For as long as she could remember, Independence Day had been Buffy's favourite holiday. It was for one reason, fireworks- sparklers to be specific. Tracing her name in the air had made her feel powerful before power had been thrust upon her. And waving that burning stick of explosives felt magical, before she learnt about real magic. Real magic, she mused, was far more powerful and could do much worse things than singe your fingers if you held on for too long.

Aged twenty, Buffy was sitting outside her home alone on the fourth of July. Her friends had tried to throw a party, have a picnic in the back-yard and try to act normal, but the gaps in the group were too noticeable, and the pain of their absence too fresh. Xander had made his excuses early, he had work in the morning and Dawn hadn't stayed for more than ten minutes after he left before leaving to go to a friend's house, looking back at the house with fear in her eyes. Though it had been more than six weeks since it had happened, Buffy still found Dawn sitting in that room; in the same spot she had been found on that day. No amount of bleach had removed the stains so Dawn had ripped up part of the carpet. They had covered it with a rug, but every morning it was out of place.

Yes, sparklers were much safer, she thought, writing her name in the air before dropping the end onto the grass. But the problem was, however bright they were when lit, the darkness always looked darker when they burned out, even with the after-image of her name flickering across her vision. A tiny act could leave an after-effect, one that you couldn't blink away.

Spike sat in the corner of the train's luggage carriage, muttering about sparks, burning and magic. He shook as he spoke, and his speech ranged from slow and quiet to loud and fast. To an outsider, unacquainted with his story, his journey home from Africa would seem impossible, given his obvious lack of lucidity. But he had gone through all this, travelled half way around her, and been tortured by himself and outside influences for a reason. He was half starved, his hair was matted and he had deep cuts across his chest from the rusty piece of metal he had dragged across it in one of his worse moments, when he wanted to take it all back, to be a dog, to let himself be put down. But he couldn't, he had to show her that he had a spark, that he could be real, what he could do. He would burn it into her brain so she saw it every time she blinked.

A/N- feedback would be nice, and yes, I know Spike probably would still be undergoing trials at that point (this is set between s6 and s7), so consider the canon warped. The song this fic is based on is lovely, if you want to give it a listen on Youtube.

Disclaimer- I don't own BTVS or Rocky Votolato's back-catalogue.