Title: If I don't make it.
Author: Emily
Rating: PG 13
Category: B/A.
Summary: "Know that I've loved you all along"
Spoilers/timeline: Set early S7 in some huge end of days battle.

{We are all who we were, no matter how much we may appear to have changed}

{It's blood. Blood screaming inside you to work it's will.}

{One day she'll tell you}

{And if I don't make it know that I've loved you all along}

{Everything is turning out so dark}

{And you'll be in love until it kills you both}

It's always darkest before dawn. A robot girl told me that once. Looking back, it seems so long ago. Things were simpler then. My mom was alive, Spike was just a pain in the ass vampire and I thought I had things together. And once, much longer ago, it was even simpler than that. I had things together. I had my mother, I had my friends. I had Angel who I loved as simply and fiercely as anyone could love anyone and he loved me back in that same way. Yeah, things were together then. At the time I thought they were far from perfect but now that I look back on those days I know they were the most perfect ones I've ever had. Not perfect, no, but the closest to perfect that I've had. I've never believed I could have perfect anyway. Having perfect would be having normal and I've always been far from normal.

Now things are far from being together or perfect and it's so very dark. I'm hoping this means the dawn is gonna come any minute now and make everything okay again. Not just my life but everyone else's. It's finally come down to that final battle I never really expected to have to fight and I haven't felt such a weight on my shoulders since the night I dived a perfect swan dive off a tower. That night, and the night I drove a sword through my only love are the ones which come to mind now. Those were the nights I sacrificed so much for the world and tonight, maybe I'll have to do the same again.

The circumstances are so changed now though. I can't look at Angel anymore because he's standing there with Cordelia and I can't look at Spike either because he loves me and I...I don't love him. Never have. Oh, I tried a little after he came back with a soul but it just failed. I couldn't make myself love someone just because I felt it was the right thing to do. See, it is the right thing to do. He's tortured and in pain and maybe I could get rid of some of that pain if I just lied and told him I loved him. I can't though, I can't and I won't and that's all there is to that.

He hurts, so what? We all hurt. Every day in so many different ways. For the longest time I told myself that he hurt because of me. Because he got that soul for me. That's how he put it and naturally I felt guilty. Now I've realised that him hurting, it's not my fault. He got the soul for me, because of me but I never asked him to go and get that soul. I never asked him to try and rape me on my bathroom floor or to guilt himself into getting a soul afterwards. That was him, all him and it's not my fault.

If he loves me....and I suppose I shouldn't doubt that he loves me after all he's done but I do. His love seems so far removed from my previous encounter with love that I don't understand or recognise it as love - and I don't want to. I don't want love to be fucking against cold walls or clawing hands in a bathroom. I don't want love to be dramatic bodies sprawled on crosses and I don't want it to be one sided. Nothing I've shared with him has ever reminded me of love. When I think of love, I think of kisses on my windowsill, eyes locking through smoke and desperate skin on skin. That was love. Whatever it is that I have with him, it's not love. And, if he really does love me as much as he claims to then he should accept that I don't love him back. He should seek out his own redemption for whatever other reasons he can find for it. If he loves me, then he won't pin this all on me and he'll let me go. Because, isn't that the ultimate love? Loving someone enough to leave. Not coming back and causing yet more pain. Loving someone enough to let them go. I loved Angel enough to let him go and he loved me enough to let me go but Spike won't let me go and I don't think that makes him a better man than Angel or his love stronger than Angel's. Maybe it only makes him weaker.

And there was a time when Spike was just a pain in the ass vampire I think, forcing a smile. I wish I could return to that simpler time but I really can't. Spike is saying my name and I have to turn to face him and walk a little away from the group with him. I see Angel glance quickly in our direction before turning away. His silhouette is perfect in the moonlight, he's so beautiful it hurts and I blink back tears. Yeah we all hurt but I have to say this.

"Buffy...I love you" Spike tells me hoarsely, his eyes pleading with mine.

"I'm sorry" I say softly and he doesn't want my pity and my apologies. He wants a bold, dramatic and unrestrained love that he should know I never even came close to giving him. I gave that love away a long time ago and it doesn't happen twice. Call me a bitch, call me cruel, but I can't lie to him, not even now. And that, that would be crueller than any truth I could tell him.

Now, I tell him the truth. It might hurt him but he has the right to know. It might hurt him more if he didn't know. I hesitate before I speak. " Do you remember telling me that Angel and I would be in love until it killed us both?" I don't know what I'm saying, I didn't mean to bring Angel into this but now I'm realising something. Something important, I should have known by the way he glanced in my direction and by the way tears pricked at my eyes when I saw the way he stood in the dark. "I think...I think you were right. Spike, that's the most profound thing you've ever said to me. You were right, and it may kill us yet, but I think we have to try again. See if it does. And I'm sorry. I'm sorry you loved me and I couldn't love you back. Maybe if things had been different I would have." I say with a faint shrug. "I...I don't know if it helps or means anything, but I forgive you." He knows what I'm talking about and I know what I'm doing - I remember Giles telling me why we had to forgive and Giles was right. You don't forgive someone because you want to, you forgive someone because you need to. They need it and you need it and then you move on.

He forces a faintly crooked grin onto his face and slowly says "It doesn't help but it...it means something."

I force a faint smile of my own before rushing away from him. It's selfish of me but I don't wanna see his pain, I can't deal with that now. Cordelia looks my way with open curiosity on her face as I return to the group and Angel takes the opportunity to look at me too.

It's then that something I never expected happens. His eyes lock with mine in the exact same way they did when he left me and in the same way they did all those times at the Bronze. They lock with mine and we don't need to talk about it. We don't need to explain what's happened in the time we've been apart and make excuses for our mistakes in that time. Even after everything, after heaven and hell and the world falling down around us, after everything we're still the same. Still as hopelessly, perfectly flawed as ever. I wanna laugh or cry or kiss him till I'm out of breath. I don't need to tell him that I love him. It's right there for him to see and I'm not crazy, I can see the same thing in his eyes. Slowly my lips curve in a slight smile - because some things really don't change do they? - and he smiles back at me before we go into battle. I'll laugh and I'll cry and I'll kiss him silly when this is all over. And it will be over. The dawn must be coming, I'm sure of it.