This is the Anti-Finale finale for Spuffies. WARNING: Spoilers through Ep. 19 are used! If you don't want to be spoiled, turn back! Some other rumored spoilers for the final three episodes of the series are also included, but most of it turns into AU. Also warning . . . One of the featured characters ends up doing a bit of speechifying to tie things up.

Pairings: Buffy and Spike, with a strong indication of an Angel and Faith friendship that may lead to something more.

Rating: Strong PG-13

The characters of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel are owned by Mutant Enemy and Fox. I own no rights to them. I'm only trying to give a let's pretend ending to the series that I like better.

A HAPPY SPUFFY ENDING By Mary Anne Gruen

CHAPTER ONE - Walking Into the Fire

By the time Spike and Andrew cycled up to Casa Summers, things were obviously taking a turn for the worst. It was shortly after midnight, but the streets were filled. People were piling belongings into cars and carts and carriages, any kind of purveyance. It didn't matter, as long as it had wheels. Parents were carrying sleeping children. Some people were sporting injuries, their clothes disheveled and torn as if they'd been caught in the midst of some kind war, which of course they had. No one looked at anyone else. They clung to those nearest and dearest to them and pulled away from all others who came near. Sometimes they even walked at a distance from those they loved. All past fears and angers were bubbling up from the inner ground of everyone's psyche, looming over them and destroying whatever it could.

Spike brought his motorcycle to a stop at the curbside for a moment and he and Andrew surveyed the chaos. They exchanged glances. They understood what was going on because they'd already felt the influence of the First. They knew how it could destroy from the inside out, how subtly it used its victims own shortcomings and fears till it devoured them from the inside, leaving them an easy prey for one of its more corporeal minions. They could see the effect the First was having on the populace of Sunnydale. But Spike and Andrew didn't feel it as much themselves. They had both recently faced the attack and fought it down.

"I better park in back," Spike said. He had a feeling if he left it in front of the house the motorcycle might be carried off. Andrew just nodded, his eyes wide with fear.

Spike drove the cycle across Buffy's lawn and into the backyard. There were lights on in the house, but there were no immediate signs of anyone being around. Spike tucked the cycle in next to the porch stairs.

"They're probably off fighting," Spike said, sweeping off the bike. "I'll just stop in for a bit to eat. Then I'll go out and look for 'em."

"Yeah. OK," Andrew said sliding down. "Maybe I should stay here and hold down the fort." He tried to sound brave, but he knew the shakiness in his voice betrayed him. He didn't want to be out in the streets with the screaming and the crying. You could even hear it from the back of Buffy's house, even through the sheltering bushes. Andrew wasn't a hero, not really. The investigation they'd just finished wasn't all that bad. But the sounds of all that suffering and the renewed whisperings of the First ringing in his ears coupled with the possibility of seeing Warren or Jonathan again made him want to hide. Maybe later he'd feel braver. Maybe after he had a rest and something to eat like Spike said. He didn't have any superpowers like the vampire did. It made more sense to Andrew for him to wait till he could at least lose himself in a crowd of potential slayers.

"Yeah, whatever," Spike said, only half listening. He trod heavily up the wooden porch steps and pulled open the kitchen door. He hadn't really expected Andrew to go out patrolling with him. He knew it wasn't the little nerd's speed.

The house was very quiet. Spike glanced around the kitchen at the dirty plates and cups piled on every open space. He headed straight for the refrigerator and pulled out a couple of blood bags stashed way in the back. He didn't bother to heat them. Too hungry. He ripped one open and began gulping down the contents while Andrew took off toward the livingroom.

"Hello?" Andrew said tentatively. "Anybody home?"

"Andrew?" a female voice answered from the direction of the diningroom.

"Dawn?"

Dawn walked quickly through the entryway and into the livingroom. She had a big ax in her hands.

"Where is everybody?" Andrew asked.

"Out fighting. The Harbingers are attacking everyone in the open now. They've got Uber-vamps helping them. But I don't know how they got them. Everyone is just going crazy."

"Yeah, so we saw."

