((Well this is it, *sniffle* I hope you've enjoyed, I know I've been quite happy with writing. To Wolf116, while I can honestly say that I have remained spoiler free for the ending of the show, this just being my take on what would happen, I have heard rumors that Spike would be on Angel next season (Shudder at the thought, I can't even begin to list the number of reasons that I think that is a bad idea, but so far the writers haven't let me down, so, I'll go with it. I'm loyal like that :-P ) To all the rest of my reviewers, thank you for all your support. It puts a little bounce in my step. Now, on with the show. . .))

Epilogue: Into the Light

"Dawn! Have you seen my blue sweater?!"

"Check the dryer, I think I threw it in with the last load!"

" 'k, thanks." Buffy, swiveled off the stairs and bounded down towards the basement, a slight bounce to her step. She headed down to the dryer, fishing past a few of Dawn's things before finding what she came for.

"A-ha, gotcha!" She pulled the still warm sweater over her head, revealing in its comfort for a moment before her eyes flitted to the wall were Spike's cot had been, her mood abruptly took a downward turn. *Still gets to me, even after all this time. Sigh.*

Her mind flashed back to that fateful day eighteen months prior, a tear threatening to fall before she swiped at it with her sweater covered hand, a slight shiver coursing through her. Before she headed hurriedly back up the stairs, she needed air.

---------------------

A lot had happened since Spike had. . .since he had gone. After Willow had finally gotten Buffy to leave her room, things had slowly started to return to normal. Well as normal as they could be on a hellmouth. Even a neutralized one.

Angel had been the first to leave. The two of them had spent quite a few nights sitting up in silence, the occasional conversation breaking the lull. He wanted to know everything and a big part of her just wanted to tell him. But not yet. The wounds were still too fresh; she knew that digging around in them would only prevent them from closing, so she remained tight-lipped.

A check in call with Wesley had led to Angel taking off so soon, apparently there was an emergency of apocalyptic proportions involving Cordelia somehow. So, off he went. A quick hug and a small peck on the cheek later; one "If you need anything. . ."thrown in for good measure, and he was gone.

After he left, Buffy visited the graves for the girls who had fallen in the battle, thankful that she hadn't had to be the one to bury them this time. She had done that enough. Her tour as gravekeeper was done.

From there she had wandered the streets towards the high school, casually noticing that the residents (both of the human and demon persuasion *Oughta check on Clem*) of good ol' Sunnydale were arriving *home* in droves, seeming to have forgotten the Evil that had taken possession of the town mere weeks before. *Location, location, location...* She laughed lightly at the thought.

As she reached her Alma Mater her heart began to slow, the wreckage before her ten times worse then what it had been after the Mayor's botched ascension. She moved slowly towards where she knew he had gone, to where the opening of the hellmouth had been. Now all sealed up and waiting for its next chance *One good day.* The ground around it strangely unmarred, a mockery of the battle that had waged by its side.

She didn't know how long she had stood there, before placing the rose she had brought with her on the spot.

She knelt down then, placing a light kiss to the soft petals, closing her eyes, seeing a flash of brilliant blue orbs behind her closed lids, before she opened them again and settled the flower on the ground.

"I want you to know that I'm sorry. I understand it all now. And I thank you for doing what had to be done and…well, for everything." A silent tear worked its way down her cheek, "Goodbye, Spike."

-----------

She shook her head of the thoughts as she mounted the stairs to her room, checking a few of the drawers' absentmindedly. She didn't need anything, but she was just on edge now, she felt like she was waiting for something, but had no idea what.

-----------

Not long after Angel left, the gang began to get things in order. Starting with Faith and her still "Wanted Fugitive" status. Willow had made quick work of that by taping into the LAPD system and listing Faith as having been found dead just outside of Sunnydale. She filled in a detailed description of the evidence found, the death having been ruled a suicide. The telltale slashes to her wrists and bloody knife with her fingerprints on it, making the case open and shut. Hopefully, no one would dig further, but just in case, Willow took the time to fabricate a coroners report as well.

They soon learned from the coven that a new hellmouth was beginning to open, in Cleveland of all places. So Faith (sporting a brand new scar on her forehead) and about a quarter of the potentials headed off that way "A Slayer's duty and all, B. Don't worry, I won't do anything *you* wouldn't do." One last smirk and off she went as well.

Quite a few of the other girls had expressed an enormous amount of interest in returning home to their families. The recent brush with death still too bright in their eyes, they wished to spend what time they had with their loved ones. Buffy, frankly, couldn't argue. They weren't slayers yet. They might as well enjoy what time they had.

