By Jenevieve

Summary: Buffy/Spike fanfic. Mostly Buffy's POV. Three years after the series finale and Buffy has finally decided she is ready to move forward with her life. Includes my version of what happened to everyone after the First was defeated and the series ended.

Rating: PG-PG13 for mild sexual references and general romantic sappiness.

Disclaimer: I sadly do not own any of the characters. They are all the wonderful creations from the wacky mind of Joss Whedon, and I am only taking advantage of my love of the show to play with them for a little while. Also song lyrics at the end are from "Everything" by Lifehouse (a wonderful band).

Spoilers: Buffy Series Finale, Season 7 ep. "Chosen".

Dedicated: To Jen (spikebuffy), who was this story's original fan and whose encouragement convinced me to get it posted.


"I love you."

Her voice was barely audible over the sound of the world crashing down around them. The ground shook violently and she felt her footing slip but still she hung on. Hung on to his hand, the heatless golden flames twisting out from between their entwined fingers. It was strange, she thought, to be touching fire but feeling no pain. Her eyes never left his face, staring deeply, fearfully into the deep blue pools of his eyes. He winced ever so slightly in pain, a mischievous smile playing with the ends of his lips as it so often did at the most inappropriate times.

"No you don't. But thanks for saying it."

She awoke with a start, her left hand gripping a handful of the bed sheets beneath her. A dream. That's all it was, just another dream. For a moment she watched her hand continued to grasp the wad of soft white cotton, feeling it between her fingers. It had warmed slightly from her own heat and the way in which she gripped it tightly. How odd, she thought, but in a way the warmth of the fabric reminded her of how his hand had felt that last time. Instead of its usual cold lifelessness, it had held a strange and subtle warmth. Perhaps the warmth of his soul.

Slowly she released the sheets and rose from her bed. The room suddenly felt stifling, and she quickly threw open the large window near her bed. A gentle breeze instantly began to flow in, rippling the long white curtains and swirling their folds around her bare legs. She leaned quietly into the moonlight that spilled in through the open window, her arms resting against the window frame above her head. Below her the city glittered in the deep ebony of the night. Off to her left she could see Tokyo Tower, illuminated like some misplaced lighthouse that had become landlocked, unable to provide guiding comfort to ships or sailors who had lost their way.

Lost their way. The thought resounded in her mind. She sighed and closed her eyes, resting her forehead against the cool pane of the window.

It had been three years. Three long years since she had last beheld his soulful eyes, his bleached hair. Three years since she'd felt his touch; so tender, so intimate, yet so tentative and uncertain, more like that of a boy just becoming a man, green and hopeful, not the touch of a man who had already lived two lifetimes. Three years since her life had changed forever...since the closing of the Sunnydale Hellmouth.

After it was over they had lingered in the town for about a week, allowing the injured to rest. Anya's body had been lost, but they had held a small ceremony in her honor, a ceremony for all those who had died in the fight, including him. Slowly as the days had passed, people began to return to the town. The official word was that Sunnydale had been rocked by a 7.5 earthquake and all the experts and general public seemed to write off all the strange events prior as simply precursors of the great quake. Yet deep down inside she knew most of them knew the truth, but it was only human nature to believe the fabrications. The truth was something no one wanted when the reality of it was something far more terrifying than the lies. She had been guilty of that many times over. She still was in many ways. And so life had begun again in Sunnydale, a new life for all of them.

In the weeks that followed there was much to do, and little time for her to think about words left unsaid. They had to figure out how best to organize and contact all the new slayers. There was a whole new world opening up to so many women around the globe and it was their job now to welcome them into it. Faith had decided to take Robin and a few of the girls and head east, beginning the search there. The rest headed to London, to begin development of a new Watchers Council. After all, the new slayers would need new watchers, and this time around, Giles was determined to make the Council what it should have always have been: a place of knowledge, of teaching, in essence a welcoming haven. The new Council would be a culmination of all mystical texts and a resource through which slayers and watchers could get Intel quickly. No more riddles and lies, no more tests and antiquated rules. No, this time the Council would work for the slayers and not the other way around.

