***Part Twenty***

Spike was woken by a shrill tone next to his ear unsure until he was fully awake just what it was making the offensive noise. The phone. Did she have the thing set to ring to wake up the entire house? He glanced at the alarm clock at Buffy's side of the bed and wondered who in the hell was calling at bloody five thirty in the morning as he searched in the dark for the receiver. He could have just vamped out and seen the damned thing, but he was not coherent enough to think that way.

"This better be good," he said, his voice hoarse from lack of use. He just hoped it was not Janice's mum or dad calling to say something was wrong.


"Yeah," he said cautiously.

"It's Rupert."

"Rupert? What the hell are you doing calling at this hour?"

"Just be quiet and listen to me. This is important."

"What are you at a pay phone or something? What is all the noise in the background?"

"I'm at a pay phone, yes. Now shut up and listen to me. You have to get out of Buffy's house immediately. It's not safe for either of you."

"What are you prattling on about, Watcher?"

"The Council, Spike. The Council had my phone tapped. I did not know this, of course, but," he trailed off. Spike did not need him to complete the sentence.

"They heard our conversation."

"Exactly. And I'm afraid they were not at all pleased at what you've done, Spike. In fact, they were very threatened by it. You've not only destroyed everything they thought about your race but you've managed to throw off the balances. Prophecies and so forth. Lucky for us, I have a contact on the inside who informed me of this. Also luckily, they had not bothered to listen to the tapes of my telephone conversations for almost a month given Buffy's infrequent calls to me. So, they only left sometime early this morning for LA."

"So what? I just got back, just got Buffy back and you want me to leave?"

"Both of you. Get out. Just go somewhere. Take this number down," he said, relaying a telephone number to Spike. "It's a friend's cellular telephone number. My friend Olivia, you've met her."

"Yeah, the fuck buddy of yours."

"Well, yes, precisely," Giles said, after a moment's hesitation. "Spike, I'm not sure how much of a head start they have on this call. You must get out of there. They'll kill you both. Do you understand? You're both a threat to them now. With Buffy out of the picture and with Faith having been murdered in prison."

"Christ, they have control over the Slayer."

"Precisely, and I fear they're going to keep going, killing until they find one that's easy to manipulate. But if Buffy's still there with a vampire boyfriend who sought out his soul for her, well, I'm afraid they cannot very well carry on as if nothing out of the ordinary happened. Not to mention that Buffy is rather famous among the Slayers, given her age and that she's overcome death on more than one occasion."

"It's your Watcher," Spike said to a now awake Buffy. "All right, Rupert. I'll fill her in. I've got the number with me and we'll call you when we get to wherever we're going. I don't know how far we're going to get, though, it's nearly sunrise now."

"We can cover you with a blanket in the backseat," Buffy offered. Spike held up his hand to stop her from talking as he listened to Giles.

"See if you can't get Angel to help you. They do not know where Angel is that I know of, I've made no entries about him in my journals since he left Sunnydale. There was no reason to once he was out of Buffy's life."

"But he's fighting the good fight for good and all that, wouldn't you think they'd heard of him?"

"Perhaps, perhaps not. There are demon hunters in the world, Spike."

"Is the Slayer's phone tapped?"

"Not that I know of, no. Why?"

"Because I not only called you but I called him as well."

"I'll talk with Willow, see if we can't take care of that."

"Right, the computer whiz," Spike said with a smile. "Gotta run, Watcher. We'll be in touch," he said, hanging up the phone. He stood from the bed and dressed quickly, slipping the paper with the cell phone number on it into his pocket as he filled Buffy in on the conversation with Giles.

"We can go to my dad's," she said dressing. They both packed enough clothes to get them through a couple of days and were gone in a matter of minutes. It was one thing Spike loved about Buffy, if she needed to she could be ready in no time flat.

"Your dad's? Are you sure that's wise?"

"The Council does not have any idea who he is."

"Hank Summers?"

Buffy smiled. "Where he is. The house isn't under his name, he's living with his secretary now," she said, jumping into the driver's seat of her Jeep. Spike crawled into the back and readied himself for a trip underneath a blanket.

