Black, White or Grey"
Lady Starlight - November 01 2001

This story is dedicated to Wisewoman, who beta-read, cheer-led, and gave me the suggestion(s) that made it all come together.


Central America-3 weeks ago

Riley Finn crept through the thick jungle. He couldn't keep his mind on his job these days. Thoughts of Buffy filled his mind. He relived every moment he had spent with her; wondering how he could have made things work. Good thing the new guy was watching his back. He scanned the small clearing in front of him. Nothing. He started to report in but a flash of purple light caught his eye. He walked into the clearing. Still nothing. His foot hit something on the ground. He bent down to look at it with the scanner. Purple filled his field of vision.

"Finn!! Report, damnit!"

He spoke into his mike. "Here, sir. Nothing to report. I'm going to make another round just to make sure."

"10-4, Finn. Keep your eyes open."

"Yes, sir."

He needed to get back to Sunnydale. He would have her again and this time he wouldn't use a plastic stake. Everything was clear to him now. He dropped his rifle and headset by the edge of the clearing and walked off through the underbrush.

Chapter One

Buffy leaned her head against the open window. She listened to the familiar squabbling from downstairs.

"We are NOT watching bloody Dawson's Creek! There's a really good movie on..."

"No way! It's my turn to pick the television show! You promised!" "Damnit, when I agreed to the schedule you never said anything about watching poofy shows." He might be grumbling, but she knew he had already turned to the correct channel and was probably doling out snacks. She was still stunned by the way Dawn and Spike interacted. Six months since she...died and four months since she had been brought back and she still couldn't get used to it. She had been told over and over again how Spike had stepped in to care for Dawn but everyday it was still a shock.

"Hey, Buffy, you coming down? We can make fun of the hairstyles."

"No thanks, Spike. I've got some thinking to do."

"Right, then. You need anything, just yell."

Spike had made the effort to step back and let her be the parent but after a couple of weeks, she had let him take over again. He had a way of dealing with Dawn that she envied. No need for foot-putting-down time. She had talked to him about it a few weeks ago and what he said still echoed in her mind:

"I treat her like an equal."

She almost choked on her mocha. "That's it?"

"Pretty much. Look, luv, she's been through a lot and grown up a lot. I trust her judgement. We talked about the house stuff and her going to school and doing her homework. She knows how important it is for us not to screw up. The Council's papers are good, but any little whiff of ... Well, you know."

Can I trust him? He is a vampire. Vampires are bad. She flopped down on her bed. Am I letting myself in for another Angel? Will he turn on me? She thought about what Willow had told her.

"Buffy, he was devastated after you died. He was strong for Dawn, though. He insisted that he be the one to take care of her, and she backed him up. You should have seen him the first week or so, trying to clean the house & cook by himself. Finally, he called us and asked for help, and you know how much Spike loves to get help from others."

Tara had confirmed this. "We had to start from scratch. He was trying to work from his memories of his mother doing things, and that was almost 150 years ago. He learned fast though. Passed the Social Services inspection with flying colors. I think he's really changed."

Willow took over the conversation again. "Also, about a week before Dawn's birthday, he asked us to do two spells for him. He'd managed to hold onto a cameo ring of his mother's all these years & he wanted a protection spell on it because he wanted to give it to Dawn for her birthday. That way, she'd always be safe, even if he wasn't around."

"And the other spell?"

Both Willow and Tara got the giggles at that point. "Oh Buffy, you should have seen it. The Big Bad himself, struggling with this cat he got at the pound. He wanted us to sort it to Dawn. He thought it might help her to have something that depended on her. They had a huge fight at the party when she wanted to name her Dawson. Then she wanted to name her N'Sync. I thought he was going to explode! He finally talked her into Midnight because he said he would NOT go around calling poncy names if she ran away."

So Spike is good. But he's a vampire. Vampires are bad.

Giles had also been on Spike's side. "Buffy, you might not want to hear this, but I truly think he's changed. There's something different about him, ah, gentler almost. He actually went to visit Anya in the hospital and brought flowers. Granted, he nicked them from the graveyard, but...." He stopped talking for a minute. He started again with a hopeful note in his voice. "He doesn't pick on Xander quite as much as he used to."

"Well, that's a glowing recommendation!"

"Now that's not really what I meant! He's more responsible, he's nicer, he's"

"All right, I get it! He's Mr. Boy Scout now."

