Author's Chapter Notes:
Newly revised. if you want to see more.. review.
Spike sighed as the girls continued to argue over R.J. He had heard enough about this pratt and all he was worried about was Dawn. He could feel it in his bones that she was in trouble, and the twiddling bints weren’t helping matters. They pulled into the train station and he wondered what in the world Dawn was doing here.

“You know-- Anya’s probably seducing R.J. right now,” Buffy exclaimed, as Spike climbed out of Xander’s car.

“Oh, my God! You think so?” Willow questioned in horror, as she climbed out of the front seat with Xander. Buffy was right. Anya probably got to R.J. and seduced him while they were out looking for Dawnie.

Spike gritted his teeth in irritation, as he ignored the women next to him I hate magic. The consequences are always too high a price to pay. And now, my lil' bit is out there somewhere about to kill herself over some snot- nosed pillock. He searched frantically for Dawn having sensed her fear and despair, so he knew she was close. His eyes landed on his Nibblet, lying on the tracks with a train barreling towards her. He pushed past the girls and ran toward her. The gravel was sliding under his boots and he had to weave around debris. There were random obstacles in his path such as a pile of bricks, and a few barrels. She’s going to let that large hunk of metal rip her apart over a boy! I don’t bloody think so. Fear was gripping his heart but he was not going to let Dawn do this to herself. He refused. He didn’t go to the ends of the earth to get his soul to come back and watch one of his girls die.

“Dawn! Get up!” Buffy screamed, as she suddenly realized the danger her sister was in. Seeing Spike take off in front of her had snapped her out of her daze. Her sister was going to die and she was standing her gossiping with Willow about a boy. What was wrong with her? Willow had stopped gabbing away as well and wracking her brain for some way to help with magic but she was coming up with nothing.

Buffy began to take off after Spike, but she wouldn’t beat him to her, but she prayed to god that he got to Dawn in time. “Dawn!” She screamed, but she doubted Dawn could hear her over the train’s roar.

Dawn closed her eyes but she didn’t move. She could feel the train coming, the ground beneath her was vibrating but she was calm. I have nobody. Buffy took them all; first Xander, then Spike, and now R.J. She had everything she ever wanted and went after more. Drove Spike to do something so horrible and abandon me. She doesn’t need me. She’s got everyone else at her beck and call. Spike probably won’t even miss me. He’ll be too busy groveling after Buffy for forgiveness. He’ll never even know that I’m gone.

Spike pushed forward with an extra burst of speed and got to Dawn. He grabbed her lax body off the tracks, and he rolled them to the side just as the train thundered by. Dawn burst into tears as she collapsed on top of him in a tangle of limbs. What the hell? Now what do I do? She was really going to go through with it. Stupid Summer’s women.. He wrapped his arms around her awkwardly, since he was lying on the gravel with Dawn on top of his body, but he managed. It had been a long time since he held her and he was surprised that she let him with the current strain that was on their friendship.

Buffy collapsed on the ground next to them, out of breath. She was only moments behind Spike, but the blonde vampire still beat her to her sister and rescued her. What kind of sister was she that she had to rely on someone else to protect Dawn? A job that she had been doing all of Dawn’s life. “Dawn? Are you okay? What were you trying to do?! Get yourself *killed*?!” she yelled, her worried and angry gaze falling on her sister and checking for injuries.

Spike continued to rub Dawn’s back gently and glared at Buffy. “Piss off, Slayer,” he said, irritated by the small blond, and showing it with a name he hadn’t used in forever. “The last thing she needs right now is you yelling at her. Come on, Dawn.” He turned his attention to the quivering teenager, ignoring Buffy’s stunned look and sat up with her in his lap. He helped her to her feet. “Let’s get you home.” It occurred to him that she could be hurt and he paused to check her over. “Are you hurt anywhere? I know I was kinda rough yanking you off the bloody tracks.”

Dawn wiped her eyes. “I’m okay,” she whispered enough for Spike to hear, as her body trembled slightly and her heart pounded against her chest. “I’ll probably have a bruise or two. But I don’t think I’m hurt.” He really showed up? And he told Buffy off! I didn’t think Spike would actually come to my rescue. I thought he’d be too worried about keeping Buffy away from R.J. He saved my life. Again. He still loves me even though I was so horrible to him.

