"Listen to me Dawn

"Listen to me Dawn. Please, there's no time." Suddenly a bright flash appeared next to them, blinding them.

"BUFFY! NO!" Both Buffy and Dawn looked up with surprise in their eyes. Spike had jumped out of portal, landing at their feet. He could barely believe it. He had finally found them. After the countless worlds he had traversed, he had finally found them. Tears formed as he looked at Buffy. His Slayer, his love. She was alive again. He wanted to spend an eternity looking at her, but knew he had only minutes.

Dawn was the first to speak. "Spike, how did you come out of the portal? I saw you fall!"

Buffy also had a confused look in her eyes. He caught it just before she switched back into Slayer mode. "Spike, it's too late. The portal's open already." She took Dawn's arm and shoved her to him. "I need you to keep your promise. To the end of the world you said. Well, it's not ending today."

"I know, Slayer." He gave Dawn back to her. "I know what you're thinking. But you're wrong. It's not your time yet."

"Spike, you don't understand. 'Death is my gift.' I know what it means now. It's what I was called to do. Please, don't…"

Spike grabbed her by both arms, forcing her to look him in the eyes.

"Buffy, luv, please. Do you trust me?"

She searched his eyes. In that instant she remembered every encounter she'd had with him. Every word, every blow, everything. And she realized through it all, he had never lied to her. She knew. He loved her. And through her, Dawn. Even if she couldn't return his love, she knew his was real. So yes, she did trust him.

Spike could see her answer in her eyes before she said it. And before she could protest, he swooped down and planted his fangs in her neck. For an instant her body tightened in his grip, but it was out of shock, not struggle. In the next second she relaxed and let him draw her blood.

Dawn couldn't believe what she was seeing. Spike was drinking from her sister and she was letting him! She didn't know if she was supposed to break them apart, but in the next instant the choice was taken from her as Spike broke away from Buffy's neck. He licked the wound once. The last time I'll be this close to heaven, he thought.

When at last Buffy opened her eyes again, she realized what he was about to do.

"Spike, no! You promised me."

"So I did. And luv, I'd to a million things before I broke my word to you, but this is something I have to do. Buffy, I'm weak. I can't live without you. I once thought the hardest thing was loving someone who didn't love you back. But now I know the hardest thing in this world is to live in one without you. Be brave. Live. For me."

Buffy's eyes widened in shock as she heard him say the words she had meant to say to her sister. Spike let go of her and walked backwards slowly. He wanted her face to be the last thing he saw before he died. Just before he took the last step she mouthed the words "Spike…I promise, I will."

He grinned. "I know, luv." And then he was falling. The last thought in his mind before it all ended, It was all worth it. It was.

At the bottom of the tower the survivors crept towards his body. They had all seen what had happened up there, but didn't understand. Willow and Tara couldn't stop staring at it. Xander was holding Anya's broken body. Buffy helping Dawn take the last few steps down from the tower. Giles was the first to reach it. He looked at the prone figure of the vampire, the first dead vampire body he had ever seen. Truly remarkable, his Watcher's brain was thinking, but he also knew it was something he could figure out later. For now, he needed to be there for Buffy and Dawn.

He turned back to face them. "How…?" He knew he didn't need to finish the question.

"It was the blood. Like he said. Dawn's blood. My blood. Summer's blood." She touched her neck bite almost unconsciously. "He knew. He knew I would have jumped. But he did it instead. Drank my blood and jumped. He saved the world. Saved me." She knelt down beside his body and touched his face. Even in death he was still so beautiful. Suddenly she realized what Giles had figured out already.

"Wait, his body. It's still here; it's not ashes. But how can that…? He's dead, isn't he?" She looked desperately at Giles.

Giles took off his glasses and began to wipe them. "Y-yes, I believe he is. This is unprecedented of course. B-but, I think I may have an answer as to why he was not turned to ashes."

Dawn walked up and put her hand on his chest. "It's because he gained his soul back Buffy." Buffy slowly turned back to Spike's body. She saw the blissful look of peace he had, his lips curved in a smile she had never seen him wear in his undead life. She bent over and gave him one last kiss. Then she whispered into his ear, "I know it's too late, but I wanted to tell you…I forgive you. And…and I think I could have loved you."

The wind blew away the branches of the willow trees, letting the sun shine down onto one lonely gravestone. On it were carved the words,

William aka Spike

c. 1800 – 2001

Beloved Childe, Killer of Two Slayers

He Saved the World

And a Slayer