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Author's Note: This is a rewrite of The Body, which due to my changes to canon, I removed from the series. It focuses on Spike's evolution from vampire to a force for good on the hellmouth, and references several episodes, noticeably; Lover's Walk, Crush, and Lies My Parents Told Me. I have put this from Spike's perspective, and I refer to Buffy and Angel in only a background sense, something which I rarely do. I have also tried to give an insight into the progress of Spike and Tara's relationship, which is considerably different from the B/S slant which Joss chose to visit. This is the first in a series of three really, as I thought two episodes on Spike would explain his actions in Enlightenment (Intervention) which I felt was needed when I made Elita a rescued friend as opposed to Buffy's younger sister. Enjoy.

Pavlov's Bell.

Xander had managed to secure Aimee Mann to play at the Bronze tonight, a considerable coup. Spike was on an assignment from Wyndam-Pryce Investigations, which had picked up more business since the fund raiser a fortnight ago, otherwise there would have been little occasion for him to be in the club on this particular night. Usually he would be minding the Magic Box and or spending time with his girlfriend. His relationship with Tara was going well, despite the contrasts of their lives, species, characters and dispositions. He gave her self-confidence, whilst she, by simply showing how different he was with her to the vampire once out to kill them, silently promoted his place in the slayerettes to be accepted, even welcomed.

The couple under surveillance moved on to the dancefloor, causing Spike to concentrate on them more, else lose them in the melee. His ears were only slightly tuned to the music, identifying the song through the chorus as opposed to one of the many tracks he listened to with the Scoobies during chill or research times. He had yet to realise that anything else about the night would be significant, otherwise he would have been more observant as to what was going on around him. He would only discover later that what occurred would have a bearing on what was to come.

As the song drew to a close, the couple began to leave first the dancefloor then the club, causing Spike to move from the mezzanine walkway above the former to the stairs to the ground floor after them. He exited the Bronze at a discreet distance behind them, watching as something detached itself from the shadows of the alley to attack them.

Spike broke from a casual walk into a full sprint, launching himself on the stalker, clamping his hand upon the guy's mouth before forcibly dragging him back into the darkness from whence he came.

"What the hell are you doing here, mate?" He asked him in a harsh whisper, releasing the grip on his mouth to let the man reply, before the chip inside him registered the possible damage he was doing to a human being, and offered up retribution. "I thought my boss told you to wait at home for our call."

"I had to see if it was true," the man, Wesley's client, replied desolately.

"Yeah, well, unfortunately, it is," Spike said, "and that's what you paid us to find out for ya, remember?" He reminded him. "We told you that this would be too bloody dangerous for you to see by yourself. That it could get ya dead."

"What about you?" The client asked.

"I'm already dead, mate," Spike replied, causing his companion to gasp as he took in the evidence that he was serious. "Now, I want you to go into that club, up to the bar, and ask for the manager. Tell him I sent you and he'll see you get home safe. Okay?"

The client sighed in surrender. "Okay. Just promise me you'll protect her."

"I will, mate," Spike replied, "that's the other thing you paid us for. Now go."

He pushed him into the alley, keeping one eye on the couple and the other on their client, a difficult task as they were now going in opposite directions. After seeing the latter go inside the Bronze, Spike left the shadows to catch up with the couple, who were by now nearly out of the alley.

Even now he wondered what would have happened if the suspect had turned out to be someone else. Would it have a made a difference to his actions, to the end result of the night, which caused what occurred next to become inevitable? Sometimes he was certain; others he wasn't so sure. At that moment such philosophical thought was not a habit of his as it would become later, and he was more worried about how to rescue the girl without letting the suspect know his cover was blown.

Which is why he let loose his ridged forehead and fangs before confronting them when they reached their destination; Restfield graveyard.

"Hey, mate," he greeted, his native brogue in full force, causing the vampire to look up from his victim's neck in surprise. "Fancy sharing?"

"Spike?" The vamp queried in astonishment. "I thought you had no trouble in getting meals yourself."

"Oh, I used to," Spike replied, edging closer and closer until he was almost on top of them. "But then these army guys trapped me. Proper bastards they were. They put this chip in me and now I have to ask guys to share else suffer terrible pain." When you are trying to bluff someone, it is always best to go with the truth. How they interpret it is up them.

The vamp looked at him carefully, considering. Spike let his eyes acquire a longing look, before directing them to the human neck in the vamp's grasp. For a moment he was convinced that his old friend was not going to buy the deception, then suddenly he pushed the girl into his chest.

