Disclaimer: It's not mine…

Summary: Dawn finds a letter meant for Spike (Set after "The Gift")…


Spoilers: Post "The Gift"

Rating: PG

Author's Notes: It's AU after the gift… Not really spoilery… It takes place something like 15 years in the future… I think I mentioned it in the story, but I'm not really sure… Dawn's all grown up and has a family, and Spike has been grieving Buffy's loss since the day she died…

The story's probably not real good. I wasn't really satisfied with it, but I got sick of revising it, so I gave in and decided to post it…


Distribution: If ya want it, take it, just give me credit… And, if ya could, let me know where it's going.

Feedback: You can send it to brock3005@aol.com or otownfan1520@yahoo.com.

~*~*~*~

The Letter:

Spike,

I pray that one day you will find this. I know I cannot walk away from this fight with my life… I will die in our final battle against Glory. Death is my gift. I know this. Know it means my end. It has to…

Even I don't know how much longer I could have lived like this… Sacrificing everything that means anything to me . Letting go of all those I love. Watching them die horrible, gruesome deaths… At my hands. And they are, you know? Every time one of them dies, it's because of me. Because I have allowed them to be there; in the fight… My fight.

I understand that I no longer have anything to offer you… Nothing other than the consolation that I do feel something… I believe it may be love. Honestly, I have never felt anything like it in the past… Not even for Angel. Yes, he was my first love. But not my only. I was a child with Angel. I am a woman now… Forced to mature to a level far beyond my years… I finally see you... See your love. That it's honest and true. Even without a soul, you have managed to become better than most humans… Your heart is so much stronger than your demon.

I have fallen in love with you.

More than anything, I hope that one day you will read this and understand. I know you, and I know that, with my death, your heart will break. As will mine… Because I will never be granted the opportunity to tell you face to face. To see the emotion swimming in those stunning blue eyes when you hear the words I so long to speak; to whisper in your ear. But I will never be allowed such liberties.

And because of this, I can do nothing more than hope that you will not welcome the sunlight; the door to oblivion… Not before you have had the chance to read this. Not before you know. Because I need you to know. You are my everything. You have done so much for me in the past… Kept me safe when no other could.

One day, we will once again be together; complete… I cannot know when this day will come. Nor can you. But one day… One day you will find me. I know you will… Because you must. Without you I am nothing. I don't know where I will end up. How can I? But wherever it is; Heaven or not, I could never be happy without you with me; by my side.

I know I should tell you… But I also know I won't. I would never have the courage… And with my end coming so soon? Would it honestly be better for you if you knew now? Maybe it would be… But I don't think I can do that to you. Offer you everything you've been begging me to give, only to rip it from your life when the day comes that I can no longer put off the inevitable. You deserve better than that… Better than me. But I have you. I hold your heart in my hands… And you hold mine.

For as long as I have you, I will cherish you… Love you for everything that you are and everything that you will one day be.

I will see you again. You will find your way home to me. I know nothing of Heaven, but I do know that in that one perfect moment, when my lips touched yours, it was as close as I could ever manage while still on this earth. You are everything to me. You are my savior; my love…

Never give up… Never let go…

I love you, Spike…

Love Always,

Buffy

~*~*~*~

Silent tears streaked down the young woman's cheeks as she stared disbelievingly at the faded, wrinkled letter she held in her trembling hands. All color had drained from her face as she read; the pale crimson lipstick she wore suddenly appearing far too bright for her features. After a short moment, as the shock she was feeling had worn off just a bit, she ran a trembling hand through her perfectly straight, chestnut-colored hair.

Dawn was heartbroken… He had never gotten the letter. Buffy had poured her heart out to the man she'd loved with every bit of her heart and soul, and he had never gotten the chance to read it. He would never know…

For fifteen years after Buffy had passed, Spike had managed to drag himself out of bed every night he awoke, and had never once given in to the heart wrenching pain that had begged him to step out into the bright morning sun.

He had been living in the Summer's home since the day she had died. After watching how broken he had become after seeing the Slayer's broken and lifeless body lying among the rubble, she had known immediately that leaving him to his crypt would mean his end… And it would have, had she let it.