“What for?” Spike asked, as he looked down at her. “You didn’t do anything wrong. This isn’t your fault-- and I don’t think Buffy is really that upset with you. And no guy is worth your life”

“Not the train thing and I didn’t mean to scare you,” Dawn said, looking up at him. “But I’m sorry for being so mean to you. I was just so angry at you.”

“You had every right to be,” he stated softly. “You don’t have to be sorry because someone hurt you like I did.”

Her heart melted when Spike draped his jacket over her, whether for comfort or protection from the cool night, she didn’t know, but she was grateful and smiled at him to let him know. Dawn sniffled but she didn’t try to touch him, once he backed away from her after giving her his coat. It wasn’t his usual duster but it still helped. He must have had it for a while because it had essence of Spike to it. She didn’t want to freak him out after he had just saved her life. She wasn’t sure if he was uncomfortable with her or with Buffy, but he had reason to be uncomfortable with both of them. She planned to change things very soon. She looked at Buffy.

“Did you kill the principal like you said you would to impress R.J.?”

“No… Spike stopped me,” Buffy replied, giving Spike a small smile. Buffy had been quiet since Spike told her to back off and she had no idea what to do. Dawn seemed to be content having Spike look after her and who could blame her? Buffy didn’t do much of a job even attempting to rescue her.

Spike raised his eyebrow at her display of affection. She never smiled at him without some evil intentions.

“Can Spike come home with us?” Dawn asked her sister. Hopefully this would make them get along. Buffy couldn’t keep Spike out of their home forever.

“Dawn!” Buffy and Spike exclaimed in surprise as they look wide eyed at one another.

“What?” Dawn asked, in a very teenager-like way, as if it was no big deal. She desperately wanted him over for a visit since he seemed to be avoiding the house. “He hasn’t been over to see either of us in such a long time --so *please*?” She stressed her plea, and pulled her tried and true weapon in situations like this- her big puppy- dog eyes. Puppy dog eyes never failed, but for good measure, she used the infamous Summers’ pout, which she had learned exclusively from Buffy herself.

“Fine,” Buffy said, defeated. Only true evil can say ‘no’ when Dawn uses that face. “But, not too late-- you have school tomorrow.”

“Sweet,” Dawn squealed. She pulled a very rigid and nervous Spike back to the car. “Come on--we have lots to talk about.”

Buffy smiled and followed them to the car with Willow and Xander, who had straggled over to them after the train had gone by. Having Spike at her house for pleasure rather than business was going to be strange. They hadn’t spent time together as friends in forever. She climbed in the back seat after Spike, so he sat in the middle.

She could tell he was tense by the way his muscles moved against her thigh. He sat sat ramrod straight, tightly holding his body in place forgoing his normal relaxed sprawl that she had missed. She missed confident Spike, the one who always had her back. He was uncomfortable and it was because of her and she knew she deserved his cold shoulder. He had avoided her as much as possible since he came back and now they were in cramped quarters for the moment. He probably thought she was going to hit him since that’s what she always did when they were close. She hoped the visit wouldn’t be a total disaster. It would be good for Dawn to have him around.

On the way home, Buffy began to relax in Spike’s presence. She was comfortable for the most part and leaning against the window like a little girl, but Spike kept shifting to avoid her touch. He was still tense and his back was stiff against the back seat.

“Buffy, I can get R.J.’s jacket,” Xander said, glancing at her through the rear view mirror. “And we can burn it when I bring it back to my place.”

Buffy sighed in relief. Who knew a jacket could cause so many problems. It almost made her lose her baby sister and made her look ridiculous in front of Spike. “That sounds good Xander,” she said. “Will we need a spell or can we just burn it?”

“Burning it should work,” Willow said.

Dawn was gabbing away to Spike and he was making appropriate sounds as she talked, but he barely glanced at Buffy. She felt left out and hurt. She would never admit it out loud, but she missed his attention. She missed it even more, now that Spike seemed more at ease with Dawn.

At the house, Dawn led Spike to the kitchen, where he stood awkwardly, feeling very out of place, as they made hot chocolate. Well, Spike made hot chocolate and began to reacquaint himself with a place he called home for those 147 days that Buffy was gone.

