A/N: This idea came to me while listening to Christina Aguilera's "Cruz", song 13 on Stripped. It just called me to write this.
Warning: Major angst ahead as well as character death. It's my interpretation of how season 7 may or may not end. Spoilers up to "Bring on the Night".
Note: Past events are written in italics. The song lyrics are written in Bold.
Always a Part of Me
I'm leaving today
Livin' it, leaving it to change
She had been here before.
People milled about the station, chattering away, oblivious of those around them. The sun shone triumphantly through the skylight, mocking those like her, those that wanted nothing more than to be covered by the comforting shadows of night. As before, it knew of her pain and in a moment of compassion, the sun let itself be shielded by a passing cloud to give her a few minutes respite from its harsh glares. In that way it resembled her friends and she almost wished again for accusing glare of the light.
God knows Buffy Summers needed something--something besides the ache that caromed through her half-dead shell.
Slowly drifting into a peaceful breeze
Tongue tied and twisted are my memories
Physically she was fine, better than ever. But inside? Her soul, her spirit, her heart? Gone. Ripped from her walking husk as her eyes watched helplessly as he…
"Buffy?" Dawn's timid voice broke the slayer (no, not slayer, not anymore) from the solitude of her mind. She smiled bitterly, never turning to look at the young girl who, two weeks ago had fought with the tenacity of a wolverine, killing one of the uber vamps single-handedly. Though she had not been chosen after Faith's death, Dawn still had the strength and skill of a slayer. Unlike her older sister, however, the younger Summers welcomed it.
"Did you come her to scream at me some more?" Buffy asked, her voice old and worn. "Tell me how bad of a sister I am for leaving? How I'm taking the coward's way out? How disappointed Mom and Sp…" she faltered briefly but pushed back the heartache that caught in her throat. "How disappointed he and Mom would be in me?" Her eyes left the skylight and took a particular liking to the scuffs on her leather boots.
Dawn sighed. Buffy was right; she had said all of those things to her older sister two days ago, when Buffy had told every one of her intentions. In fact, Dawn had said more than that, reducing the slayer to tears though Dawn herself had not been there to witness Buffy's breakdown. She had called Buffy a horrible sister, a disappointment to both her Mom's and Spike's memory before running out the house.
Buffy tensed when the bench shifted ever so slightly at the added weight. She had said her good-byes to the others-Xander, Willow, Giles, Anya, Kennedy, Molly, Casey, Lissa and the other slayerettes-earlier. She didn't want them there; it would have been too hard. Yeah, it may have been running away, it may have been cowardly, but dammit, she earned the right to be able to run away…
Celebrating a fantasy come true
Packing all my bags, finally on the move
That's all she wanted to do when she saw his battered body. Buffy wanted to run away from it all and carry him with her, away from things that could hurt him.
She slowly crossed the distance between them, her footfalls light and steady, unlike her hitched breathing or rampant heartbeat. Her slayer senses were on edge, reaching out in all directions for any sign of the uber vamps while her eyes remained fixed on her broken ex-lover.
When she finally reached him, Buffy knelt down between his splayed legs. He rested against a large stone and, if not for the horrible bruises, chasm-like gashes and bones that poked through his flesh, he would have looked at peace. As it was, she didn't know how he could possibly be alive.
Reaching a tentative hand out, Buffy brushed her fingertips across his grotesquely swollen cheek. She whispered his name though expected no answer. Her fingers traced over the lumps that were his eyelids.
"Spike," she said again and the tears that had pooled in her emerald eyes tore down her cheeks in a flurry. Not even after Glory had tortured him had she seen Spike in such bad shape. Of course, whereas Glory had had a few hours alone with him, the First had had three weeks. Three weeks to try and break him. Had they succeeded? Would his mind be as broken as his body now was? Would he be too far gone to…would staking him now be a mercy?
A hoarse sob echoed through the cavern as the last thought crossed Buffy's mind. She had sent Angel to hell and it had almost killed her. If she had to do the same to Spike, no matter the reason, she knew she would die. And, as certainly as she knew that, Buffy Summers knew that she…
I'm leaving today
Livin' it, leaving it to change
"…Loved him," Buffy said, her voice straddling the cusps between apathy and overwhelming emotion. "When I found him that day, that's when I knew."