"I don't believe it. You go and do something amazing, maybe even heroic and they want you dead!?"

"Slayer, this is your Watcher Council we're talking about. This isn't your Watcher we're talking about."

"I know nothing should surprise me about them anymore." She glanced at her own cell phone, checking to make sure it was fully charged. "We have to remember to call Dawn and make sure that Janice's parents can keep her until it's safe for us to come back. We need to call Xander too."

"Yeah," Spike agreed simply. "Giles said he was going to see if Willow couldn't tap into our phone records. I think to get rid of my call to Angel."

"Giles said that?"

"Well, not in so many words. But that was the implication, yeah. When I mentioned my call to Angel he said he would talk to Willow."

"I hope she can. I don't want Angel in danger because of us."

"Me," Spike said wryly.

"Us," she corrected. "There is no me or you, Spike. There's us."

"Thanks, pet," he said, growing quiet then. He was not overly convinced there would be both parts to the us left if the Council had their way.

"Willow can do just about anything on a computer, so I'm sure she will do whatever she can, Spike."

"I know she will, pet. Red has never ceased to amaze me."

"We should probably warn Angel just in case," Buffy said softly.

"Pet, you don't have to sound so uncertain about it. I can deal with the fact that you still talk to him. I may not like it, but he's not just your ex and I realize that. Besides, our conversation was actually almost cordial."

"You're kidding?"

"Well, once we got past the bickering, name calling and snide comments, yeah."

"He probably realized if you were calling him it was important."

"Probably, not that I've ever given Peaches credit for being that observant."

"Well, I hate to tell you, but if you want someone who understands what you're going through, he's all you've got. So it might be wise to play nice with your granddaddy."

"Yes, Slayer, I'm aware of that. And he's not my grandfather."

"Overserious much? I was teasing. Geez."

"Just pay attention to the road, please, I'd rather arrive at your old man's with both of us in one piece."

"I'll have you know," she said, and then stopped as she nearly ran a red light and collided with another car. "Okay, shutting up now," she said while Spike chuckled in the backseat.

Spike stayed crouched down in the backseat. At least the blanket she had grabbed for him covered him better than that holey wool one he had been using before he left town. He was warm in places, but no parts were burning so he would take that. "You do know where your old man lives, don't you pet?"

"Of course I do."

"Just making sure that we weren't going to be driving around LA all day searching for his house."

"No, I've been there. He had Dawn for a couple of weeks after," she said and grew quiet. Spike waited patiently for her to continue. "Well, just after everything. She was really upset with Willow you know to begin with after that night Willow took her to Rack's. Then going all dark magic on us didn't help any. She was going to turn Dawn back into the ball of energy The Key was."

"What," Spike said, coming out from under the blanket at that. "Bloody hell," he howled as the sun hit him in the face. "We need to get your windows tinted, Slayer."

"I'll get right on that, Spike."

He covered himself with the blanket once more and shifted so he could peer at her through an opening in the blanket. "Red did what to Dawn? And you still talk to her?"

"It wasn't Willow, Spike. I mean it was, but it would be like me holding you accountable for everything you did before you got your soul. Or for that matter before you actually started helping us. She was not in control, the magic was. She's with Giles getting help."

"Yeah, he mentioned that she was doing better and all, but I didn't realize that she'd tried to hurt Dawn."

"Are you doing okay back there?"

"Oh yes, living in the lap of luxury I am, pet. What the hell kind of question is that?"

"Well, Mr. Crabby, I meant do we need to stop before actually getting to Dad's to get you blood or anything?"

"Oh," he said, chagrined that he had jumped on her when she was thinking about his welfare. "No, pet, I'm fine. I've got the blood of a Slayer coursing through my veins. I'll be fine until nightfall maybe even longer. Hey," he said and then thought better of giving voice to his thoughts. He would have to call Xander if she did not think about it to get him to patrol for her. A few days would not make that big of a difference, but someone should at least check the obituaries and take care of anyone who might rise.




"Was just going to say thanks for being concerned. Not used to it," he adlibbed, hoping he was successful in convincing her that was in fact his original thought.

