Stupid Things

By Sweetprincipale

Completely AU. There are people who get inside you. That you love, that you get angry with, but they're still your person. The person who, no matter what they ask, and how much you say no, you will end up doing anything for them. Buffy and William have that kind of relationship as they grow up. Is there anything that can change it?

Author's Note: This story is told in a series of moments, sometimes minutes apart, sometimes months apart. Page breaks denote the shift in time.

Dedicated to Omslagspapper, AGriffinWriter, The Darkness Befalls, micmoc, Sirius120, Rosalea12, and Ginar369.

Nothing of Buffy belongs to me, except my sincere admiration. However, this story is all mine.

Part VII

She was the one doing the hard work, the actual gruesome part that he was right about- she didn't like it.

"I'm glad Giles made me practice with that big stick thingy." Buffy panted.

"Quarter staff." Will panted as well, leaning on the brick wall of the alley, hands clasped over his chest, eyes tilted skyward as he sucked in congested lungfuls of air. "You... okay?"

"Yep. I can do another one." Her face was set. "Let's go back to the car and get some more." She began to march away, hands jammed in her pockets.

Will stumbled after her, away from what they'd left in that alley. He clutched her elbow. "Don't have to do more. One's bad enough."

"Every one we leave, is another chance it's one she'll find. I can do more." Buffy argued, her voice hard.

"Let me do this one." Will offered, but they both knew, sincere as it was, it wasn't an offer she could take, that he should make.

He was too slow to run a vampire down. Too tired to sustain battle until the vampire was knocked out or at least knocked down. Too weak to twirl three and half feet of iron spike around his head and then plunge it down, through a chest, through the surface of the street, and leave the creature impaled but not yet dead.

Buffy shook her head. "I can do it." She whispered.

"But you hate it." It wasn't her. To cause pain, to not make a clean kill, to prolong suffering, even suffering of a murdering demon- that had never been something she would do.

"I love you." She said simply. "Let's go."

"We're gonna owe your dad a new fence." Will lay on the couch, watching her from underneath a thin blanket. She came in after taking three more "spikes", cutting them loose with some old file in her dad's toolbox, and then breaking them out by hand and her super strength.

Buffy wiped her hands off and shrugged. "So, we'll buy him a new fence." She sat next to him, took his hand. It was cool. She looked at him carefully. The face looked more drained, more ashen, no, not ashen- there was a faint blue- white tinge around the lips and eyes that seemed to change the entire complexion. "Are you cold?"

"Ha. August in southern California, Luv?" He wheezed out a laugh and snuggled down onto the couch cushion, making a pillow for his dully aching head. "Just spent a lot of time runnin' about last night. Tired."

"You're not just tired. You look like you've been eating blue raspberry ice pops." Buffy scooted up and deliberately sat on his feet to warm them. "You're cold."

"I'm fine." Maybe a little cold. But also- losing the oxygenation in the blood now. Damn, that's close to the wire...

"Your fingertips are even..." They weren't blue, they were just sort of mottled, patchy. Will always had perfect skin. Buffy stopped talking, swallowed, and moved into his lap. "I think you need to get warmed up anyway." She smiled through sudden tears springing to her eyes.

He smiled up at her adoringly, draping his arms around her. "Mm, that's my girl. You can be my duvet while I grab a bit of shuteye?"

"Your what?"

"You'd call it a quilt." Will rolled his eyes at her.

"Whatever, I'll be blanky girl." She squeezed him tight and they snuggled down.

Another night downtown. Another three undead, but dying, spikes sticking through hearts, leading ever closer, making a path for her to follow.

Only she didn't follow it.

"I owe you. Lots of 'em." William pressed beside her in their bed, still mainly an innocent one.

"No you don't." Buffy said firmly, holding him tight.

"Practice bein' nocturnal." He murmured, eyes too heavy to keep open.

