All the panels finally closed and the sprinkler heads hid within the padded walls. Spike huddled in a corner trying to find at least an ounce of strength that he still had within him. His weary muscles could barely move so he continued to crouch in the corner and lean his body against the wall.

Spike was terrified that this wasn't the end. He didn't think he could take anymore of the demon's tests since he could barely move.

The door opened and Spike stood on shaky legs. The demon looked inside the room and an evil grin spread across its face as he noticed the exhausted condition that Spike was in.

"There is one more test you need to pass, vampire." The demon said smugly.

He shoved the monster through the door toward Spike and a low and evil laugh escaped the glowing-eyed demon's throat.

"I believe you've met before." The demon stated before he closed the door, leaving Spike alone with the monster.

Slithering before him was the Lorac demon that Buffy had fought against in the cemetery surrounding his crypt.

The Lorac demon slid toward Spike, trying to pierce his skin with its sharp blades. Spike quickly moved to the side and just barely missed getting sliced into.

The black snake-like demon hissed at him and made a swift move toward Spike cutting into his leg through his black jeans.

Spike howled in pain as blood rolled down his leg onto his bare foot. A round pool of blood formed and added color to the gleaming white floor below him.

Spike thought about the chance that he may actually lose this fight and suddenly felt a new found strength coursing through his veins. The thought of not being able to return to Buffy was more than he could stand. Through Buffy he had finally found the power within himself to be ready for this fight.

Spike spun around and kicked the monster with all his might and watched it fly against the wall with a loud thud. It barely phased the monster as it flew toward Spike once again and tried to slice through his midsection. Spike ducked as he saw it coming toward him. He grabbed onto it's huge tail and flipped it onto the ground. With every ounce of strength he could muster, Spike grabbed onto one of his sword-like arms and snapped it in two. Despite the pain that was now in his hands and the blood that ran down them toward his wrists, he copied the same maneuver and snapped its second sword in half as well.

The huge snake monster cried out in pain and Spike watched as its arms flailed around wildly trying to cut into his legs with the short unsharpened stubs that it had left.

Spike bent over and reached out toward the demon's head with bloodied hands. He wrapped his hands around its neck and squeezed with forceful pressure. Spike twisted its neck until he heard the satisfying crunch of death.

Spike stood up and looked down at his blood filled body. He panted tiredly despite the fact that he was among the undead and had no real need to take a breath.

The door opened and the green-eyed demon stood there and scanned the scene before him.

"I'm impressed, vampire. No one before you has ever made it through these set of tests."

"So that's it then?" Spike asked. "If we're all finished here can I get what I came for so I can get the bleeding hell away from you and this cave for good."

"Yes. Since you have passed, I will follow through with our deal. I will allow you to trade your soul!"

To Be Continued....
Coming Home by Weeza
Buffy sat at the table in the Magic Box feeling depressed, angry and utterly confused. Two weeks had passed and Spike still hadn't returned. She should have known that something like this would happen. She tells him she loves him and then he takes off. It seems that's the story of her life. She should have known better than to fall in love again. After all, a pattern had formed in her life in which every man she loved ended up leaving her. Why should he be any different? How could she be so stupid?

Buffy looked across the table where Xander and Anya were sitting. They were looking at the bridal magazines that Anya would force Xander to read on a daily basis. After leaving her at the alter he figured the least he could do was go along with her detailed planning which involved over a dozen wedding catalogs.

"Uh guys, I really hate to break up the wedding bliss but I really do need help researching this Lorac demon. I don't want to get kabobed again." Buffy said.

"Sorry Buff." Xander said. "Anya just wanted to look for last minute wedding ideas."

"But isn't the wedding tomorrow? What could you possibly find in any of those magazines that you could accomplish in one day?" Buffy let out an exaggerated sigh.

"There's no need to get huffy." Anya said, putting the magazine away. "You can never be too prepared. I just want everything to be perfect. You'll understand someday when you get married."

Buffy frowned and turned back to her research. She knew, because she was the slayer, that she would probably never get the chance to have a wedding or to do any of those traditional things that the average person does. Maybe that's why she finally accepted her relationship with Spike. She did love him even though it was far from a normal conventional relationship.

