A Slayer's Path by Oracleholly

ReviewsRating: NC-17

Summary: Buffy gets one hell of a Slayer dream and must follow the path to her heart. Post-"Chosen" set during ATS S5 "Damage."

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Chapter 1: The Beginning

She had been getting images in her dreams for the past few days, but she hadn't considered them of any major importance. The images always seemed like crude finger painted drawings on white paper. They were crude in the sense that any kindergartener would have done a much better job. They bothered her at first - the strange, two-dimensional, violent drawings. However, she dismissed them without discussing them with Giles, thinking that she was perhaps remembering something from her childhood in a new way.

However, as of tonight, she now knew those simple, crude drawing-dreams had only been precursors to tonight's major Slayer dream fest.

Buffy recognized the desert - that same wretched place where she had first accidentally met the First Slayer after the Uber-Slayer mojo. She never did figure out that bizarre Cheese Man. The second time she had visited this place, Buffy had received the portentous mantra - "Death is Your Gift" - straight from her ancestor's yellow-teethed mouth. The last time she entered this desert she had met those men - the Shadowmen, the ancestors of the Watchers - who had attempted to rape her with more Slayer demon. That last time, her sister Slayer had been nowhere in sight.

This time everything was different.

As Buffy stepped across the sands barefoot, she felt the grains pass between her toes. Its warmth was slight, but it didn't burn. A movement to her right caught her eye. Oh great, here we go again. How many times does it take for her to learn not to fight me? Bracing herself for the usual sudden barrage associated with meeting the First Slayer, Buffy was surprised when instead her ancestor slowly approached, walking fully upright for the first time ever. While her predecessor still remained garbed in her typical tattered, gray rags and war paint, Buffy noted that her demeanor was entirely calm. In fact, it was wigging her out.

Buffy stayed as still as possibly could, yet kept braced for a fight, alert for any sudden moves just in case. You never knew with the First Slayer. The primitive slayer tilted her head to one side, strangely reminiscent of a certain snarky vampire that Buffy missed terribly. Her elder tapped her chest in rapid succession, opened her mouth and roughly spoke one word, "Senaya."

Startled, Buffy relaxed her stance a little. Then, she repeated the name aloud, receiving a nod in reply. Smiling a little, Buffy then tapped her own chest and said her name. Senaya's mouth turned down as if she had just swallowed a few lemons, and then she laughed. Buffy could never remember in any of her Slayer dreams where "Senaya" had displayed any emotion besides that of an aloof, surgical hunter determined to either kill her or drive her insane with the cryptic talk.

"Hey, my mother gave me that name," Buffy responded, affronted by her elder's laughter. Then Buffy remembered saying the same thing to Spike one night. That was twice in a very, short time span that this contact with Senaya had conjured memories of Spike. Did it mean something?

Senaya immediately sobered her expression and held out her hand, motioning for Buffy to take it. Buffy did, and together they began to walk hand in hand across the desert.

Just like her dream when they first encountered each other, the landscape began to subtly change. The scant presence of trees soon began to appear as if a rough crayon had drawn the copse of trees; the sun turned into an actual, Crayola-yellow circle, complete with yellow rays. Then Buffy found herself, along with Senaya, in a hospital watching a girl with brown hair coloring vigorously, vivid pictures depicting demons and vampires.

"She's one of us?" Buffy questioned.

"She does not understand who she has become," Senaya answered.

Even though the doctor present in the room could not see them, the girl quickly turned her haunted eyes their way. The confused girl locked eyes with Buffy. Suddenly, flashes of what had happened to the girl as a child played out like a short film in Buffy's mind. The horror of what had happened to the poor child made Buffy want to scream in pain and outrage. She felt violated and abused. Fortunately, Buffy felt a comforting squeeze from Senaya bringing her out of the girl's past. The scene unexpectedly shifted again.

However, Buffy found that they were still with the same girl. The girl was now alone in a padded room, the walls covered with grotesque drawings, some of which Buffy recalled from her previous dreams. This time, the girl was oblivious to their presence. Before she could verify that the drawings on the walls were in fact the same as she had dreamed, another brief shift in time occurred.

This time, Senaya was no longer by her side. Instead, Buffy saw Senaya standing beside the troubled girl.

Senaya caressed the girl's hair. "She does not understand what she sees."

"She's been getting our visions?"

"She relives us all," Senaya cryptically voiced.

Within the room, a "window" opened, like a viewing screen. Another time. Buffy recognized her fifteen-year-old self in bed, apparently experiencing a nightmare. The room seemed vaguely familiar, and then it came to her. She was in her home in Los Angeles, before she learned of her calling. With a touch to her temple from Senaya, Buffy remembered the disturbing dreams she had dreamt prior to meeting Lothos. In each dream, she was the Slayer - she understood that now - fighting vampires, until Lothos arrived and killed her each time.

"Stop!" Buffy recalled that those visions had differed from those involving her and the Master. In the "Master" dreams, she knew that she was really battling the Master. The Lothos dreams, she realized, she had relived from each previous Slayer's experience. With some clarity, Buffy turned damp eyes to Senaya. "That girl has been reliving all of our experiences? Every single one of us?"

Gravely, Senaya nodded. She seemed about to add something; however, she shook her head. Once again the desert reappeared, but they were no longer alone.

"Tara?"

As before in her first coming to this desert, Tara stood before her wearing the beautifully crafted sari. "I've been granted this time by the Powers to give you some wisdom of the things to come," the vision of Tara spoke.


Chapter Two – “New Understanding”

Buffy fidgeted in her seat for the billionth time. She knew that the undercover air marshals must have her under observation, but frankly she didn’t care. She got that her twitchiness meant that she made people nervous, but her emotions were a swirl of anger, resentment, happiness, regret, sadness, elation, fear, anxiety, and hope that she physically couldn’t be still.

She pretended to watch the in-flight movie, complete with wearing the earphones, but she had the volume turned almost to mute. She needed to process everything that had happened in the last twenty-four hours. So much had occurred, yet, nothing could be resolved until she landed in Los Angeles.

*******

Much like she had when she’d first opened her eyes in her coffin a little over two years ago, Buffy awoke gasping for air. She clung to her sheets as if grasping for something to catch her. Her body had sweated and soaked her sheets and her hair was a mess of tangles.

Her first word upon waking was more of a scream, “Spike!”

Buffy tried to recapture the last images of her dream before releasing her death grip on the sheets. She’d just started to calm down, when Dawn rushed into her room, clad in her pajamas. The concern on Dawn’s face almost broke her heart…almost. She loved her sister, she really did, but a part of her would never forgive her for kicking her out of the house and treating Spike like she had. Not that she was one to cast stones in that department, but still, that last year…

Buffy knew part of Dawn’s concern was over her fear that Buffy was regressing. For several months after Sunnydale, Buffy had recurring nightmares about Spike. Everyone thought she had gotten past it…whatever they imagined happened. She’d kept it from everyone.

“I love you.”

“No you don’t, but thanks for saying it.”

Buffy had learned a long time ago how everyone thought she should act, so after awhile she’d begun going through those old motions. Shopping, patrolling, training…repeat as necessary. But no one really knew her inner most wishes and desires. No one. Once again, she was alone…alone in a world that now had an army of Slayers.

She knew they had all been surprised how she’d treated Angel and his crew when they arrived in Los Angeles after the destruction of Sunnydale. She guessed everyone thought she would rush head-long into the waiting arms of her “soul mate” and live happily ever after. But that had not happened, and it never would.

Now that Angel was a part of Wolfram & Hart, she no longer trusted him at all. When they’d arrived at the Hyperion, a messenger from Wolfram & Hart had been there to inform them of the change of address. Buffy had been incensed but held it in. Even Giles looked uncomfortable about the news.

She’d asked the messenger how long Angel had been working for W&H. When told over a week, Buffy easily put together the missing pieces of information that Angel had blatantly failed to tell her in Sunnydale, especially about the origin of the amulet. Her grief over Spike’s demise almost crippled her then. Her suspicions about whether Angel had known what the amulet would do grew.

Buffy thought her performance for Angel and his merry crew should have garnered her an Academy Award nomination. She acted her ass off. She’d answered their questions with a calm detachment, very like a soldier reporting in to his superiors. However, when that two-face son-of-a-Darla asked her about Spike, she wanted to claw out his brown eyes.

She couldn’t help the emotion that’d filled her voice, relating just how heroic and brave and stoic Spike had been in those last moments. When asked what exactly happened though, she clammed up. All she would ever tell anyone from now on was that Spike died a Champion.

So, seeing Dawn’s concern face was like a bucket of ice water had been thrown on her.

Buffy had quickly gotten out of bed and gathered a bag from her closet. She ignored Dawn’s questions while she started piling in clothes, changes of underwear, and shoes. When she grabbed a second bag for her toiletries and stakes, Dawn grabbed her by the shoulders. Buffy fought the urge to throw Dawn into the wall. Hadn’t she learned by now to never touch a preoccupied Slayer?

“Dawn, let go of me,” Buffy warned her.

“Buffy, what are you doing? You are scaring me. Why won’t you tell me what’s going on?” Dawn almost screamed.

“I have to take a trip. It involves one of the new girls,” Buffy said.

“What new girl? You know you don’t do that. Andrew does,” replied Dawn.

“Well, starting now, so do I. Now, I have to get going. Move,” ordered Buffy.

Dawn countered, “I’m calling Giles.”

“You do that, Dawnie. And while you’re at it, why don’t you ask him why he failed to tell me that Spike was back,” Buffy angrily spat.

“Buffy? What do you mean Spike’s back? I thought you said he died?” Dawn’s lip started to tremble.

Buffy started to feel guilty about snapping at Dawn, but then again, Dawn never knew that Spike had told her about Dawn’s threat to set him on fire. She would always love Dawn; she was her flesh and blood, but that didn’t mean she would ever forgive Dawn for kicking her out of her own home nor how Dawn had treated Spike after he got back. Buffy knew that she shouldn’t be the ones to cast stones in that regard, but someone had to stand up for Spike now.

“Well, I guess like me, death doesn’t take kindly to us. So, I’m going.”

“Okay. Umm…Buffy?”

Blowing out an exasperated breath, Buffy asked, “What?”

“When you find Spike, tell him to come home.”

Buffy stopped her maniac packing to really look at her sister. Dawn had shocked tears running down her face, snot dripped from her nose. Grabbing a tissue, Buffy handed it to Dawn. “Here, wipe your nose. So, you miss him too?”

“Yeah. I’m so mad at myself for…you know…being all distant with him after he got the soul. I just didn’t know how to act around him anymore…not after what he did to you and all,” Dawn sniffed.

Buffy bristled at the mention of the bathroom incident. It was time to clear the air about that – way past time. “Dawnie, sit down.”

Once seated, Buffy said, “Look, sometimes I wish you’d never found out about that night. It was one horrible mistake – both Spike’s and mine. I’d treated him horribly before that night, Dawn. And before you interrupt, I’m not making excuses for his behavior. It was wrong. But I can understand it, given how things were back then. I’d actually forgiven him about ten minutes after it happened. If you remember I had taken you to his crypt for Spike to watch over you. Now, I ask you, if I really mistrusted Spike after what had happened, would I have ever entrusted you, my precious sister, to his care?”

Dawn was silent.

“Well? I’m asking you. Do you think I would have trusted just anyone with your care?”

“No, I guess not. You did leave me with Clem though. Of course, Clem was…well, Clem,” Dawn said, smiling at the memory of the floppy-eared demon.

“Yeah. And I could just wring Xander’s neck for telling you his interpretation of what happened. It wasn’t his place to do so, nor were you at an age to hear about it.” Holding up her hand, Buffy kept Dawn from blurting out any argument. “You know mom would have felt the same way, so let’s not argue about it.”

“So, that’s why you let me back in the house when he came back all crazy?”

“Well, Dawn, I never even revoked his invitation. He could have come by anytime. What does that tell you?” Buffy smiled.

Dawn grabbed Buffy’s hands and said, “I want to go with you.”

“No. You have something called school, young lady. I know it’s a pain, but you do. Besides, I think I have to settle some matters once and for all, and I can’t be worrying about your safety while I do it.”

Disappointed but understanding, Dawn replied, “Okay. Just bring Spike home, Buffy. Please tell him that his niblet misses him.”

Running her hand down the side of Dawn’s head and hair, Buffy smiled. “I will. And you know me…I get the job done.”

******************

“Ladies and gentlemen, we’ll be arriving at Los Angeles International Airport in approximately twenty minutes. The weather forecast is sunny with a mild wind, 75F. The time is….”

The announcement broke Buffy from her reverie. Soon, Spike. Soon, I’ll be there. Just don’t do anything stupid first. Rolling her eyes immediately, she corrected her thoughts. Just be careful, Spike. I’ll be there soon.


Chapter Three - Revelations

As Buffy was waiting to reclaim her luggage, her cell phone rang. She eyed the Caller ID and with some satisfaction, let the call go to voice mail. Giles will not be interfering. Hadn't he learned in Sunnydale? With a sigh, she realized that perhaps her former Watcher hadn't learned anything…nothing at all. After the cell buzzed announcing that she had voice mail, Buffy decided just to turn it off. No well-intentioned but misplaced Scooby friends would be butting their noses into her business. Not this time.

Finally her one checked bag circled around the carousel, and she hefted it off the conveyer belt. Stopping only to make sure she'd gotten the right bag, she headed for the rental car booth to procure herself a car. However, the long line at the stand dissuaded her from waiting.

Seeking her cell for one call only, she turned it on and scroll through her phone book. Finding the number she wanted, she pressed send. After only a few short sentences, Buffy hung up and started walking toward an exit. The recipient of her call had said he'd get her a special taxi. No problems.

Before her foot even got near the curb, a green Mini pulled next to her. "You Buffy?" the driver asked.

"Yes."

"Get in."

Buffy entered the vehicle, and the car sped away from the curb.

A bit later, the green Mini stopped in front of a warehouse not far from where the Hyperion stood. Buffy thanked the driver and asked, "How much do I owe you?"

The driver waved her off, his skin flapping as he did so. "Your fare has been paid. If he says you're like family, then welcome to the family."

"Thank you," Buffy said, giving him a genuine smile. Still, she pulled out a twenty dollar bill and handed it to him, "As my thanks, here's a little something that should help you get a few kittens."

"Appreciated. You know, you're exactly how he said you would be."

"I'll take that as a good thing. Again, thanks."

He handed her a card. "Just in case." She nodded, and the driver pulled away.

Buffy knocked on the warehouse door, and it immediately was opened to reveal a lavish tavern. "Welcome to Sanctuary."

"Buffy!!!!" Her name was heard over all the music and conversation.

"Clem!!!!" Buffy rushed heedlessly through the demon clientele, hearing snorts of 'Slayer' in her wake. She grabbed Clem into an enormous hug.

Clem's skin started to pale slightly, and he said, "Easy girl, I need those glands."

Releasing him immediately, Buffy apologized. "I'm so sorry. I'm just so happy to see a friendly face."

"You're looking good, Buffy. It's been awhile."

"Since that day," Buffy reminded him.

Clem looked sort of uncomfortable. "Yeah. You know congratulations and all that. Knew you could do it."

"I know, Clem. I know."

"So, tell me, what brings you to LA? Dish, girl."

"Spike."