Since Dawn had had so many bad experiences with cooking, she just sat at the counter. She was still chattering away as she took off her dirty sweater and left it on the kitchen floor. Spike laughed a bit at something that she had said.

Buffy felt uncomfortable interrupting so she went upstairs. She changed her dirty clothes and took a shower. She blow- dried her hair and picked up her mess which she never did, because no one was around to nag on her. She could remember her mom always telling her to clean her room before she went out with her friends. After she’d hung up all her clothes, made her bed and rearranged the bottles of makeup and nail polish and perfume on her dresser, she went into the bathroom, hung up her towels and made sure the bathroom floor was soaked, she decided she couldn’t stall anymore and went downstairs. She envied the chumminess between the two of them. “Having fun?” she asked, trying her best to keep the jealousy out of her voice. She wanted to be able to talk to Spike as easily as he was talking to Dawn.

Dawn smiled at her sister over her cup of hot chocolate. “Yeah, we’re having a great time,” she said, excitedly as she sloshed her drink on to the counter when she set it down. “Going patrolling?”

“Not tonight.” Buffy sat at the counter next to Spike, praying he wouldn’t move away from her. But, if he didn’t want her near him, she wouldn't force him. Nor did she want to. She didn’t want a repeat of last year. They could be civilized and she wasn’t going to force him to do something just because it was convienient for her.

Spike looked at the clock; it was 9:30. He’d leave in a half hour since he didn’t want to keep Dawn up on a school night. He was still protective of Dawn and she needed to go to school in the morning. And having Buffy sit next to him, even though she wasn’t touching him, was making his skin tingle. It was the worst and the best form of torture. She voluntarily came near him, so that had to be good sign right? She is voluntarily sitting next to me? She must want something. There is no way she’s forgiven me for what happened. I haven’t even forgiven myself and here she is; wanting to be near me. This girl is going to be the death of me.

“So what was so great about this boy?” he asked, for a change of subject, not really caring one way or the other about Dawn’s latest heart throb. He wanted something to distract him from Buffy’s scent, the way the light shined on her golden hair, the beating of her heart-- he wanted a distraction, and Dawn’s latest drama would do.

Dawn glared at Buffy who was avoiding her gaze. “Ask Buffy. She was having sex with him.” Her voice was bitter. Buffy had a history of stealing away the attention of people Dawn liked. Sure, Buffy was under a spell this time, but that didn't make it hurt any less, that once again her sister stole away the admiration of someone Dawn harbored feelings for; first Xander, then Spike, and now R.J. It felt like she was never going to be good enough for anyone. Buffy was always going to be better.

Spike’s eyes flooded with hurt. So, he really wasn’t good enough for her. She had to go after some pimply- faced teenage boy that Dawn had the eye for.

“It was a spell… I didn’t know. I couldn’t control myself and nothing really happened,” Buffy said lamely. It even sounded stupid to her. That was the same excuse that she gave Spike last year when they first kissed.

“I didn’t say a thing,” Spike said softly, staring at the tiles of the counter, looking anywhere but her face.

“No, but you thought it. I could see it in your eyes. I know what it’s like to see someone you care for in someone else’s arms.”

Spike snorted but didn’t make a response.

“I saw Angel with Faith.” You with Anya. “Riley with Faith and vampire whores, Angel with Dru.” Let’s not forget you with Dru. “I’ve seen it enough,” she said softly, the pain of her memories clouding her eyes.

“Buffy…” He could not think of anything else to say. There were times that he had done that to her as well. He had sex with Anya. It didn’t matter that they were piss drunk, he hurt the woman he loved. He had let her down and he seemed to be making a habit out of it with all the things he was doing. All he seemed to do lately was hurt her.

Dawn felt awkward and out of place as they forgot about her and talked about things she only had an inkling of. She wasn’t sure if she was angry that she was being ignored or if she was happy that they were at least talking to each other. She had some idea of what was going on between them but Buffy hadn’t given her any major details about her relationship with Spike, only that she had used him and he tried to hurt her.

Being the ever curious teenager, she didn’t leave the room. Besides, if Buffy and Spike had a fight, she was going to need to be around. Spike might need her. Dawn wasn’t sure if Buffy would hurt Spike, but Dawn wasn’t going to allow that. Not after everything that had happened.

