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In a nondescript apartment in an unremarkable city, there existed the single most precious thing that Spike had ever held in his heart.
Although it had been more than 70 years since Spike had held her in his arms, and even though she believed that he dusted long ago, his love for her had never wavered for a moment.
Her position in his heart was secure.
The past three quarters of a century had seemingly passed in the blink of an eye.
He could easily remember how the warmth of her body would seep into his cold one when he cradled her in his arms. And he would never forget the sweet vanilla smell of her shampoo when he buried his nose in her golden locks. It was emblazoned into his memory and he didn’t ever want to forget.
That was really the sole tangible thing that he had left to grasp onto, because the real, flesh and blood Buffy was out of his reach.
And that hurt him more than he could express.
Spike couldn’t say he was free of regrets. A large part of him wished that he had returned to Buffy as soon as he could, all those long years ago once he was made corporeal again after his stint as a ghost at Wolfram and Hart.
But he hadn’t.
He’d stayed away from the girl, and in doing so he had allowed his golden goddess to slip through his fingers.
Instead of rushing to her side, he had chosen to fight with Angel and his team, barely surviving the final battle with the Senior Partners.
It took him a long while to recover from the injuries that he sustained in the conflict, but he fought on with Angel afterward in other wars that his grandsire waged until one day the dark haired vampire met his own tragic end, and Spike realized there was just no more fight left in him.
His relationship with the older vampire had always been nothing less than tumultuous, but it didn’t mean that he didn’t miss him after he was gone.
The peroxide blond felt bereft, adrift on a sea with no land in sight and so after he lost Angel, he traveled the earth, trying to find his place in it and searching for some semblance of meaning in an empty, colorless world.
But no matter what he did or where he went, in the end it always brought him back to her…back to Buffy.
However, he couldn’t actually go to her, tell her he was alive and kiss her senseless like he wanted to. A combination of fear and guilt rose up like a barricade in front of him every time he considered doing such a thing and so he shied away from it.
So instead he watched from the shadows, like an unseen guardian, even when it ripped him apart to be so close and yet never able to hold her, or run his lips and fingers across her golden skin.
It was the worst kind of torture for the vampire.
Memories of their brief time as lovers served as vivid fantasies to warm his cold, lonely nights, and he would often bring himself to shuddering climaxes with the memory of her scent filling his nose as her name spilled from his lips.
Yet still it didn’t replace the real Buffy. In reality his recollections were just as empty as his time with the Buffybot had been. Because he couldn’t hold her or touch her. She was a figment hidden in the darkness of his mind.
They were just shadows of what had been and could never be again.
For many years he waited with trepidation for her to find a lover, get married, and start a family.
But that was also something that was never to be.
Although the Slayer didn’t exactly live like a nun, it was easy to see that she never loved any of her suitors in anything more than a purely physical way.
Despite the fact that it stung to know that she shared her bed with other men, Spike couldn’t help but be filled with a perverse satisfaction that they never captured her heart.
He just wished that no other man but him could ever enjoy her body either.
The nights he spent lurking beneath her window when she was entertaining some poor human sap who couldn’t even hope to take her halfway to satisfaction reminded him of the nights he’d spent back in Sunnydale lurking behind his ‘Stalking Tree’ while she was dating Riley Finn.
Just like the Soldier-boy, no other human was able to really give Buffy Summers what she needed.
Spike knew that she wasn’t happy.
There were times when he saw sadness in the girl while he regarded her from afar, lurking in the shadows as she basked in the sun.
He could often see the longing in her eyes as she watched mothers with their children and he understood that part of her wanted to be a mother herself.
However, that was just another desire that never materialized and Buffy never had a biological child of her own.
Really though, it was as if Buffy had thousands of children. Every little slayerette that she took under her wing earned a piece of her heart and she became a Mom to so many of them.
As the years took their course, she embraced her maternal instincts, in a way that Joyce would have been proud of.
She was the proverbial mother figure for generation after generation of chosen girls, guiding them to their destiny, protecting them when she could and mourning them when she lost them. But she took it all in her stride.
Buffy became calm and rational, far from the hotheaded slayer she had once been.
It wasn’t just her character that went through a gradual metamorphosis. Over time, Spike watched how her body started to change too.
