Diclaimer: 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' is nowhere near mine. If it was, would Spike have died? Okay, he probably would have, but Buffy would have died with him.

Summary: Buffy is dead and-... not quite gone yet. Something is keeping her around to watch her friends' and Dawn's lives without her, as well as a certain ex-enemy who keeps a promise. When the Scoobies make the plan to ressurect her, Buffy has a choice to make...

Setting: Between the last few minutes of Season 5 and the first double-episode of Season 6. Probably three chapters.

Rating: T

A/N: I know I should be posting the final chapter of 'Your heart's desire' right now, but this little idea has been plaguing me for quite a while now (it's also been done a hundred times, but I still want to do my own take on it) and today, I finally sat down and wrote the first chapter.

It shouldn't be too long, probably three to five chapters and I hope you'll find Buffy's character development and the happenings in the Scoobies' lives to be realistic. I always try to be as canon as possible, while giving Buffy a chance to fall in love with Spike.

Seeing as I love them so, so much, this will contain a lot of Spike and Dawn scenes, some Buffybot wackiness and Anya. :P

For some reason, BtVS is angsty enough for me to want to write fluffy stuff... That's strange, because I usually write angst. But that's why I love the show.

I hope you enjoy this story and take the time to leave me a review! :)


It was a strange feeling, being ripped away from your body. Not necessarily painful after the initial bolts of dimensional energy, not even violating, but very, very weird. Like there was a pull back to her falling self, but a push in the other direction. Thank some merciful being above; this occurred before she hit the ground.

She was grateful she wasn't afraid of heights, though. Or hadn't been, when she jumped. It would have been a whole lot more difficult to go up there on that rusty, very unstable-seeming tower if she had been, let alone throw herself down there.

But it had all made sense and she wouldn't have had time to be scared even if being up so high had frightened her.

Buffy had expected to die. It was too soon, of course, but then again, it always was. Besides your imminent death was the kind of thing you simply began to accept one day, especially if you were a Slayer with a life expectancy of twenty. Or if you were about to face an exiled hell god with a bad perm who was out to kill your sister, the mythical key to her dimension.

Speaking of dimensions, she had yet to leave this one. While being incorporeal and watching her body crash into the remains of battle, her mind was still very much there. Wasn't it supposed to be soul only? Possibly making with the warm and fuzzy? After everything she'd done, you'd think she'd at least go to heaven or someplace like that. Maybe that would come later.

For now, she watched Dawnie slowly climb off the tower, obviously in shock, one foot after the other, hand holding to one thing after the other.

Buffy was proud of the little speech she had come up with. Normally, she wasn't one to depend on words, all action and no talky, but this time, she had actually found the exact right things to say. Of course that wouldn't make the grief more bearable, especially because her mom's death and Buffy's had followed each other so closely, but it would be a comfort and something to hold on to. She wished she didn't have to cause Dawn sorrow, but if it came down to making her lose her and letting her kill herself to save the world – which was her job anyway - it wasn't exactly a choice.

And this wasn't the worst place, where she was now. At least the pain was gone, the physical aching and the pressure of being the Chosen One. She had died a good death, a worthy death, one that had saved a life she cared about and probably some others, too. Buffy Summers had gone out like a warrior, like a martyr and she could honestly say that Giles would probably be proud of her as soon as he got over the fact that this meant she wasn't alive anymore. She was definitely proud of herself.

Giles was standing over Ben, who didn't seem to be breathing anymore. It was clear he had killed the man, an innocent as far as innocence can go when you share your body with a murderous bitch like Glory. But even that was alright. As sorry as she was and as much as she knew she never would have done the same, it was a relief to know Dawn would never be in danger from the hell god again. If she was alive, she'd have to have a serious talk with Giles about his brutal actions and harsh decision, but she wasn't and honestly, after Ben hadn't let her sister go, he wasn't exactly up there on her list of good guys.

The hard part was yet to come, she suddenly realized. For her, it was already over. She was dead and while not completely gone yet, she would probably be soon. Even for Dawnie, the worst was behind her. She had already let her go, even if the pain of missing her was still ahead of her. But the others? They were going to find her, see her body that lay there so peacefully, looking so much less broken than it was. She had even miraculously landed on her back. If you could look past the scene around her, the body of Buffy Summers looked very much like it was sleeping.

Not like her mom, who had just looked dead. Hers hadn't been a romantic death, a necessary one. It had just been cruel and senseless and excruciating. And Buffy hadn't been able to do anything to help. At least in her own demise, she had been able to make a choice.

And she would see her mom again, now, wouldn't she? If someone up there wasn't playing mind games with her, she would go to the same heaven, dimension, whatever her mom had disappeared to. She would be with her again. That thought alone was enough to comfort her, warm her to the core of her decidedly bodiless being. She would see Mom again. If she could smile, she would.

But she did wonder when that reunion would occur, because for now, it didn't seem like her soul was in a hurry to get there. Something was keeping her here and she didn't like the thought of this being to let her have one final goodbye. She had already said her goodbyes, had already moved on. What good would it be to watch her friends and family cry over her dead body? It wouldn't make things easier, seriously.