Both her sister and the vampire had been keeping things bottled up inside, and that couldn’t be good for either of them. Dawn had a feeling Spike was angry at Buffy for what Buffy had done and there was no way Buffy was over what Spike did to her, but, she knew in her heart Spike loved Buffy but she didn’t know how Buffy felt. Buffy was probably unsure of her feelings as well. She could always bail if things got too mushy for her. Spike might declare his undying love for Buffy and that was enough to make Dawn gag. It used to be cute but it got old after a while. It wasn’t a secret to anyone anymore about how he felt and if Buffy didn’t get it, Spike was wasting his time trying to convince her.

“No, it’s okay. We’ve both been hurt enough. We don’t need to be hurt again by going over the past. Can’t we just have a better future?” Buffy asked shyly as her hand covered his. Her heart was racing as she made the first move. She wasn’t sure if it was too soon or not, but she couldn’t just sit around and hope for a chance that might not come. She wasn’t about to just sit by and lose someone important to her again.

“Buffy, we don’t have a future,” he said, pulling his hand away from hers. He couldn’t believe those words left his mouth, but there was no way he could be everything she needed in a man. She needed someone to give her security, which he couldn’t after he tried to rape her. She needed someone to give her children and take her into the sunlight. With him being a vampire, he couldn’t give her either of those things.

Buffy flinched as if she had been slapped. “We could have one. You know…as friends.”

How could he talk to Dawn so easily and yet be so cold to her? For him to not want to be with her, crushed her. She expected him to meet her half way, but obviously he couldn’t. Her heart broke as she realized he didn’t love her anymore. She hadn’t felt like this is years; not since Angel left, and that meant she felt more for Spike than she thought.

Spike shook his head. “No, we can’t.”

The atmosphere in the room was becoming too strained for her to stay and Dawn gave Spike a quick kiss on the cheek, in case he didn’t want a hug from her. “I’m going to bed. Thanks for saving me.” There was nothing for her to do down here. She didn’t know what Spike was thinking, but she hoped her sister wouldn’t drive Spike away again. Or even worse, for good.

“Any time, Nibblet,” he said, kissing her hair.

Dawn smiled and flounced upstairs, on her teenage girlie feet. It felt good to hear her nickname again. She just hoped she’d hear it again soon.

“I better go,” Spike said in a shaky voice. He picked up his mug, with trembling fingers.

“You don’t have to go,” Buffy said, fear bubbling in the pit of her stomach. She wanted to talk to him about what was going on with them or what was going to be going on with them, but, if he left, she didn’t think she would have the courage to have this conversation again later.

“Yeah, I do.” He rinsed his mug and set it in the sink. He didn’t turn to look at her, because he knew that if he looked at her face, he wouldn’t be able to do what he needed to do. “Buffy, as soon as I figure out what is going on in Sunnydale and what it has to do with me, I’m gonna go. This ‘beneath you it devours’ is big and I’m a part of it, but when it’s over, I’m gone.”

Buffy’s eyes widened as she realized what he meant. He meant forever, not just for a few days or weeks. He was going to leave her forever. Her heart began to race, like it did when Xander told her to run after Riley. Did she have the courage to run after Spike? “You just got here,” she said, her voice cracking.

“I wanted you and Dawn to know how sorry I was-- I never meant to hurt you-- or to abandon Dawn like I did. I wanted to see you and Dawn one last time before I left Sunnyhell forever. I thought I would be able to stay in the same town with you both, but, I can’t…I can't do it. It’s driving me crazy with guilt. I can’t stay here living with what I’ve done to you both.” His voice trailed off, barely a whisper.

“We know you’re sorry-- and we don’t want you to leave again,” she said, going over to him, as tears rose behind her eyes. She couldn’t fall apart now. She had to keep a level head and not be hysterical. She had to talk to him, not beg him to stay. He had to stay because he wanted to, not because he thought she was going to fall apart. “You can’t just up and leave us forever. You’re not that kind of guy.”

“Buffy, this is hard enough for me. I’ve never wanted to leave you--and now--now I am. This is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do, so please let me do it right.” Was there even a right or a wrong way to leave someone?

This is not happening. He can’t leave me. He just can’t. I can be who he needs me to be. I can make things better for us. “Where would you go?”

