Chosen One by Pari

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It had been a nice ceremony, held at night as so all of her friends and loved ones could attend. No one seemed to have the strength to leave, not after the last prayer and amen. Not even after the dirt had been packed in and patted over. They all stood staring at the fresh dirt as if expecting her to spring back to life.

"So, what do we do now?" Anya finally broke the stiffening silence, as she stared at her friends.

"I guess we go home." Giles spoke but never took his eyes from the grave, nor made any indications of movement. Dawn's tears fell harder at his words.

"I don't have a home anymore." She sobbed as she leaned further into the still chest and cold arms which enveloped her.

"Course you do luv." Spike said as he held her close, stroking her long brown hair. "Right?" He asked, looking at Giles for reassurance.

"Yes, you can stay with me, until..."

"No!" Dawn said defiantly. "I want to stay in my own house, mine and Buffy's house, in my own bed."

"You can sweetie." Willow said as she stroked Dawn's cheek. "We'll all stay with you if you like." Dawn shook her head to the suggestion.

"I don't need you to stay."

"But you can't stay by yourself Dawn. Buffy wouldn't want ..." Xander tried reasoning only to be cut off by Dawn.

"Buffy's dead!" She nearly screamed, which sent a chill down the spine of everyone. "And I won't be alone." she grasped Spike's hand firmly. "Spike will stay with me, won't you?" She stared up at him with pleading eyes. He was speechless.

"I don't think that's a good idea." The brooding Vamp, who stood a ways from the others, leaning against a tree. The same tree he had held Buffy under after her mom's funeral. "I don't think Spike should be the one watching you, Dawn." Dawn glared at Angel.

"No, and who should, you?" She spat through gritted teeth.

"I think that Angel's got a point." Giles spoke up.

"Which is what? Oh that Spike's evil, he doesn't have a soul, he's gonna hurt me?"

"Well, yeah." Angel said.

"Over the past year, Spike has saved my life more times than I can even remember, he's saved all of us one way or another. He's protected me, and Buffy. He even tried to fight a demon to save me from Glory, only to be thrown from seven stories high for his effort. But you won't know any of this because you weren't here." Dawn hissed at Angel, who hung his head at her true words, he hadn't been there. "Where were you Angel, huh? Where were you when Buffy worried herself sick after mom told us about the tumor. Then on top of that she had to worry about Glory finding me. You weren't here when we needed protection, Spike was. That's where Buffy always took me to be safe, to Spike. She never even called you, did she? No, and do you know why. It's because she didn't trust you, not with her heart. And that's what it all comes down to, the heart. You see you may have a soul, but Spike has a heart. Spike would never leave me, and he would never hurt me, I know that and so did Buffy." Spike stood silently with tears in the brims of his eyes. He squeezed Dawn's hand gently to show his appreciation. She smiled up at him. "Will you take me home, please?"
Spike looked to the other for further objection and when none came, and everyone stood quietly staring at their feet, as if shamed by Dawn's word, Spike and Dawn left the cemetery.



Back at the Magic Shop




The gang, including Angel, had been sitting in silence since returning from the cemetery. They were each locked in their own world of denial and self blame, wondering what they could have done to change things. Giles cursed himself for his drive to stop the bleed by killing Dawn, that he had never even considered the alternative. Willow felt guilt for making Tara her priority, she had been so determined to return Tara to normal she had forgotten the battle entirely. Xander had been so worried about Anya after the debris had fallen on her, he didn't care about anything else. And Angel, 'If only I had been there.' was all that he could think of, all that he played over and over in his head.

"This can't be real." Willow spoke with downcast eyes. "She can't be gone." She winced as if the thought of it cut into her. Xander moved to her, hugging her tightly as she buried her face in his shoulder and cried.

"What are we supposed to do now?" Anya asked, looking to everyone, anyone to leave her fears and doubts.

"We go on, like she would have wanted." Angel said.

"Yeah but we can't defend the Hellmouth without a slayer." Anya continued, posing the inevitable question, 'Who will be the next Slayer?'.

"That's being taken care of as we speak." Giles stated, showing his unhappiness at the idea.

"So what a new slayer's being born right now?" Xander asked, as he remained kneeling at Willow's side.

