Disclaimers: None of this belongs to me.

Feedback: Yes, please.

Author's Note: This fic is an AU and takes place at the end of season 4 going into season 5 ... it's kind of an AU where Buffy decides that she's sick of Spike and she ... okay, well, that's going a little far, don't want to give it all away.

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The hurried footsteps echoed through the alleyway as the heavy boots lifted and dropped with inhuman speed, powerful legs pumping swiftly as the vampire hurried along the cement path. To mortals he passed by, he was merely a blur, a flash of black leather and platinum blonde to their untrained eyes. To other creatures of the night, he was one of their own, a powerful predator to be feared. Tonight, however, he was the hunted.

Spike dashed past the buildings, shoving people from his path, his chest tight from overexertion. As one of the undead, he didn't have to breathe and wasn't tired out easily; this night, however, was an exception. He panted in a heedless attempt to catch his second wind, as he ducked into a building's overhang, doubling over in pain and clutching his stomach. Inhaling deeply, he was surprised to find spit laced with blood - his blood - filling his mouth. He spit it out with disgust, wincing when he attempted to stand up again. Prodding a wound on his chest gingerly, he pulled his fingers away and saw that they were covered with a sticky red substance.

'More blood,' he thought, 'Never thought I'd be so sick of seeing the stuff.'

His head swiveled quickly to the right when he heard someone approaching hurridly; someone as swift and agile on their feet as he was.

The Slayer.

Spike straightened up despite the numbing pain lodged deep in his breast, dashing for the steel ladder attached to an apartment complex next to him. If he could get up onto the roof, he figured, he could lose her. No such luck.

As soon as his feet hit the first rung, two small hands were grabbing onto his ankles, hauling him back to the ground below. He shook his legs, attempting to throw her off balance, but she just tightened her grip, bruising his bones and causing him to yelp in pain. He let go of the ladder for a moment to stop her, forgetting his current situation, and toppled on his backside to the dirty pavement below.

'Dammit.'

His eyes widened as the petite blonde Slayer raised a stake in her hand, ready to thrust it into his chest and end his miserable existence. He was tempted to let her, for a moment; the hardships of the past year's occurances weighing him down, crushing his spirit. Instinct kicked in, however, and he leapt to his feet to escape the blow. His knees buckled and Spike let out a small wimper of pain when he realized that he was worse off than he first believed; his ankles were broken. He fell back to the ground, humiliated, unable to bear the weight on two broken bones.

She smirked at him, enjoying having her enemy in such a vulnerable postion, totally at her mercy. Buffy moved towards him skillfully, ready to levy a lethal blow, when he pulled his body away with his hands, crying out.

"Buffy, let's be rational here!"

Dropping her hands to her hips, one eyebrow arched in a disbeliving manner. "Rational?" She paced around his fallen form angrily. "Tell me, Spike, what was your rationale when you were selling me out to Adam? Now, I know that I was stupid to not stake your sorry ass when I had the chance, but I gave you the benefit of the doubt. Then you go out and try and get me and my friends all killed, despite all of the help we gave you! What excuse do you have for yourself?"

His mind raced for an excuse, before he finally settled for the truth. "I don't."

Buffy's eyes widened in surprise; she was expecting the usual lame answers he had always given her.

"You just . . . it's hard being a vampire that can't attack anybody, can't bite any humans. I've gotta find a way to get my kicks, and . . . okay, so it probably wasn't the best idea to try and kill you, I'll be the first one to admit. But I've got to find some way to pass my time!"

She rolled her eyes the way she usually did, but he continued: "What those Initiative gits did to me . . . staking I'm fine with, it's over quick and the like, but the chip, that bloody chip . . . it's like pulling the wings off a soddin' butterfly!"

His speech finished, he looked up into her eyes, hoping to see a spark of pity. Buffy snorted without a trace of humour. "Spike, it's like pulling the wings off an evil, man-eating butterfly." She stood over him in an intimidating manner, her face deadly serious. "Give me one reason why I shouldn't stake you right now and do the world a favor."

"I'm harmless," he answered quickly, before she changed her mind and killed him outright, "I can't bite a soul."

"You can still try and do me harm," she said, sounding nonplussed, "You proved that with your little Adam scheme."

"I'll leave town," he blurted out, his unbeating heart leaping to his throat, "I'll leave and never come back. You'll never hear of me again!"

Buffy paused, considering this for a moment, before lowering her defensive position. "Fine," she said finally, "Leave town. For good this time," she added for emphasis, "Because if I ever see your sorry face again, or you ever try to harm me or my loved ones again, I'm going to stake you. No excuses."

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TBC . . .