A/N This is just a one shot fiction, inspired by "A Year Ago Today" by Delta Goodrem, a very talented singer song writer who is only 18 years old and fighting cancer. This is set a year after "Chosen"

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"A Year Ago Today"

May 20th 2004

Buffy walked up the worn stone steps to the Catholic Church on 130th St. She looked behind her making sure she had not been followed. Today was hard enough for her, without the unwanted intrusion of others. She entered the church; it was quiet and dark except for the low whispers of a few lost souls in earnest prayer. She still didn't know why she had felt compelled to come here. Buffy wasn't overly religious, even for someone who had been to heaven.

She forced her feet to walk one in front of the other, up the long narrow aisle towards the altar, a huge wooden cross hung on the far wall, not unlike the one that Spike had draped himself across, that image was burned in her brain as deeply as their last moments together. The coughing of an elderly priest, as he came out of the confessional distracted her from her thoughts.

She walked towards the table, covered in a snow-white cloth; little candles winked at her like stars, each one a mark of someone's loss or remembrance. Sadness clung to her like a second skin, Buffy wondered if the others had remembered what today was, she knew Xander did, he had been unnaturally quiet, that morning at breakfast. Dawn had just walked off to high school, full of the latest 'hot' guy she liked. Giles had gone off to his job at the library at Dawn's high school, like it was just another day.

Buffy came to a stop in front of the candles, first she lit one for her mother, a tear sliding down her face, this was all she had now, there wasn't even a grave to visit, to put flowers upon.

She then picked up another candle, lighting it for Anya, she smiled as she remembered the ex-vengeance demon, she had proven her worth and had gone down fighting, something that Xander had been so proud of.

She lit a third candle and sighed to herself; there had been so many casualties in Sunnydale over the years. Tara's death had almost caused the end of the world, but Buffy could finally understand some of Willows anger, that terrible gut wrenching feeling of despair, when you lose someone you really love….

She stood back to look at the 3 little candles all in a neat row, there was just one more to light, her hand shook slightly as she dipped the final candle in the flame of another. Buffy held it in her hand and looked at it. In those last moments, Spike had shone brighter and truer than a million candles. He was her champion; in those very last days he had been her one light in the darkness. Buffy shook her head, hardly able to see as the tears fell thick and fast, almost blinding her.

It was the first time she had allowed herself to cry, really cry since it had all happened, for a year it had been bottled up inside her, afraid that if she let it out, then he'd really be gone. Buffy lifted her head, looking around the church, she realised that she was the only one left inside, glad of the isolation, and that there was no-one there to witness her weakness.

She sat on one of the aged wooden pews, candle still in hand. The wax was dripping down onto her bare skin, burning her, but she paid no heed to the pain. Buffy looked around as the church doors slammed shut behind her, startled she shot up off her seat.

The church was empty except for her self, but for some strange reason she didn't feel totally alone, the hairs on the back of her neck prickled. Buffy looked down at the little candle in her hands, there was a slight breeze which suddenly came from nowhere and whistled through the church, extinguishing the flame, Buffy looked toward the other candles on the altar, they burned as brilliantly as before.

Buffy looked over her shoulder toward the back of the church, she could hear footsteps, but oddly enough, she felt no fear.

"Who's there?" her tiny voice rang out in the vastness of the vacant church.

No answer.

"I know someone is there, you'd better show yourself," she said more loudly.

Buffy looked wide-eyed as a shapeless mist appeared in the middle of the aisle, slowly taking form. Her gasp echoed through the silence. She felt light headed as she looked at the ghostly apparition.

"Spike?" she asked, before falling onto the floor in a dead faint.

Buffy awoke, not knowing how long she had been out of it, she opened her eyes, taking a few moments to get adjusted to the dim interior, the air around her felt icy cold, and she shivered in the thin white blouse she wore. She wondered how she'd ended up on the floor. Then her eyes widened as they focused on the luminous form resting on the bench, inches from her head.

"Buffy, don't be afraid, I mean you no harm," said Spike gently.

Buffy reached out a hand, but it passed right through him.

"Spike, is that really you?" she asked in wonder.

"Well it's not the bleeding Easter bunny, now is it?" he asked her.

Yep, it was Spike all right; it seemed even a whole year spent where ever he'd been, hadn't ironed out his sarcasm.

