Only weeks after the last apocalypse was averted, Spike found the woman of the hour on a low hill. It overlooked the now sleepy meadow where hell had once erupted and witches fought demons for the souls of what was left of humanity. Long after the destruction of Sunnydale, the word apocalypse had lost most of its meaning in his mind. Sodding things happened often enough. Apocalypses were common enough. She wasn’t.
Fireflies drifted over the uneven grasses and an owl hooted in a nearby oak. Nature had reclaimed the battle field where some low-rent demon warlord decided to open up a hellmouth, a plan of stunning originality, that bloody well ruined one hell of a good thing Spike had going. The piss-ant had died, but they hadn't won. So much had been lost that day, but there was little sign of it besides the scorched bark on the ancient trees that lined the meadow. Willow looked so mall under the soft light of the moon. Her long green dress covered her bare feet to the toes. Sacrificial outfit complete with a flower crown. It could have been a poem he would have written as William with awkward rhymes and earnest longing. It tore at his scarred heart.
Resolved, she gazed into the distance at something he couldn't imagine. A completed sacred circle lay before her, lined in oak and salt, etched into a large patch of bare dirt. Gems glittered in lines that connected the four directions in the center. Flames hovered above rubies at the circle’s heart. Shadows flickered on the wilderness at the edges as the thin flames grew higher.
He strode up with his hands in his pockets. The jacket was leather, but the long black jacket that had felt like his skin and shield for so long had been gone for twenty years. He hadn't yet found another like it. He wished he had it then as a reminder of the past. Back when she was just a hot lesbian nerd and he was just a badass vampire, before they both joined Angel's brooding immortals club. Simpler days. It would have been good for the both of them. Who would have thought that the days of being chipped and whipped could seem so simple and carefree in hindsight? The slow lingering end of the world was a bitch like that.
She smiled at his approach. The lines around her eyes were deeper than when he first met her as a fluffy kitten of teenager, but the many years hadn't changed her much. As always, her looks were deceiving.
“'ello, pet.” Spike smiled his trademark smirk, cheekbones prominent and headed tilted, but the twinkle was gone from his eye. “Hoped I find you here.”
“I knew you’d come.” The chirps of the crickets and bull frogs drowned out her murmur. Her smirk faded as her alarmed eyes darted towards something he couldn’t see. “Angel is a surprise though.”
“He never could let anyone get the last word.” Spike had been lost at the bottom of a bottle when Angel had made him sober up after Angel Investigations had finally found Willow. The big lug was lurking somewhere in the tree line while Spike smoothed over this mess.
Her curtain of red hair covered her face as she looked down. “I thought I had scared you away that night.”
He shook his head and felt like a ponce. Thinking back to that horrible night when a new hellmouth was born, the memory of Willow rising in the air as she channeled the earth energies of Gaia had been the best of the night. His girl had kicked ass. He had run off because every else that night had been hellish. He should have run after her. “You're a right terrible sight when you've gotten a bee in your bonnet, but I don’t scare easily.”
She shot him an impish smile. “I've missed you.”
“You don't have too, love.” Spike couldn't make small talk anymore. He could feel the dawn, only hours away, lurking below the horizon. He tried to take the pleading tone out of his voice. “We want you back home.”
“Even Angel?” She looked up at the moon to hide her unshed tears.
Spike lied to her as much as he told the truth. Angel had been a right lecturing twat the night she left. Spike would be the last to deny that but the poof hadn’t been completely wrong. Neither of them liked the idea of Willow offing herself on Gaia’s say so- even if it did save this rutting planet. “He didn't mean what he said.”
Willow raised an eyebrow at him. She had gotten too good at seeing through his bullshit.
Spike shrugged. “Yeah, he meant the stuff about your sodding fake destiny courtesy of Mother Nature, but he didn't mean the junk about never coming back. He loves you.” It had been a long time coming, but Spike could say that without jealousy. After more than a century, he didn’t know how to live without either of them.
He put his hand on her shoulder and lightly turned her to face him.
Spike couldn't stop the raw need from slipping into his voice. “You don't need to be the hero. Haven’t you done enough for the world?” He pulled her unresisting form against his and leaned close. “Enjoy immortality for a little longer before you throw it all away. We might have enough time to see Venice again before it completely sinks.”
Willow ran her hands up his biceps to his neck. “You know I have too. It’s for you. It’s for everyone.” Her chuckle sounded more like a sob. “This is my chance to give the world a coke.”
“Save their sorry skins more like it.” Spike snorted. They kept saving the world but it never stopped. He’d lose her only to keep on having to saving this planet again and again. Spike made himself memorize her scent, how she felt in his arms, and her touch on his skin. He told her that he didn’t scare easily. That was a lie too. Fear made him clutch her tighter. His Willow never did anything in half measures.
She embraced him, resting her head on his shoulder, as she looked up. “You know the world can't go on like this. It’s only gotten worse.”
Spike shook her off. He turned and pinched the bridge of his nose before he could trust himself to speak. He sensed Angel, agitated and worried, walking towards them. Spike understood now that he would really lose her. “Why you?”
“There isn't anyone else.” Her smile broke his heart. “It’s why she gave me this power in the first place.”
He kissed her then. He kissed her through her tears and with all the passion that dwelled within him. He kissed her knowing it was her last night on Earth.