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O Earth, lie heavily upon her eyes;
Seal her sweet eyes weary of watching, Earth;
Lie close around her; leave no room for mirth
With its harsh laughter, nor for sound of sighs.
She hath no questions, she hath no replies,
Hushed in and curtained with a blessed dearth
Of all the irked her from the hour of birth;
With stillness that is almost Paradise.
Darkness more clear than noonday holdeth her,
Silence more musical than any song;
Even her very heart has ceased to stir
Until the moment of Eternity
Her rest shall not begin nor end, but be...

In his dream, she’s falling, on and on. Falling forever. When the dream ends, he sees her lying broken on the rubble. He opens his eyes, and Dawn is looking down at him.

“What are you doing here, pet?”

“You okay? You were screaming.”

He pulls the covers higher over his chest. “I’m fine. Don’t recall inviting you into my boudoir.”
She climbs up and sits cross-legged beside him. “Willow and Tara went out. I didn’t want to be alone.”

“What time is it?” Usually he can sense it. Now his internal clock is shot to hell. “You know better than to walk through the cemetery after dark.” He’s angry.

“It’s three in the afternoon.”

“Then let me sleep.”

“Because you like having nightmares?”

He gives her a hard stare.

“I know you do,” she says, “Because I have them too.”

“Get up and turn around.” He pulls his jeans from the end of the bed. “Don’t peek.”

“As if.”

He puts his hand on her shoulder. “Where are you going?” she asks.

“Upstairs to watch telly with you.”

*****
He's watching her drown in the ocean. He dives in to save her. When he tries to hold her, she turns into sand. He stands knee-deep in the water as she falls through his fingers.

It's nightfall. Time to get up anyway.

He likes burba weed in his blood, but the cupboard is bare. He's been taking it for months from the Magic Box stores, but they haven't noticed. Or if they have, they haven't mentioned it to him.

The store closed an hour ago, but he hears footsteps upstairs. Can't be a Scooby meeting. Dawn's told him the gang is too dejected for that. Maybe it's a break-in. Maybe not humans. Maybe he can work off some tension.

It's just Giles. He's sitting alone in the dark.

“Spike. What are you doing here?”

“Just checking up on you, mate.”

“Right. Of course you were.” Giles pulls out a chair. “Never mind. Sit down and have a drink with me.” He pours the vampire a generous shot of Jack.

Spike sits wordlessly and tosses back the whiskey.

“I'm thinking of going home.”

“It is getting pretty late,” Spike replies. “And you are getting on.”

“No, you prat. Home to England.”

“Yeah, well. Thought that was what you meant.” Spike holds out the glass for another hefty portion. “What about the children?”

“They're not children. They'll be fine. And I'm not their Watcher.”

“I 'spose not. And this has nothing to do with the pain you're in, right? Waking up in the morning and knowing she's not here.”

Giles pours himself another drink.

****

He's burning and she's holding a cold cloth to his head. It feels delicious, soothing. Comforting. He looks up into her big brown manly eyes.

“Angel?”

“Idiot! You fell asleep out in the open. Come morning you'd be dust on her grave. Or is that what you want?”

Spike looks around. He's under the shelter of the trees. “Thanks.”

“You're not going to ask what I'm doing here?”

Spike looks across the clearing to her tombstone, hidden deep in the forest. “Figure I know.” He pulls a battered cigarette pack out of his pocket. Angel takes one, protecting the flame from Spike's lighter from the breeze. “How'd you find it?”

Angel takes a deep drag on the cigarette. “I just knew.”

“Staying long?”

“Passing through. I need to get away. Deal.” Angel takes a long look at Spike. “I hear you were in love with her. You don't think that's pretty sick?”

Spike lifts an eyebrow.

“Point taken,” Angel says.

“Doesn't matter anyway. Not now.”

****

He's daydreaming at the Bronze, if you can daydream at nine at night. He can picture her dancing, a child of the wilderness. A feral warrior. Abandoned to the music.

“Spike?”

Xander sits down beside him, destroying the moment.

“What do you want, Harris?”

“No need to bite my head off.” Spike gives him a look that makes him consider what he's said. “I mean, I didn't come here to fight. I just had a proposal for you.”

Spike cocks his head. Looks at him sideways. “Go on.” There's suspicion in his voice.

“I, I mean we, we were discussing whether, well, whether you'd like to come patrolling with us. Sometimes. Maybe.”

“Huh.” Spike thinks about this. “Things not going well, I take it? You could use a little muscle?”

“Well... Could be. Giles has some experience, and we do have the Buffybot...”

“No.”

“Okay, I know that's weird, but she's useful. And she keeps the little bads from knowing Buffy's gone.”

“No.”

“Willow can de-programme her. Take all the icky stuff out. Which, I might add, you put there in the first place.”

“Walking on thin ice here.”

“Bottom line is, Spike, we could use your help. And you know you like beating things up. Besides, I'm pretty sure you'd occasionally see us get our asses kicked.”

“Maybe.”

****

It was the one again where he kneels before her. She rips off his shirt and he feels the bite
of the metal in his flesh. She hits him again and again with the cat o' nine tails. It used to be erotic.

He wakes to the sound of Willow's psychic message. He rubs the tears from his cheeks and listens. Her voice is distant.

“Spike. Dawnie's calling for you. Please come.”

He speeds to the house. Willow lets him in. “What's wrong?”

The Niblet is sitting on the couch pressing a gauze pad against her throat. “I was stupid.”

He pulls the pad gently away from the wound. Two telltale marks. He feels sick.

“She went to the cemetery, looking for you.”

“I didn't realize it was so late,” Dawn says. “The sun went down, and he was just there.”

“You came looking for me.”

“I got lucky,” Dawn continues. “I pushed at him and he fell against a tree. There was a branch sticking out.” She ventures a wan smile. “Poof.”

“Not funny.” His voice is stern. “Never, ever...”

“We were wondering.” He hadn't noticed Tara sitting quietly in the corner. “Wondering if you could spend more time over here. Stay with Dawn when we're out. Hang out here.”

Dawn looks up at him, her eyes pleading. “Please?”

He takes her hand in his. She is all he has left of the Slayer. “Of course.”

****

He had dozed off, reading. His love was dressed in Victorian finery, as he read her his latest opus, 'On Buffy'. She swooned against him. “Oh, William...”

“Oh, Spike.”

“Hmmm?” He shuts the book and sits up in the chair. “Yes, Niblet?”

“Whatcha reading?”

“Famous Serial Killers.”

She grabs the book from his hand. “Then why does it say, 'The Poetry of 'Christina Rossetti'?”She flips through. “Hey, these are sort of depressing. They're about dying.”

“Not all of them.” He recites, “Because the birthday of my life is come, my love is come to me.”

“Pretty.”

“It's about God. She was a religious bint. Good writer, though.”

Dawn sits on the arm of his chair. “Do you think she's with God? Buffy I mean. Do you think she's in heaven?”

“Where else? She was the Slayer. Queen of the good guys. I reckon if there's a heaven, that's where she is.”

“She sealed a hell dimension though. What if she's in hell?”

“Don't be silly, pet. Hell's for the likes of me.”

****

He could have sworn he was awake. He distinctly remembers the demons, the motorcycle, the pieces of the bot. Panicking when Dawn disappeared.

But he can't be awake. He's looking up the stairs and Buffy, the real, living Buffy, is standing there above him.

He's not dreaming. This is real. He takes her poor bloodied hands in his and stares into her eyes.

He's in Paradise.

And when she wakes, she will not think it long.