"You're welcome," she said and grew quiet once again focusing on the road. They had gotten to Los Angeles so Spike preferred a quiet Buffy, concentrating on the road and the traffic around them then a talkative Buffy who might get distracted and get into an accident.

Spike apparently had drifted off to sleep because he came awake suddenly as the car lurched to a stop. "Bloody hell, woman, where in the world did you get a driver's license?"

"Hey, a dog ran in front of the Jeep. But it doesn't matter anyway, because we're here," she said.

"We're at your old man's house," Spike said, peeking through the blanket. "Does he know about me? I mean, does he know what I am and all that? Not sure his finding out by my entering his home simmering and all is a good idea."

"He doesn't even know I'm the Slayer, Spike. So, no. I guess I'll have to tell him."

"Great, I get to be privy to another conversation with one of your parents telling them about your calling. At least your Mum liked me. I'm not sure your old man is going to and I honestly can't say that I like him."


"I won't even get into it with you, Slayer, beyond the fact he's never there for you or Dawn."

"Well," she said. "Let's go. Better get this over with. Then we can visit Angel."

"Looking forward to that almost as much as this. You're not going to tell him that we're, you know?"

"Listen to you, suddenly coy and embarrassed."

"I am not embarrassed, but I'm a man and while I am not and never had the chance to be a father I know how I'd react to meeting a man who was ravishing my daughter. I imagine I'll react much the same way when Dawn starts dating."

"Which will never happen so we're fine there."

"Right, Slayer, and your mom stopped you from locking lips with Angel night after night real well."


"Good argument that, Slayer," he said, sitting up on the backseat. "Let's go then. I'd just rather not get my face pounded in while imposing on dear ol' dad." He regarded the house in front of them. It was a decent sized, single story white with beige trim house typical of middle class suburbia. Spike did not know what Buffy's dad did for a living and he did not care to know given the idiot chose someone over Buffy's mom. The house was nice, but Buffy's house in Sunnydale was nicer. No wonder Buffy and Dawn did not care whether they spent time here.

"I won't say anything to make him want to hurt you."

"Right," he said with a roll of his eyes and reached for the door handle, drawing the blanket over him.

"Give me your hand, Spike," she said, reaching underneath the blanket to take hold of his hand. They hurried to the small covered porch at the front door. Spike still clutched to the blanket, but he was able to pull it away from his face.

"Thanks, pet."

"Welcome. Don't want your face all blistery."

"Wouldn't want that," he said as she raised and lowered the gold-plated door knocker which had the name Peterson engraved on it.

"Peterson, eh? Is that the bint's name your dad is shacking up with?"

"Shh, Spike, or you'll get your face pounded in through no fault of mine or anything I say."

"Fine, fine. Don't know why he would want anyone but your Mum anyway."

"Me neither. Who knows?"

A woman not much older than Buffy answered the door. Spike scowled, glad that his face was hidden from view by Buffy. Had Buffy said something about the bint being her old man's secretary? Figures. She looked the type, too. She had long brown hair and breasts out to there, a barely existent waist that managed to taper into perfectly round hips. Her skin was blemish free, flawless, not even a freckle that Spike could see. If Barbie could come to life, Spike imagined this would be her human form. Her long brown hair was wavy, just enough to give the impression of wash and go though it was obvious she was not the type to wash and go anywhere. What really drove the point home that her hair was purposely put in that style was that her makeup was flawless from that foundation crap women put on their faces to her lipstick. Her nails looked as if she just returned from the salon.

Maybe she had, Hank Summers certainly did not contribute much to his minor daughter's care so he had to have plenty to go around to spend on this two-bit harlot. She was dressed in a white baby doll Tee that barely covered her ample breasts. Her entire midriff was left bare and her stonewashed low-rider jeans made it apparent that she was not a cotton brief wearing girl, but something silk with tiny slips of material at either hip. As if Buffy sensed the negative tone his thoughts were taking, she backed against him. Just the brief contact brought him out of his thoughts, which he imagined was the point.

"May I help you? Oh Buffy, I'm sorry, I didn't realize you were coming up today."