"Ah, no, actually she's being released form prison." Giles answered as he removed his glasses and pinched the bridge of his nose, bracing himself for the onslaught he knew was coming.

"What?" Angel was the first to respond.

"I hope you're not talking about Faith." Xander stated, remembering his last encounter with her.

"Yes I'm afraid so." Giles said, placing his glasses back on.

"But Giles, you know all the things she did. Why she's in prison." Willow added.

"Yes, the council is calling all their favors to get her released."

"Giles, she can't be the slayer. She just can't be."

"Well, as much as I agree she was the one chosen after Buffy died, well before, but she came back, and now that..." Giles inhaled deeply. "She is the chosen one, and there's nothing I can do about it, except..."

"Except what?" Xander asked.

"I have resigned from the position of her watcher, so she will be assigned a new one."

"You're leaving?' Willow asked as another pang hit her.

"She's really not that bad a person, Giles." Angel interjected. "I mean once you get to know her, you might lik..." Angel cut the sentence off after registering the looks the others were giving him.

"And how would you know?" Xander asked suspiciously.

"She came to me for help. She felt guilty for all the things she had done, which was why she turned herself in. I've gone to visit her every week since then."

"So what you're her pen pal?" Xander continued.

"No, I'm her friend, and I believe she's earned another chance."

"No wonder Buffy was so pissed at you after she got back from LA."

"Xander," Anya said trying to calm him.

"No, I think Dawn was on to something. He couldn't come here and help us fight Glory and save Buffy, because he was too busy befriending Faith, who, might I remind everyone here, is a BITCH! Not only that but she murdered an innocent guy without even blinking." Angel again hung his head. "I don't know about the rest of you, but if she's coming here to defend the Hellmouth, well then she'll be doing it without my help." with that Xander stormed off towards the training room, punching a near by wall as he passed. Anya instantly rushed after him.

"I have to go with Xander on this one. I don't think I can help her either." Willow stated sadly. "I just don't trusted her." Tara, who had been sitting silently, now stroked her lover's hand reassuringly.

"Well you have to do what you feel is right, as do I. I will always be here for you all as a friend, but not as a watcher. That's not my job anymore. Now I'm just a magic shop owner." Giles said, smiling weakly.

"I think you all should at least give Faith another chance before you just dismiss her."

"We all can't be as forgiving as you, we're only human after all." Giles said and then headed upstairs, leaving Wilow, Tara, and Angel to themselves.

"So, are you heading back to LA tonight?" Willow asked.

"Ah, no. I think I'm going to stick around for a few days, check in on Dawn, and make sure she's safe."

"She's right you know, Spike would never hurt her. He's changed a lot since you've been gone."

"A Hundred and thirty-six year old habit is very hard to break. I know, I battle with it everyday"

"He loved her." Willow said as she looked off towards the window. "Buffy I mean." She turned to face the vamp before her. "When he told her, we all laughed and thought it was some scheme, but when he looked at her you could see it. Well, I saw but I don't think Buffy ever did. It was real, though, just like his love for Dawn, that Buffy did see. She knew that Spike would die before he would let anything happen to Dawn, he nearly did. And even though Buffy treated him lower than dirt, and every vamp and demon in town wanted his head on a platter, he still helped us. Doing whatever he could to keep us all safe. So, don't be too hard on Spike. Besides if I thought for a second that he would hurt Dawn, he'd already be dust."



Summers Residence




"I miss her." Dawn spoke as she stirred her food with her fork. The vamp sitting across from her just sat watching her intensely, as if waiting for the moment she might crumble, as so he could reach to catch her. "It's all my fault, it should of been me." She closed her eyes and the tears flow once again.

"Don't go blaming yourself Pip. If anything had happened to you, it would have killed Buffy. I'm sure she didn't get to tell you this, but when Glory took you, Buffy just shut down. She was catatonic. She was so racked with guilt that she couldn't function, so she just sat, staring out into space."

"Really."

"Yeah, For hours she stayed like that, until Willow wnet inside her head and snapped her out of it. I can tell you this, all that mattered to her was you. After losing your Mum, you were all that kept her going. She loved you." Dawn smiled warmly at the vamp.

"I just want her back. I'd give anything to have her back."

"So would I luv, so would I."

"I'm not really hungry, but I am tired."