"Fair enough," the vamp decided. "After all, I owe you one for that time in Bulgaria."

"Yeah, you do," Spike agreed, carefully fixing the girl's arm around his waist, locking into his belt, leaving both his hands free for what would come next. He held out his hand for a friendly shake. As the vampire took it, Spike swiftly pulled him closer, before retrieving a weapon from his jacket pocket and staking the guy through the heart.

"Consider us even, mate," he remarked as the undead body slowly transformed from a walking corpse into ashes.

He would remember this moment for the rest of his days. The body in his arms. The pounding of her heart echoing through his ears. The pliant neck before him, with the warm, virgin skin just begging to be penetrated. Before he was even aware of it, his mouth inched closer and closer to the surface of the flesh. There was no warning, no alarm bells ringing through his mind, sending shivers of blinding pain through the nerve receptors inside his brain, which should have tipped him off. He felt no pain, only the need to satisfy his desires. It's power was almost overwhelming, seductive, addictive, and like one who had been off the wagon before, he longed to fall into the hole again. For over a year he had been living on pigs blood, no substitute for the taste of human's, for the purity, for the high he felt from draining the life out of someone. True, he still killed demons, slayed vampires, but it wasn't the same. It didn't quench the demon within him, the evil within him.

Evil. Perhaps that was the would which broke him from his course, prevented him from breaking his promise to their client and causing harm to come to the girl. All he knew was that he suddenly became startlingly aware of lack of distance between the girl's neck and his fangs. Revolted, he flinched and released her, hiding the demon in his face so by the time she opened her tear ridden eyes to gaze on him, there was nothing to fear.

"Thank you," she said, as if she hadn't noticed the seemingly long time between his slaying of the vampire and her release. "How did you know I was in danger?"

"Your husband told us, luv," he replied, inwardly struggling to contained the sudden turmoil from coming to the forefront. "He believed you were cheating on him."

"I nearly did," she confessed. "I didn't realise the guy was a...." she trailed off, in search of the right word.

"Demon, vampire," Spike offered, "call him whatever you want. The important thing is, nothing happened. You walked out of a club with a guy who tried to attack you, and then some other guy rescued you and saw you home. That's all you need to tell your husband." He shrugged. "That and that you probably need to sort some stuff out within your marriage, but that's none of my business. I'm only paid to rescue, not do Oprah."

"Well, thanks," the girl said, "for the rescue, I mean. And I can get myself home. You don't have to...."

Spike cut her off. "All part of the service, luv." He smiled at her before offering his hand. "Come on, we'll take my car."

He didn't know how he managed to keep it together long enough to drive her home, see her safely into the arms of her husband, and then drive away. His mind was in turmoil, frantic at what he did, or rather, what he almost did, and wondering why his chip never kicked in. It was a miracle he dodged what little night traffic there was as he drove through the suburbs of the town. As it was, he was still only half aware of his actions as he pulled the Desoto to a halt outside 1630 Revello Drive.

Joyce Summers opened the door, took one look at the surprise guest standing on her doorstep, and immediately stepped aside to usher him in. She pushed him into the living room, and turned a concerned face to her date.

"Alex, I'm sorry, we're gonna have to cut this short," she said, causing her companion to rise from the sofa. "This is one of Buffy's friends, and he looks like he needs some help."

"I'll say," Dr Alex Byrne agreed as he walked to the doorway into the hall where Joyce and Spike were standing. "He looks like he need a hot drink and a chat," he added. "I'll call you in the morning, Joyce."

"Goodnight," Joyce remarked, leaving Spike alone to see her date to the door. "And thanks for being so understanding."

"Anytime," Alex replied, before kissing her.

Spike turned round in time to see the end of the embrace, watching as Joyce closed the door and walked back into the living room to rejoin him.

"I'm sorry," he began, "I interrupted something, didn't I?"

"It's fine," Joyce assured him, guiding him to the armchair he usually sat in when he visited her. "You look like you need to talk to someone. Hot chocolate?" She offered.

"Yeah, if you don't mind," Spike nodded, leaning back as she disappeared into the kitchen to make them.

It took less time than he thought, as she came back later, placing the drink before him on the coffee table.

"Now, what's wrong?" Joyce asked him after taking a sip of her own, leaning forward in her seat on the sofa. "I thought you were out on case for Wes."