The truth of the matter, if she dared admit it to herself was, she could love him. She was absolutely terrified about it. Angel had destroyed her, Parker had hurt her, she and Riley had hurt each other. She couldn't go through that again. But maybe this time, it would be worth it. She heard Dawn getting ready for bed. Maybe it was time to go and talk to him.

Spike sat down on the porch steps and pulled out his cigarettes. "Guess I can't blame them for not letting these inside. Maybe it's time to quit." A soft paw patted his arm & he almost jumped out of his skin. "Damnit, Midnight! I thought we talked about that." He picked up the cat & started stroking it. "Little Bit asleep then?"

Midnight yawned and curled up in his lap. A soft voice came from behind him. "I thought she was supposed to be bonded to Dawn?"

"Well, I guess it's no fun just watching someone sleep."

"Oh? You did it to me often enough."

He had no answer to that so he just kept petting Midnight.

"Spike, I've been doing some thinking and we need to talk."

This is it; she's going to tell me that she wants me gone. Wonder how long it'll take Willow to work up that spell.

"Ab-about what?" Good one, let's not let her know how nervous you are!

"Well, about us."

He nearly fainted at that statement. "Us? Um, I didn't think that there was an us."

She smiled at him then. "Well, that's the thing, there could be."

"Could be?" He wanted to sound cool and in control, but inside he was absolutely shocked.

She sat down beside him on the porch steps. "I've been doing a lot of thinking and talking since I came back, and I've got to tell you that I'm semi-not confused anymore. When I first found out about being the Slayer, both Merrick and Giles kept telling me that vampires were bad. Then I met Angel. Not-so-bad vampires were not in the lectures. Neither were good demons like Whistler and Doyle. It used to be simple. Them bad, us good. Now I think everyone comes in shades of grey." She leaned against his shoulder. "Have I ever told you that my second favorite colour is grey?"

They stayed on the porch for almost the rest of the night; talking about nothing and everything. He vigorously defended his beloved Sex Pistols. She tried to convince him that Molly Ringwald was the premiere actress of the '80's. He dared to kiss her softly a few times, and she sat like she was glued to his side. Neither of them paid any attention to the black SUV parked down the block from the house. With dawn almost breaking over the sky, they went to bed, both feeling astounded at the depths of feeling between them.

Chapter 2

"Guys, uh, did I miss a memo or something? What's up?"

Giles looked around the living room. "Buffy, is Spike up yet?"

"No, he's still downstairs. What is going on?"

Giles took off his glasses and polished them on his cardigan. He couldn't look Buffy in the eyes when he delivered the news. "Someone had left a copy of a newspaper story on my doorstep this morning. There was a double murder two nights ago. From all available evidence, it seems that Spike is involved."

"What available evidence?" Her voice was resolute.

Willow knelt down in front of her. "Buffy, we went to look at the bodies. There were um, puncture holes in the necks, and in the police report it said that the woman had a few strands of bleached hair under her fingernails."

"Like she'd fought him." Her voice was whispery soft.

"The most compelling part, however, is the fact that they were murdered with railroad spikes." The flat statement seemed to hang in the air for a very long time.

"Rise and shine, Spike!" The strident voice brought him fully awake. He looked around the basement to see Buffy, Xander, Willow and Giles.

"Well, if I'd known you were all coming, I'd've slept in my pants. What the hell is going on?"

"Explain this!" Buffy thrust a newspaper page at him. He scanned the page and looked at her in bafflement. "You're asking me about Paula Poundstone's trial?"

Xander stepped forward. "No, idiot! The other story; about the murders committed with railroad spikes. Ring any bells with you?"

"For starters, are you forgetting the lovely piece of government hardware in my head? Can someone please explain to me how I'm supposed to be bumping people off?" He made a grab for the bedsheet as it headed for points north.

"You could have been suborning minions while you were out patrolling. Someone should have gone with you to make sure that you were actually slaying the vampires." Giles was polishing his glasses nervously.

He looked at them in shock. "The hell? You know, if you're going to be recruiting for the Undead Army, it helps to not be walking around with a bleeding stake in your hand. Besides, where the hell would I have time to be gathering minions? I suppose I could pencil it in between laundry and cleaning the bloody bog. Or should I schedule it for after helping Dawn..."