"Well you go on up to bed, I'll be right here when you wake up." Spike said as he waved his hand towards the stairs.

"You promise?"

"Yeah luv, I promise." With that Dawn moved from the table, making her way to the stairs.

"Ah Dawn," The young girl turned back to him. "Thanks for what you said earlier. Defending me and all." Spike felt awkward, no one had ever defended his honor before.

"It was the truth, and it needed to be said." With that she disappeared up the stairs. As if lightening struck him, Spike had a revelation. Everything suddenly came into view. At that moment he understood; he understood Buffy, Giles, and the gang. He even understood Angel, and he knew what he had to do. He moved to the living room, and picked up the phone.

"Hello, Will..."



Outside the Bronze




Spike had sat in the shadows for nearly three hours, waiting. He knew it wouldn't be long before the object of his search would show his face. Like clock work, the man left the bar, stopping long enough to light a cigarette. Spike moved from the shadow just in time to be spotted by the man, who looked as if he was going to bolt.

"Charlie my boy, you know better than to run from me. You know I don't like it." Spike almost hissed.

"Spike." The man smiled, fidgeting nervously. "It's been a long time, how've you been?" The man looked around them.

"I need a favor."

"Aw man come on." The man whined. "It's bad enough that you're my sire. I mean I get the crap kicked out of me everyday for that. But man if someone saw me here, helping you, they'd kill me. You know there are a lot of demons that have it in for you, because you've been helping the slayer. Well, at least the bitch is dead now." Spike quickly gripped the young vamps throat as he went into vamp mode.

"Not for long, and you and your gift of sight, you're going to help me."



Some time later, on the rougher side of town




"Uh, what's this?" Spike asked, grabbing the younger vamp by the collar.

"It's a manhole." Charles said.

"I can see that, but what are we doing here? I said I wanted to see the powers that be, not the sewers."

"It's a test, sort of a leap of faith."

"Ok then you first." Spike said, gesturing with his hand.

"I'll fall and crack my head."

"And I won't?"

"No, not if you believe in what it is that you're doing. I mean do you think they see every bloke that comes knock. No, they only want the ones who sincerely want their help, and would do anything to get it. If that's you mate, then jump." Spike watched him skeptically, and then looked down the hole. He stepped closer to it, and then ...

"Bloody Heelllllll!!!!!"

He was surrounded by darkness, but he knew he had landed in the sewer, for the smell and sounds of rats scurrying about were clear. Suddenly there was a blinding light and he seemed to be transported to another place, no longer the dark, smelly, dank sewers, but some place almost heavenly.

"What do you want?" A female spoke.

"Why are you here?" A male voice added.

"I need a favor." Spike spoke, as he picked himself from the ground. Suddenly laughter rang out.

"We do not grant favors, we don't have to, were Gods." The female voice spoke again, and then she appeared along side a male. They both were dressed in attire from what Spike thought to be as in Roman times. "But we will listen to your request none the less."

"Yes, it has been a while since we've had a good laugh, not since that vamp with the soul." The male spoke.

"Angel?"

"Ah, yes Angelus. He is very deluded and too sure of himself." The male continued.

"So tell us William, what is it that you want?" The female asked. Spike looked her baffled, wondering how she knew his name. "We're Gods remember, William was your Christian name."

"Right, anyway I came to ask you to bring the slayer back. She died a couple of days ago, saving the world."

"Yes we know."

"Then you can bring her back?"

"There is nothing that can be done." They spoke in unison.

"There has to be, come on she was a slayer. One of your Chosen, and you can't cut her a break?" Spike spat of in anger. "She's save the world on more than one occasion."

"Why do you care?" The female asked. "You without a soul."

"Because," Spike started in a loud irritated tone, but then softened it. "There's a young girl who needs her, and after the year they've had..."

"Yes, but why do you care?" The female asked again as she moved to face Spike.

"I...I Love them. They're my family, even if they don't want to be." Both of the Gods looked to each other and smiled.

"Yes we see now." They again spoke together.

"Look, could you just I don't know, snap your fingers, and bring her back? I'll do whatever you want, name your price." The powers that be smile more broadly at the vamp before them.

"Bring the mortal's body here, before sunrise." With that the two forms disappeared.