Dawn was surprised when Buffy had spoken. They had sat quietly for several minutes before the slayer's voice broke their silent treatise. The underlying pain that Buffy tried so hard to cover only helped intensify the guilt Dawn felt for her outburst two days ago. Her sister had lost so much and all Dawn could see was Dawn. There was no doubt that it had hurt when she found out that Buffy was leaving but she understood now. This place had become too much of a reminder of all the things Buffy had lost and the slayer of seven years needed to get away from it all.
"Are you coming back?" Dawn asked.
"I told him every night that I fed him," Buffy said, oblivious to Dawn's question. "Told him that if he would just wake up that he would finally know…
As I'm driving I'm captured by the view
So much beauty the road becomes my muse
"…How I feel about you," Buffy cried. No sobs escaped her lips as she wiped the blood—her blood—from Spike's lips. The death parlor that detailed his every feature when she found him two weeks ago had disappeared. His injuries had healed quite well and she knew it was only a matter of days before his body was back to normal.
Even so, it had been two weeks and he had yet to awaken. Hell, he hadn't even moved except the weakest of gestures when she first held her slit wrist to his cracked lips, his face not contorting into the demon's mask. She had done that twice a day for the first week, ignoring the pleas from the others to slow down. During the night, she researched and patrolled with the others but during the day…during the day she was constantly by his side. She talked to him, touched him, fed him and slept beside him.
She had seen the looks the others had given her but she didn't care. All she cared about was stopping the First and seeing his blue eyes filled with that undying love. For some reason she knew that when she did see them, the answers for defeating the First would be written in them.
A week after Buffy started feeding him, Dawn had been the first to volunteer her blood. They had had a talk when Buffy hadn't been around about the slayer giving her blood to the vampire. Even with her super healing, the blood loss combined with the stress of the past six weeks would only weaken the slayer further. When Xander had asked about feeding Spike animal blood, Giles had shared his doubts that it would do any good to assist in the vampire's healing. Not five minutes later, Dawn had trekked upstairs unnoticed; her wrist already slashed open. She crept in, not wanting to awaken her sister, before putting her wrist to Spike's slightly parted lips.
At first there was nothing but then the teen felt the slow drain of her essence into the mouth of her once best friend. She closed her eyes, her apprehension disappearing as a giddiness flowed through her veins. She was floating on thick clouds of contentment, the pain of the cut all but forgotten.
Of course, having her arm ripped away by a pissed off slayer was not of the good ushered her back into reality.
"Dawn," Buffy spat, her hazel eyes alight with anger, "what the hell are you doing?"
It only took the teen a minute to gain her bearings and when she did Buffy was shocked at the determination in her younger sister's eyes.
"What does it look like? I'm feeding him."
"Are you crazy?" Buffy demanded and stalked over to her sister.
"Are you?" She retorted.
"What does that mean?"
"You're doing it—you're feeding him."
"It always is with you. But not this time."
"Dawn," Buffy voice softened, sensing the change in her sister.
"No, Buffy. It's not just up to you to make him get better," Giles said from the doorway. He removed his glasses before leaning against the doorway. "As against the idea as I may be, Dawn is right. We have—I have put too much on you. Yes, you may be the slayer but you are also a young woman who needs support." He looked pointedly at Spike's prone form. "In everything."
"No, Buffy. While Spike may not be my favorite person in the world, he has proven himself to us on many occasions, his soul by far the most poignant example. We have a responsibility to him, to show him that he does matter. To all of us."
The heat is rising and my hand surfs through the wind
Cool, calm, collected is the child that lies within
As Buffy thought about it that confrontation six days ago, she smiled. This had been the first time since then that she had allowed him to feed from her. The others had taken turns. Even the wary slayers-in-training had given their blood. The results were now obvious as the worst of his injuries were healed. He still had awhile to recover but Buffy knew that he would. She knew that it was only a matter of time before…
I'm leaving today
Livin' it, leaving it to change
"…He opened his eyes and looked at me. The love I saw in them made me speechless, Dawnie."
"You squealed like a schoolgirl," Dawn laughed.
"Did not!" Buffy protested. She smiled sheepishly as several people glared at her for the outburst.
"Did too, Ms. Shouts a lot," Dawn joked, her spirits lifted at Buffy's display of emotion.