Buffy's hand cracked across his cheek. "Don't you ever say her name again, you, you big jerk!"

He just stood there, looking at the hostile faces. "Willow, you believe me? Right?" He was pleading with her, with anyone, to take his side. She just looked away from him. "That's it then? Six bleeding months, living here, taking care of both of you and you're willing to turn on me just like that? With no other evidence than a railroad spike? And if you're so sodding certain I did it, why don't you just stake me and have done with it!" He was yelling at her now, trying to make her understand.

"Get out now!" The words were a slow growl in Buffy's throat.

He swallowed unexpected tears of anger and frustration. "Wh, where am I supposed to go?"

"Newsflash, I don't care! Just get out." With that they walked up the stairs.

He sat down on the bed and looked around the basement. The closest thing to a real home he'd had since Dru turned him had been snatched away from him. He slowly got up and dressed, shoving a picture of him and Dawn at her birthday party in his pocket. He went up the stairs and paused at the doorway to the living room. "Can, can I at least tell Dawn goodbye?"

Their hard stares gave him his answer. He gathered his tattered dignity around him. "Right then, thanks for not kicking me out of the house in broad daylight. Or had that happy thought not crossed what passes for your minds?" He took pleasure in slamming the door behind him. He got about halfway down the street before he realized that he had, in fact, nowhere to go. He stopped and thought for a minute, then continued down the street, turned left and made for the old cemetery. He thought there was an unused crypt there he could doss down in for the night.

He slowly pushed open the door, all senses alert. Good, nothing here. He curled up in a corner, using his duster for a pillow and pulled out the picture he'd brought with him. Bitter sobs burst from his throat as he remembered happier times and contemplated the betrayal of the people he'd started to think of as friends.

Chapter 3

Dawn threw open her front door. "Spike, Spike, where are you? I've got the best news! Spike?" She looked at the solemn gathering in the living room. "Hey, Buffy. Where's Spike?"

Buffy stood up and walked towards her. "Dawnie, Spike's not here. He's gone, and he's not coming back, ever. We saw a story in the paper about two people who were tortured to death using railroad spikes, and well, we think he's gone back to his evil ways."

"You didn't stake him, did you? Tell me you didn't stake him! Because you're wrong! He'd never do something like that now! He loves us too much." Tears were streaming down her face as she screamed at Buffy.

Buffy held up one hand. "Let's see, loathsome evil deeds for 126 years." She dropped her hand to waist level and held up the other hand. "Semi-good, not-so-evil deeds for 9 months." That hand floated up to hover around her shoulders. "Get the picture?"

Dawn slapped her across the face. "No, no I don't believe you. You're wrong, all of you!" She turned and ran out the door, screaming Spike's name. Buffy started out after her, but Xander stopped her.

"I'll go after her, Buf. Don't think she really wants to see you right now." His wry smile took the edge off his words.

She sat down on the couch after Xander left. "Will, I'm so confused! I really thought he'd changed."

"We all did. Actually, Tara thinks we're wrong. That's why she's not here. You know that he started training us in self-defense. Well, he really worked hard with her and they spent a lot of time together. She says that after Glory's touch, she knows what true evil feels like and he's not it."

They looked at each other and sighed. Buffy curled up with her head on Willow's shoulder. "We had such a good time last night. We spent the whole night just talking; really getting to know each other." She started to cry. "How could I have been so blind? How could he do that! Falling in love with the undead sucks!" Willow put her arms around Buffy and held her as she cried and listened to her as she poured out her distress. It was all she could do.

Xander brought Dawn home after looking for nearly four hours. As she started up the stairs, he went into the kitchen to talk to Buffy. "I found her in the old cemetery, talking to Spike. I think he was trying to make her feel better. Anyways, he told her to go on home, that maybe they could meet tomorrow night. Buffy, what if we're wrong? I didn't see any signs of minions around, and he looked really torn up. I think he'd been crying."

"We're not wrong, Xander. I should have known better than to trust him. I should have staked him when I had a chance."

"You know, I kept telling you that, but you never listened to me, did you?"

Buffy whirled around in surprise. "Riley?" she gasped.

He walked over to her and hugged her. "Thank goodness you got rid of bleach-boy. I missed you so much. Can we start over?"

She just stood there in shock. Xander, Anya, Willow and Giles looked at each other and then moved towards the door. Riley went over to them and shook hands with Xander and Giles; Willow and Anya he hugged warmly.