"I was," Spike replied, as he carefully brought the drink to his mouth, trying to control the shaking of his hands. "Something happened, Joyce," he confessed, "something I didn't think would ever happen again."

"Something you can't talk to my daughter about?" Joyce guessed. "Or Angel, or Tara?"

"If they knew," Spike flinched despite himself at the mere idea of it, "they'd kill me."

"I doubt that," Joyce attempted to assure him.

Spike shook his head. "You don't know what I did," he replied.

"I think I can figure," Joyce uttered. "Which was it; you drank from someone, or you killed them?"

"Almost both," Spike admitted.

To his surprise, Joyce was not even shocked. "I can see why you believe that you can't talk to them," she replied. "Now, why don't you tell me exactly what happened?"

"Wes had this guy who thought his wife was cheating on him with a demon," Spike began. "The guy asked us to follow her, and save her. I did. She was in the Bronze with this fella, who turned out to be an old vamp friend of mine, from back in the day, by the way." He took a quick sip of his drink. "Anyway, they left the club....."

"Hang on," Joyce interrupted, "back up a second. You were in the club, watching them. Where were you and where were they?"

"I was on the walkway and they were dancing below me," Spike replied, confused as to why this was important.

"Who were they dancing to?" Joyce asked.

"Er, Aimee Mann," Spike answered.

"You know which track?"

"Yeah, I do, but I don't see how this matters."

"Everything might," Joyce replied. "Something obviously prevented your chip from kicking in. Now it could be that it's beginning to run out, or that something from the outside affected it."

Spike looked at her in surprise. "You think my chip broke?"

"Well, Willow and Oz never fully decrypted those files from the Initiative," Joyce reminded him. "And there was nothing on your chip. We don't know what Professor Walsh had in mind when she developed it."

"You mean it could have a sell by date?" Spike asked.

"Or she installed a behavioural modification within it," Joyce argued. "Something which triggered you to give into your demonic desires. She created Adam after all, maybe she had something in mind other than just preventing vampires from biting humans."

"Hell of a coincidence, then," Spike mused after taking another sip of hot chocolate. "Aimee Mann's song was called Pavlov's Bell."

Joyce nodded in agreement. "So what happened next? Had the song finished before you left the club?"

"Nearly. You think it's that song then?"

"No," Joyce replied, "otherwise you would have reacted at the beginning."

"Oh. Well, they left the club, and I followed them. Suddenly I saw the husband come out from the shadows and attempt to follow them too, but I grabbed him before he could, and convinced him to let me handle it. I ordered him back into the club, and then followed the girl and guy, all the way to Restfield. I watched him get ready to take her, and then I let my vamp face show and confronted him. I pretended I was looking for a share, 'cause I couldn't cause harm anymore. I don't know if it was because he recognised me, or what, but he let me have her. I held out my hand for him to shake, and with the girl leaning on my chest, I pulled him in to me and staked him." Spike paused to sip his drink before continuing. "Then, I don't know what happened, but the next thing I remember is holding the girl's neck before my fangs, ready to drink from her, when something stopped me. It was like I was in a dream or something, and suddenly I woke up. I flinched and pushed her away. She thanked me and then I drove her home before coming here." He leaned back into the armchair to look Mrs Summer straight in the eye. "So, do you think I'm crazy, my chip's broke, or the Initiative rang the bell and had me wagging my tail?"

"Honestly, I'm not sure," Joyce admitted. "But I think you should realise how far you've come from those dark days, else you could have killed that girl. I think you're stronger than you realise, Spike. I also think you need to tell Tara, Buffy, Angel and Giles about what happened tonight. And don't worry, I'll be there for you if you need me."

"Joyce, how can I tell them that I almost killed someone?" Spike asked her.

"Almost," she pointed out, "that's the key point. Almost, not actually. Spike, they will understand. And they need to know, so they can help you figure out what's gone wrong with your chip, and how to prevent it from happening again. And how to protect you and others if it does."

Silently Spike nodded as he finished his drink, accepting her reasoning, if not actually agreeing with it.

"I have the guest bed made up," Joyce offered, "if you don't feel like going home. I'm sure Buffy and Angel will understand."

"I hope so," Spike remarked as he stood up. "Thanks, Joyce, but I should go home." He walked to doorway leading to the hall, and she rose to join him. To his surprise and hers, he found himself hugging her in gratitude. "Thanks."