After all this time she finally realized how true his feelings for her were. She knew deep in her heart that he would risk his own life to protect her. Her life had an expiration date and she knew that Spike would constantly look after her to make sure they got to have as much time together as they possibly could. That's why his leaving had hurt her so much. She had been so close to death but he left anyway. She was angry that he had left her lying in the hospital alone but at the same time she was afraid. She was worried that he hadn't returned yet and terrified that something horrible had happened to him that prevented him from returning.

Willow sat at the counter researching the demon for Buffy. She tried to concentrate but she couldn't help but be worried about Spike too. She saw how torn up he was after Buffy was hurt. He was so terrified that he would lose her again. She couldn't understand what could possibly be so important that he would leave her when she needed him the most. Buffy was in pain and needed to be nurtured and cared for by him but he just took off without any explanation.

Willow knew Spike well enough by now to know that he wouldn't have left her like that unless it was an emergency of some sort. There was no way he would have left unless it was a life or death situation, which worried her even more. She just hoped that Spike was all right. He became such a good friend to her that she was starting to miss him too.

Every head in the Magic Box turned toward the door as they heard the sound of the bell announcing that someone was entering.

Buffy's eyes widened when she saw a battered Spike walk through the door. She wasn't sure if she should go to him to tend to his wounds first and ask questions later or if she should walk angrily toward him to demand an explanation.

She started to head toward him when she noticed that he continued to hold the door open as if he were waiting for someone else to join them.

Buffy paused and she stared in confusion. Willow stood up from her seat at the counter to try and get a closer look at what was going on.

Willow gasped loudly as the person Spike was waiting for finally decided to make an appearance.

"Tara?" Willow looked at her as if she didn't believe her eyes.

Willow couldn’t believe it. Her mind wouldn't let her process the information. She was convinced that she was hallucinating or just having another one of her wonderful dreams.

Xander and Anya stood and studied Tara closely as if they were trying to make sure that they weren't hallucinating as well.

Willow walked slowly and cautiously toward Tara as if she were afraid that if she moved too fast Tara would just disappear before her very eyes.

Willow stood in front of Tara and looked into her eyes which were as full of love as she remembered.

"Hi, sweetie." Tara greeted with a smile.

Willow was stunned at the sound of her voice. It gave her some confirmation that she was actually there. She was sure she was going crazy. How could this be possible?

Willow brushed her hand against Tara's cheek to prove to herself even further that this was actually real. Tara leaned into her touch and smiled. Willow gasped at the feeling of her warm skin. She was really there. She had come back to her. She was alive.

"What happened? How did this happen? How are you here?" Willow asked, her eyes filling with tears.

"It was Spike." Tara answered, then glanced over at him. "He brought me back."

Tears of joy started to fall down Willow's flushed cheeks. She attempted to calm down and catch her breath. She couldn't get over the fact that the one thing she wanted the most in this world was actually happening.

Willow ran up to Spike and wrapped her arms around him. She sobbed into his chest and he slowly lifted his arms around her and started rubbing her back.

"Thank you!" Willow cried. "But, How?"

"I went back to Africa to see the same demon who gave me my soul." Spike answered.

"But that's impossible. After you told me about getting your soul back, I did some research on that demon. I read that you are only allowed one thing from him. How is it possible that you were granted a second wish?" Willow asked with a bewildered expression.

"I already knew about that before I left for Africa." Spike admitted. "I offered him a deal. I had to pass another set of tests and if I did, I would trade my soul for Tara's life. Obviously I passed. By the way, I see you have the books out. If you are researching about the Lorac demon there's no need to worry. Killing that monster was part of my tests and I couldn't have been happier to do it."

"You gave up your soul for me?" Tara asked in a shocked and bewildered tone.

She never knew the exact details of how she was able to be there. Tara was touched beyond words by Spike's actions. He was the last person she ever expected to do something so completely selfless for her or anyone else.

"Well, yeah." Spike replied. "You didn't deserve to get killed by that wanker and Willow didn't deserve to lose you. She's been so good to me since I returned. I just couldn't stand to see someone I cared about so unhappy. Willow deserves to have the love of her life back."

"Did you pull her out of heaven like Willow did to Buffy? We all saw how well that turned out. This could be bad." Anya said.

