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Endless days dreaming about her. Torturous nights slaying by her side. Months of waiting and hoping. The anguish of unrequited love. One hundred forty seven days without her.

All of it vanished the second her lips touched his.

He tried to take it all in at once. Her taste, her smell, the feel of her under his hands. She reminded him of the ribbon candy from his youth. Sweet, with just a hint of spice. But underneath that, barely detectable, he tasted himself. Bitter. Wasted. Empty.

He pulled her closer, trying to give her some of his desire, some of his love. He wanted this so badly. Wanted her so badly. It was an ache in his chest, even though his heart didn't beat anymore.

Her nails dug into his sides, their sharp pain drawing his attention from her ravenous mouth. Only their hands and mouths made any contact, then she abruptly shoved him against the nearest wall. He didn't have time to be startled as she threw herself against him. Her compact, muscular body against his. He couldn't stop a small moan from escaping. Her mouth crashed on his again, this time her teeth joining in the hunger. The little nips and tears sent trills of pleasure down his spine.

He tried to get his hand in her hair, to get her to hold still so he could get a true, full taste of her, but she grabbed his hand and forced it against the wall. She held it there with her strength, her nails digging into his wrist, each piercing drawing blood and a ragged groan from him. He had to have more. He needed more. He snaked his free hand around her waist, trying to get to her warm flesh, only to have his hand yanked above his head. He stared down at her, not recognizing the woman he loved in her eyes. A twist of his hips confirmed that she was still pressed tightly against him, and he had no way to defend himself.

"Love?" he questioned, unsure if he should be afraid or excited. He was a little of both as it was.

He got a hollow laugh in answer. "You really love me, don't you? A soulless demon loves me." She pulled him slightly away from the wall, then slammed him back against it. "How? How can you die and come back, and still be able to love? I have a soul, you don't, and you love me, but I don't feel anything."

His desire fizzled at her plaintive anguish. She didn't have tears in her eyes. Only confusion and resignation. Unfortunately, he didn't have an answer for her. Anything he said would be contrite, or taken the wrong way. 

"Why doesn't anything have any meaning for me?" she asked softly, her voice drained of any passion she may have felt.

Her grip on him slackened, and he managed to get his left wrist free. He quickly threaded his fingers through her hair, before she could bolt from his embrace. "Do you hate me?" he asked.

Her eyes met his, a flash of confusion replaced by certainty. "No."

He swallowed any last bit of pride he might have hidden and asked her, "Do you love me?"

Her answer took longer, and she wouldn't look at him. She stumbled over the word, "No."

"Very convincing," he drawled, surprised she'd even had to think about the answer. "What about Dawn? Giles? Do you love them?"

Wide-eyed, she blurted out, "Of course I do." 

Warming up to his impromptu pep talk, he asked, "What about the demons still left in the world? Those that will hurt or kill Dawn, or Giles. Do you hate them? Do you want them dead?"

She was timid in her answer. "I- I guess..."

He pulled a bit on her hair, drawing her full attention. "Don't guess, *know. They're evil. You're the Slayer. You kill evil. You make the world a better place. That's what you do." On impulse, he kissed her again, his mouth bruising in its force.

She fought against him, clawing at his arm until she could wretch herself free. "You bastard," she spat.

"Are you mad?" he asked, just before her fist connected with his jaw. "Are you angry at me?"

Her eyes flashed fire. "Yeah, I'm angry."

"Blood all fired up and pumping?" He paused a beat, waiting for it to sink in. Realization crossed her features the same moment he said, "Feels, good, doesn't it?"

She punched him again. "I hate you," she yelled.

He worked his jaw and cradled it with his hand. "Glad to hear it. Now, are you going to get back in there and finish your number, or are you going to try another hell dance?"

His voice and eyes challenged her, and she drew up to her full height, glaring at him. She opened her mouth, then shut it without saying anything. Confusion, then understanding, then annoyance flitted across her features. "You did that deliberately."

He hadn't expected her to see through it so soon. He quickly covered, "Oh, yeah. I love to be hit repeatedly in the face by a Slayer." She just stared at him; unnerving him. "Go on, then. Go...slay something."

She grabbed his jacket with both hands and shoved him against the wall again. Fear shot down his spine at the coldness in her eyes. "Don't ever tell me what to do again, Spike. Got it?"

"'Kay. Got it," he agreed readily.

He took an unneeded breath as she leaned in, but instead of the punch he expected, she kissed him lightly. "This entire conversation stays between us, understand?" she murmured against his lips.

As she drew back, his mouth stayed partially open in shock.

"Thank you," she whispered, her eyes shining with tears. She gave his jacket a pat down, smoothing the wrinkles, then turned and walked into the darkness.

His eyes followed her until she was nothing more than shadow, then he slumped against the wall. Endless days dreaming about her. Torturous nights slaying by her side. Months of waiting and hoping. The anguish of unrequited love. One hundred forty seven days without her.

With two words and a kiss, she wiped it all away. Straightening his jacket, he sauntered down the alley, back to his crypt, the smear of her red lipstick still on his lips.

The end