The Magic shop


"Guys we have a problem." Xander said as he and Anya rushed in to where Giles and Angel sat drinking tea. "Where's Willow and Tara?"

"With Dawn, Spike called her and asked if she could baby-sit for awhile. There was something important he had to do."

"Yeah something, like, digging up a grave." Anya said, causing both Giles and Angel to stared at her.

"We were out patrolling, while I tried to clear my head a bit, and we found Spike." Xander stated. "At Buffy's grave."

"Well, that's to be expected, I think he's genuinely grieving." Giles said, pulling his glasses from his face.

"Did I mention that he was digging up a grvae?" Anya asked looking around at the men before her. Both Giles and Angel stopped and stared. "As in Buffy's grave."

"What!" Both Giles and Angel yelled. "Why didn't you stop him?"

"This is Spike were talking about, and even with the chip, I've seen him use that vamp strength of his, especially for Buffy. So, I thought it would be best to get back up." Xander answered.

Was he still digging when you left?" Giles asked as he stood and reached for his coat.

"Uhm," Anya nodded her head. "It looked like he just started."

"Well it won't take him long, let’s go." Angel said rushing out, with the others close behind.



Later at the grave




"Man we're too late." Xander said, as they all stood around the hole that had been Buffy's grave, while staring down at an empty coffin.

"I'm going to kill him." Angel said in a near growl.

"I don't understand, why on earth would Spike want Buffy's corpse?" Giles asked.

"You do remember the Buffy-bot?" Xander offered, causing both Giles and Anya to make a disgusted face.

"Buffy-bot?" Angel asked confused.

"Uh, I’ll explain it to you later, right now we need to find out where Spike's taken Buffy." Giles said. "But where do we start?"

"Well, why don't we just follow the dirt trail?" Anya suggested, pointing to the ground.



Elsewhere




"All right." Spike yelled. "I brought her, where are you?"

"We are here." The powers that be suddenly appeared.

Ok then do your mojo."



Up above




Well, Spike's definitely here I can smell him." Angel stated.

Yeah and the trail stops here." Xander said, standing over the manhole. The others soon gathered with him, all staring down into the darkness.

"Ahhhh!!!" A voice cried out.

"That's Spike." Angel said, surprisingly rushing down the manhole, as if to rescue his brethren.



Down below




"It is done." The powers that be spoke in unison.
Suddenly Angel rushed into the only brightly lit corridor, the others followed hot on his trail. They all stood, shocked at the sight before them.

"Buffy?" Angel nearly whispered the name.

She sat with a blank look on her face, her whole body numb. What had happened, she questioned in her head. One moment, she was with her mother at peace, and without a worry, and now. She wrung her hands, they were suddenly very stiff, and she shivered slightly, cold.

"Buffy?"

It had come as a muffle, sort of vague. She had heard it, "Buffy." but it didn't register.

"Buffy?" The word came again, clearer this time, and she turned to it, to the three men and woman standing above her.

She started at them in confusion, without recognition. Then her attention fell to the pale form beside her, sprawled out on the floor and realization crept into her mind. She started to remember, and the tears welled in her eyes.

"No, I don't want this." Buffy finally spoke.

"It is done." The goddess spoke.

"Then undo it."

"We can not, we will not."

"Buffy." Angel said again, moving to her. He reached down to grasp her, but she just pushed him away.

"NO!" Buffy yelled in anger. "I did my part, I saved the world, I deserve to have peace. I was with my mom again and it was wonderful. I just want to go back, please." The tears flowed freely.

"Yes, you have saved the world many times, and this is your reward." The god spoke.

"First death is my gift, and now living and being the slayer again is my reward." She chuckled a little as her shoulders slumped at the thought. "I'd love to see what my punishment would be, for being bad."

"He said that you would be happy, that you were needed here." The goddess spoke again.

"Needed here?" Buffy repeated and then it hit her. She put her hand to her open mouth to capture the scream sitting there. "Oh God, Dawn." She then turned to Giles, who gave her a weak smile.

"Dawn is fine, but she's really missing you right now."

"Sunrise is approaching fast, we must complete the transformation." The powers that be spoke.

"Transformation, so then she'll be ok, I mean alive again." Angel asked.

