***Part Fourteen***

"You what what? You what where huh?"

"Uh, nothing," he said, lifting both hands in a shrug. This was not how he had imagined telling her. He had pictured something a little more relaxed and comfortable when things had been going well between them for a while. Of course, he realized had he held out too long she might have gotten pissed off at him for not telling her to begin with.

"No, not nothing. You did where and what and how?"

"I told you I did a little soul searching."

"I thought you were joking, making with the puns."

"I wasn't."

She touched him then as if she had never before which was why he had not told her. He didn't want her pity, didn't want her with him out of some sense of obligation. Her hand skimmed over his heart as if it was connected to his soul. Interesting since he had thought of trying to cut his heart out several times in an attempt to get the visions and voices to stop. "You have your soul?"

"Yeah," he said somberly.

"Why didn't you tell me?"

"Well, I was going to. It's not as easy as you think walking up to the woman you love who happens to be the last of your victims. That's why I hadn't sought you out since I came back. I waited for the right time and way to tell you and all. But it never came. I was going to beg your forgiveness, tell you what I went through for you, that I got my soul back for you so that I could be a man and not a monster. But I couldn't do it. Couldn't tell you. I didn't want to beg. Funny thing, this soul, it made me realize that I shouldn't have to beg you to get you to realize you love me."

"And the last couple of days?"

"Listen, I was going to tell you, don't get me wrong. But do you realize how wonderful it was to have you say you loved me, that you were willing to give me, us, another chance even without a soul?"

"No," she said but was lying or just answered without thinking. She wanted to be loved merely for whom and what she was without having to change anything about herself. That was why things did not work out with Captain Cardboard, he wanted a needy woman, a weak woman, a dependent woman. Things Spike's Slayer could never be.

"I felt like the weight of the world had been lifted off my shoulders. I have all these voices, all these pictures in my head, Buffy." He closed his eyes, his chin dropping slightly. "All of the people I've hurt, killed, fed off are here," he pointed at a temple with his index finger and tapped against it. "They're giving a non-stop party in my head and it's not of the good variety more like the massive hangover inducing variety. Most of them are dead or I have no idea where to find them, so I can't go begging them for forgiveness. Not to mention, well, I'm rather fond of my unlife and don't want it to come to an end. But you," he said looking at her, his eyes bearing into hers. "You forgave me. Without a soul. You loved me. Without a soul. You wanted me. Without a soul. And you made me realize it might be okay. I was thinking of calling Angel, but knowing you're here for me, that you're willing to love me seemed like it might be enough. I'd have done anything to hear you say those words, Buffy. I'd go to Africa and do it all over again."

"You got tortured for me?"

"Yeah," he admitted.

"You went to get your soul for me?"

"Yeah," he said again.

"So this starting over thing. The you want me but we shouldn't. Is it because of the happiness thing?"

"Would that bother you if it was?"

"No," she said softly. Her hand was still stroking his chest through his shirt but he could feel the heat of her hand and fingertips as she touched him. The heat of her touch seared into him like fire and he ached to feel her touch and her heat against his naked form again. "Well, okay, a little. But I wouldn't leave you. Like I said about Angel, it wasn't about sex."

Relief flooded over him and he exhaled the unnecessary breath he had been holding. "There is no condition. It's mine I earned it I wasn't cursed with it. I sought it out, passed the tests and it was granted to me."

"What kinds of tests?"

"You don't want to know."

"That bad?"

"That bad."

"I'm sorry. I'm sorry I didn't realize all of this sooner. Save you the pain and the effort."

"It's all right. Like you said maybe the Powers That Be saw something and gave me a shove. I don't know how else I would rate a second chance with you. I don't know how I rated a first chance with you. I had contented myself back when you were with White Bread that I would love you quietly and mourn by myself while being ridiculed by your Scoobies whenever you were gone."

"Did they do that when I was gone?"

"Red was all right and Tara, Dawn of course, too. Harris was not concerned, no. Anya," he shrugged. "She was Anya."

"I take it you don't want anyone to know about the soul?"

