Title: Too Late The Dream

Rating: PG for language and violence

Spoilers: AU story set between 6th and 7th season

Feedback: May be provided here or sent to aeryncrichton@hotmail.com

Pairings: Buffy / Spike

Subject: Story told first person from Buffy's POV, thoughts on pain, life and death.

I looked up to the somber sky, relieved only by pinpricks like silvery dots and sighed. It was the second new moon since Spike's disappearance from Sunnydale and as much as I hated the feeling and wanted to simply deny it, I missed him.

He'd hurt me, frightened me... shocked me with the brutality of his rage and attempted assault, but I knew that to some extent I'd driven Spike to those extremes. There was no way to excuse what Spike had tried to do, but I could see how appalled he was at his own actions, when he realized what he'd almost done to me.

I pushed Spike away, again and again. And each time I did, it was like driving a stake into my own heart.

Somehow, I never gave a thought to what would happen when he stopped coming back. How empty my life would be without Spike walking beside me, that leather duster of his flapping in the wind. No one sniping at me, while they watched my back, as I patrolled each night.

After all, what did I give Spike but pain and endless heartache? I derided him. Told him he was beneath me. I took his devotion to me for granted and gave him nothing in return, but unendurable, relentless suffering.

The reality was I didn't believe that I deserved anyone's devotion, much less love... not even Spike's. I was unworthy. Unclean. I'd been ripped up out of the earth to take my place once again at the head of the battle against evil, so how could I deserve anyone's affection?

Besides which, he'd proved he didn't care enough. Hadn't he? Spike had walked away. Like every other man in my life. Angel had left, then Riley, then Giles and finally Spike. Of course the first man to walk away was my own father. His desertion still ripped me to shreds with the ferocity of a carefully honed blade wielded with surgical precision.

Each one that followed hollowed me out just a little bit more. Leaving me a little less willing to trust, to feel, to hope for the love that I knew was out there. Just not for me. Never for me, at least not for more than a heartbeat, or so it seemed; until it was ripped away.

Sometimes I thought that if I could see my heart, all that would be left would be tattered bits tied together with string. That's why it was too hard to admit that I might have feelings for him.

But no. How could I? After what he'd done? Or nearly done. Tried to do...

Still, perversely I didn't want him gone. Yet he was. Without a backward glance.

Why was it so easy for him to leave? But why wouldn't it be. It seemed to be for every other man who left me. They didn't look back either. All of them simply left me... alone.

None of them seemed to realize that I need someone too. That being The Slayer is a hard job to accept, a hard mantle to take up without anyone to lean on.

Sure, a Watcher was there to teach me, train me and even watch my back upon occasion. Still, there came a time when even he left me. Told me it was for my own good. That I needed to lead and with him there... but didn't he understand that I needed him then and now. That he'd become like a father to us, after our own practically abandoned both Dawn and myself when my calling began to upset my parent's well ordered life.

But without someone to love, what is life?

I love Dawn. She's my little sister. I gave my life to protect her. I'll always love her. But she's going to have a life. A real life. Not like mine.

I always knew that my life would be cut short. By a vampire. Or a demon. Or maybe simply one apocalypse too many.

But not by something as prosaic as an accident. And a stupid car accident at that.

Then again, I was the last person who should have gotten behind the wheel. I'm just glad that no one else was in the car with me. Or maybe I'd have killed more than just myself.

Maybe Spike was right. It's probably true. All Slayers do have a death wish. We know its coming and being ready for it is one way of accepting its inevitability.

Wanting, needing to have it wash over me. And since I'd already died more than once, I was no longer afraid of it. I was more than ready.

My only regret would be leaving Dawn, not seeing what she made of her life. Watching her graduate from High School and then from college. Being there when she got married, and had her children. But I always feared that being around to see her do any of those things was a pipe dream.

Okay. I'd still have one more regret. Spike.

I never told him how I felt, when I had the chance. And now, I never will.

My blood will pool, congeal and harden, all the while my feelings for Spike will remain unspoken. And oh, how I wish I could have moved past my friend's censure... their fear. Because if I had, maybe we could have been happy.

I took what could and should have been beautiful between us and only allowed it to be hard, harsh and sometimes even ugly. Then I threw it in Spike's face. Told him that I'd used him, never felt anything for him. When nothing could have been farther from the truth. Except that I couldn't reveal my real feelings. Not to him. Because then I would have been vulnerable, to the same hurt, the same pain that I saw reflected in Spike's eyes.

Sometimes I think he knew that I was lying. That there was so much more between us.

I think, dream really, about what could have been if I wasn't so afraid.

We could have had a life together, even if it was doomed to be short-lived. Spike and I could have laughed, loved and teased one another. And besides us, I know that would have made Dawn happy. She could see how lonely I was. And there were times when I think she knew Spike and his feelings for me far better than I ever did.

Now I'll never know. Because I can feel the lifeblood draining from me. And no ambulance will be able to pull me out of this shattered hulk and put me back together in time.

No matter now that my heart cries out for Spike and a second chance. It's too late.

As the darkness closes around me, I can almost imagine that I hear the flapping of Spike's leather jacket coming nearer. But it can't be. He's gone and along with him the dreams, like sweet whispers in the night of what might have been.

My mind has conjured a sweet mirage before me. As I struggle to keep my eyes open for another brief moment, I reach out to caress the pale white cheek and platinum hair. "Spike, I love you," I whisper and then I see and hear no more.

The End

Feedback would be much appreciated. And if you'd like a sequel, I've got some ideas of how a sequel might be written from Spike's POV. If you'd like a sequel, I need to hear from you.