Author: Kat Lee
Fandom: Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Challenge/Prompt: nekid_spike 30in30: Day 11: Hero, Cry
Warning(s): Cannon Character Death
Word Count: 312
Date Written: 12 May 2017
Disclaimer: All characters within belong to Whedon, not the author, and are used without permission.
He stares at her as the flames eat him. He should have seen this coming. He should have known. He loves this woman so very much it's hurt, at times, worse than his flesh exploding, but he always managed to hold onto the belief that she would love him until right now in his final moments. Now, at last, she tries to tell him she does, but he knows better.
He knows she doesn't love him, she can't love him, but for the first time, he knows, too, that that's okay. He stares into her crying eyes, tears and flames flickering in his own. He thanks her for trying to love him, thanks her for being here for him now, thanks her, without actually using words, for everything she's done to him, every change she's brought him, every feel of love she's granted him. He's a far better man for knowing her than he ever would have been otherwise.
But he should have known. He should have known his death is where this path would leave him, but it's okay. If he can't have her, he's ready to go, and he can't, but more importantly, if his death will save her, and Dawn, and the others for whom she cares so much more than he himself, he's willing to go. He stares into her eyes, trying to remember them while there's anything of himself left at all, and then wills her to go.
He couldn't make her love him. He couldn't be her hero, but it all makes sense now, now as he screams with agony, now as he lets her go, now as he breathes his last . . . He couldn't be her hero, because she was his hero all along. But at least he can give her this, and whatever's left of him afterward will still love her forever.