It was his
glory, his crowning moment and the pinnacle of almost everything he’d
hoped for. For himself, for his soul.
The heat inside burned and seared him. It swirled around his chest, a pain so intense it was sweet, cleansing, welcome. The amulet around his neck hung heavy; he’d felt its weight, its burden from the moment he’d taken it from Buffy’s hand. It was approval, acceptance, the trinket of a warrior and an omen for the coming battle.
It was the end now and Spike didn’t have many regrets. He’d lived with his past and bore his demon well, but now it was time to go. The amulet sung that song to him, a calling he would never deny.
But there was one regret and it – he – stood in front of him, not speaking, not moving, just looking. This boy – no, man now – had been Spike’s world for so long. Xander was his breath, his heartbeat, his soul when didn’t have his own. Spike had a long list of if onlys but the time for that was gone.
“Spike!” Xander’s face contorted with pain, like a knife was plunged into his gut.
There was no knife. There was no blood, no broken bones or torn flesh.
Spike held on. “I mean it! I gotta do this!”
Their hands touched and entwined and Spike was awed at the tears sparkling in Xander’s eyes.
That meant so much, that Xander would or even could shed tears for him, would in someway miss him as Spike always missed Xander every second they weren’t together, weren’t arguing, weren’t planning strategies, weren’t fighting side by side.
“I love you,” Xander said.
Spike understood. He was grateful, so very touched and, god, what a way to go out, to hear those words for the first and last time. But there was so much pain in that, too, and it scorched him more that any poxy amulet could.
From obsession, to fucking, to feeling love for this man, to earning his friendship and respect, Xander’s words were more than he could ever have asked for.
Even if they weren’t true.
“No, you don’t. But thanks for saying it.”
The floor started to shake then, it rumbled and lurched. The heat grew inside him, inflating like a hot balloon that would soon expand out of control and consume them all. “Now go!”
To think that Xander could perish here in the dark, it was unthinkable, it was…
“You are such an idiot!” Xander yelled.
“Okay, first you stalk me and make my life more uncomfortable than a cactus in a wetsuit, then you go and do the most uber-creepy thing ever. Hello? A Xander-bot? What the hell was that all about? Then you use me when I’m at my lowest, fuck me and, ow, some of that stuff really hurt – breakable person here, as my eye can testify. You know, my back is still shot to hell! Then you tried to convince me that I loved you when clearly I didn’t. And now you think you can tell me I don’t love you when clearly I do! You are going straight to hell, blondie!”
“Well, excuse me for…what?”
Xander smiled and Spike realised it was the first time since the Vineyard. Since Caleb had stolen so much from him.
“I said, I love you. I’m not saying it a fourth time.”
The light inside him surged and Spike fought to keep it at bay, to hold it back for just a minute longer, for just enough to savour that brief moment and see that Xander got out.
Then it would be over.
But that didn’t matter. He was a hero, a champion. He was about to save the world and, oh god, Xander loved him. Xander really loved him.
“Well, fuck, could have told me earlier, you bloody nitwit.” He laughed, but it was weak and hollow. It wasn’t really funny. But Xander laughed too and that felt so damn good.
It felt just like it should, like an end.
“Sorry,” Xander said.
There was so much to say, so much Spike wanted to ask. When? How? Why? But time was up. Spike’s soul trembled with exertion, about to shatter and spill and envelop everything in with its light. “You have to go. Now. Please get out. Just give me that one last thing.”
Xander shook his head and stepped closer. “I can’t do that. I won’t.”
Blinding pain, like fire and ice, so cold, so red hot and burning brighter. He couldn’t hold on, couldn’t hold back. The world was waiting to be saved and it wouldn’t wait any longer. “No, no, no…” Spike closed his eyes. He couldn’t watch it happen, couldn’t watch Xander burning.
Maybe they would meet on the other side, but maybe that was all bollocks.
Maybe this was it. The thought made him want to scream, but he was doing that already.
Xander’s arms slipped around him and Spike felt stubble against his cheek and hot breath in his ear – shaking, burning, hurting.
“I do love you,” Xander said. “It’s okay, it’s okay, it’s okay, it’s…”
Spike held him tight. And let go.
“Uh, Spike? Why does the afterlife have a desk? And Angel?”
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