This showed up in my brain years ago and has been sitting on my computer ever since. What would happen if one day, suddenly, Buffy had died for real.


Buffy was dead. Everyone knew it, so why did someone have to bring it up every bloody night like clockwork, Spike growled to himself, avoiding the teary eyes of the scoobies. He'd cried his tears that night and never would again. They all hated him for it.

At the time, he'd figured the others would eventually leave Sunnydale; he thought he would have left eventually, but then someone had come along and kept them all together. It was another little girl, small and stronger than she looked, but nothing like the last one they'd had. Faith was dark haired and dark eyed. And her thoughts were dark, too. But she kept the gang together through some indescribable force of will. They had all stayed.

Well, Anya had left, but she didn't really count. She'd gone back to her demon roots and left Xander in a fit for a few weeks, but then he'd moved on. Tara had left, but that was before, and Spike suspected Willow had been the one to bring Faith back to Sunnydale. The new Slayer seemed to know the group somehow. He couldn't say exactly when she'd first arrived; one night she was just there, sitting as if she'd always been there. No one had said a word, so he said nothing. She kept the gang together; even Giles was still with them, fighting the good fight.

But Faith wasn't Buffy. She was a Slayer, but she wasn't The Slayer. That was why Spike was standing over her, breathing hard with the effort of protecting her from a fledge who'd taken too strong an interest. That was why she was staring at the ground to hide the hurt while the others kept their awkward distance. He couldn't say who'd said it, and it didn't matter. It had been said.

"If Buffy were here…" And it ended just as suddenly, with a blush and silence.

"Why don't we call it a night," Giles said with a nervous cough. "We'll all feel better after a good night's sleep."

The scoobies nodded but made no move to leave. Faith was still sitting on the ground, the damp soaking into her jeans. She didn't look up.

"Yeah, night's getting cold. Demon kinds'll be underground where it's warmer."

Spike looked down at Faith. "Up and at 'em, pet," he said, taking her elbow and pulling her to her feet. She weighed nearly nothing, and he pulled too hard, jarring her. "Sorry," he muttered, still holding her arm.

Under all her baggy clothes, he could feel the sharp bone of her elbow. Without the clothes, he could have wrapped his hand around her forearm with room to spare. He remembered that someone had once said something about prison, and drugs, but he couldn't remember what else had been said. He had been drunk, and the pain of Buffy's death had been too fresh for him to care about any other Slayer.

Willow and Giles walked away toward the parking lot. He let go of Faith's arm.

Xander was waiting for her. He always drove her home to her cheap apartment that was little more than a closet with a bathroom. Then Xander would catch up with Willow at the Bronze, or maybe just go home. The two of them had moved in together after each had realized they didn't ever want to return to empty apartments again. Spike had always known that he didn't want that either, but he was still the only occupant of his crypt who was up and kicking.

"S'okay, I got her tonight." He told Xander.

The boy looked ready to object, but then he shrugged and nodded. They'd spent the summer trusting Spike with their lives, and even he no longer thought twice about it. Xander wandered off toward his own car, leaving them alone. He'd be early to catch Willow, but that would give him time to drink before she arrived to cast disparities on his new habit.

Spike turned back to Faith, and found her crouching near a headstone, gathering her weapons and her bag. She was intent on her task, her face as hard as if it had been carved from stone; it was the same expressionless expression that she adopted whenever Buffy was mentioned. Even Spike knew that it was a sore spot with her, that she would never live up to the legacy of The Slayer. It hurt her, and Spike had realized that it hurt her at the same time that he realized that he loved her, in a quiet and friendly way that wouldn't have been possible before he'd watched Buffy die. He guessed that it wouldn't have been possible for Faith either, before she'd gone through whatever she had gone through in L.A.

"You should be gettin' indoors. There's still plenty of nasties about." He lit a cigarette, and saw the tear before she could wipe it away. He couldn't stand crying women, they always brought out the ponce in him. "I may be dead, but I've got a shoulder to cry on if you like. Can't be so bad as all that."

Faith tied her bag and stood up, blinking away any more tears. "Why do you stay?" she asked.

