And here I give you the final piece of "Make the Clock Reverse." More details in the author's note at the end.

Dedicated to RAGAnne, Quindecim, bwburke94, RKF22, madcloisfan, Cloongarvin, and TieDyeJackson.

Chapter 44

Everything disappeared. Buffy could feel a bed against her back, and her throat was super dry. She wanted to cough, but she couldn't really move.

"The fun we used to have. At night I toss and turn, the memories they burn. I don't know how to..."

Buffy finally got her eyelids to lift, for half a second at a time, but she kept pushing herself.

"Spike!" Her mother. "Spike, oh my God. She's waking up."

"I'll go get the doc, Joyce. Sit with her."

Finally, Buffy's eyelids fluttered all the way open. She caught sight of Spike's duster as he flew out the door. Her mother was sitting next to her bed. But when Buffy looked around, she realized this wasn't her bed. It was all white and tile and itchy cotton. "Mommy?"

"Oh, sweetheart, I was so worried." Joyce sobbed, throwing her arms around Buffy and holding her tight.

"Where am I?"

"Hospital." Joyce released her, sitting back down on the edge of her seat. She took one of Buffy's hands in hers. "Spike can explain what happened. We just weren't sure... You'd lost a lot of blood, he said, and the doctors weren't sure how quickly you'd recover."

"Slayer perks, yay." She coughed. Buffy adjusted herself, propping her back against her pillows. Everything pretty much ached, but she could especially still feel the digging, burning hole tugging in her side where she'd been shish-ka-bobbed.

Spike returned with a nervous guy in a lab coat. The lab coat guy, who she guessed was the doctor, checked some of the machines next to her. Then he fit some kind of beeping cuff thing around Buffy's wrist, poking at buttons and just watching it forever. Buffy looked to her other side, where an empty blood bag was hanging and a water bag was still attached to her hand by a long tube and a needle.

"Is she alright?" Joyce pushed when the doctor said nothing.

"Ma'am, I need a minute," the doctor sniped. Even too tired to move, Buffy opened her mouth to tell him off. She didn't get the chance.

"Mate, I know you dinnt just take that tone with the lady," Spike growled from the corner.

"Sorry," the doctor mumbled, taking the beepy cuff from Buffy's wrist. "I just want to be accurate. It seems that you, Miss Summers, are mostly in the clear."

"Oh thank God," Joyce sighed.

"Now, over the next week you may still have the occasional symptom. Dizziness, confusion. You likely won't be able to walk or stand on your own for more than ten, maybe fifteen, seconds at a time at first. It looks like your blood pressure is still perilously low and, if I had to guess, your pulse rate still is as well. But you're much closer to a normal range. Rest, hydration, and some nutritional caloric intake will help, and we'll continue your current dosage of pain medication as well."

"Thank you, Doctor," Buffy said, her voice gravelly.

The doctor nodded to each of the three of them before leaving the room.

"So can we go now?" Buffy groaned. She tried to rearrange herself, but it only made her ache more.

"I'll go get the paperwork taken care of," her mother said, standing immediately. "We had them show us how to change your bandages at home. I know how you hate hospitals. And tonight I'll make whatever you want for dinner, hmm?"

"Sounds great, Mom." Buffy attempted a smile as her mother left the room.

Spike shuffled toward her, studying her with his mouth tightly shut. Buffy looked toward the windows of the place, and realized the blinds were closed.

"Is it daylight already?"

"Slayer, it's been three days."

"I was asleep for three days?" she shrieked.

"Yeah." Spike exhaled, taking Joyce's seat. "Gave us all a good an' proper scare."

"Oh God." Buffy sat up straighter, the pain be damned. "Giles and Xand and Wills and—"

"Shh, shh." Spike rested a hand on her shoulder, probably thinking she was about to hop out of bed and take off. "All of 'em fine. They're all at work. Xander's at the construction site, Tara's watchin' your mum's shop, and the others're at The Magic Box. They've been comin' by, when they can. I've been tradin' patrols with 'em, too."

"Adam?"

"Very dead, kitten. Chopped into messes and melted down for scrap that Harris then buried in cement at three 've his work sites."

Buffy sat back, slightly, and Spike rubbed her arm. She licked her lips. "Did you get rid of the battery thing?"

"Funny story, that. Initiative got the electric up an' runnin', tried to arrest us all. Had Harris locked away already."

"Didn't our spell kill all The Initiative machines, though?"

"Nah. Buggered up all the files and data stuff, though. Wiped, completely. Uh, then Rupes made one call to The Wanker's Council and the government types not only released us all, they were convinced to let the witchy types get rid of Adam's battery with magics. And to put you up here at the government's expense with the best possible care. Since you saved their sorry arses and all."

Buffy blinked, trying to process it all. Her friends were safe and the world wasn't ending outside, so she was just accepting it as a win for the moment and moving on. "Spike, were you singing?"

Spike looked to the floor, rubbing a hand on the back of his head. "Here and there, yeah. To pass the time. Help your mum not to worry as much."

Buffy yawned, her throat scratchy. "I think I heard you."

Something sweet and gentle flickered in his eyes. "Yeah?"

"In the middle of crazy Slayer dream crap, yeah."

