A Single Picture, A Hundred Memories

by Saber ShadowKitten
Sequel to
One of the Darkness, One of the Light

Spike looked out over the town spread before him, marveling at the peacefulness and serenity of the night. Was it only a few days ago that blood ran and screams rang out every hour on the hour like a mockery of the sacredness of church bells? Was it only a few hours ago that he'd said goodbye to the last person he loved as her body was lowered into the ground to her final rest?

He lifted his hand and ran it down over his weary, battle-worn features. His face was gaunt and a sickly grey in color, making him look more like a the personification of Death than the tanned almost-human he was or the handsome, alabaster-skinned vampire he'd once been. His single blue eye reflected a tiredness that came with living too many years; the other eye was covered with a black patch that hid the hollowed socket -- a product of a fight to protect someone precious to him, a fight he'd won and an exchange he'd had no hesitation in making.

Dropping his gaze, Spike picked up the tattered box from the ground beside him and set it on his lap. His forefinger traced the printed letters on the lid, the words slanted in a way that indicated the writer had been left-handed. You really should put these in an album, old man. A faint smile crossed his lips, one tainted with a sweet sadness that comes with time, dulling the pain death caused.

He heard a light tinkling sound, like a breeze brushing gently past a windchime. His smile grew softer and he removed the lid from the box. The inside was filled with photographs, almost to the rim -- three lifetimes worth, to be precise. He pulled out the one that was always on the top and rubbed his thumb along the bottom of it.

"It hurts, you know," Spike said quietly. "After twenty-five years, it still hurts. I can't believe it's been so bloody long, luv. It seems just like yesterday you were painting my toenails green and we wrestled and then I made love to you for the first time."

Spike raised his head and smiled briefly. "Cor, I'm such a nancyboy...and it's all your fault. I wanted to destroy you, not fall in love with you. You and your stupid Slayer prophecies. I should have killed you when I had the chance."

His smile faded away and his expression turned infinitely sad. "If I had, maybe there wouldn't be this aching hole in my heart. Maybe if I had, I would have only buried my mortal enemy, and not the three girls I loved more than my own half-human life."

He felt a warmth brush against his cheek and he sighed. Reverently, he set the photograph aside and pulled a second out of the box. "It's been awhile since I looked at these, pet. Not since Chrissy turned four and I added her birthday party pictures to the box." He chuckled. "Bloody hell, did she hate that magician Harris's boy arranged to entertain the kids. Why is it that the ones who should never be allowed to breed are the ones who always survive?"

Spike turned his attention to the next photograph in his hand. An infant with wide blue eyes and dark hair looked back at him with a toothless grin. "You would have made a great mother, luv. Better than I probably did at the whole Father Knows Best-thing I'm a vampire, for chrissakes, even though I got all sorts of nifty human benefits due to that effin' prophecy that took you from me. The only thing I knew about babies was that they were good to eat when you had the late night munchies.

"Luckily I'm smart, so I caught on fast," he said, setting the baby picture aside. He pulled out another. A young girl with braids and a bright yellow flowered dress stood outside of a brick building, a Mickey Mouse lunchbox in hand as she waved happily back at the camera. "Before I knew it, our baby was starting school; and then there were report cards to worry about and homework to help with and parent-teacher conferences to suffer through and costumes to sew and lunches to make and field trips to chaperone."

Spike picked another picture out of the box. This one was of a teenager scowling at the photographer, her blue eyes narrowed slightly, her chin-length dark hair hiding part of her heart-shaped face... a face that reminded him so much of her mother.

"Then, puberty hit, and I really could have used you, ducks. Cor, I hadn't realized you women were so moody. Andy loved me one minute and wanted me to drop off the face of the earth the next. Your mum had died already, and Willow and Cordelia had been killed just a few months before Andy started her cycle, leaving me to try and cope by myself. I know so much about women's feminine products now I could be a frickin' spokesman," he said with a dry laugh.

Another photograph, another hundred memories. A young woman stood proudly in her military uniform, the Red, White and Blue flying smartly in the background behind her. "I wish you would've been here to see her grow up," he said. "Every day was another adventure. I never knew what Andy was going to do next. There was so much fire and passion in her. I had a hard time just keeping up with the little chit.

"And I never understood her. She was so bloody smart and talented and unbelievably strong," he continued, withdrawing yet another picture. The same young woman from the previous photograph stood with her arm around another woman, identical cocky smiles on both females' faces, wearing matching leather bomber jackets, fatigue pants and combat boots. "She reminded me of you. The way she carried herself, the way she cared, the way she fought and the way she never gave up, everything. She even had your wit. It was like you'd never really left me."

Spike set the photo aside and took out one with the dark-haired young woman holding a baby in her arms, the second young woman from the prior picture pretending to smoke a cigar beside them. "Then Chrissy was born and the family I never should have had to begin with grew even more. I had a daughter, I had a daughter-in-law and I had a granddaughter. The only woman missing in my life was you."

