Chapter 27

Spike came to, lying on his side.

"Bloody hell, what just happened?" asked Spike.

He turned over to see Buffy lying there next to him, so quiet and still, her eyes tightly shut, Spike, still weak from their return, closed the short distance between them, he rested his head against her chest. Relief flooded his being as he heard the steady beat of her heart. Buffy's eyelids fluttered open, as the first thing she saw was Spike's face, looking down at her in concern. She smiled up at him.

"Did we make it?" she asked huskily.

He stroked her hair and smiled back at her.

"Yeah," he said softly.

"So why do you think they sent us back?" asked Buffy.

Spike frowned.

"Because the PTB's can't be trusted to keep a bargain, that's why," said Spike.

"Oh, I don't know," said Buffy pointing at the early morning sun.

Spike looked at her in wonder, noticing for the first time that he was in full daylight.

"Guess they didn't screw us over after all," said Spike.

Buffy squealed in surprise as Spike hauled her into his arms, kissing her passionately, they drew apart and laughed and kissed some more.

"Cough, cough, ahem!" said a familiar voice behind them.

Buffy pulled out of Spike's embrace, looking up to see seven pairs of eyes, watching them with interest. Dawn looked down at her sister, her arms folded.

"Are you two, just gonna roll around in the dirt all morning, or are you gonna get up, so that I can bust both your asses, for giving me the biggest fright of my life?" Dawn asked haughtily.

Spike got up off the ground and dusted himself off; he extended out a hand to Buffy to help her up. No sooner than they were standing, then Dawn rushed at them, hugging both of them tightly.

"Dawn, it's okay, we're both okay," said Buffy.

Buffy looked at Spike over her sister's shoulder, they both knew how close it had come to being the opposite. Before they knew what was happening, Andrew, Giles and Xander had moved in for a group hug, only Faith, Wood and Willow stood by the sidelines. Spike detached himself from them, still a little uncomfortable with the warm fuzzies, except when offered from a certain slayer.

Spike went over to Willow's side, he held out a hand to her.

"Thanks," he said.

Willow smiled and took his hand, holding on to it for several moments, before looking him in the eye.

"Wow, that's a lot of power you have there, the PTB's must really love you," said Willow

"What do you mean?" asked Spike.

"Come on, you can't dupe a goddess, I can feel it," Willow replied.

Spike frowned.

"Still not getting it," said Spike.

"Surely they must have told you what they've done, you're a man Spike, but not just any kind of man, they let you keep the powers you had before, they probably have a purpose for you," Willow explained.

"Those crafty buggers, is all I can say, Tara and Anya said...," Spike trailed off as he saw Willow's expression at the mention of Tara's name.

Her eyes misted over, and her lip trembled.

"You saw Tara?" she asked.

Spike looked at her in sympathy.

"Yeah," he said softly.

"It was really her? It's just that when the first was playing with us all, it used Tara against me," she told him.

"No it was the real deal, she's happy Willow, she had a message for you," said Spike.

Willow sobbed.

"I thought she'd gone away, that she was angry with me," said Willow, tears running down her face.

Spike took her in his arms for an awkward hug.

"Tara told me to tell you, that she loves you and that she's so proud of you," said Spike.

Buffy had managed to separate herself from Andrew's clinging arms, she came up behind Willow.

"Any room there for me?" asked Buffy.

"Sure," said Willow, holding out a hand to her friend.

Buffy looked at Willow's tearstained face.

"Spike told you, didn't he?" asked Buffy.

Spike grinned.

"Well you didn't think I was gonna give Xander, Anya's message, kiss and all?" asked Spike.

"I'll go talk to him," Buffy sighed.

"No tongues," said Spike.

"Ha, very funny it is Xander, I just don't think of him that way," Buffy replied.

Spike and Willow watched Buffy's progress as she walked over to Xander, and said a few words and then swiftly kissed him on the lips.

"So how did you find us so quickly, did you use your powers?" asked Spike.

"Nah, are you kidding? You two were making enough noise to wake the dead," grinned Willow.

Faith watched the proceedings, a satisfied look on her face.

"I like a happy ending," said Faith.