"I know this may sound a little ridiculous, but what are you doing here?" she asked.

"Not pleased to see me?" he asked.

"How can you ask me that…" she replied.

He smiled at her sadly.

"Just checking, I asked to see you, I'm pretty popular up there after saving the world and all, they were willing to grant me anything I wanted, except a mortal body, " he said tilting his head to look at her, before looking heavenward.

She continued to look at him absorbing the sight of him, trying to etch his features on her memory, deep enough to last her for the rest of her life.

"Spike, why didn't you let me die in the Hellmouth with you?" she asked.

"There's nothing romantic about suicide pet, besides you are needed here, it's not your time," he told her.

Buffy let the tears fall down her cheeks.

"Don't cry love, I hate to see you cry, always have," he said tenderly.

She wiped her tears away with the back of her hand, she looked at Spike, and he was starting to dissolve.

"Spike! Don't go, what's happening? she asked urgently.

"I can't stay much longer, make me a promise; live that normal life, live it for me, don't look back, I love you, you have to move on, you'll never be alone, when your life gets tough or lonely, just think of me and I'll be there, in your heart, that way I will never be dead to you," he said, starting to sound far away.

" I promise," she sobbed, "but make me a promise in return,"

"Anything for you, Buffy," he replied.

"When my time comes, promise me that you'll be the one who comes for me," she said urgently.

"Of course, but that won't be for many years yet, Buffy you have a wonderful life ahead of you," he replied, starting to fade out all together.

"Spike, I love you, I really do," she said solemnly.

Buffy felt icy invisible fingers caress her face.

"I know," came the whisper.

Buffy picked up Spike's candle that she had dropped on the floor, it sputtered back to life, Buffy placed it along side the other three candles she had previously lit.

"Goodbye my love, for now," she said.

Buffy looked up in surprise as she saw Giles, Dawn, Willow and Xander all standing there, silently regarding her.

"Hi guys, what are you doing here?" asked Buffy in surprise.

"As if we wouldn't remember what the day was," said Dawn, slightly reprovingly.

Dawn came forward and hugged her sister.

Giles looked at Buffy "You'll never be alone Buffy," he told her.

"Yeah, I know, let's get out of here," she said remembering Spike's words as she turned and walked from the church, arm in arm with her friends.

A Year Ago Today- By Delta Goodrem

Another year older

A little bit stronger

A little bit wiser than a year ago today.

Looking over my shoulder,

I was so much younger then,

I can't believe what happened a year ago, today.

And I just forget about it,

It wouldn't mean a thing,

You went away,

A year ago today.

Another year gone by,

Oh the tears have run dry,

Life seemed so unkind,

A year ago today.

And I just can't understand it,

And I don't think I ever will,

You went away,

A year ago today.

And how many times have I questioned myself,

What more could I do,

And how many times did I fool myself,

About my love for you.

You've gotta pick yourself up,

Take another look,

And dust yourself off cause life's not too good,

I'll say it to myself and I'll say it again,

Love will never end.

And though we're so far apart,

You're forever in my heart.

Another year older,

A little bit stronger,

On this anniversary,

You're watching over me.

You went away,

A year ago today.

You left me,

A year ago today.

May 20th 2064

Buffy lay in the hospital bed, with her family all around her. She could feel her life slowly ebbing away, but she was not afraid. She'd been waiting for this for far too long. She had done as she'd promised all those years ago, she had lived her life just as he'd asked her to; she was half way between mortality and eternity. Buffy gave Willow one last look, Willow smiled at her sadly.

"Go to him, he's waiting," said Willow softly.

Buffy squeezed her friend's hand and smiled a beautiful smile at a vacant corner of the room, her son looked at her, a puzzled expression on his face.

"What is it mom?" asked her son.

"Did I ever tell you that William means protector?" Buffy asked.

Her son frowned. Buffy smiled once more at the corner of the room, and closed her eyes for the last time. A final sigh escaped her lips. Willow touched the worn cheek of her best friend.

"He came for her," said Willow.

"Who did?" asked Buffy's son.

"Her William, she'd been waiting for him all her life," sighed Willow sadly, as her tears fell.

Buffy held out her hand and Spike pulled her up off the bed.

"Where next?" she asked.

"Why home of course," he said as he gently kissed her with lips that felt warm and alive.

THE END