beetle (_beetle_) wrote in spander132,

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I Love You, Good-bye
Author: _beetle_
Rating: PG-13
Disclaimer: What in the world is that?! *points, then snatches up Xander and runs away*
Concrit/Feedback: Is but a small payment for the joy I give you on a semi-weekly basis. . . . *ducks objects thrown at my head*
Notes/Spoilers/Warnings: Set about twenty years post-NFA. Schmangsty. Unabashedly so.
Summary: A fic written for the spander132 moodring prompt: loved.

“Sometimes, I can’t believe we’re the only ones left.

“It feels like this has all been one horribly vivid dream. Or maybe a nightmare. I mean, how can we have loved so much, lost so much--yet still go on? How can this all not be some strange dream that I’ll wake up from, Willow and Jesse pounding down my door ‘cause we’re already late for school?"

He places the yellow roses at the foot of the simple marble headstone, his fingers tenderly tracing the few words that adorn it.

“I miss you so much," he whispers, exactly the way he has for fourteen years; as if he expects an answer. When one isn’t forthcoming, he looks up at me with dark, shining eyes.

Love? Or just tears?

He says it’s love and when we’re together anywhere but here, it sure feels like love. But seeing him like this, still like this after all this time. . . .

He stands up, backing away from the grave and I automatically slip my arms around his waist. When he doesn’t object, I tighten my hold and pull him closer. Even after all this time, it’s strange to have warmth to share with someone--with him, of all people.

Strange, also, how unique I still find his warmth.

Shivering in the autumn air--used to be a chill breeze never bothered me, but those days are long gone--I lay a soft kiss in his hair. There are more strands of grey in it than there were this time last year and that turns my shiver into a shudder.

He laughs, leaning back into me. "Feel free to share whatever deep, broody thoughts are lurching through your ginormous cranium, babe."

“We are all that’s left,” I say; which leads to the cheery realization that we're both closer to the end of our lives, than we are to the beginning.

“Guess that’s the only way we would have ended up together,” he snorts.

“Not the only way.”

“You're a stupid man, but I find you amusing, on occasion.”

"What? Don't believe me?" I kiss his temple, let his pulse throb slowly, powerfully against my lips for a moment. “There’re some pretty powerful hexes out there--between the two of us, we’ve pissed off a lot of witches and warlocks. . . .”

“Jeez--you know, you suck at the whole reassurance thing. You’ve always sucked at it.”

“But I’m so much better at other things.”

“This is also true.”

And what I wouldn't give to be at home doing those other things--any other things as long as they're with him and not here.

I hold and rock him slowly, watching the sky while he watches the earth. There are clouds gathering and from the dusty, damp scent in the air, it’s gonna storm later. Ah, Cleveland in the fall. . . .

“This whole . . . us-thing isn’t just about--not wanting to be alone, for you, is it?” I hear myself asking. Been wanting to ask that since the first time we kissed, but I wasn't sure I could handle the answer.

This whole us-thing is me being insanely in love with you for the past ten years. And vice versa, I hope.”

"You know I am." And though I guess saying it while we're screwing or when he prompts me doesn't really count, I feel the need to say it, anyway. "I love you."

“I know. And for some reason, you obviously don't get that I feel the same way." He tenses up for a moment and I feel like a fool for bringing this up here, of all places. Then he sighs and relaxes in my arms. "But if it takes the rest of my life to convince you . . . well, it’s not like I have anything better to do.”

“There’s a ringing endorsement, if I’ve ever heard one.” That comes out a lot grumpier than I actually meant, like 98% of what I say.

His hands are cool and dry when they cover my own. “You’re adorable when you’re being massively insecure.”

“Meaning the rest of the time, I’m not adorable?” I let myself make the Puppy-eyes of Doom because I know he can't see it.

“Hey? Wanna stop putting words in my mouth, pal?”

The breeze kicks up for a few minutes, turning cold, cutting. I try to shield him with my body, keep him warm. It still gives me a thrill that I can. Keep him warm, I mean.

It’s an even bigger thrill that he lets me.

“Losing him hit you so hard--and not just because of the sire/childe thing,” he murmurs when the wind dies down. “And God, six months before that, you lost the love of your life--”

There's a flare of dull pain and distant regret, but thinking about her doesn't make my stomach churn anymore. Hasn't for more than ten years. "I'm with the love of my life."

He's silent for so long, I'm starting to wonder if I've surprised away his arsenal of smart-aleck responses--

"God, we are so gay. You especially."

Guess not.

Picturing the pleased blush I nonetheless know is all over his face, I smile. Above us, a flock of mockingbirds wheel and dart, like squadron of tiny fighter planes. They don't make a sound. It's like watching the Discovery Channel on mute.

“I know you’ll always love him,” I say at last. At last, because this is something I should’ve said a long time ago. “I’m not unhappy about that--it’s who you are and how you love--it’s what I love most about you. That you give your heart so completely and loyally. I’d never want you to change that. . . .”

“But you’re still wondering if there’s enough of my heart left to give you, too.”

“Well . . . yeah.”

He turns in my arms to look up at me. His eyes are dark and deep and I can’t remember what it feels like not to look in them and feel needed, wanted, cherished--loved.

“It’s stupid,” I admit, faced with unconcealed evidence of his feelings for me.

Very stupid.” He bounces up on his toes to kiss my forehead and the tip of my nose.

“Especially after all this time--”

Especially after all this time,” he agrees. “My heart belongs to you . . . even those stubborn, stupid parts of it that can't let go of the past. You're my life, now.”

Despite the fact that so many bad things had to happen--so many people had to die for us to be here, like this, something in me that's been waiting for the other shoe to drop finally relaxes. Is finally content.

“Oh.” It's as much surprise as relief.

“Yeah, oh, Professor. Come on, let’s go home.”

Before he turns away, I pull him against me and take a moment to imagine what his mouth will taste like--peppermint, from the candy he always carries around, and salt, from his tears.

I take a moment to savor his warmth and life and love.

“What are you waiting for?” His lips are quirking like he wants to laugh. “An engraved invita--”

He tastes exactly like I imagined.

“Let’s go,” he breaks the kiss to whisper, his voice small and suddenly urgent. “Please, Angel, let’s get out of here. Out of this graveyard, out of this city--off of this fucking Hellmouth!”

“Yeah . . . yeah, let’s do that.” I brush his hair--always in need of a trim--out of his eyes and he leans into my touch for a moment, before turning to look at the headstone:

William James Shirley
You are missed.

“You know I'll always love you,” he whispers, like he’s saying good-bye forever and I realize--he is.

I’ve seen him try to cope with losing everyone who's ever meant anything to him. I've seen him put the pieces back together and bear up under the fact that he was unable to save any of them.

Now, finally, I'm seeing him let it all go.

We walk, hand in hand, down the well-worn path to the cemetery gates. Just as we reach them, he turns to take a last, long look down the way we came and waves, smiling through a face full of tears.

“Good-bye, Spike!" He calls, his voice cracking only a little. "I love you! Good-bye!”

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