"Sort of an unplanned visit. Is Dad home," Buffy asked.

"Sure he's out in the back yard."

"Is it okay for my friend Spike and me to come in? We didn't stop on the way up, so a trip to the bathroom would be nice." Smooth, Slayer, Spike thought to himself. That was one way to get him an invite into the house without having to belabor the point as to why Spike needed an invite.

"Sure," Wanda said, stepping away from the door. "Come on in. You know where the bathroom is, Buffy. I'll get your dad. Can I get you a beer or anything?" Spike folded up the blanket, hoping the woman was not observant enough to notice he had been wearing it only a moment ago. She did not seem the type to be observant of more than anything but herself, and maybe Buffy's dad's pocketbook.

"Uh no," Buffy said, scrunching her face in distaste.

"No thanks," Spike added his own refusal, wondering if this woman knew Buffy at all offering her beer.

"Okay, well, I'll get your dad. Make yourselves at home, you know where the living room is, Buffy. Just," she said, glancing distastefully at Spike's boots. "Take your shoes off, please. The carpet's new."

"Just how old is she," Spike whispered into Buffy's ear.

"Like twenty-eight or something," Buffy said even softer than Spike's question to her had been. He had no problem hearing her, and she knew that would be the case.

"She looks like a," but Buffy cut him off by placing her hand over his mouth.

"Don't. We need him right now, so let's not piss off his woman. Okay? And need I remind you, there is an age difference between us despite appearances."

"All right," he acquiesced once she removed her hand from his mouth.

"Thank you. Behave or we'll be screwed. There's nowhere else I can think of going where they won't be able to find us."

"Right," he said, realizing she was in fact right. "I won't say anything stupid. I can behave like a gentleman when I need to."

"Good," she said. "Now I don't know about you but I do need to use the bathroom. So I'll be right back. The living room is right there," she said. "Just remember to take off your boots. You are wearing clean socks right," she teased.

"Yes, Mother, I do know how to dress myself."

"Yes, but do you know how to do laundry?"


She kissed him and drew away. "Good, I like you this way, not so serious and upset about things. Just relax. No worries. If I can stomach this situation, so can you."

"Sure," he said, realizing this probably was not easy for her, seeing a woman half her father's age playing house with him. Knowing that this woman was in part responsible for his lack of attentiveness for the past couple of years. He took his boots off by the front door, bunching up the blanket and setting it behind them before making his way to the living room and taking a seat on the love seat. The carpet was obviously new, and a bright white. No kiddies or pets here at this house, Spike wagered.

"You must be the Riley I've heard so much about," said the man Spike presumed to be Hank Summers as he walked toward Spike, hand extended.

"Uh no, I'm not Riley," Spike said, standing from the love seat and took the man's offered hand. Did this man even have a clue what was going on in either daughter's life? Riley had been gone for more than a year not counting his one brief return visit to Sunnydale with wife in toe.

"Hi Dad," Buffy came back from the bathroom looking more refreshed than when she entered. She walked up to her dad and gave him a kiss on the cheek. "I see you met Spike."

"Well, sort of," he said, regarding Spike. "What kind of a name is Spike exactly?"

"It's just a nickname," Spike offered evenly. "My real name is William, but hardly anyone calls me that."

"Oh well, nice to meet you. What brings you by here, sweetheart?"

"Uh, well, I was hoping we could stay here for a little while, Dad. We won't get in the way or anything. But before you say yes there are some things I need to explain to you."

"I don't see why not. We'd have to make up the spare bedrooms, but it shouldn't be any trouble. Is there something wrong," Hank asked looking at Buffy. "You're not in trouble are you," he added with what Spike interpreted as a glare in Spike's direction.

"As if," Spike muttered under his breath. He also noticed the concerned father had yet to inquire after his youngest daughter and her absence.

"Why don't you sit down, Dad," she said. "Where's Wanda?"

"She went to the store. She assumed you'd be here at least for the day so wanted to buy some steaks and other things for dinner tonight."

"Good," Buffy said under her breath. Spike knew the praise was not because of the promised food but instead because Wanda was away from the house.