"Really didn't have you pegged as the happily ever after type," replied Robin.

"Well I married you, didn't I?" she asked.

"True, but I'd say it was more of an experiment on your part," said Robin.

Faith looked at everyone.

"Speaking of happily ever afters, how about we get back to the vehicles and get some breakfast," suggested Faith.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Andrew had been stealing glances at Dawn, she was talking animatedly to Giles. He was glad that everything had turned out okay for Dawn, he watched her flick her hair over one shoulder, his imagination went into overdrive at the simple action, as everything else faded into the background, as Andrew saw it all in his mind in slow motion. He shook his head to clear the images, he had to quit doing that, he told himself angrily.

Andrew jumped as a hand rested firmly on his shoulder.

"Hey Andrew, if you want to get the girl, you have to be a little more forceful than standing around making moon eyes at her, so I'm told," said Spike, looking over at Buffy.

"I don't know what to do," said Andrew.

"Just follow your instincts," Spike replied.

Andrew turned to look at Spike, his eyes narrowing slightly.

"Thanks amigo," said Andrew, as he strode off towards Dawn.

Buffy joined Spike, she watched Andrew walk off.

"Spike, what did you just say to Andrew?" she asked.

"Just trying to teach the boy a bit about life," said Spike.

Andrew walked up to Dawn, a confident swagger in his walk, he looked first at Giles and then at Dawn.

"Excuse me old English guy, I have business with Dawn here," said Andrew.

Dawn looked as if she were about to protest at Andrew's interruption, when he grabbed a hold of her, leaving her momentarily speechless.

"What do you think you are doing Andr.,"

Dawn never got to finished her sentence, as he swiftly bent his head to kiss her, she struggled at first, then gave herself up to his kiss. Buffy moved forward, to go to her sister's aid. Spike put a hand on her arm.

"Does she look like she needs saving? Dawn's not a little girl anymore," said Spike.

Buffy frowned.

"Okay, I'll let it pass this once, but if he tries more than kissing," said Buffy warningly.

Spike shook his head, Giles walked away from Dawn and Andrew, he made his way over to Spike, he held out his hand to him, Spike hesitated, momentarily before taking it.

"Never thought I'd say this, but welcome back Spike," said Giles warmly.

Spike laughed.

"Coming from you, I'll take that as a compliment," said Spike.

Giles looked at Buffy.

"So what happened in there?" he asked.

"Oh the usual, it got all hellmouthy and we both died at the same time, which was a little different I guess, anyway long story, I'll tell you all about it sometime," Buffy replied.

"Thanks, it would be nice to be kept in the loop for a change," said Giles.

Buffy and Spike had already moved on, his words falling on deaf ears. Xander came and patted him on the shoulder.

"I still love you G man," he grinned.

"Xander! I already told you, never call me that, Oh I give up!," said Giles.

He walked off in disgust to retrieve his rucksack, they set off most of them paired into couples, headed by Willow, Giles and Xander.

"Two's company, three's a crowd," said Willow.

"Us being the crowd," said Xander dryly.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Andrew and Dawn walked together, behind, Willow, Giles and Xander, the expression on Dawn's face was thunderous.

"What the hell did you think you were doing back there?" asked Dawn.

"Taking some advice," Andrew answered.

"Let me guess, Spike?" she asked.

Dawn briefly shot Spike a dark look, before turning her attention back to Andrew.

"I'm waiting ," she said.

Andrew looked confused.

"This is the part where you ask me out on a date," Said Dawn impatiently.

Andrew looked at her wide-eyed.

"Oh right, will you go on a date with me Dawn?" asked Andrew nervously.

"Maybe, you have a lot to learn about girls Andrew," said Dawn smugly.

Andrew beamed at her.

"I'm hoping, you'll help me with that," he replied.

"Don't push it," she grinned.

Andrew turned and gave Spike the thumbs up. Spike smiled, Buffy caught his expression.

"And why are you looking so pleased with yourself?" Buffy asked.

"No reason love, but there is something I think you should know, something that Willow discovered," said Spike.

"What's that?" asked Buffy.

"It seems the PTB's are a little more trustworthy than we gave them credit for love, I still have all the powers I had before and some," said Spike.

