Time Stamp: End of Episode
She stopped in front of him, face flushed - her breathing sharp and jagged from running too long. Behind him the helicopter blades whirled, cutting through the air and creating fuzzy white noise, “Don’t, don’t go.” She said, but the words were lost between her attempts at gathering air into her lungs and the wub wub of the helicopter.
“What did you say?” He asked.
She took a breath, and then another, and another. As she breathed her focus narrowed and her body slowed, fatigue tapering off. Finally when she had gotten her bearings back and her words would no longer be impossible to understand, she spoke again, “Don’t go.” She said with greater strength in her voice, resolved and steady.
In that moment as he stared at the woman across from him - he loved her. He didn’t know if the moment or the feeling would last but his gut told him that it would. Something in the last few months had lead up to this, forcing his heart to choose between two very different kinds of love. One was passionate, and like a whirlwind - the other was steady, and perhaps a little quieter but no less valid and no less beautiful. It should not have surprised him how easy it was for his heart to give itself over to that steady love. Maybe he had always been traditional in the way he viewed love, and maybe it was time that he acknowledged that in himself. He had always wanted something equal, had wanted something that he could protect and that would protect him in return, “That’s quite the tall order.” He told her.
“Shut up.” She said and the patch of skin atop the bridge of her nose crinkled in the way that it did when she was playing around with him.
Mind made up he walked over to where she stood and cupped her face. There was a beat and then her hand came up to hold onto his wrist and she squeezed it gently. The squeeze was done in tandem with her smile and he knew that it was her way of telling him yes, that his next action would be okay - reciprocated even. So he kissed her, sealing his fate as he did so. It looked like he would be staying after all.
Above them, a little ways away Buffy looked down at them from the hill she was on, hidden by the darkness of night and the shadows cast by the tree she was under. Watching the new couple she knew she had made the right choice, even if it had been difficult. To let go, to understand the fading of her relationship with Riley hurt more than she was willing to admit. Maybe she hadn't loved him as much has he had wanted or desired, but she had loved him. For a little while anyway. So to see him so happy made her chest ache painfully. But her own friendship had won out, platonic love over romantic love. To watch the way Cordelia smiled with him did bring her a little joy. Bittersweet as it was.
A shadow stepped next to her, “That was quite a kindness you did for your friend there Slayer.” It said.
“I wonder if you were expecting a different outcome Spike, something with more heartache.” She snapped back at him.
“I wasn’t expecting anything." But his voice betrayed that perhaps he had been, although Buffy wasn't sure what it was, "Are you okay?” He asked.
“You’re asking me as if you care.” Buffy said angrily, expecting him to snap at her. When he didn’t she sighed, “Yeah it hurts.”
“Why’d you do it?”
“Because love has to be selfless sometimes.”
“And that’s what this is? Sounds like a bunch of bollocks if you ask me.”
“Think whatever you'd like. That's what this is. It's not like you'd understand selfless love anyway.”
"I might someday Slayer." He sounded upset when he spoke to her but Buffy ignored it, her own gloom at what she was watching bellow her coloring her mood.
"I'll believe that when I see it."
With those words she pushed herself away from the tree and, with a deep breath to steel the part of herself that did want to cry despite everything - walked away.