"Her transformation is complete, Angelus." The goddess smiled at the way the sound of his true name, made Angel stiffen. "We must complete his transformation." They all looked to Spike's lifeless form, still lying on the floor. The Goddess walked to him and placed her hands on his chest.

"What transformation?" Buffy asked as she moved closer to Spike in a protective manner.

"He gave his life for you." She answered.

"But he was already dead." Xander interjected. "Right?"

"Yes as a mortal, but very much alive as a demon. He gave that up for you and your sister, because he loved you." She smiled to Buffy, who herself gave a slight grin at the sweet gesture. "Which is why we decided to give him another."

"Another, what another life?" Xander questioned, and the Gods nodded. "Which one, mortal or demon." Everyone looked to them at this question.

"Both." The goddess said. "He will be our chosen one, half demon and half mortal. He will have the heart, soul, and feelings like a human, but the strengths and speed of a vamp. However, not the thirst."

"But..." Angel began, understanding the meaning, "The Chosen One..the Shanshu".

"No it's not you, Angelus. It was never going to be you." She continued. " As a demon You have lived an evil, unforgiving, unremorseful existance. And you have loved every second of it. It was the curse of a gypsy, and then a spell of witch, that changed you. It is your guilt that holds you to your humanity, nothing more. If the spell is ever broken you would revert to your old ways, as you already have, and do what it is in your nature to do, kill. To kill mercilessly and carelessly, with pleasure." Angel swallowed hard at her words, knowing somewhere in his mind that they were true words. "You do not deserve a second chance, not yet."

"But why Spike." Xander cut in. "Don't get me wrong, I'm not too heart-broken over him not getting it, cause I'm not a fan, but Spike wouldn't be my idea candidate either."

"No?" The male god spoke. "So you think him not worthy. A demon, who in the past year has saved not only your life but the lives of your friends. One who risked his life for the love of a woman, a Slayer no less." He chuckled a little at the thought. "And then doing something, you yourself wouldn't have ever conceived of doing, sacrificing himself to save the slayer, and you think him undeserving? Hmmm." Xander said nothing further, just held his head a little lower in shame.

"Yes all that's true but in fairness, in regards to Angel, Spike also was under a spell of sorts. He had a chip in his head..." Giles defended only to be cut off by Buffy, who had sat beside Spike, silently, stroking his hair.

"That kept him from harming a human." Buffy said, and then she looked to her friends. "But it didn't make him help us all those time. It didn't will him to fight Glory or protect Dawn. He did all that because...because he loved me." her voice turned to a near whisper as she choked on the last three words, "He loved me". She turned back to the vamp before, looking as if he were sleeping.

"Yes, you see William may not have a soul but he has a huge heart. He did all does thing out of love, because he considers you all his family now. He even turned his back on his dark half."

"Dru." Buffy said.

"Yes, his precious Drusilla. Love held him to his humanity." The Goddess said as she placed her hand back to Spike's chest. Suddenly a burst of white energy flowed from her hand into his chest. Spike's eye's shot open, and his mouth as if to let out a scream, but none came. His body convulsed and the energy engulfed it.

"What's happening?" Buffy asked, as fright crept into her heart.

"He's fighting it, he understands what is happening, but he doesn't want it." the goddess answered.

"But why?"

"He feels he has nothing to live for. All that he knew in life, is no more, and everyone in his unlife wants nothing to do with him anymore. He's given up hope on happiness."

"So what will happen now?" Buffy questioned as tears filled he eyes.

"The sun will rise soon, and if he keeps resisting this, then it will be too late."

"And he'll really be dead." Buffy added, and she nodded. "What can I do?"

"Give him hope." The Goddess said as she moved back to her place beside the male god. Buffy looked back to the vamp before her, seeing the fear and confusion in his eyes. She could almost feel his pain. She gently reached for him.

"Buffy, I don't think that's a good idea." Angel spoke moving to her, ready to grab her from the near blinding light.

