SUMMARY: In the end, all must face Judgment.
AUTHOR NOTES: Thank you my betas: Mezz, Elsa and especially
1.2 seconds. The blink of an eye. Half a heartbeat. The time it takes to alter a universe. The difference between life and death. Or, in this case, death and afterlife.
He looked down, the horror barely having time to register as he noted the accuracy of the human’s mark.
At 0.6 seconds, he looked up, seeing the anger and disgust firmly planted upon the Whelp’s face.
At 0.7 seconds, he looked left to see terror and grief upon the Slayer’s face.
At 1.0 second, the word “no” released from her mouth in a desperate plea.
At 1.2 seconds, his body lost cohesion and his world went black.
A dull roar invaded his senses. Voices? Yes. Many voices. Like the supermarket on a Saturday, or the zoo during summer break. Not that he knew of these things from personal experience. As he regained his consciousness, a pristine, white light forced its way around the edges of his closed eyelids. Tentatively, he peeked through, flinching as his pupils strained to constrict fast enough. Wherever he was, the place was flooded with light. Sunlight? It had to be.
After a brief moment of panic, he remembered. He was dead.
While his eyes adjusted quickly to the new surroundings, his mind was not so adaptable. He stared, uncomprehending at first, at the sight before him.
People. Millions, no billions and maybe even trillions of people. But orderly, in several lines. Each line ended at a great pearly gate. There were many shapes, sizes and ages, Spike noted. One bloke, dressed in 19th century formalwear, had to be the same one who inspired his own nickname, “Spike”. He briefly recalled the party where Cecily had rejected him, and this man’s cruel behavior. Over in the third line, number 243 from the front, was the young gypsy girl on whom Angelus munched, condemning himself to centuries of a tortured life. All around Spike was blue with fluffy clouds. He looked down to find himself standing in a dense fog. The experience felt so surreal, that Spike found himself uttering, "what the bloody, fucking hell?"
As if on command, a tall, scantily clad, well-formed man with curly blonde hair appeared at his side. "Ah, Mr. Walthrop. I am so pleased to see you here. My name is Guido." His hand jutted forward. Spike reluctantly took it, giving the Adonis a raised eyebrow. "Your guide." The man paused a beat as if waiting for a reaction from Spike, whose eyebrow just ticked higher. "Guido, your guide? Oh, never mind." Guido cleared his throat, then assumed a more professional stature. "I am the angel assigned to acclimate you to the sorting process."
"Yes. You are here for final judgment. As you many have heard, there are two official places you go after your death. See Saint Fred over there?" The man pointed toward the front of the line where a short, fat, bald man in flowing white robes held a gavel in his hand.
"He will be your judge. Okay? Alright." The flighty angel turned to leave, but found he could not--his arm had been anchored in place by Mr. Walthrop.
"Not so fast, Nancy-boy." The man resigned himself to more questions and fully faced his charge.
"You have more inquiries, yes?"
"Hell, yeah! How long have they all been here?" The agitated former vampire indicated the plethora of souls in line.
"Oh, I see! This will take approximately one hour, your time, to receive your decision."
Guido raised his hand to silence Spike. "But why all the people from centuries past, right?" Spike was surprised at how well Guido understood his concerns, and nodded. "Time doesn't work that way here, Mr. Walthrop. Um, may I call you William?" Without waiting for an answer, he continued. "Hours, months, millennia pass on Earth, but here, there is only now."
Spike's face registered confusion, then understanding. "So, Buffy's here somewhere, right?" His head frantically searched the area for his Slayer. Just a glimpse of her hazel eyes was all he wanted.
"You must mean Miss Summers. She's around here somewhere. Maybe you'll even spend eternity with her. You never know."
Spike made a rude sound and began speaking in a loud voice. "Fat chance in bloody hell of that happening! Where is she, angel-boy? I need to see her!"
Before Guido could even answer, Spike started forward, desperate to search for his love, but found himself locked in place in the queue. As he began to holler obscenities, Guido shook his head, gave a jaunty little wave and marched off towards his next newly disoriented arrival.
24 minutes after arrival:
Spike had reached into his cigarette pocket a grand total of 154 times, only to come up empty. Apparently, his leather had made the trip to...here...but his fags hadn't. He figured morosely if there were a tally of sins being kept somewhere, that would be another 154 curses added to his list. Bloody hell.
46 minutes after arrival:
He could finally hear some of the action at the front of the line.
"Mr. Gates. It says here you were a very successful businessman, who took his mother to brunch every Sunday. Your neighbors say you were a quiet and thoughtful neighbor."
Spike looked on as the richest man in the world puffed himself up, his smile growing exponentially by the second.
"Oh. Oh dear."
The trillionaire’s smile faded as he wondered what was written on the gigantic scroll.
"You kicked a dog..."
Mr. Gates looked more worried.
"...lied to millions of people…"
Now he was sweating.
"…and the kicker--strove to achieve world domination. I am sorry, Mr. Gates. Your application for admission through the pearly gates has been..."
Without warning, the clouds in Bill's immediate vicinity evaporated as a smoldering, red portal sucked the man inside.
All that remained of him was a tattered section of necktie, which gently floated to the ground.
51 minutes after arrival:
"Jonathan Levinson. Please step forward."
Spike's eyes lit up as he recognized the git in front of Saint Fred. Wasn’t that a member of the nerd trio who tried to conquer Sunnydale?
