Story Title: Spirit Indestructible


Season 5. Begins with ‘Spiral’ in the abandoned gas station, and goes far off-canon almost immediately.

When Dawn makes the ultimate sacrifice to save her sister, friends, and the world, Buffy’s mind snaps. When Buffy's friends give up hope of her ever recovering, and become afraid that she’ll turn violent and uncontrollable, they call in the Council to help. Fearing what the Council will do, Spike, forgotten and ignored by her friends, steps in. Will he be able to reach the Slayer when no one else could? Will he be able to keep her out of the hands of the Council and away from her ‘helpful’ friends? How much heartbreak, guilt, and failure can one girl stand before her indestructible spirit finally resigns the fight and gives up hope?




50. Time in a Bottle


Happy Spuffy manip by PaganBaby.

Music Referenced:

Westlife, What Makes a Man (This Isn’t Goodbye)

Nelly Furtado - Spirit Indestructible


Some Screencaps courtesy of Broken Innocence (others from ScreenCap Paradise which is, sadly, no more). and also from


Thanks to YOU for reading and especially to those of you who take the time to email me feedback! Love hearing from everyone! Thanks also to Paganbaby for helping me with this chapter, including her help with the illustrations/pictures.  All mistakes are mine because I can't stop fiddling right up to the last moment.

Rating / Warnings:


Rating: NC17

Content is only suitable for mature adults. Contains explicit language, sex, adult themes, and other adult situations that some people may find objectionable. If you are under the age of 17 or find any of these themes objectionable – GO AWAY.


A few days before …


Buffy’s hands trembled as she tried to open the pill bottle, rattling the medicine inside. Normally, that would’ve been enough for Spike to hear and be there in the next instant, but Spike wasn’t home. In fact, no one was home but her. Anne, their twenty-five-year-old great, great, great granddaughter was at work. Her young daughter, Summer, was with Spike, who Buffy had sent to the store for ice cream. She’d made sure to choose a flavor and brand she knew was hard to find, one he’d have to go out of the neighborhood for.


“Damn it!” she cursed as she clenched her fist tight, trying to get the tremors and shaking to stop long enough to get the bottle open.


Buffy closed her eyes and drew in a deep breath, calming her racing heart, then tried again. She finally managed to press and twist at the same time, and the lid slid off. Pills scattered on the floor and bed as she tried to pour one out into her hand. She cursed again as frustrated tears blurred her vision, the small, white pills bouncing and rolling across the floor in all directions.


The Slayer finally managed to get one in her palm and popped it into her mouth, swallowing it with practiced ease. Living a hundred and twenty-seven years had its advantages, she thought, like plenty of time to learn to take pills without water.


Buffy dropped the nearly-empty bottle on the bed next to her and leaned back against the headboard as she waited for it to begin working, to start calming her twitching and trembling muscles. She closed her eyes and concentrated on her breathing, trying to simply calm down; being upset only made the spasms worse. The doctors really didn’t have any diagnosis for her, other than ‘old age’. She’d stopped telling doctors her real age over forty years ago; they either didn’t believe her or wanted to quiz her about her diet and lifestyle to find the secret of her long life.


Buffy sighed when she finally felt her body calming down and opened her eyes, blinking away the mist of frustrated tears. She carefully slid her legs off the bed and pushed herself up on the bedside table, forgoing her walker. She hated that fucking thing. She carefully pulled her robe on over her pajamas, warding off the chilly, winter air, and slid her feet into her house shoes. She sighed, shaking her head in dismay at her outfit. God, she dressed like an old woman!


Buffy rolled her eyes. "You are an old woman," she stated unnecessary as she leaned heavily against the wall and began to make her way slowly toward the door of their bedroom. The Slayer stopped when she caught her reflection in the mirror atop the dresser and stared at the stranger looking back at her.


Her long, blond hair was completely white now. She’d kept it long for Spike, but it had grown thin and lank over the years. Her face was gaunt and wrinkled, full of what Spike affectionately called ‘laugh lines’. Her once clear, rosy skin was dull and grey, and dotted with dark age-spots, which Spike called ‘freckles’. The only thing that she even remotely recognized were her eyes, but even they were now growing cloudy and dull, the life seemingly draining out of them even as she watched.


Spike had to know … he had to feel it the same as she did: her life was drawing to a close. She could feel the darkness closing around her, getting nearer and nearer. She felt like an actress on a stage with a single spotlight shining down on her, the rest of the stage, the rest of the world, for that matter, was bathed in darkness. It wouldn’t be long until the switch would be thrown and that last vestige of life would be snuffed out, she could feel it coming closer day by day. Spike must feel it too, but he never showed it to her or let her feel any bit of despair coming from him. Only love and caring and the same adoration that he’d always felt.


Despite turning into a liability, into someone to be cared for instead of an equal partner, Spike never complained, never strayed from her side, never made her feel like anything less than a goddess in his eyes.


“Some goddess,” Buffy groaned, picking up a brush from the dresser and running it through her thin hair.


Pictures of their life surrounded her reflection in the mirror, with each passing decade she’d grown older, while Spike remained exactly the same in all the photos. Just like his appearance, his love and devotion had never changed either, never once faltered. She’d never grown bitter or jealous of his youthful appearance. He’d paid a heavy price for it: his soul. It was a price she’d made very clear to him that she was not willing to pay, and, in turn, he assured her it was a price he was not willing to exact from her.


Buffy’s eyes wandered over the faded snapshots stuck into the frame of the mirror and her throat constricted with emotion. She reached out and touched each one in turn:



Mixed in with her friends and family were faded photos of the people that Jade had saved from the burning building, civilians and firefighters alike. They’d all come to her funeral and many had continued to send letters for many years, including pictures of children and grandchildren.  The letters had slowly dwindled as the years passed, and had finally stopped coming. Buffy wasn’t sure to be happy or sad about that. As much as the reminder hurt, it also helped to know that Jade hadn’t died in vain, that she had made an immeasurable difference in the lives of many families that day.


Buffy sighed and dropped her shaky, gnarled hand down from the photographs around the mirror. She’d outlived the people that Jade had saved; she’d outlived her children; she’d even outlived both of her grandchildren. Of course, so had Spike.