"It's ok." She lifted his head and placed it in her lap, and then reached for his hand, which she held firmly. "He'd do it for me. Spike, listen to me, you have to stop fighting. You have to live. Please, Dawn still needs you, I still need you." She leaned over him and moved her lips to his. She kissed him long and hard. The others watched in amazement, thinking they'd never see this day, Buffy kissing Spike. When Buffy moved back, releasing Spike's mouth he inhaled deeply. Gasping to take his first breathe. His chest began to rise and fall, and the thumping of his heart became more regular. He had been staring about the room wildly, until his eyes focus on something, on Buffy, whose green eye's stared back. His appearance began to change; his complexion grew a little darker, and his hair turned chestnut brown, as it had been in his human life.

"Spike?" Buffy called out to him softly. He just stared at her for a moment. She looked to the Powers that Be with questioning eyes. That's when she heard his voice.

"Buffy?" She looked down at him and smiled, letting a tears drop to his face.

"Yeah." She answered, wiping at her eyes.

"Did it work?" Spike jumped, trying to sit up. Buffy held him down.

"Don't move, just lie still for a second."

"But did they bring you back, they promised they would, for my life. So why the hell am I here, are we both dead?" Spike said Babbling, so much so that Buffy silenced him with another quick kiss. "Whoa, Slayer that's three kisses you've given me without being under some spell. Now what would your friends say?" Spike smiled as did Buffy.

"We'd say ewww, oh and yuck." Xander answered catching Spike's attention. Spike began to take in his surroundings, he slowly sat up with Buffy's help.

"What happened?" Spike questioned.

"You brought me back." Buffy answered, smiling.

"But how, what about the deal, a life for a life." Spike asked turning his attention to the two godly forms.

"It is done." They spoke.

"How? I'm still here."

"Yes and so long as you're here you have to continue to help the Slayer in her quest to stop evil, no matter where you are." They added.

"That's it?" Spike asked, eyeing them with doubt. "What's the catch?" The Powers that be smiled as they began to fade away.

"Make us proud, chosen one." With that they disappeared.

"Ok someone please explain, and who in the bloody hell is the 'chosen one'?" Spike asked as he looked around to each of them for an explanation.

"Uhhh." Buffy began and then she noticed the sudden look of fright in Spike's eyes. He looked as if a new realization had come to him, and when he placed his trembling hand to his chest, Buffy knew it had hit him. He was alive. "Don't freak out, I can explain."




"Ok, he is majorly freaking out." Xander said stating the obvious.

"What do you expect he discovers he's alive after nearly 130 years of being undead." Angel spoke defensively. "He's entitled to freak out a little." He finished as he watch Spike pace about the room like a mad man, while Buffy tried to calm him down.

"Why the hell are you defending him, I thought you'd be pissed." Xander continued, and Angel gave him a 'beware' look.

"Why, he had no choice in the matter. If he had he wouldn't have chosen this."

"Why wouldn't he?" Giles asked, still watching the mad vamp before him.

"Because it's enough to make you go crazy, look at him, he has a soul and a pulse, and a lot of frightening possibilities."

"Well, if that's true then why would you want it?" Anya asked.

"I've had a lifetime with my soul, dealing with all the evil that I've done." Angel stated. "It's been thrusted on him all at once, and it's a heavy load, believe me."

"Yeah but he'll be ok, he's got Buffy." Anya said without thinking, and then she caught the pain in Angel's eyes. "Oh but she still loves you, Spike is like a charity case. You know, he helped her out now she's returning the favor." Angel smiled at the attempt to make him feel better about the scene unfolding before him, but knew the outcome. He had known it when he returned to Sunnydale to discover that Spike had somehow become a part of the gang, that Dawn loved him, and maybe even before that. Even Buffy's mom had seen something in Spike that she never looked for in him, it had always hurt him and he had never understood until now. Spike was the 'Chosen One', he had always been, and now Angel had to deal with that and the consequences of it. Angel left the other's side and moved to Buffy and Spike.

"Buffy," He spoke softly as he pulled her to the side. " I'm going to go, it'll be sunrise soon." Buffy nodded.

"Thank you for being here, we may be here for awhile yet." Buffy sighed as she stared at Spike, who still was pacing around mumbling incoherently.
"I don't know what to do with him."

"You could slap him." Anya advised, causing everyone to look at her. "Well, he didn't have a problem smacking Buffy when she wigged out."

"Well, I don't think we should try that, given Spike's state, he might unintentionally hurt someone." Giles spoke rationally.

"Let me try." Angel said as he moved towards the vamp, only to have Buffy pull him back.

