Chapter 40: Coming Home

The hospital buzz was beginning to wear on Buffy's nerves.  "If I have to eat this nasty food for one more day, something bad is going to happen, and I am not claiming responsibility for my actions," she said in an exasperated voice. 

Spike chuckled.  "Now, now, luv.  Be a brave little toaster and all that.  We'll be free in a few hours."

Buffy rolled her eyes.  "Excuse me, Spike.  Unlike you, I don't have all the nurses on the floor fawning over me.  I swear to God, if one more girl comes in to check your temperature, I'm shoving the thermometer up her ass."

"Such language!  Miss Summers, you should be ashamed of yourself," Willow exclaimed as she and Oz walked into the room. 

Buffy rolled her eyes again, her signature move.  "Come off it, Wills.  You know that you would do the same thing."

Willow considered the question carefully, her green eyes lighting up wickedly.  "Nah, I'd use a catheter hose."

The quartet laughed at her remark and Willow felt warmth in her stomach at the sound.  Things had not been all smiles and laughs since the blond duo returned from the woods.  Both had lost extreme amounts of blood, and Buffy was suffering from malnutrition as well as exhaustion and some prominent emotional scars.  Spike suffered cracked and bruised ribs as well as a broken cheekbone.  He too, also felt the emotional burden upon him, now responsible for the taking of another's life.  Spike had also been leveled by another blow, the loss of his mother.  After a social gathering to celebrate the merging of the firms "in memory of Edward Giles"  Lillian Giles committed suicide.  Spike's life turned upside down and he sunk into a deep depression.  Forced visits to a psychologist yielded little success at first, but then as Spike opened up, he started to heal.  Joyce and Rupert were also constant visitors, often holding hands, much to Buffy's chagrin.  Spike teased the older couple until Rupert threatened to "take him over his knee".    It heartened them both to see Spike teasing again, even if it was them. 

Things weren't completely back to normal.  After months in the hospital, Buffy and Spike were finally ready to head home.  Still bruised, but healing, the couple decided to make a go of it on their own terms.  Their decision to move in together surprised no one.  And Buffy was anxious to get things moving. 

"Where the hell are they?  I want to leave this place, now!"  she whined. 

Spike bopped her on the head softly.  "Easy, pet, you're giving me a headache."

Buffy stopped her pacing and turned on him.  "Excuse me for being excited.  Jeez, Mr. Crabby."  Her lush mouth turned into a pout. 

Willow and Oz laughed at her antics.  Typical Buffy behavior.  Spike knew it as well, but played along anyway.  "I'm sorry, luv, forgive me?" He asked, pulling Buffy into his arms and kissing her neck. 

Buffy giggled.  "Always." 

As if on cue, a young nurse entered the room.  "Mr. Giles?  Can I have a minute?"

Buffy's eyes shot daggers as Spike and the nurse left the room.  Willow laughed at the petite blonde.  "Buff, relax, you're going to give yourself a heart attack."

"Well, I'm in the right place," Buffy huffed. 

Spike returned to the room with an envelope in his hand.  "My mum, she left this for me," he said in a strangled whisper. 

Buffy jumped up and ran to his side.  "Baby, you okay?" she asked quietly. 

Spike didn't say anything, just stared down at the envelope.  "What do you think it is?"

Nobody said anything.  Joyce and Rupert walked into the room laughing.  They immediately sobered when they noticed the somber youths. 

"Buffy, Spike, what's going on?" Joyce asked. 

"Spike got a note from his mother," Buffy said. 

Neither Joyce nor Rupert knew what to say.  "Are you going to open it?" Joyce asked quietly. 

Spike nodded.  He slowly ripped the envelope.  A letter fell out written in Lillian's flowing script.  Spike picked it up and read it out loud. 

            "My son,

                        I know I was not the ideal parent.  I spent most of your life in a haze of indifference.  And while I never meant to hurt you, I could also never bear to see you.  You see, my William, Edward was not your father. 

            Not biologically, anyway.  I was 16 when I met your real father.  He was a wonderful man, full of humor and life, and so smart.  He and I were only together for a few months when Edward began to court me.  I

            denied him, for my heart belonged to another.  My parents were furious and threatened to disown me, but I stuck to my decision.  I wanted a life of love, true love, given to me by my young man.  When it became

            clear to my family that I would not be dissuaded, they acquiesced.  We set a date and began to plan our wedding.  I was so happy.  For a few blissful months, we lived together and planned the life we would have.  I

            found out that I was pregnant and things became even more crazy.  A baby and a husband, my own ready made family.  Then, something happened to your father.  He disappeared one day after work.  I waited and

            he never came home.  I called the police, but they couldn't find anything.  Everybody told me that he had just run off, too scared to take on both a wife and a child.  I didn't believe them, but when he didn't return to me,

            I began to question.  My parents became mortified, an unwed pregnant daughter and no man in sight.  That's when Edward stepped in and offered marriage.  I accepted, out of fear about being along as well fear of the

            brutal opinion of the public.  And my perfect life became a living hell.  You know the kind.  I'm so sorry, my child.  I should have protected you, yet I found myself hating the sight of you, you who so perfectly reminded

            me of the boy I loved so fiercely.  I write you this, not to beg your forgiveness, but to try and explain why I behaved in that manner.  It wasn't until very recently that I discovered what happened to my beloved.  He was

            murdered, and your own step-father held the gun.  Edward did not deny it when I confronted him, and so now I write to you in hopes of a life you can still achieve.  You have another family, out there somewhere.  Please,

            find it in your heart to look for them.  My love's name was William O'Leary.  Now you know, your name, your birthright and the reason why Edward treated you as such. 

                                                            Not love, but perhaps understanding, Lillian. 

Spike's eyes filled with tears.  Not tears of sorrow, however, tears of relief.  His father did not hate him, as he so often thought.  And his emptiness after Edward's death seemed more understandable.  A stirring of pity for his mother moved through his stomach, as he stopped to consider the type of life she must have led, knowing that her husband killed her love. 

Buffy's arms tightened around Spike and he smiled.  He found his love, and he had no intention of letting her go.  Dropping the letter, Spike turned and grabbed Buffy into a fierce hug.  Tears poured down his face and the room was silent and the couple held each other.  Spike looked over at Rupert was not surprised to see the older man eyes blink in awareness.  He knew.  Not outright, but deep down, he knew what his brother had done.  So many pieces of his life fell into place for Spike in that moment. 

After Buffy released him, Spike cleared his throat and looked around the room.  "Well, that was….I don't even know the word to use.  It seems that maybe the best thing to do is to let this rest, yeah?" he said. 

Rupert nodded and the two men came to an understanding.  Letting go of Joyce, Rupert grabbed Spike into a hug.  "You are the spitting image of you father," he whispered.  "I'm sorry I never told you.  I didn't know how."

Spike nodded and released the elder Giles.  "Only one thing left to do," he said. 

Quizzical expressions met Spike's gaze.  "Get on with living," he said, turning to Buffy.  "Marry me?"

Buffy's eyes lit up.  "I thought you'd never ask."

Cheers filled the room as a new union was announced to the world.  In his customary manner, Oz summed it up succinctly.  "Kick-ass." 

                                                                                                                                                                  THE END

A/N: I had so many different ways to end this story, but this one kept pulling at me.  Hope I did it justice.  Thanks so much to everyone.