*********************

Using Clem's connections and after talking to a few customers at Sanctuary, Buffy knew where Andrew and his gaggle of Slayers were staying. She wanted to track them without them getting wind of where she was. She had paid for her plane ticket with cash and had used one of the fake passports that Spike had long ago gotten for her.

The passport had a funny story behind it. During that whole time of Glory, Spike had secretly been making plans to take Joyce, Dawn, and her out of Sunnydale if the need arose. Buffy hadn't known of his plans at the time, and that was probably a good thing. She would have refused. Sometimes she wondered whether if Spike had taken them away, would her mother still be with them?

So, Spike had obtained multiple passports for each of them. She didn't know how he got them or how he paid for them, and she didn't care. They just represented to her just another thing she'd overlooked all those years.

He'd finally showed them to her one night after she'd come back from the dead. In the heat of the moment, she'd told him she wanted to be able to disappear from all her friends. He'd gotten out of bed to retrieve a box. Warily, she'd opened it and discovered the passports.

A little while later, before the bathroom incident, Spike had told her that he'd secured them in a safe deposit in LA for her, if she were ever to have need of them. His foresight amazed her. Buffy had reclaimed them after she'd spoken to Angel at Wolfram & Hart. No one else knew about them.

For now, she was in the country as Joan Williams. It hadn't been one of the original passports. After retrieving them from the bank, she'd found that Spike had made this one probably in honor of that time when he was Randy and she was Joan.

Ready, Randy? Joan's coming for you.

Clem had arranged help with surveillance. He never questioned her about how she knew a new Slayer would be making herself known soon, for which she was grateful. Buffy just wanted to prevent what Tara had shown her.

***********

Buffy stood beside Senaya in the desert, but they were no longer alone. Once again clad in a beautiful sari was Tara.

"Tara?"

"I've been granted this time by the Powers to give you some wisdom of the things to come," the vision of Tara spoke.

Tears rolled down her cheeks in happiness to see her very missed friend. "Tara, I miss you. I'm sorry you died."

"My death, my life…all part of the cycle. Do not be sorry that I died, rather be happy that for a short time, I lived and was a part of your life," Tara replied.

"Oh, I am. I am happy that you were. Thank you." Buffy paused to take a deep breath. "I never really thanked you while you were alive for taking such good care of Dawn. Thank you."

"You're welcome, Buffy."

"But that isn't why you are here. What do the Powers want to tell me? Usually they send Whistler," Buffy said.

"I've been chosen because of my connection to you, to the Goddess, to the Guardians, to the Slayers, and to our Champion. Our Champion needs you, Buffy," Tara announced.

"Angel? No way. I'm sorry. I have to disappoint the Powers," Buffy responded, more than a little irked.

"Not Angel. Angel is not our champion. Buffy, I've told you little about my family. Remember, I told you about my mother dying when I was young?"

"Yes?" Buffy answered, now completely confused.

"I, myself, did not know until it was revealed to me, but my mother and I were part of a long line of descendants of those who watched the ones who watched."

"The Guardians!" Buffy exclaimed in a whisper.

Tara nodded. As she did so, Senaya moved to stand beside Tara. Touching her heart and then touching Tara's, Senaya said, "Sister."

Buffy reached out with her senses and there it was. Very faint, but very much there. Buffy declared, "You were a potential Slayer!"

"Yes, Buffy. Had I lived at the time of Willow's spell, I would have also been 'activated' as Mr. Giles put it," Tara answered. "So, not only am I a Guardian, but I was also of the line."

"When I speak of our Champion, I mean the Champion of the Guardians and of the Slayers. The one who will help our line and our way. The one who will…well, that I cannot reveal just yet," Tara added.

"Okay, so Angel's obviously not our Champion. The only other one I can think of is dead." Buffy's mind drew a big blank as to the identity of the Champion.

"He's dead, but not dead; alive but not alive. He is like a phoenix arisen from the ashes. He had form, but was formless 'til it was restored to him. By trials and by fire he cleansed his soul, though he does not know it. He is love and is loved, but yet does not know it. He has returned to be once again our Champion." Tara stopped and waited for Buffy to get her meaning.

It didn't take long.

Once again in tears, Buffy cried out for her lost lover, her lost love, and her once chance at true happiness.

"Spike!!!!"


Chapter Four - Preparation

Dusk crept across Los Angeles like a thief wanting to steal the last vestiges of sunlight. Buffy watched the interplay of the sunset across the city from atop Sanctuary. She ached to get going, but knew she had to time it just right for everything to come out okay. Like Tara had reminded her - 'everything has a time and a place, the key is to know how to recognize it.'

Tara, I'm trying. I think I get it now. Thank you.

No one knew she was in the city but a group of demons. She snickered to herself over the fact that the once-and-still general of the Slayer army now commanded a contingent of demons - and some of their human friends. Buffy found it funny how the years had eroded her holier than thou mantra regarding all demons. Deep down, she knew she owed it all to Spike…and well, to Anya.

Thank you Anya…Anyanka.

Buffy felt a jolt when she could have sworn she heard Anya whisper in her ear, "You're welcome. Good luck." Then she grinned because if anyone could cheat death or at least win in a bargain with it, it would undoubtedly by Anyanka. She just wondered if she'd see that bubbling, capitalism-loving, wise friend again.

"Everyone's ready, Buffy," Clem said as he approached her.

Buffy could tell that Clem hadn't wanted to startle her, but really, he'd no fear of that. Her Slayer senses were as sharp as ever. Thank you, Senaya. "Thanks Clem, I really appreciate all you've done today and really those times before now."

If Clem could blush, Buffy supposed he was doing it now. It was kind of cute actually, which just made her heart love Clem more. If someone had told her years ago that she'd be a good friend with a demon, she would have probably staked whoever said it. But that was then, and lots of water had gone under that bridge and all that.

"I can't believe Spike's back," Clem said yet again. He'd been repeating that every so often since she'd first told him.

"Yeah, and believe me, Clem, he has a lot to answer for. I mean…I get when he was all ghost-like he couldn't physically pick up a phone, but hello, someone else could have dialed and told me. And now, he's got his body back and does he call or come visit? No."

"Buffy, perhaps…" Clem began but then shut his mouth.

"What?" she asked.

"Perhaps he was scared of what you'd say?" Clem offered.

Exhaling a slow breath, Buffy turned to Clem and smiled. "I know he probably was. I'm not really that mad at him. I get it. I'm just happy he's back."

Clem became all giddy and said, "Well, let's go get him."

****************

Buffy watched as a strange man who radiated bad vibes exited the building where Spike lived. She didn't like it. Couldn't put her finger on why, but she knew that guy in the cowboy boots was bad news. She ducked down in the backseat of Clem's car as she spotted Spike strolling out the door.

Mentally she memorized the man and decided she'd have Clem find out who he was. She might need to take care of more than just Spike, Dana, and the rest of it. Trouble. And that starts with T and…Why did that song just pop into her brain?

Her heart clenched in her chest. Spike exited the building, his duster billowing about him as if some unseen wind knew to blow at just the right time. Spike was just as she remembered him, except a touch of sadness surrounded him. Had he always had that? Never again would she not know the answer to that, and Buffy vowed right then and there in the backseat of Clem's VW Jetta that Spike would never be sad again - if she could possibly have a say in the matter.

Buffy knew where he was headed. Buffy wanted to follow him, but she had some other place to be first. Besides he'd be okay for the time being, and she'd already been there, handled that. She wondered what exactly he'd been told, and also what had been reported to Wolfram & Hart.

"Okay, let's go to the warehouse and get ready for the party," she told Zachary, one of Clem's friends.

**************
(An hour before)

Entering any hospital - especially a psychiatric one - gave Buffy the willies. Taking stock of her fears and shelving them until half-past never, Buffy pushed open the doors to the facility in her newly acquired doctors attire. At first, the fact that everything looked just as it had in her dream rocked her, but that lasted all of five seconds. Equilibrium again achieved, Buffy kept her head ducked and her hair in her face as she continued toward the service elevators.

Flashing her pass at the half-awake guard, she entered the elevator and pressed the floor's number. She breathed in a few times, going over in her head how she would approach her sister Slayer. She hoped that in some way, Dana would recognize her or know her. She didn't think it likely, but she'd hope for the best and expect the worst. Of course, the worse would never happen now. Dana's escape from this place wouldn't be like she'd envisioned. No one had to die. No blood would be on Dana's hands.

Halfway between floors, Buffy pulled the Emergency Stop button. She fished out the device Zachary had given her in the car. He'd gone over everything with her until she could have probably done what she needed to do in her sleep. Once she'd found what she needed, she retrieved a stylus she'd tucked behind her ear. Using it, she pressed a certain sequence on the keypad. Now, no pesky cameras. Take that Angel.

Exiting the elevator, Buffy once again was amazed by the complete lack of awareness by the guards and this time a nurse. No one even bothered to glance in her direction. She wore the right gear apparently, so she wasn't worth their consideration.

She privately thanked whomever Clem had bribed to get copies of the keys to all the gates. It really made things so much easier. Gate after gate, Buffy eased down the hallways of the ward. She kept on her mind on the singular purpose of getting Dana safely out of the hospital in order to keep those nagging fears about this place under wraps.

Buffy found herself outside Dana's door. Using a key, she opened it cautiously, and then stepped back. Dana leapt from her hiding place and was in the processing of attacking Buffy when she paused.

Buffy smiled calmly and made a shushing gesture with her fingers and mouth as she quietly entered Dana's room. "Hi Dana."

Dana looked at her for a few uncomfortable moments and then uttered one word, "Sister?"

*****************

Chapter Five - Show Time

(At Wolfram & Hart)

Angel, Gunn, Lorne, and Fred were vehemently discussing what was to be done about Eve. Just as the conversation reached a crescendo, the object of the conversation calmly entered the room.

"Talking about little ol' me? I'm flattered. But you know, you can't fire me or do anything else you might have planned, boys & girl. I don't really work for you," Eve said, examining her fingernails.

"Eve, get out of my office," Angel growled out.

"No can do, Angel. I'm here on the Senior Partners' behalf. They are very disturbed about some events that have happened this evening," Eve replied. She was the epitome of cool.

"And that's a bad thing?" Angel remarked.

Eve approached his desk, brushing Fred to the side. Leaning over she looked Angel in the eye and said, "Yes, it is. It's business, Angel. Remember what your position is and what's riding on your cooperation."

Angel grabbed Eve by her necklace and said, "Never threaten me, Eve. You won't like what I do."

"Maybe I will, Angel."

Lorne and Fred looked confused over Eve's threat and silently wondered what hold Eve had over their boss. Gunn privately was racking his brain for any reference to any potential blackmail that the Senior Partners would have on Angel, but much to his consternation, he couldn't find anything.

"So what has the Senior Partners all upset, then?"

"Someone assisted a girl escaped from her psychiatric ward this evening. Her doctor, Doctor Rabinaw is a client of ours," Eve supplied.

"Of course, he is," Angel responded.

"Well, he's unlike lots of our clients in that he is human and is doing good for the mentally ill," Eve coolly said.

"Sure, I believe that. Do you believe that, guys?" Angel sarcastically asked Lorne, Fred, and Gunn.

Fred spoke up. "Who is the girl? Who helped her escape? Is she dangerous?"

"Short answer. Dana. That's your job to find out. Uncertain, but likely," Eve answered. "So get to it, team. The Senior Partners are highly interested in the return of our client's patient."

Eve strode out of the room, her shoes barely making marks in the carpet.

*****************

(Some warehouse near the docks)

Buffy had started having some serious misgivings as she listened to Dana wail and whimper and speak in different languages. She'd kept the number of guards to a minimum and made sure that at all times she was within eyesight of the girl. She had seen how the girl had been traumatized as a child, but what Doctor Rabinaw had been doing to her was equally as monstrous.

If Dana had received the proper care, nurturing and attention she had desperately needed all those years ago, Dana would probably have been recovered by now. Instead, she'd been subjected to experiments and forms of mental torture. Buffy knew that she and Spike were going to be the best caretakers for her now. Dana would get help, and they would support her completely.

However, Buffy knew that how Dana and Spike would meet had to be handled gently. Senaya and Tara had showed her why - the path of what was supposed to be and the murkiness of what could be. She witnessed with horror the events as they would have played out had they not intervened and how Spike would have been damaged from Dana's confusion and mania. With a mixture of shame and disgust, she watched how Andrew of all people took part in the aftermath.

In order to save both Dana's innocent soul and Spike from all that horror, she had to succeed. Failure was not an option. Like she'd told Robin Wood that fateful night in that shed with all the crosses, 'The mission is what matters.' Tonight, her mission was all about saving the man that held her heart and the sister Slayer who needed her most.

A flash of light in the window indicated that Spike had arrived at the warehouse. In preparation of his arrival and in order to mask her scent, Buffy had doused herself with what seemed like tons of some brew Clem gave her. If Spike somehow sniffed her under all that, more power to his vampyrific senses.

Dana had been positioned in front of the enormous window, with a clear view of Buffy hiding behind a stack of crates. Buffy had told Dana that she was playing Hide-and-Go-Seek and to not give her away. Dana had responded in a foreign tongue, and Bruce, another of Clem's associates, translated it for her.

"She said that Slayers do not hide from vampires."

"What language was that this time?" Buffy asked.

"Chinese," Bruce answered.

Buffy had surmised in the vision that Dana had projected the first Slayer that Spike had killed during the Boxer Rebellion. Buffy shook her head. As much as it worried her, they needed Dana to be that Slayer for the time being. "Not normally. We don't," Buffy told her in English.

Dana grunted and then her eyes became highly aware. Buffy sensed him too. Her vampire. Her Spike. She growled low in her throat, in an ancient language. Dana bowed her head in subservience to Buffy. Dana understood. No harm.

"Likin' the view, are we? What say we have a nice, quiet chat…about mistreating little girls…demon to demon," Spike announced, his melodic voice filling the room.

Buffy rolled her eyes. What in the hell had he been told about Dana? Did he think she was possessed? I love him, but sometimes he can be a little dense.

Dana grinned dangerously at Spike. She knew not to hurt the pretty vampire. He was for her Sister, but that didn't mean she couldn't have fun.

"What are you grinnin' at?" Spike asked.

Without warning, Dana flew into her attack. "Aaaieahh! Mmhh!" Unfortunately for her, Spike flung her across the room.

Buffy stifled a chuckle as Spike tried taunting the supposedly possessed girl. "Oh, yeah. Look at the big, bad demon hidin' inside the helpless little girl. Why don't you come on out of there, and let's have a proper go, mate?

Like a Weeble that wobbles but won't fall down, Dana popped right back up and picked up a shard of wood. She looked briefly at Buffy; the barest of nods reassured Buffy that Dana didn't mean any harm still. Although, the spirit of the Chinese Slayer was highly irate about that.

"Or you could do that," Spike responded to no one but himself.

Dana started swearing at him in Chinese.

Spike obviously recognized its origin, but had not a clue as to what she said. "Sorry, luv. I don't speak Chinese."

Buffy knew then that she had to make her presence known. Dana's eyes had flared with remembrance of those same words Spike had told a fallen Slayer all those decades ago. Before Dana could fling Spike out the huge window, Buffy stepped out from behind the crates and growled.

Dana immediately dropped Spike onto the floor and backed away. At first, Spike was too busy trying to get up to notice what had happened. He looked toward Dana with confusion. Then he followed the direction of Dana's eyes and discovered to his shock…

"Buffy?"