"Can't leave you alone in a cemetery. S'not safe."

"Why do you stay in Sunnydale?" she said, "Buffy's gone. She was what you wanted. She was why you stayed in the first place."

"Was she?" He took a long drag off his fag, drawing it out to give him time to think. "Don't rightly know what I wanted back then. Maybe it was her, maybe not. Can't have her now, though, none of us can have her anymore."

"But you loved her?"

"I guess I did, in a way." He was getting more uncomfortable by the second. This was more words than he'd spoken to Faith in all the time they'd known each other. Before, it had never been more than 'are you injured' or 'look out!'

"Only so much a demon can love, you know," he said.

"Maybe," she said, "maybe not." She shook her head. "Good night, Spike."

He looked at her sharply, but she'd already turned away. Faith had never called him by that name before. She always called him William, like the others had taken to calling him William. Like Buffy had started calling him William before she'd run off on her own and gotten herself killed by some lucky two-day-old fledge.

He watched Faith walking away toward the street and felt a pain in his chest that he had thought long gone and buried.

"Hey! Wait up, I'm driving you home, remember?"

He ran to catch up with her, and saw that the impenetrable, stony expression was back again.

They walked to the car, and Faith waited while he reached across the front seats to unlock her door from the inside. The old Desoto had lasted through half a dozen apocalypses, but not in the best of condition. The front passenger's seatbelt was torn out and the seatback stuck in recline - had been ever since he'd given a lift to that Fyarl demon a few months back.

Faith didn't seem to mind, but Spike did.

They rode in silence, he cast glances at her now and again, but she was staring out the window. She lived half a mile from their last cemetery; too close for Spike's liking because the apartment came sooner than he was able to think of a way to get her to open up again. He pulled in front of the building and stopped the car with a grind of metal parts that shouldn't be grinding.

Faith struggled with the door for several seconds while Spike got out and walked around to force it from the outside. He offered a hand to help her out. She frowned at it, as if she didn't understand what it was for, but then she accepted it.

"You got a bloke of your own?" he asked before she could leave him. He held her hand just long enough to catch her attention before letting go.

"A what?"

"A bloke, a man. Someone to buy you flowers and keep you company, that sort of thing?"

"No one's ever bought me flowers," she said. "Why do you ask?"

"It just occurred to me, everyone else has someone to go home to. Willow's rooming with Harris, and Rupert's got a new chit. But you go home alone." Spike hoped she would hear the part he had left out.

Faith crossed her arms and looked away down the street for a long time. Spike stepped closer, and then closer still when she didn't answer.

"I don't mind being alone," she said. "I always have been. You get used to it after a while."

"Been a hundred and forty three years," he muttered. "Get some sleep, pet. I'll see you tomorrow night." He walked around to his side of the car and opened the door.

"Are you?" she called.

"Am I what?"

Spike turned back to look at her. If he let her, she would invite him up to her apartment and ask him to stay the night. She would sleep with him and wake up the next morning believing it was a fluke, or a mistake. If he let her, she would.

"Lonely," she answered. "I mean, you don't have anyone. Do you?"

"Only you, luv," he said. "Go to bed." He climbed into the car and forced himself to drive away. In the rearview mirror, he could see her still standing on the stairs, watching him go.

Spike drove back to his crypt and sat up for the rest of the night, smoking and drinking, and telling himself it was all for the best. He didn't mind being alone, he told himself. He didn't miss the weight of a body next to him, or the heat of a human body under the blankets.

He could still see the blank look on her face and the look of confusion when he had driven away. He tossed fitfully all day, reminding himself that he would have no body heat to offer her in return for the heat her presence gave him.

.

The scoobies didn't meet the following night. Willow's parents flew in unexpectedly and both she and Xander were occupied with keeping them occupied. Giles called to tell Faith, even invited her to his home out of politeness, but his new lady friend was eager to take advantage of her beau's night in. Faith declined, and stayed in alone. Spike was notified as well through the disposable cell phone he'd been given, but he didn't stay home. He went straight round to her apartment.

