"Spike, did you hear me?"
Her words echoed in his head: We have a clean slate. Was that like forgiveness? If it was, how could she forgive him after what he had done? His mind uncontrollably flashed back o that night in the bathroom. How could he have almost raped the woman he loved so much? Well, he knew now, of course, but having no soul, no moral compass, was not an acceptable excuse. Nothing was.
Buffy spoke again: "I said we have a clean slate. You're not the same. You are no more the soulless vampire that...did those things...than Angel was Angelus."
Spike found his voice: "Oh, love, but I am-and so was he. Do you really think that Angelus could have hated you so venomously if Angel hadn't loved you so much? No, the demon is still in there. But I'm not like Angel." He picked himself up off the basement floor and looked into her brilliant green eyes. She looked slightly confused. Right, then, more explanation. "Whereas the demon Angelus hated you for making Angel love you-both the soul and the demon have to occupy the body, you see-it was the demon who was Spike who fell in love with you-and on this point the soul who was William agrees. Unlike Angel and Angelus." His head was swimming in his own web of wordage. He only hoped she understood.
"So you're not one or the other-but both. I get that. But if I can forgive Angel for the things Angelus did, then you should get at least that too. I mean, he killed my teacher and friend Jenny Calendar, you tried to rape me in my own home..." She stopped when she saw the tortured look on his face. She quickly changed the course of the conversation. "So do we give you a new name? I mean there was the demon Angelus, the mixy demon/souled Angel, and his human name was.....Liam or something I think. And yours was William. And the demon was Spike. So who are you now?" She looked at him inquisitively as he paced.
He hushed the voices that were taunting him. He finally stopped pacing and searched her face. "I'm still trying to figure that one out, love," he finally sighed. He looked at her again. There, at last, he saw one of the things he's been longing to, been waiting for: compassion.
"I...I want to help," she stammered, "I want to help you....to get better...to figure out where you fit." She very hesitantly reached out her hand to touch his face, scared he would pull away again. But this time he didn't. He looked terrified, but he didn't back away. He felt her soft fingertips on his flesh and thought it felt as a heavenly figure's touch must. He closed his eyes and allowed her to embrace him gently. He put his arms around her slowly, wanting to savor every essence that was her.
They stood there in the basement, arms around each other, and he began to cry tears of relief. She didn't hate him. She forgave him.
And somehow, he knew that everything would be alright.
(Hellmouth and Big Bad notwithstanding. :) )
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