Chapter 43 – What Matters

The house on Revello Drive was finally still.

It was only a shell. Standing empty and forlorn as the young woman wandered through the rooms that she once lived in. Gone was the furniture that made it a home, the pictures of the people who mattered, and gone was the laughter and the tears that made it alive.

I hope someone loves you as much as we did, Buffy thought as she locked the front door for the last time. She handed the key over to the real estate agent before walking away. She was alone on this journey. Dawn had been hysterical when they had packed the place up and Buffy wouldn't put her through any more pain. Her sister was having enough trouble dealing with all the changes that had seemed to hit all at once the morning after the Glory showdown.

Buffy hadn't asked Spike or Angel to come along with her because neither of them could truly understand the depth of her feelings for the house. They were both wanderers and both were having their own struggles dealing with the changes in all their lives. Two vampires weren't meant to be fathers, domestic bound in a neighborhood and they were coming to terms with the fact that was exactly what they were.

And she hadn't asked her friends to come along with her. She could barely deal with her own grief much less theirs. Willow and Xander both haunted the rooms as much as the family had. The changes, the whispered secrets, the fun, and the truths laid out in her bedroom, the kitchen as well as the floor in the living room where they watched movies.

The corner had been turned and there was no going back. She crossed her arms and hugged herself to keep the chills away in the bright afternoon sun. Buffy Anne Summers was a slayer, a mother-to-be, guardian to her younger sister and lover to two vampires. It was wonderful and it was frightening as hell.

This time she knew she was loved and wanted. Despite the pain they had caused each other, there was no doubt in her mind that Angel and Spike loved her.

But she wasn't alone. And that was the most important thing of all.

Buffy stood outside the new house for a moment, watching the chaos with a smile.

Dawn and Spike had found the advertisement for the Mediterranean style house on the river. It had three bedrooms, two baths, a study for Angel, a pool for Dawn and a 'guest apartment' for Spike. It had been his suggestion. They had always had separate bedrooms for privacy if they needed it. He'd keep his gear in there, use it enough to make it looked lived in enough to satisfy social services but would still sleep with Buffy and Angel.

Tomorrow, Angel, using his 'bought' papers would marry Buffy in the courthouse downtown to also satisfy social services. To the world they would appear to be a loving couple raising their own baby along with Dawn. To the ones that mattered they would be a loving trio raising their own baby along with Dawn. To them it was enough. The world's opinion didn't matter. This was what they had decided they could live with even if no one had gotten exactly what they wanted.

"You coming in, Buffster?" Xander asked, grabbing another box from the back of the van.

"Yeah, I am."

She followed her friend into the house. There was laughter from somewhere toward the bedrooms. Spike arguing with Angel about where the bed should go. And toward the kitchen she could hear Jenny and Anya discussing where the most practical place to store the dishes would be.

Deciding to solve the most urgent problem, she made her way into the master bedroom. Giles was cleaning his glasses as he waited for the two vampires to make up their minds.

"Against the south wall," Buffy said, softly. "There won't be a lot of sun in the morning."

Spike and Angel turned to her, sighed then shrugged.

"South wall then," Angel said and Spike nodded his agreement.

It was her home. A gift from them to show they understood her need for some normalcy in their existence. And she had given them their freedom but they hadn't taken it. Spike told her that life was short enough and he only wanted to be with her for as long as they had. Angel had refused to discuss it.

The mattress was dropped on top of the springs and the men turned to her.

"Looks good," Buffy said. She graced them with a smile. "Thank you."

"You're welcome, Luv," Spike said, dropping a quick kiss on her mouth. "Just want you to be happy."

"I am," Buffy insisted. "I think Xander needs help with the boxes piling up in the entry way."

"We're on our way," Angel said, squeezing her hand as he passed.

She looked up at Giles who was still standing by the bed. He had the telling look of wanting to give her a lecture but wasn't sure how to broach it. It had been coming for awhile now and she knew it was best to get it over with. At least he cared enough to lecture so she would accept it with good grace.

"Let's go out on the patio," Buffy said, leading him to the French doors that led to the pool area. Her first thought upon seeing the bedroom's exit over the patio had been midnight swims with naked vampires. Pushing away her hormonal needs, Buffy led her Watcher to two chairs at the edge of the canopy. "Say what you need to say, Giles."