At first it was subtle changes that were fairly unremarkable, but as time went on more and more wrinkles crisscrossed her once flawless complexion, and gray flecks sparkled among her blonde tresses like beacons signaling that she was ageing.
The proof of her vast life experience was etched into her face with every smile and every frown. But this woman aged with an effortless grace, and he couldn’t help but admire her for that.
She was no less beautiful to Spike than she had been when she was a fresh faced teenager dancing to the sounds of Nickel, back in the Bronze.
Of course, time has a way of taking its toll, and Buffy wasn’t immune to the carnage it can wage.
When her friends had started to pass on from this world to the next, he watched the sobs that heaved through her increasingly frail frame from afar.
He never wished he could comfort her more than in those moments, but he had to settle with shedding some sympathetic tears of his own from the other side of the glass window through which he watched her.
Giles had been the first to go, from an unexpected heart attack at the age of 61. It had been so sudden that when Buffy received the call to inform her of her surrogate father’s death, she had collapsed to the ground and spent almost a month in a catatonic state.
Then Xander had passed a few years later, killed on the battlefield, a hero until the end. Spike wondered if both those men were resting now with their own lost lady-loves.
The hardest loss for Buffy had been the death of her sister.
Dawn had been determined to become a Watcher and she had become a damn good one at that. However, she constantly risked peril by flaunting herself in the face of danger and for Dawn tragedy became reality. She was decapitated by the sword of a feral Kiodjirev demon as she courageously battled alongside one of her slayers.
When Spike had found out that his Little Bit was dead, he had found the demon responsible and tortured it for hours before finally putting it out of its misery. He knew that he risked exposure to the slayer community and Buffy by doing such a thing, but avenging the death of a girl he had once considered like a daughter to him was a balm to his damaged soul.
Buffy was not in a state to think about much apart from the loss of her sister, however, and it took several months before she could even venture outside again.
Eventually she pulled herself together for the sake of the budding young slayers who relied on her, and nothing else.
After Giles, Xander and Dawn were all gone, Buffy had moved in with Willow. The once-shy redhead had enjoyed a multitude of partners over the years, but never met anyone who seemed to really capture her affections in the way her lost love Tara once had.
The Wiccan lived until the ripe age of 87 until one morning, she just never woke up. She had a peaceful end, and for that Spike was glad.
Sometimes Spike visited Willow’s grave and laid a flower there for her. He’d always liked the girl and she had been a true friend to Buffy in the end.
And all that time, Spike had resisted rushing to Buffy’s side.
For several months he had watched her frequent hospitals, feeling helpless as she gradually submitted to the cancer that was ravaging her body. This was something that even her Slayer healing couldn’t take care of for her. Although she was a supernatural being, at her core she was still a human.
She was still vulnerable.
It was eating her away from the inside out and there was nothing left to do to save her.
She had a nurse who came and looked in on her every morning but all that the young lady could do was to try to make Buffy comfortable.
He knew that his Slayer had very little time left.
And so here he stood, poised at her front door of her nondescript apartment, feeling absolutely terrified. It took more than half an hour of pep talks to himself before he was able to ring the doorbell.
He needed to say his final goodbye.
However, these days Spike’s courage wasn’t what it had once been, back in those heady days before he got his soul back. Suddenly he wasn’t so sure about confronting Buffy. It had been too long and there was too much water under the bridge to be standing there.
Spike was just about to hightail it out of there when the door creaked open, to reveal Buffy…his Buffy…standing in front of him, supporting her weak body on a cane.
Being this close to her, he gasped for breath, forgetting that he didn’t actually need to breathe. Her presence was no less imposing than it had ever been. She was still a tiny slip of a woman, but she filled all of his senses.
He never knew that vampires could get a head-rush until that moment.
She looked so different, more different than he had realized while he watched her from a distance. The wrinkles were carved deeper than he’d guessed, each one telling its own story of the unhappiness or joy she had suffered from one source or another.
But despite her imperfections, or maybe because of them, she looked more stunningly beautiful to his blue eyes than any other sight in the world.
Deeply inhaling, he realized she still smelled the same, just like vanilla and berries. She was still his sweet kitten.
“Hello cutie,” he drawled, his gaze meeting that of the woman who was gaping at him like a fish.
If it hadn’t been for his vampire reflexes, he wouldn’t have had time to catch her before she hit the ground.