Spike heard the voices from the next room. He shoved the second bag of blood into the pocket of his duster before going to join the others in the livingroom.

"I stayed behind to keep an eye on things here," Dawn was explaining. "We're taking turns."

"Where's Buffy?" Spike asked.

"I don't know," Dawn answered offhandedly. "Buffy's gone. Faith has been breaking us up into teams and we've been trying to keep the Harbingers from attacking the townspeople."

"Wait, wait," Spike said, holding up his right hand. "What do you mean Buffy's gone?"

"We all got tired of her pulling rank and pretending like she's General Patton. She wanted to go off and attack that vineyard. Faith said we shouldn't do it until we had more information."

"So . . . what? You had a mutiny?"

"Giles agreed with us."

Spike rolled his eyes. Like that really impressed him. Like Giles's was really someone he trusted right then.

"We all voted to follow Faith from now on and Buffy had the choice to stay and fight with us . . . or leave. She chose to leave." Dawn didn't mention that her dream about Joyce had had a lot to do with it. If Buffy wasn't going to choose her, then Dawn was going to make sure that she chose against Buffy first.

"And you joined in on this mess?" Spike accused.

"It seemed like the right thing to do. Like Giles said, Buffy has to learn."

"Yeah, and so do you lot," Spike said angrily. "Don't you get it? That's exactly what the bleedin' First wanted you to do! She might be walking into a trap. Divide and conquer. That's his way. He uses your own fears and angers till he divides you from each other and picks you off separately. But you're Buffy's sister! I would expect you to stand up for her. When you were standing on the edge of that tower about to fall into a hell dimension, I don't recall her stepping back from you."

Dawn pursed her lips and looked away from his flashing blue eyes.

"What's the point in arguing," Spike said. "This is the First talking, not you. You're all acting like puppet minions, you know that? When did Buffy leave?"

"Sometime yesterday afternoon."

"Fine." Spike turned to Andrew. "I'm going to look for her. She shouldn't be facing down the First on her own. Andrew, you look after Dawn."

"Sure," Andrew said, relief flooding his face. He was afraid that Spike might want him go outside again. "I'll stay here with Dawn."

Spike took the last few gulps of his blood bag and threw it on a pile of dirty dishes. Then he slammed out of the house, stoked up his motorcycle, and roared off into the bedlam of the night.

- - - - - - - - - -

At that moment, Buffy was being attacked by two of the Turok-han on a road not far from the vineyard. Large groups of people were fleeing the city around them, but no one stopped to help her. They were too busy concentrating on escaping themselves.

After her friends had voted her out as leader, Buffy had gone to the cemetery, to Spike's old crypt. It had been emptied and padlocked. So Buffy had sat outside and had a good cry, trying to figure out what to do next. Everyone had been so angry at her, so full of resentment. Giles had even brought up Jenny. Buffy thought they had worked through that long ago. It was the First talking through them, she knew that. Spike had said it had used his old memories as a basis for the trigger it had used against him. It was evidently doing the same with her friends. And it had done the same with Chloe too. Buffy knew Giles and Dawn and the others weren't themselves, but it hurt all the same.

After her cry, Buffy headed into town. People were already starting to leave by then. There was a lot of fighting. The Harbingers were starting to break into people's homes to attack them. Buffy charged into the fight. But she was still sure that the vineyard was the place to hit. How could she do it on her own, though? It might even be some kind of a trap.

As darkness fell, the first few Uber-vamps started to appear. The First was pulling them up out of the Hellmouth again. But how could that be? They were coming from the direction of the vineyard, not the school. Were they opening another part of the Hellmouth in the vineyard?

As soon as Buffy killed off one of the monster vamps, another would appear. She tried not to think about the vision the African men had shown her, about an army of Turok-han rising up and assaulting the world. But it came to her anyway. How could she face an army of these things alone? She headed for the vineyard again, hoping to come up with some kind of plan on the way. Instead she found herself looking into the ugly faces of two more Uber-vamps. They seemed to rise up out of the lights and shadows thrown by the fire in a nearby burning building.