"Good practice." Buffy agreed, though silently she went over the fact that both of them had proved what a teenage body can do without sleep. Many nights they'd stayed up on patrol, gotten three or four hours of sleep, managed to do school, Bronze, and patrol the next night. Now Will had a definite time limit. He made it through their nightly hunt, barely, and slept most of the next day.

She watched him, a bedside angel, afraid to leave in case she missed the next breath, in case it wouldn't come. She willed those ragged wheezes from him, one at a time, and tried to ignore how thin he was getting, tried to pretend he was losing weight because he was sleeping through meals.

"I love you so much." Buffy whispered that day, burying her head in his shoulder.

"I love you, too." Will replied, not surprised by this sudden desperate clinging. He was doing it himself now, not believing it, but wondering if life was what he clutching. If he relaxed, stopped trying so hard, what would happen? Reckon pretty soon I wouldn't wake up.

"I'm going to go find her." Buffy said in sudden resolution. "Maybe she doesn't see the vamps, or even the pile of ashes, around a 'spike'. Maybe she thinks 'fencepost'. She's a crackpot, maybe she doesn't get metaphor."

"An' you do?" He teased with a smile. A dying vampire. Spiked. A dead vampire, spiked. Just random single black spears in alleys and vampires left to die under them when morning came. It had to make someone notice something in the underworld. If only a passing comment. If they got free by daylight, so much the better. Gossip would start buzzin' about a Slayer and her young man, staking vamps with iron spikes, asking for her. If she was mingling with the other vamps. Who knew with her.

"This whole idea was bloody idiotic." He turned painfully.

"It wasn't!" Buffy turned with him, keeping her arms tightly around him. "I can't think of a better way to get attention from the vamps in this city."

"Well, I think they're staying in a bit more. Or you've killed the lot of 'em." Seemed like miles of walking last night and only two undead left for dead.

"If she won't come out, I'll go in." Buffy said grimly.

"You gotta get out more, man." Doyle urged his brooding champion. Or Irishman couldn't budge Angel from the flat, hadn't been able to for a week. "There's somethin' goin' on in town. Someone killin' vamps."

"More power to 'em." Angel slammed the door to his bathroom.

Doyle sighed. "I know you don't have any bodily functions to perform. I'll wait."

Angel couldn't even have the satisfaction of a good glare in the mirror. He rested his forehead against it. "A dead vamp is one less problem in this city. It's probably the Slayer." She didn't go home. Maybe he died, nothing to go back for. Maybe this is what vacations at her dad's are like now? Can't stop slaying even on a break. It's only been a week, she sometimes stayed for the whole summer. "It's probably Buffy. Let her kill them." If she's killing them, at least that's all she's doing. She won't have them make a monster out of her "boyfriend."

"From all you say about Little Miss Sunnydale-"

"I don't talk about her!"

"Let's just say your silence is deafenin', man. This doesn't smell right to me, Angel. Would your sweetheart of an ex, by all accounts a tender young thing, leave vamps wounded but not dusted, pinned to walls and alleys like some undead butterfly collection?"

Angel blinked as he washed his face with cold water. No, that sounded way more cruel. Vicious. Desperate. Someone who didn't care anymore. Someone who was playing fast and loose in their pain.

Pain she thinks I can spare her. Ha. She doesn't know the heartache I'm saving her. Let her take it out on whatever she likes.

Angel opened the door, sending a startled Doyle reeling back as he tried to get his balance. He ignored him, stalking past him. "Sounds like the job still gets done. Don't bother me with the ones she leaves to die. Let me know if you hear about her taking one with her."

"I don't think she'll come out for you." Will mused, voice somewhat fuzzy with exhaustion and too many hours of thinking.

"I'll find her. I'll go into every house in the city if I have to."

They both knew she couldn't, both knew she'd try.

"Think we might run out of time first , Luv."

