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The apartment was quiet, yet the atmosphere weighed heavily on Spikes shoulders. He had just arrived, yet there had been no sign of the slayer. He stopped and sniffed at the air and his heart lurched as he caught not only the scent of vanilla that he associated with Buffy, but also the warm fragrance of her blood mixed with the dark scent of his sire. All was coming from the direction of the bedroom.

Bloody hell! Angelus was already there! Spike just hoped to whatever God was out there that he was not too late, even though he knew that he was. The rich fragrance of her blood was calling out to him, drawing him closer and closer to her location.

Finally, he came to the end of the hallway, just outside the door on the left, where the smell of fading life was strongest. Silently, he opened the door and stepped in, vamping out at the sight that met him. Buffy’s pale, lifeless body in Angelus’s arms. Two puncture wounds on her neck were the only sign that she was completely drained.

“You were right, Spike. Slayer blood is mmm-mmm good,” Angelus grinned, licking the last remnants of the liquid from her neck.

No! No, this could not be happening! Not to Buffy! Not like this!

“No!” Spike sat upright in his chair. He frantically glanced around at his surroundings, searching for any sign of Angel and Buffy, only to find himself on the private jet with everyone asleep but Lorne, who seemed to be in engrossed in a book about Broadway.

It had been a dream. All of it. Spike didn’t know wheatear to feel relieved or anxious about it all. As far as he knew, Buffy was still alive, but for how long before Angelus got to her? Would she be willing to stake him if need be?

Bugger all! It was impossible to be sure. Spike closed his eyes and called up another image of his slayer. Beautiful, strong, yet so vulnerable. She was the only thing that mad his hart want to beat again. He was such a sodden fool for staying away from her, like he had. If he had just gone to her as soon as he was corporeal …well, there really was no use for that line of thought. He had not gone to her and now he was, but only because Angelus was on the loose. She was really going to hate him when she found out just how long he had been back from the dead. There was no doubt in his mind about that.

“I’ve died, so many years ago; but you can make me feel, like it isn’t so…” Spike began to sing, wanting to return to the days in Sunnydale, when everything seemed so much simpler then they did now. “Why you come to be with me, I think I finally know…”

Little did Spike know that he had an audience. Impressed by the smooth yet roughness of Spike’s voice, Lorne stopped reading the book and out of curiosity, began to read Spike. To say that he was in awe was an understatement. Spike was so much more then he seemed to be, even without the soul. He had a huge capacity to love and when he did, it was forever. Better yet, those feelings he had for the slayer had been returned ten-fold. The poor chap just didn’t know it. Well…maybe it was time he did.

“She meant it, you know,” Lorne reached over to touch Spike’s arm. “She loves you and still does.”

Spike looked at Lorne as if he had grown another head. “What are you going on about, mate?”

Lorne leaned closer, hoping to drive his point home. Spike deserved the happiness that came from love, just as much as anybody did. He could not let him stay in the dark about this any longer. “Your destiny, precious. I just had a little looksie at your soul during your little ditty and I must say that I am impressed. It’s not everyday a vampire earns both his soul and the love of a slayer.”

“Oh. Well, the soul, yeah. That happened, but I never had her love and probably never will.”

“Well cutie pie, that’s not what your aura says. You are swimming in her affection as we speak. Something tells me that you have someone waiting down there in the hell mouth,” Lorne smiled, hoping that he had just put Spike on the right path. “Trust me Junior; love has finally done right by you.”

“If you say so, mate,” Spike shrugged, not daring to put too much stock in what Green said. Fred had once told him of Lorne’s gift to read souls when people sang, but the thought of Buffy actually being in love with him…well that was just too bloody impossible for him to believe. She cared about him that had been obvious in Sunnydale. Heck, she may even consider him a friend. However, love? Nah. Not going to happen. To think so would just be setting himself up for another fall, a fall that he did not want to take ever again.


“Spike’s alive?” Dawn frowned as she spotted her sister’s tears. She had hoped that Buffy’s tears were a thing of the past, but now it seemed as if the tears had made a complete comeback.

“What?” Willow took a seat beside her friend, her green eyes conveying the shock she felt at the news.

Buffy looked up at Willow and Dawn, wondering if she sounded crazy to them. Heck, she sounded crazy to herself. “Spike’s alive.”

“How? When? Are you sure?” Dawn stammered her eyes wide with disbelief.

“Yes. Giles just called and told me. It turns out that Angelus is back and looking for a rematch. Spike is on his way here to help us deal with the dark wonder.”

