Buffy stares out the back window. But she doesn't see the road unraveling behind them or the faint cloud of dust that hovered earlier in the distance where Sunnydale used to be.
She sees Spike.
She sees Spike, frozen in place by the bright power of the amulet, his face a contortion of pain and wonder. Her hand in his now, fingers entwined. For a moment she feels his pain, his love. Her hand feels like it's burning up, but she can't pull away, not now, not when Spike is unfolding like a flower into something new and brilliant.
It’s all replaying in her mind, and she thinks this must be what it's like when you stare at the sun too long, and its image is forever burned into your retina, because she feels like those last moments with Spike are seared into her brain.
She sees his brilliant blue eyes, and there's that old familiar hint of wickedness about them, and she knows that the vampire in him is getting a kick out of this final bloody battle. But it's strange, too, because they're also fixed in rapt attention on something outside the battle, maybe outside the Hellmouth, something she can't see.
And when he pauses in his gleeful reverie to gaze at her, he's boring a hole into her very soul, and it hurts, but it's beautiful, too. Because she wants him to know her now, really know her and understand all that he has meant to her this year. And her heart aches suddenly, it's like his hands are inside her and squeezing, she can't stop feeling his hands surrounding her heart, and for a moment she can't breath.
She wants to tell him how full she feels, but she can't find the words.
"I love you." So small and inadequate. Not nearly enough.
"No you don't. But thanks for saying it." Spike's gentle, benevolent smile on her. He's already moving away from her, his focus on the end of his journey and how it will play out.
Tears stream down Buffy's cheeks. But you're wrong, Spike. Don't you know? You'll always be in my heart. I'll never forget you. She needs to tell him these things. He deserves the truth. That she's not ashamed to love him, not angry or confused about it anymore. And maybe it's not romantic love--maybe it could be one day, she doesn’t know, but she's not ready for that with anyone now--but it's deep and abiding and real. She knows it's real, she can feel the weight and warmth of it as it spreads throughout her body.
Buffy starts to form the words, but then the earth begins its violent rocking, and it's all she can do to stay upright.
Spike is urging her to go. It's hard, because she doesn't want Spike to go through this alone. She wants to be there for the end, or whatever this is for him.
But it's clear that he wants her gone, wants her safe. He's ready for the big finale, he can face it alone. His face is an odd combination of fear and exhilaration. It's the way Buffy will remember him.
The sun is setting, and out the back window, the sky is a beautiful swirl of pink and orange, fringed with deepening blue.
He'd said he could feel his soul. She wishes she could have asked him what that meant. She thinks maybe she knows, though. And through her tears, there's a ghost of a smile, and she's happy for him, because she thinks--she hopes--that after all those years, alive and undead, he's finally at rest.