Disclaimer: Joss owns all the characters and also created the lovely epitaph. As Joss goes, so goes my nation.

Spoilers: Season 5, and some Season 6 rumours.

Rating: G

Summary: Spike helps Buffy see her new life in a new light.

Distribution: You need only ask.

Cemetery Blues

By fiona d

Buffy sits in the cemetery, leaning against a tree, staring at her headstone. It's dark, but she can still make out the words.

"Buffy Summers
Beloved sister
Devoted friend
She saved the world
A lot."

She has spent a lot of time like this lately. Time when she should be concentrating on training, or out patrolling, or trying to make up for lost hours with Dawn. She just sits under this tree for hours, staring at her grave.

Nobody has considered taking it down. They're all still so shocked that she's back; the remnants of her death are the last things on their minds. So, she sits, trying to figure out exactly how one deals with being dead for four months, then being given back your life.

The Powers That Be hadn't been too clear on why she was sent back, only that there is still work to be done. She has a feeling that the work is not going to be pleasant or easy. She almost wishes she could have stayed dead. Almost.

She hears someone approaching, but remains still. Maybe they're just passing through and will leave her alone. She keeps silent, but Spike is looking for her, and he knows where to find her.

"Hey pet. Thought you'd be here."

"Spike, what do you want?"

He considers this for a second. "Chip out of my head, nicer digs, Giles out of my hair, but mostly, you."

Buffy glares at him, but he just grins and sits down next to her.

"The Nibblet was asking for you. I told her I'd come and find you."

"Is she okay?"

He nods. "She just gets uneasy when you're not around these days. Thinks you'll up and die again."

They sit quietly for a moment. Spike pulls out a cigarette and lights it. He takes one drag before Buffy plucks it from his mouth and butts it out.


"Just because they won't kill you, doesn't mean I want to be breathing in smoke."

"Right. Sorry." They sit for a moment longer, and he becomes uneasy with her silence. "Shall we go? Dawn's probably worried."

"In a second." She pauses, struggling with a decision, but realizes she needs to make peace with it. "Spike, can I ask you something?"

"Of course love."

"What was it like when I was gone?" She looks down to the ground not entirely sure she wants to hear the answer to her question. There was no good answer to it.

He looks questioningly at her, unsure of what she's getting at. "You mean, what happened? I thought Scoobies filled you in on that."

"I don't mean what happened. I mean, what was it like?"

Spike looks at her, pain etched in his face. He gently pushes a lock of hair off of her face and she lets him. "It was horrible. Everyone was in pain, no one knew how to deal with it."

Spike seems lost in thought for a moment, but Buffy recognizes the look on his face. It's the same pain she felt when Angel was sent back from Hell. Living the horror of losing the one you love, but then finding them back with you.

He shakes himself out of his reverie and gives her a small apologetic smile. "You probably want more detail than that."

She nods. He takes a deep, unnecessary breath, preparing to relive the anguish.

"I didn't see your body fall to the ground. I didn't know you were gone until I saw Giles. I saw the look on his face, then saw where he was looking. You looked so peaceful, as though you were sleeping. But, you weren't moving. No breath, heartbeat. We all came about you around the same time. Anya was pretty beaten up and Xander was carrying her, and the only sound I remember hearing was sobbing. I could see Willow crying and thought it must be her, but then I realized that it was me."

He chuckles a bit, embarrassed by the memory. She smiles at him gently. "Big Bads are allowed to have feelings too."

He grins back at her. "Haven't been too much of a Big Bad lately. Anyway, the sun was coming up, Dawn was bleeding, and Anya was hurt. Willow took me back to my crypt, Giles took your body away, and Tara and Xander took Dawn and Anya to the hospital. That was pretty much the end of the big events."

"Well, that tells me what happened, but what was it like?"

"Giles was all business. He had Will fix up the robot to act as you should social services come a knockin'. He and Xander buried you up here, away from the rest of the cemetery where your gravestone wouldn't be seen. We had a midnight funeral service. It was nice. After that though..."

Buffy looks at Spike questioningly. He remains silent for a few minutes.

"After that, what?"

"Group just fell apart a bit. Dawn was well looked after. We took turns. Giles took care of her during the day, and Xander and Willow took turns spending the night. I was in and out all of the time. For the first month I would just sit outside on the porch. Every night she would sneak out her window and go and visit either your grave or your mother's. I didn't let her know I was following her, I figured it was private, but I never let her out of my sight, Buffy, I swear."

"I believe you."

"Xander and I tried to pick up the slack in slaying, and we did a pretty good job, but after awhile, we couldn't go together. Got too nasty. Xander was a real wanker after you left. He was attacking everyone, not just me. I think him and Anya were engaged for a bit, but he was so mean to her, well, to everyone. She stopped wearing his ring."

