She used to have the dreams, but that was a long time ago. They were everywhere. It could have been a castle, a mountaintop, on the beach. He'd tell her that he would find her everywhere, and he always did. He always did find her. But that had been someone else altogether. She'd been someone else, too. So when she started having the dreams about…well, about a person she'd never expected, she was surprised, and then… The first night she'd woken up in a cold sweat. No. She wasn't having those dreams, not in the same way she used to dream about…it was guilt. Because of what he'd said to her, to make her feel guilty in the very last moments. Of course he'd said that, it was just like him to piss her off right before… And besides, the wound was still fresh. Of course she still felt it.
But the dreams kept coming. At first, they were every night. It was just grief. Just because he was gone. And then they only came once a week, a couple of nights a month. And then, it was like he could sense it, sense when she had just started, maybe, to forget it. Or at least to not be thinking about it every waking moment. She had moved on, and then the dreams would come back. A helpful reminder of everything that she had, everything that she'd never…
It didn't matter now. Everyone had left, and she was still here, and there were things to do, people who needed her. She didn't have the time, or patience for dreams. So she ignored them. And they went away. They never came now, which had been what she'd wanted, right? She wanted the dreams to go away, for him to go away. And now, here she was, wishing that she was dreaming about a person that she'd spent entire years wanting out of her life. She sighed, running her fingers through her hair. Forget it, she willed herself. Forget it all.
She stood up, calling, "Liam! Come on, it's time to go."
"Aw, Mom! Five more minutes?" he pleaded.
She looked up at the sky before puling her grey sweater tighter around her body. "No, Liam. It's getting late." The sun had set a few minutes ago, and while things were a lot safer now, still…
Liam waved good-bye to his friends, who'd called a time-out in their kickball game and made his way over to her across the playground. "How was the game? Did you win?"
"I always win. I'm the fastest," Liam reminded her.
"I know you are. But you played for a really long time," she told him, wrapping him in a one-armed hug.
"But I feel fine," he told her with half a whine.
"That's because it's winter. What do you want for dinner?" she asked as they reached her grey Range Rover.
"Hm…tacos!" he suggested enthusiastically.
She smiled. "Okay, tacos it is, then." On her way to the house, she passed two guys leading a girl into a dark alley. But she didn't stop the car, she didn't even think twice. That wasn't her job anymore.
"No. Not you. It has to be me," she told him, gripping the amulet.
"No, Buffy. I have to do it."
"You can't. I won't live without you." It was off his neck with one good yank. "I love you," she whispered, kissing him hard on the mouth.
"I love you, Buffy. Please don't do this," he begged, his blue eyes darkening.
"Go. Get out, now. I'll be with you, always," she promised him. And then everything went dark…
She gasped, gripping at her chest. "Spike!"
Danny grinned, confused. "What? No, no spikes. You must have been having a nightmare."
"Oh, right," she said, shaking her head. "When did you get home?"
Danny rolled the sleeves of his white button-down back up, undoing the cuff links. He unbuttoned the front before giving her a quick glance. "A few minutes ago. Sorry I woke you."
She gave him a gentle smile. "That's okay. Sounds like you did me a favor, waking me from that nightmare."
"Right," Danny nodded off-handedly.
Anne pulled her knees to her chest. "Busy day?" she asked.
"Oh yeah. Boring work stuff. Liam asleep?"
Anne shrugged. "In theory. But you know how he is."
Danny smiled at her, placing his palms on either side of her face. "He's an eight-year-old. He doesn't like bedtime. None of them like bedtime." He kissed her forehead and she leaned into it, smiling and closing her eyes. "You guys made tacos tonight?"
"Yeah. There are leftovers in the fridge," she told him.
He nodded. "Thanks, I'm okay. Just wiped out." Anne watched as he undressed, brushed his teeth, and got into bed next to her. "So, who do you wanna hang out with tonight? Leno, O'Brian, or Letterman?"
Anne cuddled into the space between his neck and shoulder, wrapping his arm around her. "I just wanna hang out with you."
Danny looked down at her and raised his eyebrows. "So I guess this means that I get to pick?" he asked. She just smiled and nodded. He kissed her forehead again, and ran his hands through her hair as she fell back asleep. This time, there were no dreams.