Buffy smiled and said, "Hello cutie."


Chapter Six - Reunion

Buffy absorbed Spike's completely stunned expression. He almost resembled a fish out of water. Confusion and an inkling of fear rested in his eyes. Any nagging concerns that she might have had about whether he'd hadn't contacted her because he no longer loved her evaporated in a heartbeat. His love still shone in his eyes, and it nearly took her breath away. She could literally kick her own ass for all those times that she'd denied his feelings.

Never again, Spike. I promise I'll never reject or deny your love for me ever again. Realizing that Spike might be thinking she was some illusion, she put on her determined face and decided to remedy his confusion quickly. She knew just the way to do it.

Walking over to Spike, she offered her hand to help him get to his feet. With some trepidation, Spike took her hand, and Buffy pulled him up and close to her. Breathing in his unmistakable scent, Buffy asked, "Miss me?"

Buffy watched as Spike's Adam's apple bobbed a few times. She wanted to nibble it, but she'd save that for later. She could tell that despite knowing that she was indeed real, Spike was having a hard time believing his eyes. Well, her poor vampire had been haunted by the First Evil in her visage and, of course, there was that time involving Faith. Poor guy. She understood his reluctance - her smell was wrong.

Buffy sighed as if she'd read his mind and answered his unspoken question. "It's really me, Spike. No one knows I'm here and I certainly don't want a certain other supposedly souled vampire from finding out. At least not yet. But, if you don't believe me, well then I can just go." She made a move as if to pull away.

Spike released her hand and grabbed her arms, crushing her to his chest. Buffy gasped in relief and shock. Spike arms! Arms of Spike!

He leaned down and sniffed her neck. After a few moments, Spike's head flew back and he studied her eyes. "Buffy?"

"Well, duh. Thought we covered that." She rolled her eyes.

Spike snickered. Before he could say anything more, she placed her fingers on his lips. She let them linger for a moment before removing them.

"Lots to tell you, but first you gotta do something for me," Buffy said, hoping her voice hadn't sounded too lusty.

"And what's that, love?"

God, how his voice affects me. "Kiss me, you idiot."

With a snarl that sounded like a combination of aggravation, relief, and happiness, Spike closed the distance between them and met her lips in a bruising kiss. Buffy felt like she died all over again - to be in his arms, kissing him…she'd dreamed of it, but had thought it would never happen again. Many a night she had cried herself asleep, because she'd been too gun shy and stubborn to take the actions she'd really wanted to take after he returned from Africa. Fear and her sense of duty to all the potential had caused her to keep him at arm's length - except for those all too few moments.

He broke their kiss, allowing her to breathe, but kept giving her feather-soft kisses on her cheeks, her eyes, her ears, her neck, and… "Whoa Spike. We're not alone, remember."

"Don't really care, love. You're really here. You came," Spike murmured. Then he looked at her funny, "How did you know? How long?"

Buffy laughed in happiness. "Like I said, I have lots to tell you, but to answer the most important question…I came as soon as I found out. I've not slept since. I've got jetlag like you wouldn't believe." She stopped and then playfully slapped his chest. "And why did I have to find out about your miraculous return from Tara and Senaya? Huh? Why?"

Spike had been so wrapped up in just watching her lips move and hearing her voice again that he almost missed what she actually said. He then studied her face and saw the beginnings of black circles under her eyes from fatigue. "Who's Senaya, pet? And Tara? Tell me."

"Oh, Senaya's the First Slayer. She and Tara gave me a little visit."

"What's this now?"

"Slayer dream. Now's not the time to go into it. It's a long story…well, not so long…but I hope it will have a happy ending. Of course, if you keep squishing me, there's a danger of that not happening," Buffy teased.

Relaxing his hold somewhat but not releasing her from his arms, Spike replied, "Sorry, love. You feel too good in my arms."

Buffy wrapped her arms around his torso and placed her head on his chest. "I know what you mean," she whispered. "Do you believe me now?"

Spike heard her little question and at first was confused as to what was he supposed to believe. Then understanding and awe swept across his chiseled features. He knew what she was referring to - what she'd last spoken to him in those final moments. Still, he had to get her to say it again. He didn't want to get it wrong.

"What's that, pet? You know I believe you. Always."

"Not always, Spike. You didn't…" Buffy sniffled in remembrance of all those nights she'd replayed that moment in her mind. 'No you don't, but thanks for saying it.'

Reluctantly picking her head off his chest, Buffy gazed into his eyes and said clearly and emphatically, "I…love…you…you idiot." She added that last part with a smirk.

Spike stuttered.

"And just where do you get off telling me I don't mean what I'm saying? Huh? Thought you were the one who knew me so well." Buffy had meant for that to come out playful, but she couldn't keep the tinge of sadness and anger from her voice.

"Buffy…love…didn't mean it. I'd hoped that you did, but had to get you out of there, now didn't I? Couldn't let you die again. Not because of me," Spike stammered.

"So, you believe me?" Buffy asked, pulling out all the stops, using her pout and weepy eyes.

"Say it one more time, like you said…I'm an idiot," Spike teased.

"I love you," Buffy happily responded.

"Oh, thank God!" Spike exclaimed before plundering her mouth anew.

Unfortunately, Dana started whimpering again, and Bruce emerged from the shadows. Bruce felt honored to have witnessed the tender reunion. Clem was right - Buffy wasn't like all the past Slayers. Bruce liked her, and he really didn't like humans all that much. Their skin was not an attractive blue. He imaged just for a moment what Buffy would like would blue skin. Beautiful. Lucky vampire.

"Excuse me, Buffy, but Miss Dana senses the arrival of others," Bruce stated. He'd felt them also, and hadn't wanted to interrupt, but now, matters demanded it.

Buffy reached out with her senses. With a frown, she broke from Spike's embrace. "It's Angel. We've got to go." She held out her hand for Spike to take it. "Come."

With his hand in hers, Buffy walked Spike slowly over toward Dana. "Spike, I'd like for you to meet Dana. She's a Slayer. I'm surprised you didn't sense it immediately what with your Slay-dar."

"Slay-dar, luv?" Spike quirked his eyebrow.

"Yes, Slay-dar. Whatever that radar is that you have for detecting Slayers," Buffy huffed. "Well, I thought it was cute."

"It is, pet. Very," Spike responded, leaning over and kissing her cheek.

Mollified, Buffy continued the introductions. "Dana." Dana focused her attention on Buffy. "Dana, this is Spike."

Dana's back straightened. Her visage changed. She looked tough now, in a more street-wise sense. "William."

Spike jerked in surprise. He recognized the voice immediately. "Nikki?"

Dana cracked a slow, wicked smile, and then just as quickly as she'd morphed into Nikki Wood, Dana reverted back to the scared little girl. Buffy smoothed Dana's hair and comforted her with their ancient tongue.

Spike watched in fascination as Buffy comforted the damaged Slayer. He hadn't a soddin' clue as to what they were saying to one another and he'd never known Buffy to be adept at languages - that had been Nib's forte - but whatever it was, it was calling to his demon. It sounded primal and beautiful, savage but civilized all at the same time. Without a thought, he began to respond to them in a language long forgotten but locked inside the essence of Spike's demon.

Both Buffy and Dana turned to Spike and responded in kind. A family of sorts was being formed, and history - both human and demon - had never bore witness to such an event. Bruce fought the desire to bow before the trio, because he had to keep his wits about him and get this precious family out of the warehouse before all hell broke loose.

Clearing his throat, Bruce interrupted one more time. All three eyed him with some annoyance. "I'm sorry, but we really have to get out of here. Unless, Buffy…you've decided to change the plans?"

Buffy shook her head, clearing out the euphoria she'd just experienced of sharing a familial connection with who she hoped would soon be her mate and her warrior sister. Clarity returned, and Buffy leaped into action. "Okay, thank you so much, Bruce. No changes to the plan."

Caressing both Spike's cheek and Dana's hair, Buffy told them, "It's time to go."

She gave Dana's hand to Bruce and told the girl, "Follow him."

"Let's go, Spike. I'll fill you in on everything on the way. Besides, we have some major catching up to do," Buffy hinted.

"Sure thing, Buffy." Spike watched Bruce lead Dana towards a hidden exit and asked, "Umm pet…who's this Bruce? And why does he resemble those blue aliens from Star Trek?"

"You mean the Andorians?" Buffy asked innocently.

With no limit to his surprise, Spike countered, "Since when do you know Star Trek, pet?"

"Oh, Andrew lives with Dawn and me in Rome. I think it's like absorbed or something. Oh and Bruce is a friend of a friend. He's from another dimension, got trapped here. He's sweet. You'll like him. Now, enough talk, move it mister."

Hand and hand they left the warehouse barely missing Angel and company's arrival.

Chapter 2: New Understanding

Buffy fidgeted in her seat for the billionth time. She knew that the undercover air marshals must have her under observation, but frankly she didn’t care. She got that her twitchiness meant that she made people nervous, but her emotions were a swirl of anger, resentment, happiness, regret, sadness, elation, fear, anxiety, and hope that she physically couldn’t be still.

She pretended to watch the in-flight movie, complete with wearing the earphones, but she had the volume turned almost to mute. She needed to process everything that had happened in the last twenty-four hours. So much had occurred, yet, nothing could be resolved until she landed in Los Angeles.

*******

Much like she had when she’d first opened her eyes in her coffin a little over two years ago, Buffy awoke gasping for air. She clung to her sheets as if grasping for something to catch her. Her body had sweated and soaked her sheets and her hair was a mess of tangles.

Her first word upon waking was more of a scream, “Spike!”

Buffy tried to recapture the last images of her dream before releasing her death grip on the sheets. She’d just started to calm down, when Dawn rushed into her room, clad in her pajamas. The concern on Dawn’s face almost broke her heart…almost. She loved her sister, she really did, but a part of her would never forgive her for kicking her out of the house and treating Spike like she had. Not that she was one to cast stones in that department, but still, that last year…

Buffy knew part of Dawn’s concern was over her fear that Buffy was regressing. For several months after Sunnydale, Buffy had recurring nightmares about Spike. Everyone thought she had gotten past it…whatever they imagined happened. She’d kept it from everyone.

“I love you.”

“No you don’t, but thanks for saying it.”

Buffy had learned a long time ago how everyone thought she should act, so after awhile she’d begun going through those old motions. Shopping, patrolling, training…repeat as necessary. But no one really knew her inner most wishes and desires. No one. Once again, she was alone…alone in a world that now had an army of Slayers.

She knew they had all been surprised how she’d treated Angel and his crew when they arrived in Los Angeles after the destruction of Sunnydale. She guessed everyone thought she would rush head-long into the waiting arms of her “soul mate” and live happily ever after. But that had not happened, and it never would.

Now that Angel was a part of Wolfram & Hart, she no longer trusted him at all. When they’d arrived at the Hyperion, a messenger from Wolfram & Hart had been there to inform them of the change of address. Buffy had been incensed but held it in. Even Giles looked uncomfortable about the news.

She’d asked the messenger how long Angel had been working for W&H. When told over a week, Buffy easily put together the missing pieces of information that Angel had blatantly failed to tell her in Sunnydale, especially about the origin of the amulet. Her grief over Spike’s demise almost crippled her then. Her suspicions about whether Angel had known what the amulet would do grew.

Buffy thought her performance for Angel and his merry crew should have garnered her an Academy Award nomination. She acted her ass off. She’d answered their questions with a calm detachment, very like a soldier reporting in to his superiors. However, when that two-face son-of-a-Darla asked her about Spike, she wanted to claw out his brown eyes.

She couldn’t help the emotion that’d filled her voice, relating just how heroic and brave and stoic Spike had been in those last moments. When asked what exactly happened though, she clammed up. All she would ever tell anyone from now on was that Spike died a Champion.

So, seeing Dawn’s concern face was like a bucket of ice water had been thrown on her.

Buffy had quickly gotten out of bed and gathered a bag from her closet. She ignored Dawn’s questions while she started piling in clothes, changes of underwear, and shoes. When she grabbed a second bag for her toiletries and stakes, Dawn grabbed her by the shoulders. Buffy fought the urge to throw Dawn into the wall. Hadn’t she learned by now to never touch a preoccupied Slayer?

“Dawn, let go of me,” Buffy warned her.

“Buffy, what are you doing? You are scaring me. Why won’t you tell me what’s going on?” Dawn almost screamed.

“I have to take a trip. It involves one of the new girls,” Buffy said.

“What new girl? You know you don’t do that. Andrew does,” replied Dawn.

“Well, starting now, so do I. Now, I have to get going. Move,” ordered Buffy.

Dawn countered, “I’m calling Giles.”

“You do that, Dawnie. And while you’re at it, why don’t you ask him why he failed to tell me that Spike was back,” Buffy angrily spat.

“Buffy? What do you mean Spike’s back? I thought you said he died?” Dawn’s lip started to tremble.

Buffy started to feel guilty about snapping at Dawn, but then again, Dawn never knew that Spike had told her about Dawn’s threat to set him on fire. She would always love Dawn; she was her flesh and blood, but that didn’t mean she would ever forgive Dawn for kicking her out of her own home nor how Dawn had treated Spike after he got back. Buffy knew that she shouldn’t be the ones to cast stones in that regard, but someone had to stand up for Spike now.

“Well, I guess like me, death doesn’t take kindly to us. So, I’m going.”

“Okay. Umm…Buffy?”

Blowing out an exasperated breath, Buffy asked, “What?”

“When you find Spike, tell him to come home.”

Buffy stopped her maniac packing to really look at her sister. Dawn had shocked tears running down her face, snot dripped from her nose. Grabbing a tissue, Buffy handed it to Dawn. “Here, wipe your nose. So, you miss him too?”

“Yeah. I’m so mad at myself for…you know…being all distant with him after he got the soul. I just didn’t know how to act around him anymore…not after what he did to you and all,” Dawn sniffed.

Buffy bristled at the mention of the bathroom incident. It was time to clear the air about that – way past time. “Dawnie, sit down.”

Once seated, Buffy said, “Look, sometimes I wish you’d never found out about that night. It was one horrible mistake – both Spike’s and mine. I’d treated him horribly before that night, Dawn. And before you interrupt, I’m not making excuses for his behavior. It was wrong. But I can understand it, given how things were back then. I’d actually forgiven him about ten minutes after it happened. If you remember I had taken you to his crypt for Spike to watch over you. Now, I ask you, if I really mistrusted Spike after what had happened, would I have ever entrusted you, my precious sister, to his care?”

Dawn was silent.

“Well? I’m asking you. Do you think I would have trusted just anyone with your care?”

“No, I guess not. You did leave me with Clem though. Of course, Clem was…well, Clem,” Dawn said, smiling at the memory of the floppy-eared demon.

“Yeah. And I could just wring Xander’s neck for telling you his interpretation of what happened. It wasn’t his place to do so, nor were you at an age to hear about it.” Holding up her hand, Buffy kept Dawn from blurting out any argument. “You know mom would have felt the same way, so let’s not argue about it.”

“So, that’s why you let me back in the house when he came back all crazy?”

“Well, Dawn, I never even revoked his invitation. He could have come by anytime. What does that tell you?” Buffy smiled.

Dawn grabbed Buffy’s hands and said, “I want to go with you.”

“No. You have something called school, young lady. I know it’s a pain, but you do. Besides, I think I have to settle some matters once and for all, and I can’t be worrying about your safety while I do it.”

