Fic: Kindle in Us the Fire (3/3)

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And here’s the final part of my fic. Thank you so much for reading and commenting. I hope you enjoyed it.

Title: Kindle in Us the Fire
Author: st_salieri
Rating:Link to Part Two

So with my eyes I traced the line
Of the horizon, thin and fine,
Straight around till I was come
Back to where I’d started from

January, 2021
Sunnydale, California

Buffy waited until several months after the funeral to take care of what needed to be done. She kept telling herself that it wasn’t a good time to get away, that she had too much to do, that she could put this off for a few days/months/years and it wouldn’t matter.

But she knew that the real reason was that she wasn’t ready to say goodbye.

The rented jeep bumped over the dusty road that had once led to a small town. It wasn’t a memorable place — the rest of the country had almost forgotten it ever existed — but it was her everything. It was the place where she had loved and lost, and died and risen again.

No matter where else she went, no matter how much time had passed, this place would always be her home.

It was easy to avoid the two small seismic monitoring stations that had been set up at the perimeter of the crater that encompassed the boundaries of the town — set up in the hopes of finding the fault line that had triggered the original collapse. They found nothing, of course, and after a number of years the stations were abandoned. The only things to call this place home were the snakes and coyotes, and the dusty winds which blew in from the desert.

There were plenty of cautionary signs set up near the roadway warning of unstable surfaces, but Buffy plowed grimly on. She, better than anyone, knew the danger this town represented, even if it was only a faint echo of what it once was. The Hellmouth slumbered, but she knew better by now than to say it could never reawaken.

She stopped and set the emergency brake about fifty feet from the edge of the ravine, knowing it would be safer to walk the rest of the way. Taking a deep breath, she unlocked the door, placed her hands on the steering wheel…and didn’t move. She blinked when a hand covered hers and squeezed softly.

“Need to take a bit of time?”

She shook her head stubbornly, blinking to try to clear the film of tears that refused to go away. “I’m good.” Turning her head, she smiled. “Thanks for being here with me.”

Spike smiled at her in return. “Always.”

The wind blew cold and dry at this time of night, and the grit of sand stung Buffy’s eyes. She’d left the jeep engine on so the headlights could illuminate the rest of their path. It only seemed a few steps before the edge of the canyon yawned before her, too wide and deep to see the end of it. If she looked closely, she thought she could imagine a few familiar shapes in the bits of rubble that lay below the nearest edge — a few bricks, some pipes, the rusted end of a car that lay half buried in the debris. She had no idea where in that vast blackness her house once was.

Reaching into her coat pocket, Buffy drew out a small decorative urn that had been sealed shut. It was time to say goodbye.

It was so stupid, really. She’d thought that after all of the apocalypses, after all of the chaos and destruction, she’d be ready for this to happen. As it turned out, she really wasn’t.

It didn’t seem fair to Buffy that her sister, one of the bravest people she’d ever known, could lose her life in something so ordinary as a car accident.

It had happened quickly, the doctors had said, which was some small grace. For all of her former Keyness, she was as fragile as any human, and just as breakable. She had no Slayer healing, no supernatural reflexes to save her from hurt. She left behind a husband and a circle of friends to mourn her, none of whom were prepared for the shock of her sudden death.

Buffy turned the urn over in her hands, drawing a deep breath when Spike placed his hand at the small of her back to steady her.

“You sure?” he asked quietly. “You don’t have to do this now.”

Buffy nodded quickly. “I’m sure. She wanted this. She told me that if…that if something ever happened, she wanted to be here.” Her voice cracked and her face crumpled, but she swallowed hard around the tightness in her throat. “She said she didn’t want Mom to be all alone.”

Spike nodded and stepped back, but Buffy could still feel his presence behind her, for which she was utterly grateful. Taking a deep breath, she unsealed the urn, pointed herself as best she could toward the center of what had once been Sunnydale, and scattered the ashes to the desert winds. Somewhere out there was the remains of her mother’s grave. The crater would now be the final resting place for both of them. “Bye, Dawnie,” she whispered.

She and Spike ended up sitting on the edge of the crater for a long while, listening to the sound of the night winds over the hum of the jeep motor. She curled up next to him in companionable silence, his arm around her and shielding her from the chill, her hand on his.

“Spike,” she said quietly after a long moment, “would you…for me? When something happens?”

Spike’s arm tightened around her, but he didn’t voice the immediate objection she’d half been expecting. And she was glad for that, because she wasn’t up for a debate about her ultimate mortality.

Her poor vampire was growing up.

“Yes,” he said finally. “If that’s what you want.”

It still amazed her, his presence in her life. How did he do it? How did he go through every day aware of what he would one day lose? Because, barring violent death, he was certain to lose her eventually. He used to fight her whenever she mentioned growing older or dying, but over the past few years he seemed to have come to terms with it.

It was one thing to accept a quick death in battle, and quite another to deal with the long, slow separation that the passage of time brought. Because he had chosen to be a part of her life, he was surrounded by the terminal disease that was mortality. In her more maudlin moments, she sometimes wondered what would happen to him after she had gone. Who would care for him in her place, and bring his ashes to rest? It would hurt her to leave him, but it hurt her more to think of him staying behind by himself. Was this the way that her mother had thought about her and Dawn when she lay in the hospital bed?

Turning her head, Buffy drew him into a short, bittersweet kiss. “My love,” she whispered. She’d never really been one for pretty language and sweet talk — that was Spike’s department — but he didn’t mind at all as long as she called him that.

He answered her kiss, caressing her face briefly. “Love you,” he said. “Always.” He gently took the urn from her and studied her carefully. “Ready?”

“Yes,” she said, standing and taking his arm.

Turning her back on the remains of Sunnydale, she let Spike lead her back to the land of the living.

The world stands out on either side
No wider than the heart is wide;
Above the world is stretched the sky, —
No higher than the soul is high.
The heart can push the sea and land
Farther away on either hand;
The soul can split the sky in two,
And let the face of God shine through.

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