Forever.

Buffy stared down at her mother's grave with sad eyes. A part of her still couldn't believe she was gone. She had tried so hard to keep her family safe and together but this was something she couldn't have foreseen or stopped.

She was the slayer, powerful and strong. She fought demons and hell spawns, the kind of things your nightmares were made of and she always bested them. Always won. But a tumour, something so small had taken her mother away in an instant and there was nothing she could do to stop it.

She had been standing in the same spot for hours. Everyone else had already left, Willow and Tara had Dawn for the night and the sun had long since set. She knew she should go home and at least try to get some rest but she couldn't seem to move.

She was waiting for him, she knew he would show up eventually. He loved her mother almost as much as he loved her. It had taken some time but gradually she had fallen for him, but she never dare to tell her friends… She couldn't tell them, they wouldn't understand…

She was in love with Spike. How could they possibly understand when she hardly did?

He was everything she was meant to be against but yet he wasn't. He had no soul but he showed more love, compassion and mercy then any other creature and person she knew. He never judged anyone, even though people were constantly judging him and even though she had pushed him away and told him to leave a million times over… he was the only one that ever stayed.

They would all leave eventually.

She was the slayer, forever bound to Sunnydale and to the hell mouth. Willow, Xander, Anya, Tara, Dawn and hell, even Giles would eventually leave to start their own lives, far away from the dangers of the hell mouth. Sunnydale was no place to start a family, especially when you knew for sure what went bump in the night. She didn't blame them, this wasn't their responsibility, it was hers but it made her wonder.

Was it really worth keeping her feelings for Spike a secret? Would he wait for her? It could be years before her friends moved on with their lives, allowing her the space and freedom to date whomever she wanted but would he wait that long? Or would she tell him to leave one too many times? Did she really want to wait that long herself?

With a sigh she stared down at her mother's grave, knowing all too well how fragile life was and how quickly someone could be taken from you. She was tired of pretending to be on the ib"we hate Spike"/b/i band wagon and seeing the hurt in his eyes every time she said something nasty or hurtful.

She just wished she could stop being so concerned with everyone else's opinions, all she wanted was freedom.

She heard something moving in the bushes and felt that all to familiar tingle that signaled a vampire was near, how dare some demon or vampire disturb her at her mother's grave. ib "I'm going to take great pleasure in ripping this thing limb from limb."/b /ishe thought as she pulled a stake from inside her jacket and turned ready to fight, only to see the object of her thoughts standing behind her holding a hand full of freshly picked daisy's.

"Spike?"

"Didn't mean to scare you, luv. Was waiting for you to leave but you looked like you were going to be here a while. I would've come back later but I thought I could do a sweep of the town for you… I just wanted to pay my respects to your mom."

"You're going to patrol for me?" she asked, only slightly shocked.

"You got enough on your mind without worrying about what's bumping around town… I'll handle patrol for a while."

Buffy couldn't keep the grateful smile from her face.

"Thanks."

He met her eyes with a small smile and stood still, unsure of what to do or say.

"So do you mind if I…?" he asked, pointing at her mother's grave.

"No of course not, please." She stepped to the side. "Mom would like that you came… she always had a soft spot for you."

Buffy watched as he knelt down and laid the flowers onto Joyce's grave, placing a hand on the dirt,

"She was a nice bird, good woman." Buffy could hear his smile. "She always had a hot cup of cocoa for me… She never judged me." She barely heard the last part as it came out in a mere whisper. She felt guilt flood through her as she bowed her head, feeling like she was about to start crying again.

"I'll give you some privacy." she whispered, taking a few steps back.

Buffy could hear Spike as he started to talk to her mom and knew that she shouldn't be listening in on such a private conversation. She knew she should put some more distance between them but a part of her desperately wanted to hear what he had to say.

"Hi Joyce…I don't really know how to say goodbye. I always thought you would be around…guess I got kind of depended on you but I just want you to know that I remember what I promised and ill keep it. She'll be safe. I'll make sure she lives to a long old age even if it costs me my life… safe and not alone. I'll be here no matter how many times she tells me to leave. By her side and the bit too of course… I guess I won't be coming around for cocoa and a chat anymore but I'll drop by here from time to time, I swear… I'll see you later…" he finished speaking and with stunned eyes, Buffy watched as he wiped away a stray tear from his eye before standing. He met her eyes briefly and nodded before disappearing into the darkness.