Disappointed but understanding, Dawn replied, “Okay. Just bring Spike home, Buffy. Please tell him that his niblet misses him.”

Running her hand down the side of Dawn’s head and hair, Buffy smiled. “I will. And you know me…I get the job done.”

******************

“Ladies and gentlemen, we’ll be arriving at Los Angeles International Airport in approximately twenty minutes. The weather forecast is sunny with a mild wind, 75F. The time is….”

The announcement broke Buffy from her reverie. Soon, Spike. Soon, I’ll be there. Just don’t do anything stupid first. Rolling her eyes immediately, she corrected her thoughts. Just be careful, Spike. I’ll be there soon.

Chapter 3: Revelations

As Buffy was waiting to reclaim her luggage, her cell phone rang. She eyed the Caller ID and with some satisfaction, let the call go to voice mail. Giles will not be interfering. Hadn't he learned in Sunnydale? With a sigh, she realized that perhaps her former Watcher hadn't learned anything…nothing at all. After the cell buzzed announcing that she had voice mail, Buffy decided just to turn it off. No well-intentioned but misplaced Scooby friends would be butting their noses into her business. Not this time.

Finally her one checked bag circled around the carousel, and she hefted it off the conveyer belt. Stopping only to make sure she'd gotten the right bag, she headed for the rental car booth to procure herself a car. However, the long line at the stand dissuaded her from waiting.

Seeking her cell for one call only, she turned it on and scroll through her phone book. Finding the number she wanted, she pressed send. After only a few short sentences, Buffy hung up and started walking toward an exit. The recipient of her call had said he'd get her a special taxi. No problems.

Before her foot even got near the curb, a green Mini pulled next to her. "You Buffy?" the driver asked.

"Yes."

"Get in."

Buffy entered the vehicle, and the car sped away from the curb.

A bit later, the green Mini stopped in front of a warehouse not far from where the Hyperion stood. Buffy thanked the driver and asked, "How much do I owe you?"

The driver waved her off, his skin flapping as he did so. "Your fare has been paid. If he says you're like family, then welcome to the family."

"Thank you," Buffy said, giving him a genuine smile. Still, she pulled out a twenty dollar bill and handed it to him, "As my thanks, here's a little something that should help you get a few kittens."

"Appreciated. You know, you're exactly how he said you would be."

"I'll take that as a good thing. Again, thanks."

He handed her a card. "Just in case." She nodded, and the driver pulled away.

Buffy knocked on the warehouse door, and it immediately was opened to reveal a lavish tavern. "Welcome to Sanctuary."

"Buffy!!!!" Her name was heard over all the music and conversation.

"Clem!!!!" Buffy rushed heedlessly through the demon clientele, hearing snorts of 'Slayer' in her wake. She grabbed Clem into an enormous hug.

Clem's skin started to pale slightly, and he said, "Easy girl, I need those glands."

Releasing him immediately, Buffy apologized. "I'm so sorry. I'm just so happy to see a friendly face."

"You're looking good, Buffy. It's been awhile."

"Since that day," Buffy reminded him.

Clem looked sort of uncomfortable. "Yeah. You know congratulations and all that. Knew you could do it."

"I know, Clem. I know."

"So, tell me, what brings you to LA? Dish, girl."

"Spike."

*********************

Using Clem's connections and after talking to a few customers at Sanctuary, Buffy knew where Andrew and his gaggle of Slayers were staying. She wanted to track them without them getting wind of where she was. She had paid for her plane ticket with cash and had used one of the fake passports that Spike had long ago gotten for her.

The passport had a funny story behind it. During that whole time of Glory, Spike had secretly been making plans to take Joyce, Dawn, and her out of Sunnydale if the need arose. Buffy hadn't known of his plans at the time, and that was probably a good thing. She would have refused. Sometimes she wondered whether if Spike had taken them away, would her mother still be with them?

So, Spike had obtained multiple passports for each of them. She didn't know how he got them or how he paid for them, and she didn't care. They just represented to her just another thing she'd overlooked all those years.

He'd finally showed them to her one night after she'd come back from the dead. In the heat of the moment, she'd told him she wanted to be able to disappear from all her friends. He'd gotten out of bed to retrieve a box. Warily, she'd opened it and discovered the passports.

A little while later, before the bathroom incident, Spike had told her that he'd secured them in a safe deposit in LA for her, if she were ever to have need of them. His foresight amazed her. Buffy had reclaimed them after she'd spoken to Angel at Wolfram & Hart. No one else knew about them.

For now, she was in the country as Joan Williams. It hadn't been one of the original passports. After retrieving them from the bank, she'd found that Spike had made this one probably in honor of that time when he was Randy and she was Joan.

Ready, Randy? Joan's coming for you.

Clem had arranged help with surveillance. He never questioned her about how she knew a new Slayer would be making herself known soon, for which she was grateful. Buffy just wanted to prevent what Tara had shown her.

***********

Buffy stood beside Senaya in the desert, but they were no longer alone. Once again clad in a beautiful sari was Tara.

"Tara?"

"I've been granted this time by the Powers to give you some wisdom of the things to come," the vision of Tara spoke.

Tears rolled down her cheeks in happiness to see her very missed friend. "Tara, I miss you. I'm sorry you died."

"My death, my life…all part of the cycle. Do not be sorry that I died, rather be happy that for a short time, I lived and was a part of your life," Tara replied.

"Oh, I am. I am happy that you were. Thank you." Buffy paused to take a deep breath. "I never really thanked you while you were alive for taking such good care of Dawn. Thank you."

"You're welcome, Buffy."

"But that isn't why you are here. What do the Powers want to tell me? Usually they send Whistler," Buffy said.

"I've been chosen because of my connection to you, to the Goddess, to the Guardians, to the Slayers, and to our Champion. Our Champion needs you, Buffy," Tara announced.

"Angel? No way. I'm sorry. I have to disappoint the Powers," Buffy responded, more than a little irked.

"Not Angel. Angel is not our champion. Buffy, I've told you little about my family. Remember, I told you about my mother dying when I was young?"

"Yes?" Buffy answered, now completely confused.

"I, myself, did not know until it was revealed to me, but my mother and I were part of a long line of descendants of those who watched the ones who watched."

"The Guardians!" Buffy exclaimed in a whisper.

Tara nodded. As she did so, Senaya moved to stand beside Tara. Touching her heart and then touching Tara's, Senaya said, "Sister."

Buffy reached out with her senses and there it was. Very faint, but very much there. Buffy declared, "You were a potential Slayer!"

"Yes, Buffy. Had I lived at the time of Willow's spell, I would have also been 'activated' as Mr. Giles put it," Tara answered. "So, not only am I a Guardian, but I was also of the line."

"When I speak of our Champion, I mean the Champion of the Guardians and of the Slayers. The one who will help our line and our way. The one who will…well, that I cannot reveal just yet," Tara added.

"Okay, so Angel's obviously not our Champion. The only other one I can think of is dead." Buffy's mind drew a big blank as to the identity of the Champion.

"He's dead, but not dead; alive but not alive. He is like a phoenix arisen from the ashes. He had form, but was formless 'til it was restored to him. By trials and by fire he cleansed his soul, though he does not know it. He is love and is loved, but yet does not know it. He has returned to be once again our Champion." Tara stopped and waited for Buffy to get her meaning.

It didn't take long.

Once again in tears, Buffy cried out for her lost lover, her lost love, and her once chance at true happiness.

"Spike!!!!"

Chapter 4: Preparation

Dusk crept across Los Angeles like a thief wanting to steal the last vestiges of sunlight. Buffy watched the interplay of the sunset across the city from atop Sanctuary. She ached to get going, but knew she had to time it just right for everything to come out okay. Like Tara had reminded her - 'everything has a time and a place, the key is to know how to recognize it.'

Tara, I'm trying. I think I get it now. Thank you.

No one knew she was in the city but a group of demons. She snickered to herself over the fact that the once-and-still general of the Slayer army now commanded a contingent of demons - and some of their human friends. Buffy found it funny how the years had eroded her holier than thou mantra regarding all demons. Deep down, she knew she owed it all to Spike…and well, to Anya.

Thank you Anya…Anyanka.

Buffy felt a jolt when she could have sworn she heard Anya whisper in her ear, "You're welcome. Good luck." Then she grinned because if anyone could cheat death or at least win in a bargain with it, it would undoubtedly by Anyanka. She just wondered if she'd see that bubbling, capitalism-loving, wise friend again.

"Everyone's ready, Buffy," Clem said as he approached her.

Buffy could tell that Clem hadn't wanted to startle her, but really, he'd no fear of that. Her Slayer senses were as sharp as ever. Thank you, Senaya. "Thanks Clem, I really appreciate all you've done today and really those times before now."

If Clem could blush, Buffy supposed he was doing it now. It was kind of cute actually, which just made her heart love Clem more. If someone had told her years ago that she'd be a good friend with a demon, she would have probably staked whoever said it. But that was then, and lots of water had gone under that bridge and all that.

"I can't believe Spike's back," Clem said yet again. He'd been repeating that every so often since she'd first told him.

"Yeah, and believe me, Clem, he has a lot to answer for. I mean…I get when he was all ghost-like he couldn't physically pick up a phone, but hello, someone else could have dialed and told me. And now, he's got his body back and does he call or come visit? No."

"Buffy, perhaps…" Clem began but then shut his mouth.

"What?" she asked.

"Perhaps he was scared of what you'd say?" Clem offered.

Exhaling a slow breath, Buffy turned to Clem and smiled. "I know he probably was. I'm not really that mad at him. I get it. I'm just happy he's back."

Clem became all giddy and said, "Well, let's go get him."

****************

Buffy watched as a strange man who radiated bad vibes exited the building where Spike lived. She didn't like it. Couldn't put her finger on why, but she knew that guy in the cowboy boots was bad news. She ducked down in the backseat of Clem's car as she spotted Spike strolling out the door.

Mentally she memorized the man and decided she'd have Clem find out who he was. She might need to take care of more than just Spike, Dana, and the rest of it. Trouble. And that starts with T and…Why did that song just pop into her brain?

Her heart clenched in her chest. Spike exited the building, his duster billowing about him as if some unseen wind knew to blow at just the right time. Spike was just as she remembered him, except a touch of sadness surrounded him. Had he always had that? Never again would she not know the answer to that, and Buffy vowed right then and there in the backseat of Clem's VW Jetta that Spike would never be sad again - if she could possibly have a say in the matter.

Buffy knew where he was headed. Buffy wanted to follow him, but she had some other place to be first. Besides he'd be okay for the time being, and she'd already been there, handled that. She wondered what exactly he'd been told, and also what had been reported to Wolfram & Hart.

"Okay, let's go to the warehouse and get ready for the party," she told Zachary, one of Clem's friends.

**************
(An hour before)

Entering any hospital - especially a psychiatric one - gave Buffy the willies. Taking stock of her fears and shelving them until half-past never, Buffy pushed open the doors to the facility in her newly acquired doctors attire. At first, the fact that everything looked just as it had in her dream rocked her, but that lasted all of five seconds. Equilibrium again achieved, Buffy kept her head ducked and her hair in her face as she continued toward the service elevators.

Flashing her pass at the half-awake guard, she entered the elevator and pressed the floor's number. She breathed in a few times, going over in her head how she would approach her sister Slayer. She hoped that in some way, Dana would recognize her or know her. She didn't think it likely, but she'd hope for the best and expect the worst. Of course, the worse would never happen now. Dana's escape from this place wouldn't be like she'd envisioned. No one had to die. No blood would be on Dana's hands.

Halfway between floors, Buffy pulled the Emergency Stop button. She fished out the device Zachary had given her in the car. He'd gone over everything with her until she could have probably done what she needed to do in her sleep. Once she'd found what she needed, she retrieved a stylus she'd tucked behind her ear. Using it, she pressed a certain sequence on the keypad. Now, no pesky cameras. Take that Angel.

Exiting the elevator, Buffy once again was amazed by the complete lack of awareness by the guards and this time a nurse. No one even bothered to glance in her direction. She wore the right gear apparently, so she wasn't worth their consideration.

She privately thanked whomever Clem had bribed to get copies of the keys to all the gates. It really made things so much easier. Gate after gate, Buffy eased down the hallways of the ward. She kept on her mind on the singular purpose of getting Dana safely out of the hospital in order to keep those nagging fears about this place under wraps.

Buffy found herself outside Dana's door. Using a key, she opened it cautiously, and then stepped back. Dana leapt from her hiding place and was in the processing of attacking Buffy when she paused.

Buffy smiled calmly and made a shushing gesture with her fingers and mouth as she quietly entered Dana's room. "Hi Dana."

Dana looked at her for a few uncomfortable moments and then uttered one word, "Sister?"

Chapter 5: Show Time

(At Wolfram & Hart)

Angel, Gunn, Lorne, and Fred were vehemently discussing what was to be done about Eve. Just as the conversation reached a crescendo, the object of the conversation calmly entered the room.

"Talking about little ol' me? I'm flattered. But you know, you can't fire me or do anything else you might have planned, boys & girl. I don't really work for you," Eve said, examining her fingernails.

"Eve, get out of my office," Angel growled out.

"No can do, Angel. I'm here on the Senior Partners' behalf. They are very disturbed about some events that have happened this evening," Eve replied. She was the epitome of cool.

"And that's a bad thing?" Angel remarked.

Eve approached his desk, brushing Fred to the side. Leaning over she looked Angel in the eye and said, "Yes, it is. It's business, Angel. Remember what your position is and what's riding on your cooperation."

Angel grabbed Eve by her necklace and said, "Never threaten me, Eve. You won't like what I do."

"Maybe I will, Angel."

Lorne and Fred looked confused over Eve's threat and silently wondered what hold Eve had over their boss. Gunn privately was racking his brain for any reference to any potential blackmail that the Senior Partners would have on Angel, but much to his consternation, he couldn't find anything.

"So what has the Senior Partners all upset, then?"

"Someone assisted a girl escaped from her psychiatric ward this evening. Her doctor, Doctor Rabinaw is a client of ours," Eve supplied.

"Of course, he is," Angel responded.

"Well, he's unlike lots of our clients in that he is human and is doing good for the mentally ill," Eve coolly said.

"Sure, I believe that. Do you believe that, guys?" Angel sarcastically asked Lorne, Fred, and Gunn.

Fred spoke up. "Who is the girl? Who helped her escape? Is she dangerous?"

"Short answer. Dana. That's your job to find out. Uncertain, but likely," Eve answered. "So get to it, team. The Senior Partners are highly interested in the return of our client's patient."

Eve strode out of the room, her shoes barely making marks in the carpet.

*****************

(Some warehouse near the docks)

Buffy had started having some serious misgivings as she listened to Dana wail and whimper and speak in different languages. She'd kept the number of guards to a minimum and made sure that at all times she was within eyesight of the girl. She had seen how the girl had been traumatized as a child, but what Doctor Rabinaw had been doing to her was equally as monstrous.

If Dana had received the proper care, nurturing and attention she had desperately needed all those years ago, Dana would probably have been recovered by now. Instead, she'd been subjected to experiments and forms of mental torture. Buffy knew that she and Spike were going to be the best caretakers for her now. Dana would get help, and they would support her completely.