When Buffy opened her eyes several minutes later, and found herself staring into the unchanged face of a vampire that she hadn’t seen in almost 80 years, at first she believed she was dreaming.
She was lying on her kingsize bed, on top of the burgandy covers that adorned it. The room was so quintessentially Buffy. It was filled with her scent and Spike took a deep breath, inhaling her essence, allowing himself to absorb what he had denied for so long.
Moonlight flooded through the large expanse of window that took up almost an entire wall of the room, and it gave the vampire an ethereal ghostlike quality.
That was when the thought struck her that maybe she had finally passed on.
Heaven sure seemed different from the way she remembered it, although she had reached heaven more than once in Spike’s arms during her youth.
“Am I dead?” she squeaked, propping herself up on the bed on which she now lay and studying the vampire.
He still looked the way he had the last time she had seen him, the day he burned up in the Hellmouth. His hair was still a shocking shade of almost-white and his clothes were black and tightly fitted. He even wore the duster that had been his trademark back in Sunnydale.
Spike’s baritone chuckle sent shivers through her.
“No, you’re not dead, pet,” the vampire answered wryly. “But I might be after I explain the last 70-odd bloody years to you.”
She rolled her eyes in her own patented way and he felt a little rush of warmth wash over his heart at the little mannerism. It was so familiar…so Buffy-esque. He raised his hand, wanting to touch her, but dropping it before his skin caressed hers.
“Are you really here?” Buffy asked, the truth still sinking in.
She didn’t understand how he could be here when she saw him burn to cinders all those long years ago. Her hand still bore the faded scars of the fire that had seared their souls together during the final moments in the belly of the Hellmouth.
She was pretty sure that this wasn’t some kind of hallucination.
“I’m here, love. I wanted to come to you for so long. You’re all that’s ever been on my mind, all I’ve thought about and all I’ve dreamed about. Time did bloody sod-all to erase you from my heart.” Spike smiled at her, and wiped away a small tear that leaked from one of her eyes.
“I used to think I felt you,” Buffy admitted, her voice croaky. “I’d get tingles on the back of my neck sometimes, but I always convinced myself I was just being a silly-Buffy and imagining stuff.”
She reached out suddenly and ran her hand over his face, caressing his cheekbones before moving her fingertips down to his lips and trailing them down his chin. Spike let his eyes drift shut and enjoyed the gentle touch of her skin upon his. He clasped her hand in his and held it tightly, placing a tender kiss on her palm. It wasn’t as soft or smooth as it used to be.
But it was still her.
It was still Buffy.
“You weren’t imagining anything, love,” Spike confessed with a hefty sigh, still clinging tightly to her hand. “I was doing my stalker bit for a while.”
“If you were so close to me, then why didn’t you come to me? I don’t understand.” Buffy looked perplexed, her frown deepening the prominent lines in her forehead.
He screwed his eyes shut for a moment, and swallowed audibly.
“I was terrified love.”
“Terrified? Of what?”
“Of you rejecting me, pet. I was a hero in your eyes. I saw that the day I burned up in the bloody Hellmouth.”
She lowered her eyes and studied her fingernails.
“You did burn up.” She spoke slowly and methodically, as if she was figuring out a complicated math problem in her head. “You burned up but you’re here. And I’m not dead, which means you’re alive. So how are you alive, Spike?”
He took a deep, unneeded breath and gazed at her through hooded eyelids. This was the story he’d been avoiding telling her for decades. Now he just had to push past his fear and finally be honest with her.
“About three weeks after Sunnydale became the Grand Canyon’s bloody mini-me, I popped out of that buggering Liz Taylor accessory that so thoroughly poncified me.” He paused and ran a hand through his peroxide locks, mussing the curls. “Can’t say I wasn’t a little bit shocked to see my grandsire and his flunkies staring right back at me.”
“You were with Angel?” Buffy frowned. “We spoke after the battle a few times, but he never mentioned that you were there.”
“Not surprised. The ponce was never keen on you and me. When I say not keen, I mean he would have happily hula danced naked for a bunch of lady Fungus demons rather than acknowledged there was anything other than hatred between you and me, pet.”
Buffy didn’t crack a grin at his joke. Instead she raised hurt eyes to him. “Then why didn’t you tell me?”
