EPILOGUE: MATED

Spike leant against the headstone, his arms crossed over his chest, an expression of indifference on his face.  If you looked at him closely enough though, you could tell that he was a little anxious.  He flinched and forced himself to stay calm.

The blonde female vampire that he was watching cried out in pain as a stake was thrust into her heart and she scattered into ashes.  The other female blonde that had done the staking looked towards her lover and soon-to-be mate with a satisfied grin.

"That makes nine, right?" she asked.

"Ten," he replied easily, bending down to kiss her.  He was torn between loving and hating watching his Slayer fight.  He loved watching on the one hand because it meant that he was ready to shag her minutes later, and hated it for the very same reason.  There had been at least fourteen different occasions when they hadn't even made it out of the cemetery before they'd strewn clothes across the ground.

"Yay me!" she cheered.  "You hungry?"

He laughed and swung an arm around her shoulder as they made their way out onto the street.

"For you luv, always," he replied, winking at her.

She hit him across the chest, but didn't tell him that she wasn't thinking exactly the same thing.  Spike smirked, wondering whether it was his bad influence on her or because of the demon that now resided within the tiny blonde girl.

"We should check in with Giles before we head home," she said.  "He'll start worrying soon."

She checked her new pager that her Watcher had bought for her so that she could tell him she was home safely in case she was caught unawares by the sunrise and saw that Giles hadn't paged her all evening.

"He worries too bloody much," Spike grumbled.

"Well at least if we check in, mom'll make your hot chocolate," she said.

Spike immediately acquiesced, making Buffy laugh long and loud.

"How's the nibblet doin'?" Spike asked.

"Spike, we saw her yesterday!" Buffy said.  "She'll still be fine."

"But still…she's a cutie," Spike said.  "All blonde hair like you and green eyes like her da."

Buffy rolled her eyes.  She couldn't believe that Spike of all people…well, of all vampires anyway, was being clucky over Buffy's new little sister.

Buffy unlocked the house on Revello Drive and opened the door, she and Spike entering quietly so as not to wake the six-month-old Dawn Summers-Giles. 

They checked the kitchen first, unsurprised to find both Giles and Joyce sitting at the counter drinking tea.

"Hey people," Buffy greeted.

Joyce smiled and pulled out two seats for them, Buffy and Spike taking their regular spots at the island counter. 

"How did patrol go?" Giles asked.

"Same as always," Buffy replied.  "Fought some vamps, dusted some vamps, came home for hot chocolate.  How's Dawnie?"

Giles smiled brilliantly at the mention of his daughter.  He still had trouble believing that he was a father.  It had taken he and Joyce nearly two years to overcome the awkwardness over the 'band candy' incident, and after that, they had become friends, then lovers, then husband and wife.  When they had discovered that she was pregnant with Giles' child, neither of them could have been more thrilled.

"She's doing brilliantly," Giles gushed.  "She's over that dreaded cold that Xander gave her, so she's far happier today."

"Good to hear," Buffy said.

"Oh and you're father called," Joyce added.  "He asked why he'd only got an invitation instead of a phone call asking him to give you away."

Buffy grinned.  "Did you tell him it was cos I already have a proper dad?"

Giles smiled fondly at his step-daughter. 

"Not exactly," Joyce said.  "Rupert was the one who told him that."

Spike laughed, wishing he had been there to see that particular confrontation. 

"I hope you at least told him that it wasn't an official service or anything.  Just an unofficial spiritual ritual thingy to mate us properly," Buffy said.

"We explained that you didn't want to have it in a church," Giles said.  "We thought it best not to tell him that the only reason he was even invited was because we needed seventh person in the circle."

The other six were Giles, Joyce, Willow, Xander, Oz and Cordy.  Hank Summers made seven.

"So he's coming right?" Buffy asked.  "I dunno if I can really just get a stranger to step in for us.  It has to be people who at least partially like us."

Spike stood up and stood behind Buffy placing his arms around her waist, his chin resting on her shoulder lightly.

"He loves you, luv," Spike assured her, beating both Joyce and Giles to saying the same thing. 

"We'll see how observant he is at least," Giles added.  "See if he realises that you don't look a day over eighteen even though you're nearly twenty-one."

"That's pretty good for a Slayer, huh Giles?" Buffy said.  "Although I guess it's kinda nullified seeing as I'm kinda…"

"Vampy?" Joyce finished.

"As for example."

"I think in the eyes of all you hold dear, you are still very much the same girl we knew," Giles said.  "And twenty-one is impressive no matter how you look at it."

The clock struck midnight and Buffy reluctantly stood up, leaning back in Spike's embrace.

"So, midnight tomorrow, right?" Buffy asked. 

Giles nodded. 

"Good.  Cos I have been waiting for two years for this alignment, so…make sure you're not late," Buffy implored.

Giles nodded and looked at the two blonde vampires.  "Just make certain you don't feed at all in the next twenty-four hours.  Not even from each other."

Giles and Joyce both turned blind eyes to the disappointed looks that both Buffy and Spike momentarily allowed to pass over their faces.  They walked Buffy and Spike to the door, waving goodbye and turned to walk inside.

"We never did work out what changed him, did we?" Joyce asked.

Giles shook his head. 

"Perhaps it was just her.  Or fate.  Or just because we live on a hellmouth."

"Maybe he's always been in love with her," Joyce said smiling, the romantic within stepping out.

"Perhaps.  As long as she is happy, then…it really doesn't matter, does it?"

END

Alright, that's it.  No guarantees for a sequel, but some ppl suggested an epilogue which I thought wasn't a bad idea.  Just kinda shows that all is right with the world and that two and a bit years on, the core group hasn't changed.

(In my defence on the other ending, I wrote this fic nearly two years ago and only just wrote the final chapter last month as a way to finish the darn thing. ;))