However, Buffy knew that how Dana and Spike would meet had to be handled gently. Senaya and Tara had showed her why - the path of what was supposed to be and the murkiness of what could be. She witnessed with horror the events as they would have played out had they not intervened and how Spike would have been damaged from Dana's confusion and mania. With a mixture of shame and disgust, she watched how Andrew of all people took part in the aftermath.

In order to save both Dana's innocent soul and Spike from all that horror, she had to succeed. Failure was not an option. Like she'd told Robin Wood that fateful night in that shed with all the crosses, 'The mission is what matters.' Tonight, her mission was all about saving the man that held her heart and the sister Slayer who needed her most.

A flash of light in the window indicated that Spike had arrived at the warehouse. In preparation of his arrival and in order to mask her scent, Buffy had doused herself with what seemed like tons of some brew Clem gave her. If Spike somehow sniffed her under all that, more power to his vampyrific senses.

Dana had been positioned in front of the enormous window, with a clear view of Buffy hiding behind a stack of crates. Buffy had told Dana that she was playing Hide-and-Go-Seek and to not give her away. Dana had responded in a foreign tongue, and Bruce, another of Clem's associates, translated it for her.

"She said that Slayers do not hide from vampires."

"What language was that this time?" Buffy asked.

"Chinese," Bruce answered.

Buffy had surmised in the vision that Dana had projected the first Slayer that Spike had killed during the Boxer Rebellion. Buffy shook her head. As much as it worried her, they needed Dana to be that Slayer for the time being. "Not normally. We don't," Buffy told her in English.

Dana grunted and then her eyes became highly aware. Buffy sensed him too. Her vampire. Her Spike. She growled low in her throat, in an ancient language. Dana bowed her head in subservience to Buffy. Dana understood. No harm.

"Likin' the view, are we? What say we have a nice, quiet chat…about mistreating little girls…demon to demon," Spike announced, his melodic voice filling the room.

Buffy rolled her eyes. What in the hell had he been told about Dana? Did he think she was possessed? I love him, but sometimes he can be a little dense.

Dana grinned dangerously at Spike. She knew not to hurt the pretty vampire. He was for her Sister, but that didn't mean she couldn't have fun.

"What are you grinnin' at?" Spike asked.

Without warning, Dana flew into her attack. "Aaaieahh! Mmhh!" Unfortunately for her, Spike flung her across the room.

Buffy stifled a chuckle as Spike tried taunting the supposedly possessed girl. "Oh, yeah. Look at the big, bad demon hidin' inside the helpless little girl. Why don't you come on out of there, and let's have a proper go, mate?

Like a Weeble that wobbles but won't fall down, Dana popped right back up and picked up a shard of wood. She looked briefly at Buffy; the barest of nods reassured Buffy that Dana didn't mean any harm still. Although, the spirit of the Chinese Slayer was highly irate about that.

"Or you could do that," Spike responded to no one but himself.

Dana started swearing at him in Chinese.

Spike obviously recognized its origin, but had not a clue as to what she said. "Sorry, luv. I don't speak Chinese."

Buffy knew then that she had to make her presence known. Dana's eyes had flared with remembrance of those same words Spike had told a fallen Slayer all those decades ago. Before Dana could fling Spike out the huge window, Buffy stepped out from behind the crates and growled.

Dana immediately dropped Spike onto the floor and backed away. At first, Spike was too busy trying to get up to notice what had happened. He looked toward Dana with confusion. Then he followed the direction of Dana's eyes and discovered to his shock…

"Buffy?"

Buffy smiled and said, "Hello cutie."

Chapter 6: Reunion

Buffy absorbed Spike's completely stunned expression. He almost resembled a fish out of water. Confusion and an inkling of fear rested in his eyes. Any nagging concerns that she might have had about whether he'd hadn't contacted her because he no longer loved her evaporated in a heartbeat. His love still shone in his eyes, and it nearly took her breath away. She could literally kick her own ass for all those times that she'd denied his feelings.

Never again, Spike. I promise I'll never reject or deny your love for me ever again. Realizing that Spike might be thinking she was some illusion, she put on her determined face and decided to remedy his confusion quickly. She knew just the way to do it.

Walking over to Spike, she offered her hand to help him get to his feet. With some trepidation, Spike took her hand, and Buffy pulled him up and close to her. Breathing in his unmistakable scent, Buffy asked, "Miss me?"

Buffy watched as Spike's Adam's apple bobbed a few times. She wanted to nibble it, but she'd save that for later. She could tell that despite knowing that she was indeed real, Spike was having a hard time believing his eyes. Well, her poor vampire had been haunted by the First Evil in her visage and, of course, there was that time involving Faith. Poor guy. She understood his reluctance - her smell was wrong.

Buffy sighed as if she'd read his mind and answered his unspoken question. "It's really me, Spike. No one knows I'm here and I certainly don't want a certain other supposedly souled vampire from finding out. At least not yet. But, if you don't believe me, well then I can just go." She made a move as if to pull away.

Spike released her hand and grabbed her arms, crushing her to his chest. Buffy gasped in relief and shock. Spike arms! Arms of Spike!

He leaned down and sniffed her neck. After a few moments, Spike's head flew back and he studied her eyes. "Buffy?"

"Well, duh. Thought we covered that." She rolled her eyes.

Spike snickered. Before he could say anything more, she placed her fingers on his lips. She let them linger for a moment before removing them.

"Lots to tell you, but first you gotta do something for me," Buffy said, hoping her voice hadn't sounded too lusty.

"And what's that, love?"

God, how his voice affects me. "Kiss me, you idiot."

With a snarl that sounded like a combination of aggravation, relief, and happiness, Spike closed the distance between them and met her lips in a bruising kiss. Buffy felt like she died all over again - to be in his arms, kissing him…she'd dreamed of it, but had thought it would never happen again. Many a night she had cried herself asleep, because she'd been too gun shy and stubborn to take the actions she'd really wanted to take after he returned from Africa. Fear and her sense of duty to all the potential had caused her to keep him at arm's length - except for those all too few moments.

He broke their kiss, allowing her to breathe, but kept giving her feather-soft kisses on her cheeks, her eyes, her ears, her neck, and… "Whoa Spike. We're not alone, remember."

"Don't really care, love. You're really here. You came," Spike murmured. Then he looked at her funny, "How did you know? How long?"

Buffy laughed in happiness. "Like I said, I have lots to tell you, but to answer the most important question…I came as soon as I found out. I've not slept since. I've got jetlag like you wouldn't believe." She stopped and then playfully slapped his chest. "And why did I have to find out about your miraculous return from Tara and Senaya? Huh? Why?"

Spike had been so wrapped up in just watching her lips move and hearing her voice again that he almost missed what she actually said. He then studied her face and saw the beginnings of black circles under her eyes from fatigue. "Who's Senaya, pet? And Tara? Tell me."

"Oh, Senaya's the First Slayer. She and Tara gave me a little visit."

"What's this now?"

"Slayer dream. Now's not the time to go into it. It's a long story…well, not so long…but I hope it will have a happy ending. Of course, if you keep squishing me, there's a danger of that not happening," Buffy teased.

Relaxing his hold somewhat but not releasing her from his arms, Spike replied, "Sorry, love. You feel too good in my arms."

Buffy wrapped her arms around his torso and placed her head on his chest. "I know what you mean," she whispered. "Do you believe me now?"

Spike heard her little question and at first was confused as to what was he supposed to believe. Then understanding and awe swept across his chiseled features. He knew what she was referring to - what she'd last spoken to him in those final moments. Still, he had to get her to say it again. He didn't want to get it wrong.

"What's that, pet? You know I believe you. Always."

"Not always, Spike. You didn't…" Buffy sniffled in remembrance of all those nights she'd replayed that moment in her mind. 'No you don't, but thanks for saying it.'

Reluctantly picking her head off his chest, Buffy gazed into his eyes and said clearly and emphatically, "I…love…you…you idiot." She added that last part with a smirk.

Spike stuttered.

"And just where do you get off telling me I don't mean what I'm saying? Huh? Thought you were the one who knew me so well." Buffy had meant for that to come out playful, but she couldn't keep the tinge of sadness and anger from her voice.

"Buffy…love…didn't mean it. I'd hoped that you did, but had to get you out of there, now didn't I? Couldn't let you die again. Not because of me," Spike stammered.

"So, you believe me?" Buffy asked, pulling out all the stops, using her pout and weepy eyes.

"Say it one more time, like you said…I'm an idiot," Spike teased.

"I love you," Buffy happily responded.

"Oh, thank God!" Spike exclaimed before plundering her mouth anew.

Unfortunately, Dana started whimpering again, and Bruce emerged from the shadows. Bruce felt honored to have witnessed the tender reunion. Clem was right - Buffy wasn't like all the past Slayers. Bruce liked her, and he really didn't like humans all that much. Their skin was not an attractive blue. He imaged just for a moment what Buffy would like would blue skin. Beautiful. Lucky vampire.

"Excuse me, Buffy, but Miss Dana senses the arrival of others," Bruce stated. He'd felt them also, and hadn't wanted to interrupt, but now, matters demanded it.

Buffy reached out with her senses. With a frown, she broke from Spike's embrace. "It's Angel. We've got to go." She held out her hand for Spike to take it. "Come."

With his hand in hers, Buffy walked Spike slowly over toward Dana. "Spike, I'd like for you to meet Dana. She's a Slayer. I'm surprised you didn't sense it immediately what with your Slay-dar."

"Slay-dar, luv?" Spike quirked his eyebrow.

"Yes, Slay-dar. Whatever that radar is that you have for detecting Slayers," Buffy huffed. "Well, I thought it was cute."

"It is, pet. Very," Spike responded, leaning over and kissing her cheek.

Mollified, Buffy continued the introductions. "Dana." Dana focused her attention on Buffy. "Dana, this is Spike."

Dana's back straightened. Her visage changed. She looked tough now, in a more street-wise sense. "William."

Spike jerked in surprise. He recognized the voice immediately. "Nikki?"

Dana cracked a slow, wicked smile, and then just as quickly as she'd morphed into Nikki Wood, Dana reverted back to the scared little girl. Buffy smoothed Dana's hair and comforted her with their ancient tongue.

Spike watched in fascination as Buffy comforted the damaged Slayer. He hadn't a soddin' clue as to what they were saying to one another and he'd never known Buffy to be adept at languages - that had been Nib's forte - but whatever it was, it was calling to his demon. It sounded primal and beautiful, savage but civilized all at the same time. Without a thought, he began to respond to them in a language long forgotten but locked inside the essence of Spike's demon.

Both Buffy and Dana turned to Spike and responded in kind. A family of sorts was being formed, and history - both human and demon - had never bore witness to such an event. Bruce fought the desire to bow before the trio, because he had to keep his wits about him and get this precious family out of the warehouse before all hell broke loose.

Clearing his throat, Bruce interrupted one more time. All three eyed him with some annoyance. "I'm sorry, but we really have to get out of here. Unless, Buffy…you've decided to change the plans?"

Buffy shook her head, clearing out the euphoria she'd just experienced of sharing a familial connection with who she hoped would soon be her mate and her warrior sister. Clarity returned, and Buffy leaped into action. "Okay, thank you so much, Bruce. No changes to the plan."

Caressing both Spike's cheek and Dana's hair, Buffy told them, "It's time to go."

She gave Dana's hand to Bruce and told the girl, "Follow him."

"Let's go, Spike. I'll fill you in on everything on the way. Besides, we have some major catching up to do," Buffy hinted.

"Sure thing, Buffy." Spike watched Bruce lead Dana towards a hidden exit and asked, "Umm pet…who's this Bruce? And why does he resemble those blue aliens from Star Trek?"

"You mean the Andorians?" Buffy asked innocently.

With no limit to his surprise, Spike countered, "Since when do you know Star Trek, pet?"

"Oh, Andrew lives with Dawn and me in Rome. I think it's like absorbed or something. Oh and Bruce is a friend of a friend. He's from another dimension, got trapped here. He's sweet. You'll like him. Now, enough talk, move it mister."

Hand and hand they left the warehouse barely missing Angel and company's arrival.

Chapter 7: Sanctuary

Chapter Notes: Beta by Slinkypsychokit


As they approached Sanctuary's entrance, Buffy immediately grabbed Dana's hand for reassurance. She knew that Dana's Slayer sense had to be going completely berserk. Actually hers was too, but she, unlike Dana, had years of growing accustomed to it and also had the benefit of sanity. She smoothed her hand over the back of Dana's head, shushing her and speaking in a soft, comforting tone.

Surprisingly, Dana reached out and grabbed Bruce's hand tightly. Buffy smiled at this development. Perhaps, she would be okay for a little while. Bruce seemed to have a positive affect on her Slayer sister.

Happily, Buffy took hold of Spike's hand, interlacing her fingers with his. Hearing his surprised inhale at her action, she understood his shock. What he didn't know but soon would have to get used to was that this new and improved Buffy, version 4.0, wanted everyone in the world to recognize Spike as her guy. No longer would she capitulate to what her "friends" - or the rest of the world, for that matter - might think about their relationship. She wanted it open, public and by God if she needed to she'd make love to Spike on top of Giles' mahogany desk inside the Watcher's Council headquarters, then she would!

Yep, see world…she and Spike were going to be together. How about them apples?

Spike's patience was wearing thin. Buffy still hadn't told him anything, and he had never been good at biding his time. If she didn't tell him what in the bleeding hell was going on, he'd…well, he didn't know what he'd do…and really, as long as she kept holding his hand for all the world to see, he might could hold out for a few more minutes.

He still couldn't get over the reality that she was actually here…in Los Angeles…holding his hand…and giving him looks that were making it very difficult to walk. The saucy little minx! He'd show her. He was more than a little tempted to run into some nearby alley, dragging her along, throwing her against the hard brick and taking her right there. But that would be like their past…something he didn't want to repeat.

Buffy was giving him crumbs…more than crumbs…whole bites of cookie. His brain whirled with the possibilities. She told him that she loved him. Did she really mean it? Sure, he said he believed her, because he'd dreamed of her saying it. Whatever walls he'd managed to erect over these past months since his resurrection had gotten huge holes knocked out of them. He didn't want to be Love's bitch anymore, but she was Buffy…and that was a whole other ball game.

Buffy wondered what Spike was thinking. She loved watching the myriad of emotions flit across his face. Again she internally berated her past, stupid self for all those times she'd told him he was just a demon and couldn't love or have any real emotions. Note to self - get help making a new Slayer handbook and burn any left by the old Council.

"Where are we, love?" Spike asked, looking at the non-descript warehouse just before Buffy opened the door.

"You've never been here before?" Buffy queried, and then teased, "And you call yourself a vampire."

Maintaining a smile on her face, she opened the door and said, "Spike, Dana…welcome to Sanctuary."

Spike had not taken both feet inside the door when a blur of skin accosted him and squeezed. He started to vamp when he recognized the scent. Raising his arms, he pushed his assaulter away from him a bit and looked at his face.

"Clem!"

"Spike! Man, am I glad to see you. You are sight for sore eyes," Clem said, relishing his old friend's presence.

"Clem, I had no idea you were in LA. What's this place then?" Spike inquired.

Clem shuffled back a bit and he puffed out his chest. "This is Sanctuary, a haven for peaceful type demons and humans. When Caritas went out of business, my friend decided to fill the niche left in its absence. You'd never guess who owns this place. Oh…oh…where are my manners."