"Anytime," she replied, before seeing him to the door. She watched him climb into his car, making sure he was well enough to drive it home, before she closed the door.

If Buffy, Elita or Angel noticed that Spike was quieter than usual the next morning, none of them pressed him for an explanation when they joined each other at the breakfast table in the Crawford Mansion kitchen. Nor did they happen to observe that his meal was wheetabix, milk and sugar, as opposed to wheetabix mixed with blood, his usual dish of choice. Spike could not face the thought of drinking blood at the moment, even soaked into something to texture the taste.

Waiting until Elita was safely with Ellis at the Sunnydale College crèche, and Buffy and Angel had left for their morning classes, Spike phoned Anya to ask for her to cover his shift at the Magic Box. He then phoned Wes to assure him that the case from the night before was solved, before dialling a third number into the phone.

"Tara, luv, it's me," he greeted her softly.

"Hey Spike," she replied, "what's up?"

"I kinda need to talk to you, luv," he explained, "could you come over this morning? If you can't skip class, I understand...."

"No, no, it's fine," she assured him, "I'll ask Willow to lend me her notes. What's wrong?"

"I'd rather tell you face to face," he replied. "It's not anything to do with us, I promise. I know what those four words can do to a girl's mind."

"Well, luckily for you, I'm not your typical girl," Tara replied. "And you've had some experience in that area, have you?" she teased.

"Not as much as most people think," Spike confessed, causing her to laugh. "I'll see you in half an hour?"

"Of course," Tara promised.

"And, Tara," Spike paused nervously, "could you not tell Willow why you're missing class? When you get here you'll understand why."

"Sure," Tara replied. "I'll see you soon."

"Bye, luv," Spike uttered in farewell, waiting for her to reply before he replaced the receiver in the phone. He wondered into the double height living room, sinking into the comfortable sofas Buffy made Angel buy over two years ago, along with the other furniture within the house. Comfort however was far from his mind, as he wondered how Tara would take the events of what happened last night. Of all the slayerettes, she was the one who accepted him the most, treated him as if he were the same as Angel, when in reality his situation was entirely different. A part of him almost envied his grandsire now, for having something far more substantial than a microchip to control his demon. At least with a soul you tell if the controls which prevented the demon from kicking in were down to your character rather than the fear of pain infliction.

Spike was still lost in thought when he sensed rather than heard someone coming to sit beside him. He looked up in surprise to see Tara silently waiting for him to speak.

"How did you get in?" He asked her.

"I borrowed Buffy's key," Tara replied. "She's worried about you. Said you were not your usual self this morning."

"Usual self," Spike mused. "I don't think I've been my usual self since I first came to Sunnydale."

"Spike, what's wrong?" Tara asked him.

Gently he reached out and took her hands in his. Looking solemnly into her eyes, he said, "I want you to listen to me, and not to react to what I'm saying until I've finished, okay? Could you do that for me?"

"Sure, of course," Tara promised.

And she did, as Spike calmly told her everything that occurred the night before, including his conversation with Joyce Summers afterwards, much to his increasing admiration. Inwardly he realised once more how lucky he was to have her trust, her liking for him, compared with the insanity of his previous girlfriend. He never even thought of Dru nowadays, never wondered where she was. She was his past, and Tara, he hoped was his future.

"Well, I've finished my tale," he told her. "What do you think?"

"I think Mrs Summers is right," Tara replied. "You need to talk to Buffy, Angel and Giles about this. And I think she could be right about the microchip as well."

Spike nodded, glancing down at their clasped hands as he asked the next question, nervous of her reply. "And what do you think about my desires last night?"

"Like she said, the key word is almost," Tara answered. "And even if you had, I think you would be as troubled about it as you are now, maybe more." She released one of his hands to stroke his face. "You're a good person, Spike. More than you realise, sometimes. And I'm not gonna judge you for something which only the demon inside of you fully controls." She leaned forward then, putting her lips to his.

The kiss was hesitant on both sides at first, the conversation having a deep effect on their ability to relax with each other. As they realised the eager response both were giving, it gradually intensified, until their minds surrendered sovereignty to the desires entirely. He gathered her into his arms as she opened her mouth to let their tongues duel, her hands fiddling with his clothes.

Spike broke from the kiss as he felt her hands slip under his shirt, to look into eyes, asking a question he was afraid to air. Tara's response was just as silent; she withdrew her hands from him to undo the blouse she was wearing. Emboldened, he took her hands when they finished with the buttons, to pull her gently to her feet, whereupon he led her upstairs to his bedroom on the top floor.