“I was a ghostie at first, Slayer.” They shared a nostalgic smile at the use of his old nickname for her, although hers was tinged with sorrow. “When I finally got my body back I ended up getting my arms cut off.”
“Oh my God!” Buffy squealed in horror. She sounded so girlish in that moment.
“It’s okay, love. The evil empire of Wolfram and Hart managed to sew them right back on. Made me a little wary of psycho slayers though.”
“A slayer did that?”
“Yeah, one that wasn’t quite right in the bloody bonce. But after that, I wanted to come to you even more, but I lost my nerve. Angelus and I did try and see you once, but you were out with that git, The Immortal, at the time.”
Buffy flushed when he brought up the demon that she had briefly dated during her time in Rome.
“He was my ‘get-over-Spike’ guy,” Buffy confessed. Her voice was so quiet that it was only Spike’s vampire hearing that actually caught the admission.
Deciding not to press that particular subject, he continued on with his tale. It didn’t even occur to him that, even after all this time, he was still dancing around the crux of the issue with Buffy.
“After all that, I kept on fighting alongside Angel. He had a mission and that mission became mine too. His team were good people, and I watched all of them die in one way or another. By the end we were all each other bloody well had.”
“But Angel…he…he died.” Buffy’s eyes glazed with a sheen of tears as she recalled Giles informing her of Angel’s death in battle. Her old Watcher had never mentioned Spike though and she felt the tiniest flash of betrayal wondering if he’d known about Spike’s miraculous resurrection.
“I was there when he died.” Spike said, reigning in his own emotions. “I saw him get dusted and…it hurt.”
“You loved him.”
“No!” Spike denied vehemently.
Buffy raised an eyebrow questioningly.
“Maybe,” he conceded. “He was all that I had and in the end he was good to me.”
“What about after that? Did you keep fighting?”
“Not at first.” He ran a shaky hand through his hair, ruffling it again in a way that Buffy had always found adorable. Not that Spike would ever admit his adorability though.
“Where were you all of this time then?” Buffy finally asked.
“I’ve been around, darlin’,” Spike told her cryptically.
“Spike…” Buffy said warningly.
“Fine. I traveled a bit for a few years and then I came to find you. I’ve spent seventy bloody years standing in the shadows, Slayer. Seventy long cold fucked up years when I wanted to be by your side and in your bed. But I was too much of a soddin’ coward to do anything about it so instead I let us both be miserable as bloody sin!”
He paused in his rant, panting for unneeded breath, worrying at Buffy’s uncharacteristic silence, and expecting a broken nose.
Even though she was frailer than when he had known her as a spunky young woman, he would wager that she could still pack a punch.
“All that time, I wanted to be here with you, love. I wanted to share in your happiness and try and help you when I saw you were in pain,” Spike assured her, trying to fill the silence and praying that she wouldn’t throw him out on his ass. “But like I told you, I was bloody terrified. At first, I was afraid that if I came to you then you would just see me as the ponce who was supposed to die saving the world and somehow ended up back in this soddin’ piss-take of a dimension. And then time passed and it became too bloody hard because it had been too bloody long.”
Spike trailed off and gazed at her with desperation, pleading with his eyes for her to show some understanding toward his plight.
She picked at the cotton of her dress, lost in her musings for a long time. It did hurt her to know that he had been alive and close by for all of these long, lonely years without ever telling her.
She was mad at him for being a coward and not digging deep within himself to find the bravery that had been the trademark of the Spike that had first breezed into Sunnydale with the intention of making her his third slayer. He should have come and found her, despite his reservations.
However, a little voice inside her head whispered to her that she had made things that way. She had constantly beat him down until the point where he had crumbled. After he retrieved his soul he had never been quite the same. He was always more reserved than before.
She felt a warm sensation trickle into her belly as she thought of him sticking close to her for all these years, like a guardian…demon.
Until that moment, in spite of everything that she had experienced in the past, Buffy never really comprehended the true depth of Spike’s adoration for her.
To stay close to someone, watching over them but never letting them know you’re there, had to be the most excruciating sort of agony. But Spike had weathered that.
There was still a little anger toward him, but knowing that he loved her that much went some way to dampening the fury that would have once ignited into a menacing blaze.
