Author's Chapter Notes:
I haven't been able to get the next part of Learning Curve done the way I want just yet, so I'm posting this to make up for it. And I'm going to use this story to beg for reviews to make me feel better, I've been kind of sick.

The next part should be posted in a few days.
If It Wasn’t For Your Love

Would I be standing here
After all these years
Among the stars above
Maybe not if it wasn’t for your love

He’d been the one who finally gave her the strength to give up slaying, to believe that she could be someone without being defined as the slayer. And that the other girls were capable of doing it, that the world wouldn’t collapse into hell and every death from that point on wouldn’t be her fault. He’d told her once that she could be “just Buffy” but she’d never be “just” Buffy, he’d always love her. And no matter what she would always be special, not because she was the Slayer, but because she was her…unique.

He’d died that day on the Hellmouth and she was sure that all of her friends thought that here new found sense of self would die along with him and she’d go back to being their same old Buffy. The Buffy who slayed vampires and killed demons because she was supposed to, who never questioned whether she could do something more or be something more. The one who was certain she would die before she was 30 and expected it to be before she was 25. The Buffy whom they knew, the one who would give them what they expected.

But he’d died that day on the Hellmouth

And it was because of him and his love that she was here today. And it was because of his love for her that she was different, no longer the slayer, she was just a girl. But still, somehow, never ‘just’ a girl.

Smiling faces all around
Like when the king has just been crowned
A battle has been won
That I’d of lost
If it wasn’t for your love

Buffy looked at her daughter, her beautiful 16-year-old daughter, celebrating with her friends and knew that without Spike none of this would be possible.

Sure she would have lost that final battle with the First if he hadn’t saved them all—given up his life for them, but that wasn’t the only battle he’d won for her. He’d saved her numerous times without even being there, with only a thought of him, Buffy was able to be strong again. He had saved her so many times, especially in that first year after. Giles had asked her to come and work at the “new and improved” council with him. And she’d be lying if she said she hadn’t thought taking him up on his offer. She’d thought about it until she remembered the conversation she’d had with Spike the night before he’d died. He’d told her that he knew either they were both going to make it through this or she alone was going to. He promised her he wasn’t going to fail her again, wasn’t going to let her die while he lived, knowing all the while of his failure. It wasn’t going to happen.

She could remember that conversation better than she could remember what happened last week; it was always in the forefront of her mind and influenced nearly every decision she’d made.

After he’d told her his plan, she turned over and looked him in the eye. She’d told him not to think like that; thinking like that would only lead to his death. She’d told him that if he lived and she didn’t then so be it, she, at least, would be able to die knowing that someone would take care of Dawn and that was all that mattered.

She hadn’t seen him as angry as he was then since before he’d been chipped. Maybe not even then. He’d gotten up off that poor excuse for a bed, and stormed across the room. He turned back swiftly and looked at her with the look she knew meant he thought she was the dumbest woman alive—something between anger, disappointment, and a range of other undecipherable emotions. He’d raged at her, calling her things that she couldn’t really catch. But she could make out the words she was used to: bleedin’, stupid, soddin’ and bint flooded out of his mouth at different intervals along with a few other words she didn’t even think she knew, before he started pacing.

“Is there something in that Slayer part of you that just says ‘Vampire! Must not listen!’ because no matter what I try to tell you, you just won’t soddin’ hear me.

You know I love it when you argue with me, but this one’s not up for debate.” He started speaking more slowly as if trying to make it easier for her to hear and understand what he was saying, “If you die tomorrow then so do I, I’m not going to fail you again You hear me? Dawn doesn’t need me, hell she doesn’t even like me all that much anymore!—not that it’s not for good reason-“ he stopped himself again before sighing, “But that’s not the point, the point is you’re her family and that’s what the bit needs…‘family’ and I’m not going to take that away from her.

You, luv, are going to live to be a very old lady and die in your nice, big house with your husband and children next to you.” Apparently this wasn’t going the way he planned because he paused again, “No, you’re not going to die like that, you’re still going to have the kids and the husband and the house, but you’re going to die peacefully in your sleep when you’re somewhere around a hundred. Yeah, that’s it.”

Buffy had laughed a little bit then, but knew that he’d never been more serious about anything in his entire existence, except for loving her.

“Alright, Spike, I’ll die a nice old lady, but you’re going to be there, so I’m not so sure about the husband and the kids.” Buffy replied with the same emotion he had said his piece with. She didn’t care how hard he tried; Buffy wasn’t ready to accept that this could be her last night with him.

“Fine, pet, believe whatever you want, but just humor me and listen to what I have to say?”

When she didn’t object he sat down next to her on he cot, facing her, before continuing, “You’re going to live through tomorrow, I’ll see to it, and if for some reason you don’t, well then I’ll be dead too so I won’t know. But you are going to make it Buffy, you’re going to make it through that fight, and it’s going to be your last. You’re going to tell them all that you’re done being the slayer. Now, don’t argue with me.” He could tell that Buffy had been about to interrupt him, “We both know you’re better than any slayer that ever has been or ever will be and you’ve gone so far above what they expected of you that not even that Council of Wankers can measure how much you’ve done.

So, you’re going to win tomorrow, you’re going to stop being the Slayer, you’re going to make them pay you for saving the world all those times, not so that you profit off of it or anything, just enough so that you and Dawn are okay. Then you’re going to find yourself a nice, safe place to live. You’re going to meet a great guy—who won’t be good enough for you because no one ever will be—you two are going to get married, you’re going to have beautiful kids and raise them to be good people. You’re even going to get yourself a dog or two. You understand? That’s the only way I’m going to be able to do what I need to tomorrow, if I know that you’ll have the life you want afterwards.”

She hadn’t let him know that she didn’t think she wanted all of that, at least not if it meant he had to die for her to have it. She wanted him.

That’s what she wanted to tell him, what she’d wished for the entire year afterwards that she had, but she didn’t. Instead she just nodded and pulled him towards her for a kiss, if he was so convinced that this was going to be their last night, she was damn well going to make it a memorable one. And it had been, to this day, nearly 18 years later; it was one of the best nights of her life.

TBC in part two.....

Thanks to Beth for betaing this and please, please review--I've had a crappy few weeks and really need some.

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