Willow turned to Tara with a frightened expression on her face. No matter how much she wanted Tara back, she didn't want her to be as unhappy as Buffy was about being taken out of heaven.

"Don't worry, sweetie." Tara said and she smoothed back a lock of Willow's red hair. "I'm not upset. He did pull me out of heaven but any heaven is pure hell if you're not with me. I would have given up anything to be back here with you."

Willow cupped Tara's face with her hands and started placing soft kissed over every inch of her face while tears continues to escaped from her eyes.

"All right Spike. What's the deal here?" Xander said. "What's in this for you? You would never do something like this without getting something out of the deal."

Willow angrily turned to Xander gave him a look that scared him even more than seeing her expression right before she killed Warren.

"I can't believe you Xander!" Willow screamed. "Spike is getting nothing out of this! He sacrificed his soul to bring Tara back to me. His soul, Xander! The soul that he left Sunnydale to get so he could be a better man for Buffy! Giving up his soul must have been the scariest thing he's ever had to do and he did it without knowing if Buffy would still want to be with him when he got back! That is the most unselfish thing I have ever seen anyone do!"

Xander lowered his head in shame knowing that Willow was right. He was happy and touched in his own way by what Spike had done. He realized that he was just searching for some reason to make him look bad mostly because he didn't want to have to admit that he had been wrong about Spike all along.

Buffy looked over at Spike still expecting him to go completely evil and decide to kill her and all her friends. She just couldn't bring herself to accept the fact that there was a gray area when it came to demons. After Angel lost his soul he became a pure evil that she had never seen before. For the longest time she compared every vampire to the way Angel was and always assumed that each one held the same evil that Angelus had. She realized how wrong she was as she watched a sweet and tender smile appear on Spike's face as he watched Willow and Tara engage in a loving embrace.

Spike looked over at Buffy to see an unsure expression on her face. He had no idea how she would react. Part of him was expecting her to run up to him with a stake in her hand and dust him now that his soul was gone. The other part of him was silently wishing that it wouldn't make a difference to her.

Buffy suddenly started running toward him and his first instinct was to duck out of the way in fear of meeting the pointy end of a stake but he stayed put instead. Buffy reached Spike and wrapped her arms around him, almost knocking him to the floor. She placed the most passionate kiss he had ever felt upon his lips. She cradled the back of his head and savored the feeling of his soft lips against hers. She pulled away from him and stared into his sparkling blue eyes as tears escaped her own.

"I never thought I would ever meet anyone as wonderful as you! I love you, Spike." Buffy said, then continued to kiss him with all the love she had.

Spike pulled away from her and Buffy stared at him with her brow furrowed in confusion. She suddenly had the disturbing thought that maybe something had changed when he lost his soul. Maybe he didn't love her anymore.

"What's wrong?" Buffy asked while looking at his baffled expression.

"I didn't think you would want to be with me anymore. I knew how important having a soul was to you. You made that point perfectly clear to me last year. What made you change your mind?"

"Spike, I loved you before you got your soul. I just didn't want to admit it to myself or to my friends." Buffy admitted as she looked around the room at the friends she had always considered to be her family.

"After what happened with Angel, I couldn't deal with the fact that I could actually fall in love with someone who had no soul." Buffy continued. "I was convinced that there was something terribly wrong with me. I thought that loving someone without a soul meant that I was a bad person no matter how many times I saved the world. I realize now that not everything is black and white or good and evil. You disprove everything I've ever known about vampires and demons. You are one of the most sensitive and caring people I have ever met even without a soul and it scares me how little that makes sense."

"Does that mean you forgive me?" Spike chuckled.

"I'll always forgive you." Buffy sighed happily.

Spike smiled in recognition of the words that he had once said to her.

"I can't believe the one person I feel that I can trust with my life is a vampire." Buffy chuckled.

Spike could have shouted in celebration at her words. He couldn't believe that she finally trusted him. He knew that she could never love without trust. It felt amazing to feel the love that he had for Buffy finally returned to him. He grabbed Buffy and held her close to him as happy tears fell down his cheeks.

"Come on, let's go home." Willow said to her friends as she continued to hold Tara close. "We've got a wedding to attend tomorrow."

