Part Fifteen: Farewell
That was what she looked like. In death, her face was cleansed of worry and pain. The perfection of her features was evident. Not that she was truly perfect but to him...Spike shook his head. No time for this now. The sky was still dark but he could feel the dawn just beyond the edge of sight. It tickled at the back of his neck like a stopwatch counting down. He still had another task to complete. He had promised. He turned back to the rubble of the school and started back inside.
He encountered no one inside. The demons that had escaped the closing of the Hellmouth were well away from this place and running fast like bugs left uncovered when one kicked over a rotten log. He strode through the hallways of the school. It ended where as it began. His first battle with her had been here. The sparks of hatred flying between them. What time could alchemize...the fierceness of his hatred...just as fierce his love. Spike found the fathomless hole that led to Willow’s lair, swung over the side and lowered himself into the pitch black. He knew the way. He had climbed up this same path, a limp body across his back and his very hands remembered.
Endless moments later, he alighted on the correct ledge, traversed the narrow pathway and located the source of his journey and his promise. Willow. She lay unmoving inside her circle, hair spread behind her like a pool of blood. Her face held a look of peace. Spike felt a sudden and nearly uncontrollable urge to pitch her from the side and into the depths below. Let hell have her after what she had done. Buffy might have forgiven but he didn’t have to. He couldn’t do that though. He promised. Her vindictiveness had destroyed them all but he would honor Buffy’s last request.
Spike winced at the pain in his ribs as he knelt to scoop the dead woman up into his protesting arms. Ripping the bars from his cell had added to his list of injuries but he could not take the time to recover. It must be done before dawn or he would have to remain in this place another day. Slinging her over his shoulder somewhat less gently than he had done with Buffy, Spike began the tortuous climb up once more.
Outside, he lay her on the grass next to Buffy. Fell to his knees to rest a moment. He looked from one face to the other. Buffy looked just the bloody same. A twenty-something girl frozen in time...while Willow had every year, every hatred carved into the lines of her face. He felt if he shook her too hard she might just blow away on the chill night wind. He felt the pain inside creeping up, threatening to overwhelm him but he had to finish this.
Standing unsteadily, he pulled one body over each bare shoulder and made his way across the dead grass and up the street to his final destination. It wasn’t much of a funeral march. Just him, no shirt or shoes, carrying two dead friends. The only mourners were the stars and the silent moon. It would have to be enough; there was no one else. Spike followed the echo of Buffy’s directions in his mind and found the place she told him of just seconds before she died. A quiet hillside grove.
It looked somewhat better cared for than the cemetery it was set in. Someone had trimmed the grass, kept the weeds at bay, even watered it and laid living flowers across the two graves. Spike laid his burden down once more, being sure to arrange them with dignity. The tombstones, obviously hand carved from rough granite by inexpert hands, read...
Had Buffy kept this place up? Willow? No way to know but this was where Buffy had asked him to bring them. They would all be together in end. Seeing an old workshed near the bottom of the hill, Spike walked away from the gravesite and towards it. Arriving, he pried the ancient door open and found a dented but usable shovel inside. Back in the grove, he looked down at the ground. No decision really. He would bury Willow first. Keep Buffy with him as long as possible.
Racing the coming sun, Spike dug. Each heave of the shovel a silent scream of rage and sorrow. Next to the resting-place of her beloved, he made Willow her final bed. Exhausted from the effort, he pressed on until the hole was a decent depth. Grim humor curved his mouth for a second. The dead digging graves for the dead. Funny world. He climbed out of the hole and lifted Willow up for the last time. Her arms trailed out behind her, the ruined black silk of her gown a proper shroud for a witch. Spike strove one final time for the forgiveness Buffy had given with such ease. It just wasn’t there. She was a better person than he was but he had always known that.
He tossed the body contemptuously into the hole. A minor spite towards a person he would have gladly killed given half a chance. She lay at the bottom of the grave, the moon providing a last glimmer of light to shine across her pale, peaceful face. Spike thought she looked...finished. That was the way it was supposed to be, right? Taking the shovel to hand again, he poured a first heap of dirt over her and another and so on until no trace of her ghostly white countenance could be seen. He had fulfilled his promise. A decent burial for the girl who had once been the most loyal of friends. Buffy had asked and Spike had obeyed. Such a small thing to do for her when he had hoped to do so much more...
Spike smoothed the last mound of dirt over the fresh grave and laid his shovel down. He turned to where Buffy lay. He had put this off as long as possible. Not even looking at her as he completed his task. As if ignoring it would change what he had to do. Put her in the earth...and not follow her down.
He lay down beside her body. Supporting himself on his elbow so he could look down at her, he remembered something he had read while still alive. He had been a lovesick fool back then and took to heart every word he read about love. Imagined it the very thing he felt for that stupid girl whose name now escaped him...But the words rang true in his mind ...for this ethereal creature who lay beside him now.
