Part Seven (Post-Series)
Buffy didn’t want to be here. She looked around the massive chasm that used to be her town and shivered, despite the hot sun beating down on her. A shadow shifted beside her and she corrected herself.
Beating down on them.
Spike came to a stop beside Buffy and nudged some debris with his foot. She glanced at him fully, then, her eyes resting on the Gem on his finger longer than everywhere else. Because no matter how long she’d had to get used to it, Buffy sometimes still found herself worrying that it would stop working––especially when they were out in broad daylight with no nearby shade to jump into if it did.
“Can you believe this place?” he asked.
“We both saw it go down,” said Buffy.
Spike scoffed. “Saw it? Bloody made it, you mean.”
“Well, us and Angel.”
Spike pursed his lips and Buffy felt bad about bringing him up, but it wasn’t like they could avoid the topic, after what he’d done.
“He’s gone now,” she pointed out. “Everything… all that shouldn’t matter now.” Except it does. To both of us. Because of course it does. Buffy knew they were both thinking it, but Spike didn’t voice it either.
“What are we here for again?” he asked instead. “Not just another one of our cemetery strolls.”
She felt her eyebrows go up.
“You know?” he went on, gesturing around. “This place. Pretty much a mass grave now, when you think about it.”
Buffy shuddered. “Okay, so don’t want to think about it. Let’s just find the amulet and go. The seers in the coven said it was bad news––that other people would come after it if we didn’t get here first, and–”
“I remember the spiel,” said Spike. “I’m asking what your plan for the bloody thing is.”
“Oh.” That stopped Buffy short. She hadn’t admitted it out loud, yet, though she was pretty sure all of the Scoobies knew what she’d choose. Part of her didn’t want to make it real, though mostly she just wanted it over with.
“I destroy it,” she said at last. “It’s dangerous.”
“And it has Angel’s soul inside,” Spike pointed out.
Buffy cringed, really wishing he hadn’t. But Spike had never really shied away from the truth. Like, ever. It was one of the things she loved about him.
She walked on a little distance, turning over random bits of metal and hoping to God that she wouldn’t find body parts underneath any of them. Despite that fear, the conversation was easier for not looking at Spike. Buffy could better remember the words of her practiced speech when his eyes weren’t distracting her.
“Angel’s run out of road,” she said. “He knew what he was risking when he offered to wear the amulet.” Though offered was way understating it. He’d practically fought Spike for it, but Buffy had been the one to make the final call, and when what little research they had indicated that it likely wouldn’t work if the wearer was invulnerable, she hadn’t wanted Spike to do it.
Angel had tried to gloat about Buffy’s decision, and she could tell that Spike was feeling rejected, so she’d had to point out to both of them––right then and there––that A. having Spike take off the ring, a proven power up, in favor of some uncertain, probably dangerous potential power up was a really bad move, tactically, and B. “Just so we’re clear?” she’d said, “We might all be champions, but Spike is mine.” Buffy looked Angel in the eyes. “I’m choosing him.”
Angel had pouted about that, mumbling something about only wanting to do it for the Greater Good, anyway, but that hadn’t mattered. Buffy moved her gaze to Spike and took in the awe blossoming across his face. She’d squeezed his hand, letting him know she meant it––and then they’d had to break the moment and go back to talking tactics, of course.
It was hard to believe it had only been a few days ago.
“Angel had over two hundred years,” Buffy continued on now. “Plus all the time in that hell dimension. He’d probably be glad to finally rest.”
She honestly wasn’t sure if that was true. Maybe partially––she’d certainly feel that way, if it was her––but these days, Buffy had started to think that Angel positively longed to go on being miserable for eternity.
Or had longed. Definitely in the past tense, because she’d made her choice and that was it. No more second chances for her first love. Not if it could mean the world being in danger all over again. There were only so many times they could run that scenario without it ending up going against them, and with as many apocalypses as Buffy had faced, she didn’t want the one that finally succeeded to be all because a part of her had still been hung up on her high school boyfriend.
“At least he got his grand gesture for the greater good,” she mused. “He’d definitely be happy about that.”
Spike didn’t comment one way or the other. Not that she really expected him to. What was done was done, and they’d both survived.
They needed to hold onto that.
There had been a moment down in the cavern when things definitely could have gone another way if Spike hadn’t had the Gem. When he’d put himself between an ubervamp and a slayer, taking a slash to his neck aimed to take his head off. Spike was actually surprised as the rest of them when it didn’t. Like, they knew the Gem was powerful, but they had no idea that protection could go as far as saving the wearer from a sudden decapitation attempt. Maybe it was because the blade didn’t nick Spike’s spinal cord––Buffy didn’t know, and hoped she’d never have to find out.
At any rate, it meant that––once and for all––Spike got to prove that he was willing to die doing the right thing. Buffy had known that for a long while, of course, but she could see it majorly shifted how Giles and some of the surviving girls looked at him.