In bed, she stared at the ceiling, hands knotted over the knots in her chest, eyes unblinking. If she blinked, the tears would start falling. This way they just rested on the surface, blurring the plain white walls. "What do you want to do?" She finally managed to whisper.

"Go out tonight. Alone."


"Think I have to." His hand stole across the sheets and eagerly wormed between her pressed palms, grateful for her warmth. "I'm thinkin'... Drusilla doesn't want you an' me. She just wants me. Wants me to come to her. Doesn't want to be drawn out. I think by now, if she's even here, she's seen our grisly little decorations, and she knows the two of us are takin' 'em out, because she knows I could never do that." He laughed once, bitterly, "Even if I wasn't sick, I was never exactly a strappin' hunk of muscle, was I?"

"I thought you were. Still think you are." She ran her hand slowly across his chest. Still the muscles to drool over- and now the rib bones just out of sight, but almost able to be felt, if she pressed more. She dared not press, with her strength and his illness. She traced again, back up to his chin. "I don't look very strong, either. It's the insides." Buffy reminded him.

"Every anti-bullyin' campaign in school." He kissed the top of her head. They'd deviated for a moment, on purpose. They both realized they'd be back to it.

In a moment.

"Imagined us in bed together a lot. Not how I pictured it." He hugged her hand with his, resting them across his heart.

"I pictured this." Buffy blushed. "Just after a lot of- other things." They chuckled quietly. After sex that left them tired and spent, trying to hurry up and get some sleep after patrols but before college classes starting at eight. That's how it was going to be. That's the dream, when your high school best friend turns into your high school-slash-college sweetheart. It wasn't supposed to be that we're always drained, scared, worried, unrelaxing, unable to- Buffy swallowed. Able to do things, but not the way either of us dreamed it. "Doesn't matter. I like whatever we have, because you're in it." Buffy murmured.

"I'm a selfish bastard, aren't I?" Will murmured back, turning her head, peering into those glossy green eyes. He kissed her tears before they fell and thought that even they were sweet. All of her is sweet. Drinking her down, licking her up. He kissed her. "Don't the princess's tears save the prince in the story?"

"Only if you get blinded by my mom first." Buffy kissed him back, rubbing his hard biceps, smoothing over his pale, perfect back, feeling him wince. "Ohh! Sorry, baby!"

"I don't hurt." He quickly told a near truth. Lungs are blessed with relatively few nerve endings that perceive pain. One reason the buggering cancer gets so far along before anyone notices it. "I don't hurt, just a bit sore. Been a bit sore ever since you barreled into me in the cafeteria." He teased her.

"Hey! I didn't have Slayer strength then."

"I don't know about that. Klutz-strength has always been your super power, Buff." More laughter, more kissing, more nuzzling, more tears escaping.

"I don't want this to go away." Buffy confessed suddenly, in a heartbroken voice through all the tears she had been trying to keep at bay. "The part where we're happy, and we laugh and you tease me, and I tease you, and I- love you like my best friend and like my boyfriend."

"Shhh." He tried to soothe, but she wasn't done.

"No, no, listen. You're all I've had, in a really long time. Even when I- even when I thought I had someone else. When Giles drives me nuts, or Mom gets mad at me for being the bad daughter, or Angel was just- well Angel- I had you. I took you for granted and now I'm going to lose you and-"

He kissed her forcibly, almost roughly. When he pulled back he barely had enough air, so he hissed out his words in a half-gasp. "You will never lose me, Buffy Summers. I will always be your best friend, and the one who's there for you. When vamps are born, their memories stay. Things that make them who they were in life, that stays. Drusilla had her visions, she didn't loose them. Angel was a bastard, still is. Things about me? I'm still gonna want to be near you, wanna be with you. That's me. William and Buffy, that's us." He swallowed. "Spike an' Slayer. That'll be us, too."