"All thoughts, all passions, all delights, Whatever stirs this mortal frame, All are but ministers of Love And feed His Sacred Flame."
This... had been sacred and now it was done. Spike wondered if he could physically make himself do it? Dig the grave and put her in? He had watched from the shadows a long time ago, when they buried her the first time. That had been excruciating but to wield the shovel...do it with his own hands...
The moon had set and only the stars shone down on them now. Sleeping beauty...he thought again. How did the story go? One last kiss...after all he was just as dead as she. A kiss from one dead to another. He leaned over; his throat tight and aching with sorrow, and pressed cold lips to hers. A farewell. Her lips still held some lingering trace of warmth, as though life was loath to let go its hold.
He smoothed a stray hair from her face... it seemed as though the near-ended night had taken on the quality of a dream. For surely it was a desperate, imagined madness of his grieving mind that he saw her lips curve ever so slightly? That they parted just the smallest bit? Her chest rose and fell nearly imperceptibly. Cool air flowed past her lips and animated her still form. A faint whisper from her mouth. Spike leaned closer to hear, afraid that the moment would come crashing down around him and reality would stream back in...
“Cellular sunburn...” she said.
Spike gathered her closer into his arms. Watched with wild hope as she opened her eyes. Glorious eyes.
“Buffy?” he choked out.
“The wrong spell,” she said.
He just gaped, that one word all he could manage. It could still fade away.
“Willow was wrong...and Tara too. It’s the first spell, the Resurrection one that raises me every time. Not the Hellmouth,” she concluded, a note of wonder in her voice as she stared up at her astonished companion.
Spike pulled her close. Pressed his ear against her chest to hear the delightful sound of blood coursing through living veins and the steady thump of her heart. An undeserved gift...she had said to Willow. Well this was his. He raised his head to kiss her deeply, the slight warmth of her mouth now a raging heat. She was alive. Buffy kissed him back, joyously and just as deep. The two held each other tightly as the sun started to turn the horizon the palest shade of gray.
Buffy frowned, looking over Spike’s shoulder. She saw the new grave. Pushing to her feet, she walked over to it. Spike let her go. She would be back. Buffy stood at the edge of the newly turned earth.
“Goodbye Willow. I hope you find her...”she said softly.
Buffy saw the approaching dawn. “Time to leave,” she said over her shoulder to a waiting Spike.
Spike rose to his feet, held out one hand to Buffy. “Where to love?”
Buffy turned and took his hand, looked up into his brilliant gaze. “Only one more thing to do,” she replied.
They turned and started down the hill.
It was near sunset the next day and Buffy and Spike had left Sunnydale far behind. They had driven through the bright new day, hidden by the specially tinted windows of Spike’s car, to a place of Buffy’s choosing. They now stood in the deep shadow provided by an ancient willow tree near a large, old, rambling farmhouse. The house was painted white with yellow trim. A large porch surrounded the house and a picket fence wrapped around it, white daises poking from between the slats. As Buffy and Spike watched, two small girls came tumbling out the front door, down the steps, and out into the gently waving late summer grass.
They laughed as they ran, a half-serious game of tag developing between them. The smaller girl, the one with the long, straight, brown hair, fell and bumped a dimpled knee. The older girl stopped and ran back to gather her younger sister in protective arms. Her blond curls fell across both their faces as she murmured words of comfort.
Buffy looked up at Spike and smiled a purely happy smile. “No monsters here,” she whispered to him.
He nodded slowly, a smile of his own creasing his face.
Buffy’s face turned serious again. “I still have to fight, you know. The world still holds far too many demons.”
“Of course. An’ I’ll be right there with you. Th’ rough an’ tumbles always fine with me. But we’re gonna live too pet. No more skulkin’ in corners for you,” Spike said gravely.
Buffy nodded in assent. “Can you think of a good place to start? To live? Truly live?” she asked, looking hopeful.
Spike laughed happily and kissed her hard and quick. “That I do, love. That I do.”
They looked up at the sound of a soft voice calling the children back. The girls stood and started back towards the sound of love and safety that awaited them inside their home. The last golden light of the ending day cast halos atop their small heads as they climbed the steps hand in hand.
Buffy and Spike also walked away...into the shadows of the coming night.
My sincerest thanks to those who took the time to read this story and offer their thoughts. It has been a great deal of fun to write and I’m somewhat sad it is done. Means I actually have to think up something else.... I spent some time thinking about how to end this story. I was almost tempted to leave it at the end of Part Fourteen but I still hold hope for the ‘Ship and at least in my personal Buffyverse, I get to create a happy ending no matter how bittersweet. Any unanswered questions you might have or a loose end I missed please don’t hesitate to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you again and please let me know what you think of the finished product.