Buffy was thankful for that, not because he had to live through the pain of losing friends and family, but for the support and understanding he provided. He kept the shroud of crimson despair from engulfing her with the passing of each person she loved. She wasn’t sure anyone else in the world could fully appreciate the emotional pain that living longer than nature intended exerted on a person’s heart. Spike could. Spike did. Spike always understood.


When she was younger, she thought she wasn’t aging at all, easily passing for a spry twenty-something well into her fifties, appearing to be Will and Jade’s sister rather than their mother, but slowly things began to change.


The first time she really felt it was when Jade was killed. It felt like part of her had been taken away; like a vital part of her had been excised from a hidden place deep inside. Buffy attributed the feeling to the obvious: losing a child, but there was more to it. With each Slayer Called, Buffy felt her power, strength, and healing abilities wane a bit more. It was as if the universe or the magic of scythe was trying to reunite all the Slayer power with each successive generation, pulling it from her and returning it to its ‘rightful’ owner.


It was a gradual but steady process which now, at 127 years old, had nearly run its course. The healing power that had kept Buffy’s body young, fighting the effects of aging for so many years, had waned considerably in the last twenty years or so. Each passing year now seemed to add five years to her body and had taken a heavy toll on her health. It wouldn’t be long, she knew, before there was no Slayer strength left to call on.


The stage would go dark.


That was why she’d sent Spike away for a while. She just wanted a little time alone here in the house that they’d made their home so many years ago. Time to reflect and remember. Time to recall all the memories and hold them in her heart so she could take them with her. She wanted them to be with her always: the good and the bad, the happy and the sad, the laughter and the tears. She didn’t know what waited in the dark, what happened after the curtain fell on her life, but she wanted to take as much of this life with her as she could.


Buffy sighed, sweeping her eyes over the photos one last time before turning and continuing her slow journey out of the bedroom. She leaned on the wall heavily, as well as any pieces of furniture nearby as she moved, pain radiating from her stiff joints with each tentative step. By the time she’d gotten out of their room and across the hall to the old nursery, she was out of breath and had to lower herself gingerly into the rocking chair just inside the door. The room was different now, it was little Summer’s room, her five-year-old great, great, great, great granddaughter’s, but she could still see reminders here of Will and Jade…




“But Daddy said I was taller!” seven-year-old Jade exclaimed as Buffy made a mark on the door jamb, recording Jade’s height next to her brother’s.


“Sorry, sweetie. Looks like Will’s taller by … ummm … a finger,” Buffy explained, putting her index finger between the two marks on the casing to demonstrate.


“That’s not fair!” Jade complained, stomping her foot down and folding her arms over her chest. “I’ve been hanging in the tree every single day just like Daddy said to do! I should be taller! He said I was taller!”


Buffy rolled her eyes and put the cap back on the purple Sharpie that she’d used to mark Jade’s growth. “I don’t think it actually works that way, honey. Anyway, it’s not a competition. You’re a girl; it’s not unusual for you to be a little shorter…”


“Daddy said I could be anything I wanted to be! I want to be tall and strong! I’m gonna be a firefighter, so I have to be big enough to carry people out of burning buildings and rescue cats from trees. Will’s gonna be a teacher or something lame like that! He doesn’t have to be tall and strong to read his stupid books! I should get his helping of tall and strong,” Jade reasoned.


Buffy laughed and ruffled her daughter’s chestnut curls. “Well, maybe you can trade your chocolate chip cookies to Will and he’ll give you some of his astonishing tallness,” Buffy joked. “You could get … gee, a whole finger taller!”


Jade curled her lips up in disgust. “Maybe I could give him my broccoli,” she suggested, her green eyes flashing with hopeful glee. “Yeah! And Brussels sprouts!”


Buffy laughed again and shook her head. “Maybe you should just keep hanging in the tree, sweetie … it’ll probably work just as well.”




Buffy smiled sadly at the memory. Jade had wanted to be a firefighter her whole life. She’d never wavered from it whenever anyone asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up, despite her diminutive size.  When she was Called, she saw it as her ticket to her dream …




Buffy touched Spike on the shoulder and he jerked awake, his muscles aching from the position he’d been sleeping in on the floor next to his teenage daughter’s bed.


“Shhh…” she cautioned him quietly, pointing to the sleeping girl in the bed above him.


Spike nodded and gently rolled out from under Jade’s hand, which had been hanging over the edge of the bed and resting on his arm. Silently the two retreated from her room and closed the door.


“How is she?” Buffy asked quietly as they made their way back to the master bedroom.


“The dreams are the worst bit, but they’re gettin’ better,” Spike replied, cracking his neck from side to side as he walked. “Not waking up screamin’ as much, she’s not. Seems t’ help if she’s touchin’ me …”


Buffy nodded as they entered their room and closed the door. “Mom and Dad thought I’d lost my mind when I did that … screaming from nightmares all night long. I tried to tell them what had happened, about vampires and Slayers and stuff, but … well, that was like the worst idea ever.


“It should get better in a week or two … lots better,” Buffy counseled him as they climbed into bed, each keeping their PJs on, just in case they were needed down the hall again before dawn. “Is she still happy about it?”


Spike rolled his eyes, sliding in under the covers. Buffy snuggled next to him, pillowing her head on his shoulder as he snaked an arm around her. “Says she’ll ‘ave no trouble with the CPAT now.”


“God, that’s all she thinks about … firefighting and taking that damn test. She’s got two years before she can even try it.” Buffy bit her bottom lip and looked up at her husband, her Watcher … now her newly-Called daughter’s Watcher. “What are we gonna do, Spike? How are we gonna …” her voice trailed off, unable to finish the thought aloud: How are we gonna keep her safe?


“No worries, luv,” Spike assured her. “She’s got us, yeah? Won’t be sendin’ ‘er off to no bloody Hellmouth and some two-bit Watcher that don’t know their arse from a hole in the ground. Not gonna let anything ‘appen to our girl, Buffy. I bloody well promise ya that.”


Buffy blinked back tears and nodded against Spike’s shoulder. “They won’t be happy,” she pointed out unnecessarily.


“Life’s a bloody bitch,” Spike retorted. “She ain’t leavin’ this town. They can’t force ‘er to.”


“What if she wants to? It’s … there’s more than the Council to fight. I mean, it is a Calling and it sort of … calls you, whether you want it to or not,” Buffy confessed. “I mean, you have no idea how many times I said I was quitting, how many times I pretended I wasn’t the Slayer, tried to ignore it … how damn hard I tried not to be the Slayer, but it … it’s inside you and it’s really hard to fight.”