"Baby, I believe you I'm just terrified because-"

"I'll change? I know I will." And nothing is certain, even as certain as I am. "If you gotta chain me up and teach me to play nice again, I won't mind." It earned him a sudden sob. He blushed. He could never tell her how much this version of him wouldn't mind it either. Wouldn't mind anything she did to him, couldn't tell her how many things he'd love to try on her... "Just keep me. Don't give up on me. I don't need a sire. I need a... a partner."

"Always. Always."

"Follow me tonight. But far away." She didn't respond. "Baby- you're gonna see a dead man soon. Whether you watch me choke on my own air in some hospital bed or watch me walk into a dark alley, it's gonna happen." He held her tight, hoping her sobbing shudders could mask his own cowardly shaking. "You think I should go out hooked up to a machine, or with a little bit of action?"

"Don't go at all. Where's option C?" She wiped her cheek across his shoulder.

"It's die and get back up, unlivin' and ready for the next round."

Oh God, oh God, oh God... "I'll stay close enough to come get you if you need backup, if things get bad."

Will shook his head slowly. "You can't come get me this time."


"It has to end badly this time. The bad ending- it's what we want."

Buffy swallowed convulsively twice before she could finally squeak out, "We have the most screwed up fairytale," before she started silently crying once more.

"Where's that from?" Buffy had never seen it before.

Late afternoon. There was a waiting in the house, like soon the clock would chime, the night would fall like a stage backdrop, and the scariest performance of their lives would start. Apparently, Will was dressed for the part.

"Giles gave it to me. It was supposed to be your eighteenth birthday gift, but he- well, you remember how you were bloody pissed at him, and so was I?"

"Oh, I remember." She said darkly.

Will slid into the coat. Heavy, black leather, almost too big, showing its age and, "Thoroughly badass." It came just to the tops of the scuffed, lace up Docs he wore, swung and draped every part of him in a ripple of blackness and strength.

"It totally is. Personality. Only- that was going to be my gift? Why do you have it?"

"Well, for one thing, Bertie finally noticed you're a shrimp." He smiled as she stuck out her tongue. "For another, he decided to give it to me then, when I turned 21, only..." Shrugging on both sides, pained, refusing to state that Will's 21st birthday would never arrive. "It's a Slayer's coat. Nikki Wood. He showed me a picture when we got back from London. Big, beautiful black girl from New York." He ran his hands over the sleeves. Wondered if he'd fill it out a bit more, after. Wondered if he'd always be a bit bony, and realized that he was glad he wasn't too far gone yet, in case he was stuck with this body forever.

"Still with the why?" Buffy caressed the sleeves at well.

"My grandfather was her Watcher, back in the early seventies, last of his active Slayers before he retired. When she died, he kept the coat to give to Rupert's first active slayer." Will smiled, recalling the conversation they'd had a few weeks ago, in some lull between London and LA. "He said I was never supposed to know about Watchers, Slayers, the family business. Mum didn't want that. Didn't want me to get an interest in it." He snickered to himself, hands skimming down the sides, realizing how much he already loved the feel of it, the weight of it, the attitude of it. "But you can raise me in a different city, hide everything from me, you can move me to a Hellmouth and try to keep me oblivious to the everything going on around me- and I still up best friends with a slayer, in love with her, fighting vamps, and hey, looks like I'll even join the fangs only club. It must be in the blood, baby."

"Fate helped you into a cool new wardrobe?" Buffy laughed.

"Figured if I'm gonna have to fight Drusilla, a master vamp, even if she's cracked, I could use the good luck."

"Didn't this slayer die?"

"Yeah. In this coat, actually." Will's face clouded briefly.

"And Drusilla's gonna turn you. Which is the plan. You shouldn't fight her."

"I have to. You know that. Not before, after."

They nodded without speaking.

You have to kill the sire, or the sire has control.

He can't be loyal to her and to me at the same time. I've already been in that triangle and it sucks. Still.

"That's not you though." Buffy whispered.

