"The Steadfast Plastic Soldier..."

Summary: At the final battle, Spike has a last encounter with one who loves him...

PG-13

Disclaimer: All BTVS characters remain the property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and all other owner/creators of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series...

***

The very early morning of the battle with the Senior Partners at LA...

Brief shadow of a large, wriggling object flying overhead cast as it passes the streetlights on its way to a rather soft but solid thud...

In a vast pile of refuse that constituted a portion of the City of Los Angeles sanitary landfill...

Ahhhhh...A low moan...Then a crash as if something were rolling down part of the manmade hill, striking several large and heavy objects on its way...Then silence...

The faint light of dawn breaking to the east...

But from the thrown-up surface of the landfill, a new sound...

"Ummmmm...Emmerge...Emmergency...Emmergency battery engaged..." a soft voice... "Fif...Teen...min...utes...Power remain...ing..." the voice alternately dragging as it spoke...

"Hello...Ser...Vice ...Urg...ently..." A faint sound of refuse being moved...As if something were trying to claw its way along...

"Hello?..." a questioning tone... "Who are you?...I...Am...Service urgently req...Uir...ed..."

Uhhhhhhh...Another low moan...Sound of something moving in the refuse...A body, feebly moving now...Head lifting...

"...Help..."

"...Hello?..."

"...Buffy..." a feeble whisper... "Buffy?..."

"Spike?...Oh, Spike..." a happy lilt... "Where've...You been?...Are you asleep?...Sorry to wake you but...I...need ser...vice..."

He opened his battered, bloodied eyes to see the head and torso of Buffy Summers moving towards him, one still attached arm dragging it across the pile...The face recognizable, though some of the hair and skin seemed to have been ripped or burned or both off...

"Spike?...You shouldn't...here...It's...:32...Near...ly...sun..." the voice trailed off a moment...

"...Buffy..."

"Spike...You're...hurt?...Can I help?..." an anxious look on the torn and weathered face...

***



***

[Well...My wife and a couple of friends asked me to at least consider a happy (ier) ending for this one...So, as it gives me the chance to showcase one of my favorite pieces of music, here it is...]



Consider this alternate ending...



***

Far down the massive hill of refuse, a light in the workmen's shack...Two sanitary engineers on night duty awaiting the dawn and morning shift just outside...Occasionally eyeing the massive pile...

"Lucky it's been quiet tonight..." one of the men noted... "If the police radio's right...There's been some serious shit going on downtown..."

"Ah, that Angel guy'll take care of it...You heard a cop say it was over at Wolfram-Hart..."

"I dunno...Sounds like some serious shit...Even for that Angel..."

"Eh, he'll handle it..."

Yeah, I guess...Just so long as none of it gets over here...We've had a quiet year...Want it to stay that way...

"Can't ya turn that down a little?..." the shorter of the two, Joey eyes Hank, a tall black man with face and hands hardened from years of outdoor toil...Hank frowns...

"Man, that's from La Boheme...Puccini...You don't turn Puccini down..."

"Never heard of him...He the one singin'?..."

Jesus...Hank's frown deepens... "You full-blooded Italian, man...Where's your respect for your heritage?...This is one of the greats by your top man, son... I'm only one fifth at best on my mama's side and even I got more respect..."

"Kiri Te..." Joey read the names from the cd box... "Kanawa...and Pavaroti...Two of the greats, man...You never heard of Pavaroti, too?..."

Joey shrugged...Yeah with those two guys...The tenor trio or whatever...

A new track...

"O Sauve...Fancyulla...?"

"O Soauve Fanciulla...O Soooauve Fanciulla..." Hank held Joey's lips together to force him to pronounce the title..."Oooo...Soauuuve...Fancyulla..." Joey repeated...

The music played, light and sweet at first...

"So...?" he stared at Hank... "What is it?..."

"A love aria, man...A great love song...See...This girl's got TB and..."

The music began building...The lovers' voice slowly rising...

"My cousin Irene had TB...Got it in that dump of a hospital on Firth St...Went in for an appendectomy and...Pow...TB..."

Play (bit of) "O Sauve Fanciulla"

Hey...Joey interrupted his discourse to point... "Shine your light up there at the top...I think I saw somethin'...Movin'..."

Shit...Hank flashed his light up...As the sun began rising slowly and the music soared toward its climax...

A single hand appeared at the top of the huge mound...Tearing away...Almost in triumph, one might say, as the music reached its glorious peak...The lovers shattering all bounds and obstacles in their ecstasy...The hand rose as if to join in the moment, then chawed away a large pile of dirt and refuse and reached forward again...

Followed by...

Jesus...Hank and Joey stared at the spectacle of the head and trunk of a young woman, clearly, even in the dim light, somewhat the worse for wear...Dragging itself by one arm...

And hanging on, barely by one hand...The body of what appeared to be a slight, equally battered, young blonde man...

"Not another one...." Hank sighed... Having been a witness to several resurrections of creatures of various types during his tenure...At the LA landfill, it kinda goes with the territory...

"Hello...!" a faint cry from the steadily, if slowly moving partial woman... "Spike needs cover...I need emer...gency...re...charge..."

And service urgently re....Quired...

"Do...have...cover...an outlet?"

Hank eyed Joey...Joey eyed Hank...

"Hey..." Joey stared... "I know that name...Spike...That's the guy...The other new vamp hero guy...He saved my cousin Susie last month...Get a blanket from the shack, Hank...We'll bring...Them...Down..."

Hank was already dragging a blanket out...They raced up the hill as the sun's rays began moving across the mound...

"Hello..." a friendly voice greeted them as they moved up the hill... "Can you help my boyfriend and me?..."

***