"You're starting to scare me now, Buffy. You look fine, though," he asked and his scrutiny did not escape Spike's notice. He wanted to scream aloud that she was not bloody pregnant, not unless it was some miracle child. Spike did not even want to begin to think on what a child of the Slayer and a vampire would be like, the anti-Christ?

"I think I'm going to use the bathroom," Spike said and stood, leaving father and daughter to their little chat. "I'll be right back," he said more for Buffy's sake than her dad's. She would inevitably need proof just as Joyce did that vampires were not a product of Buffy's imagination and Spike would be that proof. And probably get told to leave his house and stay away from his daughter in the process, but if it kept her safe from the Council and its goons he would leave her here.

He found the loo with little difficulty, washed up and delayed returning to the living room for as long as he could. He lurked in the hallway listening to their conversation. It was mostly a one-sided conversation of Buffy talking and her father interjecting various forms of "that's impossible" or "I don't believe it".

"I had hoped that Mom would have told you so I wouldn't have to."

"Your mother knew," Hank asked incredulously as Spike entered the room.

"Yeah," Buffy admitted quietly. It was still difficult for her to talk about her mom, talking about her to the man who had left her for his much younger, perkier secretary probably had to be ten times more difficult.

"I don't understand why she didn't tell me."

"I think she felt a little guilty when she found out and realized that that time you had me committed was for no reason."

"Christ," Hank whispered. "What is it you need me to do exactly? Why are you here? You're not putting me or Wanda in harm's way are you?"

"I don't know, Dad." She sighed softly and stood walking toward Spike who had taken to an armchair when he returned to the room instead of sitting beside her on the love seat. Her hand rested against the back of the chair. "There's more to it, Dad," she said and told him about Spike and his quest for his soul and the fact that the Watcher's Council apparently did not like that he had gone on such a quest.

"So you are putting us in danger."

"Well, they don't know you're here, Dad. This house is in Wanda's name, so I think you're relatively safe. Would you rather me stay at the house and wait for them to come take me away?"

"No, of course not, but I still don't like it."

"Well, maybe Angel can help us and we'll be out of your way tonight. But we needed somewhere safe to spend the day. I couldn't think of anywhere else. Speaking of which," she said, pulling her cell phone out of her bag. "I need to call Janice's parents and tell them to keep Dawn."

"Oh dear lord, I hadn't even thought of Dawn. Is she okay?"

"Yes, Dad, she's fine. She went away for the weekend with her friend Janice and her parents."

"Okay," Hank said and Spike thought the man's relief seemed genuine. It took him long enough to think about Dawn, though, which peeved Spike to no end.

Buffy went into the kitchen to make the call she needed to make, leaving Spike alone with her father. Spike wondered if she got some thrill from leaving him alone with her parents when she had just gotten done telling them about vampires.

"Sorry about the Riley confusion earlier," Hank said his hands joined together. He was uncomfortable and Spike was tempted to feel sorry for him.

"It's all right," Spike said simply. He was sort of used to living in the shadow of Buffy's ex, usually it was Angelus though.

"You're from England then?"

"Yeah, just north of London," Spike said. More silence. "Nice house," Spike offered.

"Thanks. It's Wanda's, so the credit is hers."

"Right," Spike said dryly.

"All taken care of," Buffy said, returning to the living room. "Janice's folks will keep her until they hear from me. If they have a real problem, they'll call Xander and then Anya. Anya is my absolute last choice, but she would take care of Dawn in a real pinch."

"She would," Spike agreed, realizing it might be in his best interest not to stand up for the vengeance demon too enthusiastically.

"So, Dad, is it okay if Spike and I go lay down for a while? He usually sleeps during the day and with Giles waking us up at five this morning I'm a little tired myself."


"Well, yeah, I'm an adult and you and Wanda aren't married. And, ew, we're just going to sleep, Dad." Spike wanted to tell her to speak for herself. He personally would love to shag Buffy under her dad's nose, but that was probably the demon in him wanting that and better left unsaid.

"I don't know, Buffy."

