Spike stretched slowly, leisurely, slowly realizing that he was flat on his back. The pillow top bed was soft underneath him, and there was something warm snuggled up against his side. Buffy. He sighed, wanting desparately to purr, but he couldn’t. However, Buffy could. And was, actually. He sighed quietly. It felt… good, to have her purring for him for a change.
Buffy woke up slowly, Spike’s stretching jostling her a little. She yawned, showing off her cat’s needle-like teeth. Glanced at the big dog next to her. “Morning, puppy.”
He chuckled softly. “Mornin’, luv.” He rolled onto his stomach, giving a yawn as well. Grinned at her. “So. What do you want to do today?”
Buffy got to her feet, stretching first her front legs, then the back legs. Then she sat again, licking her lips. Decision time. Time to be firm. “Spike… we have to go home today.”
He almost flinched. Then pretended to have not heard. “I was personally hoping for some food, then maybe a romp in the yard with the kids. Maybe an afternoon nap in the sun-”
“Spike.” Quietly. Gently. She knew this was hard for him. “We *have* to go home.” The dog got up, stretching, and hopped off the bed and onto the floor, without a word. She sighed, and followed him. “Spike… Come on, now. You *know* we have to go home.”
He paused in his tracks, and whirled to face her, with something that sounded like a growl. “I *am* home, Slayer.” He ran outside, through the special dog door that lead to the backyard. Buffy was frozen for a moment. How could he say that? She snapped out of it and ran after him. “Spike! Spike!” When she got outside, she froze again.
Spike was sitting in the center of the yard… in a stream of direct sunlight. Staring up into the sky. She slowly made her way out to him. “Spike…”
“I don’t want to go back, Buffy.” He didn’t look at her. “Just look at it. The sky is *blue*, Buffy. There are white, fluffy clouds. No stars. No moon. No darkness.” Finally, his deep brown eyes dropped to her. “I have a heartbeat, luv. I breathe. I am in the *sunlight*. If the price I have to pay for this is to be a dog for the rest of my life, I’ll gladly pay it.” Motioned at the house. “Those kids in there… they love us. They love *me*. Do you have any idea how that feels? To know that the people you’re hanging out with love you? Trust you? Actually care? I didn’t. Not until yesterday.”
Buffy blinked. She hadn’t thought about it from his point of view before. But… “Spike, the others care about you…”
“Only because you do, luv. And I don’t even know why you do. You’ve called me a horrible monster more times than I can remember.”
She visably flinched. “Spike.. I’ve apologized for that before. And you know that I was… that I was scared. That I didn’t want to allow myself to believe that you could feel what you said you could feel. That you could love me…” She looked at the ground. “But I *do* believe it. And I have for quite some time.” Looked up at him. “Spike, I’m going home today. I have to. And I want you to come with me.” Quietly. “I *need* you to come with me.”
He looked down at her, blinking a little. Sighed. “Buffy… I need you to understand. Harris, Red… They’re *your* friends. Not mine. They only pretend to care because you seem to. Here…” Looked at the house. “Here I have people. People who are my friends and care about me. Not because they feel they *have* to, but just because they *want* to.”
She nuzzled against his leg. Said quietly, “They care about you, Spike. Willow and Xander. You’re one of us. A Scooby..” A small laugh. “Literally at the moment.”
In spite of himself, he chuckled quietly. Then he sighed. “I don’t… Don’t think I can do this.”
“I know. But we have to.” Time to voice a hard admission. “I need you. In order to keep going. To keep slaying. To keep.. sane. I need you. You’re my slaying buddy, and the only vamp I’ve ever had a real reason to be afraid of. I need you. The world needs you.”
He looked at her. Blinked. Then sighed, accepting. He cocked his head, looking at the house. “It’s not gonna be easy to leave them. Maggie and James, I mean.”
She sighed. “I know.”
“Why?!”, Maggie cried, later that afternoon. The two animals and children were in the back yard, and Spike had just broken the news about their upcoming departure, causing the little girl to break down in tears, hugging Spike’s neck. “Don’t you love us anymore?”
The vampire turned Great Dane whimpered. “Of course we do, Maggie…”
“Then why are you leaving!?”, James said, sitting on the ground near by, valiantly holding back his own tears. “If you love us, you’ll stay.”
Buffy walked over to the young boy, nuzzling his leg gently. “*Mmerroow..*” “It’s okay…”
Spike nodded, nuzzling the little girl, suddenly very glad that dogs couldn’t cry. “We have to, kids. We.. we have a home, already. And people who care about us. And we need to get back to them…”
Maggie just clutched Spike tighter, crying against his fur. “I- I don’t wa- want you to g- go…”
Spike sniffed a little, just to let the girl know that he’d be crying if he could. “Maggie, sweetheart… I know it’s hard. I’m so sorry… I don’t want this to hurt you…”
“Then d- don’t.. l- leave us..”
Buffy climbed into James’ lap, letting him stroke her gently. She purred softly, the only thing she could think of to do.
“Shhh. It’s okay… It’ll be okay, pet… It will..”, Spike soothed, bringing up a huge paw to pat on the little girl’s back. “You’ll see… this is for the best… really, it is…”
Buffy sighed. This was harder than she thought it’d be. For someone who found it increasingly difficult to give her love away, these two kids had gotten into her heart amazingly fast. And she hated to see them crying. Hated it with every fiber of her little, furry being. “*Meerooww.*” She added her voice to Spike’s soothing. Knowing that they couldn’t understand her, but feeling the need to do it just the same. “It’s alright… it’ll be alright..”
“I don’t want to let go…”, Maggie whispered in Spike’s ear.
He whimpered. Neither did he.