"I don't want to upset any further." Angel gently grasped her hand.

"I won't, I promise." with that said Angel moved to the younger vamp. "Spike." The vamp stopped dead in his tracks and turned to Angel.

"I don't understand, Angel. I feel such, such..."

"Guilt." Angel finished Spike's statement. "You're remembering all the evil you've done, all the deaths you've caused, and you feel remorse for it."

"But I don't like it, and I don't want it." Spike said staring at his hands as if they were filth, and he didn't want it touching him. "Make it stop, please."

"I can't, but it will get better. I felt the same way when I first got my soul back. You see all the faces of the men, women, and children you've hurt or killed. You here their voices calling to you, pleading. All you want to do is rip your eyes out and ears off, just to stop it." Spike just nodded at the true words, as his tears streamed down his face. "It helped me to apologize, I said sorry to every face and every voice, until I didn't see anymore faces and the voices dwindled down to a near whisper."

"So, they will go away?" Spike asked, trembly. Angel moved closer, grapping Spike by the back of his neck and pulling his head to his shoulder. Spike in turn clung to him, burying his face in the older vamp's shoulder. This act shocked the other, they never having witnesses the two vamps being tender, and almost loving towards each other.

"No they don't go away, they never go away, for they are a part of you." Angel whispered. "But they become more than just ghosts, haunting you. They become your conscience, and they will make you love your humanity and fight for it. They will make you want to be good, and do good." With that Angel slowly released Spike, who stood before him staring at him. "And they need that," Angel continued, his words prompting Spike to look over his shoulders to the group standing behind them. "She needs it." Spike moved his eyes to the other side of the room to find Buffy standing nearby, with fear in her eyes, and he knew it was due to him.

"I won't hurt her, I love her." Spike said to Angel, never taking his eyes from Buffy.

"I know." Angel then turned and headed back out the manhole and back to the hotel he had a room in. Spike stood in the middle of the sewer, staring down at the wet ground, and the others stood silently watching him.

"So," Spike finally spoke. "Does this thing come with a user's manual? I mean what exactly am I supposed to do?" Buffy smiled at the hint of the old Spike she heard in his voice.

"I think you're supposed to live." Buffy answered as she moved to him, touching his forearm.

"Yeah, "Xander started to speak as he and the other two moved to where Buffy and Spike stood. "And now you're really one of the good guys, you have to help us kill all the evil things." Xander said gloating.

"Well, is that evil from my own perspection, 'cause if it is you're going to be the first I kill." Spike stated, causing everyone except Xander to chuckle.

"Come on let's go home." Buffy said.

"Yeah, and I happen to know that there's a young lady there, well, a couple of them, that would love to see you." Giles said smiling. "As we all are." He then moved to embrace Buffy as she too clung to him with a smile. "Welcome back."

"It's good to be back, but I want a vacation. I don't want to jump back into slaying, I need some time."

"Fair enough." They all head back towards the manhole and hey could see the dawn of the sun peeping down the hole. Spike who was supporting Buffy's weight, stopped, afraid to go out. As if sensing his fear Buffy snuggled closer to him.

"It can't hurt you now." Buffy offered. "Don't worry I'll protect you." She smiled, causing him to laugh a little.

"Yeah right, you know technically you're not even the slyer anymore." Spike said, smiling. Buffy smiled back then got serious.

"Who is the new slayer?" She asked, directing the question to anyone who'd answer, and when no one did she redirected it. "Giles, Who's the slayer?"

"Ah, well..." Giles stumbled for words, removing his glasses, cleaning them and then putting them back on. He looked to the Spike, Xander, and Anya for support but they just looked to the ground. "Well, you see Buffy...."



The Summer's residence




She had awaken suddenly from another nightmare, the same one that had haunted her since her sister's death. 'Buffy running towards the ledge, leaping into the rip in the two worlds, closing it, and then plummeting to her death.' She needed Spike, he would make it better, he always did. He understood the pain she felt, the guilt, cause it was his also. She made her way down the stairs, and found the two young women sleeping on the couch. She moved to the red head, shaking her.

"Willow." she shoved but got no response. "Willow!!" She shoved harder, causing the woman to groan.

"What's the matter, sweetie?" Willow finally spoke, slowly opening her eyes. "Did you have a bad dream?"