"You guys looking for me?" Buffy quipped as she pulled herself into readiness.

The two Uber-vamps gave her a slurpy growl. They had been sent out especially for Buffy. The First knew she was coming and wanted her brought back so she could be subdued. In a weakened and subdued state she would not be able to fight and she would not be able to fetch the scythe.

"Sorry," Buffy said, "I don't speak monster." And she flew into the fight. First she hit one, then the other. But she couldn't kill either one of them. They took too much strength to subdue, too much concentration. She realized if they called in a third one, she would really be in trouble.

There were no snappy quips now, only the sounds of punching and the occasional groans of pain from Buffy. She didn't feel as if she were getting anywhere. She wanted a chance to breath, but there wasn't any. She was starting to gasp in-between blows. Finally one Turok-han managed to pin her to the ground. That was careless, she reprimanded herself. She kicked out with her powerful legs, but the other vamp seemed unbothered by it. He began to punch her face, again and again, like a crazed fighter. Her mind flashed back to what she'd done to Spike in the alley the year before. Was this her punishment? She hesitated, allowing the vamp above her to hit harder.

Suddenly the Turok-han over her was gone. She was vaguely aware of the sounds of a brawl nearby, but her first instincts were to breath and rest for a moment. The vamp that had been holding her down started pulling her away toward the vineyard, to deliver her to its master, Buffy assumed. She let it drag her for a bit so she could reorganize herself. Then she flew to her feet and pushed the Uber-vamp to the ground. With only one of them to concentrate on, she was able to kill it. When she turned around panting, she saw that she was not alone. Spike was there, standing over the dusty remains of the other Uber-vamp. It had been he who had pulled it away from her. Never had she seen a more welcome sight than that of the disheveled blond in his black leather duster.

"Spike!" Buffy called. And without thinking, she ran to him and threw her arms around him, closing her eyes in relief as she felt his arms wrap around her. They pulled back after a moment and to check each other for injuries. "How did you find me?" Buffy asked.

"Dawn. She said you'd gone this way. I can usually sense you if I put my mind to it. Didn't expect to see you taking on two of them at once, though."

"Well I didn't have much choice. I think the First is opening another entrance to the Hellmouth. Or maybe he's enlarging it. I don't know how to stop it. As for the rest of our group . . ."

"I heard. Dawn gave me the lowdown. The wankers. Playing right into the First's hands. I mean . . . if it had hands. We found something interesting. The place Giles sent us to had this secret room and the monk who was watching the place said it was for 'her.' I'm thinking since you're the official guardian of the Hellmouth, you're probably the 'her' the monk was talking about. It's worth a look, anyway. I don't know if we can get there before daylight. But we can give it a try."

"Sounds like a plan," Buffy agreed. "Not much I can do here but pick off the occasional Uber-vamp and watch the city burn."

As they headed off to the motorcycle, Buffy's hand clutched the back of Spike's duster, not wanting him to get too far out of reach.

- - - - - - - - - -

Faith was leading the fight near the center of town with several of the potentials. She'd lost four of them already. Kennedy and Willow were doing the best they could, but the Turok-han were hard to kill.

When there was a break in the battle, Faith said, "Let's fall back to the High School. See how the guys are doing. Maybe that's where all these super-vamps are coming from."

Willow and Kennedy nodded their agreement. The remaining potentials, absentmindedly rubbed the dirt across their faces as they tried to wipe away the sweat. They couldn't bear to look at Faith. Under her command even more of them were dieing. The trip to the Bronze had made them think Faith would be fun, not so speechifying as Buffy. But the gleam of coolness had rubbed away. The dark haired slayer was no longer their great rescue-fantasy.

The guys had broken off to check the situation at the High School. What they lacked in slayer strength, they made up for in Giles's and Wood's experience. Xander had gone mainly as the guy in charge of weaponry. But Anya and several of the potentials were with them as well.