“Reckon our girl has another calling, pet. That firefighter bollocks ‘as been rambling ‘round her brain for-bloody-ever. Dunno where it came from, but it’s inside ‘er … deep inside. Could say she’s got a destiny t’ follow.”


“I guess…” Buffy agreed half-heartedly, chewing her lip.


“What did you want t’ be before you were Called, pet? Have your heart set on anything grand?” Spike wondered, jostling her a bit in his arms.


“Sure. Of course I did! I wanted to be cute and popular and I wanted Tyler to beg me to go to the dance with him and …” Buffy sighed in defeat. “I was destiny-free,” she admitted.


“We’ll ‘andle it, luv,” Spike assured her. “We’ll keep ‘er safe. I promise.”




Buffy blinked tears from her eyes as her heart constricted. “I’m sorry we couldn’t keep you safe, baby,” she whispered to the empty room.


Buffy pushed herself up from the rocking chair, swaying on her feet slightly and holding it stiffly as she fought to get her balance. After a few deep, rasping breaths, she ventured out of Summer’s room and made her way down the hall to the stairs. She stopped at the top and bit her bottom lip. If she fell down the stairs, Spike would have a holy conniption fit. Of course, if he knew she was walking around on her own, he’d do the same, so… what did she have to lose, really?


Buffy turned sideways and held to the banister tightly with both hands as she slowly lowered one foot down to the first step, stopped and regained her balance, and then lowered the other foot. It took forever to get down the stairs, but she made it without falling, though the effort took a lot out of her.


She made it to the couch and collapsed down onto the cushions, her breathing ragged and scratchy in her overworked lungs. Her hands began trembling again, the effort seemingly overpowering the medicine she’d just taken a short while ago. Well, she was obviously not going back upstairs to get more … she’d just have to live with it.


Buffy closed her eyes a moment and tried to summon up what was left of her Slayer strength to slow her racing heart and ease her trembling limbs, but there was just so little left, it barely made a difference. She was brought back from her effort by a soft click in the corner of the room, and when she opened her eyes again, she was bathed in soft, colorful lights from the Christmas tree. The lights were on a timer; she hadn’t realized it was getting so late. Spike and Summer would be back soon; Anne was working the late shift, she wouldn’t be in until the early hours of the morning.


Buffy took a deep breath and pushed herself up to her feet, leaning heavily on the couch and the coffee table, then the armchair and finally the wall to make her way over to the tree in the corner of the room near the fireplace. She reached out and touched the very first ornament they’d ever had, the one Spike had gotten her for their very first Christmas in this house.


It was an elaborately decorated, three layer wedding cake with the year of their marriage, 2001, adorning the topmost layer. On the bottom of the delicate, porcelain cake Spike had used a red paint-pen and drawn a heart. Inside the heart he’d written their names: Spike, Buffy, Joan.


Buffy turned the ornament over in her shaking hand, looking at the now-worn and faded writing on the bottom with their names in it. She touched her trembling fingers to the letters, smiling sadly. Perhaps she should’ve rebuilt Joan … for Spike, if no other reason. Then he could have someone like himself, someone who wouldn’t have aged; someone for him to be with when Buffy was gone. She blinked back tears and released the ornament, letting it hang again in its normal place, front and center, on their tree. It was much too late for regrets or second-thoughts now.


Buffy’s eyes wandered over the plethora of ornaments on the tree. Every year they’d added more. Some were hand-made, some purchased, commemorating some special event that had happened that year. There were some with the twins’ hand-prints on them from their first Christmas, there were several that India had made for them: silhouettes of each of them painted on fragile glass ornaments. There was a fire helmet marking the year Jade had joined the fire department, and a medallion for when she’d made Lieutenant. There were miniature diplomas and graduation caps for graduations from high school and college for Will, Jade, and Meag; a round, porcelain ornament declaring Will ‘Officially Overeducated’ to commemorate his PhD in Literature and Philosophy, booties and baby rattles for each of the grandchildren, and great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren and great-great-great and their last great to the power of four grandchild: Summer.


Buffy let herself slide down the wall to sit beneath the glittering tree, so full of memories. She had to smile as she recalled each one being added, telling the story of their lives. The first few years their tree had looked kind of pathetic, but Spike had been right to do it this way. Each item held so much emotion, so much meaning. It didn’t look like one of those beautiful, color-coordinated trees you see in some homes and store windows. It looked messy and cobbled together and disorganized. It looked like home. It looked like family, and love, and friends. It looked like their life.


Buffy briefly wondered how having such a jumble of mixed-up, random moments in time all thrown together in one small space didn’t cause some sort of rip in the time-space continuum. The thought brought a soft laugh up through her melancholy, and she touched a finger to a TARDIS ornament, which had been added when Will had decided to write his doctorial thesis on ‘Doctor Who: Corporeal Configurations of the Heroic and the Monstrous.’


“You keeping it all from collapsing into one big time-warp thingy, Doctor?” Buffy asked, tapping on the miniature, blue police box.


Buffy looked up when the back door opened and she heard Spike and Summer come into the kitchen.


“Ice cream now, Poppi?” Summer pleaded, the pout on her face reflected in her words.


“Gotta check on yer Nana, then we’ll all have ice cream,” Spike answered.


It was times like these that Buffy really missed her strength and agility. She wanted desperately to jump up and surprise Spike when he came through the door from the kitchen to the living room, make him jump back and curse, and then grab her and punish her with a frantic kiss and …


Buffy sighed. “I’m right here,” she called out in a shaky voice. “Let’s have the ice cream in here, by the tree,” she suggested.


“What the bloody hell, Slayer!?” Spike demanded, stepping into the living room, which was dark save the soft, glowing lights of the tree.


“I’m fine,” Buffy defended, waving him off when he tried to reach down and pick her up off the floor. “I just want to sit here and eat ice cream ...” she explained, giving him a pleading look.


Spike pursed his lips, hiding a scowl borne of worry, but nodded his agreement as he stood back up.


“Nana!” Summer exclaimed as she launched herself at Buffy.


Buffy caught the girl in her arms, but the effort drove the wind from her lungs and knocked her onto her back on the floor.


“OI!” Spike chastised as he reached for the child to pull her off Buffy, but Buffy’s arms were already around the small girl, holding her tight as she buried her face in the child’s long, chestnut curls.