Willow had stayed for a time, assisting Giles in any way she could, but eventually she felt the need to leave. Her powers now surpassed that of any other living witch, yet her internal battles continued despite all the progress she had made. With the First defeated, it was now her time to focus her energies on herself and allow herself to finally and completely embrace all that she was and all that she wanted to be. So one particularly foggy London morning, Kennedy and Willow said goodbye and headed down to South America to begin a new life. But as they walked down the steps to the waiting taxi, Willow had turned and walked back up to Xander. With a kiss on his eye patch she gave him her parting gift, the gift of sight. Though she could not physically restore his eye she was able to produce a visible illusion, so to anyone passing by, Xander would appear to have two normal eyes. At the same time, the spell she cast gave him a type of fore-sight, which, in a way, restored the sight lost in his injured eye. It had reduced Xander to tears.

Time had continued to pass, and more and more of the girls who had relied on her for so long to protect them found their own paths and went their separate ways. Still she, Xander, Andrew, and Dawn had continued to assist Giles with locating and helping new girls and watchers each day. It was only on rare occasions, in the dark of night or when she was out alone on patrol, that she allowed herself to think of him and all that had been.

Eventually, even Xander said goodbye, deciding that it was finally time for him to try life on his own. His departure had been particularly hard for her; after all, it wasn't everyday that one had to say goodbye to their best friend, their rock. But she had, and they had, and soon there were only four of them left.

The breeze picked up a bit, causing goose bumps to form on her bare arms and legs. She shivered slightly but remained where she was, her eyes watching the shadowy streets below. She knew they were out there, even here in Japan. They were always out there - the dark things of the world, the evil that she was charged with vanquishing. It had seemed so simple at first. Good versus evil, slayer versus vampire, one battle after another, just tiny ripples in the great cosmic struggle to maintain balance. But then things had changed. The lines once so clearly defined had blurred. Vampires with souls, vampires who loved humans, vampires who loved her, vampires willing to work on her side and at her side, and a vampire who had chosen to reclaim his soul for her; a sacrifice she had never fully understood in all it's magnitude, at least not then.

"Where do I go now?" she whispered softly to the night wind.


"I love you."

"No you don't. But thanks for saying it."

Again the dream. Again she woke to find herself somewhere else, far away from him, far away from his eyes and his touch. She squinted in the glaring sunlight that streamed in through the airplane window, boring its way between her half-opened eye lids. Quickly she pulled her sunglasses down from the top of her head. The tinted lenses were a welcome relief from the sharp sun, and she sighed with contentment. Yawning, she stretched her arms and glanced down at the CD player, sitting in her lap. The CD she had been listening to was long over, and the small digital clock on the player's screen blinked 8:14 a.m. She'd been asleep for only 2 hours, but then again, the Chosen needed little rest to get by; just another perk of the whole slayer package. Reaching into her carry-on she pulled out a new CD, popped it in and settled back against the window, staring out at the bright blue sky around her. As the music started she found her mind wandering back in time.

Andrew had turned out to be a greater asset then she could have ever imagined. Perhaps it was a result of all that he had seen in the year he spent with them battling the First, or perhaps he truly had a change of heart after Jonathan's death. Whatever it was he proved to be the biggest help to Giles. As the Council in London had grown, Andrew had quickly taken over more and more administrative tasks, freeing up some much needed time for Giles. His ability to recall the most inconsequential pieces of information turned out to be quite helpful, though he still retained his obsession with quoting the more annoying aspects of pop-culture. In fact, by the time she herself had decided to leave Andrew had begun formal training as a watcher. It never ceased to amaze her the little ironies life unveils sometimes.

