***Part Seven***

It was late the next afternoon when Willow rushed into the training room. Buffy sat in a chair watching the two vampires in her life spar. It was sort of strange to watch them spar instead of try to kill one another, or her as the case had sometimes been as well. Both vampires stopped, it was no secret to Spike anymore what they were doing so he knew just as well as Angel and Buffy did what Willow coming in here could mean.

"I finally got a hold of someone," Willow said.

"That would be my cue," Spike said, wiping his brow with the back of his hand. "I'll leave you to talk shop," Spike said and left the room without another word. Buffy glanced in Angel's direction, but his facial expression told her nothing. She had woken that morning to find Spike in Angel's room talking with him. She had no idea what they talked about, but assumed by their sparring together it had at least been cordial. She hoped so, because she could not cut Spike out of her life. If they could not get past their problems that was their deal, but she was not going to kick Spike out when he did not fit in anywhere anymore. Not after what he had done for her and for Dawn.

"So, what did you find out?" Buffy asked.

"I finally managed to get a hold of someone in the Kalderash clan willing to talk with me. You wouldn't believe how many hung up on me."

"We'd believe it," Buffy said, trying not to get her hopes up. She really was not overly fond of the idea of having to give Angel blood again, but if she had to she would. It did not seem fair that he would have to suffer and she did not.

"Okay, well, yeah, I suppose it does make sense. So, I went over the spell I did and explained what we want to do but not why of course," Willow said with a shrug. "The woman seemed a little pleased, actually, it seems that Miss Calendar wasn't the first the clan had sent to keep an eye on you."

"Okay, so can we do it or not?"

"No," Willow said with a frown.

"Are you sure? Do you trust this woman?" Buffy asked.

"I don't know what she'd have to gain by lying to me. She wouldn't want me to do anything to cause him to lose it."

"True," Buffy said, biting her lower lip lightly.

"She could not tell me if the spell I did was different than the one done originally, so I have no way of knowing if the soul is permanent. So, I guess we go the other route if you still want to."

"Buffy," Angel said, closing the distance between them. "Are you sure about this? I mean, that you want me? This isn't another attempt merely to feel better, is it?"

"No, how can you ask me that? And besides, is your soul becoming permanent a bad thing?"

"Well, no, it'd piss Wolfram & Hart off, which is almost worth it in its own right but I'm just making sure."

"Having you will make me feel better, Angel, so sure that's why I want to do it. But not in the way you think, I just refuse to be miserable anymore. If you want to stay here in LA, we can see each other when we can and that's better than what we've been doing since you moved."

"Are you sure that'll be enough for you?"

"It will have to be, won't it? It's better than nothing. If it weren't for Dawn I'd be tempted to move up here."

"There are private schools," Angel said.

"Angel, let's get through this part and then work on the other things."

"Go get what you need, Willow."

"Okay," she said with a smile. She did not appear to be surprised that she was going on this errand.

"So," Buffy said her arms going around Angel's neck. "What do you want to do until she gets back?"

"Well, I don't know," he said, grazing her cheek with the pad of a thumb. "It would be kind of rude to stay to ourselves, but if I'm going to be sleeping the sleep of the undead for the next three days I want to spend the rest of the afternoon with you and only you."

"We're going to change," he said as he walked past the front desk.

"Spike's in there," Cordelia said.

"Thanks, Cordy, but it's not like he hasn't seen me change before."

"A little too much information." Angel grimaced, but decided it was probably best not to beat the subject to death. Cordy and Wesley would not be surprised by some of the things he could talk about from his days pre-soul, but Gunn and Fred might be shocked. Angel knew there some things better left untouched.

Angel and Buffy entered his room, surprised to see Spike kneeling on his bed. "No offense, Spike, but what are you doing?"

"You want to set these up yourself and take the chance you set them up wrong?"

"I think I could manage, Spike," Angel said as Buffy went into her room, closing the door between their rooms.

"Yeah, I'm sure you can, but I'd like to be doubly certain if Red's mojo doesn't work and you go soulless again that these are going to hold you." Angel watched as Spike slid off the bed and approached him. "Because if you go soulless and kill her, I'll be first in line with the crossbow to see the deed she could not do when Angelus last reared his head gets done."

"Are you threatening me, Spike?"

"Just stating the facts, mate. I may not like her choice, I may hate you for it, but she's made her choice and I have to respect that. I'm willing to get along with you, but only because of her. And be certain if you screw up I'll be there in a heartbeat to fix her."

Angel patted Spike's chest gently, smiling wryly at his grandchilde. "I'm not going to screw it up. You haven't seen me lately, Spike, I have been on the verge of letting Angelus come out to play even with the soul. I wouldn't have chased after her when I was the one who left, but I'm not fool enough to turn her away. And if Willow's poison thing works, all the better."

"I hope you can't get the shackles off when it's all done," Spike said sardonically. "They're set up. I guess I'd better get the drill back before they wonder what I needed with it; probably think I was vandalizing the place. Are you planning on telling them?"

"No reason to tell them, really."