But instead, Dawn and the rest of the gang had managed to get the hysterical bleached vampire back to the Summers house. He had cried for days, as had she; both grieving the loss of the most incredible woman either had ever known. It was during those nights that she had truly seen how much love and compassion he had held for her sister. Buffy had been his world. He had nothing with her gone.

But he had pulled himself through… For Dawn's sake. He had refused to ignore the promise he had made to Buffy…

After a couple of years, Giles had come to him, offering him a gift Spike never before would have believed possible… His soul. Without a second thought, Spike had agreed. And he had been granted his soul. This, however, simply provided to make matters worse, as all the remorse and guilt over what he had done in the past and memories of the man he had been had gotten the best of him. And yet, this only seemed to strengthen his hold on this world. The world without Buffy… Because now his guilt and pain over the loss of the Slayer had become magnified by his newly acquired soul. He had sworn to protect her, and he had every intention of keeping that promise…

Until only hours ago, when she had watched with teary eyes as he slowly turned to dust before her, when he had walked out the door to wait for the first sunrise he had seen in over a hundred years. And the last he would ever see. He had finally let go… But he had never broken his promise.

He had gone, because Dawn no longer needed protection. Only a few days earlier, the Hellmouth had been closed. For good. No demons remained in Sunnydale. No threat to Dawn or her family. His sworn promise had been fulfilled. Finally, he could find peace in death…

So the night before, he had kissed Dawn's twin girls goodbye for the last time, said his goodbyes to her husband, and then taken her into his arms as she cried like she had the night she had lost her sister. And in the final moments before the sun rose, he had pulled away, kissed her forehead softly, and made her promise never to forget him. Then, finally, he had placed a gentle hand on her swollen stomach and said his final goodbyes to the child she was now carrying; the child he would never know. And for a moment, she knew that he was debating with himself. A very large part of his heart was pleading with him to stay. To watch Dawn's children grow. To be there to watch them all grow…

But he couldn't stay. They both knew it. The pain he had felt with Buffy's death had ripped into his heart; leaving a large, hollow gap that could be filled by nothing and no one who was not Buffy Summers. And as the years had past, it had only grown larger; slowly but surely. Soon he would have been nothing more than a hollow shell… And even his death would be easier to deal with than the other…

So she had let him go… And not long afterward, her young daughter had come down from the attic, hugging an old photo album, and begging her mother to show her the old pictures… Pictures of the old Scooby gang… And there, toward the back of the album, was one lone picture of Buffy with Spike. One she remembered snapping when the entire Scooby gang had dropped by the house, including Spike, in order to discuss the Glory issue. That night, they had all ended up being far too exhausted to last long, and everyone but Dawn had fallen fast asleep within the first hour… Buffy resting snugly against Spike; both seemingly more peaceful than they had ever looked before.

And there, tucked away between two of the album pages; those closest to the snapshot of the sleeping vampire and Slayer, lay an old, folded sheet of crumpled paper… A letter from Buffy to Spike. A letter written sometime between the torture he endured at the hands of Glory and the time of Buffy's death… A letter that expressed an eternally undying love that Dawn could only imagine…

And he had never gotten the chance to read it…

But even as the salty tears flowed freely from her eyes, somehow she knew… Buffy was right. Spike would find his way home… He would find her. He would find her, and they would finally be together the way they were supposed to be… Together for eternity.

And at that moment, she finally decided on a name for her son… William.

~*~*~*~

After watching over the young woman still in the Summers home for a few moments, as a means of assurance that Dawn would be alright, the couple turned to one another… They knew that she would finally be alright… Safe and happy.

Buffy's hand caught Spike's, and she pulled him from the scene… Turning; his hand still locked in hers, she lead him away… Into paradise. The paradise they had created together; for Heaven was nothing more than their idealistic view of their former lifes.

There, waiting for them, was Joyce… And one day, soon enough, Dawn and her family would once again be with them, along with all the others… One day, their family would once again be complete.

But for now, Buffy was content to stand, wrapped in her love's arms; her mother standing beside them, as they watched over Dawn and the beautiful family the young woman had created…

~*~*~*~