He sighed and leaned back.

"Buffy, you know I've learned to trust them…Spike and Angel…to a point. They're still vampires…still demons."

"I know that."

"They raped you as soon as Spike's chip was out. It doesn't forebode well for the future."

"I'm pregnant, Giles, with one or the other's baby. Do you think they would let me walk away from them?"

His head snapped around to look at her.

"Give me the word and you'll never have to deal with them again."

"I love them."

"In spite of it all?"

"Yes," Buffy confirmed. "In spite of what happened and what might happen tomorrow, I love them. I've learned something in the past few months. Something very important."

"What's that?"

"Today is all we have," Buffy said softly. "It might all disappear in the blinking of an eye never to return."

"You're right," Giles agreed. "But can you live with the possibility…?"

"Which possibility? Which fact?" Buffy asked with a wry smile. "Is my future a possibility or a fact? Things that keep me awake at night. Things like evil will never stop, that one day I might have to sacrifice my life to keep the world or even one person safe, or that one of my friends will. Maybe one day I'll be one to turn evil, maybe Willow, or maybe Spike without a soul will return to the killing fields. Maybe we don't know everything about Dawn and the power within her will one day be a great help or a great destroyer of the world. Maybe one day Angel's soul won't be anchored anymore. I could drive myself crazy with possibilities."

"Yes, you could," Giles said. "So, you're sure this is what you want?"

"Yes, I'm sure," Buffy said.

"Then I'm here for you every step of the way."

"Thank you."

Buffy stood, taking the older man's hand to lead him back to the house. She was content with the way things were. The last few months had taken away the last of her girlhood and the future weighed heavy on the woman she had become. She stepped into her new home and walked into a new potential apocalypse.

"Keep your grubby hands off my video games," Spike yelled as he stomped through the house toward his room. "Someone needs to teach you a few lessons about stealing."

"Oh, that's just rich," Dawn screamed from her doorway. "You're Mr. Evil incarnate. Keep out of my room. Do you hear me?"

"Wouldn't want to step into all that damn feminine stuff anyway," Spike yelled back.

First Dawn's door slammed and then Spike's followed suit.

"Uh, I think the honeymoon is over between those two," Angel said, smiling at Buffy.

"I think so," Buffy agreed. "Dawn's a handful and she's been really pushing it lately."

"I think it will help when everybody gets into a routine," Jenny said.

"Yes, momma," Spike said, slinking back into the room toward Buffy. He wrapped his arms around her. "Sorry, did I upset the little one?" His hand covered her stomach.

"Nope, the little one is just fine," Buffy said, returning his embrace. "Don't worry. She comes from hardy stock."

"He comes from hardy stock," Angel corrected her.

The others had been told of her pregnancy and were taking it with surprisingly good graces. It was Anya that had tried to push to find out exactly who the father was but Xander had silenced her. They had decided it didn't matter. The child would belong to all of them. It was their hope for a happy future and there was more than enough love to go around.

"Hey, is it time to order pizza?" Xander asked.

"Yes, it is," Willow said. "Is that okay with you, Buffy?"

"Pizza's fine. Veggie please," Buffy said, smiling at her friend. Willow had been close to her side since she had learned of the baby. They had spent a lot of time talking and reconnecting to the friendship they had before Buffy had gone away. The red head had become supportive and a pillar of strength that Buffy had needed.

Everyone started to finish up what they were doing and congregating in the living room while waiting for dinner to arrive. Dawn and Janice even came out of the bedroom to join them. A movie was decided on and Buffy snuggled down between Spike and Angel.

No, nothing was perfect but everything was good. She would accept it and be happy with it. What she had told Giles wasn't a lie. It was her new motto for life. Live for today. It was the only chance you had because forgiving was difficult, loving was easy, forgetting was impossible and living life was the hardest thing of all.

It was a hard lesson but she had learned it.

And within that she found hope for them all.

~~~The End~~~

Author's Note: Thank you to everyone who has stuck by this story, supported it and never gave up on it. I hope that in spite of the rather long scenic route that the journey was worth it. I doubt that I will ever visit this verse again so I have tried to leave them as happy and as hopeful as possible. Here's to a Slayer and the two vampires that she loves. May they have a long and healthy life together. Good night!!