Clem turned around and whistled. Spike looked at Buffy with a raised eyebrow. Buffy just grinned. "Everyone! Everyone, this is Spike," Clem announced, doing his best Price Is Right model impersonation. "Spike, this is well…everyone."

Some demons actually hollered, "Hey, Spike," before turning back to their drinks and to whatever else they were doing.

Bruce inched Dana inside. Even though he seriously doubted he'd regain full use of his hand ever again from Dana's vise-like grip, he felt honored that this damaged, deadly one sought him for comfort. He knew all too well the Watcher's Council's hard line approach to all demons. See a demon; kill a demon; ask no questions. He'd lost his brother to a slayer when they first accidentally traveled to this dimension.

Buffy reluctantly turned away from Spike's reunion with Clem to assist Bruce with Dana. She noticed that Bruce's hand was a stark white from Dana's grip. Grabbing their hands in her left, she began coaxing Dana's fingers to relax their hold with her right. Bruce flashed her a grateful smile.

"Dana, listen to me. No one here will harm you in any way. The ones here…they have good hearts. Okay?"

Dana nodded, but still kept shifting her eyes around the room. The demons could sense her disquiet, silently hoping that Buffy could get the new one under control. Some even thanked the Powers or whatever entity they worshipped for giving the owner the foresight of getting a sanctuary spell cast over the place. The spell, thank the Powers, was more powerful than the one that had been cast at the once-Caritas.

Buffy looked around and saw a Lister watching them. "You," she called out. Everyone ignored her. "The Lister."

The Lister thumbed his chest and mouthed, "Me?"

"Yes, you. What's your name?"

"Rieff, ma'am," he replied, swallowing hard.

Buffy smiled and said, "Don't worry, Rieff. I won't bite…well, only him…" She cocked her head toward Spike. "And only when he's been a very, good boy."

Spike heard her and stopped talking to Clem. "Slayer!"

"What?" she feigned innocence.

"Pet," Spike laughed, "stop teasing the boy."

Pouting out her lower lip, Buffy did her best Dawn. "You're no fun."

"Look at that lip," Spike said, making his way to her. "Gonna get it…gonna get it."

Rieff, Dana, Bruce, Clem and the other thirty demons were quickly forgotten by both Buffy and Spike. Buffy felt her heart race as she watched her love stalk her. Damn, he's sex on legs.

"What 'cha going to do when you get it?" Buffy panted, her eyes now focused on how the muscles in his chest moved and were clearly outlined in his tight t-shirt.

Spike smelled her arousal. For just that moment he remembered the others watching and knew that each and every one of them could smell her also. Slayer musk could be so intoxicating, and none more so than his Buffy. He growled a warning to any other male that might have gotten the wrong idea. This Slayer was his!

He stood before without touching. He bent forward and sniffed her hair. "Gonna get it," he whispered in her ear, biting the lobe before he moved to her lips.

"So get me," Buffy challenged.

Spike's eyes flashed gold as he grabbed her arms and crushed her into his chest. His lips descended on hers, demanding their response. Her hunger matched his own, and when she parted her lips, his tongue invaded the warm cavern of her mouth.

Buffy clutched the globes of Spike's ass and rocked him to her core. Feeling his hardness against her clad center made her quiver with need. She wanted him now. Breaking her kiss and staring into his eyes, she yelled, "Keys! Now!"

Raising her left hand in the air, Buffy caught a set of keys tossed to her from Clem. She then curled the index finger of her right hand in one of Spike's belt loops, making his hips come even closer. "Let's go to my room, Spike," she said, biting her lower lip.

Resting his forehead on hers and running his hands down her shoulders, Spike answered, "Let's."

As Buffy led Spike to her private room, she remembered Dana. "Bruce. Rieff. Take care of Dana for a bit, will ya?" Not waiting for a response. "Thanks. Bye now."

Chapter 8: A Little Conversation

Chapter Notes: Beta by Spikeslovebite


Buffy couldn't focus, and she needed to. She had to get the damn key in the lock, but how was she supposed to do that simple, little thing when Spike was trailing kisses down her neck and had his right hand around her and tweaking her left nipple? Really, how could any woman in her position accomplish such a task?

"Spike," she panted. "Gotta…room…key…stop."

"You want me to stop, petal?" he asked, while attending to a particularly sensitive spot on the nape of her neck.

"Gah! No, don't stop…but…"

Spike clucked in amusement. He stopped working on her left breast and put his hand on hers around the key. Together they managed to fit the key in the lock. Buffy spun around to face him as the door slammed open.

Grabbing his lapels, Buffy roughly hoisted him into the room. Using her right foot, she kicked the door closed and slammed Spike against it. She ripped open his shirt and began licking from the dip in his clavicle to the hair that started right below his belly button. She paused and dipped her tongue around his belly button, remembering how he seemed to like that, as she began to unbuckle his belt.

At first, Spike seemed to respond wholeheartedly to her ministrations, but then she felt him tense. His hands found their way to her hair and he softly said, "Luv…wait."

Confused Buffy looked up into his eyes. She could see that his were still filled with lust, but now, they also revealed trepidation. After how he'd been on the other side of the door, he couldn't be about to reject her, could he?

Spike almost winced at the confusion and slight fear in Buffy's eyes. He tilted her chin up higher and said gently, "Buffy…not like this, luv." Spike tugged Buffy to her feet and kissed her lips softly.

"If we do this, it can't be like before. I can't take that. Not again. I won't be your willing slave and have you…" Spike shook with the memories.

Buffy understood. Regret and compassion for her vampire - her man - filled her and she wished, not for the first time tonight, she could find ways to make their past up to him. She could start now. There was so much to tell him. She wanted to do this right. He deserved that and more.

"Spike, I want this. I want us. I want you more than anything. Never again, Spike, I promise. Never again will you feel like you don't matter to me…that you're not loved. 'Cause I love you, Spike."

Ghosting her fingertips across his questioning face, she swallowed hard before she continued. "I can't say I'm sorry enough for that time. It was bad. I was bad."

Spike began shushing her and shaking his head no, just like she knew he would. Buffy put a finger on his lips stopping him from saying anything. "Spike, don't say I wasn't. I was. Over these past months I've had lots of time to think and believe it or not, I went to see someone about…well, everything. No, none of the others know. Not even Dawn. It wasn't about them…it was about me. You might even remember her. Lydia."

Spike looked bewildered. Buffy smiled. "Remember that Watcher who did her thesis on you?"

Grinning but remaining silent, Spike nodded in fond remembrance of that blonde, determined Watcher who had come to question him about Buffy during that whole Glory mess.

"Somehow she survived Caleb's explosion. No one knew she was still alive until after…when Giles and Willow went to set up the new headquarters. She approached them, still bearing the scars from the fire. Lydia's incredibly brave. She told Giles that while she was happy that they survived, she would be retiring from the Council. So, when I started thinking about just whom I could talk to about everything, Lydia came to mind. I researched her and found out she had a degree in psychology. I found her and secretly began meeting with her."

Spike asked, "How is she now? Lydia? What have you told her?"

Buffy took Spike's hand and led him to sit beside her on the bed. "Lydia's still got these horrible looking scars on her face, but she refuses to get plastic surgery to fix them. She told me, 'We all have battle scars, Miss Summers. Some like mine are on the outside, but yours are all internal.'

"She sounds like a right smart lady, pet. Thought so when I met her, too."

"She is. She's been very helpful. I told her about being ripped out of heaven. She asked me how I knew I was even there. Had I done some revealing spell to find out for sure? Lydia said that there perhaps I wasn't in heaven, but rather that the Powers had placed me in a safe place. She asked me if I had seen my mother where I was."

Gripping his hand harder, Buffy fought back the tears. "Spike, I never saw anyone. Not mom, not Grandma Summers, not Celia. It'd been too long, so Lydia can't be sure, but we don't think it was Heaven."

Buffy felt Spike's strong arms encompass her in a hug. She buried her nose in his chest, inhaling his unmistakable scent. He started rocking her in that age-old tradition of comfort. Buffy wrapped her arms around his waist and kissed his chest.

"I'm okay, Spike." Wiping the beginnings of tears from her eyes, Buffy sniffed and to her horror realized she still stank.

"Oh God, Spike. I reek. How can you stand me?"

Spike chuckled. "I guess my nose grew accustomed to it. But you're right; you don't smell like yourself. What in the bloody hell did you bathe in, Slayer?"

"You really don't want to know," Buffy replied. "You wanna help me wash it off?"

She could tell he was more than tempted to do just that. He just needed some encouragement to tip him over the edge. "Spike, I can't promise you that I'll never act like a complete bitch ever again. It sort of goes with the whole Buffy-Slayer package. But I can promise you that I'll never willingly hurt you ever again. I love you. I want to do this right. Shower with me?"

"Well, when you ask so nicely, how can a bloke say no?" Spike tickled her sides and kissed the tip of her nose.

Buffy walked to the bathroom, dropping her garments in her wake. Spike watched her from the bed; his hunger for her grew once again. She'd be the death of him one day. But what a way to go!

Buffy bent down seductively, stepping out of her pants, revealing that she'd worn no underwear just for him. Wiggling her hips, she looked back at Spike and said, "Well, are you coming or not?"

Spike bit back a growl and replied, "Yeah." To low for her to hear, he whispered, "Almost did right then."

He sped off the bed, ran to Buffy, grabbed her, and hauled her into the bathroom. Buffy giggled the whole time.

Chapter 9: A Little Less Conversation, A Little More Action

Chapter Notes: Beta by Spikeslovebite


As the water cascaded over Buffy's body, Spike watched as rivulets made delightful, enticing trails across her breasts, down her stomach and legs. Twin trails skirted her hipbones and sought the nexus of her thighs. Her head was thrown back, soaking her hair under the shower.

Spike grabbed the shampoo bottle, uncapped it and squeezed out a large dollop. After placing the bottle back on the shelf, he moved toward Buffy and asked her to turn around. With her back to him, he massaged the shampoo in her hair. His fingers made small, concentric circles as he lathered her hair.

Buffy moaned at the pleasure of his fingers. Why they had never done this before she couldn't remember. Every shower should feel this good. She felt like putty in his hands, and he was only washing her hair. She needed more. She backed up and pressed her ass against him. He was already so hard.

Spike groaned as she brushed against his cock. Getting all her hair up on top of her head, he kissed the nape of her neck.

Buffy reached for the soap and lathered up her hands. She then reached behind her, arching her back, and gripped his cock. She smiled as he hissed. Her hands were slippery from the soap, which added to the fun of sliding her hands in tandem up and down his member.

Spike let go of her hair, which through the miracle of the suds stayed in place, and cupped her breasts. He weighed them in his hands, and they felt heavier than he remembered. They were fuller now and glancing at her naked hips once more, he finally realized his girl had gained some much-needed weight. She still didn't have the cute baby fat she had when he'd first met her, but she no longer resembled those anorexic models either.

Gently squeezing her breasts in rhythm to her manipulation of his cock, he circled his thumbs around her nipples and every so often would pinch them. He clenched his jaw as Buffy's hands went lower and started fondling his sack. "Turn around, luv."

Buffy did so slowly. Spike leaned her back under the spray of water and rinsed her hair. Buffy released him to run her fingers through her hair to get out the suds, and Spike grabbed the bar of soap.

She almost stumbled as he began washing her breasts and stomach alternating which hand held the soap. He washed lower and lower, and Buffy bit her bottom lip in anticipation. When he reached her small thatch of curls, he placed his left hand on the small of her back and began washing her sex with his right.

Spike turned the bar of soap in his right hand so that it opened her sex and would spread through her lips. Buffy rocked with the bar as he ran it back and forth, just shy of her clit. When her legs looked like they were about to give, Spike dropped the soap and flicked her clit with his thumb.

"Spike! Please!" Buffy felt so close. By the time he had finished rinsing the soap from her with his fingers, she was a quivering wreck. It had been so long. She opened her eyes when she felt him remove his hand and shut off the water.

Spike said nothing as he picked her up and carried her out of the shower. He paused long enough to grab two towels and headed back to the bed. He stood her beside the bed and unfolded one towel.

Buffy, a little miffed that he got her so close in the shower, sighed and let go of that upset as Spike began rubbing her dry. She took the other towel and began returning the gesture. The rubbing evolved into its own pleasurable experience. Spike started working her into a frenzy again as he concentrated his attentions on drying her nipples. Buffy countered with making sure his sack and the spot just behind were free of water.

Buffy tipped up and caught Spike's bottom lip in her teeth. He pushed her back onto the bed and seized her feet. As Spike kissed each toe, Buffy giggled.

Spike kneeled on the bed and ran his hands up her calves, to her thighs and ghosted just outside her sex. "So ready for me, aren't you?"

"Uh huh. I told you I missed you," Buffy replied, panting with need.

Spike crawled towards her treasure and spread her thighs wider with his hands. Her sex was glistening from the shower and her need. Her scent invited him to taste. He'd dreamed about her taste that last year and since he'd gotten back.

"You ready love?"

"Oh God yes! Please, Spike. I need you so much."

Starting at the base of her sex, Spike ran his tongue up her slit and circled her clit with his tongue. Buffy whimpered and arched her hips to meet his mouth. Spike curled his arms around each thigh and pressed her hips down to control her. This also allowed his fingers to spread her sex even wider.

He became high off her taste and smell. He was like a man who after walking miles in the desert with no sign of water had suddenly found his oasis. He dipped his tongue in her channel and swirled it.

Buffy tried to buck in response, but Spike's hands held her firmly. She gripped the sheets, his hair, her own breasts. She was manic. The things he could do with his tongue would probably be illegal in all fifty states. Damn!

Spike blew on her swollen clit and tapped it with the tip of his tongue. Buffy began to shatter. Using his thumb, he manipulated her clit while he dove his tongue hard and fast into her sex. It was enough.

Buffy came hard. Her body quaked in wave after wave of her orgasm wrought through her body. Spike continued his pursuit, tasting all she had to offer and wanting to draw out her pleasure. She started to cry from the sensations…it was too much and it had been too long and she needed him!

Buffy tugged his hair, forcing him to look at her. "Up here now, mister! I want you inside me."

Spike crawled up her body, stopping and placing kisses on her still quivering belly and breasts. Buffy wrapped her ankles around his waist. "Please, Spike," she whimpered and raised her head to kiss him solidly. She tasted herself and rocked her hips up.

Spike reached down, positioned himself, and surged. His eyes felt like they would pop out of their sockets, so was so fucking tight. He could tell she was in a bit of pain, and he studied her expressions. He would come right then if he moved, so he waited and got a hold of himself.

With teary eyes, Buffy confessed, "There's been no one since you, Spike. No one. You feel so good. Welcome home."

Kissing her lips, Spike began to move. "Ah, Buffy, so good. No one else can have you. You're mine."

"I'm yours, Spike. See how we fit. You fill me," she panted. He looked at her in surprise as their rhythm increased. It was one way she would show him this time would be different. She never used to talk before, never express herself. This time and every time after, she would never fail to tell him how he made her feel.

"Buffy, luv. Oh yeah, pet…do that again." Buffy squeezed her inner muscles clenching his cock. "Love you. Love you so bloody much."

"I love you…oh Spike." Buffy surprised him by sitting up making his cock hit her spot just right. Pulling his lips to hers, she licked his bottom lip, seeking access. She tongued his teeth before letting him bite her tongue as she drew it from his mouth.