When Faith's team arrived at the school they found Wood using his knives on a couple of the Harbingers. Giles was taking on a Turok-han with the help of a couple of the potentials. Faith joined the fight and managed to subdue the vamp in a couple of rounds. They were so caught up in the battle that it took them a while to realize that the Harbingers had set fire to the High School. Great flames were reaching past the roof and into the sky.

"Well, there goes another one," Xander said with a deep sigh. "We shouldn't build anything else on that spot. Just leave it as an open field."

"Buffy was right," Faith said in a half-whisper to Giles. "They're not interested in the school anymore. Their concentrating their efforts on the vineyard. I think that's where all these super-vamps are coming from."

"There's nothing more we can do tonight," Giles said. A wave of hopelessness fell over him as the heat from the fire reached his face. "It will be light in a couple of hours. The Turok-han will probably stay in retreat during the day. We'll have time to rest."

"Let's do that," Faith said, trying to sound like a leader.

Anya helped Xander pick up the weapons and they all headed back to Buffy's house. When they got in, Andrew told them all about the mission and explained that Spike had gone to look for Buffy.

"It appears Buffy may have been right about the vineyard," Giles said, his face looking beaten emotionally as well as physically. "They burned the school down, so I think it's safe to say they don't have a use for it anymore."

Dawn looked at the almost catatonic faces of the potentials. There were obviously less of them than when they went out. "How many did we lose?" she asked.

"Four," Giles said.

Wood nodded silently at his side. His voice had left him, maybe forever. In all his worst nightmares, he'd never imagined such devastation. It looked like the end of the world. It probably was.

Dawn nodded, but didn't ask who had died. She didn't want to think about it. It might make it real. If she didn't put names to the bodies, she could just pretend it was a dream.

"I think we should all settle down for the night like Giles said," Faith said. "Get ready for whatever's waiting for us tomorrow night."

No one answered her. They all just walked away and found their sleeping corners. Willow and Kennedy headed toward their room, hands touching in silent intimacy as they climbed the stairs. Giles and the principal without a school headed for the basement. It was now the "boy's" dorm.

Xander hesitated for a moment before heading down after them. He reached out for Anya's hand as he passed her, lacing his fingers through hers and pulling her close. They stood silently clinging to one another for several moments, each instinctively reaching out to the one they loved and trusted most. Xander reached down and swept some unruly hair from Anya's face. Then he kissed her forehead. They were so lost in each other they didn't realize that Faith was watching them from the doorway.

"I don't really feel like heading downstairs," Xander said.

"We could just curl up on the floor here in the kitchen and cuddle," Anya said.

Xander nodded. "I'll get a blanket."

As Xander started off downstairs, Faith headed upstairs to Buffy's room. The gang had insisted she take it. They thought it was only right. But Faith hadn't slept comfortably in Buffy's bed. Not at all.

Faith didn't want this leader gig. It had been fun playing the bad girl at the Bronze. But having people live or die because of your decisions wasn't so much fun. In her mind's eye Faith saw the faces of the girls who had died that night. Or maybe she was actually seeing them standing in the room with her, looking at her accusingly. Faith wasn't sure any more. All she knew was that for the first time in a very long time, she was afraid. And she felt alone . . . very alone.

Faith pulled the cell phone that Angel had given from the night table next to Buffy's bed. He'd given it to her in case of trouble. Well, this certainly fit the bill. She dialed his number quickly, the electronic sounds of the phone almost echoing in the overly quiet room.

In Los Angeles, Angel was just settling in after a hard night. He wasn't going to answer his cell at first. Just let the voice mail kick in. But for some reason he glanced down at the number of the caller. It was Faith. He told her to call in case of an emergency. "Faith?" he answered, concern in his voice. "What is it?"

"I need help," she said. "I'm really alone here and . . . I need you."

"Faith?" It sounded like her voice, but in a way it didn't. He'd never heard her sound afraid before. "What's wrong? What's happened?"

"I can't go into it now. Just come. I need you," she repeated. "I don't want to lead."

"What?"

"Just come, as soon as you can." And she hung up.