"Where's Spike?" Dawn demanded.

"Oh, he had to go do something, and he asked us to watch you for awhile."

"He left me?" dawn spoke as her shoulders slumped at the thought.

"No, sweetie no." Willow quickly sprang up to comfort her. "Spike didn't leave you, he said he was coming back, and that he'd bring you a present. I don't think he'd leave you, not now that..." Willow couldn't finish the sentence she just grasped Dawn's hand and squeezed it gently. They heard a noise on at the door. "See, he's back." Willow smiled.

"But the sun is already up." Dawn said, and they both stood as the door burst open.

"Faith!" A familiar voice spoke. "Of all people, you rehire Faith as the slayer!! I mean aren’t there rules against Slayers murdering and all, cause if not I have a list of people I’d like to take out…" Buffy roared as she walked into the house still using Spike as her support. She whirled around to face Giles who stood there silently taking her brutal rantings.

"Buffy?" Both Dawn and Willow spoke in unison as they stood there shocked to see their friend and sister standing before them, alive.

"Surprise!" was all that Buffy could say, and all that the two could hear before they both hit the floor.

"Dawnie, Wil?" Buffy kneeled over the two, shaking them gently. "Hey guys wake up."

"Mmm." Willow was the first to move. "I had such a dream, it was about Buffy." Willow spoke her eyes still closed.

"A good one, I hope." Buffy said, causing Willow's eyes to shoot open.

"Buffy!!!"

"Yes, and please don't faint again."

"Oh my God."Willow said as she sat upright. "How, Why? What am I saying." with that she grabbed Buffy tightly in a hug. "You're back, I'm so happy you're back." She sobbing as her tears rolled down her face. At that moment Dawn started to come around.

"Dawnie, wake up." Buffy said as she stroked her hair.

"Buffy?" Dawn looked up into the familiar face. "You're...you're alive?" Buffy helped her up.

"Yeah, it's me and I'm alive."

"I don't understand, how?" Dawn question not sure she wanted to allow herself to believe this person really was her sister.

"Spike. He brought me back." Dawn looked from the woman before to the vamp beside her and she smiled broadly.

"Willow said you would bring me a present back." Dawn said her tears now overflowing.

"Yeah luv, how do you like it?" Spike asked.

"Are you really real?" Dawn asked Buffy, who nodded.

"Yeah, I'm real and I'm home, and I'm never going to leave you again." Buffy reached out and pulled her sister in an embrace.

"Promise."

"I promise." Buffy said with her own tear streaming now. All the women stood in the room crying, as Xander and Giles sniffed back their tears. Spike stood smiling, pleased with himself, totally forgetting for the moment his own heartbeat.

"All right, I think we should let the slayer get some rest." Spike spoke.

"Yeah I'm actually quite tired, it'll be nice to sleep in my own bed."

"As opposed to dirt." Spike joked and threw him a smirk.

"Defintely," She replied with a smile.

"I suppose it has been a long night, we should all get some rest and meet up tomorrow to discuss all that has happened."

"And you should call the counsel to let them know that faith's services are no longer needed." Buffy announced.

"Right I shall do that firt thing..."

"Do it now Giles, because if she shows up I'm going to kill her." Buffy warned.

"Right I shall do so right now," With that Giles headed into the kitchen to make the call.

"Guess we should be going," Tara said and everyone simply nodded. "I'm so happy that you're back." tara said as she embraced Buffy. anya followed suit as did Xander and Willow. Then they all headed to the door.

"I guess I better be heading out too." spike said and Buffy reached out and grasped his hand stilling him.

"Stay, please."

"I don't think that's a good idea luv,"

"Please Spike," Dawn rushed to him and threw her arms around his waist. "You promise...whoa." She pulled back a bit as she stared at his chest and then up into his face. "You have a heartbeat."

"It's a long story Dawn, and right now we're too tired to explain it. Give us a few hours to catch up on some z's and then we'll tell you all about it." Buffy said as she moved to the stairs, tugging a reluctant Spike behind her.

"I'll stay here on the couch," He offered.

"No, I want you to stay with me." Buffy stated with a smile as she ascended the stair, pulling Spike along, and leaving a very happy teenager behind them.


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