To Be Continued......
The Wedding by Weeza
Willow woke up in a daze. It was one of those mornings where you had to search your mind to remember you own identity. She opened her sleepy eyes half way and suddenly everything came flooding back to her. Tara was back. She blindly reached over to the other side of the bed to put her arm around Tara but all she felt was the empty sheet covered mattress next to her. Willow bolted upright in a panic. Was it only a dream? Was her mind playing tricks on her? Please don't let this be happening again. She took a deep breath and when she inhaled the wonderfully familiar scent of lavender, she knew it was for real. Tara had come back to her and the wonderful moment they shared had actually happened. Her dream had come true.

"Good morning sleepy head." Tara greeted with a tray of food in hand.

It all still seemed so unreal. Willow had to pinch herself numerous times to let herself know that this was actually her life and not a dream. She watched Tara place a tray filled with chocolate chip pancakes down on a TV tray next to Willow's side of the bed. As she studied Tara, she struggled to fight back tears from the feeling of happiness that overwhelmed her. She has been so miserable for so long without Tara that she never thought she could ever feel this happy again.

"Yummy! Choclolatey goodness!" Willow exclaimed as she grabbed a fork and took a bite of Tara's delicious cooking. "But do you know what I'd like even better?"

"What?"

"Some major Tara snuggling." Willow replied.

"Tara snuggling? I don't know if I ever told you this but that just happens to be my most favorite Olympic event." Tara smiled. "However, we should get a move on. After all, we do have a wedding to get ready for."

Willow just looked at her and pouted with cute puppy dog eyes.

"Oh all right." Tara gave in. "I never could resist that pouty mouth and those sad eyes. But just for a few minutes ok. Anya will kill us if we're late."

Tara climbed back into bed and Willow put her arms around her and rested her head upon her chest with a content sigh. Tara placed a kiss on the top of Willow's head.

"Everything will be fine." Willow replied. "I'm sure she'll understand."

***************************************************************

"Where have you been!" Anya screamed. "You should have been here half an hour ago! I need help with my dress!" Anya continued to mumble about how hard it is to find good help these days.

Willow and Tara found the whole scene amusing and glanced at each other with sly grins.

Buffy walked in and smiled at the sight of Willow and Tara in their matching bright red brides maid dresses. They weren't quite as grotesque as the green ones Anya picked out last time but the color was so bright that she wasn't able to stare directly at it for a long period of time.

"Buffy! It's about time you got here!" Anya said, now transferring her anger over to Buffy. "I need help with my vows and my dress. I've been waiting forever for someone to show up. You could at least be on time considering the fact that you have the great honor of being my maid of honor."

"Anya calm down." Buffy said with a roll of the eyes. "I got here on time. I was just helping Xander because Giles isn't here yet."

"Oh. I guess that's ok then. At least you have an excuse. These two don't even have that." Anya said while pointing to Willow and Tara, who were so mesmerized by each other, that they didn't seem to hear a word Anya had said.

Willow finally looked over at Buffy with a smile.

"Oh hey Buffy! Did you come here with Spike?"

"Yes I did. He's around here somewhere." Buffy answered.

"Wow! So this is like a big deal." Tara said. "Usually when you bring a date to a wedding it usually means it's pretty serious."

"It is serious." Buffy smiled. "I wouldn't bring just anyone to a wedding. It must be love."

Willow ran up to Buffy and wrapped her arms around her in a tight hug.

"Oh Buffy I'm so happy for you. He's the one. I just know it. Things are gonna change for you. This time it's gonna work out."

"I hope so." Buffy said. "But I've got to get back to Xander. With Giles missing in action he's in there all alone and we wouldn't want to give him the chance to run off again."

"What?" Anya said with panic in her voice.

"Relax Anya. It was just a joke." Buffy said. "Ok it was a bad joke. Sorry. But I really should get back to him. I'll come back later."

Buffy walked into Xander's room to find Dawn in there with him. He was trying to tie his tie in front of the mirror. He turned around when he noticed Buffy's reflection. He looked at her with a completely worried expression and Buffy became instantly afraid that he was about to chicken out again and run off.

"Xander what's wrong?" Buffy asked nervously.

Xander was about to speak when Dawn cleared her throat and decided to give the bad news to Buffy herself.

"Um, Xander is freaking out because Giles can't make it. His flight was cancelled due to bad weather." Dawn said.