“Summer, baby,” Buffy wheezed out, holding her close. “I have a secret. Do you want to hear?”


Summer’s eyes went wide as she pushed back to look at her nana. “Uh-huh! What’s the secret?”


Buffy gave her a small smile and whispered, “I love you.”


“That’s not a secret!” Summer exclaimed, shaking her head from side to side.


“It’s not?” Buffy questioned with mock solemnity.


“Nooooooo,” the girl drawled.


“Oh … well … how about this? I happen to know that there’s an extra present for you that you didn’t open on Christmas.”


Summer’s blue eyes grew as wide as saucers, her mouth opening into a silent ‘O’ as she drew in an excited breath.


“I bet Poppi could go get it for me…” Buffy suggested, looking up at Spike.


“You sure, pet?” Spike asked quietly.


Buffy gave him a small smile and nodded, making Spike’s stomach churn and his heart twist. He swallowed, but gave her a reassuring nod before turning and heading upstairs.


Buffy had been saving a ‘special’ gift for when Summer was older. Spike blinked back tears as he took the stairs two at a time. The fact that she wanted to give it to the girl now only confirmed the dread that Spike had been feeling in his heart of late. Buffy didn’t think she’d be around for Summer to be ‘older’. He was losing her. This life they’d built was coming to a close, and he was powerless to stop it.


He knew this day would come, of course, but that didn’t mean he was prepared for it. He’d never be ready to face this world without Buffy. She could live a thousand years, a million, and it would still be too soon to lose her.


Spike retrieved the small, faded velvet jewelry case from Buffy’s larger jewelry cabinet with a heavy heart. He dried his tears on the sleeve of his t-shirt and took several deep, un-needed breaths to try and calm down. She didn’t need him acting like a weak, heartbroken ponce. She needed him to be strong, and he would. To the end of the world, for her, he’d be strong. When the world ended, when she was gone, then all bets were off.


Back downstairs, Spike found Buffy sitting on the floor with her back against the wall, Summer snuggled on her lap. Despite the obvious discomfort his Slayer was in with the child atop her, it was clear that was exactly where Buffy wanted the girl to be.


Spike squatted back on his heels, handing the small box to Buffy, before sliding down to sit next to her on the floor. Summer squirmed in Buffy’s lap, excitedly awaiting the reveal of the ‘forgotten’ Christmas gift. Spike couldn’t help but smile as he watched them, two generations of Summers girls – for Summer was undoubtedly a ‘Summers girl’ with her bright eyes, sharp wit, and perfected pout.


In the twinkling light of the Christmas tree, Buffy held the small, faded jewelry box in front of the excited child in her lap. “This…” Buffy began, not yet opening the box, “…belonged to your great, great, great aunt Jade … I think … I think that’s the right number of ‘greats’…?


“I’m not great with ‘greats’,” Buffy joked, looking at Spike questioningly and he nodded, giving Buffy a reassuring smile.


“Her brother gave it to her on her eighteenth birthday. He was your … great, great, great grandfather.”


“They live in the ground,” Summer supplied, nodding sagely. “We go visit them and bring them flowers, and sometimes we light candles for them so they can see, cos it gets dark there at night.


“She was a hero, just like my daddy,” the girl continued, knowingly.


Buffy nodded, swallowing back her emotions. Her hands trembled as she held the small box, and her arms suddenly felt very heavy. She lowered them, resting her elbows on Summer’s little legs, still holding the box out in front of the girl.


“That’s right, sweetie.  Your daddy loved you so much. You know he didn’t want to leave you, but …”


“But the families in Africa needed someone to protect them from the bad men. It was his job … he had to go fight the bad men,” Summer filled in with the long-told story she’d heard many times. “He rescued the families, but there wasn’t room in the helicopter … Daddy stayed behind so the other people could get out, and the bad men caught him. He lives in the ground now too.”


Buffy nodded again, tears welling in her eyes. “Your daddy loved you very much, sweetie. You never knew Will and Jade, but they would’ve loved you too, just like your mommy and we do.”


Buffy opened the faded, velvet box to reveal a locket in the shape of a heart that was adorned with a pink firefighter’s helmet.


Summer drew in a gasp of breath as the present was revealed, reaching her little fingers out to touch it. “My favorite color!” she gushed, touching the heavy locket.


Buffy smiled and took in a deep, rasping breath before removing the locket from the small box. Setting the box down, Buffy fumbled with the clasp on the locket, but her weak, shaking fingers were no match for the small catch that held the locket closed.


Frustration welled in her eyes as she looked to Spike for help. She hated not being able to do anything for herself … even a little thing like this was beyond her ability.


Spike took the necklace from her hand and nimbly unhooked the fastener that kept it closed, allowing the locket to open and reveal photos of Jade and Will on their eighteenth birthdays.


Buffy gave Spike a grateful smile and took the necklace back from him to hold up for Summer. “These are our children – mine and Poppi’s – your great, great, great grand … relatives.”


“She looks like Mommy!” Summer declared, pointing to the picture of Jade.


“She does … tons,” Buffy agreed. “And you, too. Except you got Poppi’s eyes and Jade had mine.


“Our babies were conceived in magic … which, I know you don’t know what that means …” Buffy realized. “It means … they were made with magic, but all that’s important to know is: there was magic inside them, and that magic is inside you, too. I want you to keep this locket safe, and whenever you’re feeling sad or scared, you open it up and look at them and remember: You are made of magic. You can do anything. You can be anything you want to be, because there’s magic inside you.”


Summer’s eyes grew wide as she turned her face to Buffy. “There is?? Where is it? Can I see it?”


Buffy shook her head. “Nope. You can only feel it … right here,” Buffy explained, pressing her trembling hand containing the locket against the child’s chest. “It’s part of your soul, deep down inside. It makes you strong and brave. So, if anything ever happens, if you get scared and you need courage, you just remember what’s inside you, okay?”


Summer nodded seriously as Buffy lifted the chain and locket up and slipped it over the child’s head. “This will help you always remember how special you are.”


Summer lifted the locket up and, after fumbling with the catch a moment, managed to open it again and look at the old photographs. “Were they really made with magic … like, for real?” she asked, her voice awestruck, her blue eyes wide with wonder.


“Yeah, they really were,” Buffy assured her, looking over the girl’s shoulder at the photographs, a sad smile on her face. “And that makes you made of magic, too.”