"Well, think of it this way, if something does happen, it's better that he and I are in the same room together to react to it simultaneously. I wouldn't want to put you or Wanda in unnecessary danger."

"Just keep the door open," Hank conceded.

"Thanks Daddy," Buffy said, walking to him and gracing him with another kiss to the cheek. Spike noticed that her father seemed to actually relish in the brief attention his daughter paid him. Interesting. "I'm going to go get our bags. Be right back," she called out far too cheerily which did not escape either man's notice.

"Does she always get her way," Hank asked causing Spike to snort in amusement. "I'll take it that's a yes."

"She can be rather convincing when she wants to be." He shifted slightly on the chair knowing what he wanted to say and that he might not have another chance to do it with Buffy out of the room. "Mr. Summers, if I may risk being presumptuous and ruining everything I've established with Buffy you need to help your daughters."

"What are you talking about?"

"Do you even realize that Buffy is supporting Dawn? There was very little insurance money from Joyce's death and Buffy is still working to pay off hospital bills. She just had a two night visit in the hospital herself. I see you here with a house that's not even yours, living with a woman who's not your wife, and I have to wonder why you aren't helping your girls. Don't you want Buffy to go to college?"

"Of course I do."

"Then why not offer her some assistance. Start paying the mortgage on the house or pay it off entirely if you can. I'm going to try and work off the medical bills, but they're not my children, I don't think I should have to do it all."

"Just who in the hell do you think you are?"

"I think, Mr. Summers, the more appropriate question is just who in the hell do you think you are. You're leaving Buffy in charge of Dawn, Buffy's not a mother, she's barely old enough to have a child of her own let alone a sixteen your old child. Step in and help. Make it a little easier for Buffy. She loves you, you know. They both do."

"Well, of course they do."

"What do you mean, of course they do?"

"I'm their father."

"A sperm donor is a father, Mr. Summers. Your girls deserve your support. Your girlfriend can obviously take care of herself if she afforded this place without you. Your daughters cannot take care of themselves. Not completely at any rate, not if you want Buffy and Dawn to amount to anything in their lives beyond life as hamburger servers or cocktail waitresses."

"Buffy's got a good job."

"Sure she does, she lucked into it because the head of the school board figured out who and what she was and hired her to keep trouble off the campuses. If she wasn't the Slayer she would have no job and she'd still be flipping hamburgers, bathing in grease at the Doublemeat."

"I didn't realize."

"Well, of course you didn't, when was the last time you were even there or even thought to ask, really ask? A simple phone call to the mortgage company ought to provide you the information you need."

"I shouldn't have to ask."

"And Summers women are normally free with the asking for help or confiding?"

"I see your point, but are things really that bad?"

"Bad enough, certainly worse than they should be given their father is alive and well and able to help them. At least Dawn, she's still a minor for two more years."

"I'll talk to Buffy before she leaves. If things are as bad as they say they are."

"You know Buffy won't tell you things are bad. I've seen the stack of bills, third and fourth notices some of them. She turned off the cable so that Dawn could have Internet for her computer. Does that suggest to you they're living it up?"

"I wish she'd told me."

"Well, I'm telling you."

"What are you telling him," Buffy asked from the foyer.

"Oh nothing, honey," Hank said. Spike was grateful it was her father lying to her and not him. "Spike and I were just talking about the Angels and their chances at winning the World Series."

"The World Series," Buffy said with a frown. "That's baseball, right?"

"Yes, honey," Hank said with a light laugh. Spike was not altogether sure that Buffy was buying what Hank was shoveling, but he was not going to argue at the moment. "The Angels are in the World Series for the first time."

"Oh," she said. "Well, go Angels then. They should win with a name like that."

Spike scoffed and Buffy offered him a smile. "Come on, Spike, let's get you some rest before we go to visit Angel. I don't need a cranky Spike when meeting with Angel."

"I'll get you some sheets," Hank offered as he stood from the couch. "I assume you can make the bed yourselves."

"Yes, Dad," Buffy said, rolling her eyes. Spike took the bags Buffy had carried into the house and followed her and her dad toward the appropriated bedroom.

