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Slowly gathering her courage Buffy stepped out onto the roof and sat down, making sure to put a couple feet between herself and Spike. Drawing her knees up to her chest, she clasped her hands around them and stared at her feet.

She knew when he looked at her. A shiver ran through her, but she didn't move, didn't look back.

"I don't want this to end."

Her heart thudded painfully in her chest and she squeezed her eyes shut against the threatening tears.

"I don't want to lose you."

"...Stop," she gasped softly. "Please..."

"Buffy..."

"No, let me, please..." She took a deep, shuddering breath, then continued in a low monotone, "I've been in denial still. I know, we thought we were past that, but it was easy to just let everything slide because when I was with you..." Hunching her shoulders slightly, she breathed another sigh. "It was really, really easy to forget reality."

"Buffy, we *are* reality."

"Only part of it. You see, I ignored the other part, the part where you're building a clan, where you're still killing. It made life so much easier, so much funner. But now I have to know...why did I let you continue to kill?"

"Because you didn't see it," Spike replied sadly, his eyes never leaving her huddled form. "Because we both compartmentalized our lives. You're the Slayer and you kill my people every night. How many times have I found you in a cemetery, still dusty with one of my own, and I've made love to you in their remains?"

Buffy's head shot up and she gave him a startled look.

"Never though that it went both ways, did you, pet?" He wasn't being accusatory or mean, simply stating a fact, and it cut her to the bone.

"They're demons, evil," she protested.

"Just like me." He gave her a sad look, then swung his head around to stare blankly across the street.

"As long as they kill humans, I have to take them down."

"Then why am I not dust, luv?"

Buffy gaped at him as her heart pounded harder, then buried her face in her knees, wailing, "I don't know."

"Do you love me?" Spike's breath caught in his throat and he held himself rigid, as he finally allowed himself to think of the possibility.

This time her answer was soft and sad. "I don't know."

"Me neither."

They both looked at each other with incredibly sorrow-filled eyes.

Buffy was the first to break the silence.

"We have to stop this, Spike. We can't continue like this. It's wrong for a vampire and a Slayer to...feel whatever we do. You kill humans. I have to protect humans. It's what we are."

"I don't have to kill," Spike mumbled, swallowing hard over the clog in his throat at the very thought of going so very far against his nature.

But, then, wasn't feeling anything for the Slayer totally against his nature, too?

"Could you do that? Would you?"

He nodded slowly. "I don't think I can lose you, luv."

"It was just supposed to be fun," Buffy said, almost to herself, her fingers tightening around her thin legs. "Why did it have to get all serious? You're my mortal enemy."

"And you're my immortal one," he breathed softly. "The gods must be laughing at this one."

"Yeah." Sighing heavily she let her legs slide down the roof and leaned her head back to look past the eaves to the stars. "Stupid gods."

Spike couldn't help it. He chuckled, and at the look she shot him, he did it again.

"This situation isn't at all funny, Spike."

"It's either laugh or howl, luv. I screwed up massively. It's what I'm known for, y'know."

He tried to make it light-hearted, but Buffy shook her head, sadly murmuring, "You hurt me. Worse, you scared me."

Fear filled him and he reached out to her, only to draw back his hand and stare at his trembling fingers. "Oh fuck, Buffy, don't. Please don't..."

"I scared myself," she continued. "I let you...I didn't stop you. You were angry and you...I..." She stared down at her knees again, shame flooding her. "A part of me liked it."

"There's nothing wrong with that."

"You flung me down on the ground, ignored my saying 'no', and didn't stop." Looking up at him again, she stressed in a hiss, "You didn't stop. And I didn't want you to. Do you understand how confusing that is? I...came. You hurt me and I liked it." Fresh tears filled her eyes and she brushed futilely at them. "I'm not that kind of person."

"Are you sure?" he asked, his voice hollow with his own anguish as the memories filled his mind of her fighting him and his demon taking control.

"It could be called rape, Spike." Choking on her own tears, Buffy turned to go back inside and felt his hand lightly touch her back.

Instead of flinching, she leaned into it.

"No, please, oh please don't leave it like this, Buffy. I'm so sorry, gods, so sorry." He was babbling, but desperate to keep her with him. "I'm so sorry I raped you."

She heard the sob as his voice broke, and she found herself turning, reaching for him and wrapping her arms around his shaking shoulders. "Shh...You didn't...not really," she murmured, believing it herself. "We were both angry and we both lost control and...it happened."

"I never meant to scare you. I swear." Spike clutched at her, holding her tightly to him, both of them on their knees on the roof.

"I believe you," she whispered back as his head fell to her shoulder and he sobbed. Her own tears started to fall and she closed her eyes, gently caressing his back. "Somehow we'll work through this whole mess."

"Is that...possible?" he asked against her neck, his voice shaky.

"It has to be. I don't want to give you up either," Buffy sobbed softly.

Getting himself under control, Spike turned and sat back down, pulling her onto his lap. She curled into him, still crying, and he murmured soothing sounds to her as he stroked her. Finally she stopped crying and looked up at him from reddened eyes.

"Stay with me."

"Luv?"

"Just hold me, please."

Spike nodded, swallowing hard in amazement and pleasure, then followed her through the window into her bedroom.

******

A soft gasp brought Spike to full awareness and he looked up, his preternatural eyes spying Joyce standing in the doorway, a blush spreading up her pretty cheeks. He glanced down at Buffy curled trustingly by his side and a joyous ache filled him. Careful not to disturb her, he slid from the bed, grinning as Joyce blushed deeper and spun around.

Clad in the jeans he'd slept in, he picked up his t-shirt and slipped it on, then grabbed his shoes and duster. "It's okay, luv. I'm decent." He made a self-deprecating sound as he walked to the door. "Well, as decent as I'll ever be." Joyce turned around, still red in the face, and he added softly, "We were just sleeping."

Backing out of the room she shook her head at him. "I thought we talked about this sneaking into her room thing."

Spike had the grace to look embarrassed at Joyce's maternal concern, and he pulled the door shut behind him, so they could talk at a normal volume. "We had a fight. Just needed to make it up to her, and she wanted me to stay just to hold her. We didn't mean to sneak around on you but you were sound asleep."

Joyce sighed and gestured to the stairs. "Come on down. I'll make you some cocoa before you need to leave. You have about forty five minutes till sunrise."

They started down the stairs. "Thanks, luv. What are you doing up so early?"

"Yoga class. We like to greet the dawn."

"Humans never cease to amaze me," Spike said with a grin.

*****

Thirty minutes later, warmed by hot cocoa and feeling particularly good, Spike strolled down the streets of the empty warehouse district towards his lair. He passed a couple of homeless people sleeping behind a dumpster and wasn't even tempted to feed. Pleased with himself, he began to whistle.

He could do this, not kill, not even feed on humans if that's what Buffy needed. She was more important.

That thought didn't send him into convulsions or make him want to flee, and he smirked at himself. "Love's bitch, indeed."

Pushing open the door to his lair, he nodded absently at the guards and continued through to the main room. He expected it to be empty, everyone already in bed for the day or making their way there.

He didn't expect the scene he came across.

"...Angel?"

Seated on Spike's throne with Daria curled into a trembling ball at his feet, Angel looked up from examining his fingernails. "There you are, boy. I was about to send out the dogs."

Spike froze, staring intently at his sire, looking for some sign of Angelus.

"Oh, it's me, Spike, Angel, soul and all," Angel said, understanding his childe's hesitation and concern. "We need to talk."

End