Buffy looked up and met Spike’s shimmering eyes, and in that moment she knew that he knew. She could feel it now … feel his frustration, fear, and despair, and she could see it in his eyes.


Buffy reached her thin, trembling hand out and touched his cheek gently and he leaned into her touch, covering her fragile hand with his. “I love you,” she whispered, her green eyes delving into his.


“I love you too, Nana!” Summer replied happily as she closed the locket and admired the pink helmet on the front. “Thank you for my magic!”


Buffy swallowed back her emotions and cleared her throat, dropping her hand from Spike’s face. “You’re welcome, sweetie. Never forget what I told you.”


“I won’t! Can we have ice cream now?” the girl asked, unaware of any silent communication between the adults.


Buffy laughed a raspy chuckle and nodded. “Did you get my Double Decadent Walnut Fudge?”


“Yep! And Poppi got me Chocolate Fudge Brownie!”


“He did? Well, isn’t he the sweetest?” Buffy replied, giving Spike a genuine smile.


“Uh-huh …” Summer agreed. “And he got Mommy some too and he got Karamel Sutra for himself!”


“He did, huh? Well … isn’t he the naughty Poppi?”


Summer shot a puzzled look at Buffy, twisting her lips and furrowing her brow in confusion. “He paid for it … I made sure,” she assured her great-whatever grandmother.


“You’re a good girl,” Buffy laughed, patting a hand down on the girl’s leg. “Why don’t you go get some spoons and bring ours in here?”


Summer jumped up and hurried back into the kitchen, leaving Buffy and Spike alone.


“I love you too, Slayer,” Spike replied, albeit belatedly, as he leaned over and touched his lips to hers.


Buffy sighed sadly and leaned into him as he wrapped an arm around her frail shoulders protectively.


“But if ya ever pull another stupid stunt like comin’ down them soddin’ stairs on yer own again, I’ll bloody well kill ya,” he added, only half-joking.


Buffy smiled up at him and leaned her tired body against his, letting her head rest on his shoulder. “Deal,” she agreed.


“Karamel Sutra, huh?” she asked coyly, changing the subject, her voice raspy and ragged.


Spike shrugged his shoulder beneath her head. “Sounded … tasty,” he defended.


Buffy laughed lightly and shook her head. “You and your … taste fetish. You’re incorrigible!”


“Don’t remember you complainin’ ‘bout it the other night,” Spike purred as he shifted and dropped his mouth to suckle at his scar on her neck.


“Popp-eeeee!” Summer groaned, coming back in with the pints of ice cream and spoons.


Buffy laughed. “Busted,” she teased as Spike pulled back from her neck.


“Guilty,” he agreed, touching his lips to hers in a soft kiss as Summer let out an exasperated sigh behind him.


Buffy’s trembling hand touched his cheek again as he pulled back; their eyes and the bond between their hearts communicating more than their words ever could.


Tears sprang to Spike’s eyes and he shook his head, trying to banish the knowledge that seemed to seep into his very bones. He knew this day would come, but it had always been ‘someday’ … some future time that was intangible and unknown. But now, as he looked into his wife’s emerald eyes, into her heart, he knew that ‘someday’ had arrived. His heart ached and twisted in his chest as a feeling of helpless, hopeless despair crept over him, chilling him to the bone.


Buffy brushed the tears from his cheeks with her thin, shaking fingers and gave him her best smile. “The ice cream’s melting. Life’s too short to eat melted ice cream.”


Spike nodded and cleared his throat, blinking back his emotions. “Life’s just too bloody short.”




Spike stopped short as he entered their bedroom later that evening, his dead heart lurching painfully in his chest. “Slayer!” he cried, hurrying to her side as she lay motionless, seeming lifeless and silent in their bed.


He’d gotten her settled and then hurriedly done the same with Summer, but the girl simply wouldn’t be hurried through bath time or story time or tucking in and goodnight kisses. He hadn’t intended to be from Buffy’s side that long, but there had been no rushing the girl.


Buffy’s eyes blinked open as Spike got to her side and he fell to his knees next to the bed, relief flooding over him. He took her frail hand in his and brought it to his lips kissing her once-deadly knuckles gently.


“Thank bloody God,” he murmured against her fingers, sighing in relief. He concentrated hard and finally heard her heart pounding softly and slowly … much too slowly, much too softly.


“Hold me, baby,” Buffy requested, her voice rough with fatigue.


Spike nodded as he released her hand and went around to slide into the bed next to her. Buffy suppressed the moan of pain when he shifted her into his arms, but Spike could feel her wince, feel her pain through their claim, and he grimaced as he settled her in his arms.


“Sorry, pet … so bloody sorry,” he whispered, touching his lips to the side of her head, breathing in the scent of her. That was one thing that never really changed: the scent of his Slayer. Through all the medicines and all the years, the perfume of ‘Buffy’ was still there, always. Sweet, spicy, and sharp, with a hint of acidic tartness under it all.


“Okay … it’s … okay,” Buffy rasped back, taking deep, ragged breaths to try and dispel the pain as she settled into his arms.


They sat there in silence for a long time, words unnecessary. They both knew what was happening; they both knew the stage was growing darker by the moment. It wasn’t like Buffy had imagined it would be. She thought it would be sudden and dramatic; one moment the light would be on, bright and glowing, and the next it would be pitch black. But it didn’t work that way at all. It was dimming slowly, like candles being snuffed out one by one.


Silent tears misted Spike’s gaze as he held his wife, his mate, his lover, his Slayer, his best friend, his heart, his whole life, in his arms. She was leaving him. Not of her own choice, but still, she was leaving, and there wasn’t a bloody thing he could do about it … …. or was there?


“Buffy …” Spike began, but she touched a finger to his lips interrupting him.


“No,” Buffy whispered, breaking into his thoughts. “I’m sorry.”


Spike’s whole body convulsed in pain at her words and a sob erupted from somewhere deep inside him.  He felt his heart crumble into dust in his chest. He was at once angry with himself for thinking it, indignant at her for rebuffing him, and shattered … simply shattered with the devastating realization that washed over him. There was no more time. There were no more tomorrows. There were no more chances. His world was ending right here in his arms and there wasn’t a damn thing he could do to stop it.


“Buffy … please …” he begged, his throat constricting with pain the likes of which he’d never felt before.


