As Time Goes By (1/1)

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Title: As Time Goes By
Author: Sandy S.
Rating: PG
Summary: As time goes by, Spike and Buffy find their way back to each other. Set post-Chosen and then post-Not Fade Away in an alternate, non-comic-book-related universe.
Word Count: 1352
Author’s Note: I wanted to do something for Seasonal Spuffy with the song, and this was all that would come out. This is a bit of a rough one and unbetaed, so hope you like it.
Filling in for megan_peta  today, so this one’s for you, dear! *hugs* :o)
Special thank you to all the people who run the community, too!

“It’s still the same old story
A fight for love and glory
A case of do or die
The world will always welcome lovers
As time goes by”

– from As Time Goes By, lyrics by Herman Hupfeld

* * *

As time goes by, the sharp newness of losing him lessens, and she thinks that maybe she still has a mission despite everything she’s been through, despite being one Slayer among hundreds, and despite the gateway to hell being closed. His voice in her heart, she journeys well beyond the tiny city in California and into the world to find her new path, travelling places he’s been before but she never has.

As time goes by, he realizes that maybe he shouldn’t go running back to her side the way his gut tells him to. Maybe he needs time to sort out who he is without her, who he is with a soul, who he is for himself. Surprising everyone, including himself, he decides to stay in one place again.

As time goes by, she learns that despite the dawn of the internet and the ease of connecting with friends and family via invisible highways, the world has never seemed so vast, and she has never felt more alone. She learns that being at a distance from friends inevitably creates space that she doesn’t know how to cross, a gulf that becomes overgrown and less easy to navigate with each passing month.

As time goes by, he starts to feel connected in a way he hasn’t felt connected in a very long time. He decides that the connection has less to do with the soul and more to do with the trust he’s developed among friends and a surprising shift in his relationship with his grandsire. There is a freedom in that, and because they treat him better than he’s ever been treated, he starts to believe that maybe he deserves compassion – and beyond that, love – despite everything he’s done.

As time goes by, her mind, heart and spirit grow weary again as the consequences of their spell to give all potential Slayers the strength of Slayers become evident. How was she supposed to anticipate all the possible variations of the magic? She weeps when a young mother bleeds to death internally because her unborn daughter kicks her a little too hard and when a kindergartner accidentally kills her best friend when they’re spinning in circles on the playground.

As time goes by, he decides that he’s willing to go the distance with his new family and old, to do good for the sake of doing good, to prove to himself that he’s different but still the same. He still relishes a decent fight, even more if he is hopelessly outnumbered and outmatched. He has no notion that he will survive, but he doesn’t have a death wish either, a death wish that began fading in another city at another time because she believed in him.

As time goes by, she doesn’t let an overwhelming and seemingly hopeless situation crush her, not like it almost crushed her before. The depression doesn’t have the power to drag her back into its pit as she gives herself the compassion that she was never able to give herself before – compassion that he gave to her over and over again in another place at another time. For the first time in a long time, she reaches out to her friends and reconnects with everyone, everyone except for him because she doesn’t know he’s alive, not yet.

As time goes by, he grieves his fallen friends even as he recovers from his physical injuries. He’s still not exactly sure how they won that last fight, but he thinks the blue god had something to do with it. As he helps with the clean-up in the city of angels, he finds himself assisting the local Slayers in stopping small evils and other whatnots, and something unnamable shifts inside his heart. He’s not sure what it is, so he ignores it for a time.

As time goes by, she takes responsibility for her choices and finds that she is a leader in a different way – a more effective way. She works with her friends to establish not just training centers but centers for individual and family healing, centers that help future Slayers become stronger with the backing of their families. If nothing, she’s learned that Slayers shouldn’t operate without friends and family, and with that realization, something unnamable shifts inside her heart.

As time goes by, he takes a journey with a couple of the Slayers to Ohio to help with an impending apocalypse, which in the scheme of things isn’t one he’d typically pay much attention to. Truth be told, he heard a rumor that she might be there, doing some good thing or another, and he considers for the first time in a long time that his inner shift might have something to do with her and the place she still holds in his heart.

As time goes by, she hears about an apocalypse in Cleveland, one that her sister mentioned in passing. She has bigger problems to juggle on a more global scale, but then, she hears a rumor that he might be alive and might be there with Slayers from her hometown. She sets everything aside, and for the first time in a long time, she does something solely for herself, boarding a plane under the official guise that she’s going to help a new Slayer who has just been discovered.

As time goes by, the apocalypse blossoms into something more significant than anyone anticipated, and the city is engulfed in flames, the streets bombarded by some race of demons that is virtually unheard of in the earthly plane of existence. She is unsurprised to find him on the battlefield, his hair still bleached blonde, his frame lithe and strong. He isn’t taken aback to find that they glide back into their familiar dance together. When they and their sundry allies beat back the demons, the Slayer and the vampire find themselves together in an impromptu medical tent and tend to each other’s wounds with a singular, gentle, tentative focus. He waits for her to make the first move because even after all this time, he recognizes that it’s hers to make. With emerald eyes fastened on his cerulean ones, she kisses him, and this time, everything is different for them both.

As time goes by, she and her vampire slip through the world together, facing problems with a directness that somehow no longer surprises anyone around them. She discovers that he has a comfort with himself and his soul that he didn’t possess at their original entrance to hell, and he finds that she is freer with her emotions in a way that he hasn’t seen or felt since before his grandsire lost his soul. This doesn’t mean they’re without faults, but the foibles are more tolerable now, and they work around them.

As time goes by, her friends and family inevitably begin to cross paths with death, and she buries them with much sadness and grief. He notices she is somehow staying younger than her calendar age, but he allows her this denial because she’s not ready to accept the truth. Slayers have never lived so long, so no one knew that somehow being called by unknown forces would give them longevity beyond a human lifetime. She finally notices one day on a shopping trip with her sister; when they look in the mirror together, her sister’s face is more lined with wrinkles than her own. Even as his Slayer weeps in his arms, he recognizes that he’s grateful for what he hopes are more lifetimes with her.

As time goes by, the Slayer and her vampire inevitably grow apart as couples are inclined to do. The difference is that the silver string of love that binds them is taut and unbreakable no matter how narrow or wide the chasm between them. They continue the good fight, forming new connections and watching those also slide away. Together, they laugh and cry and rejoice and grieve. They dance and slay. And no matter the season, they always, always come back home to one another as time goes by.

The end.


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