She raised her head and locked her eyes with the blue of his fervent gaze. He looked so innocent, which was a strange concept for a 200 year old vampire.
“I understand,” she said eventually, taking a deep breath.
“You do?” He couldn’t help the moue of surprise that formed on his face. His girl had changed, matured and softened with time and he felt a new pang of regret in his gut at the fact that he had missed seeing it happen up close.
“I can’t pretend that I don’t wish that you weren’t such a big dumb coward…but I understand.” Buffy smiled at him, the skin around her eyes crinkling. “And you’re here now…even if there’s not much time left.”
She didn’t need to say more. He could see from the way her body trembled that her end was near. Every few minutes she could clutch at her stomach as the dull pain worsened, like a wave crashing down on the shore. Maybe she had weeks left or maybe days, but neither of them wanted to ruin their final moments together with recriminations about the past.
Buffy flashed him a half smile and sighed, drawing the refreshing air into her weak lungs.
"Uh, just a quick question, though, pet," Spike started, a sudden realization dawning on him. "I got in here without an invite. Didn't even realize it until now. Is this place mojo'd to let in the monsters or something?"
Buffy shook her head, a slight blush blooming on her pale cheeks. "No, it's...um...well."
"Spit it out, love."
"See, I might have, sorta, played out this scene in my head a couple times."
Spike flashed her a look of contemplative confusion.
"What I mean is," Buffy continued, averting her eyes, "I've imagined you coming here, imagined inviting you in, maybe said 'Come in Spike' on a few occasions. I guess you don't actually have to be here for it to stick."
The vampire looked at her with wonderment.
She'd imagined him coming to her? Imagined him entering her inner sanctum?
Bloody hell! Didn't that just make him feel like even more of an enormous wanker!
Sensing his self-flagellating thoughts, Buffy repeated her earlier words. "You're here now. That's what matters."
He nodded unsurely, but didn't want to dwell on the topic. Now wasn't the time for those recriminations. There simply wasn't enough time left for that.
The pair of them continued to talk, both basking in each other’s companionship. They recounted stories of their adventures over the years, laughing and crying in tandem.
He noticed the small smiles that played on her lips when he interjected his British slang and when he recounted Angel’s adventures as a puppet, and the veil of sadness that fell over her face when he told of Wesley’s demise and when she mentioned the Giles, Dawn or the Scoobies.
On Buffy’s part she reveled in the huge belly laughs that she drew from Spike regarding some of her friends less than savory exploits after leaving Sunnydale.
Spike was very interested to hear about the year when Willow was living with three other women, all of whom she considered her lover.
He was similarly amused when he learned that Xander had been drawn in by another demon girl, only months after the demise of their home town. Buffy told the hilarious story of how she had to save her friend from the fuchsia colored bedroom the lady-demon had locked him up in. When the blonde described Xander’s enforced pink pants and shirts, Spike almost fell off his seat.
Together they fondly reminisced about Andrew and his crush on the vampire. Spike had been shocked when the boy had gotten married and had a child of his own. He was a little ashamed to admit that he had lost track of the boy’s movements over the years.
It had been a long time since either of them had shared such comfortable conversation with anyone else. The ebb and flow of their chat was guileless and easy. Both of them wished that they had been able to share this for all of the years they had been apart. Wordlessly they cursed their own shortcomings that led to all those wasted decades.
Eventually the conversation melted into quiet and they sat together in peaceful silence, both enjoying the feeling of being in each other’s company once again.
It had been too long.
At length Buffy cleared her throat, staring through the huge glass window at the starry night sky.
“You know that I don’t have much longer, right?” she asked him, realizing that she couldn’t avoid the sensitive subject any longer.
He nodded. “I know. It’s one of the reasons why I came. I had to say…”
“To say goodbye?” she interjected.
“No, love. To say hello.” He smiled crookedly. “Shame that you don’t say hello with tongues anymore.”
For a moment she looked a little confused before remembering a conversation they shared in her basement on the eve of their final shared apocalypse. She giggled girlishly and slapped his chest playfully.
“I’m a little past that stage now,” she told him dryly.
“I’ve still got a whole century on you, pet, so watch who you go calling a bloody old codger.”
“Sorry, old man. It must be the rippling muscles and wrinkle-free face that keep confusing me.”