Buffy shook her head slowly. “I’m sorry, baby. I’m so sorry … but … I can’t … you know I can’t.”


Spike held her tighter, burying his face in the crook of her neck as sobs wracked his body. He knew she was right, of course. He’d agreed with her on it whole-heartedly before … but that was before ‘someday’ had arrived. It was before, back when his heart wasn’t splintering, before his world was ending, it was before he’d felt the darkness closing in on her.


“Spike, you know I’m right. It won’t be me … you know that,” Buffy pressed, using every ounce of energy she had left to make her plea. “I don’t want to leave … God, I never want to leave you … but … I can’t stay. I’m trying but … it’s coming, I can feel it. I’m sorry, Spike. I’m so sorry … so sorry.”


Spike shook his head, his face still buried against her neck, but couldn’t answer past the sobs that continued to shake his whole body as he held her in his arms.


“I love you. I love you so much, baby. I … Spike … I’m sorry,” she continued as she turned her head slowly toward him. Spike raised his face up to hers so their foreheads were pressed together, his eyes clamped closed against the unbearable pain.


“I love you, Buffy. Please, pet … please fight. You’re the bloody Slayer … you’re strong, please don’t leave me. Please …” he begged finally, tears streaming down his face and mixing with hers.


“I’m trying … I’m just … losing,” Buffy replied, reaching a shaking hand up to touch his wet cheek. “I love you. Never forget. I love you so much. I swear I’ll find you again … I swear, Spike. My soul will find you, I promise. Nothing will keep me away from you. I love you…”


“Buffy … please …” Spike cried, pulling back to look into her shimmering, green eyes.


“Tell me you love me…”


“I love you … you know I love you. You’re my bloody heart, my world. Please, pet…”


“Tell me you’ll find me again…”


Spike drew in several deep, rapid, rasping breaths, trying to ease his sobs as he nodded. “I’ll find ya. The bloody devil himself couldn’t keep me from you. I promise … I’ll find ya if I gotta search the whole bloody universe.”


Buffy nodded as her tears dripped from her chin in rivers of sorrow. A sad smile came to her lips as she looked into his shimmering, bluer-than-blue eyes. Eyes that had saved her so many times before; eyes that she wanted to drown in, to never leave, to see forever. Eyes that couldn’t save her this time … eyes that she never wanted to forget.


“Then this isn’t goodbye … right? Isn’t that a song ... an old song? How does it go? Sing for me, baby …”


Spike blinked the tears from his eyes, but it was useless, they just keep streaming out as if they had a mind of their own.  He cleared his throat as he looked into her eyes. Those eyes that had mesmerized him from the first, so full of life and fire, like sparkling emeralds. But the spark was dimming … the fire dying even as he watched. His heart folded in on itself, pain radiating out through his whole body. He couldn’t think … couldn’t do anything but feel, feel her leaving … feel her dying in his arms.


He couldn’t bear it … but how could he not? He wanted to run away … run and hide … find a place where there was no pain. Find a place where his heart wasn’t smashed to bits, torn and bloodied with deep gashes of anguish. But even if such a place existed, he’d never leave her. Never.


This isn't …” he began to sing, his voice breaking. Spike cleared his throat as he sniffed back his tears and drew in a deep breath, a breath filled with Buffy … the essence of his Slayer.


This isn’t goodbye, even as I watch you leave,” he began again in a rough, gravely, emotion-filled voice. Where the words came from, he had no idea. He could barely think past the unbearable anguish that boiled in his heart.


But, wherever they came from, the words made her smile! He could feel her heart brighten like a warm sun coming to life inside her, and hope bloomed in his chest. It wasn’t the end after all!! It would be alright!! If he could just sing for her, it would be alright. She’d be fine … everything would be fine! He just needed to keep singing! She was stronger, he could feel it! He could see her eyes brightening … this wasn’t the end! He could fix it! He could! He could do it! He’d just keep singing…


 “♫ This isn't goodbye. I swear I won't cry, even as tears fill my eyes, I swear I won't cry… Any other girl, I'd let you walk away. Any other girl, I'm sure I'd be ok…”


Buffy’s fingertips caressed his tear-stained cheek and she felt the candles flare and brighten inside her. A surge of power lightened her whole being for a moment, making her feel better than she had in years. But then, one by one, the candles flickered and guttered and died. Darkness closed in on her, little by little … one glowing candle at a time.


 “Tell me what makes a man, wanna give you all his heart, smile when you're around, and cry when you're apart…”


As Spike sang, Buffy’s features slowly grew lax until the last spark in her eyes seemed to be doused with her tears. Her eyes fluttered momentarily and finally closed as her whole body relaxed completely in Spike’s arms. Her hand fell from his cheek, coming to rest limply on his shoulder. Her pain gone. Her trembling limbs stilled for the first time in years. Her ragged breathing silent. Her tired heart slowing further and finally stilling in her chest. Her Slayer blood cooling in her veins.


What makes her so right? Is it the sound of her laugh? That look in her eyes? When do you decide, she is the dream that you seek, that … force … in your … l-life?”


Spike choked on the words as his tears came harder. He dipped his head down, touching his lips to hers one last time. His Slayer was gone. Buffy was gone. His lover. His friend. His life. Gone. Over. Extinguished.


His heart, only moments before feeling hopeful, was suddenly cast into utter darkness. He had plunged, it seemed, from the highest mountain to the deepest, darkest ravine in a space of a heartbeat … Buffy’s heartbeat, Buffy’s last heartbeat. His sobs returned, shaking his entire body with painful convulsions of misery-soaked anguish. His whole being felt black and empty, completely consumed with hopeless despair … utter desolation.


He hugged his love’s limp and lifeless body to him and began to rock her as his sobs continued in earnest. “No, no … please, Slayer … please, God … no! Please! I’ll do anything! Please come back to me! Please!” he screamed his plea, his prayer, into the silent room. “Buffy … please … don’t leave me. Please …”


His prayers fell on deaf ears.



A few days later, back to the current day… 

Spike dropped down to his knees atop his wife’s grave facing her headstone. The cold, damp snow crunched under his weight and chilled his legs, but he barely noticed. He carefully laid the remaining bouquet, a dozen dusty-pink roses, at the base of the large, marble marker, positioning them ‘just so’ for her in the shallow snow.