“Far away-- out of your life forever,” he said. His voice caught. His heart was breaking all over again. He felt miserable, broken, but he knew he had to leave.

Tears welled in Buffy’s eyes. “You don’t have to,” she said, her voice taking on the tone of a small child begging her parents not to leave for work. Her green eyes puffed up as the tears slid down her pink cheeks. It had been a long time since she cried and she wasn’t sure she’d ever cried over Spike. She swallowed her pride, she was willing to do everything she could to make him stay.

Spike winced, his broken heart unable to withstand the pain of the woman standing next to him. The last thing he ever wanted to do was make her cry. He was tired of hurting her. He hated himself enough. “Buffy, please don’t do this.”

“Spike, if you leave, it will destroy me,” she said her voice breaking, as tears flowed down her face. She didn’t pause at his look of shock. “You can’t --you can't just be like everyone else in our life and leave. You’re supposed to be different.” You’re supposed to be the one who stays. The one who meant it when he said he loved me.

Spike moved away from her. She wasn’t saying she loved him, but she wanted him around. But around for what – to torture him more? Or pretend they were friends, or? As much as he loved her, he couldn’t allow her to hurt him. It was bad for them both. He wanted to give in to her and stay, which made this a whole lot harder to do. He had to leave. He couldn't stay not after—he had to leave. His voice filled with pain and determination. “I have to do this.”

“No,” Buffy said, desperately. She was ready to beg if she had to. She was ready to cry, scream, throw a tantrum, or even say the words he longed to hear. She couldn't lose him, not now. Spike was such a big part of her life and she didn’t want to live without him. He was her best friend when her friends were too occupied with their own lives. He knew her better then she knew herself. She needed him.

“I can’t stay,” Spike said, looking away from her tearful and scared face. I have to leave for her sake-- if I stay I'll only hurt her again-- I don't want to hurt her.

“Why? Why don’t you explain it to me? Explain to me why it is that I have to tell Dawn that you’ve run off again? Explain why I have to lose my best friend?” She stepped closer to him, without touching him; she didn’t want to scare him away. She knew he wasn't ready for her to touch him. Not after the disaster of last year. Then, they’d been as intimate as two people could be, now, she didn’t dare touch him for fear he’d vanish. How could things have gone so wrong? How could she have been so stupid? She didn’t deserve this man in front of her. He should hate her. Yet, he came back and did everything he did before he left. He still had her back, even when he thought she didn’t notice, and he could still read her like an open book. He loved her, or so she thought and he protected Dawn. It shouldn’t take this much for her to realize what was right in front of her face. Another guy was really going to walk out on her. The one guy who was everything she needed and promised that he would always be there for her. No matter what happened.

“Because… because I can’t be here, knowing I can’t have you-- the way I want, the way I've always wanted you.” he said, finally looking up from the floor to meet the eyes of the woman who owned him body, undead heart and unused soul.

“You want me to love you.” Buffy wrapped her arms around herself trying her best to protect herself, her heart. She knew it would come down to this, she just hoped it would have been later, when she better understood what she was feeling, when she knew for sure. She had believed for the longest time that she couldn’t love. Love anyone. Not just Spike, but everyone around her. Loving him would change her life forever and she was too scared to allow that to happen just yet. She would have to open up to Spike and let her emotions surface if she really wanted him to stay. She would have to trust him with her heart. Was she ready to do that? Would she ever be ready to do that? She wasn’t sure if she could love him, but she didn’t want to lose him completely either. How selfish was that?

Spike crossed his arms mimicking her actions. “Yeah,” he said, softly. Always about her even if she didn’t realize she was doing it, she was making this about her when it really wasn’t. It was about him and what he wanted out of his existence. He wasn’t sure Buffy had what he needed anymore and he needed time to figure that out. Or at least his head told him that. His heart however told him to scoop her up and kiss her senseless but that was not possible at this point. “And, I know you never will.”

“I might be able to one day -- Spike, last year was not good for us… I…I was afraid… you said you loved me-- without a soul. Angel couldn’t love me when he lost his soul. I don't understand how you could and he couldn't--Spike… I… I believed everything I was taught—Giles, and the Council and all those books that were shoved in my face, said that soulless demons couldn't love-- Why could you love while he couldn't? Why Spike? Tell me why.” Ever since Spike had gotten his soul, and shown the same amount of love for her as he had before his trip to Africa, she had wondered why Angel couldn’t be the same way. Maybe Angel was just in love with having a little girl to protect.