"Whatever," she waved off Dawn's comment and her thought returned to that day when Spike woke up, when he said her name. "When he called my name, I thought I was imagining it. His voice sounded so hoarse, almost lifeless. I just wanted to hold him and never let him go but by then everybody was cramming in the room."
"I remember," Dawn said. In fact, she had been the one that forced everyone out, intent on giving her sister time with the injured vampire.
"When he finally was able to talk somewhat, you know the first thing he told me?"
"That he loved you."
"No, actually. He told me that they tried to break him. Tortured him," Buffy's voice cracked at that but she continued on, "to get him to turn back to evil. He said that Drusilla was there—well, the First taking her form. But he told me that it asked him what good could he do. Even through all the torture and pain, he never once thought about giving up. You know why?"
"Why?" Dawn scooted closer to her sister. Buffy had never shared about what had happened to Spike outside of the obvious.
"Because of me. Because, right before he was kidnapped, I told him I believed in him." Dawn watched as her sister's shoulders shook minutely. She wanted to comfort Buffy but was afraid that the blonde would fall back into the apathetic malaise that Dawn had encountered earlier.
The emotions that Buffy had tightly stuffed down after Dawn had walked out two days ago squirmed in their restraints, threatening to revert the slayer to a bubbling mess. It took her several deep breaths before she regained her composure and, for only the second time in two days, she looked her baby sister in the eye.
"Dawn, even after my speech to you guys I was so close to giving up. Do you have any idea how much I needed to hear that? To know that it was your belief in someone that kept him strong through horrible torture. Whatever confidence I had lost was built right back up when he told me that."
Buffy dropped her eyes again and they fell down to the silver skull ring that adorned her left hand.
"Buffy," Dawn said and for the first time, touched her sister. Her fingers traced the angular features of the ring, noting how Buffy's hand quivered. "This is Spike's, isn't it?" The slayer nodded. "You've been wearing it since before…"
"Yeah," The slayer replied and smiled wistfully. "I've been wearing it for about a month now. He gave it to me."
But somehow I miss it, I think I'll really miss it one day
I turn up the radio and I feel like I've never felt before
"What's this for?" Buffy asked as she and Spike cuddled in bed. It had been nearly two months since she had found him and their fight with the First had yet to conclude. No side seemed to be gaining ground though two more slayers-in-training had been killed the week before. Still, they had killed five uber vamps in that time, the Scoobies and the other seven SiT's working as a cohesive unit. There had been several injuries as well but Ayliah, a SiT, well versed in medical treatment, mystical and otherwise, had been a key member in the others' recoveries. Xander, for example had fractured his leg two days ago and in four different places. Although he wouldn't be fighting for the next week, he was still able to walk around.
"S'my skull ring."
"Duh, silly. I know what it is, but what is it for?"
"For you, luv," Spike said nervously while he traced patterns on the flesh of her shoulder.
"Okay. But why?" When he didn't answer, Buffy rolled on top of him. She frowned when he averted her gaze but that did not deter the slayer. She grabbed his chin firmly and forced Spike to look at her. "What is it?" She asked and stroked the scar across his cheek, a lasting reminder of his torture.
"I love you, Buffy," he said and she detected the waver in his voice.
"I love you too, baby."
He sighed, one hand running up and down her back while the other held the hand that had the ring on it. "I won't ever leave you, you know that."
She smiled proudly. "I know. It took me almost losing you to know that but I finally get that."
"Good," he smiled genuinely before fixing his gaze back to the ring. "And as much as we both know that now, I…" he fidgeted and Buffy had to grin at his unease. He huffed. "And as much as we both know that, I…I want to make it official."
"Why Spike," Buffy said, her tone that of a Southern Belle, "I do declare. If I didn't know any better, I think you were proposin' to lil' ole me." She smiled brightly but her smile faded when she saw the nervousness in his eyes. That and the truth.
"Spike?" She pushed herself up so she could see all of him. "Spike? Is that…is that what this is?" His first instinct was to joke it off, anything to wipe that petrified look on her face but he resisted.
Taking another calming breath, he pushed up on his elbows and kissed her chastely on the lips. "Buffy Summer, will you be mine forever?"