Seeking his neck, she found Drusilla's marks. Knowing how sensitive those could be, she licked and nibbled the spot. His thrusts increased, and he moaned loudly. Just beside Drusilla's, she struck. Biting into his hard, but yielding flesh, Buffy felt him almost come from her surprise.

"Love…Buffy?" Spike questioned. His body hummed; his sack felt heavy.

"Meus maritus intemporaliter. Forever my husband," Buffy whispered. She reached around his back and slipped the ring on left thumb to her right hand. Then she sought his left hand and placed the ring on the end of his ring finger. "Be my husband?"

Spike nodded, slowing his pace. Buffy never failed to surprise him, as she kept clenching her inner muscles bringing him so close to completion. He watched with fascination as she carefully placed the ring on his finger. She kissed him, and the soft kiss became deeper as their emotions over what she'd just done enraptured them.

Spike positioned Buffy back onto the pillows, reached between them and used his now ringed finger to pleasure her clit. As she started to climax for the third time, Spike licked her neck, mindful of how she honored his connection to Drusilla by not placing her mark over Dru's. He recognized Angel's mark and wanted to destroy it, if she'd let him.

"Yes, Spike. Make me yours," Buffy requested, seemingly knowing what he was thinking. "His mean nothing to me."

As the wave of her orgasm crested, Spike's fangs sliced through her skin directly over Angel's marks. She shuddered beneath him, enjoying the pull of his fangs. She felt like she was floating.

She sighed happily when Spike uttered, "Meus uxor intemporaliter. My wife forever."

"Yes, Spike! Yes!"

With a few final thrusts, Spike came and collapsed on top of her. After kissing her thoroughly, Spike rolled over and fell sound asleep. Buffy watched him for a few moments before her own eyes drifted closed.

Chapter 10: Shared Dream

Chapter Notes: Beta by Spikeslovebite


Buffy found herself in the desert again. Tara and Senaya awaited her approach. In the distance she could see Dana happily kicking the sand and running free.

"She looks so happy," Buffy commented.

Tara looked wistful. "She will be once again. Terrible things happened to that child. Her healing has begun thanks to you, Buffy. If she had committed those murderous acts that we'd foreseen, then Dana would have been permanently lost to us. The guilt would have consumed her, and the sanity she had worked hard to gain would have quickly evaporated with the knowing."

Buffy asked, "Senaya, are you sure?"

"It is my gift, Buffy. I am sure."

Buffy nodded. "I understand, but I'm a little sad, too." She hugged the First Slayer and knew some part of her had been healed. No longer would she feel torn between wanting to be a normal girl and being the Slayer. Buffy now fully embraced her Slayer-side. She too felt healed.

A noise broke the hug and caught their attention. All three turned in the direction in which the noise came from, and Buffy saw Spike shuffling towards them. The sunlight made him look paler than usual, and Buffy recalled what he looked like when he'd approached her with the Gem of Amara.

"'Lo pet," Spike said. "Where are we?"

Buffy held out her hand for him to take. He did, and she replied, "You're in my Slayer dream. You remember Tara?"

"Hey, luv. I've missed you," he directed to Tara.

Tara smiled and stepped up to Spike, giving him a hug. "I didn't thank you for all you did to help me when I was alive. Thank you for punching me in the nose, and well, for everything."

Spike blushed from the attention. Buffy saved him from making a complete ass of himself by turning his attention to Senaya. She watched with some amusement as his shy demeanor morphed into his usual cocky self.

"Spike, this is Senaya, the First Slayer."

Senaya walked in a circle around Spike, as Spike turned to never give her his back. "Yes, we've met many a time, haven't we, William."

"Never had the direct pleasure, no. Sorry about…"

"It was in your nature then. It is now in your nature to protect my sisters. You are our champion," Senaya declared, smiling at him.

"As you are also the champion of the Guardians, Spike," Tara asserted.

"What's this?" Spike asked, looking to Buffy for answers.

Tara replied for her, "You've been granted a gift. You've been brought inside Buffy's dream to be given the knowledge and the blessing from the Guardians, the sisterhood of the Slayers, and the Powers for Good." Touching his chest above his heart, Tara said, "This heart…so full of love. I now hereby bless thee for the Goddess and her daughters." Touching the center of his forehead, she announced, "William, you were cleansed through the fires of the amulet and not found wanting. Your poet's soul, your keen mind…even…" Tara blushed. "Your…umm…devotion to our sister has been noted and appreciated. You are hereby our Champion. So mote it be."

Senaya and Buffy echoed, "So mote it be."

Spike felt an overwhelming sense of peace, hope and love within. While he'd been grateful to feel Buffy's love for him, he began to cry from being found worthy of so much more. As he fell to his knees, Buffy wrapped her arms around his head and pulled him to her chest.

Kissing the top of his head, Buffy told him, "I love you, my husband. See how special you are?"

"Buffy, luv, what does this all mean? Why me?" Spike repeated over and over again.

Shushing him with soothing circles on his back, Buffy began telling him of her first dream with Tara and Senaya, the visions of Dana, her grief at having left him in the Hellmouth…everything. During this time, Spike would look to either Tara or Senaya for confirmation of what Buffy was telling him. As they would nod or answer with a few words, he grew quieter. At the end of everything, Spike rose from the ground.

"Right then. Still don't get why they picked me, but as long as Buffy's by my side, I'll never question it again," Spike finally replied.

"Spike, you've been told too many times that you were nothing…that you were beneath them, when in fact you were greater than them all. Drusilla saw some of this before she turned you. She knew you were destined for greater things, and in fact, in turning you, she'd gone against Angelus' orders for her never to sire a childe," Tara explained.

"She did? Dru never said," Spike stammered.

"Your life and unlife, as you like to call it, has thrown you obstacles and tests. Everything you've endured, experienced and survived from has tempered you, as a smith would eliminate the imperfections in a sword," Tara answered.

"Hear that love, I'm bloody perfect," Spike bragged.

"You would pick up on that, wouldn't you?" Buffy replied.

"Of course." Spike curled his tongue between his teeth and wiggled his eyebrows.

"This is your destiny, honey. Get used to it," Buffy happily said.

"Well, the missus says I gotta, so I guess that's what I must do."

"Wow, I wonder if that will work all the time," Buffy teased.

"Don't count on it, Slayer," Spike replied, grinning.

Senaya coughed and pointed at Dana who was now looking in their direction. "It is time."

*********

Both Buffy and Spike woke from their slumber immediately and turned to each other. "It's time," they both said.

Buffy pounced on him before he could move and kissed him playfully. "Ugh…morning breath."

"Hey, that's Mister Perfect Morning Breath to you, pet," Spike teased.

Buffy gently slapped his stomach and raced to the bathroom. "Come back here, Slayer!"

"No, gotta brush my teeth. We have to get going, Spike. We'll have more time for that later." Buffy peeked around the door and hooked her foot around the frame, rubbing it up and down the wood. "I promise the wait will be worth it, husband."

"Oh wife, what you do to me!" Spike sighed and sprawled on the pillows. Stroking himself under the sheet, he whined, "But I have this problem now, love. As my wife, I demand you take care of it."

Buffy rinsed out her mouth and walked out of the bathroom, hands on her hips. "You demand me? You're actually ordering me? We've only been married for a few hours, and you're starting to give me orders."

Spike saw the fire in her eyes and mistook it for something else. "Love, I'm sorry…didn't mean…" He watched her approach with some trepidation. Despite her angry demeanor, his cock grew harder, tenting the sheets.

"I'm not brushing my teeth again, you hear me?" Buffy said. She pulled down the sheet in a whirl and kneeled on the bed. She positioned him at her sex and quickly slammed down on his groin. Both moaned from the feel of their joining.

Buffy placed one hand on his chest and the other behind her on his leg as she rode him. Spike bent his knees allowing her to rest her back on them, which gave his cock the perfect position to hit her G-spot on every single thrust. She took her hand from his chest and pressed it right above his cock.

Theirs was a hard and fast fucking. Only grunts and animalistic noises were made. No terms of endearment, no promises…nothing was said. The sound of skin slapping skin and the suction of her sex permeated the otherwise quiet room.

Spike came first, grabbing her wrist and biting hard. The bite started Buffy's own orgasm, and Spike used his other hand to bring her off by manipulating her clit.

She collapsed on top of him, kissed him and said, "Wow!"

"I concur," he replied, sated.

"Spike, we really have to get going. The ones who I will not name will be wondering what happened to Dana and to you."

"I know, love. Just needed you."

"Do you still have my ring?" Buffy asked, playing with the few hair on his chest.

"That skull ring? My wife will not be wearing that!" Spike replied, indignant.

"But it was my engagement ring," Buffy pouted.

"No. I'm getting you a proper ring."

"Goody!" Buffy laughed.

Realizing he'd been played, Spike responded by tickling her midsection until she was blue in the face. "I'm sorry…I'm sorry," Buffy giggled.

"Okay, then. Let's go get Noodle."

"Noodle? Huh?"

"Dana, pet. Like that crazy chit in Gorillaz. Noodle."

"I'm not sure she'll like that, honey. Besides, it's lame," Buffy replied.

"But it fits her, love."

"Whatever."

**************

Buffy and Spike found Dana entertaining a rapt Rieff in another room. Bruce had fallen asleep on the couch, and Dana was currently spinning in circles. Her hair had been swept up off her face, and both Buffy and Spike noticed how beautiful she was. Spike grimaced with the thought of all the men he'd have to chase away - like Niblet.

"Rieff, thank you for staying with her," Buffy said to the twenty-something Lister.

Despite his gray skin, Rieff blushed a pale pink at Buffy's words. "Anytime I can help out. I've not felt this…I don't know…happy in a long time. Not since the Scourge were killed."

Buffy eyed Spike who raised his hands. "Not us, luv."

"Oh not Spike's Scourge…the real one. Pure demons who were…well, if some still exist are…like Nazis. Any half-breeds - vampires, Listers - must be eliminated, since we have too much human in us. Doyle, our savior, sacrificed his life for us. We thought that the souled one would be our hero, but it was Doyle," Rieff stammered.

"Doyle? Short bloke, half-Brachen, worked with Angel?" Spike inquired.

"Yeah."

"Wondered what had happened to the Mick. Doesn't surprise me that Peaches wouldn't sacrifice himself," Spike snorted.

"So, Doyle saved you? What did Angel do?" Buffy asked.

"Well, he infiltrated the Scourge to find out their plans. Even though he was a vampire, they accepted him based on his reputation, plus I think he had to prove something to them. I'm not sure what; I wasn't there."

"And this was when?"

"Four years ago," Rieff answered.

"Then…that had to be after…"

"Must have been about that time the Initiative had me, pet." Spike gave her a look of reassurance. He knew that despite her love for him and her seemingly recent mistrust of Angel, her past illusions of him still affected her.

Dana spun herself into Spike's arms. "Pretty man."

"Thanks, Noodle," Spike said.

Dana looked as if she didn't know if she liked that or not. A few seconds passed, and then she giggled. "Rieff, I'm a noo-dle!"

"That you are, ducks." Spike shook his head at her antics. He wondered how much she would change after. He'd hate it if she lost some of this innocence. So, much of it had been stolen by that bastard in her past.

Buffy walked over to Bruce and shook him gently. "Bruce. Bruce, wake up."

Bruce stirred and came to rapt attention when he recognized Buffy hovering over him. He sputtered his apologies and searched the room for Dana. Relief filled his eyes when he saw Dana was more than okay.

"Bruce, I need you to get Clem for me, okay?"

"Yes, Buffy. Do you need some breakfast?" Bruce asked.

At the word breakfast, Buffy's stomach gurgled. "I think that's a yes."

"Be back soon." Bruce departed, and the remaining four talked.

Chapter 11: A Time for Rituals

Chapter Notes: Beta by Spikeslovebite


Dana and Buffy stood in the middle of a sacred circle of desert sand provided by Clem. He'd been a busy demon over the past several hours. Buffy had told him where to go and he'd persuaded two nice Fyarls to accompany him as bodyguards.

They had driven into the desert and right where Buffy said it'd be, Clem found the remnants of past brush fires. He gathered three gallon jars full of the special sand, and whispered words of thanks to whatever could be listening and watching. After running to the Fyarls, they drove back to LA, stopping one other time for the remainder of the supplies.

Spike circled the girls, with a scented-lavender candled. He kept sneaking peaks at the door. Even though the lavender was distracting his senses, Spike smiled as he sniffed the air. He turned to the door and waited.

Buffy noticed his distraction and said, "Spike, you need to keep going."

"Can't right now, luv."

"Why? What's wrong?" she asked.

"Nothing, pet. Everything's right, now," he replied, as Clem opened the door revealing Spike's surprise.

"Dawn!"

"Hey, sis. You think you can marry Spike and not invite me to the wedding? As if. Who do you think you are?" Dawn huffed, stomping in the room.

Dana actually began to growl at Dawn. Dawn just rolled her eyes and held up her hand. "Oh please, you don't scare me. Stop that now." Dana looked at Buffy who just shrugged with a small smirk and stopped growling.

"Okay, now, as Spike explained this to me; I'm getting another sister." She stepped close to the circle without marring the sand. "Hey, D. Now, I know that you're older than me and I think older than Buffy, but since you're going to be new to our family, you're going to be my little sister. I'll show you the ropes, giving you tips on what it means to be a Summers woman, show you the infamous pout, the hairy eyeball, and all the other cool stuff. Okay?"

Dana visibly relaxed during Dawn's welcome. She quirked her head to the side and said, "Sister!"

"That's right. We'll hug and sing Kumbaya later." Observing the circle and what Spike was doing, Dawn shook her head. "This is why you so needed me here. You are doing this all wrong. Besides Spike needs to be inside the circle with you two."

Turning to Clem, she ordered, "Bring me more sand and a bowl. Really, Buffy, what were you thinking?"

Buffy started crying in happiness at her sister's approval of her marriage to Spike and her acceptance of Dana. Her family was growing again, making her miss her mother so much. She'd always liked Spike, and Buffy thought she would like Dana as well.

Clem handed Dawn the sand first. She poured a wide circle to encompass Spike and the inner circle with Buffy and Dana. After muttering a few blessed words, she said, "Spike, it's safe for you to break the inner circle of sand and join hands with Buffy and Dana."

Spike did so. The three watched as Clem then handed Dawn the bowl. Dawn produced a small knife that Spike thought might have been his old Swiss Army knife and pricked the ring finger of her left hand. Squeezing the tip so the blood would flow, Dawn allowed several drops to fall into the bowl.

Dawn nodded to Clem and stepped just outside the circle. She ordered Clem to clear the room, and Clem followed Bruce and Rieff out the door.

"This is for family only and for Dana," Dawn said. She poured her blood on the four directions - north, south, east, and west - blessing and offering words of praise to each protective spirit.

"We humbly seek the Powers of Good and ask them to watch over us. Bless us and help us heal our sister." Dawn picked up the candle and began walking around the three inside. "We call forth Senaya…the First of the Sisterhood of the Slayers. We humbly beseech her to come."

Like when Dawn directed the Shadowmen shadow puppet wheel, drums started sounding. Dawn spoke louder over the drums. "Come forth Senaya. Heal your sister. Bring her peace!" She directed her attention to Spike, "Now Spike!"

Spike grabbed Buffy's wrist and bit it, allowing the blood to well. He then did the same to Dana and finally to himself. Each put their bloodied wrist over the center of the circle and mixed their blood.