Buffy nods. "I was wondering why they weren't together. Just more casualties of friendship with the Chosen One."

"Now love, don't talk like that. I think they're trying to patch things up now. Willow hurt the most at first. But Red's stronger than she knows. She bounced back. Same can't be said for your Watcher."

She smiles at him a bit ruefully. "Giles not a pillar of strength?"

"He drank. A lot. He handled all the day to day stuff well, and always made sure that Dawn was being cared for, but it was a rare night he wasn't snockered. Though, I must admit, there were a few evenings I joined him for a pint. He felt guilty. We all did I guess."

Buffy turns away from Spike and looks at her gravestone. "You did?"

Spike glances at her, but also looks at the headstone. "'Course."

"What for?"

He is surprised she can't see his failure. "I promised you I'd protect Little Bit until the end of the world. I couldn't even hold my own against a geriatric demon. I failed her, and what's worse, I failed you and you died for that failure."

Buffy turns to Spike with troubled eyes. "Is that what you believe?"

He shrugs. "It's the truth."

"Spike, you put your life on the line to save Dawn. I never gave you credit for anything; I used to make your life a living hell. There was no need for you to help us at all, but you did. I am so thankful to you. You have nothing to feel guilty about." She stands up and walks away from him. "If anyone should be feeling guilty, it's me."

Spike stands as well and goes over to her. "You? What do you have to feel guilty about?"

"We missed a whole day because of me. I fell apart when Glory took Dawn and instead of getting her back then, and killing Glory, I was all catatonic. None of this would ever have had to happen."

Spike puts a hand on her shoulder. "You don't - ". A cell phone interrupts him. He grins a bit shamefully and pulls the ringing phone out of his pocket. "Hold that thought, love."

He switches the phone on. "Hello?"

Buffy watches him with wonder. She mutters to herself under her breath. "Vampires with cell phones. What next?"

Spike speaks into the phone. "Hey Platelet. No, she's fine. We're just having a bit of a chat and we'll be home soon. What's that? Well, alright. Yeah, I'll tell her. See you tomorrow then, Bits. Okay. Bye."

Spike turns off the phone and puts it back in his pocket. He smiles at Buffy.

"That was Dawn. She said she's going to sleep at Xander's tonight. Apparently there some sort of James Bond marathon on that they want to watch."

"Okay." She gestures to his hand. "You have a cell phone?"

"Yeah, Giles bought us each one. That way we could all coordinate our Dawn watching and demon slaying."

"Oh. It's a good idea I guess."

He nods. "Probably unnecessary now that you're back."

"It could still come in handy. What's with the Platelet, Nibblet, Bits?"

He grins, but he looks a bit shy. "She's my girl. Besides, she seems to like it."

They stand there gazing at each other for a moment.

Spike breaks the silence. "You want to take a walk, pet?"

Buffy nods and they walk down from the woods towards the lights of the town.

"Buffy, what I was about to say before Dawn called was that you can't know what would have happened. You may believe that things would have turned out differently, but you'll never know that."

"I was weak, Spike. Dawn was in trouble, Giles was injured, and I just gave up."

"Weak? Bloody hell, Slayer. You had just gone through the toughest year of your life. Not only did you have to deal with the regular problems that come with being a Slayer but you were handed a mystical sister, Captain Cardboard went wonky then cut out entirely, you had to face a god, Tara got her mind taken away and on top of that, there was everything with Joyce. The rest you could deal with, but I know how helpless you felt with your mother's illness. There's nothing worse than being a superhero and still not being able to protect those you love the best."

Buffy stops and looks at him. "I should have been able to deal."

"You may be the Chosen One, but you are human. You can only deal with so much."

"I'm supposed to be the hero."

"In case you didn't notice, love, you saved the world. What more can a hero do?"

He smiles at her and they continue to walk.

"What brought on this bout of introspection, anyway?" he asks.

She sighs. "I'm just not getting this."

"Getting what?"

"This whole being-dead gig. I mean, I know I'm not dead now. But until two weeks ago, I was basically a Slayer pancake. You have no idea what it's like to be alive after you've died."

He raises an eyebrow at her and she giggles, realizing the irony.

"Maybe that's why I can talk to you about this," she admits. "You actually are the only person who can understand what its like."

"Well, to be fair. I'm not actually alive. I'm undead. You're unique. Most people that come back aren't technically of the living."

"That's something else I've been worried about. What if I'm not of the living. I may not be all 'grrr', but maybe I'm something else."

"Well, zombies usually have a pretty unique stench." He sniffs her. "You're all vanilla and roses."

"What else comes back from the dead?"

"Nothing that I know of. 'Course, I never really researched it before. But I think you'll just have to deal with the fact that you're living again and stop looking for the mystical downside."

"You mean just deal with normal living?"

He shrugs, "Well, yeah."

She has her doubts. "I'm not sure if I can do that. Even when I was alive before my life was not of the norm."

