**Part 12 (Epilogue)***

Spike knelt on the ground, his hand clutching the stem of the rose he had placed on the grave. It was not much, but this late at night there were no stores open and he did not feel right stealing flowers to place them on Buffy's final resting spot.

"So you're a grandmother now, William Bradley they named him. And our daughter," he said almost ruefully. "A head she's got on her shoulders. Smart as a tack that one is," he said as he pulled some weeds from around the plot. "Though I'm not quite sure giving her son any part of my name was a way of using those smarts."

He sighed softly as he recalled years ago how they had talked at length about adopting. Buffy for whatever reason had dismissed it as an option claiming she wanted the baby to be a part of them from the beginning. Spike had insisted no matter what a baby would never be a part of him. But she and Willow had proved him wrong.

Willow had used her computer skills to find someone who was related to him, albeit distantly given the generational differences one hundred twenty years makes. And she had used her witchcraft to obtain the blood relation's sperm. Spike had been angry as hell at first that she had used her magic like that so that Buffy could have a baby. Once they found out it had worked and Spike realized a baby grew inside of Buffy, one that was in fact a part of him no matter how distantly, his anger had subsided.

And now here was that child, all grown up having a baby of her own. Buffy and Spike had both agreed immediately on the name for a girl. Joyce had been the first and only one thought of. The death of Buffy's mom had affected them both and it seemed right and appropriate to name their only child after the woman who had brought Buffy into the world to begin with.

He smiled slightly as he pictured young William. Spike recalled portraits from when he was a baby and swore he could see a resemblance between those portraits and the newborn. It was probably hopeful thinking on his part, wishing that a part of him truly still existed in the blood relation Willow had found.

Spike had never asked who the man was and to this day did not care to know. For one he hated the idea that Buffy had to go to someone else to get pregnant to begin with, not that they had actually done the act to create the baby but still it gnawed at him he could not do it himself. And for another, he really did not want to know who and where any true blood relations of his were. Joyce and her family were the only blood kin Spike needed to worry himself with. "He's perfect, the newest little bit is."

"I hated that I gave you my word that I'd stay and look after Joyce when you were gone. Willow and Tara, Xander or Giles would have been happy to take her. They would have understood why I had done it, walked into the sunlight once you were gone. It was fine when she was little, still living at home, but once she was gone," he trailed off.

He moved a little so that he could pull up some more weeds. He cursed himself, it had been too long since he had actually come here and talked to her like this. "But seeing him today, seeing how happy Joyce was, it made me glad I kept my promise to you."

"But in truth, Slayer, the reason I stay isn't for Joyce or for our grandson," he continued softly. "It isn't even because I gave you my word I'd look out for our child, her children, and their children until there were no more children to look out for."

He paused, wondering what she would think about the next tidbit of information if she were here to hear it. "No, I stay because your Watcher's Council for whatever reason didn't deem Sunnydale important enough to send the new Slayer here. This is your work here, someone's got to see to it that all of your hard work doesn't go to hell," he laughed lightly. "Quite literally I guess."

"Joyce asked me recently if there's another Slayer, one who had replaced you, and I told her I believe so. I've never known there not to be one to replace the last one. She's somewhere out there, and I hope that somewhere within her is a part of you, your strength, your courage and your ability to see past someone's exterior to know what's on the inside. She hasn't come after me at any rate, so I guess there's something to be said for that."

"Maybe one day I can take her to meet her, Joyce to meet the new Slayer. Giles could probably arrange it somehow. I think she'd like that, Joyce would, some sort of connection to you, getting to know why you were taken from her when she was so young."

Tears fell along his cheeks as he thought over the years, struggling to raise Joyce from the age of three by himself. Willow and Tara had been a huge help. He had sold the house and bought the mansion from Angel. It gave them a lot of space, got him out of the house that held too many memories of Buffy in it, and granted him seclusion. Joyce knew the truth about both her parents, she knew that Spike would be there to watch over William's children's children's children. He did not like standing out, did not like people noticing that Joyce's dad looked no older than the day she was born. And worse when Joyce got to looking older than he did.

"God there were days I hated you, cursed you, wished I had turned you just so I didn't have to be here by myself trying to raise a bloody girl child on my own. Like I know a damned thing about little girls. But we done all right, Joyce and me. You'd be proud I think. Her husband's a likeable bloke, but I imagine if you're looking down like I expect you are you already know all that. He's a little afraid of me, saw me vamp out once, but I guess that's good. It assures he'll never hurt Joyce. She doesn't know about the chip and neither does he, so he doesn't know I can't hurt him. Don't know if she thinks I'm just a big poof like Angel, soulful vampire and all or what, but I don't really care when it comes down to it."

He did not know what else to say and so he stood after adjusting the rose so the bloom rested where her head was. He hated thinking of her in there, knew it was just her body, the shell of her, but he hated it nonetheless. He had nightmares after she had died that she had not really died, that he had left her there to claw her way out of her coffin as he himself had to do. But her soul, the part of her that mattered, was no doubt in heaven.

He could have gotten the chip removed, could have gone off on a rampage killing humans left and right. In the end no matter how the idea had appealed to the demon in him out for revenge and justice for taking her in the way she had been taken he knew it just was not who he was anymore. Besides, humans were not responsible for her death, those he could hunt and kill were the ones responsible. And so night after night, month after month, year after year he continued to patrol just as she had done hoping that one day he would meet up with the demon who had managed to best her.

He ran his fingers through his hair and lifted his eyes to read the headstone, shaking his head slightly in disbelief that he had not been able to help her live longer. She had been taken from him too young, too soon, and now he was left with a hollow space inside of him that he did not quite understand. How did Angel do it with a soul? Joyce had filled a part of it, and now little William probably would fill another part of it, but there was still a big empty space that Spike suspected never would be fixed or filled again. These feelings she had brought out in him, given him, gifted him with came with a price. He was eternally changed.

Maybe his torment would end and the feeling that he had somehow failed her or let her down would stop if and when he found the one who had killed her. And then what? He had no idea. The sunlight no longer held its appeal, seeing life renew itself as he had with William, remembering what Joyce had been like as a baby, made him realize that. He would go on, patrolling, watching, drinking pig's blood and going down in history as the vampire that killed his own kind and who had loved and been loved in a return by not just a human but a Slayer.