Forever Isn't Such a Long Time

By

Anessa Ramsey

Rating: Now back to the PG-13 portion of our story.  The smut is over, you can uncover your eyes.

Spoilers: Buffy, Season 7 through 'Chosen'.  That little good-bye at the end did happen (for closure's sake), but Spike has moved on; Four years past X-Men (the first movie) cause Rogue is 20.

Pairing:  Spike/Rogue

Feedback:  Absolutely!  Good or bad, let me know.  No flames.

Distribution:  Want. Take. Have.  Just drop me a line to let me know where it's going.

Disclaimer:  I own nothing.  Everything Buffy belongs to Joss Whedon.  Everything X-men belongs to Marvel.

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I cannot say, and I will not say, that he is dead.

He is just away.

With a cheery smile, and a wave of the hand,

he has wandered into an unknown land

and left us dreaming how very fair

Its needs must be, since he lingers there.

And you-oh you, who wildest yearn

for an old time step, and the glad return

think of him as faring on, as dear

in the love of There as the love of Here.

Think of him still as the same.  I say,

He is not dead-he is just away.

~ 'He Is Not Dead' by James Whitcomb Riley

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         Buffy stared out the back of the bus and thought to herself 'Now leaving Sunnydale'.  An image of when she'd last seen that sign crossed her mind and she couldn't help but think that this time leaving was a good thing.  The Potentials were all trying to help each other.  Vi was amazingly good at getting them to focus on her so they didn't pass out.  Her first aid skills weren't too shabby either.  She was in control and people listened to her.  She was going to be a great slayer.  Some of the others she worried about.  Kennedy was power hungry and that could make her careless or even worse, dangerous.  She was so very much like Faith used to be before prison.  Rona wanted to be normal, didn't want to be a slayer.  That would make it difficult for her.  She'd probably be one of the ones to return home to her parents.  The others she didn't know too well and couldn't predict where they would end up. 

         She could see Xander in the front of the bus with Willow by his side.  He couldn't seem to stop crying and it upset her that he could mourn his loss publicly but she couldn't.  She glanced out the window again and the crater was no longer visible.  A tear slipped down her cheek.  "Goodbye Spike," she whispered, pressing her hand against the cool pane of glass. 

         Dawn saw the gesture and placed her hand next to her sister's.  "He saved the world."

         Buffy nodded and the tears came.  A torrent of them over a lover she never really had.  Not truly.  There'd been skin and lips and tongues, but never once had she considered him to be her lover.  She thought of the time they'd spent together and knew one thing.  Even if he hadn't loved her anymore, he still wanted her happy.  So she wiped the tears from her face and smiled, surprising Dawn.

         "Buffy?" her sister asked, hesitantly.

         "We need to make plans, decide where we're going, what we're going to do."  She stood up and went to the front of the bus.  Giles was driving so she sat down on the floor next to him.  "When we get to LA and everyone's been treated we need to make some decisions.  Important life altering decisions."

         Giles looked down at the girl who'd been his charge for so long.  She was a woman now and she was finally in control.  It was all he'd ever wanted for her.  All he could do was nod and smile.

         LA was what she had expected it to be.  Well, not quite, but nothing's perfect.  The girls got treated along with Robin.  Faith was by his side the whole time.  They would have to make plans soon, but she knew there was time.  Most of the girls were going to be in the hospital for a few days.  Just enough time.  She looked at Giles.  "I have to take a trip."

         His eyebrows drew together in confusion.  Trip?  Now?  "Buffy?'

         "I have to Giles.  It was a last request."

         Spike.  He could only imagine that it had to do with the girl Marie.  He nodded.  "She needs to know."

         "It's what he wanted.  He told me, right before we went to the school.  It's something I have to do for him."

         Giles understood.  It was all about closure for everyone involved.  "Okay.  I'll make the arrangements.  I assume you know where you're going?"

         She pulled the paper from the back of her jeans and unfolded it.  "Some school for gifted kids in Westchester, New York."

         The gates loomed in front of her, tall and forbidding.  She adjusted the large satchel that was strapped to her back and scaled them quickly, years of slayer training being put to use.  She dropped down on the other side with ease, landing in a crouched position, looking around to see if anyone had spotted her.  Not a soul in sight.  With purpose, she began walking toward the door of the mansion at the end of the driveway.  She knew that she was trespassing but this was what he'd wanted and she was determined to see it through.