"Well, you're the Slayer. You never will be normal, but you can go back to the life that you lead before."

They are walking in the street by this time.

"Spike, come on. I want to show you something."

Buffy grabs Spike's hand, leading him away, as he tries not to show how much her touch is affecting him.

They come to a house with a picture window in the front. She stops and they stand next to large tree, blending into the darkness. The window frames a domestic scene. A father is holding a toddler, giving it a bit of an airplane ride, and the mother is reading a book to a little girl who is sitting on her lap. They take no notice of the pair watching their perfect home.

"Love, what...?"

Buffy cuts off Spike's question. "I first saw them about a year ago, and every once in a while I come and watch."

She looks at Spike, smiling, but with tears in her eyes. "I would give anything if I could have that, Spike. But I can't. Part of the reason Angel left me was because he knew he couldn't father children, and I wanted them."

"Nothing wrong with wanting kids."

"There is if it puts them in danger." She points to the mother. "Do you think I could ever be doing that, Spike? I couldn't just stay home for the evening. I'd have to be out slaying. And what about the demons that come after me. If I ever had kids, they would be the easiest way to get to me. They would constantly be in danger, just because of who I am."

"You could find a way to deal with that, pet."

"Nothing could guarantee their safety. Nothing can guarantee anyone's safety. Look at last year. Tara was attacked, Giles was skewered, Dawn was taken from me. Even you." She runs her hand along the faint scar along his temple. "Even you were hurt because you love me. Everyone I care about eventually gets hurt. I don't think I could deal with it if something happened to a child of mine."

Spike nods, understanding where she's coming from.

They stand, still hand-in-hand, watching the pretty scene before them for a moment longer.

Spike tugs her hand. "Come on pet, my turn to show you something."

They walk down the street, enjoying silence together. They approach Xander's apartment building. Buffy hesitates.

"What are we doing here?"

"We're not going in, but I want to show you something."

He climbs into a low bough of a tree and pulls her up with him. From their vantage point they can see into Xander's living room. Xander, Dawn and Willow sit on a couch, tossing popcorn at each other and laughing. Tara is sprawled out on the floor showing Anya how to float a pencil.

"Look at them, Slayer. Those are your friends, your family. And you know what? None of them would be here without you. And they all know it, too."

"What's your point?"

"It may not be traditional, but the Scoobies are your family. And if you ever wanted to have a family on your own, they would lay down their lives to protect it. You're right about not being able to guarantee their safety, but nobody's safety is etched in stone. Your mother didn't die from a big nasty. And I think that is what you're actually afraid of."

"What do you mean?"

"You have tremendous power. You can beat almost any evil that gets thrown at you. But you can't guard against the natural elements. Nobody can. And that scares you more than anything else."

Buffy jumps out of the tree and Spike follows. She walks away quickly, and he chases after her.

"Buffy, you know I'm right."

He stops her and she turns to face him, crying.

"Of course you're right. But it doesn't make it any better. I have enough problems dealing with the stuff I can control. Why should I have to deal with the stuff I can't? Spike, I am so scared. I could face ten hell gods with a smile on my face, but I don't think I could take losing someone else I loved the same way I lost Mom."

"Love, there was nothing you could do."

"But there should have been. Every other time there's been a spell, or a weapon, or a tactic."

"Like killing yourself," he mutters.


Anger springs into his voice, surprising both him and Buffy, but he can't seem to curb it. "No, that was a bloody fantastic plan. Sacrifice yourself and save the world."

Hurt by his tone, Buffy's defensive wall springs back up. "Okay, you're mad now?'

"I'm not mad."

She pretends not to hear him. "I'm opening up to you, telling you my deepest fears and you're mad at me."

"Bloody hell, Buffy!" Frustrated, Spike spins around and slams his hand into a tree.

She raises her eyebrows at him. "Feel better, even-keel boy?"

He looks at her, sighs and starts walking again. He stops and turns on her. "You have no idea how lucky you are, do you? You were given a second chance to live your life. As a human. And all you can concentrate on is what could go wrong. What the downsides could be."

"I'm not seeing much of the good here. The Powers That Be sent me back because there were more battles to fight, more vamps to dust, more evils needing thwartage."

"But they sent you back to us. Your family, your friends. Do you know how much pain we were all in?" He stops and looks at her, hurt, sad and angry. He jumps on a stone fence and sits looking down at her. His voice grows so quiet, she can barely hear him. "You want to know what scares me the most? That you'll leave again. I barely got through it the first time. I don't think I could do it again."

Buffy gazes at him compassion mixing with impatience. She jumps onto the fence and sits next to him.