"We'll worry 'bout that later, a'right? Right now, we're gettin' you home, your mum's cookin' you somethin' nice, we'll get your friends to come with some movies or somethin' so you can relax. I may even make a run for some chocolate ice cream."

"Yeah?" Buffy lit up.

"If you're nice." Spike winked.

"Oh, well, guess I should give up on that dream now, then." The pair of them laughed. Buffy shifted, annoyed that she couldn't get comfortable. "Spike, there was something... Okay, there's a lot I've got questions about, but one thing kept coming up. Everyone kept saying she's coming. Do you know what that means?"

Spike took a deep breath, glancing at the ceiling. "I could guess. You wouldn't believe me if I told you, Slayer. It'll be any day now, though, if I've played my cards right. I'll tell you when it happens."

Buffy rolled her eyes. "I should've just slept another couple of days, then. Well, if I could have normal ice skating dreams, or picnic in the park dreams, or sexy Spike dreams or something."

Spike rested his forehead against Buffy's, brushing his fingers over hers. "God, I've missed you, Buffy."

xxxxx

"Giles promised no slayer talk for a full two weeks."

"Yeah, believe that when I see it," Spike muttered. Buffy was leading him upstairs by the hand. "Gives you, what? Another week of bein' a real girl?"

"Eight whole days!" she gloated, swinging her hips a little as she did.

Spike sighed. Every time she did somethin' that Buffy-like, he was grateful. He'd spent all those days in her hospital room convinced he'd made the wrong move somewhere and gotten his Slayer killed. He'd 've let Joyce stake him where he sat if that happened. "So what? Nibbles and crappy ice ponce movies?"

"Hey!" Buffy slapped him playfully on the shoulder as they paused outside of her room.

The door was closed. That was odd. Spike could've sworn they'd left it open when they went down to breakfast. Joyce was more than happy to have Spike staying around the house to help take care of Buffy, and to keep her in top bubbly valley girl form. The lady had never once complained that he'd taken up residence in Buffy's room during her recovery.

"And no," Buffy said. "He wants to do the big Thanksgiving-style dinner. He's making mushy peas."

"Mushy peas're amazin'."

Buffy glanced at him sidelong. "William the Bloody thinks mushy peas are... 'amazing'?"

"Shut up, Summers."

"Ooh, I'm putting up a poster at Willy's. 'Attention All Demons: Spike Likes Mushy Peas.'"

"Oi! Don't take advantage of the fact that you're a wounded little lamb."

"What're you gonna do, Big Bad?" Buffy stuck her chin out defiantly.

Spike gently backed her toward the door, holding her hips to keep her there. "Bad, evil things." He slid his hands up her tank top, holding onto her waist to avoid the still-bandaged wound between her hip and ribcage. He leaned in, kissing her, only just teasing her tongue with his.

"Hey." She held her hand on his shoulder and Spike pulled back immediately.

"Sorry. I hurt you?"

"No, no. Um." Buffy tucked some hair behind her ear. "I was wondering, now that we're going to have a quiet summer, if maybe we wanted to talk about us? Like, where we're going?"

"Can take some night trips to the beach, pet, but anything we need the DeSoto for we'll need to book a place to stay." Spike stopped breathing. This sounded serious, but sometimes his Slayer made mountains outta molehills. Couldn't be she wanted to kick him to the curb, right? Not after all this. He couldn't bear it.

"No, not—Although, that's an idea."

"Focus?"

"Right. Right. I was thinking..." Buffy took his left hand, running her thumb over his garnet ring. "I was thinking we could talk about future plans. I, for instance, have nowhere to live next semester, what with the witchy love nest Wills and Tara have going on."

Spike nodded and opened his mouth to speak. The door behind Buffy opened. Spike shifted as quick as he could so he'd fall to the floor next to her instead of on top of her. Buffy cried out when she hit the floor anyway, holding onto her stomach.

"Bleedin' buggerin'..." Spike reached over, lifting her shirt to check the bandage. A little blood was seeping through.

Buffy was suddenly distracted by something above them, her eyes narrowed. "What are you doing here?"

Spike followed her gaze. Standing above them with the patented Summers annoyed-expression-and-arms-crossed-over-chest...

Spike sighed. "Hey, Lil' Bit."

Here endeth the story... for now.

This is planned as Part 1 in (what I hope will be) a trilogy. I'm going to need to take a few months off to dedicate some time to other stuff, but also to get a good backlog of chapters for Part 2 going. I'd like to do the "chapter a day" release schedule again, but it was really only possible because I was about 20 chapters ahead when I started posting "Make the Clock Reverse."

In the meantime, please let me know what you thought about the ending and the story in general.

I also ask for two things:

1. Your favorite parts of this story. What you really liked (scenes, lines, character moments, whatever) will help me do that again next time.

2. Your favorite parts of the canon season 5 of Buffy.

Thank you for reading, and I hope to see you back here for Part 2! Keep an eye out. :)

P.S. If you liked this and wanted to nominate it for anything over at The Sunnydale Memorial Awards, I certainly wouldn't complain. ;)

P.P.S. Love you guys! You're the best. This has been an amazing experience, both the writing and the sharing of my first ever fanfiction story. A lot of that is thanks to you.