"He asked you to marry him?" Dawn said in shock as she wiped away the tears. Buffy nodded, not trusting her voice. "But why didn't you tell us?" She wrapped her arms around Buffy and the slayer leaned against Dawn's shoulder. The pang in Buffy's chest thumped intensely and she could not explain how she remained so calm. Maybe it was the warmth that radiated from Dawn that kept her sane but whatever it was, she was glad for its presence.
"We both wanted to wait. We thought that if you guys knew, you'd either coddle us or get distracted by the wrongness of it all."
"That's not true."
"Isn't it? After what he almost did to me, you honestly think you guys would have accepted just like that that we were going to be married?"
"I'm not saying right away," She admitted, "but we would have dealt with it."
"And what if that 'not right away' just happened to show up during battle? What then?" Dawn said nothing but she understood Buffy's point. A moment's hesitation either way may have cost the Scoobies what they had finally won after months of hardship.
"Buffy," Dawn whispered, "I'm so sorry." She was taken aback at Buffy's harsh laughter and pulled away in order to gauge her sister's mood. She gasped when she saw the wretched despair on Buffy's face. Her lips were clenched in a horrible smile but the low ebb of laughter scared the teen the most.
Before she could ask, Buffy calmed and her eyes were wistful as she said. "You know, he said the same thing to me. Right after we found out what he had to do, Spike told me how…"
Turn down the memories of yesteryear and broken dreams I bring
"…Sorry I am, luv." He held her as she screamed. When they had first found out how to defeat the First, Buffy refused to believe it. It had been an obscure verse in one of the stolen tomes from the Watcher that detailed what had been called the Sacrifice. Only that which had willingly sought what had once been lost could contain the evil that was the First. The sacrifice over the Seal of the Hellmouth would close the gates forever. But as the Hellmouth was sealed, so would the fate of that which would be the sacrifice. And Spike was the only one that fit the particulars as he had regained the soul he had lost so long ago for Buffy.
"No, Spike. You can't!" She wrestled out of his arms and stormed to her watcher. "Giles, tell him that he can't do this. That we'll find another way. Giles, please." The Watcher looked at his charge, his heart breaking as giant tears trailed down her cheeks. Though she had never said it outright, Giles knew that Buffy cared deeply for Spike though he had never quite discovered how much. Until now.
"I wish there was another way, Buffy, I do. But the text is quite clear on this manner."
"Bullshit!" She screamed and slammed her hand down on the table, breaking it in two. The others ran into the dining room and stared at the exchange, unsure of what to do. "We always find a way. Always! It's because it's Spike, isn't it?" She accused, ignorant of her surrogate father's horrified look.
"Buffy, you know that's not true."
"Do I?" Do you think that just because you donated some of your blood that that makes everything better? I know you hate him; you all do. Always have. Every one of you, except Dawn has always hated Spike, even when he was tortured by Glory or when he helped you when I was dead. You never gave him a chance." She dropped her head, her body tense as she tried to contain the grief. "And neither did I," She whispered where only Giles, who was closest to her, and Spike, heard.
"Buffy," Giles began but was interrupted by the slayer.
"No, I can't lose him. He's the only one that won't leave me. Even when he did, he came back. He came back," her shoulders shook as she began to lose control of her tumultuous emotions. Sensing that, Spike gripped her by the shoulders firmly before spinning her around to face him. He plastered on his best smirk before addressing her.
"Come now, luv," he soothed, his hands massaging her shoulders, "Rupert's right. It's the only way. You know as well as I do that, even if the stodgy bugger hated me," he gave Giles a wry smile, "which he doesn't, he would do anything pet, anything, to keep you from hurtin'. But he can't. And I can't. This is what I 'ave to do." Buffy dropped her head, knowing that she was close to defeat. Knowing that rationale was creeping into her mind. But she still had fighting reserves.
"You don't love me, do you?" She looked into his eyes as she said it and, were it not for his tightening grip on her, would have stepped back in fear as the golden flecks dotted his irises.
"What did you say?" His voice was filled with venom and barely contained pain.
"You don't love me," she said defiantly. "Or not as much as you claim you do. You can't, not if it's so easy for you to give up your life like this." She broke his grip and crossed her arms. Holding her chin high, she continued. "Then if it's like that then go. I don't care. I don't know why I would care. After all, you're just a…"
Before she knew it, Buffy was pinned to the wall. The others looked on in shock. Xander and Giles moved towards the couple but were stilled by a vicious growl they had never heard from the vampire. In that moment, they were more afraid of him than they had ever been.