He stood in front of the building, cataloguing his excuses and taking a pull from his flask for courage. When he tipped his head back to get at the last drop, he looked up to the top of the building and saw a silhouette on the roof. He looked closer. It was thin and female, and that was enough for him.

Spike climbed the eight stories to the top of the building then picked the lock on the door to the roof. He walked around the ventilation stacks and tool shed until he found Faith, sitting on a cinderblock at the very edge and staring out at the city. He walked up and crouched down beside her, following her gaze to the glittering lights stretched out beneath them.

Faith glanced at him and shook her head. She turned her eyes back out toward the city.

"I thought you'd show up," she said. "Don't you have anything better to do?"

"Nope." Spike lit a cigarette and offered her the pack. He didn't expect her to take one, but she did. He gave her a light without a word.

They smoked quietly for a while. Faith held her cigarette more than she smoked it, watching the embers burn and only taking an occasional drag while Spike sucked his down to the filter. He finished it and tossed the butt off the side of the roof before lighting another.

"Why'd you move to lovely Sunnyhell?" he asked, settling in for the long haul.

Faith shrugged. "Memories. Willow…"

He chuckled. "Always thought there was something between you two. What caused the falling out, then?"

"It wasn't like that," she said. "I, ah… threatened to kill her friends a couple times. And Buffy and I fought like wild animals, we…" She sighed and shook her head. "That was a long time ago. Things were different."

"It changed a lot of things, that," Spike agreed. "Not as many as I thought it would, but you never can tell with these things. I never thought you'd last this long."

"No?"

"Nope. Willow brought you in, and it did some good for a while, but it can't last. Not without her. Slayers die, it's what they do. I been wondering how long you'd last. At first I figured, why wouldn't we be given another Slayer just to watch this one die, too." He watched the smoke from her fag swirl away into the night. "I'm glad you didn't, though."

Faith stubbed her cigarette out on the cement under her feet. "I've been planning on leaving for a while now, just haven't been able find the right time to do it." She saw Spike's surprise and couldn't help but smile a little. "What? You thought I'd spend my life here, holding you all together? I tell myself I should go, but then I…" She laughed.

"What?" Spike stood with her, faking a humoring smile to hide how intently he was trying not to hold unneeded breath in anticipation of her words.

"I kept thinking, if I stayed a little longer, that you and I might…" She shook her head again and laughed, a deep, throaty laugh. "Look at me. I'm going soft, just like B."

Spike wasn't smiling anymore. "I never would've thought of you that way before. But since… but lately, I've been wondering a lot about what could have been, and what could be," he said. "I am lonely." He took her hand, curling his cold fingers around the heat and living flesh of hers.

"Spike…"

"I just had to say it. If you're leaving, I'd rather I said it than wish I had. I don't expect you to love me." He looked back at her face and saw her wide eyed and amazed.

"Don't talk about love, Spike," she said, taking her hand back.

He nodded and tried to imagine Sunnydale without her. He couldn't. If Faith left town, then Spike would leave, too.

"Move in with me?" she asked.

He didn't wait for her to ask twice. "Okay."

"I don't wanna come back to an empty apartment anymore, you know? There's too many ghosts in there, in here," she tapped her forehead. "You know?"

"Yeah." He knew.

"Just… don't talk about love."

He kissed her, saying it without words. Faith wrapped her arms around his waist and he cradled her head with his hands, feeling her hair soft under his fingers. She was small and thin enough that he could crush her. Whatever walls she had left were starting to crumble, and he knew that one day he would ask her what it was that the scoobies whispered when she was out of the room, about Angel and the Mayor, about prison and why she'd been there. Someday he would ask, but today, he held her and enjoyed being held by her. It had been too long since he'd felt really in love. A demon could love, he'd proven that with Dru, but without the soul it was possessive and devouring; now, it was a warmth that countered the coldness of death in his chest.

He moved into her apartment the next night, and not one of the scoobies said a word about it. Willow almost seemed to smile when she first heard the news, and after that, no one remembered to talk about Buffy anymore. Or, maybe, if they talked about her, no one seemed to feel the same grief when they did.


I'm a lonely little Fanfic, please review me :-).