Will sighed. "I know. Usin' people for my own gain, then literally leavin' them in the dust..."

"Let me do that."

"That's not you, either. She's doin' us a huge favor, she's givin' me new life. I owe-" Will's voice died as Buffy's face took on a sudden stricken look, and she retreated a step,involuntarily. "That. Right there. That's why she's gotta go, Luv, no way around it." He strode to her, fingers clamping down on her forearms. "This thing where you let vamps go 'cause you know 'em- it didn't work out for Angel, did it? How many you think she's killed in a century while he lets her walk? Because he made her?"


"If he felt so damn guilty about what he'd done, he oughta bloody well fix it." Will scowled, fire in his eye. "But no. He likes the guilt, the pain, the knowing he's still getting blood on his hands and he has to pay for it. Not me. Even if she's doin' me a favor, even is she's a- a person- to me. I'm not givin' her the chance to make me into what she wants, some replacement, and I'm not givin' her a free pass so I have to face the problem again next time we cross paths."

Buffy was awed, as always, when her best friend laid it on the line with his passionate orations. "Wow. You're really wise."

"Thank you."

"And you reeeeally hate Angel."


"A lot."

"Oh fuck!" Will suddenly shouted, startling her. "I just realized- he's gonna be 'related' to me, isn't he?"

"You realized that before, didn't you?" Buffy tried to hide her amusement at the absolutely anguished expression.

"Maybe, but it must not have seemed as bad farther away from the actual deed." Will made a disgusted face. "Was he still doin' good and bein' on a mission of atonement for his sins through cryptic messages when you popped in on him?"

"Hard to tell with the lecturing and thinking I was throwing myself at him."

Will groaned against her forehead as they held onto each other. "Can I deck him when I'm stronger?"

"You already 'decked' him when he was Angelus." She smiled into his chest.

Hurt my hand, too. "That was evil him. I wanna break his self-righteous nose." Another pair of sighs. "Fine. Never mind him. He's in the good guy camp, and that's where I wanna stay, no matter what I am. A selfish, scared, hypocritical good guy, with fangs, with a dark side, but still a good guy."

"I don't think it's selfish to use something bad to make something good. I don't think it's hypocritical to save your life and end hers."

"Yeah, but I'm raggin' on Angel, and I'm really pretty damn grateful he didn't do the deed since I need her."

Buffy considered. "When someone can help you save a life, that's the best thing they can do. If she'd keep on doing it..." They both knew she wouldn't. She didn't long for change like her split personality sire, she seemed to be pretty happy being the resident loony bin darling of the vampire set. "Look, it's not like it's that we're giving her a free pass because of you. Whether she helped you, whether she didn't, we'd fight her anyway."

"Yeah. I know we would." Maybe. He slid past her with a quick kiss.

Hard to kill someone who sees inside you- and doesn't mind what she sees. Who likes the dark stuff. Who really is so beautiful and who's been used so much... I'm using her again. I'm a bastard.

Well, at least I own up to it.

"I'll find her. Finish her before you- wake up." Buffy followed him, wishing she could see the path he was taking in his faraway eyes, although also sure she'd be seeing something that would confuse her, pain her.

"No." Will said quickly. "I can do this. She doesn't have any free passes for you, Slayer. You're the one who hurt her precious Angelus, and she knows you're the one in my head." He remembered her nails across his face, across his eye, like she could blot Buffy from his sight. "Don't tangle with her tonight. I can do this."

"You're dressed for it." Buffy finally said. "I- I like it. It's definitely a different look."

Will turned quickly, a half-hopeful smile on his face. "You think it suits me?"

Buffy stared at him, booted toes to chiseled cheeks. Blue eyes sunken, blonde hair slicked back, all in black. All the hardness in him, now showing on the outside.

She recalled the few seconds she saw underneath the cheerful face of her best friend. The cruel snarls, the dark smirk, the hard eyes.

"It's perfect for Spike."