Chapter 4

"All right, mate. You know you didn't kill those blokes, so let's figure out who did." Spike sat up & scrubbed at his face to get the remnants of hours of tears off. "Haven't heard of anyone trying to take over my rep. Might be someone new in town, though." He swung his duster around his shoulders & set off to tap into his information network.

He walked into Willy's and instantly the bar chatter stopped. "Oh relax, would you. I'm just here for some information this time. Anybody know anything about the blokes got topped with railroad spikes couple of days ago?" He looked around the room. A Wargarch demon in the back tentatively put his hand up. "Was out by the docks that night. Saw a man around the containers before they found the body. Didn't look like a cop."

"What'd he look like?"

"Tall, not too much fat to him, short brown hair. Went off towards the new cemetery."

Spike threw a ten on the bar. "Willy, give my friend a couple of drinks on me. Thanks, mate." As he walked out, the chatter resumed. He lit up a cigarette and considered his options. He started off for his old digs, as he'd left all of his weapons there when he'd moved in with Dawn.

"Well, then, this is a nice surprise. Or not, really. What are you doing back from the jungles, Captain Cardboard?"

Riley looked up at him from his seat on the steps. "What did you do to her?"

"Me, nothing. Chippie named Glory, well, that's another story. To repeat the question, what are you doing here?"

"I tried, I really did. She doesn't love me, you know. Told me that she probably never did love me, after yelling at me for a couple of hours."

Spike looked at Riley with something like pity. He sat down beside him and offered him his flask. "If it makes you feel any better, she doesn't love me either. Gets under your skin, doesn't she? You left her first, you know. She was still in the game until you started donating blood."

"I thought it would make me understand what she felt-with Angel and Dracula. It just made things worse."

Spike half-grinned at him. "You know, we demonic types need our own talk show. You and I could be the first guests: Slayers and the Men who Love Them; But She Doesn't Love Them Back. Think Oprah or Ricki Lake for the host?"

Riley snickered and took another pull from the flask. "There's nothing here for me now. If you ever see her again, tell her I'm sorry."

Spike took his flask back and leaned on the steps. "If I can get it out before I meet the business end of Mr. Pointy."

"What's that awful smell in here, anyways?"

"Ah, bloody nesting Querxyl demons. Guess they decided to move on by themselves." He didn't trust Captain Cardboard enough to tell him where his new digs were. He didn't realize that Riley had attached a tiny tracking device to the bottom of his flask. It only took Riley a couple of hours to locate the crypt and start making his plans.

The next night, Spike walked around Sunnydale using his vamp senses to sort everything out. He'd reasoned that the 'Railroad Spike Killer' would do it again, and would probably release a great deal of blood that he'd be able to smell. Finally, after walking almost all night, he checked the batteries on his rented cell phone and noticed they were almost dead. "Bloody hell. Oh well, might as well pack it in for the night." Just then, a strong scent of blood came from his right, from an abandoned warehouse. He stealthily crept up to the window. He tried to rub the dust away, but most of it was on the inside. He managed to clear enough away to see a redhead, "Willow!" was his first startled thought, stretched out on a makeshift altar. Chained to a wall beside her was a black man, also naked. His first impulse was to burst through the window, but he managed to check that. "Damn, been hanging out with Xander too much."

He heard a noise behind him and turned to check it out. "Finn! What're you, never mind. Look, I need some help here."

"Oh, I'll help you, Spike!"

Too late, he saw the crowbar descend towards his head. As he sank into blackness, he felt himself being hoisted into a fireman's carry. "Yes, Spike. I'll give you all the help you deserve."

Chapter 5

Dawn was checking for news in the paper. She was determined to prove that Spike was innocent. Two more bodies had been found. The coroner thought the murders had happened two days ago. Dawn was brought up short by that statement. Two days, she thought. That was the night that they spent sitting on the porch. Oh my god, I've got to show this to Buffy. She grabbed her coat and ran to the Magic Box.

She burst through the door and straight for the training room. "Buffy, you've got to read this." She shoved the paper at her and fell onto the couch. Buffy quickly scanned the story and turned to Giles.

"I think we've made a mistake. Spike was with me all night when these people were murdered." She almost laughed at the shocked look on Giles' face. "Get your mind out of the gutter! We were sitting outside talking. We've got to find him."

