Author's Note: Song is "Full of Grace" by Sarah McLachlan and appeared first in "Becoming Part II".

Chapter 26: Leaving Home

The winter here's cold and bitter

Chills us to the bone

Haven't seen the sun for weeks

Too long, too far from home

He had walked her home to make sure she was all right. Well, not all right. More like, to make sure she was standing. Sometimes, he couldn't tell if he was either.

He crept into his room through the upstairs window, as was his habit. He sighed and threw a stake on the bed, tearing off his shirt. It was still covered in dust. It was one of the few shirts he would ever burn after slaying. He didn't ever want to think about whose dust it clung to it anytime he wore it.

He stared down at his bed vacuously. This place didn't seem like home anymore. It never seemed like home to begin with, but now, he felt like he had no home. He felt lost and broken and confused and tired. But he didn't want to rest. No, he couldn't. So he went downstairs to see how his father was doing.

He could say the words "father" in his head easily now. If anything was gained from this whole mess, it was that. Faced with the prospect of loosing Giles, he realized that he still did want a father, very much. Even if Giles had been a crappy one at that. He worried about him panicked about him, readily saved him. It didn't seem like much, but he supposed that out of all of this, having family was helpful.

He was climbing downstairs when he heard them talking in the living room.

"Oh bloody----oww!" He could hear his father wincing as Ms. Calendar applied the alcohol onto his cuts and bruises.

"Stop squirming, Rupert."

"Well it bloody hurts!"

Ms. Calendar sighed. "This is the least of your problems. You should be more thankful that apocalypse was successfully averted."

"With no help from me," he muttered sullenly.

"Way to sing the song of gratefulness."

It was Giles' turn to sigh. "I am more than ecstatic that Buffy defeated Angelus. I had faith that she would."

"I know. I thought it would be hard, what with the soul curse and all, but I guess it never worked. Must have been a glitch in the translation."

Spike widened his eyes. Was that what that was? He had been too shocked and overcome with a storm of emotions to tell.

"The point is," Ms. Calendar continued, "that it's over and we can get on with our lives."

He could almost hear his father stiffly turn to question her. "Can we?"

"Well of course we ca---what do you mean Rupert?"

"I saw her," he murmured quietly.

"Saw who?"

"His mother. Spike's mother."

Spike stiffened and stood stock-still.

"Spike's mother?" Ms. Calendar was shifting in her seat with surprise.

"Emma. S-she's been dead many years of course and it was obviously just a hallucination Angel incurred on me to get me to talk but . . ."

"Well . . ." Ms. Calendar was forebodingly quiet. "What did she say in the hallucination?"

Giles paused and Spike tensed with impatience. "She said that she had seen everything. The way I've treated him, the way I . . . haven't been taking care of him."

"Rupert don't say that----"

"It's true. I haven't. I . . . I don't think I even know how to, either."

"Oh Rupert . . ."

"I wanted so much more for him. I don't want him to turn out like me. The path he's headed on . . . I've been there. In my old Ripper days, I thought this . . . the world of monsters and demons and evil . . . I thought it was all fun and games. I toyed with power I had no right to."

"You don't know he's like that."

"I don't and I pray he's never like that. But I can't take that chance. I don't want him here with me."

Spike felt like the words were a blow to his head.

"Don't want him here?"

He knew Giles was shaking his head. "No. It's not safe for him here. I want to send him back to London to stay with his grandmother."

He clenched his fists in anger. Although Giles was speaking out of concern, it sounded to Spike like he was talking out of the same, old "I want nothing to do with him" attitude. It inflamed him with rage.

He had stayed for his father, to save him. But it didn't seem to matter. Giles didn't want him after all. His own son and he didn't want to be with him. It was just like the years of neglect all over again.

"But Giles, he's your own son," Ms. Calendar pressed, voicing his own thoughts. "Don't you, as his father, want him here with you?"

Spike held his breath and waited tensely. "No," Giles said firmly.

That was enough for him. It made him sick inside and he didn't want to hear anymore, so he barreled back upstairs, cursing his father under his breath slightly. He had moved so quickly that he didn't have a chance to hear Giles add sadly, "As his father, I want him to live somewhere where all this ugliness and hurt can't touch him. I love him more than anything, Jenny. I know he needs that."