Buffy stood there stunned. What was he talking about? Nightly coca and chats? And what promise? When had he seen her mother? She needed to know, needed answers. Had he seen her mother shortly before she died? What had she said to him? Buffy was just about to chase after Spike when she felt strong fingers intertwine with hers, she didn't need to look up to know who it was.

"I'm sorry it took me so long to get here." Angel whispered as she turned and smiled.

"It means so much that you came and I'm sorry but I have to go." She quickly let go of his hand and started to walk away.

"Buffy, what's wrong?" he asked, confused. Smiling brightly, she shook her head.

"Nothing. Nothing's wrong, finally." she said, kissing him softly on the cheek.

"Thanks for coming all the way out here but there's somewhere I need to be." she smiled and ran off into the darkness leaving a slightly confused Angel behind.

ib"Well at least she's staying positive." /b/ihe thought, before laying some red roses on Joyce's grave and then heading back to his car.

Buffy didn't bother to knock, she never use to so why start now? Barging into the crypt, she saw Spike sitting in his favourite chair reading a book, she recognised it imminently and it stopped her in her tracks.

"Is that my mother's book?" she couldn't help but snap, staring at him as he stood and closed the book which was titled b"Poetry"/b before placing it onto his chair. Joyce had loved poetry and more than anything she loved writing it, she had given Spike her personal journal with all her poems in side. Buffy wanted answers.

"Um… yeah she said I could have it… Look I was about to go on patrol just like I said I would. I just needed to get some gear and I got a little distracted." Buffy looked stunned. What kind of relationship did Spike and her mother have? She knew that Joyce liked Spike but she had no idea they were so close.

"I'm not here about the patrolling." She replied, looking at the book on the chair again.

"You can have it if you want." Spike said, picking it up and moving to hand it to her.

"No. She gave it to you, keep it." Spike nodded, slightly shocked, he was sure she was going to snatch the book from his grasp. He turned and placed it back on the arm chair before turning to face her again.

"What promise did you make to my mom?"

"You were listening? What happened to giving me some privacy?" Spike snapped.

"Look, I didn't mean to eavesdrop but… enhanced hearing kinda comes with the slayer package."

Spike sighed, running his hand through his curls as he began to pace.

"Spike, I need answers. How close were you and my mom? How often did you come over for…cocoa and chats? Why did she never tell me about it? And most importantly, what promise did you make her and when?"

Spike took a deep and unnecessary breath before turning to face her.

"We were close. She was a friend, always ready to listen and not judge… she didn't treat me like a freak." The last part came out in a mere whisper but she heard him loud and clear.

Guilt flooded through her again, how could she be so cruel to him? She knew she only did it to hide her true feelings but now she wish she had just been honest.

"I would come over three nights a week while you were out patrolling, she never told you 'cause I asked her not to. I didn't want you to be mad at her," he met her eyes. "She said I was being silly but… I know what you think of me, I'm just another monster and I didn't want you to stop me from seeing your mom. I enjoyed her company to much."

"Spike, I never would have stop you two catching up. She's my mom I'm not her's… What about the promise?"

"It was the night before she died. She was worried because of everything she had gone through with the tumor and that if anything did happen to her one day, what would happen to you and Dawn…She made me promise to watch out for you both and to make sure you had whatever you need. Whether it be help with a big bad or help with bills, she made me promise that you would never be alone. Your mom was a smart lady. She knew one day your friends and Dawn would move on with their lives, move away from Sunnydale and start families. She knew you would be forever bound to the hell mouth and she wanted me to make sure you wouldn't be alone and that you would be safe, grow to a ripe old age…. So I promised." he couldn't meet her eyes, instead he kept staring down at the ground.

"Why?" Buffy asked, stunned.

"Because she asked me too."

"You loved her like a mother didn't you?" his head shot up and his eyes met hers.

"She reminded me a lot of my mom. So yeah, I guess I did." he answered honestly.