Spike palmed her cell phone and realized he had not yet called Giles. Buffy started making the bed with a set of sheets that were pink and had flowers on them. "Oh come on, honey, they are so us," Buffy said with a laugh.

"I'm going to call your Watcher while you're doing that."

"Okay," Buffy said as Spike pulled the piece of paper he had written Rupert's sex buddy's number on.

"Rupert, please," he said casually.

"Just a minute," came the English voice that Spike recognized as being the black woman he had seen at Rupert's house in the past.

"This is Rupert," came the Watcher's voice.

"We've made it to safety, for now."

"Good. It's best you don't tell me any of your plans, but do keep in touch. The call in question has been taken care of. Please do be careful. Both of you. And again, I cannot apologize enough. This number is secure, as secure as a cell phone can be, but discretion is still best."

"Yes, Rupert."

"Thank you, and tell Buffy I love her."

"Will do. Have a good," Spike paused and glanced at the bedside clock tacking on eight hours for the time difference, "night."

"You too," Giles said, disconnecting the call.

"How's Giles handling this?"

"As well as can be expected I suppose. He feels as if he betrayed your confidence in a round about way, but he'll get over it. Willow took care of the phone call to Angel, so Angel should be safe."

"Good, that means we shouldn't have to stay with my dad anymore than necessary. I get the wiggins being here with him and her. I mean, she's like barely even older than the difference between me and Dawn."

"I know, pet," he said sincerely. Mindful that they were told to keep the door open, he figured it was best they get onto another topic of conversation. "We'll have dinner with them like they want us to and go see Angel. Do you want to call Harris and see about him patrolling for you?"

"I hadn't even thought of that."

"I figured it might have slipped your mind. I can take care of it if you want me to, but I figured he's your friend and all you might want to tell him yourself and make sure he will know why Janice's parents call him to come get Dawn if they do."

"Oh right, hadn't thought of that either," Buffy said with a pout.

"Hey, pet, it's understandable some things slipped your mind today. No worries," he set the cell phone on the table by the bed and took her into his arms. "The door's still open," he said with a light chuckle as he kissed her. "We'll figure out what the Council is up to and take care of it. I promise."

"But what can we do, Spike? They're humans, I can't hurt them and you can't because of the chip."

"I don't think the chip works anymore," he said softly.


"I think some of the tests I was put through disabled it. I haven't tested the theory completely, but I get the feeling it was those Powers That Be giving me total control over the path I take. No chip plus soul but the demon is still inside of me wanting control, I have to decide which side I want to play on."


"So, I guess the question is if I can hurt them do you want me to?"

"I don't know," she said, resting her head against his shoulder. "I don't know."

"Well, you need to decide, pet, because we can't keep running forever. Slayers don't run, and you'd never see Dawn and you don't want her living here."

"No," she said and Spike could feel the resolve returning to her, her strength flowing back into her. "No, I don't. I just, it's not my place."

"But if it's our lives or theirs?"


"Good enough for me, pet."

"Will you be okay with this? This isn't killing demons."

"I'll do what I have to, Buffy, to keep you safe and here with me. I'm not going to lose you again, gone through it twice already and I don't particularly want to go through it again."

She sighed, seemingly in relief and kissed him, her hands holding him to her as if he wanted to pull away from her. Finally, she had to break the kiss in order to take a much needed breath. "Thank you."

"Is it time to rest then, pet? I'm surprised your dad gave in so easily, don't know if I would have."

"And you don't think he'll be walking by here every so often?"

"Probably," Spike said with a chuckle.

"Besides, I think the fact I've basically been living on my own for the past three years had something to do with it."

"Probably," Spike said again and removed his outer shirt, hanging it over the footboard's post. "Thanks for making the bed."

"Welcome," she said. "I'm going to go to the bathroom, talk to my dad for a bit and stuff until Wanda gets back, then I'll be in to join you."

"No worries, pet," he said as he slid under the covers. She kissed him again once he had gotten settled in the bed. "Sleep well."

"Can't do anything but with you nearby," he said and she smiled, a truly happy smile which would have made his heart take wings if his heart beat to do that sort of thing.

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