Like with Xander, good, sweet Xander who was currently brushing a lock of hair from Anya's face. She was fine, as far as Buffy could tell, had only gotten hurt a little, a bit out of it and very weak, but she would survive and be her annoying ex-demony self again in no time. Xander, however already looked as if his world was crumbling down at just the thought of losing her and while Anya wouldn't die, he would soon discover that his friend hadn't made it.

And Willow… God, Willow. Willow had actually seen her fall, had looked up in that precise moment when she jumped, as if she had been able to feel it. Her leg was injured and she was leaning on Tara and she was frozen, just staring at the place where Buffy was lying. And then she was moving, the love of her life – restored to sanity – supporting her and the tears running down her face almost broke Buffy. When Willow cried-… nothing was worse than when Willow cried.

Except maybe for-… Giles was on his way now, a broken man who had finally spotted the girl he regarded as his daughter. It was so hard to watch, the lines suddenly forming on his face, his heavy, trance-like steps, how hard he shook with suppressed emotion. He looked as if he had suddenly lost years of his life and at the same time, she had never seen him so young, so vulnerable. He was Giles. He wasn't supposed to be so-… broken.

Xander was carrying Anya, his face blank with shock, hers actually teary.

'The hardest thing in this world is to live in it?' Not living in it and having to be there for this was so much harder!

And Dawn-…

Please, whoever wasn't letting her pass, she didn't need to see this. Please.

So she looked at the other person who had fought with them, the one she had ignored up until now. He was a vampire. Sure, he cared about her, had proven that and stood by her side as the person she could depend on most in this battle, but he wouldn't be as difficult to watch as the others. She didn't care about him as much as the others and he wouldn't grieve anywhere near as hard.

Then she saw him and suddenly had the sensation of falling backwards. Not even when she was in the middle of jumping toward certain death or through a mystical field of dimensional energy had she experienced this sense of-… of vertigo.

He was making her crash right back to earth and this time, she was terrified.

Spike was limping, an injury he had obviously obtained during his own fall off the tower. She had seen it, the panic, the horror in his gaze as he fell past her. That stupid old demon guy who had cut Dawn must have shoved him off while he was trying to protect her.

His eyes were impossibly wide. Had she ever even noticed how insanely blue they were?

She hadn't paid much attention to him, had merely taken his help for granted, gratefully accepting it. He was strong, he was a vampire and if she couldn't have Angel fighting at her side, she'd have to make do with Spike. Weird and creepy obsession with her aside, he was a valuable ally and he would never intentionally hurt her or hers. Her friends had disapproved – except for her sister, who for some strange reason actually liked him – but she had known she could count on him to keep Dawnie safe. He had promised and she had believed him. She had trusted him.

She still did trust him.

She hadn't counted on him looking like a man. To her, he had been a vampire first and foremost, a wealth of strength and arrogance and now he freakin' fell to his knees upon seeing her dead form.

That just didn't make any sense. He might believe himself to be in love with her, but without a soul, that wasn't actually possible; ridiculous, even. Being with Angel had taught her that much, not to mention all the other idiot vamps she had come across whose only thoughts were on the following topics: blood, kill, murder, mayhem, blood, plotting to destroy something or other, occasionally the world, blood. Sex, sometimes. But mostly blood.

And here Spike was and he was sobbing helplessly into his hand like a man who had lost the love of his life.

She didn't like what that did to his face, the way it crumbled. He was a handsome guy, she had noticed that. Despite his impossible fashion sense and the hair that was faker blond than hers – okay, he could pull off both - he was pretty good-looking. After all, there were the cheekbones and the eyes, his lean built and unintimidating height. Even that scar in his eyebrow was kind of sexy. Plus, from what she hadn't been erasing from her mind with wonder wash, he was a pretty good kisser and had some seriously defined muscles going on beneath that black leather duster.

How often had she cursed Willow for that 'will-be-done' spell… Without that, she never would have spared him a glance. Or a grope.

Her mind flashed back to the night he had taught her all about Slayers. As much as she hadn't liked him at all back then, she couldn't remember ever wanting to give in half as much. Just kiss him and let him do all kinds of naughty things to her body. Possibly do a naughty or two of her own to his. There had been so much lust building in her… She didn't even want to know what would have happened if she hadn't gone straight into self-defense mode. She had shoved him to the ground, spawn some hateful words his way and thrown money at him like at a cheep street hooker.

For once, he hadn't done anything to warrant behavior like hers that night. And the clincher had been when he had shown up at her house, obviously to kill her – the rifle had been kind of a dead give-away – and comforted her about her mom instead. If she hadn't felt so lousy already, she might have actually experienced quite the guilt trip.

Which she was belatedly doing now.

And hey! She was dead, wasn't she? How could she even guilt-trip at all? No fair…

Whatever. Since then, she had done some serious lusting, even though it disgusted her. She didn't give a crap about him as a person, but no one could tell her he wasn't insanely hot.

And she probably shouldn't be thinking about that right now. What had been her point? Oh yeah, right. Spike wasn't supposed to act like a man. But he grieved at least as much as her best friends and her sister and that was-… confusing? Shocking? World-view-shattering? Vertigo-invoking?

With a mental (souly?) frown, Buffy realized she probably wouldn't move on to the next level so soon, after all.

To be continued...