“I don’t understand. How is it that he’s alive? I mean…Sunnydale completely collapsed. No one could have survived that,” Dawn frowned, tucking a brown strand behind her ear.

“Giles didn’t tell me much. He just said that Angelus was back and so was Spike.”

“Wow. I mean…wow,” Willow breathed feeling a bit dumbfounded by the news. This was something that she definitely had not been expecting.

“Buffy…what are you going to do? I mean, Angelus…you kill him…Angel dies too,” Dawn bit her lip, worried for his sister. The last time Buffy had faced Angelus, she had left town, devastated. What would happen if she had to kill him again?

“I’m hoping that it won’t come to that. I’m hoping that Will would be able to restore his soul before he even gets to Cleveland.”

“…I can…but there’s a problem. I need an orb of Thesulah and they’re almost impossible to obtain these days. I’d have to look on the black market…” Willow sighed dejectedly.

“Well then look on the black market. Just get that orb. Please…I can’t do it again…I just can’t,” Buffy brushed away a tear. She remembered all too well the pain in her heart as she plunged the sword into Angel and the look of hurt and betrayal in his eyes. She remembered how she was haunted by nightmares and how she had to struggle just to get through each day without crying. No. She could not kill Angel again. She would die first.

“Hey, I’ll look and I’ll keep looking. We will get Angel back. I promise,” Willow hugged her friend tightly. “Don’t worry. We’ll save Angel and find out what’s going on with Spike.”

“What do you want me to do?” Dawn asked, eager to help. She had witnessed the Angelus episode back in Sunnydale. She wanted to help make sure that the bastard never hurt her sister again.

“Go to school and live life like you normally do.”

“Buffy!” Dawn exclaimed, exasperated. She was sick of being treated like a child. She was ready to help now. She wanted to be a protector instead of the protected.

“I mean it Dawn. You are not to go near this. Angelus is not Spike. He is deadly and malicious. I don’t want you in a situation where he could get to you,” Buffy got to her feet, determination burning in her eyes.

“Buffy’s right Dawnie. This isn’t the time to be a junior Scooby. We’d both sleep a lot better knowing that you’re safe,” Willow squeezed Dawn’s hand. “Tell y you what. You can help me surf the net for the ingredients I need for the soul restoration spell. I’ll go get your computer set up now,” Willow patted Dawn’s hand one more time before heading up to her room to gather up her old computer.

Buffy stuffed Spike’s lighter into her pocket and turned to go into the restroom when Dawn grabbed her arm.

“Do you still love him?”

“Angel? Well…I don’t know. He’ll definitely…”

“No. Spike. Do you still love Spike?”

Buffy stared at Dawn, feeling a mixture of emotions. She honestly didn’t know how to answer that question. Just the thought of Spike brought up new feeling in her, but was those feelings love? She honestly couldn’t say.

“Buffy!” Caitlin Stevens, one of the students that Buffy trained everyday, entered the apartment, interrupting what was to be Buffy’s answer to Dawn’s question. “We have company. A man, one vampire, some chick with blue hair, and a demon. Raianne wanted to slay all of them, but I thought that we should talk to you first. Buffy, they claim to be here to help you.”

“Oh God, they’re here already. Where are they now?” Buffy pushed back the raising dread that she felt at seeing Spike again. What was she going to say to him? What would he say to her? Would he explain why he had not bothered to contact her upon his miraculous return? “Alright, nobody slays anything. They are friends. Where are they?”

“Waiting in the foyer,” Caitlin turned, motioning for Dawn and Buffy to follow her.

As Buffy walked, the angrier she grew. Obviously, Spike has been back for a while, yet he had not even bothered to let her know that he was alive. All those months of mourning his loss had all been for nothing! Now he was here in Cleveland, expecting her to welcome him back with opened arms! Well he had another thing coming!

Finally, they reached the foyer, where the small group from L.A. was surrounded by a large group of girls, ready to stake them on Buffy’s command. Buffy’s anger increased when she spied the platinum blond talking to a loudly dressed green demon. Pushing her way through the girls, she came to stand face to face with him.

“Spike,” Her voice was void of all the shaky emotions that were churning inside her, but her stormy eyes held her anger.

“Buffy…” Spike’s eyes widened at the sight of her. She was even more beautiful then he had remembered. Her hair was now an inch shorter and she had gained a few pounds, giving her a healthy glow. He searched for something to say. Something cool and familiar, but all thoughts seemed to have fled the minute she had entered the room. “Long time no see, hey Luv?”

“Buffy!” Dawn exclaimed in shock as her sister’s fist smashed into Spike’s nose, wheeling him back against Lorne.