Dawn spoke over the drums. "They are blood kin. Vampire and Slayer alike. As it once was, and now it will be. He shall safeguard the line. Senaya, come!"

A mist appeared where Spike, Buffy, and Dana's hand were joined. Buffy and Spike could smell Senaya's unmistakable scent - desert sun, clay, and wild flowers. The mist hovered for a moment, ghosting a kiss on both Buffy and Spike's cheek before flying into Dana's body.

Dana gasped from the intrusion. Her body rocked from the impact. Spike and Buffy held her arms firm. Dana's eyelids fluttered closed. The drums stopped; everyone waited. Dana wasn't breathing.

Then right before Buffy was about to shake her, Dana gasped for air, her eyes flying open in surprise.

"It's okay, Noodle," Spike reassured. He then started speaking to her in their ancient tongue.

Dana responded to Spike, her eyes clearer and less pained. She cooed a bit when Buffy cupped her cheek. Dana released their hands and looked at her now-healed wrist with wonder.

Dawn coughed, "Okay, to break the circle now?"

Dana answered, "Yes, big sister. You said something about a hug?"

Buffy released a breath she didn't realize she'd been holding. Everything would be okay now. Senaya had seen to it. A part of her wept for the loss of her elder. Now, things would be so different.

Dana turned to Buffy as if she heard her inner thoughts. Her eyes became older than time. Speaking in the ancient tongue, she reassured, "She and I are one now. The line will run from you. You are The Slayer, forever and always." Then Buffy saw Dana's eyes clear and the innocent, once-broken girl emerged. "Thank you, Buffy and Spike."

"No problem, Noodle."

"Oh God, Spike. Noodle? Really?" Dawn asked incredulously. "Could you be any more lame?"

He scooped Dawn up in a hug as she squealed, "Yeah, Niblet, I can."

"Put me down right now, you brute!"

"Yes, put her down, so she can give me a hug," said Dana. Spike watched with pride as his Niblet and now Noodle gave each hugs, welcoming each other.

Buffy grabbed his waist, giving him a side hug. "Look at our little family, Spike. Bet you didn't know when you married me that there would be kids kids involved."

"Ha. Bloody ha, Slayer. You're a riot. I knew bloody well what I was getting myself into." Spike leaned down and kissed her nose. "And I wouldn't have it any other way."

Dawn focused her attention on Spike, wearing a very Joyce-like expression on her face. "So, when are you going to make Buffy an honest woman legally, Spike? I need the human ceremony. I want to wear the god awfullest bridesmaids dress. One that would rival Anya's toxic green."

Spike looked at Dawn as if she'd grown two heads and then laughed. "That depends on your sister. When are we going to do that, love?"

"Right after we take care of some last minute business."

Chapter 12: Family

Chapter Notes: Beta by Spikeslovebite


Buffy and Spike held hands and together they exited the elevator onto the top floor of Wolfram & Hart. Dana and Dawn followed closely behind them. Harmony, of course, noticed the foursome first.

“Oh my God! Buffy!” Harmony ran up and hugged her former nemesis. “And little Dawnie, too. You’ve grown up so much, Dawn.”

“Uh, hello Harmony. How are you?” Buffy asked, completely perplexed by the blonde vampiress’ attitude. She cast a look at Spike, who for some reason looked down right guilty of something. She narrowed her eyes, which Harmony mistook as meant for her.

Harmony started babbling. “I’m a good vampire now, Buffy. Really, ask Spikey. I’m totally with the 100 % no human blood now. Don’t stake me. I’ve really been good…and it wasn’t my fault that vampire spiked my blood. She was so totally jealous of me…”

“Harmony,” Buffy interrupted, with Dawn giggling behind her. Trying to keep a straight face, she said, “I’m very happy to hear that. Look at you…all career girl now. I’m happy for you.”

“Really, Buffy? Gee thanks, and here I thought you’d be mad at me for sleeping with Spike again…but really he was just using me like usual. Getting his body back like that.”

“Excuse me, what?” Buffy and Dawn both glared at Spike, who took that moment to cough.

“Just got my body back, pet. Meant nothing. Besides she almost tried to kill me during it,” Spike muttered.

“Yeah, ‘cause whatever made Blondie Bear become a real boy again made the whole office go into a murderous rage,” Harmony explained, oblivious to the semi-amused glare Buffy was casting Spike.

Dawn coughed, “Blondie Bear?”

Which broke the tension and Buffy began to laugh. Dana took her cue from Buffy and started laughing, too. Harmony sniffed in irritation, “I don’t think it was all that funny. I mean what if I had bitten someone, then Angel would have dusted me, and it wouldn’t have been my fault.”

“She’s not laughing at you, ducks,” Spike told Harmony. “She’s laughing at me. S’alright. Is Peaches in?”

“If you mean Angel, then yeah. Why you call him a fruit, I don’t understand. But yeah, the boss is in his office. Big meeting…everyone is there. Fred, Wesley, Gunn, and this guy from the Watcher’s Council is there too. He looked sort of familiar.”

“Oh, I bet that’s Andrew…you know, Tucker’s brother,” Buffy said.

“Ah, yeah. Wow, you can’t take the geek out of high school,” Harmony said. “Go on in, Spike.”

“Ta, ducks. Shall we, wife?”

“Wait a sec. Wife? Wife? You married the Slayer?! I mean…er… congratulations. Is there a ring?” Harmony asked.

“Show her, love,” Spike said proudly, puffing out his chest.

Buffy happily held up her left hand, which was entwined with Spike’s right. She turned their held hands to show off her gorgeous ring. It was silver, with a marquis-cut ruby centered by two small diamonds on the side. The silver work displayed great artistry as the artisan had fashioned it to appear like a stem from a rose without the thorns.

“Oh, Buffy, that’s gorgeous. It looks old.”

“It was Spike’s mother’s.” Turning to Spike, she added, “Remind me to thank Clem when we get back. You are so sneaky.”

“That I am, pet. Shall we see the Poof now?”

“Yes, let’s get this over with.”

Harmony backed away from the foursome and ran behind her desk. No way was she going to get near that room, but she wished she could see what went down.

********

Spike threw open the door with his usual bravado. Still clutching Buffy’s hand, he proudly walked in and announced, “This little meeting wouldn’t be about little ol’ me, would it?”

As Angel grumbled, “Spike!”

Another voice said, “Spike?”

“Oh, for the love of —”

“Spike?” Andrew flew across the room, ignoring Buffy and everyone else. He hugged Spike tightly, making said object of his affection very uncomfortable. Andrew said tearfully, “It's you. It's really you! My therapist thought I was holding onto false hope, but... I knew you'd come back. You're like... you're like Gandalf the White, resurrected from the pit of the Balrog, more beautiful than ever. Ohh... he's alive, Frodo. He's alive.”

Buffy and Dawn snickered, but Dana was on to Andrew in a flash. “Let him go!”

“Noodle, it’s alright. It’s just Andrew.” Though mortified by Andrew’s little display, because it ruined his big entrance, he felt for the little watcher. He noticed the tweed and the weird hair.

“Become a Watcher, have you now?” Spike asked Andrew.

Andrew seemed to come to his senses and realize the presence of Buffy and Dawn. “Yes. Buffy, Dawn…what are you two doing here? Mr. Giles didn’t tell me…”

“Giles doesn’t know, Andrew,” Buffy said coldly.

Andrew, who recognized that look from his evil nemesis days, swallowed hard and started babbling. “Oh, okay…so um…how are you? Who’s this? Giles wanted me to pick up a new Slayer, but she escaped the mental institution…and who’s this?”

Angel had had enough. He watched the scene before him and noticed how Spike and Buffy were holding hands. He didn’t like it. How did Buffy find out about Spike? He’d thought he’d drilled it into his grand-childe’s head that Buffy didn’t love him. He didn’t think Spike would have contacted her. No, someone else tipped her off. He’d find them and use the nice facilities down below to unleash his anger on the culprit.

“Okay, so everyone seems to know each other. Why are you and Dawn here, Buffy? That girl with you…she looks familiar,” Angel began. Studying the way the girl stood next to Spike, he knew he’s seen her before.

Wesley spoke up, “I believe this is Miss Dana. Am I correct?”

“But she was supposed to be insane?” Angel asked.

“I was. I’m feeling much better now, and you know I am in the room,” Dana announced.

“Good on you, Noodle,” Spike said.

Andrew stammered, “But she…I’ve seen…we’ve seen video.”

Buffy answered, “Yes, I’m sure Angel was all too proud to show off how his new empire has eyes in every mental facility, hospital, and every administrative building in the city. His need for control no longer surprises me.”

“Buffy, I didn’t know about the cameras until tonight. Eve…”

“Don’t care, Angel. You made your bed with the devil, now you can wallow in the filth. Though why am I not surprised that you dragged your friends with you? Do they know how you basically sold your soul and theirs too? Nice little package for the Senior Partners. All because of Connor,” Buffy declared.

Fred and Wesley asked, “Who’s Connor? What do you mean sold our souls?”

Wesley stated over Fred, “You don’t understand, Miss Summers. We are trying to work from the inside and do good using the resources afforded to us by Wolfram & Hart.”

Buffy shook her head sadly. Dawn spoke for her, “I remembered you as being smarter than that, Wesley. Although I must say the new wardrobe looks good on you, you’re delusional if you think you can do good working in the bosom of evil. Everything you do will be corrupted and tainted by the mere fact that it’s Wolfram & Hart. Have you ever asked yourself; ‘how can we afford all this?’” Dawn gestured to the office and the building in general. “Well, you should. It’s all born on the backs of evil deeds, murder, treachery, and all the seven deadly sins. And by agreeing to work here, you yourselves are soaking in evil. You’ll soon learn that every good deed you do will be washed away and made insignificant through the misdeeds of all the other branches. Have you forgotten about them? Why the one in Rome alone…”

“Dawn, that’s enough,” Buffy interrupted. “They’ve been blinded by Angel’s great big ego.”

“Yes, Niblet. The Great Poof thinks himself a Champion for the Powers. Heard from Whistler lately?” Spike threw out there. “Got yourself a new link to the Powers since Cordelia’s been in a coma?”

Angel looked uncomfortable. Lorne, Gunn, Wesley, and Fred all looked to him to respond. When they realized he didn’t have an answer, they started to argue. Spike was enjoying this immensely. Although he did feel a little bit sorry for Fred, she’d been right nice to him.

“Everyone shut up!” Buffy yelled, silencing the room. “Who wants to know Angel’s price for working at Wolfram & Hart? Did anyone know they had a choice in not working here?”

Fred raised her hand. Lorne said, “Sure thing, firecracker.” Gunn looked put out. Buffy thought it might be too late for him. Angel just looked sick.

“Buffy, don’t,” he pleaded.

“Tell them, luv.”

“The entire last year of your memories is false. Do any of you clearly remember how Jasmine came to being? How she was killed? Do any of you recall why Cordy’s in that mystical coma of hers?”

“Buffy, please,” Angel tried again. He appeared ready to rush her to get her to stop talking, when Dana flew forward and pinned him against the wall with a stake over his heart.

“Shut up,” Dana said. “You are nothing but dust to me.”

Startled from Dana’s protective gesture, Buffy paused to breathe. “Go on, Buffy. They need to know,” said Dawn.

“Angel had sex with Darla…”

“We know that Buffy,” Wesley interrupted. With a growl from Spike, Wesley quieted.

“Yes, you remember that. But none of you remember that eight and a half months later, Darla walked into the Hyperion very much pregnant.”

“I’m sorry, but I’m finding this hard to believe,” Wesley sputtered.

Buffy walked slowly up to Wes and touched his temples. A flash of white light swirled in his eyes, and suddenly Wes was crumpled on the floor. “Oh my God.” Wes looked at Angel with anger and confusion. “You tried to smother me!”

“You stole my son!” Angel blurted out. Gasps from Fred and Lorne were heard. Gunn was strangely silent.

Gunn’s actions confirmed to her that whatever Wolfram & Hart had done to him, he had eventually discovered the truth. He was as guilty as Angel. He was too prideful.

Buffy quickly touched Lorne and Fred’s temples and they too soon became weary from the truth. “Gunn, you’ve been given all the legal mumbo jumbo, right? Wouldn’t their contract with Wolfram & Hart be considered questionable, perhaps even unconscionable?”

Gunn looked startled at her knowledge. “Maybe.”

“Yeah, give me the lawyer answer. I’m sure the legal team of W&H would fight them, but do the Senior Partners really want The Slayer to wage war on them? Where’s this Eve?”

“Evie? Oh, Evie?”

“Please do not call me that,” Eve said as she entered the room. “The Senior Partners have directed me to pass on their congratulations at becoming The Slayer, and told me that they would release Fred, Wesley, Lorne, and even Gunn from their contracts, should they desire to leave. Standard confidentially contracts must be signed, of course, upon their departure.”

“No, no new contracts for those that leave. I know all too well how you people work,” Buffy replied.

“Very well. It was worth the try. I’ll make sure that they are ready by the end of the day.” With that, Eve departed.

“Well, luv, that was brilliant. Never seen Eve so accommodating…well, except during that party when she and Angel…”

“Spike!”

“Oh sod off, you wanker. Dana, pet, let the tosser go.”

Dana pushed Angel hard into the wall one last time, before releasing him to fall on the floor. She walked back to Dawn, who hugged her and told her good job.

Fred asked, “What about Angel, Buffy? I mean, Eve didn’t mention him.”

“Angel knew full well what he was signing and why. I can’t help him now, nor do I want to.”

“But Buffy, you love me. We’re soul mates. You said someday…” Angel whined.

“I don’t sound that bad, do I?” asked Dawn quietly to Spike. Spike stifled his laugh, biting his lower lip and shook his head no. “Thank God.”

“Angel, I told you I was cookie dough…that I wasn’t done baking. I wasn’t being entirely truthful with you. I was pretty much done except for the center then. I’m all done now. Entirely baked.” Holding out her ring. “I’m his wife now…forever. I love Spike. You were my first puppy love…and I mistook it for the real thing. But true love doesn’t leave, Angel. True love doesn’t just show up for a little while and then leave when the going gets tough. True love doesn’t leave my sister alone after I died. No, Angel, you never were my true love.”

“He’s cast some spell on you, I just know it. You don’t feel this way,” Angel argued.

“Geesh, get a clue already. You are history. You are beneath her, Angel!” Dawn announced.

Spike turned all giddy at Dawn’s pronouncement. His kissed her cheek. “Ta, Nib.”

“Any time, bro.”

Buffy calmly took in the smiling faces of Dawn, Dana, and Spike. She saw that Andrew had tears in his eyes and was blowing his nose with a hanky. Weirdly, Lorne was doing the same. “This is my family. Make no mistake. Mess with them, and the full wrath of The Slayer will fall upon your heads. My sisters and my husband, the Champion of the Slayers and the Guardians, will be leaving now. If any of you wish to join us, you are welcome to the wedding reception.”

Spike picked Buffy up and kissed her squarely on the mouth. “I had a long path to walk to discover you, Spike. A very long, winding road…but it was worth every step, because it led me to you.”

“Where to, wife?” Spike asked.

“Sanctuary. Clem’s throwing us a thing,” Buffy replied.

The foursome had walked into Angel’s office alone. They left with Andrew, Fred, Wesley and Lorne in tow.

Angel watched them leave as he sat crumpled on the floor.


The End

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