"Still wouldn't trust the PTB's any further than I could throw them," said Buffy.

"Which considering your strength, it could be quite a distance," said Spike.

Buffy smiled. Secretly relieved for Spike and for herself, she knew all too well, what inequality could to any relationship, her super powers had often been a bone of contention in her past relationship with Riley. It wouldn't have mattered to her, if he had been returned as nothing more than a man, Spike was as essential to Buffy as breathing was to her body, and she'd take him any way she could get him.

"Want to give those powers a test run later?" she asked.

"I thought you'd never ask," leered Spike.

Buffy returned his look with one of her own, before she pouted, a thought occurring to her.

"Uh-uh mister, no way, at least not until we find a drugstore. I get the feeling everything else on you is fully operational right now, don't want to be picking out the names 'Tara and Anya' just yet, I want you to myself for a while first," she grinned.

Spike stopped walking and turned to look at her.

"Do you really mean it? That you'd like to have a child with me one day?" he asked.

"Duh, yeah, I mean you're totally hot, then there is that thing where I love ya, kinda have a hankering for that ordinary life, now that you're a part of it," said Buffy.

Spike looked at her,

"You're a slayer, I have the powers of a god, just how ordinary do you think it's gonna be?" asked Spike.

"Good point," she said.

"Look, I can see the RV," said Andrew excitedly.

"That's a beautiful sight, I could kill for a shower, feeling a little dirty," said Buffy.

"Hold that thought for later," growled Spike, in her ear.

They trudged towards the vehicles, all of them a little on the near side of exhausted. Giles unlocked the van, and they all piled in.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Half an hour later, they were all seated around the table. Piles of various pancakes and waffles, piled high on plates, were disappearing with alarming speed, every one was laughing and joking with each other. Spike sat down in the back of the van, lighting up a cigarette that he'd liberated from Faith. Having eaten her fill, Buffy went and joined him, cradling a cup of coffee in her hands. She wrinkled her nose at the smoke.

"We're gonna have to cure you of that little habit," she said.

"I'm not going on no bloody patch, if that's what you think," grumbled Spike.

Buffy didn't respond, one thing at a time, she thought secretly to herself. Faith came over and sat down next to Buffy and Spike. She looked at Spike's cigarette.

"Thanks Spike, that was my last one, I was saving that," said Faith.

Spike took a deep drag and then passed it to her.

"Here, you finish it," he smirked.

"So good of you," Faith replied, taking it.

"Thanks for earlier Faith," Buffy,

"It was nothing, anyway, that's not why I made my way over here, hubby and I have decided to ditch the school bus, we wanna settle down, make some roots," said Faith.

"Sounds awfully domesticated for you Faith," said Buffy.

"Yeah, I know, I'm scaring myself as I say it, anyway there's a fully equipped school bus going, you know anyone who might want?" asked Faith.

Buffy and Spike looked at each other, Spike nodded.

"We want, but what are we gonna do for money, after Sunnydale, I just never got round to getting a job, so I'm broke," said Buffy.

"Do what Robin and I did, we just kept getting temp jobs from town to town," said Faith.

Spike looked at Buffy.

"How about it love? It sounds like an adventure, are you up for it?" asked Spike.

"We'll take it, but what are you going to do for transport?" asked Buffy.

Faith glanced at Giles.

"I'm sure we can hitch a ride with old Rupes here," said Faith.

Buffy and Spike sat back down at the breakfast table, she looked around at every one's happy faces.

"Guys, Spike and I have something to tell you," announced Buffy.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

It was almost midday, Robin and Faith had removed their personal belongings from the school bus to the RV. Everyone had gathered to say his or her goodbyes. Buffy went over to Giles first.

"Thanks for everything Giles, keep an eye on Dawnie for me?" she asked.

"Hey that's my job, literally and figuratively speaking," said Xander.

Buffy smiled at him warmly and kissed his cheek.

"I'm not five," whined Dawn.

Xander shook Spike's hand,

"Look after her man," said Xander.

"I intend to mate, all my life," Spike replied.

Willow hugged Buffy.

"Thanks Will, couldn't have done any of this without you," said Buffy.