When he had them perfect, he reached into the pocket of his duster and pulled out a pint of ‘Double Decadent Walnut Fudge’ ice cream along with a spoon. He set the ice cream down next to the flowers and pressed the spoon through the lid and down into the frozen treat.


“Knew ya couldn’t go more than a week without it, pet,” he murmured into the cold, quiet night.


A sad smile came to his lips as he looked up at the marker and began tracing her name with his fingertips, as if he could somehow touch her just one last time.


He traced each letter carefully, slowly, watching his fingers move over the cold, grey stone as if watching them caress her soft, beautiful skin. The inscription announced her resting place to the world: ‘Buffy Summers Pratt’. Beneath that was the year of her birth and a blank area for the stone-mason to carve in the year of her death: 2108. Spike traced the ‘1981’ slowly and deliberately, and then slid his hand down to the words beneath it: ‘Spirit Indestructible’.


Spike shook his head slowly as tears again welled in his eyes, the movement of his hand faltering on the cold stone. “Not so indestructible, I reckon…” he murmured to the stone as salty tears spilled from his shimmering eyes and rolled down his cheeks.


Spike leaned forward, pressing his forehead against the hard stone and draping his arms over it as a sob wracked his body. “Buffy … miss you so much, pet. So bloody empty inside. Did as ya asked, pet. I let ya go, but comin’ t’ look for you, I am … can’t stay ‘ere without ya, luv. 


“Can’t do it, Buffy … it’s just too bloody cold and dark … right ‘ere,” he told her, pressing a fist against his unbeating heart as the tears froze on his cheeks. “Never felt anythin’ like it before … gotta find ya. Gotta make this stop. Gonna be there soon, pet. Be there t’ find ya.”


Spike seemed to melt into a pile of black leather and denim, curling into a ball atop his mate’s grave. He shivered uncontrollably, and wrapped his duster around himself tighter as he pulled his knees into a fetal position in the snow. But it did little good, the cold was coming from inside, not out. He couldn’t stop the tears that leaked from his eyes and froze onto his skin, nor could he stop the sobs that shook his thin frame. He hadn’t eaten since that night; it hadn’t even occurred to him to eat.


He was dead. He was worse than dead, he was empty. He’d never felt such all-consuming emptiness before. Never.


Buffy had always said it was his heart that set him apart from other vampires, but his heart was gone now. There was nothing left inside him; just utter blackness, desolation, despair, an empty void where his heart used to be. Buffy had taken it with her, as he knew she would. She, after all, had always been his heart, even before he’d met her, even before she’d been born. It had always been her he’d been seeking: the Slayer that held his heart.


Spike closed his eyes as he wrapped up into an even tighter ball. Trying to make himself as small as possible on the cold, hard ground. The snow began to fall again, drifting down from the now-black sky and dusting him in a layer of white. He made no move to rise or take shelter; only the sobs wracking his body gave any hint that he was something other than an unburied corpse in the cemetery.


The snow would end soon; the storm would pass in the night. The morning would dawn crisp and bright. The sun would bathe Austin in glowing, golden rays, melting the snow, warming the day. And he would wait for it. He would welcome those golden rays because they reminded him of her. Her golden hair, her bright smile, her warm heart. It was fitting that the sun would send him on his way to find her again, for she had always been his own personal sunshine. He’d basked in her glow for decades. He didn’t know how to live now without it and he had no desire to learn.


“Walk through hell an’ back t’ find ya, pet,” Spike murmured to the snow-covered ground. “Promise, Buffy … I bloody well promise that I’ll find ya, if I gotta kill the devil ‘imself for the Powers t’ let me in. I’m comin’, Buffy … I’m comin’.”




“Poppi!!” little Summer exclaimed excitedly, throwing herself on the snow-covered vampire and wrapping her little arms around him. “Mommy said you’d be here with Nana and you are!” she declared sounding more than a little surprised that her mom had been right.


Spike jerked and jumped, suddenly awakened from his exhausted sleep beneath the snow. He’d never intended on waking again. He’d dreamt of Buffy … he’d found her … or she’d found him. He could still see her, they were in a cemetery and she was walking towards him, her face determined, her stride purposeful, set on reaching him. He’d just looked up and seen her, just started moving towards her when … 


“Bloody hell, platelet!” Spike exclaimed, sitting up and pushing the child off him, perhaps a bit rougher than strictly necessary. “Can’t a bloke ‘ave some soddin’ peace in this godforsaken world?!”


Summer fell onto her butt in the snow, her excited smile quickly fading to confused tears.


“Summer! Are you okay?” the girl’s mother, Anne, questioned worriedly as she came up behind the child and bent to pick her daughter up.


But the child was having none of it. She twisted from her mother’s grip, standing up and moving away, her little arms crossed firmly over her chest as she tried to hide her hurt feelings.


Anne let her go and turned flashing green eyes on her great, great grandfather. “Was that really necessary?” she chastised. “She’s five, Poppi! Five!”


Spike, still sitting on the ground, scowled up at her angrily. “Didn’t ‘urt her!” he defended. “Shouldn’t be sneaking up on a bloke like that! What the bloody hell are ya doin’ here? Shouldn’t ya be sleeping, all warm an’ toasty in your beds?”


Anne pursed her lips and returned his scowl. “Yeah, we should, but for some stupid reason Nana thought you’d be here and thought we should come see about you.”


Nana?! Buffy!? You … talked to Buffy?” Spike gasped out, his eyes wide with wonder and hope. Had Buffy come back? Had the Powers sent her back to him? Was she home, waiting for him right now?!


Spike jumped to his feet and grabbed Anne by the shoulders. “Where is she?! Is she alright?” he demanded.


“Oh … no, Poppi,” Anne cajoled, shaking her head sadly. “No, I’m sorry … it’s … she left me a letter,” she explained, holding up a folded paper to him.


Spike looked at the paper dumbly, her words not registering right away. He had a picture of Buffy well and whole, waiting for him in their house. His love, his mate, waiting with open arms to welcome him home; waiting to shower him in her warmth; waiting to erase this emptiness inside him, to fill him with her love again.


Anne lifted the paper and unfolded it. “It says you’d be here on the morning after her funeral, and she wanted me to give you this,” she continued softly, lifting an envelope up for him to see.


Spike released the hold he had on Anne’s upper arms and took the envelope from her hand slowly. Still not really comprehending, not wanting to comprehend her words, he lifted the paper to his nose and inhaled. Buffy.