Inside he undid his shirt, tossing the garment aside before taking her in his arms. Tara's gaze roamed over his sculpted chest, up to his face, before leaning in to resume their kiss. She let him free her of her own shirt, the blouse falling to floor as his hands went to caress her back. He unhooked her bra and she stepped back to let him explore her as she had him. Unlike Dru and Harmony, Tara was womanly curves without the anxiety to be too toned, and Spike forgot his previous lovers as he took her into his arms once more. His cold chest, devoid of body heat, hardened her nipples as he caressed her side, a long trail of strokes until he reached her skirt. He felt her hands undoing first his belt and then his jeans and stopped kissing her to look in her eyes, assuring himself she was serious about this next step one last time.

Tara smiled at him, then gracefully stepped out of her skirt and pants, before stepping away to his bed behind them. Spike watched her go, then freed himself from the remainder of his clothes before following her.

"Thank you," he uttered afterwards, as she lay in his arms, both of them gazing at the ceiling, but with out any real focus on the wooden structure. "I didn't realise how much I hated myself for doing what I did, until you showed me how much you trusted me."

"It wasn't your fault," Tara affirmed once more. "Spike, your demon is something which takes great strength to control. You can't hold yourself responsible for the microchip malfunctioning."

"You think that's what it was?" He asked her softly.

"Either that, or some sort of trigger, like Mrs Summers said." Tara turned to kiss his chest before looking into his eyes. "But for that to be true, there must have been someone from the Initiative at the Bronze. And I thought they were disbanded."

"They were," Spike confirmed, his hands gently, absently caressing her skin beneath the duvet. "Buffy learned what students survived Adam were transferred to another university. Can't think why any of them would want to come back here, after what we did to them."

"Well, we can rule that out properly when you've told Buffy, Angel and Giles," Tara reasoned, inwardly smiling as she watched him grimace at the thought. Shifting herself, she reached up to kiss the expression away. "You never know, we might be able to stop it from malfunctioning again."

"I hope so," Spike replied, gazing at her. "I didn't realise how much I don't miss being ruled by him until last night. And just now," he added before gathering her up for another, longer kiss.

"Hey, I'm trying to have a serious discussion with you here," Tara rebuked mildly, not in the least annoyed as they broke for air.

"I was thinking that could wait until Buffy and Angel are due home," Spike remarked, "and that while we're waiting, we enjoy this new stage of our relationship."

Tara pretended to consider his suggestion. "I could be persuaded," she returned.

"My pleasure," Spike uttered, before their lips met once more.

As Joyce had predicted, Buffy, Angel and Giles took the news better that Spike expected, when he told them with Tara later that afternoon. The slayer proposed they called Xander for the closed circuit television surveillance footage of the Bronze that night, along with live recordings from Aimee Mann's performance. She then turned the latter over to Oz, whose computer software could isolate sounds from one another, before loading the former into the television in the living room for the five of them to go through.

When they had watched the tapes repeatedly without recognising anyone from the Initiative, or observed anything suspicious, Buffy called Oz again, to see if he had had any success. To their surprise Oz revealed he had heard another song in the live performance, which wasn't by Aimee Mann, and offered to bring the CD over, once he finished isolating and re-burning the tune.

Once Oz had delivered the CD, Buffy put the disk in the entertainment system, while Spike made sure he stood apart from everyone in the room, afraid of what might happen. Silently the five listened to the song, four watching the chipped vampire's reaction, waiting for a sign that something was wrong.

The first flicker was his forehead ridges suddenly appearing. By the time his fangs were loose, Buffy stopped the song whilst Angel restrained his grandchilde before he could cause any damage.

They waited for him to return to his senses, and when his face was human once more, he looked at them in wordless gratitude.

"Do you recognise that song?" Giles asked him.

"I think my mother sang it to me," Spike replied, searching his mind for the few memories from before his demon existed, when he was a shy gentleman of nineteenth century London. "But I don't understand," he added, "how could the Initiative know about it? It was over a hundred years ago."

"Perhaps they had the knowledge to retrieve it from your mind," Angel suggested. "We never did discover all of their technology."

"So how do we fix this?" Spike asked.

"I'm not sure," Giles replied. "But then technology is not my strong point."

"Could we use magic?" Tara asked.

