And then it was Spike's turn.
Willow gave him a squeeze on the arm as Joyce re-entered the waiting room, her lips together in a
tight, thin line, her eyes bright with unshed tears. The vampire stood, his teeth grinding together,
and he headed down the sterile corridor to her room.
The ugly orange door was open and he could see her from the hallway, her body thin and wasted,
her skin a sickly grey color, her hair dirty, scraggily strands of brown. There were no machines,
no IVs, no life-saving devices in sight. Only a worn, beaten, wisp of a girl dying in a hospital
He didn't want to go in, he didn't want to see the pain in her eyes, the light that always shone
from them slowly fading away. He wanted to run, to scream, to rage, to cry. He wanted to rip a
hole through Sunnydale, he wanted to make the streets bleed. He wanted to die along with her.
He closed his eyes for a moment, gathering his strength, then walked into the room. "Hello,
cutie," he said, his voice unnaturally loud in the depressed atmosphere.
Buffy opened her eyes and a tiny smile crossed her lips. "Hey," she replied in a tired voice.
"'Bout time you showed up."
Spike chuckled and sat on the edge of the bed, taking her small hand in his larger one. "Well, you
know, things to do, humans to kill." She started to laugh, then winced in pain and his features
reflected the same. "I'm sorry, pe-"
"Don't," she interrupted. "Don't be sorry."
He pressed his lips together much the same way Joyce had, trying to hold back his emotions. He
reached out and ran his fingertips over her face, memorizing the feel for when she was gone.
"Cor, Slayer, I don't want you to go. Who will I have to insult?"
"I'm sure you'll find someone," Buffy replied, her eyes soft. "In fact, I know just the person."
She started to cough, great wracking ones from deep within her sick lungs. She lurched on the
bed with each, her eyes squeezed shut in pain. Spike bit the inside of his cheek to keep from
moving, to keep from calling for help. She didn't want help, from him or anyone. She wanted to
die without being hooked up to machines or medicines.
"Spike," she said, her voice harsh from the coughs. She took a ragged breath and seemed to
shrink further into the pillows.
"Yes, luv?" Spike said. She looked so very tiny and weak.
"Promise me you'll tell him," Buffy whispered. "Promise me you'll make sure he doesn't do
The tears started to fall from his eyes. "I promise, Slayer."
She nodded and closed her eyes. Her short breaths making the ratty green of the hospital gown
rise and fall quickly. Spike wiped at his cheeks with the back of his hand, watching her. When
she opened them again, a little more of the light was gone.
"It's been fun, hasn't it?" Buffy asked. "These last few years..."
"Yes, it has," Spike reassured her. "Even though I didn't want to be a bloody good guy."
"I think you'd look cute in a white hat," she teased, one side of her mouth curling up. "Better
make it a black one."
Buffy suddenly gripped his hand tightly and he felt his heart rip in two. "Slayer?"
Her hand relaxed and she looked up into his eyes, a serene expression on her face. "Tell everyone
I said goodbye, ok?"
Spike sucked in a harsh breath and the tears came again. "I will," he told her, sniffing. He leaned
forward and placed a kiss on her forehead. "I'm going to miss you. Bloody ridiculous, don't you
think? A vampire missing the Slayer?"
"Yeah," she sighed. Her eyes fell closed.
He couldn't stop the trembling in his voice as he told her the truth. The truth that he thought he'd
have plenty of time to admit. "I love you, Buffy."
Her smile returned and her eyes opened again. "I know."
With her arm shaking from the effort, she reached up and cupped his cheek. Spike sobbed loudly,
capturing her hand with his and holding it to his face. He nuzzled into it, kissing her palm softly
before allowing her to lower it back to the bed. She took a slow, shallow breath and closed her
"Promise me you'll live, too," she said, her voice barely audible. "Promise me, Spike. I know
you keep your word."
"I promise, Buffy," Spike choked out, even though his heart was screaming for him to see the
sunrise so he could go with her. "I don't bloody want to, but I promise."
"Good," she sighed.
Then Buffy Summers was gone.
Spike wiped his eyes with the palm of his hand, then raised that hand and knocked on the door in
front of him. Back in Sunnydale, Buffy's ashes were being scattered on her favorite hunting
grounds, the final wish of a dying Slayer to scare the bad guys from the grave. He didn't want to
be where he was, he didn't want to leave his house, he didn't want to do what she had asked.
The door opened and Angel looked at him in surprise. "Spike, what are you doing here?"
"Can I come in, mate?" Spike replied, his voice rough from constant crying. Angel nodded and
stepped aside, then closed the door behind him.
"I take it this isn't a social call," Angel said, a nervous expression crossing his features. "Is
something wrong? Is Buffy ok?"
Spike started to laugh. Harsh, hysterical laughter that rang hollowly in the other vampire's
apartment. "She m-made me promis-s-se to tell you," he gasped between laughs. "Sh-sh-she
made m-me promise you w-w-w-wouldn't do something bloody s-stupid."
"Spike!" Angel snapped. He brought his hand back and slapped the hysterical blond, then
grabbed him by both shoulders and shook him. "What is wrong with Buffy?!"
Spike stopped laughing and met his sire's panicked gaze. Tears of anguish started to fall from his
eyes again. "Angel, she's dead."
Angel stared at him. "No."