EPILOGUE

Eighteen Years Later........

The tall young man took one last look at his notes and shoved them in his back pocket, "Mom, Dad are you ready?" He called as he took the hanger holding the graduation gown from the hook on the back of his door and reached for the mortarboard lying on his bed, "Mom, we're gonna be late."
She adjusted her dress one more time and ran her hand over her hair, "You look beautiful." Spike told her as she reached for a handful of tissue, he meant the words. Buffy was as beautiful today as she had been eighteen years ago, when Jake had first come to them. "You aren't going to cry before we even get there are you?" He leaned over and kissed her cheek.

"You're one to talk, 'Mr. I've got something in my eye' when he first called you 'dada' ." She smiled as she stuffed the tissue in her purse,

"Mom, Dad...come on!" Jake poked his head into his parents bedroom impatiently, a trait that Buffy was sure he received from his birth mother. He looked like Dawn, same eyes and pretty dark hair. Buffy knew how proud she and Chris would be if the were here today.

Buffy sighed as she stood and took Spike's hand and met him in the hall, "We're ready, you can go over the speech in the car if you'd like."

"I've already told you the speech is a surprise." Jake laughed softly at this mom before giving her a tight hug.

"She's gonna cry you know." His father smiled over Buffy's head at his son.

"Probably." Jake agreed as they got into the car.

The auditorium was full as the graduating class filed into the familiar strains of "Pomp and Circumstance."
Jake took his place of honor on stage as the class Valdictorian.

Buffy and Spike sat on the front row, their faces beaming with pride. The prinicipal spoke and introduced the guest speaker. Then it was Jake's turn, he stood before the podium in his cap and gown looking poised and handsome. He grinned at this parents before he started his speech.

After a few minutes of speaking about how far each of them had come in the last twelve years and the potential of where each of them could go, Jake switched to the subject of the people who had helped them to where they were now - family and friends.

Buffy's eyes were damp as she listened to him speak.

"Many of you may not know this but my parents died when I was a baby. In fact I was too young to even remember them. But I know how much they loved me...because they left me in the care of my Aunt Buffy and Uncle William who became my parents. I want to take this time to thank my Mom and Dad for choosing such wonderful people to raise me. And I want to thank my Aunt and Uncle for being up to the job. I know it wasn't easy in the beginning, they had this life without children and suddenly there I was. They rose to the challenge and became the best parents a son could hope for." Jake's voice was soft and sincere.

Tears ran freely down Buffy's cheeks now and Spike swallowed the lump in his throat as they listened.

Jake began to finish his speech, "In closing I want to wish eacho my classmates the very best in life. I also want to," He paused and looked heavenward, "say I love you Mom and Dad," he then looked toward Buffy and Spike sitting in front of him, "And I love you, Mom and Dad." He sat down to a room filled with applause and more then one teary eye.

The couple on the front row held hands as tears of pride rolled down thier smiling faces. The once reluctant guardians realized that they had indeed kept their promise made all those years ago and indeed become true parents.
The End