She laughed for a moment before her face fell and an air of seriousness descended over the room. “You’re lucky, you know. You never get old and you don’t have to worry about…disease.”
“I wish you didn’t have to suffer from this bloody thing either.”
“Me too. I tried fighting this but it’s the one thing that I can’t fight.” Her voice was quiet and steeped in melancholy.
Wanting to break through her sadness, he let a wave of nostalgia wash over him.
“I loved watching you fight the beasties, pet, watching you dance…feeling us dance together…”
His eyes sparkled as he remembered the way her body had moved like poetry in motion, an exhilarating blur of boundless energy. He could picture the slender curves of her frame as she twisted and twirled, dispatching her opponents effortlessly.
“All we’ve ever done is dance,” she smiled, her mind taking her to another time, before she was wracked by the ravages of age, and still blessed with her youth. Spike was exactly the same now as he had been that day, in a dirty alley back in Sunnydale. His beauty was timeless and for a moment she felt conscious that her own attractiveness had been ravaged by the sands of time.
Apparently Spike didn’t seem to think that she was any less beautiful from the way he was gazing at her, like she was a precious jewel that he never wanted to lose. Buffy had seen that look many times before, during the affair back in Sunnydale, and she felt her heart skip a beat that he still looked at her in the same way after all of this time.
When she thought about it, she could even remember that he’d stared deeply into her eyes in that exact same way the day he described the way he’d killed his two slayers. He’d described their deaths in detail in a grungy alley, but it had apparently turned him on.
Such was the weirdness of Spike.
She was flooded with the recollection of how he had stood inches away from her and the world had descended into silence, and for a moment she had thought he would seal his lips to her and kiss her senseless.
Part of Buffy had wanted to give into that kiss, but the slayer side of her had reared up against such a notion.
Spike drew her out of her thoughts with a gentle hand on her forearm.
“One more dance?” he asked, choking back the tears that threatened to spill as he recalled the same memory…that of a grimy alley and unrequited but hopeful love.
In many ways it had been an age of innocence, unspoiled by the hellish year that was to follow. And Spike and Buffy both craved the idea of recapturing their innocence, however impossible the materialization of such a concept might actually be.
Tentatively she stood, leaning heavily on his lean but muscular frame as he cradled her in his arms. There was no music. They didn’t need any because the beating of Buffy’s heart and Spike’s unneeded breathing set their own timeless rhythm.
Clinging to each other, they rocked and swayed to the beat that only they could hear. She rested her head in the crook of his shoulder and heaved a sigh of content.
It was as if she was finally home.
All these long years, Buffy had felt like there was something missing from her life. It was a void that proved unfilled, no matter what she did.
She had endeavored to fill her life with friends, work, her slayers, but in the back of her mind, it always niggled at her that there was something more she needed.
She couldn’t admit to herself for a long time, that the missing piece to make her whole was Spike, of course. She didn’t want to acknowledge that. But now, dancing in his arms once again, it was as if everything had finally come together the way it should always have been.
Buffy just wished that he had come to her earlier. Now she was at the end of her life, suffering constant pain.
Every day was a struggle as she wasted away to nothing.
Buffy didn’t want to be an empty shell.
The realization hit her like a bolt of lightning.
She needed Spike to save her.
With a heavy heart, she pulled away from the vampire and locked her gaze with his.
“I missed you, you know?” she told him quietly. “What I said that day in the Hellmouth…I meant it. I tried to keep on going and I think I did a pretty good job. But maybe it would have been better with you at my side.”
“Please let me finish. I truly don’t have much longer in this world. It’s kind of funny that I actually reached old age. I used to think that I would die before I was even out of my teens. And yet here I am, still keeping on trucking all these years later. But the bad thing about all of this is that I feel like I wish I had gotten a warrior’s death. I guess I feel cheated that I’m going to fizzle out instead of going with a bang.”
“What are you saying, love?” Spike asked gently.
“I guess I’m saying that I can’t do it anymore. I can’t go through this pain.” She paused and cupped his face with her hands. “Spike…I want you to have your one good day.”
His expression contorted into horror at her words, a picture of anguish embossed on his face. He leaped back, breaking contact with Buffy as what she had just said fully soaked into his consciousness.
“No!” The vampire hissed. “I won’t do that! I can’t!”
How could she ask this of him?