Dawn, too, had become deeply involved in the Council, though she had finally begun a new year at a local high school. It had been Dawn who had approached Giles about writing his entry about the battle with the First. Though the task of recording the battles and experiences of a slayer typically fell to the slayer's watcher, Dawn received the okay from Giles. Perhaps it was for the best. Dawn's affection for all involved allowed for a more accurate account, something Giles' distain for a particular vampire could have affected. The story she described was beautiful, and when it was finished it became an integral part of the formal history of the slayer. So detailed and powerful were Dawn's words that though it had happened less than a year prior, it had the aura of a legend. From Dawn's work, her sister had come to be known as the greatest slayer of all time, the slayer who had taken back, from the men who had created the Line of the Slayer, choice, freedom, and above all, control of one's destiny. No longer was one girl bound to a destiny that could only end with her death, but instead there was a family of them, a community in which one could find support, camaraderie, and the ability to have a more normal life. She had been truly touched by Dawn's words, even if she felt her role was far less than what the young girl had made it out to be. She had not done it alone. They had all helped, especially Willow, especially him. Her champion.

".....please prepare for landing."

The last few words of the voice on the intercom brought her back to reality, interrupting her thoughts.

"What am I doing?" she whispered to the sprawling city below. She wasn't sure, but as she approached her destination, she found her will wavering under her own self-doubt, and uncertainty.


"No you don't. But thanks for saying it."


"Hmm?" she blinked at the tall man before her, his voice bringing her back from the world she had momentarily slipped back into. His world.

"Your taxi, miss." The man tilted his head towards the yellow cab behind him as he held the door open to her.

"Yes, oh, I'm sorry," she blushed as she climbed in.

"You have no other luggage?" He raised a thick graying eyebrow as he eyed the battered leather backpack she had slung over her shoulder.

"No, that's all."

"Very good then." He firmly closed the door behind her and rounded the car. "Where to?" he smiled as he climbed into the driver seat and tipped the mirror down so he could see her face.

"Corner of 5th and Pine." It was one address she knew by heart.

The driver nodded, flipped on his meter, and pulled out into traffic.

Alone with only her thoughts again, she stared out at the traffic around her. Memories began to rise before her eyes as she watched the city rush by; her mind traveling back to January, two years before.

It had been just after New Year's when she decided to leave. It was time. For the first time in her life she felt like the world around her was finally slowing down, slowing down to give her the chance she had always hoped for; the chance to be a normal girl. Giles had promised to take care of Dawn and let her finish high school in one place. With multiple slayers around, the threat of any impending apocalypses, was no longer her primary concern. It was finally time for her to go it alone. The thought of it had struck her as ironic. As the sole slayer, she had been alone most of her life, isolated in ways that no normal person could ever understand. And now, she was choosing to go it alone, but this time it was for her to decide and not because of what she was. This time she would really be able to find out who she really was.

She had had no specific plan, and had only taken a few items with her. At her parting, Giles had given her the scythe.

"It belongs to the slayer. It belongs to you."

She was truly grateful to him for the gesture. Then there was Mr. Gordo and a picture of her, Xander, and Willow from freshman year of high school. The Scooby Gang, her friends. Then there was Mr. Pointy. Even as she held the old dusty stake she could hear Kendra's voice floating over the wind. She had always taken comfort in that. All those years alone as the slayer, she never quite felt that alone when she held Mr. Pointy; she could feel Kendra within it, around her. There had been a few other odds and ends, including the claddagh ring Angel had given to her long ago; the symbol of first love and things that time could not erase nor change.

She had traveled the world, moving from country to country, experiencing life at 24. She dated and danced; saw famous works of art and history, things perhaps she would never fully appreciate, but she saw them anyway. She turned 25 while visiting Willow and Kennedy in Argentina, laughing and reminiscing of days golden and not yet forgotten. She tracked down Xander in New York and found Faith and Robin in New Orleans. She turned 26 while on a plane crossing the Pacific on a flight from Australia to China, celebrating quietly with a small glass of champagne. Two years had gone by so fast and she had finally been able to do and see all she had ever dreamed of, and she had done it alone. It had felt good to be so self-sufficient, surprising herself every day with what she was capable of. There had been incidents along the way. After all, a slayer still has responsibilities, but they were nothing she couldn't handle.

Yet through it all she still did not feel complete. Something inside was still missing and she had struggled with what it was. It was only in Tokyo, halfway around the world staring out at the gleaming lights of Tokyo Tower, that she had begun to understand. It was time. She was finally done being just herself, being alone. She was finally done baking. She was cookies.