"I'm a Slayer, Spike. Do you know how old the oldest slayer was? Twenty-seven. Incidentally, she was the one you killed in New York. The average age of death is twenty-one. Statistically, I should die this year. Except of course, I've already died. I'm gonna die. It may not be today or tomorrow, but, big picture, it'll probably be sooner rather than later. I don't want everyone to mourn all over, but unless one of these apocalypses gets the better of me and we all die together, mourning will occur."

"Is that why you've been so shut off from everyone?"

"I haven't been shut off."

"No, you've been a bloody fountain of joy and togetherness."

"Well, no, admittedly I haven't been party-girl, but I've been hanging."

"Slayer, all you do is kill things and then go off by yourself and sulk."

"I don't sulk. I just need time to think."

"You've had two bleeding weeks. Get on with it. You're alive. Try bloody well living. Shutting yourself off from everyone who loves you so they won't get hurt won't get you anywhere. All it's likely to do is drive everyone away."

She is silent. They sit on the stone fence, Spike looking at the ground, Buffy's eyes to the stars.

Spike jumps off the fence and stands right in front of Buffy. "It doesn't matter how much you want to get rid of all of us, you won't be able to shut everyone out."

She looks down at him. "I just don't want to get anyone hurt. And I don't want them to hurt because of me."

Spike starts to say something but she cuts him off. "You know I'm right, Spike. Everyone is happy that I'm of the living again, but it's just setting them up for another fall."

Spike grasps her legs and looks up into her eyes. "It's not a decision you can make for us, pet. If we want to fall, we'll bloody well fall. You can't stop people from loving you."

She puts her hands on his shoulders and jumps down. She starts walking and he falls into step beside her. "Did anyone ever tell you about when we called on the power of the first slayer and then she tried to kill us all in our sleep?"

"Yeah, Will and Giles were talking about it after you died."

"In my dream, she told me, 'no friends, just the kill'. I told her my friends made me stronger, and they do. But, what if she meant that I shouldn't have friends because of what it could do to them."

Spike kicks a rock in their path sending it skittering away in the darkness. "We all know what the risks are."

"I don't mean the physical risks. I mean the hurt that comes with losing people. And I don't just mean me. What would have happened if Giles had been killed, or Xander, or any of them?"

"None of them were killed, pet."

"Yeah, but its always out there. They could be killed, which I know they're aware of, but I don't think they are prepared to lose someone else."

Spike walks along beside her, looking straight ahead. The silence fills the air between them. Buffy thinks that she's made her point, but Spike struggles, unsure of how to phrase the next bit without getting hurt. Physically or otherwise.

"Ah, the hell with it," he thinks.

He reaches down and takes Buffy's hand in his own. She glances up at him, curious. They've stopped walking and are standing on the sidewalk, facing each other. For a moment, both are silent, but Spike finally speaks his mind.

"Buffy, I love you. You know I love you. This shouldn't be a big shock."

She opens her mouth to say something, but he stops her by raising his free hand.

"I've never hurt like I did when you died. I thought I had when Dru left, but that was nothing. I was beside myself I was in so much pain. After that first bit of crying, I couldn't anymore. I couldn't see the point. Had it not been for Dawn, and the promise I made to you to protect her until the end of the world, chances are, I'd have seen if the sunrise really was all that it was said to be."

"Spike, I'm - "

Spike raises his hand to her mouth and quiets her again.

"Shh, pet. It's not your fault. You have to start believing that, or your second chance at life is going be pointless. I told you earlier that I didn't think I could live through losing you again, but that's wrong. I was in pain, Buffy. But even at the worst of it, if someone had said that they would bring you back for five minutes and then I would have to go through all that pain again. I would. No question, no hesitation, no regret. All the pain in the world is worth five minutes of you alive."

She stares up at him, tears in her eyes. He kisses her forehead gently.

"So, you see, Summers, all these doubts and fears don't mean anything to those of us who truly love you. We don't care about what happens in a year or a month, or even tomorrow. We're just glad to have you back."

He gazes down into her eyes. Then he grins and wipes her tears away. "But, Buffy, you're being a real downer."

She laughs. She feels the tension being released from the past two weeks. Hell, from the past year. She laughs at Spike and with Spike, until tears of a different sort run down her cheeks.

"Damn, love, it wasn't that funny."

"No, but its kind of odd."

"How's that?"

"Well, now that I'm alive again, I'm getting lessons on living from the undead."

"We're people too. Well, sort of. But I do understand the irony."

They begin to walk down the street again. Buffy has an unmistakable bounce in her step. A bounce that he hadn't seen since before Glory, Riley, and Joyce all caved in on her. He smiles, and yes, stares a bit.

"So, pet, what shall we do with the rest of this fine night? It is the first day of the rest of your life."

Spinning around, Buffy kisses him lightly on the mouth. She lingers for a moment, barely giving him time to kiss her back before she pulls away.

She pulls him towards the Bronze, which is now in sight.

"Come on, William. We're going dancing."

The End.