That scared her the most, letting go. If she let herself be anything with Spike, she would have to let go of her dream of being with Angel. Was she strong enough to do that? She had held on to her dream with Angel for so long and to let it go would mean there was room for someone else. Someone real, who was right in front of her. She knew her dream with Angel was over, and when she had visited him after Willow and the others brought her back from the grave, she felt empty. Her heart didn’t flutter like it used to when he was near her, and she had no desire to touch him or kiss him the whole time she was there. Was she strong enough to have the real thing with Spike? What she had with Angel was girly love.

What she could have with Spike, scared her. She would be a woman. He could be everything she wanted and needed in her life, but he could take it away as well and she wasn’t sure she could handle that again. She couldn’t deny that Spike loved her unconditionally. His love was crazy, tender, rough. He’d seen her at her worst and stayed to help her through the horrors that she had been through, like her mom dying and being torn from heaven by people who were supposed to love her. No one else could say that. He wasn’t scared to tell her the truth because he knew she was strong enough to handle it. Having a soul didn’t mean anything. What excuse did she have to not be with him anymore?

Spike frowned. “You’re scared because I love you more than Peaches? That wanker broke your heart I’m the one who’s going to pay for it?” He raised a scarred eyebrow. “Is that seriously what you are saying to me? I didn’t mean to break your heart, Buffy. I didn’t walk away from you with intentions of staying away. And, you know damn well that if Angel walked back into your life with a newly intact soul, that he couldn’t lose, you’d welcome him with open arms and forget that he broke you.”

“I’m not saying that,” Buffy whispered, as his words cut deep in her heart. She couldn’t deny them, because he was right. “It wasn’t only Angel. Riley left because he thought I didn’t love him. It hurt when he left. I didn’t even try to fight for him. And, now you-- you're leaving again.” She gave up. She was beyond trying to stop him. He was taking her words the wrong way, and she didn’t want him to leave without everything being resolved. If he was going to leave, she wanted to get everything off of her chest. Then if he left, she knew that she had done everything she could to make him stay.

“There’s only room for Angel in your heart…and…and I’m going to respect that.” It's always going to be Angel, mate, no matter what you do-- might as well cut your losses.

“That isn’t true. If it was, we wouldn’t be standing here and I wouldn’t be asking you to stay,” Buffy said desperately. “There’s plenty of room for you in my heart.” She paused for a moment as fear began to fill the pit of her stomach again. Maybe it really was too late. Maybe she really had pushed him away too far to pull him back to her. “Did you stop loving me?”

Spike’s heart melted. “I never could,” he said, firmly as he reached out to touch her hair, taking a risk. “I’ll never stop. I don’t even think I can. I tried to; it didn't work…it never worked. ” How could she think such an absurd thought? Had she gone completely daft? His control was slipping and his heart was beginning to win out over what his mind was screaming at him.

“Give me a chance,” she whispered, looking up at him. “Please? I don’t want you to leave. I know I’ve said that I did in the past, but I didn’t mean it. I want you here. Whether we’re together or not, I still want you in my life. I don’t care what we are, I want you here. I need you here.”

Spike eyed her carefully. “Let me think about it,” he said. “I can’t just jump into something right now, Buffy. I need to think-- about what *I* want. I…I won’t leave without telling you.” Maybe he should give her a chance and see what happens? He never thought he would have a chance after what he had done, but if she was willing to get past what happened in the bathroom, maybe she really wanted to be with him.

Buffy nodded in relief when she heard he wasn’t leaving tonight and wiped her tears. “I’ll accept that,” she said. She had to sit down at the counter as her emotions caught up with her. She felt, exhausted. She put her head down on the counter and groaned.

“You alright?” Spike asked, picking up the kitchen from his hot chocolate mess with Dawn. It seemed like the most natural thing in the world when minutes ago he was going to be leaving. He really was loves bitch, even when she didn’t know what she did to him.

Buffy rolled her head and watched him clean. “I’ll be okay,” she said, not picking her head up. “You don’t have to clean. I’ll do it in the morning.”

