Spike's Heart (spikes_heart) wrote,
Spike's Heart
spikes_heart

Better Late Than Never - The Final Chapter of The Devil's Gift

Alas, we have come to the end of our journey - as with all good things,
I suppose. Time to thank the bunch involved in putting this story into
words.

I give massive love and credit to my triad of betas: Stalwartsandall,
Micrindle23, and Twinkles. They helped to polish my thoughts into the story
I wanted to tell.

Also, I must lovingly thanks liliaeth, for helping me come up
with the story in the first place, and taking me halfway there, until life
interrupted.

Onwards we go now - gotta see how it ends! Comments, as you must know by
now are more than welcome.

ruxeh2.jpg



Buffy had arrived in the desert alone, but for her attempt to return home, she had a full escort. Everyone she knew in this place was there for her, supporting her and wishing her luck.

Amenadiel, Maze and Lucifer stood to her left, looking unruffled and cool, while Chloe, Linda, Ella and Trixie sweated and fanned themselves on her right.

They’d already bade her farewell in the car, but Buffy made a point of hugging them each once more, for good measure.

“I can’t thank you guys enough for all you’ve done for me,” she said, wiping a bit of moisture from her own eyes. “And I know a couple of you are here on faith alone, that I’ll be able to get home from here.”

“I believe you, Buffy,” Trixie insisted, her eyes teary, but earnest. “I hope you’re happy where you’re going and that you find all your old friends.”

“I’ll be fine, Trixie. Either I’ll be back where I belong, or I’ll be here with people who care about me, too.”

“Okay, people,” Lucifer interrupted. “Not to put the kibosh on the teary goodbyes, but let’s get the show on the road. Buffy, if you’ll extend your hand, please…?”

She did as she was asked, her left hand palm up. Lucifer ran the blade gently across her fingertips; barely enough to sting as Buffy held her breath.

For a change, it seemed as if the Powers That Be were on her side. Once again, blue sparks flew from the bloodied blade and Lucifer – concentrating hard – began to slice the air in front of him.

Gasps rang out from the women on her right side as the space in front of Lucifer began to glow, the rend grew longer and wider.

“I don’t know how long I can keep this portal open, my dear Buffy, so I would suggest you get a wiggle on,” he said, a flirty smile on his lips.

“Here goes nothing!” Buffy shouted, before turning from her new friends and heading towards the light.

“Go get ‘em, Supergirl!” Maze called out.

“Stay strong,” Linda added for good measure.

A chorus of ‘Goodbye, Buffy’s’ followed her into the void.

*****

Ya gotta give the Devil his due, she thought. Buffy couldn’t believe the sight that greeted her once the light faded enough for her to see. The thrice-damned rickety tower that she’d dived off of head first was still there. In the abandoned lot. In freaking Sunnydale.

She was home!

And she wasn’t alone. The vampire tinglies curled up and down her spine, making her wary. She looked around for a makeshift stake. There were shards of wood on the ground, though nothing substantial enough for her taste.

As she scanned the area, the tinglies settled down into a familiar pattern.

Spike!

Why would he be hanging around the ruins? What could he possibly want here? Buffy trod lightly, hoping to sneak up unnoticed to get the real picture of what was going on.

What she saw unnerved her. Spike was leaning against one of the tower’s supports, idly doodling in the dirt with a stick.

And talking.

“Little sis is still besides herself, Slayer,” he said softly into the air. “She’s tryin’ real hard to keep the faith here – to believe you’re still alive somewhere out there since there’s no body to tell her otherwise.

“You have to believe I’m keepin’ my promise to you. I’m with Niblet every single night until the witches come home. If they’re late, I make sure she eats something. Between her efforts and mine, we try to make sure there’s something other than pizza or Chinese for her to nibble on. Not sure anyone else would consider her experiments edible, but so far, she’s not come down with food poisoning.

“The Scoobys have started to move on. Yeah, they do the research thing every night, but their enthusiasm and hope are waning nightly.

“Rupes is takin’ it hard, too. There hasn’t been a night since you’ve been gone that he’s not in his cups by ten. It’s takin’ everything in him to hold on to the belief that you’re not holed up in some hell-dimension. If there was visible proof that you’d died, there would be no question as to where your lovely soul would have ended up, but since there isn’t… speculation is all we’ve got.”

Spike’s next words almost caused Buffy to expose herself in shock.