The cab pulled up to the large brick-fronted apartment building. She silently paid the fare and stood staring up at the building's somewhat formidable façade as the taxi pulled off. This was it. This was the first step, and shouldering her bag she headed up the front steps and rang the doorbell.

"Hi Wesley. Is Angel in?"


"...thanks for saying it."

"Angel," she smiled as she saw his dark figure enter from a back room.

"Buffy." His brows were furrowed with confusion; then again they often were furrowed. Perhaps that's what happens after a hundred years of brooding, your face forgets how not to look serious or sad.

"I figured it was about time," she replied, a bit more cheery than she had intended. "How have you been?"

He eyed her for a few moments in silence then gestured for them to sit on an overstuffed black leather couch. Always with the black, she caught herself thinking. What is it with vampires and black?

"Fine," he replied stiffly, still staring at her strangely. She smiled back and he seemed to soften. "It's been a long time."

"Yeah, I know." She glanced down at her hands. "There was just so much to do. So many things I had to do." She glanced back up at him. "Do you remember our conversation, the night you brought me the talisman?"

He nodded. "Of course."

"Remember my little analogy about me being cookie dough and needing to be baked before I could let someone enjoy yummy cookie me?"

Angel just stared at her.

"Well I'm cookies now," she rushed on, feeling slightly self-conscious under his gaze.

"So what does this mean?" He leaned towards her now; a look she had not seen in a long time seemed to flicker in his eyes.

A pang of guilt ran through her, but she took a deep breath and continued on. "I'm ready to share myself with someone, Angel. I'm ready to love and be loved, and to do it the right way, the way it should really be done."

His eyes bore into her. "And who is he?"

Reaching into her pocket she pulled out the ring he had given her so long ago, the token she had clung to even after he had walked out of her life forever. Slowly she rose and stood before him. "It's time I returned this to you."

Her words hung like a fog in the room. She felt herself holding her breath awaiting the pain she would see in those dark eyes of his. For a moment he just stared at the small golden ring lying in the palm of his hand. Gently he lifted it between his thumb and forefinger, rolling it back and forth. Finally after what seemed like ages, he looked up into her eyes, and she was surprised to see happiness mingled in with some sadness.

Tenderly he placed the ring back in her hand and closed her fingers over it. "Keep it. It was a gift."

She swallowed hard. "Angel," she started.

"It's alright," he interrupted, his voice soft and velvety. He was always so gentle with her. "No explanation needed." He reached out and touched the side of her face ever so tentatively. "I think from the moment we had that conversation that night in the cemetery I knew you would not be coming back for me."

She swallowed hard again, tears welling up in her eyes. She did not deserve such understanding. They sat together in silence for a few more moments, Angel's hand still gently touching the side of her face, so many emotions and words unsaid passing between their eyes.

Finally Angel rose. "He'll be in the cemetery tonight, around midnight. He always goes there when he thinks no one's looking, to look at the stars." Again Angel reached for her face, gently brushing a stand of her hair away from her eyes. As he did a smile suddenly crept across his lips. "I guess dead or alive you can't take the poet out of the man."

"Thank you, Angel." She whispered against his hair as she stood on tiptoes, hugging him tightly around the neck.

"Be careful," he replied softly.

"I will."


You are the strength that keeps me walking,

You are the hope that keeps me trusting,

You are the life to my soul,

You are my purpose,

You are my everything.

Her watch glowed 12:00 am. Midnight, just as Angel had said. She stood partially concealed by the shadow of a large weeping willow tree, beside the small pond in the center of the cemetery. Around her, the smooth faces of the tombstones reflected the full moon, illuminating the cemetery grounds. A slight wind had begun to blow and it carried the scent of fresh cut flowers, grass, and death. But then again, death and decay were smells she no longer really noticed.

