Author’s Notes: This is ultimately a B/S story, but be warned that Angel has a (rather large) guest role.
Chapter 1: Right Time
The hospital was busy, even at this late hour, and a grim smile graced Spike’s lips. Full moon tonight, his luck. Freaks and things that went bump in the night combined, no nurse or doctor would have the time to pay attention to a shadow or two.
He found the room easily. He had been there just once, two weeks before. It had been raining. He had brought her flowers. Snatched from a grave in the cemetery, but she didn’t need to know that. He had watched her sleep, pained by the deep shadows under her eyes. She had awoken in a jump, and her gaze had found him immediately, in the far corner of the room. He didn’t want to crowd her, didn’t want her to believe he was taking advantage of the situation. She had said it often enough for him to begin to accept it, however hard it was.
It was over.
But then, she had given him the world. She had smiled.
They had made small talk, like civilized people did. Not too much, not too loud, she was so tired. Soon, the gang had intruded. The whelp had practically yelled at him to go away. And he had. Not wanting to make a scene in front of her, he had returned to the shadows where he belonged, leaving her to the light that used to be hers.
The doctors had tried to operate three days later. He had heard about it from the Nibblet. He had found the kid crying in his crypt one night as he was returning from patrol. Someone had to do the job after all, until she was well enough to return to slaying.
Except she wouldn’t.
He had listened as Dawn told him about the operation. The surgeon had found that the tumor was inoperable, too far advanced already to dare cut and slice. The brain is not something to play with. They were giving her experimental drugs, but it didn’t seem to do any good. They thought she would last two months, at most. Of course, that was without counting on Slayer strength. She would probably last longer, he told himself. But she would be just a shadow of herself, nothing like the woman full of life he loved.
He had brought the kid back home and stayed with her until sunrise was near, like he had often done the summer before, when Buffy was gone. Returning to his crypt, he had staked a vampire that was just getting out of her grave. A kindness, really. The poor thing would have burned in the sun only a few minutes later if not for his stake. That’s when he first got the idea.
Days and nights, he had thought about it. It was a crazy plan, of course, like all his plans always were. Still, it was the only way. She couldn’t leave again.
Very carefully, he had thought of all the details. He had stolen a car, bitterly regretting the long gone DeSoto, and blackened the windows. He had also ‘borrowed’ a cell phone, spending the better part of a day learning how to use the damn thing. He had found the perfect place, an abandoned hotel by the ocean side, and readied a room.
Then he had waited.
He couldn’t act too soon, or she might be able to resist. He had to wait for the right time.
It came faster than expected.
Again, Dawn had brought the news. She had come in the middle of the afternoon this time, her eyes swollen and red from having cried too much. “It’s the end,” she had told him. “If you want to see her again, it’s now. She said she’d like to say goodbye to everyone.”
So, there he was, in front of the dark room, watching through the door’s window. The Bit was asleep in an oversized chair, but what interested him was the slip of a girl in the bed. So thin, so pale already. Noiselessly, he opened the door and slipped in, making sure Dawn was still asleep. He carefully unhooked the IV that plunged into her arm. Taking his duster off, he wrapped her it in before taking her in his arms.
Very briefly, she opened her eyes. Very softly, she said his name. Very faintly, she smiled.
He cradled her against his shoulder. She weighted nothing, already a shadow.
He left the note in the middle of the bed, and paused to look at Dawn. “Everything will be fine Nibblet,” he promised quietly. “Don’t worry.”
Dawn opened her eyes in time to see the Vampire leave, carrying the Slayer against his chest. Fresh tears rolled down her cheeks, but this time, behind the grief and despair, shone a faint light of hope. She had lost her mom already, she couldn’t lose Buffy too, not to the very same thing, not so soon after losing her last summer.
Whatever the price.