Spike is dead.
He's thinking it while the sun courses through him and burns him to ashes from the inside out. Spike is dead, ladies and gents.
This isn't like it was before. This isn't like it was the first time, when William died, ages ago, in the arms of a dark and demented goddess. It was a sweet death, a painful death, the death only a poet would want to die. And William had been a bloody awful poet.
This is the death only the unredeemed would want to die. Irreversible, real, giving it all up so that everyone else can run to safety. Standing before a firing squad, a crowd holding stones, marching head high into the lion's den.
A martyr's death. A hero's death.
Well, anti-hero, anyway. He grins and lifts his face to the sunlight.
Sunlight feels different from the inside. He thinks of the burns sunlight would leave in his vampire life. Harsh burns, burns that went to the bone, burns that served to mock and remind him "you are not a true immortal." Sunlight telling him that there was a reality that he could not have, and the demon in him not wanting it anyway.
Not unlike the burns it would leave in William's life. William had preferred the moon anyway. The moon is a romantic's celestial icon. The sun was too harsh, too bright.
Too bloody real.
Sunlight feels like cleansing. Like a proper scrubbing. It tickles a little and he's laughing, it positively stings and he could shout from the joy of knowing why. He has a soul and he can actually feel it, beneath the cold layers of necretized tissue that passed for a body. He'd known he had the soul, known it because of the guilt, the human emotions that had lain dormant since the night Drusilla turned him. He always wondered, though, why redemption
echoed empty in his ears.
Because, Spike, you have to die to be reborn.
Rebirth. Salvation. Redemption.
He's turning to ash. It had been his greatest fear for so long, it had haunted his dreams. The very smell of ash on a victim would frighten him away, make him search for cleaner skin to suck between his teeth. He's turning to ash and he likes, he loves it, because this is how you
become a hero. You die.
Like Buffy, jumping to save them all.
She said she'd been in heaven.
Heaven is only for the redeemed. The saved.
The born again.
His ashes fall around him and he wonders why he's still standing. A soul, free. Clean.
Spike is dead.
Long live Spike.