Eventually, life went on. It always did. I don't know why I stayed in Sunnydale, after all that had happened to me there, but I did. We all stayed, even Giles. The Slayer came to help us if things got too bad, but mostly, we did it ourselves.

I had nightmares all the time at first. I'd see my babies in their beds, sleeping like angels, and then they'd roll over, and gleaming skulls would smile at me. I took to sleeping in Xander's apartment. I couldn't bear to be in my house alone.

Spike stayed on Revello Street.

I asked him once, why he stayed, and he told me, "Sometimes I don't know myself, Nibblet." I smiled at the old nickname. "She's not coming back this time, and staying here won't change that. Leaving won't change it, either. I'm staying. Can't walk around forever being scared of waking the dead."

I didn't point out the irony that he, himself, was dead.

Don't wake the dead. If only they would stop waking me.

Then one night, I dreamed of Buffy. Buffy, dressed in a white maternity dress, standing in the light with a man identical to Spike. They were at a park, and I was there, too, walking beside them.

"I'm sorry, Dawn," she told me. "I'm sorry that I couldn't come back to you, and for leaving in the first place. Sometimes I think it's all a dream anyway."

"Do the dead dream?" I asked.

"They dream of being alive."

"But you're not dead." When I said it, I was certain it was true.

"Ssh," she said. "I love you all. Don't forget that. But I'm happy here. Let me dream."

She kissed me on the forehead, and I woke up, safe in my bed, Xander's soft snoring the only sound in the world.

* * *

Author's Notes

And that, ambiguous as it may be, is the end. At least it is until I go back and edit it, fixing mistakes in tense, grammar, and spelling. (Thanks to people who pointed them out. I do care, I'm just a lazy, lazy ho.)

This is pretty much the longest thing I've finished ever. Thanks to everyone who read it, and saff, Bethany, Mary Beth, Tink and Erin especially for helping me through stuff. Only one chapter of this was really beta-ed, so I own all my mistakes.

Still, I'm pretty proud to have finished it. Not the best fic out there, for sure, but it's not the worst, and that's good enough for me.