Angel kept the line open for a couple of moments, dumbly wondering over the short conversation. He hadn't wanted to interfere in Buffy's territory. But something was very wrong. He'd never heard Faith sound like that. There was no question but that he would do what she asked. She had been there for him during the worst. He would be there for her.

It was almost daylight. He'd need someone to drive him to Sunnydale. Not one of his crew, there was too much going on in Los Angeles. They would be needed there. But he had a friend with a van who owed him a favor. It was time to cash in. If he got moving now, he might be there by nightfall.

Angel put his cell away and tiredly reached for his jacket. He'd really hoped to get some rest today. But it was not in the cards.

- - - - - - - - - - -

Seeing the sky lightening, Spike brought the motorcycle to a momentary stop by a curb so he could talk to Buffy. In this area as well people were fleeing. The word had gotten out that something bad was coming.

"The sun will be up soon," Spike said, leaning back. "The mission is still a ways off. Need to stop somewhere for the day."

"Where?"

"Andrew and I saw this big old motel not far from here. You got any money?"

"A little?" Buffy said, patting her right pocket.

"Well, the way people are running, we may be able to get something cheap," Spike said, gesturing toward a group of people pushing two shopping carts full of household goods.

"I wouldn't be surprised," Buffy answered.

As it turned the hotel was completely deserted. Buffy went in first to see what was what, while Spike waited at the curb with the motorcycle.

"I think the rooms are gonna be really cheap. Like maybe free," Buffy quipped when she returned to Spike. "No one seems to be there. It looks as if everyone just dropped and ran."

Spike looked up at the sky. The sun hadn't stepped over the horizon quite yet, but it was about to. "Then no one will mind if I drive the motorcycle inside. I'll feel better if it's nice and close."

"Sure, why not."

Buffy opened one of the glass doors for him and Spike rolled the cycle inside. He left it near the reception desk and shook out his legs. "I've spent most of the last two days on that thing," he complained.

"Let's go up a couple of flights," Buffy said, starting for the ornate stairway with its golden handrail. "If we're upstairs we can hear if anyone comes in and be pre-warned before they get to our floor.

"Nice digs," Spike said, looking around. "Very posh."

The pair climbed the stairs without speaking. The hotel was completely lit as usual and in perfect order, except for the occasional item dropped in haste as the hotel staff and its guests had fled.

Buffy was in the lead. When she got to the middle of the third floor she stopped in front of room #324. "This is probably as good a place to stop as any," she said. First she knocked. After all, Joyce had brought her up to knock before entering a room. When there was no answer, she shrugged her shoulders and said, "I guess no one's home." She tried the door, but it was locked. So she kicked it and the lock gave way with ease.

"Old door, old locks," Spike said.

Buffy patted her hand along the wall and found a light switch that set a soft lamp to glowing. It was a medium sized room with a Queen sized bed already made up. No TV. This was an old hotel that was trying to maintain the ambiance of an earlier time. But it was still renovated enough to have its own bathroom and a mini-bar.

"This looks good," Buffy said.

"Right," Spike said, nodding. "I'll see if the room next door is clear."

"No," Buffy said, "I don't think we should separate. I mean, we're both adults. And it makes more sense if we stay together."

Spike fingered the door. "All right," he said. "Just as long as you don't hog the sheets." He shut the door as Buffy went to investigate the mini- bar.

"They've got some cute little sodas," she said rummaging around.

"Oh, good. A place to keep my breakfast." Spike patted his coat and found the bag of blood that he'd taken from the house.

"Want a soda?" Buffy asked, twisting open a diet Sprite.

"No thanks. I'm good." Spike tucked his bag into the fridge as Buffy went to investigate the bathroom. He slipped out of this duster and left it hanging over a chair. He was thinking that he should offer to sleep on the floor, but for the moment the bed looked awfully good to his tired body. He sat down on it to test the mattress. Not bad, he thought. Much better than the cot he'd been sleeping on in Buffy's basement. What was the harm in resting on it for a bit before Buffy turned in? After all, she was always coming down and sitting on his bed when she wanted to talk to him. He stretched out on the farther side, leaning up on the headboard. "So," he called out. "Tell me what happened."