Snapping his head back towards Buffy, Spike barely contained his fury, puffing out jagged breaths as he ground his teeth and his eyes filled with tears.
"After all I'm just a what? A vampire that fell in love with a slayer? A vampire that would do anything for her and her mates? A vampire that loves her little sister more than life itself? --That let a bleedin Hell God poke holes in his chest to keep that same little sister safe. A vampire that kept his promise to a lady even after he--failed--even after she was gone. A vampire that felt guilty for almost…" his voice broke momentarily and he exhaled slowly to stop himself from shaking. "A vampire that felt so much guilt for 'urtin' her that he goes out and gets the one thing that would make the guilt even worse just to be what she deserves?
"If you think this is easy for me, luv, then you 'ave no fuckin' idea." He released her suddenly and ran his hands through his tousled hair before dropping them to his sides. When he looked up at Buffy again, there was no anger. Only love and an intense sadness.
"Buffy, I love you more than I can ever tell you. I thought that would always be enough for me. That's why I never left when you came to me, even if you didn't love me because I 'ad enough love for us both. Or so I thought. The fact was that it wasn't enough.
"Forty-four days ago, you told me that you loved me. And you know what? Despite all the pain and death and bloodshed, those forty-four days have been the best days of my existence. Nothing will ever compare to you loving me, pet. Now I don't know why you love me but I do know that if I didn't do this, I wouldn't deserve your love.
"Don't ever think this is easy, luv. To leave you. To know that I'll never see you again, in life or in death, is like a wooden stake through me 'eart. The only thing that keeps me from turnin' to dust now is the fact that you'll live on. You and the Bit with all the slayerettes and Scoobies by your side. You'll all live on. And with all of you, maybe, just maybe, a piece of me will survive. And what more could I ask for than to be remembered forever here," he put a hand to her temple, "here," he placed his palm over her heart, "and here," he slowly leaned in to kiss her. When there lips met, they were torn between the passion that always ignited between them and the bitter realization that this would be there last night together. Never again would she see his pale blue eyes shine with love or he hers. Never would he see her lips stick out in a pout or she his lips upturn in that trademarked smirk. Never would she feel his cool hands move along her body or he her lips pelt kiss after kiss across his. And never would either of them feel so complete as when they were together, he inside of her, making love, becoming one.
As they walked up the stairs, hand in hand to share one last time of love together, those that watched could do nothing but cry silently, all mentally screaming at the unfairness of a love so strong being torn apart so soon after being found.
Slowly drifting into a peaceful breeze
"I remember thinking," Dawn said, "that if there was a God, how could he allow you to go through that. How could he tear Spike away from us, away from you, like that?"
"Oh there is a God, Dawn," Buffy said through the tears, "and while there are things we don't understand about Him, I can't help but to thank Him."
"Why?" the brunette asked. "How could you after He took Spike away?"
"He didn't take Spike away, Dawnie," she replied serenely, "the First did that."
"But why didn't He stop the First? Why did Spike have to…?" But she couldn't finish and it was Buffy's turn to comfort Dawn. She held the teenager as she sobbed into Buffy's chest, harsh, painful sobs. Buffy was so absorbed in her sister's suffering that she didn't notice the tears that several people nearby shed.
"Dawnie," Buffy said after Dawn's cries tapered off, "Sweetie?"
"Why did he have to die, Buffy? Why?"
"To save the world," she said simply and then amended it. "Because he loved us, Dawn. Not just me, but us. He loved us enough to give up everything so that we could live, so that we would live. And if we don't do that, then everything he did would be in vain."
"If…if he did it so we can live, then how come I fee so dead inside?"
"Because the part of you that Spike wiggled his way into is in pieces. It's gonna take time for it to heal, but it will. I promise you, it will."
They sat there holding each other until Buffy heard her destination called. Reluctantly, they both parted and stood. Buffy grabbed her two bags and was escorted towards the boarding gate by Dawn.
"How long will you be gone?"
"I don't know," Buffy replied. "A few months," she avoided Dawn's eyes. "I know you think I'm running away but I have to. I…"
"I don't think you're running away."
"You don't?" Buffy couldn't keep the wonder out of her voice.
"No, I don't. Not anymore."
The tears Buffy had thought dried up flowed again and she dropped her bags before crushing her sister to her again.