"It doesn't really matter I guess, but I don't want it broadcast no. I'd rather be the one to tell people."

"Right, of course. I just meant well, you know, Xander would have to stop complaining about you if he knew."

"I'd sort of like them to realize I've changed without crediting the soul, pet. I have changed. It was just what you seemed to need to be able to accept the fact I felt like any other man. All the soul has done is make me feel remorse and a flood of guilt."

"I can't even imagine. Angel never talked much about it to me so I have no idea. But I'm sure he'd help you or at least let me know how to help you."

"You can help by not telling me to leave."

"I'm not going to tell you to leave, Spike."

"I mean your house. I'd like to stay here. I don't want to be alone. Sometimes I'm fine and sometimes I'm not, why I don't sleep some days and needed the cable. I'll get a job, I'll help with Dawn and I'll help you with the house payments and bills. Maybe you can even go back to school like you were talking about earlier."

"Let's see how it goes, okay? I'm not saying no," she added quickly, much to Spike's relief. "I'm going to say okay for now and let's see what happens. I don't think we'll ever get to the point where we hate each other, we've been through too much together to have that happen. So I guess you can stay as long as you like, but I'm not going to hold you to anything."

"What do you mean?"

"Well, you know, if you start feeling better about things and decide you do want to be alone again."

"Then I'll go to the basement or to Willy's or take a drive, Slayer. I am not leaving again. I don't know how many times I have to say it to get it through your thick skull."

She smirked. "I almost believe you."

"You should believe me. I left for you I told you that. I did not leave to escape you. I had every intention of coming back."

"This is amazing. Spike," she said, her voice lifting with the hint of a question.

"Yes, pet," he replied, willing to give her anything she asked for about then. The way she looked at him, her hazel eyes full of love was making him feel a little overwhelmed. She loved him.

"You need to tell Giles. I know he'll keep your secret from the others, but you need to tell him. The Council needs to know about this, that you did this."


"I imagine it might make them re-evaluate some of their opinions, Spike. You willingly went in search of your soul, suffered in order to get it back, you wanted to rehabilitate yourself."

"Only because I love you."

"So what? Why does that discount what you did?"

"I guess it doesn't, but not all vampires are going to fall in love with a human. And no other is going to fall in love with the Slayer. This Slayer anyway." Her smile told him she liked his talking like this. He was possessive, but she seemed to like it. Otherwise she would not have stayed with Angel as long as she had. Spike, like Angel, let Buffy do her thing, his possessiveness was far more primitive and primal than wanting to stop her from patrolling or doing her Slayer duties. Unlike Riley Finn, the stupid bloke had no idea what he had given up. His loss was Spike's gain so he was not one to complain about it. She was his now it was as simple and base as that. She could and would not belong to anyone but him. She knew and accepted it, knowing he accepted and wanted her as she was.

"But still, it shows they're capable of it. It shows that they're capable of a conscience."

"I'll tell him, pet, but I'm not going to be their guinea pig or case study. I won't do it. I didn't do this to be poked and prodded and whatever else they would do to me. I'll do it so your Watcher can jot down an entry in his diary no other reason. I'd prefer he not name me just talk about it in general."

"I'm sure he'll do whatever you want. He's not like that, you know that. I just know the Council needs to know this."

"Listen to you," he said with a wink.

"Hey, I may not work for them anymore. I may not like them. I may think they're all pompous asses, their test when I turned eighteen convinced me of that. But they're big on the research. And they need to know. But," she said, her hands going over his shoulders as she pressed against him. Her breath was warm as she leaned closer to him. God, she was going to kiss him and he was actually trembling at the thought of it. "I'm not letting them get their hands on my man."

"Is that right?"

"That's right," she said and pouted. He could not resist and kissed her, tracing his tongue along the extended lower lip. "What? You don't think the same way?"

"Of course I do, pet. I just love hearing you say it, surprising but I love it. That's one of the reasons I think we work so well together, we are not afraid to claim our mates both of us and hold onto them."