"Now I don't have a best man and Anya is going to freak out." Xander finished.

Buffy walked up to Xander and started to tie his tie for him.

"Calm down Xander, it's not the end of the world. Why don't you just ask Spike to be your best man?" Buffy suggested.

"Spike? You want me to ask Spike?"

"Well, yeah, why not?"

"Spike isn't exactly best man material, Buffy." Xander replied. "And in case you haven't noticed, we're not exactly the best of friends."

"I know but don't you think it's about time you gave him a chance. After all that has happened, can't you at least try to be civil? Besides, who else are you going to ask on such short notice?"

"Buffy, I know that Spike has changed. It's not that I hate the idea of him being my best man, it's the thought of actually having to ask him. He's just gonna laugh in my face."

"Xander, don't be silly. I'm sure he'd be happy to help you out."

**************************************************************

Xander stood in front of Spike silently fuming as he watched him clutch his sides in a fit of laughter.

"Spike, it's not that funny!" Xander exclaimed.

"Not that funny?" Spike questioned, still chuckling. "It's bloody priceless!"

Xander just stood there watching Spike try to calm down and fail miserably. He suddenly wished that Buffy had never been able to convince him to ask Spike such a huge favor in the first place.

"I just can't believe you just asked me to be your best man." Spike said, almost choking on his laughter. "You must be crazy if you think you are getting me into some monkey suit!"

"Just forget it Spike. I knew I shouldn't have asked you."

Xander turned from Spike and started to walk away. Spike sighed and grabbed Xander's shoulder, spinning him around until they faced each other.

"Get a bloody sense of humor, Harris. I was only kidding." Spike admitted, his expression turning very serious. "Actually, I would be honored to be your best man."

Xander studied him closely and when he realized that he was being sincere, he smiled and draped his arm around Spike's shoulders. Xander led him down the hall to where Spike could change his clothes.

"Now let's go find you a monkey suit." Xander laughed.

****************************************************************

Spike stood next to Xander as the Wedding March started to play. He watched as Buffy, the beautiful maid of honor, made her way down the isle. He chuckled to himself as he looked at her bright red dress. Previously, Anya had asked Spike what color he thought she should choose and of course he picked red. However, Anya rolled her eyes at his answer and he never actually thought she would go with his suggestion.

Buffy's eyes grew wide as she noticed Spike was actually wearing a suit. He looked so sweet and so handsome but she could tell how uncomfortable he was in it. He was constantly fidgeting and slithering around as if the suit were something horribly foul. She continued to keep her eyes on him as she walked and for a moment imagined that she was walking to him at a wedding of her own.

Spike imagined that Buffy was walking down the isle for him. His breath caught in his throat as he pictured Buffy actually wanting to be with him forever. Everything was so perfect. He never thought that she would accept him after his soul was gone. It all seemed like a dream. Throughout his entire existence, the one thing that he wanted the most was someone to truly love him. He never thought it would happen but his wish has finally come true.

Anya walked down the isle in an elegant white strapless gown. She held a bouquet of flowers and it was evident to everyone how intensely her hands were shaking. She took her place beside Xander and he gently grabbed hold of one of her hands. She immediately stopped shaking at his touch. Now that he was there with her, all her nervousness had completely faded away.

Spike looked past Xander and Anya and drowned in the sight of Buffy who was standing on the other side of the bride. He watched her as she smiled so brightly as Xander said his wedding vows to Anya. He had helped him a little bit with his vows before the ceremony but he was so wrapped up in Buffy that he didn't hear a word he said and never noticed whether or not he had taken any of his advice.

Buffy, on the other hand, listened with quiet intensity as Xander spoke his words to Anya. As she listened to what he had said, she knew that Spike lent a hand with his words.

"Anya, I can't begin to tell you how happy you make me. I can't imagine living a day without you. I know we were never the most compatible couple. I know things between us weren't always perfect. You are my light when my life turns to darkness. I used to dread getting out of bed knowing that I had to say goodbye to my dreams. They were always better than my realty. But for the first time in my life I have looked forward to waking up in the morning because I knew that when I opened my eyes that you would be there with me. Loving you is the smartest thing I have ever done and I will continue to do so until this world ceases to exist."