“I don’t mind,” Spike said, rinsing Dawn’s cup and the tea pot. He wiped down the counter and stove before putting everything away. “I can clean up my own mess.”

“I would have never guessed,” Buffy teased, as the tension began to lift between them. “Thank you.”

Spike smiled. “Go get some sleep,” he suggested, going to the front door.

“I’ll walk you out,” she said, turning the kitchen light off. She pulled his lighter out of her pocket and lit a few candles on the dining room table before following him to the front door.

Spike stared at his lighter as she put it back into her pocket. “Why do you have my lighter?” He asked, pausing in the foyer. “I couldn’t remember what I did with it and had to by a new one when I left.”

“It was in your jacket,” Buffy said, meeting his eyes. “And you left that here um… when you took off. I still have it. I didn’t get rid of it or anything on you. But I obviously couldn’t go around wearing your coat in the middle of summer, so I settled for carrying your lighter. You’re coat is too big for me anyways. You can have it back if you want.”

Spike gently reached out to stop her hand as it went back to her pocket. “You can keep it for now,” he said, offering her a smile. “I’m not smoking but when I pick up the habit again, I’ll be looking for it.” Since he had gotten his soul, he hadn’t gotten around to smoking, but he was fairly certain this thing with Buffy would make him start again. He always wanted a cigarette around her. It kept his hands busy which he always needed when he was supposed to be keeping his hands to himself.

Buffy smiled fondly. That meant he would be back. “It’s not going anywhere,” she said, with more then one meaning. “I promise. We’ll be waiting when you’re ready.”

“Goodnight, Buffy,” Spike said, opening the door. He gently pulled it shut before they ruined their mood. It didn’t seem right to kiss her yet.

“Goodnight, Spike,”

She bolted the door before heading upstairs where she collapsed on her bed to think. She’d never thought that she would have to beg him to stay and she wasn’t prepared for it. She couldn’t remember begging for anything in her life. But it was a start and she felt much better. She had told him things that she had never told anyone.

She wasn’t ready for a romantic relationship yet and Spike wasn’t either, but there was no reason why they couldn’t be friends for now. She knew she wanted one and there was no doubt in her mind that Spike wanted one too, but it would take time. They would never be able to be more then friends until they talked about everything else. Tonight had only been the beginning. She was still going to have to talk to him about what he did to her, but she was going to have to take this one day at a time. They could patrol and talk and watch T.V. together, maybe even go on a date together. She hadn’t done that in a long time and neither had Spike come to think of it.

She had to show him that she wouldn’t take him for granted anymore and make him see that she was serious about being with him. That was plan she would come up with tomorrow. She rubbed her face and snuggled into her bed where she fell into a dreamless sleep.

Spike stood at his tree under her window. He imagined her climbing into her comfy sushi pajamas, then into her bed. He began to leave once he saw her bedroom light turn off. He had a lot to think about as he headed back to Xander’s.

Maybe they would have a future. If Buffy loved him, that would be a miracle. He could move in, spend time with Dawn like he used to, he could take care of Buffy when she came home from patrol. He knew she needed someone to tend to her needs. Patrol was brutal, and sometimes she got really hurt and didn’t do anything to help herself. He imagined making love in her bed, someplace he only dreamed about. Her room was forbidden and he’d never been in there invited. Come to think of it, Buffy never invited him anywhere, she always demanded he go some where with her or he went to be a pain or be close to her. They could go to The Bronze, and he could hold her sweaty body close to his while they danced. It would be his piece of heaven.

Buffy’s friends would do everything to prevent Buffy from loving him. Spike hadn’t thought about when they were talking. That was a big part of why they weren’t together. She could blame it on the fact that he had no soul, but he knew the real reason. Her friends, Giles, and her sister meant everything to her. They made her different from any other slayer he’d ever fought. They made her a different woman. Would she let herself be happy, regardless of what they wanted? Could he take her away from her friends? Did he want to take her away from her friends?

Agreeing to stay was a mistake. He knew it. But, how could he leave when she was offering him everything he craved? How could he break her heart when she was finally willing to give it to him? Could he trust her? What if she changed her mind? Would she break his again when he put it on the line? Could he really go through that pain again? He couldn’t have his heart broken again.

He just couldn’t.

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