She pulled on her coat as she walked out of the training room. "Is Spike still in his old crypt, Dawn?"

She shook her head. "No, he's got one in the old cemetery on Elm. I went to see him last night & couldn't find him. He didn't even leave a note like the night bef" She clapped her hands over her mouth. Buffy smiled at her. "It's OK Dawn, I knew you were going to see him. You stay here. I'm going to go get Riley."

"No! I want to come too. I won't get in the way, I promise!"

She stopped and really looked at Dawn. "No, Dawnie. You need to stay here where I know you're safe. I promise I'll get you as soon as I find him. All right?"

Willow put her hands on Dawn's shoulders. "C'mon, we'll go make fun of Anya's customer service skills. Then Tara 'n I'll show you how to read auras. It'll be fun." She pushed Dawn gently over to the table. "Go, Buffy. We'll be fine here."

Buffy banged on Riley's motel room door. He opened it and looked surprised to see her there.

"Riley, I know we said some harsh things to each other, but I really need your help. Spike didn't kill those people and I need your help to find him. Dawn says he's got a place in the old cemetery on Elm. Will you help me look for him?"

He looked at the floor for a minute, then nodded his head. "Let me grab a few things and I'll be right with you."

Buffy pushed the door to the crypt open. "Spike, are you in here? Spike? I see you haven't lost your decorating skills." She looked around and to her shock saw him chained to an old sarcophagus. She ran over to him and tried to break the chains. She yelled for Riley to help her. As she turned to look for Riley, a horrible pain burst through her head and she fell to the ground.

Ow, head hurts. Must be still alive then. Spike! Got to get to him. She tried to move, but found to her shock that she was chained to the wall beside Spike. He rolled his eyes to her and cleared his throat.

"Well, Slayer, this is a fine mess you've gotten us into." His voice was raspy but soon evened out.

"What's going on? What happened?"

"Your erstwhile boyfriend has gone around the bleeding bend, that's what. Dipped the bloody chains in Holy Water, or else he wouldn't have kept me here so long, chip or no chip. He's the one been offing all those people, by the way. Not me!" He glared at her and then looked away.

"I know. Dawn showed me, never mind."

"Niblet? Knew she'd believe me. You didn't bring her, did you?" He started to struggle against his bonds, although it clearly hurt him. "Spike, stop! I left her at the shop with Willow and Tara. She's fine." He relaxed then, but a grimace of pain showed how much the effort had cost him. They were silent for a while.

She cleared her throat. "So, any ideas?"

"Shouldn't your bleeding Scoobies burst in soon to save you?" His sarcasm didn't quite mask the real pain in his voice.

"They're your Scoobies too, you know," she said softly.

"Right, that's why all of you decided to believe that I was the Big Bad again."

"Not all of us. Tara and Dawn were always on your side." His eyes widened at Tara's name. "She told Willow that after Glory, she knew what real evil was, and you weren't it."

Riley walked into the crypt then. "Good, you're both awake." He walked over to Buffy and gently caressed her cheek. She started to spit in his face then, but caught sight of Spike's wildly shaking head over his shoulder. As he turned from her to glare at Spike, she thought she saw a hint of purple around his head. She raised her eyebrows in a silent question. "Later" he mouthed, just before Riley backhanded him across the face.

"You don't talk to her!!" he screamed. "You're a monster and she's perfect and beautiful and an angel and you DON'T TOUCH HER, EVER!!"

Spike's head slammed against the stone with the force of Riley's blows. Riley stopped, chest heaving as he struggled to draw breath. He turned back to Buffy and gathered her into an awkward hug. "I knew you'd come back to me. We just have to get rid of this...thing and everything will be perfect. You'll see. I've got to go now, but I'll be back soon." He kissed her then. "I love you, Buffy."

She listened as Riley's footsteps moved away from the crypt. When she thought he'd gone, she tried to rouse Spike. Finally, his eyes opened. "Well, that was fun...not." He winced as he turned his head from side to side, trying to judge if anything was broken or not. He decided he was still in one piece and looked at Buffy. He was shocked to see there were tears in her eyes. "Don't cry, love. Please don't. I'm all right, really. Fish-boy'll have to work a lot harder to hurt me." She gave a watery smile at the feeble joke.