"I love you, baby." He came back to her, and she nodded, gripping his hand.

I always come back to you...

"You gotta minute? You can call me back if you're busy."



"Of course I have a moment!" Giles tried to cover his unmanly, thoroughly gushy exuberance with a cough. "Reduced summer hours at the university library, you know."

"I know."

H-how- how is Buffy?"

"Fantastic. She's something, Bertie." William's voice was suddenly warm and transparently joyful.

"I know she is." Giles's voice matched his, though more muted. He cradled the phone tightly between his ear and shoulder as he removed his glasses. "Ahem. Good, good. How are you?"

"I'm kickin'." Kickin' the bucket, kickin' off, goin' out kickin' and screamin'... Alive and kickin', for another few hours anyway. "You?"

"I'm- fine." Worried. Sick with worry. In turmoil, why don't I go there, why don't I stay here, how can I stop it before it starts, how do I stop it once it happens? "Hrm. I called yesterday."

"Buff said, but I was kippin' and you said not to wake me."

"I called back a few hours later, but no one answered. That's fine. You need your rest." He said quickly.

"I'm all right enough." He said staunchly. There was a pause.



How do we say what's coming next? "I hope to be home in a few days."

"You're coming home?" Giles eyebrows raised, then lowered, and his mouth turned to a grim line.

I hope. "Yes."

"I'll see you then." Giles murmured.

"Hope I'll still be welcome?"

"You, William, are forever welcome in my home. Anything else... well, I'll see about issuing you an invitation." Giles rubbed at his eyes and inhaled silently, marshalling himself. "Please don't make that necessary."

He licked his lips. Not doing this fatal thing was more tempting than he could ever tell anyone. "I don't know any other way out."

"Then sometimes you just have to stay in place."

William case a glance at the door of her room. Their room for now. buffy was downstairs, giving him privacy for this call, maybe his last one, and he didn't feel like letting her overhear this part of it. "I can't lose her. I can't, Rupert."

"You never lose a person when you love them." Giles pled. "Think about this, just once more, think." He inhaled again, vainly trying to keep the polished voice steady. "There has never been a case of success, since the beginning of time. Why, why do you think you can succeed, why do you want to put yourself, put her, put all of us, through this?"

"Because there's never been Buffy before." Will whispered. "Because you're right. I think you never lose them, dead or not. I won't lose her. Whoever, whatever I am, living, dead, or in between. I don't think she'll let me be lost, either."

Silence. "I'm supposed to say something now. Something like they say in the trenches, when one soldier is dying." Giles muttered distractedly.


"Yes. You were- you were more than my nephew. You were Anna and Edward's son, and the person I loved most in this world. You were the reason I stopped messing about with dark things for good. I wanted to rid this world of evil, so you could grow up safe. Now- I've failed, haven't I?"

"Why's my dyin' all about you, Rupes?" Will asked with an edge in his voice, so tired of fighting all the guilt trips, answering all the questions, fighting all the explanations and emotions.

"Because when your heart is breaking, you find yourself feeling rather selfishly singular in your pain." Giles informed him coldly. "Maybe you never realized just how much you're loved." He paused. "Maybe I didn't tell you enough."

Oh bloody hell. Will closed his eyes and lay back on the pillow. "You did fine. An' if you pray and maybe offer up a little good luck spell, you can get back to tellin' me for a lot longer. Deal?"

What else was there to say? He answered thickly, "I'll assuredly hold up my end."

"Right then. Love you, Uncle Bertie. Goodnight."

"I love you. Good night, William." Giles hung the phone up softly. "Goodbye."

She worked quickly, blinking often, finding the frozen part inside herself she'd had too much practice using for only being eighteen. This was a Slayer's coat. It has to have- ah ha. She found a few thin, narrow tube like openings in the lining. She slid a stake from the pile of his belongings on the coffee table inside it, followed by a wallet in the pocket and without hesitation she took one of her senior photos from her dad's fridge and tucked it inside the breast pocket. She hesitated and then slipped his silver lighter and pack of menthols in as well. Lastly- Where is it, I know I saw one- yes! A guitar pick.