"What, like placing a barrier over the trigger?" Buffy queried.

"It might be possible," Giles confirmed. "We would have to test it though, and even then, there's no way to be sure. I did think of one source of power however which would provide us with that certainty."

"What?" Spike asked.

"Not what," Giles corrected, "but who."

Two hours later, Spike parked his Desoto in the parking lot outside a certain Los Angeles post office. Retrieving the gift which was required from the rear passenger seats, he and Tara walked to the alleyway which Doyle had described for them.

Reading from the note that the Irishman gave them, Tara prepared the ritual burning which paved the way for access, before reciting the necessary incantation.

"'We beseech access to the knowing ones.'" She read aloud, before setting the herbs aflame.

A bright white fire gave way to a bright white light, transporting them to the dimension for the Gateway for Lost Souls.

Two blue skinned beings, a man and a woman entered the room from a distant doorway to take in the sight of their visitors.

"Come before us lower beings," the man said.

"What have you brought us?" The woman asked.

Spike gave her the sculpture he had been carrying.

"Galileo," the female Oracle mused. "An interesting choice. Indicative of your motive for coming, I think. Like you, he was searching for answers as to his place in the universe."

"And risking certain death for such beliefs," the male Oracle added.

"Why have you come to us?" the woman asked.

"I'm a vampire," Spike began, "who was captured by this group called the Initiative. They put a chip inside my brain, which makes me suffer pain whenever I hurt a human."

"And you wish this chip to be removed," the male Oracle presumed. "So you can surrender to your baser, selfish desires once more."

"No," Spike shook his head. "It's malfunctioning," he explained. "The Initiative gave it a trigger, a song which when played makes me forget why I stopped taking human lives. I want you to remove that."

"Why?" the female Oracle asked. "Why should we help a vampire?"

"Because I'm not one anymore," Spike replied. "At least, I don't consider myself one, not for a long time. And I help the slayer. I fight demons, I help her fight the good fight."

"It's true, he does," Tara attempted to assure them.

"They speak the truth," the male Oracle agreed.

"Come closer," the female commanded.

Spike stepped forward, allowing her to place her hands above his head. He closed his eyes as she sensed the turmoil inside his mind.

"His demon is at war with his better nature," the female Oracle reported. "Unlike most vampires, he still retains much of what made him human. It has helped him acquire the strength to endure this chip within him." She dropped her hands.

"If we help you with this," the male Oracle began, "will you continue to evolve, as your sire has done?"

"How can I do that?" Spike asked. "Unless you want Willow to curse me with my soul, that is."

"You will learn this in time," the female Oracle replied. "For now, we need you to take that leap of faith."

"Alright," Spike murmured. "I promise to fulfil your wishes."

"It is not our wishes which take priority," the male Oracle remarked. "It is yours and yours alone."

"I promise to remain steadfast in my desire to fight the good fight," Spike corrected himself. "I promise not give in to the baser needs of my demon."

The female Oracle raised her hands and placed them above his head once more. Spike closed his eyes as he felt a strange sensation travel through his mind, akin to the tide coming in, washing away the dirt within his demon, making him feel pure and empowered.

"It is done," the female Oracle declared, removing her hands and stepping away from him.

"What exactly have you done?" Tara asked.

"We have given him a barrier between this trigger and the rest of his microchip," the Oracle explained. "From now on he will always feel pain if he attacks a human."

"Thank you," Spike added. "And I hope I can assure you that I never will."

"We know your intentions," the male Oracle answered cryptically. "Now, leave us," he commanded, waving his hands.

A brilliant white light surrounded the couple, depositing them back outside the post office.

When they arrived back in Sunnydale, Buffy insisted they tested the barrier, just to be sure, and Spike was glad she did, for he could barely believe what had occurred with the Oracles until the song his mother sang rang through his ears without the desire to drain the life from a human being afterwards.

Giles went home, while Tara joined the occupants of the Mansion on Crawford Street for dinner. Conversation was about everyday, unimportant events, as they discussed the lessons they took at university, the songs they inherited from their parents. Spike contributed when he could, but spent most of the evening listening to them, musing on all which occurred to him within the last forty-eight hours. Most of all, he wondered if this new barrier would improve his place within the gang. Or perhaps the sense that he didn't belong lay within himself, along with his need to prove that he could be more than the sum of his parts.

Perhaps with this barrier, he would have the courage to erase this insecurity within himself.

The End.
To Be Continued In.