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It feels just like I'm sinking

And I claw for solid ground

I'm pulled down by the undertow

I never thought I could feel so low

In all darkness I feel like letting go

She looked around the room and remembered that she wasn't supposed to be there. And she didn't care much. She felt like she didn't belong anywhere. She felt dark and lonely and she knew that was the only place she deserved to be.

She had killed him. Her own soft hands had brought the death of the person she loved most in the world. It was like the mark of Cain was plastered on her forehead and exiled her away from everything else she cared about, away from her family and friends. But maybe it was just about running. It was easier this way. She was sick to death of having to be the one who saved everybody and everything, especially when it meant that she had nothing to herself in the end. So she wanted to flee from her destiny, never to touch it again.

She packed a bag, haphazardly throwing contents into a suitcase. She counted the money she had managed to slip silently from her mother's wallet. She would pay her back one day. Whenever she forgave her for leaving.

It was enough for a bus ticket to L.A. She didn't know why she was choosing L.A., but she had the faint idea it was because she would be a nobody there. At this moment, she wanted nothing more than to be a nobody, dwelling anonymously in her own pain.

As she finished counting the money, the winking claddagh ring, curled around her left middle finger suddenly drew her gaze. She stiffened and her eyes filled with tears. Hatefully, she dropped everything and tried to thrust it off, then throwing it, sending it sailing across the room. She choked back heavy sobs and continued packing.

She was about to leave the room, but she remembered she had forgotten two very important items. One was the photo taken last July of all of them, Willow, Xander and herself, all together and hugging in the park. She paused and gazed down at it, stroking it affectionately before stuffing it into her knapsack. The second item was Mr. Pointy, still lying on her bed. For some reason, there was a sense of security that surrounded it and made it a comfort to her. She couldn't tell what it was, but she knew she had to keep it with her always.

She gently entered her sister's room, watching her sleep peacefully. She edged towards Dawn's bed and smiled when she saw her grasping her borrowed pink pig, Mr. Gordo, with all her might. She kissed her gently on the forehead and left the room.

She went to her mother's room the same way, but didn't kiss her. Instead, she just stared at her sorrowfully, knowing that Mrs. Summers would regret her words in the morning once she found Buffy's empty room. But it had to be this way. Buffy couldn't stay here and pretend to be happy when all she wanted to be was alone.

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It's better this way I say

Haven't seen this place

Where everything we say and do hurts us all the more

It's just that we stay too long in the same old sickly skin

I'm pulled down by the undertow

Never thought I could feel so low

In all darkness, I feel like letting go

Spike stood cloaked in darkness, holding his thumb out to the empty road. Dim lights traveled down the stretch of concrete ribbon without stopping. Finally, one pickup truck with a load of boxes halted and an old man stuck his head out at Spike.

"Where you headed?"

Spike shrugged darkly. "Anywhere you are, mate."

"I gotta deliver these packages to L.A. by morning. I could drop you off there."

"Then that's my destination." He hopped up into the cab just as a long Greyhound bus passed by in the same direction.

Buffy stared out the window, thinking she saw someone she knew, but was too despondent to care. She settled into her seat, clearing away the new tears that joined the salty trail of old ones. She gazed blankly as the headlights struck the sign, gaily wishing her a happy departure from Sunnydale.

"Now leaving Sunnydale!" it said. "Please visit again some time soon!"

For the two broken hearts, ambling aimlessly to the same destination, 'never' would be soon enough for them.

Of all of the strength and all of the courage

Come and lift me from this place

I know I can love you much better than this

Full of Grace, Full of Grace

My love

THE END

To be continued in "Summer Sanctuary"

Author's note: Yes that's the end! *Hint: I'm not very good with endings, excuse me if this one sucks, I just don't know how to end things*. I know some of you may feel cheated with the lack of Spuffy at the end, but I promise that the sequel will have the B/S you all are waiting for. I'm going to be posting it up very soon on ff.net, please keep a look out for it. Thank you SO MUCH to those who have reviewed this story, I really appreciate it.