         She was almost to the door when she felt it and stopped.  Something, someone was watching her.  She closed her eyes, focusing on the sounds around her.  When the attack came she was ready.  She dropped into a crouch throwing the obviously male body over her shoulder when he dove at her.  He came up panting and that's when she saw the claws.  "Never seen one of you before, but after the things I've seen not much shocks me anymore."  He came at her with a swipe of the metal claws that protruded from between his knuckles.  She ducked and rolled right into back handsprings, putting space between herself and the guy with metal claws intent on killing her.  She was so concentrated on him that she didn't anticipate the attack from behind.  A burst of dirt exploded behind her and she turned to glare at the guy with the visor.  "You ruined my new boots dammit!  They were a thanks-for-helping-to-stop-the-end-of-the-world-gift!"  She spun in a round kick, catching the Tin Man across the chin as he was about to sink those claws into her.

         She let the satchel fall from her shoulders and grabbed the deadly scythe with both hands, spinning as she brought it down in an arc toward Metal-Claws-Guy.  A red laser beam shot at her again, but it was focused on the scythe.  It didn't harm the weapon at all.  It was as if the scythe was absorbing the power.  "Not so breakable as it looks," she quipped.  Another spin kick had Logan pinned against the front door, her foot on his throat and the scythe under the neck of the guy with the wicked visor over his eyes who'd gradually advanced on her while she was occupied with Logan.  "Don't move.  Don't even breath," she warned Logan not taking her eyes from his, "or he loses his head."

         The door opened just then and Logan realized that he was no longer being supported by it.  He fell backwards, nearly crushing Ororo who backed away quickly.  The strange girl landed on top of him and her weapon ended up buried in the shiny wood floors.  "New girl, Logan?" Ororo asked jokingly. 

Buffy put her hands on the floor and boosted herself up onto her feet.  She dusted herself off and picked up the scythe and her satchel before looking up.  Scott couldn't believe who he was seeing.  She was different than he remembered, older, worn, but relieved, like she had the weight of the world on her shoulders until recently.  "Buffy."

         Buffy couldn't speak.  Scott, who was supposed to have been dead for ten years, was here, alive!  She screeched and threw her arms around him.  When the hug ended she punched him in the stomach.  "Where the hell have you been?  Why were we told you were dead.  Mom refused to believe it for years until finally she just gave up hope.  Why didn't you at least call?"

         Logan couldn't help it.  He laughed, a strange sound to most of the group, but it couldn't be help.  The small blonde girl with the intense fighting skills was poking her finger into Four-Eyes chest, punctuating each question with a stab of her finger.  She was acting like the guy's mom.  

         "What's so damn funny?" she snapped, spinning to face him, her eyes blazing.  There was fire in this one.  "It wouldn't be so funny if the only cousins you'd ever known disappeared without a trace.  It wouldn't be so funny if you were told at seven years old that your eleven year old best friends were dead."  She turned back to Scott.  "Where's Alex?  Is he here with you?  He's alive right?"

         Scott looked down.  "I don't know where he is.  We were separated."

         Buffy looked like she was going to cry and Ororo spoke up.  "Obviously since the girl's family she's alright.  Why don't we go inside and find out why she's here." 

         She followed Scott and Ororo inside, with Logan on her tail.  He was still suspicious.  "Would the tin soldier mind relaxing a little?  I'm not here to hurt anyone," she said, taking a seat in the chair that Scott pulled out for her.  The mansion was nice, dark wood everywhere and tons of antiques.  Her mom would have gone crazy in a place with so much history and art. 

         "That has yet to be determined," Logan growled.

         She squinted at him and then remembered why he seemed familiar.  Spike had mentioned this guy.  She was pretty sure his name started with an L.  "Oh, I know who you are.  He was right, you do look like a crazed psychopath."

         Logan growled again but Scott interrupted the comeback about to fall from Logan's lips. "Why are you here Buffy?  Not that it's not good to see you, but it's been years.  I know you weren't expecting to see me so something else had to bring you here."

         She looked away for a second.  "A last request.  I'm here to see Marie."

         "Why?" Logan snapped.

         "Personal reasons."  She stared at him, unwilling to let him intimidate her.  She'd faced far scarier things than him and hadn't backed away, she certainly wouldn't now.  Not for some tin man with an attitude.