Turned out, there were plenty of existence-defining moments to go around.
“What now?” he asked, bringing her back to the present moment.
Buffy hesitated. She’d known the question was coming, yet still didn’t feel ready. Even so, she gave her answer. Prepared in advance, like her reasons to destroy the amulet, Angel and all.
“We could go to London, with the others. Or the other Hellmouth. There’s probably a bunch of places could use a Slayer.” She laughed a little humorlessly. “First time in my life I have options. Who would have guessed the world would have to end first?”
“And what now?” repeated Spike, not letting it go. Because of course he wasn’t talking about travel plans.
Buffy braced her shoulders and turned to face him. “I guess you’ve been waiting a lot of years for me to answer that question, huh?”
He set his jaw but didn’t say anything, which she knew must be killing him.
His eyes moved past her. “What’s that?”
“Huh?” Buffy turned, following Spike’s gaze to where sunlight glinted off something shiny.
They walked over and she gingerly picked it up by the chain, moving it to a spot in the dirt Spike cleared for her.
“Thanks.” Buffy set it down and dug in her pocket for the baggies of powder Willow had prepared, along with her written instructions. “Apparently we sprinkle these––yellow first, then blue––say a few words, and poof.”
Spike read the note over her shoulder. “Latin,” he noted. “Want me to do it?”
She shrugged. “Sure.” There was no point messing the whole thing up now, by her accidently mispronouncing something. Which was likely, and not just because of the Latin thing.
Buffy was very aware of how close Spike was standing to her. His breath tickled her neck as he spoke the short incantation, and she gasped as the amulet began to glow––brighter and brighter until it went full supernova, like it had done in the Hellmouth.
She turned away from it, shielding her eyes, and Spike stepped closer still, putting his arm around her to provide a barrier between her and the amulet.
When the light died, she peeked over the bend in his elbow and breathed a sigh of relief. It was gone. Done.
Then Buffy looked back at Spike and her breath caught all over again. His eyes were on her. Intense. More vivid than the explosion, almost. She could tell he was itching to kiss her, but holding himself back.
After everything, he was still waiting on her move.
So she moved.
Buffy took Spike’s arm from around her shoulder and moved it to her waist, took one long, steadying breath, and then leaned in to press her lips to his. She purposefully didn’t break eye contact, because she knew how much it mattered to him to know that she was right there with him. But, honestly, Buffy didn’t think she could have looked away even if she’d wanted to. She’d never thought a guy’s face could be so captivating––so vulnerable, and engaged, and other things she hadn’t figured out words for.
Spike melted into the kiss––putting his whole heart and soul into it––his free hand burying itself in her hair, and Buffy’s own heart skipped. She had to pull away again to stop it beating right out of her chest.
Spike pressed their foreheads together. “Pet?” His voice shook a little.
“We’re together,” she said. “From here on out. Nothing left in our way.”
He closed his eyes in obvious relief, like he’d been on death row and was just given a pardon. “You mean that?” A whisper.
Buffy kissed his cheek. “I do.”
His mouth moved back to hers and her hands tried to pull him closer without her consciously thinking about it, but she was feeling dizzy from the kisses and the sun and the enormity of everything they’d been through. Buffy had a pretty good idea that she was either going to pass out or end up having sex right there in the chasm––which, ick!––so she knew they had to move. Because sure, they’d had sex outside plenty of times before––all over Sunnydale, and often in cemeteries––but the big pit in the ground wasn’t the place for it.
Buffy took Spike’s hand and began looking for a path back up the incline, to where he’d parked at the top.
“Where to?” he asked, his voice low and rough with a need that matched hers and not the casualness of the question, or the fact that he was panting.
Thoughts about London flashed in Buffy’s brain again, but that was a long way away, if they decided to go for that option at all. She thought about finding a hotel for the night, but even that felt too much long-term planning. All she knew was that she needed Spike and she needed him now, not in two hours or however long it took them to get back to civilization.
“Car,” she said, her animal brain not able to express anything more coherent than that.
Spike’s hand tightened in hers and she turned, her breath taken away all over again at the expression on his face. He looked so happy, and so in love, and no matter that Buffy had thought through how and when to tell him––explicitly, using actual words––that she’d figured out she loved him, too. That she’d loved him for a long time––longer than she even realised herself, because she’d been comparing it to a train wreck relationship of five years ago––she now also knew that wouldn’t cut it. She couldn’t bear to have him going on another single second thinking that this meant more to him than it did to her. And as much as she still needed his body against and inside hers urgently, Buffy paused and looked deep in his eyes.
Their past lay in ruins behind them, their future stretched out far into the horizon, and––just at the edge of her vision––the vibrant colors of sunset began to spread out across the sky.
“I love you, Spike.”