The night was clear and the moon and stars shone brightly overhead the Spencer Cemetery, providing enough light that a flashlight was unnecessary, as was the umbrella he had brought because once again the weather-girl had incorrectly predicted the forecast. He walked along, alone, pulling alternately on a bottle of Old Crow and a Marlboro Red. It was like any other night, really…they were all here. Xander to his left, Anya next to him…Dawn over yonder, adorned with flowers, Willow, Oz and Tara all huddled underneath the giant oak. Giles…he wasn’t here. He was in England, where he belonged…but up there, up on top the hill, were Buffy and Angel. Together as always, the eternal couple.

“Whatcha doin’?” a voice came from no where.

He jumped. “Thinking,” he told the person.

She smiled. “Me too. Everyone’s so quiet tonight. No voices.”

He glanced at her sideways. “I’ve been looking for you.”

She smiled again, pleased. “I know…I could feel it. I figured you’d be here, with them.”

He nodded. “Don’t really know where else to go.”

She looked around. “Me either. There’s nothing going on in town…the whole city’s deserted.”

“But this place is full,” he murmured.

She cocked her head to the side, long brown hair falling in waves over her shoulder. “Walk with me?” she asked, offering her hand.

He stared at her for a moment before submitting to her pretty grin. “Sure,” he said, throwing down his cigarette and slipping his cold hand into hers.

They approached Xander and Anya. “Tell me the story,” she asked.

He sighed. “You’ve heard it, luv, over and over.”

“But I wasn’t here,” she begged. “Please?”

He glanced at her. God, she had softened over the years…but in some ways, she was harder than ever, steel walls up and all. And yet, he couldn’t resist her.

“Of course, pet. Anything.” He walked up to Xander and Anya. “Lovers, the two of them. And two of the most annoying people I’ve ever met. God…the ability they possess to piss me off…it’s unprecedented.”

“And?” she prodded.

“Married. Two kids, they’re over there,” he said, pointing. “Cute little Twinkies. Mom and Dad were first.”

They moved on and stood in front of Tara, Oz and Willow. “The threesome, in more ways than one,” he grinned evilly. “Kinky little lot, aren’t you?” he asked them. “He came back and it was the most natural thing in the world. They were together, all of them. Happy. Maybe they got it figured out while the rest of us are scrambling around still, I dunno. Didn’t give a whit about what was socially acceptable.”

“They were second,” she said softly, gazing down at them.

“Well, third, fourth and fifth to be exact.” He looked up at the sky. “It was the redhead that did Giles in.”

The brunette at his side nodded and they moved on.

“Dawnie,” she said as they approached the girl.

“This is the one that gets me most,” he whispered, his voice breaking. She clutched his hand as he took a swig from the bottle.

“Dawnie was sixth…”

“Yes, she was, pet. She’s finished high school, on to college. Gonna be a veterinarian,” he boasted proudly. “That was my idea. We’re watchin’ Sex and the City one night and there’s this studly vet on the show…so I tell her she should be a vet…she’s got the touch, plus they rake in a ton. Afterwards she couldn’t think of anything else but to be a bloody doctor.”

“And she’s got a boyfriend.”

He nodded. “Damn right she does, and don’t think I’m not at the door every night, checking him out when he comes to pick her up. Got her a cell phone too…so she can’t use the “I couldn’t call” excuse. Nothing gets by me.”

She chuckled. “You think you’re her father.”

He glanced at her. “I’m more of a father to her…me and Giles are, than her real father ever was,” he said, his tone agitated.

She hugged her body to his. “You don’t have to explain, I know. I think it’s nice.”

He grinned back at her. “Someday she’ll have a church wedding. The whole shabang.”

She nodded. “Of course.” Glancing behind them she asked, “Can we go up the hill now? I want to see Buffy and Angel.”

He looked up at the couple, sitting proudly on top of the hill, the moonlight streaming down. “Of course.”

They trudged up the hill and stopped in front of their friends. “Seven and eight,” she whispered.

“No…eight and nine,” he corrected. “Giles was seven.”

“Right,” she murmured, gazing at them. “Tell me,” she insisted.

He sighed. “The strongest Slayer and her Champion…put each other through hell and heaven, although more of the former than the latter…two most stubborn people I’ve ever met, except for you and me,” he grinned.

She smiled faintly, tears forming in her eyes.

“Love each other still…it’s amazing. You can feel it, can’t you?”

She nodded. “It hums…tickles my skin.”

“Yeah…exactly,” he agreed.

“The Hellmouth opened and unleashed the First Evil. It took out first Anya and Xander. They were found in each other’s arms…they didn’t even have time to get up out of their bed,” she said, her voice an odd monotone.

“Pet, we don’t have to do this part…” he started, but she continued.

“Willow found them…she wasn’t the same after that. Buffy tried…she tried to stop it, but it was too late. It possessed Tara...Tara killed Oz, then turned on Willow. When the Evil released her she realized what she had done…and begged it to kill her too.”

“Dawn found them,” he joined in. “And so, in order…except for Giles. Willow…it was his undoing. They say he jumped. I don’t know if I believe it or not. He had more stones than that…but that’s what they say.”

“Dawn found them,” she repeated. “The Evil tormented her in her sleep, drove her crazy.” His grip on her hand tightened as she spoke of his favorite. “She was…completely inside herself by the time it was finished…locked inside…which is funny, since she was the Key…she couldn’t even get herself to unlock…”

“And so after it drove her mad it used her condition to get to Buffy…successfully, I might add,” he continued, his tone bitter. “Dawn disappeared one night…wandered out in the streets, only to be torn to bits, limb from lovely limb, by demons. Buffy ran in to stop them, Angel on her heels. And one after the other, they…they…” He turned away, unable to finish.

They stood, staring the two slabs in front of them, then turned and looked out over the cemetery that held their loved ones.

“And now it’s you and me,” Faith said, taking his hand.

“You and me,” Spike agreed.

“I know this isn’t healthy…talking like they’re still here,” she began, then stopped. “It’s been another year,” she mused.

He nodded, pulling out a cigarette and lighting it. “Seven in all.”

She squeezed his hand.

And they stood, under the moon, surrounded by their friends, until first light.

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