         Ororo was about to say something when she saw Rogue in the doorway.  She was looking at Buffy.  Her eyes were filling with tears and she was backing away.  Buffy turned around and saw her.  "Marie…"

         "No!" she screamed.  "No, no, no!!!  I won't believe it!  You aren't here!  You're not real!  He's fine and everything's okay and this is just another bad dream!"  She collapsed to the floor, sobbing and Buffy was by her side in an instant. 

         "Don't touch her," Scott warned, wondering what was going on.  Ororo had a look of sorrow on her face and Logan was confused.  He glanced at Storm and raised his eyebrows. 

         "Spike," was all she said.  It was enough.

         Buffy got up and picked up the satchel, taking a small box from it.  She was back by Rogue's side quickly.  The girl was still in tears.  "He wanted you to have this."  She thought Marie would pick it up but the girl was still lost in her own world of grief.  Jean and Professor Xavier could be seen coming down the hall and Buffy stepped back.

         Charles Xavier and Jean Grey looked at Rogue with sorrow.  Her grief was all encompassing.  It seemed to fill the mansion and their minds.  Neither could get a focus on the cause though.  They watched the young girl rock back and forth on the floor.  When her sobbing finally quieted to a soft hiccupping tears, she looked up, reached out and took the box Buffy had set on the floor in her hands.  She opened it slowly, ignoring the looks of everyone watching her.  She lifted out the necklace, watching the light from the room catch on the small glass beads on both sides of a long, pointed blue crystal that was wrapped in a silver design.  The design looked to be a dragon and she remembered telling Spike that dragons fascinated her. 

         Buffy crouched down next to her, a letter in her hand.  "This goes with it."  She rose and stepped back then and Rogue gathered herself up off the floor, taking the box, pendant, and letter with her.  Jean and Ororo went to follow, but she stopped them with a look, continuing up the stairs, leaving a room full of people watching her.

         "What's going on?" Scott asked.  He was very confused.

         Buffy turned to him.  "There's something you need to know…"  This was not going to be an easy conversation.  "You might want to sit down for it.

         "Are you a mutant?"

         "Not quite.  I'm the Slayer.  Or I was.  There used to be only one, me.  Now there's a few hundred scattered all over the world."

         Scott just stared.  "You're a what?"

         Rogue ran her fingertips over the crystal after fastening the clasp around her neck.  The stone was cool and smooth against her skin and it tingled where they met.  Her hands turned the letter over and over between them as she gathered the courage to open it.  Her name was inscribed on the front in handwriting that seemed too neat and perfect for the vampire that she'd known.  She sat down on her bed and slipped her finger under the edge of the flap.  She ripped the envelope open carefully, not wanting to accidentally damage the contents in any way.  She tried hard to control her tears as she pulled the letter out and opened.  Black ink lined the page and she began to read, determined to know his last words for her.

Rogue,

         If you're reading this then I'm gone.  I guess Forever isn't such a long time, even for a vampire.  If it was I would have spent it with you.   I asked Buffy to deliver this to you because I knew it would get there to where you are.  She's persistent like that.  I wish I was near you right now.  I can still feel you sometimes…the way you felt when your skin touched mine.  Heh, I sound like sodding William and we both know I'm no nancy-boy poet, not even with this soul stuffed in here.  I think I'm supposed to say something witty or sappy, but we both know that I'm not either.  So I'll just end this with the only three words I can think of to tell you how much you mean to me.  I love you.  I never knew how it felt to have love returned until you entered

my life.  Thank you. 

         As for the pendant, you need to keep it safe.  I got it from Anya.  I only want the best for you and you deserve to love someone far better than a soulless demon like me.  The pendant will let you.  It will let  you to touch people, safely and without hurting them.  Put it to good use, luv. 

Spike

         She touched the pendant one last time before lying down on her bed.  She was grateful for the gift but would just as soon return it to have him back again.

         "So she fell in love with this vampire…"  That was Jean.  It was the hardest for her to accept.  Everything was about logic and science for her.

         "Spike," Buffy said, giving them his name so they'd stop calling him 'this vampire'.  "And he was pretty easy to love," she said.  'If you're anyone but me,' she thought, finishing the sentence silently in her mind.

         "Spike.  And he died to save the world?"  This came from the Professor who seemed honestly curious about it all.

         Buffy nodded and giggled slightly.  "He destroyed the entire town.  There's nothing but a crater left…."  Laughter trailed off into tears as she thought of her mother and Tara.  Both graves now buried under piles of dirt.  Her house, with all her belongings and memories, was gone.  The hysteria came pouring out and this time Jean and Ororo were allowed to lead the tired slayer to a room for the night.