As she watched the shadows of the willow's leaves dance across the face of a nearby stone, she saw the dark figure move into the moonlight. He was a good fifty feet away from her but even with no moon she would have known his form. She watched him from the shadows as he silently dropped to the ground, leaning back against a large tombstone, his black trench coat sprawling out beneath him, his bleached blonde hair shining white in the moonlight. She saw the glow of a match as he light a cigarette and the soft curl of smoke as he blew out his first drag. His eyes were closed. For a few moments she just stood there watching him, her heart beating rapidly in her chest. She had been waiting for this moment, dreaming of this moment for so long and now it was here. No need to rush things, and so she watched him in silence for awhile, a million different words and emotions churning within her. Finally she quietly moved towards him. She was only a few feet away when his voice startled her.

"Come to serenade me, pet?" His voice was like a thunderclap in the silence of the night, and she caught herself jumping slightly.

"Have I told you smelling people is just plain creepy?" She replied, sounding a bit more irritated then she intended too; still a little nervous about seeing him again.

"Many times, luv, many times." He chuckled slightly, sucking in another long drag on his cigarette and blowing out a fresh curl of gray smoke. He glanced up at her then, his blue eyes so open, so inviting. "So how have you been?"

She stared down at him a bit surprised. She had been expecting many different reactions, prepared herself for all the ways he could respond to her sudden appearance - anger, passion, the cold shoulder perhaps - but his casualness was nothing she had anticipated. She felt the flames of frustration and annoyance licking at her insides.

"Aren't you going to ask me what took me so long to find you? How I knew you were alive?" Planting her hands firmly on her hips she stared down at him directly into his eyes, those eyes she so desperately had missed, those eyes that could make her melt or infuriate her beyond words.

He sucked in a final drag, then snuffing out the cigarette, he rose to his feet. "I knew you'd come around sooner or later. I knew you knew the truth about me, having that slayer sixth sense and all. Besides, after what went down with the First, I figured you just needed some time. Probably busy with all the new kids too."

"Then why didn't you come find me?" she pressed, her irritation now being replaced by fear, fear that she was about to make a huge mistake, that she had been all wrong about everything with him.

His eyes fell from her face, and she suddenly realized he was ashamed. "I wanted to, especially after I first showed up here in this city of hell, but I couldn't. Wasn't physical anymore, you see. I was trapped in this God forsaken place, stuck mocking Angel for all eternity I thought, but eventually I ended up back as I was, soul and all." He glanced into her eyes then quickly up to the stars. "But by then I came to realize that running off after you would be the last thing you would have really wanted or needed. You would find me if you wanted to, and in the meantime I could do some good here, even if it meant teaming up with tall, dark, and brooding again." He looked at her again, waiting for a reaction to his last comment, but she only stared back, her face blank. "Well, in any case, I guess I was right, because here you are." He paused slightly then that mischievous smile she loathed and loved so much began to pull at his lips. "Why are you here?"

"I wanted to see you," she replied softly. Now it was her turn to drop her eyes from his face. There was so much she wanted to say. She had even rehearsed it over and over on the flight from Japan to L.A. but now, now all of it had left her, erased from her mind by his mere presence. She felt like a child about to admit some terrible transgression to a parent, and before she realized it she was trembling ever so slightly.

"Here, sit." Mistaking her trembling for shivers, he removed his coat, draping it around her shoulders.

She sat down beside him, wrapping his coat around herself. The smell of leather, cigarettes, cheap booze, and him washed over her and she suddenly felt heady, like she'd had one too many drinks. The world was starting to spin and it was wonderful.

"I talked to Angel today." She noticed his eyes darken ever so slightly at the mention of the older vampire. "I needed to straighten everything out between us. I've been traveling all over the world in the last two years. It's been a liberating experience," she continued, "and it's made me realize many things about my life. Spike, I never got the chance to say thank you."

His eyes met hers and held her there, locked in a gaze that said so much. "You don't need to, luv."

"Yes, I do. I have the floor now and you have to listen. Spike, what you did for me all those years ago, I can never thank you enough. You gave me the faith and the courage to do what I needed to do, to find within myself the real person that I am. You gave to me the one thing I have always wanted my entire life. You gave me the freedom to be a normal girl. For the first time I was able to live my life the way I wanted to, and it was all thanks to you. It was all thanks to the sacrifice you made for me, for all of us."

