Everything was Hell and it was his fault. He’d made a promise he hadn’t been strong enough to keep and the world had been swallowed whole.
Spike cradled the small body of the woman in his arms, tears shadowed in his eyes as he held his lips against her head. He tightened his grip on her, cursing himself for his uselessness, his failures.
I don’t want to do this anymore. There’s nothing left to protect; I failed. I just want it over…
The memory of her soft admission played over and over again in his mind, and he wondered if his pleas that she keep fighting had been no more than the height of selfishness. Had it been fair for him to make her struggle through hell every day simply because he needed her? Had it been fair to make her sleep huddled in places like this old, abandoned gas station because he couldn’t face the night without her?
She’d lost more than the battle. When the walls between worlds had been ripped apart, she’d lost everything. Within a month, they were the only two still standing, and as of late, Spike had begun to suspect she was the only human left at all. This was truly the apocalypse, the end of it all, and yet Spike had held on to her, greedily clinging to the love she hadn’t been willing to give him when they’d known something other than hell.
He knew he was more than her solace, more than her one sliver of pleasure in the midst of so much darkness. He’d heard her whisper the words when it was his turn to sleep, and he knew they weren’t simply one more false comfort. Still, it wasn’t enough to make her want to take her next breath, and he knew she’d only kept fighting for so long because she knew without her, he’d let it all end for him, too.
She knew nothing but hell, and it was all his fault.
Despite her Calling, she’d never been meant for a world like this. She was meant for sunshine and laughter, surrounded by friends and family. She didn’t belong where the only light came from flames, where the only sounds were screams. And whatever their relationship had become, she deserved better than what he could give her now.
“I’m so sorry, love,” he whispered against her once-golden hair, his tears falling silently as he stroked her pale, scarred arm. “I’m sorry I couldn’t do what I promised. I’m sorry I couldn’t save her…”
Do you believe that’s all it would take to change things, vampire? One life still in the world instead of gone?
Spike looked up sharply, his yellow eyes flicking through the darkness. Had someone even spoken? The words had brushed through his mind as a whisper – had they been his own thoughts?
Something moved between the aisles in front of him: a flash of gray and a rush of wind.
Spike’s arms tightened around his sleeping lover. “Whoever you are, I’ll tell you now I’m not easy prey.”
Not here to fight, vampire. Here to make things right – if you truly believe you could have made the difference.
A stronger breezed followed this time, pushing Spike’s unruly curls away from his face. His hand dug into Buffy’s arm; she didn’t stir.
“I’m not up to playing any bloody games, so if you have something to say, you better say it.”
So impatient, your kind. So much time, and yet you always demand for now…
“Yeah, well, it’s a character flaw,” Spike snapped. He wasn’t afraid. He’d faced much worse than a chatty breeze since hell had fallen on earth, and there was nothing left to take from him now.
So much hostility, too. And towards someone who offers you a favor…
Spike bristled. “No one does favors anymore.”
A figure materialized a few feet away, translucent enough for Spike to still see the dilapidated counter behind her. It appeared to be female, though Spike couldn’t quite make out clear facial features, with a flowing gown and long hair blowing around her, as if she were caught in a storm at sea.
“It is not merely for you,” the figure said. “Every day I drown in the wrongness of this world. It’s like rotting flesh.”
“And what, you can fix that by doing me a favor?” Spiked asked.
“A simple exchange. Your life for the one that was lost.”
Spike gripped Buffy tightly again, a tremor going through him. “A life that was…Dawn?”
“Yes. Would you make such a trade, vampire?”
His life for Dawn’s? His life for a world where hell had never come, where the woman he loved could still touch sunshine?
It wasn’t even a question.
It started as a breeze, barely tickling his flesh, but soon, the wind was howling around him, beating against him as he turned his head, burying it in her hair, breathing her in until everything was gone.
*** *** ***
She was lifeless, broken on the ground, and he crumpled, unable to stop his tears from running with the blood marring his face. It was wrong, all wrong. She wasn’t supposed to be still, she wasn’t supposed to be like this.
He’d died so long ago, but Buffy… She’d been so vibrant, like a star burning around him. All warm breath and heartbeats.
As a vampire, he’d touched nothing but death. He’d been cold, always in the dark, always down in the dirt. But then he’d seen her, and for the first time in as long as he could remember, he’d thought his blood could burn again.
For him, she’d always been life.
Now, that life was taken from him.
A/N: Feedback would be lovely. I could really use it right now.