Disclaimer: I own nothing other than my original character, whose name is yet to be revealed ;)

Summary: Post Chosen. After Spike's death during the battle against the First, a grieving Buffy makes a wish that gives her the chance to change everything. But will it be for better or worse?

A/N: I probably shouldn't have started another WIP considering that I've still got one in the works, but I saw a challenge on the Bloodshedverse and decided to take a crack at it. It's a response to Challenge #422 by dramionelurver. The idea intrigued me so until my writer's block for ANL decides to go away I thought I'd post this :)

I have ( tried ) to post this on the Bloodshedverse too, under my penname Tigerlass, but I'm not sure if it worked...

But anyway, here's chapter 1.

Chapter 1: Love Lost

Tick. Tick. Tick.

The sound of the ornate wooden clock on the mantle echoed, deafening in the silence. The movement of the hands counting the seconds were the only disturbance in the still room. Darkness prevailed, large drapes pulled closed over the window to block out the sunlight. The shadows were her sanctuary now. He couldn't go in the sun, so it wouldn't be fair for her to enjoy it. Especially now he was gone.

That had been the last time she'd seen the sun, when the golden rays had enveloped him in their warmth before using his body as a conduit to power the amulet. He'd been so beautiful, standing there as the light destroyed the cavern. Everything was collapsing around him and yet he'd still stood there, all because it was the right thing to do. He'd saved the world.

She'd looked at him, and she'd seen his soul. He glowed. And she was so proud of him.

Fresh tears sprung to the broken girl's eyes as they stared sightlessly ahead of her, stuck in the memory of watching her love burn. Her fingers absentmindedly tracing the scars on her left hand, her only reminder of the vampire, both the man and demon, that she'd loved more than she thought ever possible. It played over and over in her mind, each time it was slightly different as she found a way to get him out.

But sometimes it would play out the same, and each time another piece of her heart shattered. The same line slowly killing her. She could see him so clearly still, the way his sapphire eyes locked onto hers, the incredible sight of him in the sunlight, the warmth in their linked hands as they burst into flames.

"I love you"

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

She thought they'd have time. After the battle, she was going to tell him. She just kept thinking, someday, she'd tell him. She never realised that she wouldn't get her someday. Joyce had hit him over the head with an axe, she'd dropped an organ on him, she'd staked him before stealing the Gem of Amara and letting him fry in the sunlight. He'd had the Initiative chip in his head, Glory had tortured him, and he'd suffered at her hand for years. He'd been in more fights than she could count just in the time she'd known him. But he'd survived. She'd begun to believe that he couldn't be killed.

And now he was gone. All burned to ashes and buried in the crater formerly known as Sunnydale.

It was 147 days today. 147 nights since he'd held her in his arms. 146 nights that she'd cried herself to sleep.

The gentle knock at the door wasn't enough to pull her out of her pain. Yet as deep as she was in her despair, her head was clear with the knowledge of one thing. The single reason for his death. The sobs wracked her thin frame as the same thoughts repeated through her mind.

He's gone, and it's my fault. I killed him.

Willow knocked on Buffy's door and waited for an answer, raising her hand to knock again when she didn't receive one. Instead, he heard the sobs of the young blonde inside the room and didn't hesitate to push the door open and enter, closing it quietly behind her.

The redhead felt her eyes burn with unshed tears at the sight of the once strong Slayer. Her best friend used to be bubbly, energetic, bright... happy. The young woman in front of her was a pale imitation. She was too thin, her skin had lost most of the golden tone it usually had from staying in the dark, and it was obvious to anyone with eyes how much she was hurting.

"Oh, Buffy" she breathed, approaching the other girl quickly and settling on the bed beside her. Gently, Willow lay down on the bed next to her friends and embraced Buffy, feeling her shudder as she lost herself to the agony flooding through her.

She'd thought Buffy had been getting better. She'd been socialising with her friends, spending time with Dawn and training the other Slayers. Her eyes had betrayed the heavy grief of losing the blonde vampire but she had been holding up. She hasn't been eating great, but I thought she was doing better. We've all been so blind.

"He's gone, Will. It's tearing me apart... I loved him, and... I killed him" Buffy cried, unable to stop the waves of sadness that swept over her.

"No, sweetie. He saved the world" Willow comforted her, keeping her voice soft and gently stroking the long blonde locks that hung limply around Buffy's face.

Cloudy green eyes looked up to meet the Willow's gaze. "Yes, I did. I could have saved him... done something different. He loved me, and he'd have found a way to get me out of there if it was the other way round. I should've... I should've..." Buffy choked on another sob, her voice as broken as she was.

"There's nothing you could've done, Buffy. You had to get out of there. He loved you too much to let you die like that"

Willow had been the only one Buffy had trusted to tell exactly what had happened down in the Hellmouth. It had felt too private to her, but she had needed to talk to someone during one of her weaker moments, like now. She had let everyone know that Spike was a hero, a true champion. The rest she'd kept to herself, sharing her secrets with the witch alone.

Buffy laughed humourlessly. "Yeah, well, if he didn't love me, then he wouldn't even have been there" She jumped up from the bed, staring down at Willow with a mixture of loss and self directed fury burning in her eyes. "He wouldn't have had to put up with half the crap he did! More than that!" She crumpled as the memory of his final moments ripped through her again. Willow caught her before she hit the floor, her legs giving way under the weight of all her emotions.

"God, I wish he'd never fallen in love with me" she whispered miserably. "Then he'd still be here. He'd be happy"

Willow didn't know how she could help Buffy, so she just kneeled next to her, wrapping her arms around the distraught blonde and rocking her slightly. "You don't mean that. Spike loved you, and you know he wouldn't want it any other way" She was oblivious to the tears slowly trailing down her own face. They all missed Spike, even Xander strangely enough. It was almost as if they were so used to having the bleached annoyance around that they had inevitably become fond of him. But they'd settled into a certain relationship of irritation and hate, not knowing how to break it, or even if they really wanted to. It was just how they were. It was... normal.

"God, Wills. It hurts so much. When Angel left, it was like I couldn't breathe. But this? I can't breathe, I can't think, my chest feels empty but it aches... It's like my heart's struggling to beat"

A kiss. A gunshot. The end of her world. Tara, baby, I still miss you so much. "I know, sweetie. I know"

The display in front of her made her heart ache to watch, the brunette's vision blurring with the tears that threatened to fall. This was the part of her calling that she hated. Seeing the pain of others, feeling it as if it were her own. But it was also the reason she had been chosen for this.

She smiled sadly at the petite blonde's words. She knew that pain intimately, and it was her job to help. Taking a deep breath, her beautiful feature twisted into the face of a demon. Yes, she knew exactly how to help. As the clock struck midnight, she touching the ruby red stone that hung around her neck and whispered one word.


The last thing Buffy remembered was the meagre comforted Willow offered her in the embrace of her arms. The next, she was falling, deeper and deeper into the abyss. Clutching the redhead closer, she squeezed her eyes shut and tried to fight the dragging feeling, but it was too strong and she was too tired. Giving in, she let the darkness take over, and fell into the unknown.

A/N: Thanks for reading, and please leave a review to let me know what you think =)