Robin was the next to go. Reports of demon activity in the Northeast and a nice high school that hadn't been blown up once (let alone twice) in need of some authority, all too enticing for him to stick around long.

Suddenly the house housed only a third of what the thin walls had become use to and it was damn quiet. Dawnie, suddenly had a full twenty minutes of bathroom time to herself that she no longer knew what to do with.

Willow and Kennedy, however, made full use of the extra time…

Xander and Anya had decided to move out as well. Buffy had actually smiled as her long time friend (his arm still in a sling) and his not-so-estranged lover talked to them all about reconciling. As it turned out, Buffy hadn't been wrong about Apocalypses bringing people together.

As the newly reinstated couple began the move into a new apartment (the vacancy rate in Sunnydale at an all time high. . .) a message came from the Coven in England - thus leading to Giles departure with nearly all of the remaining girls.

So here she was, sitting on her bed, in a house that housed only five people now (After all, Andrew really had no where else to go, and Dawn seemed to get along with him so well. . .). Two months ago she would have done anything for this kind of silence, but now that she suddenly had it, the lack of noise was deafening.

----------------------------------------------------

Pain. That's what he felt. Pure, unadulterated pain. His whole body was racked with it.

"Bloody hell," Or at least, that was what he had tried to say, it came out more as a garbled: "brrodyhhile." As he pushed himself up, his arms burning with the effort of it, he noticed for the first time the blinding glare that was surrounding him.

"What the. . ." His voice trailed off as he realized that the light was not coming from some overhead fixture (well not the kind he was use to anyway), but from the sun itself. He glanced up in awe, feeling the warmth of it on him for the first time. "How?"

No one answered him of course, but the suddenly all to obvious pounding of his heart got his attention.

"Oh."

It took him a few minutes, sitting there the sun warming his naked flesh, to put all of the pieces together. He remembered what he had done, remembered what had happened to the First as they tumbled through the energy rift, and then nothing. He was here. Alive. *In the light.* Human. And still at the high school (?) apparently, or rather, what was left of it (again). His eyes began to adjust as he glanced around him. At that moment not caring that all about him there was nothing but wreckage. He was alive, damnit, how he didn't know. Didn't care. He had one thought as he hauled himself up and began to move:

"Buffy."

----------------------------------------------------

BRRRING!!

She nearly jumped out of her skin at the sound of the phone ringing, before shouting a hasty. "I GOT IT!" into the house.

"Hello?"

"Buffy?"

"Cordelia?"

"Oh, good, its you. Listen, I have news. . ."

BANGBANGBANG!!

A sudden knock at the door made Buffy jump for the second time in as many minutes. The skin on the back of her neck rising up in tiny pinpricks as a feeling of familiarity swept over her, she simply bushed it aside.

"Oh, Cordy, can you hang on a sec?"

She didn't wait for a response, setting the phone down and heading for the door. Oblivious to the angry, "No I can't wait a sec! Buffy! Buffy!" She thought for a second that she had heard a muffled "Spike" come from the former cheerleader on the other end of the phone, but brushed it off, *What could she possibly have to say about Spike?* she thought, her mind still aware of the nervous tickle at her neck.

Her unspoken question was answered as she opened the door. Her eyes coming face to face with what could have been the most startling thing she'd ever seen. The color drained from her face, her voice barely audible, "Spike?"

And that old twinkle entered his eyes, the sunshine playing off his bleached locks as he smiled sweetly at her:

"Hello, Buffy…"

----------------------------------------------------

The beings surveyed the sight far beneath them, pleased with themselves for having interfered. They could almost hear the frantic scribbling of new prophecies as the fates (known quite inappropriately as 'The Powers that Be' to their little soldiers down below. Oh, if they only knew…) began trying to deal with this strange turn of events, laughter rippling through their essence, knowing that the fates would never learn.

They watched the world below them, two children with a fishbowl. The events that played out slowed down to their own lazy concept of time.

They watched as the two old lovers came back together. The one they had restored simply sweeping the women he loved into a passionate embrace. Damn the consequences. He was tired of denying how he felt, luckily for him, so was she.

The world moved on then, the once souled vampire, now fully human, well as fully human as the slayer was anyway. No reason to punish him by making him unable to fight, he would have gotten himself killed moments after they restored him if he couldn't defend those he loved properly. What good would that have done anyone, afterall?

The two of them together took the beings metaphorical breath away. Few things were perfect, but those two came damn close. So for quite some time (before other matters became too pressing to ignore) they watched them both. Watched them fight. Watched them shag.

Watched them love.

Watched them dance.

End~