"When you wake up- remember who you are." She kissed the collar softly and held it to herself.

"I don't know who you were, Nikki Wood, but if you're listening, this is the grandson of your Watcher. Slayer to Slayer, if you ever feel like doing a little back-watching yourself, tonight would be the night."

"Just one." He took one of the three spikes she offered on the stoop. "You take the other two. If you want 'em."

"No, I'll- I'll use what I usually use." Buffy twirled a stake.

"I'm not worried." He lied.

"You're lying."

"I know. I know, and I know you know." He kissed her and shouldered the heavy leather duster, which felt even heavier somehow. "But you're gonna be right behind me. An' she- she listens to me."

"You listen to her, too." Buffy's stomach curled into a ball of sharp protest. "I- I think anyone would love you, if they got to know you. Like I do. Like she does, I guess, with her ability to see in your head and stuff, but- I don't think she loves you like I do."

"I don't think that she does, either." Will took her hand and they walked with painful, dragging slowness into the nightfall. "You scared of me 'givin' in to temptation'?"

She considered. "Yes. but- I want you to do whatever you have to."

William was shocked. "I'm not gonna do... what happened last time was before you and I-"

Buffy winced. She didn't want to think about the past, or the present, just the future, the part where this was over and they were together again, not on borrowed time. "I said 'whatever you have to do'. Unless it's evil. Don't do anything evil, okay?"

"Scouts honor."

"Were you ever a scout?"

"No, but I saw 'em at school." He saluted with three fingers. She swatted him with five, soft and open palmed. "I'm not worried, 'cause you're behind me."

"She moves really fast." Buffy bit her lip.

"You move faster. Only one in the world who does." He paused. "But don't run that fast tonight. Gotta get taken, don't I?"


"You don't think she'll sit all night and all day in some alley, do you? If she bites me an' leaves me, I'll be a body. Just a body. We don't want that. She has to take me with her, awake - or not."

She felt like she was going to hyperventilate, or dry heave. The words, "I don't think I can do this, I don't think I can watch this." desperately wanted to burst from her lips, so she bit them even harder and nodded. At least tomorrow, this will be over. One way or the other. We didn't do anything special today. It was his last day as a human, we should have done something special! "I didn't do anything special." She gasped out suddenly, horrified look on her face.

He knew what she was speaking of. No marking of the occasion. "Don't have to." He replied with a cocky half-grin. "Today's just another day in the rest of the long, long time you an' I are gonna have together, Pet." He slid his arm across her back, and they leaned on each other as they walked to the car. "Tomorrow, we'll celebrate."

I hope so. "Okay." He put his car keys into her hand. "Hold onto those for me."

"But- you don't ever let me drive your car."

"Can't take it tonight, either. Too conspicuous." He didn't want to have a ready ride out of town, away from her. On the other hand, if he needed to escape a sire he couldn't kill... The prospect of a peaceful, final death beckoned. Go on treatment, spin this out, another week or another month with Buffy. We'll make love, slow, steady, gentle. We'll see sunsets. We'll take long walks. Slow walks. We'll do one last- everything. One last set at the coffee house, one last all nighter at the Bronze, one last jam with Oz, one last picnic with all of us...

No. I'm not ready for the last of anything.

"Keep it safe for me."

"I'm only holding onto it for a day." Buffy reminded him.

"Hey, that's one day longer than anyone else ever gets to!" He chucked his hip to hers. "You're the only one I trust enough to do this for me." Will added in a much different voice, solemn and soft.

The keys found their way into her hip pocket and she curled her hand around them as she pressed them in deep as possible. "I'll hold on."

Then, with one more kiss, and one silent, mutual nod, they let each other go.

To be continued...