"See ya, when you get back, email me okay," said Willow.

Buffy moved on to Dawn.

"How long do you think you'll be gone?" asked Dawn.

Buffy reached out a hand to stroke her sister's hair.

"Come here Dawn," she said, drawing her sister into her arms.

Buffy pulled away so she could look at her.

"It's your 18th birthday in a couple of months, we'll be back for that, I promise," said Buffy.

"You'd better," said Dawn.

Buffy observed Andrew, who was standing at her sister's side. She gave Andrew her stern look.

"I'm going on a lotta faith here, so you'd better behave," said Buffy.

Andrew shifted about nervously, from one foot to the other.

"I'll be good," Andrew mumbled.

Spike got up on the steps to the school bus.

"Guess we'll be on our way then, thank you one and all and see you in a couple of months time," said Spike.

Giles came up to Buffy.

"Before I forget, a little going away present," said Giles

He pressed a roll of notes into her hand.

"Giles, I can't, it's about time I started being an adult," said Buffy trying to hand the money back to him.

"A loan then?" asked Giles.

"Okay, but I'll pay you back every cent, with interest," she said Giving him a quick hug.

Spike sat down behind the wheel of the school bus, Buffy started walking towards him, he gave her a mock salute., Buffy turned towards her friends for one last look. Faith ran over to her, slightly out of breath.

"That was a close one, almost forgot to give you my going away present, now hold out your hand," said Faith, as she reached into the back pocket of her jeans.

Buffy looked a little mystified as to what Faith's gift could possibly be. Faith placed the item in Buffy's hand and closed her fingers over it.

"And no peeking until you're on your way, and unlike Giles, I won't expect them back," Faith said, winking at her.

"Thanks," said Buffy.

"Thank me later, keep in touch do you hear," said Faith.

"You bet ya," said Buffy as she got into the school bus.

Spike closed the doors after her, and honked the horn, Buffy waved as the bus moved off. They had been driving for a few minutes, Buffy was deep in thought.

"So what did Giles and Faith give you?" asked Spike.

"Giles loaned us a few dollars, as to Faith's present, I haven't looked yet," said Buffy.

Buffy opened her hand. Spike quickly glanced at Faith's gift, he slammed on the brakes.

"How the hell did she know?" asked Spike.

"She must have heard us talking earlier," said Buffy.

"Never mind, I think I love her," said Spike.

"Hey what about me?" asked Buffy in mock offence.

"You know I love you, and I'm just about to show you how much," he grinned at her.

Spike ripped open the box of condoms and chased Buffy down the aisle of the bus.

"And they say romance is dead," she giggled.

Spike sobered up.

"It may not be the most romantic of settings, but there's a back seat of a bus, that has our name on it," said Spike.

"I'm not complaining," she sighed as she pulled him down onto the back seat with her.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

With the danger, having now passed and Buffy and Spike off on their way to who knows where, there was nothing left for the others to do, but to load up the RV and be on their way home to Cleveland. Faith and Robin sat up front, both eager to earn their keep, taking first driving duty.

"Let's roll," said Faith.

Robin turned on the engine, soon they were homeward bound. They hadn't got very far along the road, when they spotted the familiar sight of the yellow school bus, pulled over to one side.

"Do you think they've broken down?" asked Giles.

Faith and Wood looked at each other, knowingly.

"Nah, let's keep going, we have a lot of miles to cover," said Faith.

"I really think we should stop and make sure they are okay," insisted Xander.

Faith sighed,

"They're fine, look I'll prove it to you, slow it down Robin," instructed Faith, as they came along side the bus.

Faith honked the horn. A couple of blonde heads peeked over the edge of the window, Buffy and Spike smiled self-consciously at the unexpected spectators, before Buffy pulled him back down out of sight.

Faith turned and looked at them all.

"See? They're gonna be just fine," she said smugly. As Robin speeded up the RV, and they drove on by.


A/N A big thank you to all of you who supported me during the writing of this story, I wouldn't have made it without all your wonderful reviews and encouragement. It may be the end of this story, but in that little place in my head, (not the mad place) I like to think it's the beginning for them, not the end!

Thanks Again!