"What happened?" Buffy called from the bathroom. There was a flush and she came out.

"The mutiny," Spike said.

"Oh, that." Buffy sighed and sat down on the other side of the bed. "It wasn't pretty. A lot of old angers and unresolved feelings just boiled up. I wanted to stage an attack on the vineyard and they didn't. Faith said she wanted to wait till they had more information. They put it to vote and decided to follow Faith instead of me. Willow said I needed a rest." She sat back further onto the bed and stretched out next to him. She felt relaxed. It was like the old days when they'd hung out together and talked. Before things started to get ugly and confusing. "Dawn is the one who actually asked me to leave."

"She didn't mean it. It's the First, whispering nasties in her ear."

"I know. But that doesn't mean it didn't hurt. I knew something was going to happen as soon as Giles told me he'd sent you away. I called Giles on it too. Accused him of setting me up by sending away the only person I knew I could trust."

Spike looked at Buffy in surprise. "You said that?" Hadn't she told him a year ago that she couldn't trust him? And hadn't he done something just after that that only proved it. How far they had come in a year.

"I was obviously right. By the end of the day I'd been voted down as leader and thrown out of my own house. Sending you away seemed like the first step in their plan to get rid of me."

"Well, if it's any consolation to you, I think your old Watcher really did have a hunch about this mission and that he was right about it too. It wasn't all just machinations."

"Maybe not. But it felt like it at the time. I knew you'd come looking for me though."

"Don't I always?"

Buffy smiled and reached comfortably for his hand, warming his fingers with her own. "You're always there when I need you. Even when I don't want you to be. Even when I yell at you . . . Or don't treat you very well."

"Yeah, well, I do my share of yelling too. And I haven't always been good to you either."

"No matter what, though, you're always there watching my back. I remember you saying once that you're all I've got. This time it seems to be true."

Her fingers wound tighter around his hand and he sandwiched hers in-between both of his.

"They'll work this out, your Scoobie friends," Spike said. "Soon as they realize the First has been working its mojo on them, they'll be backing you up like always. I'm just more familiar with how it works is all."

They were very close now, her head almost resting on his shoulder.

"It's not just that. Giles said we've grown to depend on each other."

Hazel eyes looked into blue ones. It felt natural to Buffy for her to lean in and touch her lips to his. It was a tentative kiss, as if they were kissing for the first time. And in a way, they were. They pulled back for a moment and then they kissed again, longer this time. Buffy ran her free hand up to his face, feeling his strong cheek bones. Then the kiss deepened and they started to melt into each other.

Spike could feel Buffy's pulse quicken and he shivered as her hand wandered from his face to his neck, down his shoulder and back, then drifting down toward his hips and the outside of his thigh. This felt different than all the other times. It wasn't harsh or insistent. Nobody was getting thrown against a wall. There were no demands. It felt like they were completing themselves in each other, melding into their other half. Buffy had said she trusted him. That was something she'd never said before. And she said that she trusted him more than anyone else.

Still, there had been such pain before. Spike found himself pulling away from her, catching her wandering hand before it could move further. She looked at him questioningly. "I'm not interested in any more cold comfort," he said, searching her eyes.

"I'm not either," she said simply.

Spike saw that she was telling the truth. He always knew when she was lying. There was so much to say, so much to discuss about where things might be going. But for now, this was enough. He had her trust and this wasn't cold comfort. There would be time to discuss the rest after the apocalypse. Spike closed his eyes and kissed her again, sinking into the warmth of her.

Hands touched, lips tasted, and clothes began to fall away. Bare skin moved against bare skin, rubbing and savoring. The passion was still there, but it had changed. It gave and took pleasure this time. There was no rushing, just gentility and warmth, and a feeling of fullness. They were more than friends, more than lovers. They were partners. Two halves of a whole that couldn't be complete without the other.

By the time the sun stood at its highest point in the sky, they had both fallen into a satisfied sleep, completely woven around each other.