"Mr. Levinson. It says here you were a gentle, quiet man, who had a love of the supernatural and spell casting. You joined a gang with the intent of world domination."
The eavesdropping Spike braced himself along with a nervous looking Jonathan for the inevitable decision, but it did not come.
"However, you fought against Mr. Warren Meers in the final conflict and proved to us that your heart is pure. Your application for admittance through the pearly gates is officially approved."
Then, without fanfare or flare, the gate swung open. Swirls of fog danced at the bottom, and birds flew overhead. Jonathan, wide eyed and stunned, stumbled through and looked around in awe.
64 minutes after arrival:
"Mr. Laden. It says here you had unfaltering faith in your deity. You treated your neighbor as your own flesh and blood. You fought to the death to maintain your ideals." The dark man, decorated with a turban atop his head, grinned from ear to ear, knowing that these were all good things and that he had led a righteous life. "Then, at the height of your career, a government group hunted you down and murdered you."
Osama's eyes glimmered with venomous hatred.
"Oh. Oh, this is not good. You orchestrated numerous, unprovoked attacks on other human beings, killing thousands upon thousands. It seems your ultimate goal was for world domination."
He opened his mouth to protest, but found that no words would escape.
"Your application for acceptance through the pearly gates has been…" The same fiery portal opened, sucking Osama Bin Laden into the pit of hell.
Only his turban remained behind, billowing in the breeze.
78 minutes after arrival:
"William Walthrop. Please step forward."
Spike raised his chin in defiance and advanced toward the Saint. He knew what he was...what he had been for over a century. He acknowledged all the people he had murdered for fun, for sport, for food. Their blood still stained his hands. He knew all the goods, monies and hope he had stolen from the good people of this Earth could never be repaid. The vampire, nee William Walthrop, knew in his heart where he was to spend eternity, and he had accepted it long ago.
"Mr. Walthrop. It says here you died, then became a vampire." St. Fred put the scroll down and shot the defendant a glare. "What a loathsome creature." His face was contorted with disgust before he continued with distain, "You have willfully killed, maimed, tortured, and deceived nearly every human being you encountered. You belonged to the Line of Aurelius, the most powerful and feared group of vampires to ever roam the Earth. You brutally murdered two Chosen Ones, and danced in their blood. You…"
Spike interrupted, and surprisingly, was allowed to speak. "Yeah, we all bloody well know where this is headed. So why don't you save us all the time and just open up your soddin' portal and send me there already?"
St. Fred looked at Spike, then back at his scroll. Apparently, Fred did not believe what was written before him. He scanned up and down the scroll in confusion, then finally resigned himself accepting the words before him as gospel. "Because, young man, it seems there's this little matter to discuss.” He looked up at the soul before him and…was that a smile on the Saint’s face? “Let's see. Number of times you saved the world from apocalypse: 3. Humans you directly or indirectly saved from injury or death: 2,577. Chosen Ones aided in the fight against Evil: 1. Chosen Ones you've rescued from death: 1. Number of humans who found you worthy of trust and love: 3. You are apparently the only vampire to have ever actually chosen to change his ways." Spike barely began to interject when he was interrupted. "He doesn't count. That was behavior induced by a soul. Take the soul away, and he's still hell-bound."
Spike just blinked.
"William Walthrop. Your application for admission through the pearly gates is officially accepted."
The first person he saw was his mother, followed by his sister. Soon, he was swarmed with people he had long forgotten about, either intentionally or unintentionally. The man from the corner store. His best friend from the academy. Aunt Thelma. Grandpapa Morris. The list went on and on.
Then there was a more recent familiar face. Joyce. She looked beautiful...and healthy. Did she always have that glow? Out from behind her stepped a dark haired wonder...Dawn. She ran to him and embraced him with all her might. She had grown into a fine woman. Tall, pretty.
"I knew we'd meet again. I just knew it." Dawn could not contain her excitement. She grabbed his face and planted a wet, sloppy kiss on his forehead. From over her shoulder, he saw Joyce’s large smile and heard her voice, “Welcome, Spike.”
Spike closed his eyes, taking in the events of the last couple hours. Ironic that Xander staked him upon finding out he and the Slayer were involved romantically. What was it he had said? How could Spike forget? “Who do you think you are? You’ll never be good enough for Buffy!”
Well, apparently he had been good enough for Heaven.
Interrupting him from his ruminations, a small hand gently touched his shoulder. While remiss to relinquish his hold on dear Dawn, he forced himself to release her and turn around. The vision that now stood before him took his breath away.
Buffy. None of the anguish and pain that had become her umbrella lay upon her face. Just pure joy and contentment. It was a dream come true just to see her in this state.
“Hi, Spike.” Her face donned a genuine smile that crept all the way into her placid eyes.
He found himself stunned in place. What did he ever do to deserve this? Eternity…with his friends and family. His real family: the Summers’ women.
Buffy reached out, wiping away a long line of tears that at some point had begun streaming down his face. When had he stared to cry? He thought to himself, “what a pa…”
“You’re warm!” She looked him straight in the eye, love shining through.
Spike was afraid if he so much as blinked, the apparition before him would dissipate. “Did you say something, luv?”
Buffy’s smile grew as she moved closer to him. In front of all these people, holding nothing back, she kissed his lips with all the caring she could muster. He, once again, closed his eyes, intent on allowing himself to enjoy her contact. She loved him! She really did. And she was his…forever.