"What's with the purple-y stuff?" she asked.

"As far as I can remember, that particular shade of purple is associated with the Rvorksyl demons."

She cut him off. "Channel Giles much?"

He smirked at her and kept going. "Basically, Fish-boy's been possessed. He was down in Central America somewheres, wasn't he?"

She nodded. "Dawn told me he'd written to me after...after." Her voice trailed off for a minute. Talking about her death was still hard for her. She cleared her throat and continued. "She said she'd written back to him, telling him what had happened. She thought the letter was postmarked Buenos Aires."

He nodded absently at the news.

"So, Rimsky-Korsakov demons? What's the deal?"

"Rvorksyl, twit. They're big on revenge-y type stuff. Mostly tropical range. Anya'll probably be able to give us the scoop later. Anyway, the demon has picked out what he most desires and helped him to make it happen. When did he get into town? Before or after my eviction? And how did you find out about the murders to start with?"

She thought for a minute. "Everyone came over and Giles told me that someone had left the story on his doorstep. Then after you, um, left, he showed up."

"And you said that Tara and Dawn were on my side?"

She blushed and nodded.

"That's it then." He muttered to himself. Seeing her puzzled look, he explained. "Riley probably left the story for Giles. The Rvorksyl can contaminate others once for a period of time through a direct touch or through objects that it's touched. It's not a direct possession, it just makes them willing to believe in whatever's going on. Your Slayerness probably lessened the amount of time it took to wear off, but it shouldn't have.... Now if we could only get out of here, it's probably starting to wear off for everyone else." He renewed his struggles with the chains, as did Buffy, but to no avail. They both heard Riley's approaching footsteps and looked at each other with dread. Just as the door opened, he told her he loved her.

Chapter 6

Dawn was getting really tired of the gang's efforts to distract her. She waited until Willow and Tara were discussing some bizarre magical point and slipped out the door. She ran as fast as she could to Spike's new crypt. Luckily, she stopped to catch her breath before opening the door. She heard someone else talking and crept around the side to the small window. She cautiously looked in. She stifled a scream of horror before dropping to the ground and running back to the shop.

She burst in the door, startling everyone. "Buffy! Spike! Tied up, Riley"

"Calm down, Dawn." Giles brought her a drink of water as she bent from the waist, trying to catch her breath.

"You have to believe me! Riley's got Buffy and Spike tied up in Spike's new crypt. I think he's going to hurt them. He was talking really strange and he looked all purple."

"Purple?" Giles said thoughtfully. He walked over to the bookshelves and leafed through a book. After reading a few paragraphs, he closed the book and put it back. "Well, that explains why we were all so eager to believe that Spike was the killer. I think that Riley's been possessed by a Rvorksyl demon."

"Ooh, they're really good at revenge stuff. Not as good as I was, but still not bad." Anya said. "It's worn off by now, right Giles?"

"What's worn off?" Willow asked.

"You guys can talk about this stuff LATER! We've got to get over there NOW!!" Dawn was dancing in place by the door.

"Ah, right. Willow, Tara, please get a container of salt, some lavender, rose quartz powder, and, oh let me think here, fuller's earth."

Xander looked at him quizzically. "We're going to, what? Draw him a nice bath and give him a facial?"

Giles just glared at him. "No, no, Xander." Anya tugged him out the door to follow Dawn. "Salt breaks the demon's hold on Riley, lavender purifies, rose quartz powder banishes the demon and fuller's earth reaffirms Riley's bond with the Earth." He slung an arm around her and said with pride, "Ladies and Gentlemen, my girl, the demon genius!" "Well, someone tried it on me in 1469, but it didn't work."

Riley was telling Buffy that he understood, Spike had cast some sort of vampire magic over her, which is why she had let him move into the house and kiss her. "Dawn told me all about it in her letter. It's not your fault, sweetheart. We just have to get rid of him and then we can start over. I'm never going to leave you again. It'll be perfect, you'll see. We'll go back to the farm, you'll learn to love pigs. Dawn can come too, if she wants." She peeked over Riley's shoulder to check on Spike and almost burst out laughing when she realized that Spike was mouthing Riley's words almost before he said them. He rolled his eyes & winked at her, then motioned with his head to the door. His vamp hearing had picked up the sounds of the gang approaching.

