***Part Eight***

"I can't do it."

Spike raised his head incredulously. Without benefit of preternatural hearing he would have missed the murmured statement. "Buffy," he said hopefully, brushing a few tears from his cheeks. No sense looking like a big poof when she wakes up from a coma, he thought to himself. Her head moved on the pillow, it was slight but he saw it. "Slayer," he called out.

"I can't do it."

"Yes, Slayer, you can do it. You don't belong in the dark. You belong here with your li'l sis and Xander. Going to the beach, wearing white and all those other sunshiny things. Come on now, Slayer."

"I'm sorry."

"I know you're not apologizing to me, Slayer, but you have nothing to be sorry for."


"Yes, Slayer, you'll be able to go home if you wake up."

His words were met with no response. Her voice had remained quiet, only with his enhanced hearing was he able to discern what she had said. He should go get the aid or nurse, but if she did not speak again or come to soon he would look like a fool.

"Slayer," he said his voice hoarse. "I need your help. I know you probably won't believe me when I tell you all that I have to tell you. You will wonder why if I need you I stayed away, but just knowing you were there helped me." He squeezed her hand. He really was not looking for her help through this. His memories and the guilt that plagued him as a result of them was his problem. He just knew if she was on the verge of coming to she might respond to a plea for help given her Slayer instincts.

Her hand moved and he jerked his away unsure if the movement was her own or his doing. "Slayer," he said his eyes now focused on her face. He stood and placed a hand against her forehead, brushing back the hair from her face. He saw movement under her eyelids and he took an unnecessary breath. She made another sound. "Come on, Slayer, let me see those beautiful eyes of yours."

"Spike," she said breathlessly.

He took hold of her hand, his thumb grazing the back of her hand mindful of the IV. "I'm here, luv. Open your eyes for me, pet."

"I can't do it. I'm sorry."

"You have nothing to be sorry for, luv. The sooner you open those eyes the sooner we can get you home."

He saw the fluttering of lashes, the rapid opening and closing of eyes that went with someone who was not sure if they were really awake. "That's it, pet," he said, squeezing her hand.

More fluttering and then her eyes were open and staring at the wall in front of her. "Spike," she asked without looking at him. She just stared at the wall seemingly unseeing or confused.

"Buffy?" She turned her head to look at him and he thought he saw relief in her eyes. At seeing him? Surely not, it was the soul making him hopeful. He did not deserve to have this go so easily.

She moved her hand from underneath his and he released it though he was displeased by the break in contact between them. "You're here. You're you," she said softly, lifting her hand to touch his face. "I couldn't do it. I'm so sorry."

He kissed the palm of her hand as her fingers touched his cheek. "What are you going on about, pet? You have nothing to be sorry for. I'm the one," he said but she placed her thumb over his mouth.

"Shh," she said softly with a gentle shake of her head. "Where am I," she asked looking at the room.

"At the hospital, pet, you were in a coma, reasons unknown. Li'l bit found you, I just happened to be by the house when I saw the ambulance pull up."

"Oh God, Dawn. She must be so frightened. Have you seen her?"

"No, pet, I haven't seen anyone. You are the only one who knows I'm back, though if it weren't for your Slayer senses you wouldn't know either. I imagine the whelp is staying with her." She looked out the window behind him, her hand still at his face as if reassuring herself he was there. "I'm not going anywhere, pet, unless you tell me to leave."

"No, I want you to stay. Don't go."

"Alright I won't go anywhere. You sure about that, though?"

"We have a lot to talk about and I don't know what will happen, but I don't want you to go."

"Then I won't. I should let your nurse know you woke up."

"No. Just stay with me. Please. Don't go," she repeated.

"Right," he said unsure why she was so adamant about his staying. "Do you remember what happened to you? I was going to hunt your Watcher down myself if I had to and have him research what you might have come up against to put you in a coma."

"I don't think anything happened to me. I had the weirdest experience, but I'm not ready to talk about it yet. Just sit and talk with me. Tell me where you've been, why you were avoiding me."

"I was not avoiding you," he said adamantly. "I didn't think I deserved to be able to talk to you."

"I hated knowing you were here but not where you were. Willy wouldn't tell me anything."

"Willy didn't know where to find me. Only Clem."

"I haven't seen him since he told me you left."

"Yeah, he said you have my things. I appreciate you did that, certainly don't deserve it."

"I didn't want anything to happen to your things. It was my fault you left."

"No, Buffy, it was my fault. Things got out of hand."

"But we both did it, Spike. It wasn't just you or just me, it was both of us."

"Yeah, well, that night in your bathroom was me not you."

"No, it was both of us. Everything we had done and said, not done and not said, led up to it."

"I know."

"Can you get me some water?"

"Sure, pet," he said, taking the cup by her bed and filled it with water in the bathroom. "You've got no roommate. Lucky you or I wouldn't have come." He helped her adjust the bed so she could sit up comfortably.

"Why not?"

"Might have wondered why I have no reflection in the window and all."

"Ah." She took the cup from him. "Thanks."

"Let me get your nurse, maybe they won't throw me out for being here now that you've woken up."

"What time is it?"

"Late, after one."

"Wow. And you're here with me?"

"Where else would I be?"

"I don't know," she said with a slight shrug sipping the water. "Willy's? Gambling for kittens with Clem?"

Spike sensed there was an option left unsaid but he was not going to press. "Nah. You needed me. I didn't want you waking up to an empty and dark room with only a nurse around every so often."

"I'm glad. The thing that happened to me. I would not have been able to stand not knowing if you were okay."

"I'm fine, Slayer. I'm fine."

"I know you are," she said, adjusting in the bed.

"Well, someone's awake," said the nurse's aid as she entered the room.

"Hi," Buffy said.

"How are you feeling?"

"I feel alright, actually. I haven't tried to get up or anything."

"Well, I'll let the nurse know you're awake and see what she wants to do with you. Do you remember me?"

Buffy glanced at Spike then back to the nurse. "You look familiar."

"That's okay. I told Spike earlier that we sort of traveled in different circles, but I went to Sunnydale High with you. My name is Dawn Andrews. We had chemistry together."

"I'm sorry, I don't remember. I've pretty much blocked out anything that had to do with studying."

"I don't blame you." She glanced at Spike. "You'll have to go now."

"Can't he stay," Buffy asked and Spike's chest puffed out slightly with pride that she wanted him around. "I hate hospitals and would rather he stay."

"We're not supposed to."

"But he's already here. No one's in the room with me."

"It's not up to me. I let him stay last night and tonight but I'll get in trouble if he's still here."

"I'll go," he said. "I'll be back tomorrow, pet."

She whimpered softly and Spike placed a kiss against her forehead, pleased that she did not withdraw or look upset that he had kissed her. "I'm sure Dawn here will come to check on you if you ask real nice."

"Sure I can. It's pretty slow tonight on the floor anyway."

"Okay. I feel like such a baby."

"You are one," he said with a wink. "Get some sleep. We're not done yet."

"I know," she said and he saw her blush.


"Oh," she said and lowered her gaze.

He chuckled lightly and turned to the nurse. "Is it all right if I just go then?"

"Yeah. Good night. And thanks for understanding."

"No problem, just glad she's awake. See you tomorrow, Slayer."

"Good night, Spike. And thanks for staying."

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