"It wasn't just me, pet. That courage - it was in you and would have come out one way or the other. And I wasn't the one who stopped the First. It was you. You and Willow."

"But it was you, Spike." She leaned in close to him, her arm resting against his. "Your faith in me, your love saved me. Your faith in me rekindled a fire in my soul I thought I lost when the others brought me back to life. Your love gave me the strength to get up and fight when all I wanted to do was roll over and die, and without that I don't know if I would have been able to fight. You saved me, Spike, and I'm just sorry it took me so long to realize just what it has meant to me."

"Well you're welcome then."

She wasn't doing it right. She had to make him understand. She had to make him see how grateful she was for that and more. She had to make him see how much she felt for him. "I went to see Angel today to give him back this and tell him I am ready to move on with my life." She held out the small ring. "I wanted to give this back to him because he's not the one I want to move on with."

"What are you saying?" Spike leaned in closer. She could feel his breath cool on her face. It was coming in quick gulps.

"You, Spike. I came to L.A. for you."

"Buffy, you don't want me. I can't give you the future you deserve."

"Maybe not a normal future, no. Maybe there will be no children in our future or we may never be able to walk down a street together at noon, but I want to try Spike, and I want to try with you. The prophecy of a vampire with a soul being returned to human form still exists and as long as it does, hope for a normal life still exists. Besides, when has normal ever been a part of my life?"

He couldn't help but smile at her words, and she took courage in that simple gesture. Quickly, she pushed on.

"I told you I loved you once before and you didn't believe me. It has haunted my dreams ever since. This time I am saying it again and backing it up with my heart. I love you, Spike."

The words had barely gotten past her lips when she was in his arms, her cheek resting against his chest. His lips sought out hers and he kissed her gently, her lips warm and full against his own. Her heart was pounding in her chest and though she could not feel his, she knew if his could beat it would mirror her own. His kiss deepened and he pulled her down on top of himself. His hands moved through her long blonde-brown hair and down along her body, gently, tentatively, as if he wasn't completely sure she was there with him, afraid she would vanish in his grasp. She smiled against his lips, parting her own, tasting him. He tasted surprisingly sweet. Her own hands traveled along his body, feeling his muscles moving beneath his black shirt. He was really there beneath her and she found herself letting go completely, giving herself up to the moment and him, just letting go of all that had ever held her back.

They lay there for awhile, kissing and clinging to one another. A few hot tears began to roll down her cheeks and she felt his hands come up and wipe them away. Finally with a gasp of pleasure he released her from his embrace and she lay on top of him, her head resting against his shoulder and neck, just holding one another. The world had finally stopped spinning and now everything just felt right.

"Where do we go from here?" His voice was deep and husky, his eyes closed, a smile on his lips.

"Anywhere we want," she whispered back.

"How about Italy? I've always wanted to go back there, see the Coliseum and all those famous naked statues. What is so bloody impressive about a hundred year old naked man anyway?"

She laughed softly against his chest. "Guess we'll have to find out," her voice full of innuendos. She heard him chuckle beneath her head.

They lay in silence for a long time. It had not gone exactly how she planned it but in its own way the reality of it had far surpassed any cotton candy daydream her mind could have ever conjured up. Sure, there hadn't been any lengthy bearing of souls or wild risqué tryst in some elegant hotel room, but all that would come later with time. What she had said and what they had just shared was honesty and love, plain and simple in all its purity. No games, no questions, no uncertainty, just themselves. Being with him, his arms wrapped around her, the world finally at peace, she felt an inner contentment she had never known before. This was the way it should be.

She snuggled closer to him, her eyelids suddenly feeling very heavy. Ever so slightly she began to feel herself slipping off into a quiet sleep. But just as she was beginning to let go of her hold on the conscious world, she heard his voice echoing from beneath her.

"Buffy, thanks for saying it again."


Ok, that's it. Hope you enjoyed it. Please feel free to leave feedback (only way I'll get better). ©2004

special thanks to Effie and Nic for being my beta readers – thanks for your help and encouragement guys! You're the best!