He could feel her pain, her shock at his dismissal.

She thinks she loves me.

But she couldn't stay. He had a job to do, and he couldn't do it if she were here. He was doing this for her, because he was HER champion. So he was sacrificing his unlife and the possibility that she really did mean it for her and the Bit, and if she died...anyways, the Bit needed her. Warmth crept up his arm, and he looked down to see their hands joined and flaming. Its simplicity was beautiful, but he didn't have time to analyze the symbolism. He smiled a goodbye and began untangling their hands. She turn and ran. He watched the Uber vamps surge towards the exit after her. This time his smile was vicious. He gave in completely to the wonder and pain filling him. Time to see how this all played out.

The light got brighter, he could feel his soul burning him from the inside out. The voices of his victims began to fade, one by one, as the power of his soul filled every inch of his body. He felt his feet lift off the floor. Spiraling up into the shaft of light, he threw back his head and laughed. He could feel him self disintegrating, his shell of a body unable to contain the sheer power that thrummed through him. He was alive and electrified, the secrets of the world were his to know. Breaking free of physical bounds he exploded outwards illuminating the vast cavern below. He pierced the hearts of the uber vamps, sought out the dark crevasses of the cavern, found the creepy crawlies, so old they no longer had names, and sent them back to the Hell that spit them out. He kept expanding until he lit every nook and cranny. For one glorious, indescribable moment, he knew absolute peace and contentment. And then he was drawn back to himself with a sickening force...and then the roof came a tumblin' down.

The sun was just cresting the horizon, bathing the California landscape in a brilliant wash of colors. The world was rejoicing at another sunrise, another day. People were waking up, preparing for their day, blissfully unaware at how fragile their way of life really was. An old school bus, filled with wounded girls and a few empty bodies, ground to a stop at the very edges of the former town of Sunnydale.

A lone figure exited the bus and walked to the edge of the large crater. They had done it. They had won; the hellmouth that had dominated her life for the last seven years was no more. She was finally free of a life she had fought so hard to leave behind, of a life she had once thought she would gladly trade in for what other people thought of as 'normal.' There were now hundreds, thousands of slayers out in the world. Because they had won. The world would go on, people would live. People...but not Spike

A single tear made its way down Buffy's face.

Thank you.

It hurts.

He opened his eyes but it did no good; the darkness was so complete he couldn't tell when his eyes were open. He couldn't move at all, couldn't feel anything, couldn't even breath. And then the pain set in. It consumed him until it was all had ever known and the only thing he could ever be sure of. It became his past, his present, and unquestioningly his future. He spent centuries there in the dark, alone with his demons. Their voices haunted him, mocked him, accused him. He was caught within his own mind having no breath to deny them and no body to distract him. The voice screamed, reminded him of the atrocities he had committed, mocked his please for mercy. Because he'd never shown any, had he? It was hopeless, he knew that. He deserved what was happening, deserved their vitriol, their mockery, their barbed words. But still he fought them, coaxed them, and begged them to leave him alone, tried to make the darkness swallow him.

Nothing worked. The voices remained.

He saw his first kill, eyes wide and scared. She'd taken too long to kill; he'd missed the artery, inept as a first time hunter, and she'd suffered for his learning. He saw Dru as he'd first known her, as sire andlover, beautiful and bewitching. He saw her eyes light up as he brought her gifts, felt pleasure in her laughter, promise in her kisses, and excruciating pain as Angelus swept her into his bed. The filed past him, laid beside him in the darkness, taunted him, and he screamed the last shreds of his sanity into the darkness.

Angelus laughed at him. Laid beside him, hovered over him, and whispered words like "weak" and "helpless" and "unworthy." Angelus whispered commentary over the most painful aspects of their twisted, tortured relationship as visions of his lessons raged across Spike's eyes. He relived every moment that made him into the monster Buffy always claimed he was. (get away i love you soulless monster beneath me died died died ripped away) Not even Angelus could touch that pain.

The voices wouldn't stop. He realized at some point, through the haze of recriminations, that he didn't want them too. He could finally make amends.

At first the voices blended in with the others, just another part of the cacophony. Soon he realized these were louder and dissonant, disturbing the tenuous harmony of accusations, guilt, and condemnation. They intruded on his pain, disturbed what he knew. Dust sprinkled onto his face, the shock of a new sensation disrupting the unrelenting stream of inner turmoil made him shake. i Touch/i the word sprang unbidden into his mind, and vague memories of a time long ago echoed through his mind.

"He's here. I can feel him. Hurry!" He couldn't understand the words, but the tone of the voice was urgent and female. He didn't quite remember what female meant, but it spoke to something in him. He desperately grasped at the voices around him, trying to shroud himself in its familiarity.

"We are working on it. Your pacing not helping ma petite feu."

Warm air tickled Spike's skin, and eyes he hadn't realized were open saw a sliver of brightness cut through the blanket of darkness. What was this? There was a word for it, he knew it at one time. What was it? Light! It was light! And he felt...slayer sang through his mind and memories of vanilla and safety and home echoed through him. He wept at these new emotions. She was coming to save him, home was coming.

The darkness fled, and she was leaning over him. Everything in his body screamed slayer. A name sprang forth. Buffy. Buffy. Buffybuffybuffy. She was coming for him! Joy bubbled through him. She was coming! Home. Home. Home Jeeves, come home, come for him!

"Spike?" The voice was gentle and concerned and...wrong. There was no vanilla, no gold; there was fire and cinnamon and...protection? but no Buffy. This was the wrong kind of female. He growled, a reaction that surprised him, and a thousand faces screamed at him, yelling "murderer" and "demon" and "monster." Disappointment settled over him and he retreated into his pain. These sensations and feelings were too powerful, too many, and too new. And none of them were Buffy. Not Buffy notBuffy notbuffy she wasn't here she wasn't coming his Buffy was gone. Gone gone gone, and he finally felt the numbness he'd been seeking as a piece of him slipped away.

"Shit, we're loosing him."

He could feel power around him. And he could feel her, the slayer. The wrong slayer. But it didn't matter anymore.

"I love you."

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

Oh, God. He'd hurt the girl. Hurt the girl again. Hurt the girl hurt the Buffy don't wanna hurt the Buffy-girl his Buffy Buffy's not here notbuffy...

"Fuck, he's not gonna make it."

"A knife. I need a knife. Get me a fucking knife!"

He was confused. He'd hurt her, hurt his Buffy. He shouldn't be tasting Heaven...and he slipped back into the darkness.

"What were you thinking? Do you have a death wish? I though we worked through that years ago you stupid, impetuous, hard-headed, unthinking IDIOT. Do you--"

"You're forgetting impulsive, rash, brainless, dense, reckless..."

Leto let out a shaky sigh before turning to glare at the...the...fucking SLAYER in front of him. Of all the stupid drain bramaged shit things she'd pulled over the years... "You could have died Lena," he said softly. He reached out and brushed a strand of hair from her face. She leaned into the palm of his hand and Leto felt his anger melt away. He never could stay mad at her. He could see the effects of blood loss in the paleness of her face and the sluggishness of her movements.

"Could have, didn't, why do you think I keep you around? And regardless, I am a Slayer. I can handle a severely wounded vampire," she said. She suddenly smiled, and Leto felt an unneeded breath catch that it was meant solely for him. "After all, I handle you on a daily basis. Spike doesn't stand a chance."

The vampire in question let out a low moan of pain, and Alanna's smile was gone.

"Alright boys, girls, and things. Let's load him and move him out. It's a long way home."