"I'm not possessive," she said with a frown.

"Right," he said flippantly.

"I am not."

"Right, what do you call your reaction to my having a date for Xander's unwedding?"

"Well, yeah, but that wasn't possessiveness," she said, shaking her head. She was smiling though so she was not mad at him for pointing this out. There was that pout again. "And it was different," she said, pleading her case further. He arched an eyebrow in question and she continued. "I didn't want you."

"But no one else could want me?"

"Well, of course not. Not until I decided what I wanted to do with you." She winced with the last few words, her voice trailing off like it did when she realized what she was saying did not make much sense. "Well, what I meant to say was."

"I know what you meant. ‘sides there's nothing wrong with it you know. It's all right not to want to share with others. I even hate the thought of sharing you with your comrades."

"Okay, now, I'm not that bad."

"You'll have your extremes and your limits, too, pet."

"I need to sit down," she said softly.

"I'll patrol for you then."



"Have you killed since?"

"What do you mean?"

"Since the soul, have you killed anything? I don't want you patrolling without me."

"They're demons, Buffy, evil."

"Well, yeah, know that. I realize that and if you'd had more than a few months to adjust I wouldn't question it. I'll go, just give me a minute, okay."

"Oh all right," he said with a heavy sigh. He imagined she might be right.

Her arms went around his waist and she kissed him for a moment before drawing back. "Well, with all of the people in your head I'm just afraid you'll get yourself hurt. I just got you back, don't want to lose you again."

"I'm going with you, no arguments on that. Better find out now what I can do. That way we know whether or not I can patrol for you some nights."

"I really don't need you to."

"Well, I know you don't need me to, but you've got an office job now you should get rest and all that so you can fight those nasties at the schools. If nothing else, I can relieve you of the late night rounds." She pouted again and looked disappointed. "What?"

"If you're doing late night rounds that means you won't be here."

"Get over it, Goldilocks, you've gone this long without me you can survive a few hours at night. You'll be separated from me during the day."

"Well yeah, that's different I work during the day. There are no beds and no sleeping is allowed at work."

He kissed her slow and gentle and his hands traveled almost of their own accord along her curves equally as slow and gentle. He felt her body's heat underneath his cold undead hands and wondered if it might burn him. He knew her body, knew every inch of it but it was the old Spike that had obtained that knowledge. The new Spike wanted to rediscover every inch of her, wanted to make her body hum and her voice go hoarse from her sounds of pleasure. He felt her heartbeat pick up, heard the flow of her blood pump faster through her body, and smelled her arousal. He drew away, resting his forehead against hers before he lost his head. "I think with more of that to look forward to you would realize I won't dally."

Buffy tugged on the front of his jacket, preventing him from pulling away too far. "Maybe patrolling would be of the good."

"You might be right."

"Staying here after that would be too tempting."

"And temptation is bad."

"Yeah. It's of the bad."

"Not dreadfully bad."

She smoothed her hands along the spans of his chest and sighed. "This is your idea. I do think you're right. We need some Buffy and Spike out of bed time."

He smirked. "Well, what better way of spending that time but to kill things?"

"Exactly. You're a man after my own heart."

"I've been trying to tell you that for a couple of years, pet. You were quite stubborn about understanding that, though."

"Well, I can be a little slow."

"And stubborn."

"You've been talking to Giles, haven't you?"

"I don't need to talk to your Watcher to know that, pet," he winked. "Let's gather some weapons and go hunting. The sooner we're done the sooner we get back here and can do some more of that without having evil on the brain."

"But I always have evil on the brain. Especially when I'm with you," she quipped. He winced at her words but took a deep breath telling himself that she was probably teasing.

"Right. I haven't frightened you in years, pet."

"Well, that doesn't mean you weren't on my mind."

"Oh right," he said, with a shake of his head. He was going to have to get used to this flirtatious Buffy. He had seen Buffy flirt before just not with him. To be on the receiving end of it was pretty amazing. He followed her into the living room and her weapons chest to get the basic weapons they would need for a night of patrolling.

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