"You don't think they might want to know that you're going to be unconscious for three days and there's the chance Angelus may make an appearance when you come to?"

"No, because Buffy will stop me, and you'll be within earshot so if anything goes wrong it'll be taken care of promptly."

"Got that right, I could think of better ways to spend my evening than listening to the two of you go at it. Just don't hurt her."

"Spike, I think this talk is a little late, she's not a virgin anymore."

"No, you saw to that. I didn't mean physically, Peaches, I meant mentally. You did a number on her, whether she's admitted it to you or not, Angelus' attitude towards her after that night left her ego pretty battered."

"I find it hard to believe that's still the case."

"Did you actually see Finn?"

"Yeah, a couple of times."

"You think a woman whose first experience had gone well would have turned to him? Come on, he's about as exciting as watching paint dry. At least the bloke that used her had a bit of personality to him."

"What are you talking about?"

Spike's eyes widened and Angel was left wondering just how much about Buffy and her life Spike knew that Angel had no clue about. "She didn't tell you?"

Angel grabbed him by the shirtfront and drew him to him, game face in place. "Tell me now, Spike my boy and I'll try and go easy on you three nights from now knowing you're listening. Maybe if you're real good I will see if she'll let you watch."

"Oh bugger off, I wouldn't want to watch the two of you," Spike said, breaking free of Angel's grasp. He smoothed down the front of his shirt and stood tall. "He was just some college bloke. You know the type, troll the new co-eds on campus, chose her, reeled her in and spit her out as soon as he was done with her. Did a number on her, but that was in part due to her trying too hard to get over you."

"Are there others?"

"Not that I know of, no. It was just that kid and White Bread. Listen to you, mate, didn't you and Darla hook up recently? So you can go on shagging, but she's supposed to be the virgin-like chosen one, dressed in white and pure for the rest of her life in your honor?"

"No, I just didn't know. Did he make her happy?"

"Who, the kid or White Bread?"


"No, you ninny, he was paying vamp whores to feed off him. He didn't deserve her, he was an idiot. He wanted her to change, couldn't accept her being the Slayer, being stronger than him. He could not accept you, could not accept that she did not kill me and god forbid actually treated me like a man instead of a monster. He had a problem with acceptance for the most part and he was boring and dull. I've had more fun driving through the state of Iowa he hails from than the excitement he ever seemed to arouse in Buffy. I can't imagine he shagged much better either. She certainly didn't get all googly eyed about him like she's always done with you."

"I left to give her the chance at a normal life."

"Angel, who are you to judge what's normal for her? She's not a normal human. You can't look at the bint who works here and think what's normal and works for her is going to be normal and work for Buffy. Like you said, you left once and weren't going to backpedal. She's come back; you'd be a fool not to snap her up. If you don't I will. She wants the darkness, Angel, she wants the monster."

Angel cringed slightly at Spike's words. He not only did not like thinking of himself as a monster, but he did not like the idea that Buffy wanted that. But Spike had a point; she had given the normal life a try. Maybe Finn did not work out and maybe there was a human out there who could offer her a normal life who it could work with, but Angel was not going to push her away a second time. "I was not as willing to give her the benefit of the doubt on that when she was eighteen as I am now."

"Well, look who's waking up and smelling the coffee, Peaches. I'll leave you to your changing now and whatever else you planned on doing in here together before Red comes back to do her thing. Buy myself a bottle of Jack for when you come to in three days and I have to watch you two together."

"Oh come on, Spike, it won't be that bad."

Spike scoffed. "Right, you want to trade seats, Peaches? Participant for spectator slash watch dog and tell me how unbad you think it would be?"

"No one's asking you to be the watch dog, Spike."

"Yeah, well, as Buffy says, love makes you do the whacky. I'm not leaving until I know she's safe with you. Sorry, that's the way it's going to be. Unless you believe anyone else here can take Angelus out?"

"Besides Buffy, no," Angel said somewhat apologetically.

"Didn't think so, and I think we need to have someone in case you get past her. At least she thought of the chains, I give her credit for that. That shows she's thinking with her head instead of other parts."

Angel was quiet, there was really nothing to say. The only way Angelus would get past Buffy was if he killed her, Spike had left that part unsaid but both vampires knew what he meant. "I'll see you in three days then," Angel said.

"I hope so, Peaches. That's not true I don't really, but for the Slayer's sake, just want her happy for a change."

"Me, too."

"You know, I actually believe you, which is why I'm not doing something poofy like challenging you to a duel or anything. I don't want your discards, and she wouldn't come to me if I killed you so that wouldn't do me any good."

"Right, like you wouldn't take her if I sent her back to Sunnydale?"

"Two days ago I would have, Peaches. I'm not going to compete with you for her affections, I'd lose. You've got a soul, all I've got is the chip her ex and his cronies put in me. You win. Again. And on that note, I'm out of here. I'm not sure whether to wish you good luck, and I'm sure there's a performance jibe I could make given it's been a while for you and I'm sure there's gonna be some anxiety because of the soul and all. But I'm just not of the mind right now to make with the jibes," Spike said and left the room.

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