“In case you’re wondering what I’m doin’ here, night after night after night… I know in my heart that you’re still alive. I keep thinkin’ that you’ll come back to us, love. And so, I wait. Got nothin’ better to do. Patrol a bit each night, tryin’ to keep Sunnyhell safe for puppies and Christmas and get in my spot o’ violence, but then I’m back here – waitin’ on you ‘till the sunrise threatens.

“Some mornin’s I go back to your place. Sis says she sleeps better knowin’ I’m nearby. Sometimes she has nightmares, and comes to me for comfort. I’d give everything I have to be able to give you back to her, Summers. Please, come home.”

That was all Buffy could stand. She headed towards the base of the tower, watching as Spike picked up her scent. He turned, shaking his head in disbelief.

“Have I gone mental, Slayer? Are you really here? With me?”

“I-It’s me, Spike. I’m back.”

“Where… no, not now,” he said, shaking his head once more as if to clear it.

“What on earth are you doing here?”

“Uh ... I do remember what I said. The promise. To protect her… If I had done that ... even if I didn't make it ... you wouldn't have had to jump.

“But I want you to know I did save you. Not when it counted, of course, but ... after that. Every night after that. I'd see it all again ... do something different. Faster or more clever, you know? Dozens of times, lots of different ways... Every night I save you.”

Buffy could see the agony in his blue eyes; the perceived failure on his part to save her – to protect Dawn. It had obviously been a sticking point that he was unable to get past. How could she ever have thought that a soulless vampire - this soulless vampire – couldn’t feel anything other than hatred, or obsession… that he was unable to feel love?

She reached up, cupping Spike’s cheek in the palm of her hand. “How long was I gone?” she asked, softly.

“Forty seven days yesterday… forty eight days today, ‘cept today doesn’t count does it? How long was it for you? Where you were?

“Not quite that long.”

Spike nodded his acceptance. “Buffy… are you okay?”

Startling a little at his use of her given name – no pet names, no Slayer – Buffy gave him her full attention. “I’m okay,” she said, “I’m not hurt, but I really don’t want to talk about it all right now.”

“S’okay, love. You’ll talk when you’re ready.”

It was Buffy’s turn to nod her agreement.

“D’you think you’re ready to go home and see the Bit?” Spike asked. “You’re all she really wants, you know. Nobody can hold a candle to you.”

“Nobody else?”

“Not if I can help it. Not quite sure what the witches’ schedule is, but we can always sneak you up to your bedroom. Everything’s waiting for you – just as you left it.”

“Home it is, then,” Buffy murmured, walking side-by-side with the vampire who’d been on her mind.

*****

The look of joy and triumph on Dawn’s face when Buffy peered out from behind Spike was something she’d remember for the rest of her life. Then the squealing began, and both Buffy and Spike had to cover their ears.

“Oh my god, oh my god, oh my GOD!!!” the teenager shrieked, bouncing up and down. “I knew it! Spike and I never lost hope that you were still alive, and we knew you’d come home.”

Buffy opened her arms to her sister’s bear hugs, that while not Slayer strength, still made her go ‘oomph’! “It’s okay, Dawnie. I’m home. And I won’t leave again, not if I can help it,” she promised.

“Where were you?” Dawn cried, unable to control her emotions. “Was it a hell dimension? Were you hurt? Why didn’t you come back sooner?”

“Slow down there, Pidge,” Spike soothed, rubbing Dawn’s bony shoulder. “Whatever she’s been through, Big Sis could use a little time to decompress before the interrogation.”

Buffy smiled at him gratefully. The last thing she wanted to do was alienate her baby sister right out of the box. And maybe, just maybe, this called for actual words.

“Thanks, Spike,” she said, looking at him softly. “And thank you for keeping your promise to me. You stayed when I was gone. You watched over everyone I care about, even if they’re not exactly grateful for your actions. But most of all, thanks for helping keep Dawn strong during my absence.”

She had to restrain herself from either giggling, or grabbing the awed vampire in a massive bearhug. Wow, she thought… it really didn’t take much to encourage his better side, did it? That was something she’d have to remember going forward, for sure.

“I-I should be going, then,” he murmured, unable to tear his eyes away from the floor. “Wouldn’t wanna overstay my welcome.”

“If you need to leave, of course,” Buffy said with a slight bow of her head. “But if you’d like to stay… you’re welcome to. We can be alone, together.”

“So… until the world intrudes, then?” he asked, a soft smile on his face.

“Until then.”

Finis


Tags: fic, the devil's gift
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