"Thank you, Dawnie. You don't know how much I needed that."
"Promise you'll come back," Dawn whispered into her sister's ear.
"I promise. I love you, baby."
"I love you, too, Buffy. I love you so much."
"Take care of the others for me, I'm counting on you." And with one last kiss to her sister's cheek Buffy picked her bags back up and walked onto the bus.
I'm leaving today
Livin' it, leaving it to change
"Spike, please fight, " Buffy pled as she watched her lover spasm in pain as the First inundated his body. Blood seeped from his flesh as the skin of his hands, feet and head tore open. When a wretched gash ripped open at his side, a voiceless scream was caught in his throat. Finally, as the First completely enveloped him, Spike screamed and blood shot from his mouth before he fell to the ground.
The others looked on in horror as they tended those that had been wounded. The desire to run from the evil that filled the room was unbearable and only the sacrifice being made by the soulled vampire gave them the will to remain in place.
Buffy ran towards her collapsed lover, immediately cradling his head into her lap. "It's gonna okay, baby. It's gonna be okay," she recited over and over. She rocked him back and forth praying silently for him to open his eyes.
"Spike, can you hear me?" She stroked his ashen cheek and watched as her tears fell onto his face. As one hit his eye, she saw his eyelid flutter briefly.
"Spike? Is that you? Come on, baby, wake up."
"Buffy," Giles said, finally gaining his voice again. "We haven't much time. Spike will only be able to maintain control for a limited amount of time before the First completely possesses him. We must do this now."
"Watcher's right, you know," a bloodied voice muttered.
"Listen, Buffy," Spike choked and he forced his eyes open. "I can't hold this bitch much longer…"
"Spike, it's okay, it'll all be okay."
"I know. You know how?" She shook her head. "Because you are the…strongest person to ever walk this bloody earth."
"Spike…" Buffy tried to speak but the lump in her throat prevented any words from coming out.
"Don't talk, luv. I…I love you with my whole being. Love the Bit, too. Make sure to tell 'er that. And as for you…" he reached out and touched her stomach. "As long as you believe, as long as a part of me exists somewhere inside of you, I will always be with you."
I'm leaving today
Livin' it, leaving it to change
A genuine smile touched Buffy's lips for the first time in two weeks as the bus passed the 'Now Leaving Sunnydale' sign. The clouds that had gave her respite from the sun's accusing glare had dissipated and the light danced along her flesh through the tinted windows of the bus.
She didn't know what it was that made her feel this way but didn't care. Leaving her sister back at the station had been one of the hardest things she had ever done. When the bus had taken off, Buffy felt as if she was dying all over again. But ten minutes into the trek and she had remembered Spike's words and felt something within her stir, something that was a part of Spike and a part of her.
"As long as a part of me exists somewhere inside of you, I will always be with you."
She smiled again and rested her hands protectively across her belly. She looked down at it, and laughed out loud. She paid no attention to the curious stares the other passengers gave her. Instead, she was too fixated on the epiphany she had just had. The realization that there was a life that was growing inside of her.
"A part of him inside of me, huh? You got that right, little one," She whispered as the tears cascaded once more down her cheek. And though there was still an untouched sadness in her tears, a ray of hope had tinged them as well. Whether Spike knew that his words would hold such a literal meaning was beyond Buffy. All she knew was that it was true and that his sacrifice had not gone in vain. As long as she and the others lived their lives, he would always be remembered. And revered.
But somehow I miss it, I think I'll really miss it
***Sorry for the angst of it, but that's how it spoke to me. Rest easy for unlike my "Til the End of the World" fic, I will be writing a sequel to this. So if there are some things that are confusing, they will most likely be answered in the sequel. Unfortunately, I won't start that until I finish with "Do What You Have to Do" and that will be at least a month from now. Make sure to Drop me an email at email@example.com if you want to be notified of when I start it.
***As I said, this was my take on the end of season 7. So much of the stuff that has happened to Spike (leaning on the cross, then his 'crucifixion' as the First bled him to the symbolic drowning of him which may have been his baptism) points to him possibly being the savior of the world.
***Props to Mrs Muir (Baby Did a Bad Thing, Babies are a Good Thing) for suggesting the stigmata wounds that appeared on Spike as the First flowed into him. Thanks!!