Spike’s eyes fluttered closed as a thousand memories flooded through him. Buffy. The fragrance drifted around him in the cold, crisp air and evoked a flood of emotions deep inside him. He could feel her arms around him, hear her heartbeat, get lost in the green of her eyes, see her bottom lip coming out in a pout, hear her voice calling his name, feel her soft hair flowing over his skin. Buffy.


Spike let himself get lost in the feelings, in the sight and sound and smell of her, breathing her in. Buffy. After several long moments, he slowly opened his eyes. It wasn’t Buffy. She wasn’t here. Her arms were not around him. Her eyes were not delving into his, her golden hair was not begging to be touched, her bottom lip was not waiting for him to nibble on it … her heart was not beating.


Spike took in a long, deep, unneeded breath through his mouth, clearing the vision of his mate from his mind. Carefully, he opened the envelope, moving away from Anne to open the letter inside and read it.




My dearest Spike,


I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry that I left you. God, I would’ve done anything in the world to have stayed, my baby. And I know what you’re thinking now, but you know that wouldn’t have worked, I wouldn’t have stayed me without my soul. I’m so sorry. Know that I love you with all my heart and I promise I will find you again one day. I’ll never stop until I do, this I promise with my very soul … it’s why I needed it.


I have to ask one more thing of you now. Please don’t hate me for this, I know what I’m asking isn’t fair to you, it isn’t reasonable. I know you’ve done more than any man should have to do in a thousand lifetimes, but I have to ask you to do one more thing for me.




Stay for Summer. Spike, you’re the only one I trust. If she’s Called, you’re the only one that I know will protect her. I wish I could do it myself; I had planned on it, but … life, death had other plans. Please, Spike, I can’t bear the thought of her being a Slayer without you at her side. She’s all we have left of Will and Jade, all that’s left of our lives, our love.


I know it skipped Anne, I know it might not happen at all, but with our family tree, I’m afraid it will. I’m so afraid for her, Spike. Please … stay. Show her what it means to be a Slayer. Show her what it means to be a Pratt, a Summers. Anne tries so hard, but she needs help, she’s all alone now. She needs you. They both need you.


This one last thing I ask of you, my mate. Don’t hate me. Please, don’t hate me. I love you so much; more than I could ever say. You’re more than I deserve, I know that. I know I ask too much of you. I also know you’re the only one in heaven or on Earth that I can count on to keep her safe.


Please do this one last thing for me, William. Stay.


All my love is yours. My heart, my soul, they’re yours. I swear I’ll find you. Never doubt that we’ll be together again, my tender-hearted demon. This, I swear.


With all my heart, my soul, and my love,







Tears flooded from Spike’s eyes as he read the letter again and again, willing the words to change, but they never did.




Did she have any fucking idea what she was asking?!?! Any idea at all?! How could she not know what she was asking of him? How could she not know how hollow and empty he was inside? How filled with misery. How inky black his heart was. How much he needed her. How much he wanted to … die, to dust, to leave this godforsaken realm and find her.


How could she not KNOW?!


Spike dropped to his knees, hitting the cold ground hard. He still held the letter in front of him with both hands, staring at it but not seeing it, as his vision blurred with more tears.


“Poppi?” a small voice questioned tentatively. “Are you alright?”


Spike slowly raised his shimmering eyes up to meet the worried eyes of his young great-times-four granddaughter, and his own blue eyes looked back at him.


He shook his head slowly, almost absently. No … he wasn’t alright. No. No…


“Nana says ice cream and hugs fix everything,” Summer told him as she stepped forward and wrapped her small arms around his neck.


A sob shook Spike’s body as he leaned into the youngster’s embrace, dropping his head to her shoulder as his tears came harder.


“Please don’t cry, Poppi. It’ll be okay. I have magic inside ... you can have some if you want, and there’s ice cream at home…” she assured him solemnly.


Still holding Buffy’s letter in one hand, Spike wrapped his arms around the girl and hugged her to him tightly as he cried, his dark heart taking some comfort from her innocence and sincerity.  He felt more warmth encircle him and realized that Anne had wrapped her arms around them both.


“W-we m-miss her too,” she stammered through her own tears. “I know … I know it’s not the same, but we love you. Please don’t go. Please don’t leave us. I don’t think Summer could bear it … I don’t think I could. Please, Poppi.”


Spike was surrounded in warmth by the two generations of grandchildren, their thudding hearts ringing in his ears, their salty tears mingling in the cold, still air with the fragrance of Buffy’s letter. What was he supposed to do? He felt incapable of staying, of enduring this frigid, black emptiness that chilled his very bones, but how could he not? He had to find Buffy … somehow, he didn’t know how, but he had been prepared to find a way, to do whatever it took to get to her, fight anyone or anything, but now …  How could he go now?


Spike slumped heavily against Summer and Anne as he sobbed; his shattered heart laying in pieces in the inky darkness that filled him. But slowly a small glow began to shine down on those jagged shards as Summer and Anne hugged him and cried with him in the snow atop Buffy’s grave.  It wasn’t enough to put his Humpty-Dumpty heart back together again, but it was something. It was enough. It had to be enough. Buffy wanted him to stay. He would stay.

Forever love’s bitch.




Westlife, What Makes a Man (This Isn’t Goodbye)




This isn't goodbye, even as I watch you leave, this isn't goodbye
I swear I won't cry, even as tears fill my eyes, I swear I won't cry

Any other girl, I'd let you walk away
Any other girl, I'm sure I'd be ok

Tell me what makes a man
Wanna give you all his heart
Smile when you're around
And cry when you're apart
If you know what makes a man
Wanna love you the way I do
Girl you gotta let me know
So I can get over you

What makes her so right?
Is it the sound of her laugh?
That look in her eyes
When do you decide?
She is the dream that you seek
That force in your life

When you apologize, no matter who was wrong
When you get on your knees if that would bring her home

Tell me what makes a man
Wanna give you all his heart
Smile when you're around
And cry when you're apart
If you know what makes a man
Wanna love you the way I do
Girl you gotta let me know

So that I can get over you

Other girls will come along, they always do
But what's the point when all I ever want is you, tell me

Tell me what makes a man
Wanna give you all his heart
Smile when you're around
And cry when you're apart
If you know what makes a man
Wanna love you the way I do
Girl you gotta let me know..... (let me know)
Girl you gotta let me know..... (wooo)
So I can get over you


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