"Does everyone know what to do?" Giles whispered. Willow and Tara were to throw the mixture onto Riley, Xander would tackle him and Giles and Dawn would try to get Buffy and Spike free. "One, two three, NOW!"

They burst into the crypt. Everything went as planned, for once, and soon Riley was flat on the floor with Xander sitting on him. Dawn was hugging Spike and crying on him. He patted her shoulders and told her that she was very brave and smart to get help. "Although, did you have to bring Xander?" His wink told Xander to play along.

"Hey, I resent that remark! Not everyone could have done this, you know."

"Uh-huh!" The return of Spike's characteristic sarcasm made both Buffy and Dawn feel better.

Riley moaned and shook his head. "Where am I?"

Giles went over to him and explained what he believed had happened over the past few days. He helped Riley up and out to his car, then he came back to get something off his chest. "I'll get ahold of his CO and explain the situation. They deal with demons, they should understand it wasn't his fault." He took off his glasses to polish them. "Spike, I, ah, owe you an apology. I should have realized after the events of the past six months, that you wouldn't have done this." He walked over to Spike and held out his hand. Spike took it and they solemnly shook.

"Ah, what he said." Anya and Xander also rather sheepishly shook hands with him.

Willow just hugged him hard and said she was sorry.

"Not your fault, guys; bloody demon possession, it was."

He swung around and stalked over to Buffy and poked her in the chest. He obviously didn't mean to hurt her, as he didn't grab for his head. "But YOU! YOU should have been protected because you're the Slayer. You I'm pissed at." He sat down on the floor with his back to her and fumbled a cigarette out of the pack. Tara shepherded everyone out the door. "Um, I think they need some alone time now."

"I'm sorry, Spike. I don't know what else to say." She sat down beside him.

He looked at her. "Why, Buffy. Why were you so ready to believe that I did these things." Tears pooled in his eyes as he spoke. When she tried to put her arms around him, he batted them away and rose to his feet. "Maybe I should just go to LA. I talked to Angel and he's willing to give me a trial job with his agency. Drive me nuts living with the Great Poof and his bloody hair gel, but...." his voice trailed off.

"Don't go." Her voice was so soft, only vamp hearing could have picked it up.

"Do my ears deceive me? Buffy the Great Fucking Vampire Slayer asking me to stay? That's a new one. What's the matter, Slayer? Scared of losing your whipping boy?" He walked up to her and took her chin in his hand. "Give me one reason why I should stay."

She swallowed. "Because I love you. Maybe the reason the demon possession got through the Slayer stuff when I heard about the murders was because I was so upset and angry. I couldn't believe that I could be so wrong about you and I was scared that I was about to give my heart to someone who could hurt me again."

His eyes softened a bit. "Buffy, that's what love is. You open yourself to someone; you've handed them the keys to your destruction. But that's not good enough." He walked over to his old chair & sat down.

"But, but what else can I do? What else do you want?"

He squinted at her and said, "I want to be wooed."

"Wooed? Definition, please."

He got up and started to pace back and forth. "What the hell do they teach you in school these days? Wooed. Wooing. I want flowers and dates and funny stupid presents. In short, I Want You To Make An Effort. We started something; something good and you were willing to toss all of that away. So, convince me to stay."

Her ears were taking in the words, but her brain wasn't quite processing them. "Let me get this straight. You want Me to bring you flowers and ask you out on dates?"

"In a nutshell, luv." The familiar smirk was back on his face. "Now, push off. I'm tired and I want an early night."

She turned to go out the door when an idea struck her. She turned back and said, "Spike, would you like to go out for dinner tomorrow night?"

He looked like a kid on Christmas morning for a second, then he got his face under control and pretended to think about it. "I'd like that."

"All right, pick you up at 7:00?"

He got a rather panicked look on his face. "Ah, love, I'd like to live to get to dinner. How about I pick you up and we'll throw in some driving lessons."

"Sounds good, see you then."

She closed the door gently behind her and looked at the gang. "Well?!?" Willow finally burst out.

"He wants to be wooed. He wants me to make an effort to keep him here."

"Sounds sensible to me." Anya said. "He's always been the chaser, maybe he wants to be chased for a while. Besides, that way you can look at his buns as he's running away from you."

She looked back once as they walked out of the cemetery. He looked like a marble angel, standing there in the moonlight. "Maybe we can 'run out of gas' during the lesson." she thought.

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