Buffy's eyes formed tears as she heard Xander's words to Anya. 'You are my light when my life turns to darkness.' 'Loving you is the smartest thing I have ever done.' Those words reminded her so much of Spike and all they had to go through to finally be together. She looked at Spike and smiled as Anya began her vows.

"I Anya, promise to love you, to cherish you and to honor you. I entrust you with my heart. Take care of my heart, won't you please? Because it's all that I have and if you let me, I will take care of your heart too. I love you and I will always love you. Before I knew you I was a completely different person. I've seen what love can do to people and it was always hurt and sadness. Alone was better. And then suddenly there was you and you knew me. You saw me. You make me feel safe and warm. So now I finally get it. I finally get love, Xander and it's with you. Now I finally get to spend my life with my best friend forever."

After the I do's, the bride and groom kissed and made their way back down the isle together. Spike and Buffy approached each other and he linked his arm in hers as they followed the happy couple to the reception.

************************************************************

Spike and Buffy walked onto the dance floor hand in hand after the bride and groom danced their first dance as a married couple. Spike slid his arms around her waist. Buffy's arms traveled upward and wrapped around the back of Spike's neck. She rested her forehead into the crook of his neck as they swayed to the music. After a few moments of silence between the two, Buffy looked up at Spike and an evil grin crossed her features. His eyes squinted in a look of suspicion as he wondered what she was up to.

"You look really cute in that suit." Buffy said with a sly grin.

"Bloody Hell!" Spike responded with his face toward the floor. If it were possible for him to blush he would have.

"Oh Spike! Don't be such a baby! It's not that bad. I think you look very nice."

She saw that Spike's lips had began to form a flattered grin as he continued to stare at the floor. She ducked her head under his to give him a quick and gentle kiss. His grin grew even wider and he rested his head upon hers as they continued to dance.

****************************************************************

After ten minutes of dancing Willow pulled Tara off to the side. They headed to an empty corner of the room where they could have some privacy.

"Is something wrong?" Tara asked with a worried expression.

"No, not at all. I just wanted to talk to you for a minute." Willow replied.

"Oh ok. What's up?" Tara smiled.

Willow beamed at her. She couldn't believe the difference in how she felt now that Tara was back. She had never loved anyone more than she loved Tara. It was like a great weight had been lifted off her shoulders and she was finally allowed to be happy.

"I've been thinking, and living with Buffy is great and all but maybe we should get a place together. A place of our own." Willow suggested.

"I think that's a great idea!"

"You do?" Willow asked.

"Well, of course, sweetie. It would be nice to have a little more privacy and people are always running in and out of Buffy's house. It would probably make it easier on everyone."

Willow looked down toward her lap where her fingers were twiddling nervously.

"Was there something else?" Tara questioned.

"Um, yeah. It's just.....um." Willow continued to fiddle nervously and her breathing became rapid and shallow.

"What is it? Willow, you know that you can tell me anything."

"I know. I'm sorry. I'm just a little nervous." Willow admitted.

Tara looked at her with a bewildered expression. She couldn't figure out what could possibly have Willow so rattled.

"I was so lost when you got killed. Life became meaningless to me and as much as I tried to go on, I just couldn't. I couldn't stand being without you. I kept waiting for things to get easier but they never did. I just missed you too much. If Spike hadn't brought you back, I honestly don't know what would've become of me. You are my life and I never want to have to spend another day without you."

Willow dipped a hand into her purse, which was hidden behind her and out of Tara's sight. She brought a shaky hand around from behind her back and presented Tara with a blue velvet box.

Tara watched as Willow opened the box to discover that a beautiful sapphire ring was inside of it. It was a large heart shaped stone with small white diamonds surrounding it.

Willow knew how long it would take her to pay for this ring but there was something about it that reminded her of Tara and she couldn't bring herself to settle for anything less.

"Willow, it's gorgeous!" Tara exclaimed.

"Will you marry me, Tara?" Willow asked with a racing heart.

Tara looked up at Willow, her eyes shimmering with tears.

"Willow, I love you so much. Of course I'll marry you!"

Willow slipped the sapphire ring on Tara's finger and they kissed while happy tears rolled down their smiling faces.

******************************************************************

Willow and Tara ran up to Spike and Buffy who were still on the dance floor.