"God, I hope that doesn't mean you see me as a kid sister." Buffy laughed.

"Not likely," he laughed.

"Good, because that would make this uncomfortable." She took a few steps forward and placed a hand on the back of his head, pulling his lips down onto hers and smashing her lips onto his forcefully. Their kiss was forceful and passionate at first but Spike quickly broke the kiss, Buffy was stunned.

"Buffy…. You're grieving, I understand that…." He begun but Buffy's sudden laughter stopped him. "Want to let me in on the joke, luv?" he asked, slightly hurt.

"Do you think I just kissed you because I'm vulnerable and need comfort?"

"Well… yeah" he replied honestly, she couldn't help but laugh again. "You're starting to hurt my feelings here, luv."

"I am vulnerable and I do need comfort but it's more than that…. It's me finally allowing myself to show you how I really feel." she whispered.

"And how's that then?" he asked, terrified by what she might say but desperately needing to know. Buffy took a much needed deep breath and ran a shaky hand through her hair before she nervously began speaking.

"Losing mom has made me realize a few things," she met his eyes. "We never know when our time is up and I don't want to regret anything when I leave this earth…" he stepped forward, grasping her arms.

"You're not going anywhere anytime soon, luv. I made a promise to your mom and I intend to keep it." she smiled up at him brightly.

"I know you will do everything in your power to protect me but I'm the slayer, Spike. Danger is going to be following me around for the rest of my life. It's good to know that with you watching my back I've got a good chance."

Spike smiled and let go of her arms, taking a step back to give them both some room.

"I've been having these feeling…"she met his eyes briefly before dropping them to the ground. "for you… for a while but I hide them because… I don't know, I was scared of what they meant. I was scared of what my friends would say but losing mom, it made me realize eventually everybody leaves. I can't expect them to fight this fight forever, it's not their responsibility, it's mine. They'll want to move away and start families and Sunnydale is no place to raise kids but I can't do that, I'm bound here, forever." she explained, saddened.

"I thought if I waited until they left and moved on with their lives, then maybe it would be okay for me to be with you without their criticism and stares…. I can't really blame them, the last time I got involved with a vampire it didn't exactly go well for them." Taking another much needed breath she continued.

"But I'm tired of waiting, of being alone. I'm tired of pretending that I don't love you when I do." The words rolled out her mouth before she could stop them. She looked up, stunned at her words but Spike looked even more stunned.

"You love me?" he whispered.

"I do." she replied but before she could say another word he was across the room, his lips on hers.

They battled for dominance, grasping at each other. Spike pushed her up against the closest wall and let his hands run up and down her body. Buffy was lost in the sensation of being in Spikes arms but when his hand slid under her top and grasped one firm breast she pushed away slightly.

Spike felt foolish for letting himself get swept away in the moment and quickly removed his hand before taking a step back.

"It's not what you think." she said quickly. "I have this habit of rushing into things too quickly and they tend to crash and burn but I want this to be forever. W-would you mind if we took things slow?" she asked shyly, looking down at the floor.

Spike smiled and slowly walked over to her, tilting her head up to meet his eyes.

"Not at all," he smiled sweetly,

"Could I stay here? Tonight I mean?"

He nodded and watched as she stepped down the ladder to the lower level before quickly following her. Buffy took her jacket off before slipping under the covers.

"You get some rest now." he whispered before turning to head back up top.

"Spike," Buffy said, almost sounding panicked. He stopped and turned to see her sitting up in the bed. "Will you stay here, with me? …. Will you just hold me?"

He nodded and removed his duster before getting into the bed and holding out his arms for her to slide in close. He softly stroked her hair as she started to doze off.

"I love you, Spike." she whispered one last time.

Spike couldn't stop the smile from lighting up his face as he leant down to gently kiss her on the head.

"I love you too, forever."

"Forever, I like the sound of that."

Buffy was still smiling as she drifted off into a dreamless sleep with Spike not far behind. She knew her friends would struggle with the news of her and Spike being a couple but it didn't matter, not anymore. She loved him and he loved her and that was all that mattered in the end. Everything else they would deal with… together.

The end.