“Spike you have to understand…”
“Understand what? That you want me to bloody kill you? I love you, Buffy Summers. God help me, but I’ve spent the best bloody part of a century in love with you. And now you’re asking me to take you out of this world. How can you ask that of me, pet?”
She approached him, taking his hands in hers in an almost motherly gesture, before leading him over to the bed. They both sat down and she leaned toward him, trying to find the strength to comfort both of them.
The only problem was she didn’t have much residual strength left.
“Spike…the pain…it’s getting worse. I don’t want this disease to be what ends me.” Buffy explained. “I’ve only fought one opponent truly worthy of that honor. You. If you do this, then you don’t kill me. You save me.”
The words struck a chord deep within Spike’s psyche. He immediately was transported back to a time when he was plagued with dreams every night about the girl he should have saved.
In his dreams he saved her every night without ever really saving her at all.
Now he had the chance to rescue her from the one demon that she couldn’t fight.
He could save her from the pain.
“You really want this?” Spike swiped at his wet face with the cuff of his coat.
Buffy nodded affirmatively.
“I know there’s something better than this that comes next. I’ve been there. It’s a place where I can be warm and loved.” She wiped some of the moisture from her cheeks. “I’ve only felt that kind of love one other time….when I’m with you. But we can’t be together, not like that, not now. Please do this for me, Spike? Please…save me. ”
Tears were running like waterfalls down both their faces as he simply nodded in acknowledgement.
She was right when she told him he would be sparing her.
And if there was one person who deserved a warrior’s death, it was Buffy Summers.
He could give her that.
He would give her that.
Spike knew that he could send her back to the heaven that she had once been cruelly torn from.
In his heart, he hoped that by some happy twist of fate, he had done enough to redeem himself so that he would also find his way there.
As they clung to each other, it was as if not a moment had passed since they last embraced. Neither knew how long they desperately grasped each other, but they both realized it would never be long enough.
They were two lost souls, abandoned in a cruel world full of pain and disappointment. Together they completed each other, like two halves of a whole.
It was a pity that it had taken them both until now to really find each other again.
Eventually, Spike placed a soft kiss on her lips, before laying her down on the bed, sensing she was starting to tire.
She yawned wearily, and Spike wondered if she was just simply tired, or if she was tired of life.
Lying down next to her, he offered his arm to her and she snuggled into the crook of his shoulder. He lovingly placed a gentle kiss upon her head.
In that moment a terrible shudder of agony seared through her, the silent scream dying on her lips as she almost doubled over. Sometimes she could feel normal, almost healthy, but then the reminder of the cancer that was destroying her would rear its ugly head and she couldn’t deny the inevitable.
“Now…do it now…please.” Buffy implored him, her eyes locking with his baby blues. They held the same beauty to him as they ever did, despite the crinkled skin that framed them.
“I will never stop loving you, Kitten,” he breathed into her hair. “I told you once that you were the one, and I bloody well meant it. And you still are the one, Buffy…in this world and the next.”
She flashed him a lopsided, watery smile that conveyed the profound depth of her own emotions to him.
Before his courage could abandon him, he let his face shift into his vampire guise, the sound of the bones crunching the only sound in the quiet room. He sank his deadly fangs into the tender skin of her neck, taking deep gulps of her lifeblood.
The slayer blood sang a bittersweet melody as it flooded his veins.
“I love you too,” she whispered with her final breaths, giving him the words he had longed to hear, and now finally believed, even as her heart began to falter.
Those were the last words she ever uttered, as her soul peacefully took flight, ready to reclaim her rightful place in the heaven that she had been snatched from so long ago.
Cradling the lifeless body of the woman he adored in his arms, tears tracked their way freely down his pallid cheeks.
Now all that was left for him to do was wait.
As dawn approached, he watched the rays of the first sunrise that he had seen in almost two centuries stream through the huge glass windows.
The pain of the fire that ignited inside him was agonizingly familiar. This wasn’t the first time that he had combusted.
He followed his golden goddess to his own eternal rest as his immortal body crumbled to dust.
With his last gasp, Spike laughed, even as the tears poured from his eyes.
He knew that through the good times and the bad their dance had been nothing short of beautiful.
They’d gotten to enjoy their coda.
But every dance finally comes to an end.
Chapter End Notes:
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