Author's Note: I just posted Chapter 74 so make sure you've read that first.

This thank you is for all of you who have gone on this long, long journey with me. I've loved hearing from so many of you—all the people who've written to tell me how much they enjoyed this story, or how it's helped them through bad times. The lovely thing about fanfic is being able to interact with an audience, and you all have been wonderful. Thank you for letting me, and my story, into your lives for a little while.

That said, I do want to be clear on a couple of points: at this time I cannot possibly imagine writing a sequel to this story. For one thing, have you LOOKED at the word count? It's huge! I've never in my life written so much on a single story. And I feel like I've pretty much tied up all the loose ends I wanted to tie up, and explored all the little things I wanted to explore with this story.

That doesn't mean I'm done with writing Buffy fanfic, though. I've already got another story in the works—though it'll likely be some time before I'm ready to start posting it. It'll be long, too (though probably not this long), and explore the characters from a totally different angle. If you'd like more information, or would like to see sneak peeks of it, or find out when I'm getting closer to posting it, you can follow my livejournal for updates. I also plan to spend some time talking about this fic, and answering questions about it over there.

Once again, thank you for coming with me on this journey. I've loved writing it and sharing it with all of you.

Disclaimer: Buffy the Vampire Slayer and all recognizable characters, locations, and dialogue belong to Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and the various writers. Show writers and any other quoted authors have been credited in individual chapters. I'm making no money from this—it is purely in the name of fun.

Betaed by Phuriedae and Science



There's a vampire in the room.

There's a vampire in the room, and he's coming closer.

It's dark, but I can still see him in the moonlight through the window; my slightly enhanced vision picks him out of the shadows as he prowls toward the bed. He's dressed in black: black t-shirt, black sweats, but his skin and hair gleam snow white in the moonlight. A warm spring breeze drifts in through the open window and tousles his curls a little. I smile. My vampire. My Mr. Gordo. My Spike.

Slowly he peels the shirt off over his head, and the moonlight turns him to white marble.

"Turn on the lamp, luv," he says. I do. "Look at you," he murmurs, tilting his head to the side a little. "Like a golden goddess."

I laugh. "Are you just going to stand there and stare, or what?" I ask, pretending to yawn. "I've got a ton of stuff to do tomorrow and—"

Spike drops his pants, which pretty much shuts me up. "See something you want, Slayer?" he asks, leering a little, curling his tongue.

"I see you," I say. "I want you."

He crawls onto the bed, all sleek, predatory muscle and dark eyes. "'M yours, Buffy," he says, covering me and bending his head to mine. "Always yours. Love you, so much."

"I love you, too," I tell him. Inside of me, through our connection, I feel his joy. It's so strong, it makes me gasp. He smiles down at me. A real smile.

"My girl," he says, slightly awed. "I've got you."

"You really do," I tell him. Something flickers across his face, sort of uncertain. "What?"

He ducks his head a little. "Got you something," he says. "But... don't know if you'd want it."

"You got me a present?" I ask.

"Well," he says. "Something I've had, actually. For a long time. I don't know why I kept it but..." He swallows, then opens his fist. Lying in his palm is the little gold filigree ring I saw in his room all those months ago. "Was... it was... my mother's," he says softly, in William's accent. "I thought, after meeting her, you might not mind having it?"

"Oh," I say, remembering Anne's face, asking me to save her son, to love him. "Oh, yes. I'd be honored."

Spike's hand trembles a little, when he slides it on my finger. I remember last year, Willow's spell and a similar moment. His hand had trembled then, too, and I wonder how much of our lives, of everything we are, comes full circle this way. Only this is better, because it's not magic. It's real.

Spike leans down and kisses me deeply, his entire heart in it, and I try to give it back, to tell him how much I love him, how much I need him. He groans, and rolls off of me, pulling me with him so we're kissing and cuddling, side by side. "So," he murmurs against my skin. "Got a big day planned for tomorrow, hmm? Guess I ought to get busy and wear you out proper." His lips slide along my throat, teasing the scars there.

"Mmm," I moan. "Yep, big day. All about the big." I wrap a leg around his hip and pull him against me.

"What's so bloody important then?" he asks, teasingly. "No baddies lurking about, snow's all gone. Gonna go to the beach, pet? Wear one of those strappy little scraps of nothing? Make yourself all tan and pretty for me?"

"Well," I tell him. "First I need to go buy some of those strappy little scraps of nothing. I thought maybe you'd want to come to the mall with me and... help me pick some out?"

Spike goes very still. Then he leans up on one elbow and stares down at me. "You want me to go to the mall with you and watch while you try on bikinis?"

"Well, yeah."

His eyes almost cross for a second. Then...

"This just a ploy to get me to carry the bags, Slayer?"

"Depends. Is it working?"

"Fuck, yes," he breathes, and devours my mouth.

Laughing, we twist around each other, kissing, a study in contrasts and opposites that somehow totally balance and fit together. If Spike is my heart, I'm his soul, and together we're something even stronger than just vampire or Slayer.

I used to think a lot of things: that vampires were only demons, that having a soul made you good, that demons couldn't change.

I used to think that being the Slayer meant being hard, closed off, alone.

I used to think that the best way to love was at a distance, that you should keep the ones you love at arm's length—to protect them, and yourself.

I know now that not all demons are the same. That the capacity to love can change someone more than a soul. That real love—the deepest, strongest kind—it digs right down inside and finds out who you are, who you're meant to be. That love can heal, and help you grow. That we hurt because we love, and that pain can give us strength.

Pain is how you know you're alive.

I had to be blind to see.

I had to go to Hell and back to understand.

I hold with those who favor fire.

Lydia says that I should write it all down from the beginning. She thinks that it will be a "fascinating guide for future Slayers"—you know, in case I'm too busy to talk to them or something.

Spike says I should write it all down because he wants to know how I fell in love with him—but then, he's selfish that way. He also wants me to "go into detail about the dirty bits." I just roll my eyes.

Willow says I should write it all down because it's like a fairy tale—only weirder and true.

I suppose people will want to know if we lived "happily ever after."

I'm the Slayer.

Spike's a vampire.

We don't always get the "happily" part.

But I think, together, we might manage the "ever after."


Begun: January 7, 2010

Finished: August 19, 2010

Posted: June 9 - September 29, 2010

In Greek mythology, Cupid was the God of Love. He was sent to punish the mortal woman, Psyche, but accidentally scratched himself with his own arrow and fell in love with her instead. Believing herself cursed forever to be alone, Psyche was told to go to a secret place where she would find her husband. In the dark, without seeing his face, she fell in love with him. However, through fear and distrust she was persuaded to light a candle to see the face of her lover—and as a consequence, he was taken from her. Psyche risked everything to get him back. She went on many journeys, through many challenges, even into the Underworld and back, and in the end she was rewarded with her lover. Cupid went to the gods and begged, and Psyche was granted immortality, that she might always remain at his side, and was transformed into the deification of the human soul.