He felt a soft, warm caress on the back of his hand and he set the photo down as he raised his gaze to look out over the town spread before him once more. An ache filled his heart as the memories of the past played out in his mind, a piece of history that he had dreaded from the moment his daughter had been born and the Slayer that he had loved had been taken away from him.

"I was so bloody proud of her, you know?" Spike said, his voice becoming choked up. "When the day came that Andy was called on because of the fucking prophecy I made start, she went without hesitation. She must've known she was going to die, because she told me that she knew Chrissy would grow up to be a wonderful, strong woman because I would be the one to take care of her."

Spike closed his eye and took a deep, trembling breath as the picture in his mind became clearer. It was the last time he ever saw his daughter alive. She had turned in the doorway for one final look at him and Chrissy, her short, dark hair framing her beautiful face, her blue eyes filled with tears of love. Then, she had turned away and strode out of his life forever.

"I miss her every day, pet," he said. "A parent should never outlive his child -- it hurts too bloody much. If I hadn't of had Chrissy to take care of, I would have followed Andy to the grave. I was tempted to do it many times those first few weeks even though I was the munchkin's only family left, seein' as how Melissa had been killed soon after Chrissy was born."

Spike took out another photograph and a bitter smile twisted his mouth. A toddler in a pink, ruffled dress, with brown hair and her mother and grandfather's blue eyes, was holding a ratty, stuffed pig as she flashed her single tooth for the camera. Fresh pain speared through his heart as he traced the small girl's smile.

"Chrissy, my little munchkin," he said. "I hate to tell you this, ducks, but somehow she was more like me than either of her mothers or her biological dad. She wouldn't sit still for more than a few minutes at a time. It drove me batty. I don't know how you managed to put up with me for that all too effin' short amount of time that you did."

He placed the photograph with the others and retrieved one more. The toddler was now a little girl in pigtails, holding a marker-drawn picture with a gold star at the top. "Bloody hell, it's not fair," he whispered harshly. "You died so that Andy could die to save this stupid world for her daughter and Chrissy only got to live in it for five fucking years!"

Spike sucked in a ragged gulp of air as his vision became blurred. He dropped the picture and smacked the entire box off of his lap. Hundreds of photographs, thousands of memories, spilled out onto the hard ground. Smiles, frowns, laughs and tears, all captured in for an instant on film, but remembered for a lifetime.

Pulling his knees up to his chest, Spike bowed his head and allowed the tears of grief to overcome him. His Chrissy, his baby's baby, gone forever, a casualty of a madman who'd wrought senseless violence on a school full of innocence and purity and light. A psychopathic human who'd shot one child every hour on the hour until Spike had been able to get into the school and stop the man with his own bare hands. But by then, it'd been too late.

Spike cried for Chrissy, he cried for Andy and he cried for the Slayer. Three girls whose lives had been taken from them way too soon. The three whom he loved more than anything gone forever, leaving him alone.

Warmth surrounded him, trying to offer comfort to a ravaged heart, and Spike was able to calm himself enough to raise his head and open his eye. Through his teary vision, he saw his love smiling tenderly at him, her face reflecting a serenity he'd only seen once before, just before she had died in his arms as the sun had slowly risen over the horizon.

"Please, Slayer. There's no one left," he said roughly. "There's nothing keeping me here anymore. You've haunted me for twenty-five years now. Please don't tell me it's been for you to get your angelic jollies. Tell me that there's a reason, tell me that I can finally be with you again."

Spike ignored the tears that ran down his cheek as he looked at the faintly glowing angel that had appeared to him time and again when he'd been sad or depressed, accompanied by a faint tinkling and the warmth of her ghostly touch. He had fallen in love with her one night long ago and had never stopped loving her, despite the number of years that had passed since her death. She was the mother of his child, a child that he'd thought he would never have. A child he saw grow to a beautiful young woman and have a child of her own. But now, he was alone.

"I need you, Buffy," Spike told her, his weary features twisted in grief, begging for her to stop the pain. "I need you."

The sun began to rise behind the angelic Slayer, making her shimmer and fade into the bright light of a new day. The warmth that surrounded him grew until he felt as though he was embraced in Buffy's arms again, feeling her body's heat as he made love to her. A breeze kicked up, sending a tinkling sound to his ears and the spilled pictures lifted from the ground to dance in the air around him.

Spike saw a brief flash of bright white light, as if someone had taken a photograph of him, and he fell back onto the ground. His single blue eye closed slowly and a soft smile spread over his face as peace filled his heart.

Spike's body was found on the hill overlooking the town the following afternoon, surrounded by a hundred photographs that impressed a single memory of the man who'd found his final rest.

He was loved.