"Guess what?" Willow smiled brighter than she had in months.

"Boy, somebody got hit with the happy stick! What's going on guys?" Buffy inquired.

"We're engaged!" Tara announced as she waved her jewelry-clad finger in front of Buffy's face while jumping up and down.

"Oh my God! Congratulations!" Buffy squealed.

Her squeal was followed by another round of feminine squeals from all three girls. Spike stood back and observed them curiously while chuckling to himself at the sight of the girls' excitement.

Spike walked up to the newly engaged couple and wrapped his arms around both of them in one huge hug.

"That's great you two. Congrats!" Spike stepped back and couldn't believe how great he felt to be able to see the two lovebirds together again.

"Don't tell Anya though. Not yet anyway. If she found out I proposed to Tara at her wedding reception, I'd never hear the end of it. I could just hear her now accusing me of stealing her thunder." Willow said.

"Your secret is safe with me." Buffy replied.

"Well then, Xander and Anya are married and Willow and I are engaged. It looks like you two are the only ones left." Tara grinned sheepishly.

Tara and Willow walked away grinning like Cheshire cats as they left Spike and Buffy alone to ponder on Tara's comment.

Buffy looked at Spike and laughed nervously.

"They really love to stir up trouble don't they?" Buffy asked.

"They sure do." Spike grinned. "Can you imagine a slayer marrying a vampire? You would definitely go down in the record books for that one."

"Probably." Buffy admitted. "But I don't think I would mind if I spent the rest of my life with you." Buffy said before reaching up to place a kiss upon his lips.

Spike pulled her more tightly against him and pressed his lips to hers in the most passionate of kisses. Every time he kissed her it was with everything he had and he took her breath away.

They reluctantly pulled away from each other as they heard the loud clearing of one's throat.

Xander stood before them with a goofy grin on his face.

"Sorry to interrupt your make-out session but the bride is about to throw her bouquet and I'm tossing the garter out to a giant group of love starved males. It's gonna be a mad house!" Xander said dramatically.

"You better take your places. We're tossing them out at the same time. It's Anya's idea. She says 'the sooner we get this tradition over with, the sooner we can start the honeymoon.' That's my wife for ya. Ok, now that sounded really weird. My wife!" Xander said, his goofy grin returning.

Buffy and Spike made their way to their respective groups where every single male and female were grouped together waiting superstitiously to see who would be getting married next.

Before both Anya and Xander threw their items into the crowds, they peeked behind their shoulders to scope out their targets.

Simultaneously, with a flick of the wrist, both items flew out into the crowds and just as they had intended, the bouquet landed perfectly in Buffy's arms and the garter flew into Spike's hands.

Spike came walking toward Buffy with the garter twirling around his finger.

"Why do I think this wasn't just a coincidence, pet?" Spike asked.

"I know. I saw them sneak a glance at us before they did the throwing. I think we were set up." Buffy replied.

"On the other hand, maybe it was fate. I know for a fact that Xander throws like a girl. His aim couldn't be that perfect if his life depended on it." Spike’s lips formed a cocky grin while Buffy laughed.

"You know, you're probably right. I'd rather think of it as fate anyway. I like that idea much better."

Spike stared into Buffy's eyes and placed a hand under her chin, slowing lifting her head up as he leaned forward into another spine tingling kiss.

As they parted, she wrapped her arms around him in a warm hug and pulled his head down so her lips were near his ear.

"I love you, Spike." Buffy gently whispered.

"I love you too, Buffy."

Buffy looked around the dance floor to see Xander and Anya getting ready to leave for their honeymoon.

She watched as Willow and Tara danced with each other with blissful smiles on their faces, as they thought about their future together.

She looked into Spike's crystal blue eyes and realized that she finally found happiness with someone she knew would be by her side forever.

None of them are sure of what their future holds, but they are going to enjoy this feeling while it lasts.

It was their perfect moment.

THE END

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Thank you rosie, ash, secretguest, Cordykitten, Candace, PhotographyNut, Yzba, smg fan, Maria, spike4buffy, klyku & Bridget for reviewing. I appreciate each message I've received. I really hope you enjoyed this story. It was my way of making things happy for all the characters after season 6.
This story archived at https://spikeluver.com/SpuffyRealm/viewstory.php?sid=20775