Author:  Meltha

Rating:  G, at this point. 

Feedback:  Yes, thank you.

Spoilers:  Casting spoilers for Angel season five:  specifically, the two major casting spoilers.  If you have no idea what I mean, it's probably better to wait to read this until after at least the first episode.

Distribution: and the Bunny Warren.  If you're interested, please let me know.

Summary:  A sequel to "The Other Side" of sorts.  Spike has helped save the world and has earned a bit of rest, but it seems that other plans are in store for him.

Author's Note:   Parts of this will make precious little sense unless you've read "The Other Side."  Also, aside from knowing one character is being added and one subtracted from Angel, I don't know any spoilers, so this is just my odd (and probably incredibly naïve) version of what might have happened to our dear William.

Disclaimer: All characters are owned by Mutant Enemy (Joss Whedon), a wonderfully creative company whose characters I have borrowed for a completely profit-free flight of fancy.  Kindly do not sue me, please, as I am terrified of you.  Thank you.

Part Six

"Just how is this going to work, Dru?  I mean, am I going back as a ghost or a vampire or a talking lampshade or what all?" he asked, trying to lighten the mood.

Tara suddenly giggled, then turned pink.  "Sorry, just… picturing Spike as a lampshade.  One of those ones from the 70's with gold ball fringe and burnt orange and avocado hippie flowers…" she said as she dissolved into laughter again, "and fangs!"

Spike and Dru exchanged looks that clearly said they thought Tara had gone insane.  Even in the afterlife, no one got her jokes.

"Ehm, yes," Drusilla said, looking in mild concern at Tara swallowing another fit of chuckles.  "Yes, well, you won't be a lampshade, with or without fangs, I can tell you that much, but even I'm not certain what form you will take.  After all, your body is ashes.  At least with Buffy there was still a basic structure left, but I'm afraid that's not the case for you.  I'm not even sure if you will have a physical body."

"I really don't have much idea what I'm in for down there, do I?" Spike said, realizing that he could be in quite far over his no-longer existing head.

"There are a few things we do know, William," Dru said as she sat up in the hammock.  "You won't be able to remember Limbo, as is usual with those who have been here, except perhaps as a pleasant but very unclear dream."

"He, uh," Tara broke in, "he won't be, you know, like Buffy was when she came back, will he?"

"No," Spike answered quickly.  "She got all twisted up inside because her soul was broken in half.  I'm assuming I'll be able to take the whole thing with me."

Drusilla nodded firmly.  "Yes.  And you're leaving of your own volition, which makes a difference as well.  Also, your main function will be to help Angel, so you'll have to at least be able to communicate clearly with him.  I'm not certain if you're actually supposed to help him fight or even if you'll be permitted to speak with the others.  It's possible only Angel will be able to see and hear you, but then again, you may be granted a perfectly normal body again."

"Human?" Spike said, suddenly hopefully.

"No," Dru responded at once.  "No, only someone who is at least part demon is capable of receiving the visions without being killed eventually, so the one other thing we do know is you will not be a human."

"Right," Spike muttered, "because a little ray of sunlight would be just too much to ask for in all of this lovely gloom and doom."

The hours went by quickly for Spike's final time in Limbo.  It was strange, but he didn't really seem to know what to do with himself.  He supposed he should be reveling in every possible delight the dimension afforded, but he didn't have the heart for it.  All he wanted to do was stay in his study, his feet propped up on the hearth, as Dru, Tara, and occasionally Harm and Cordy talked in the background while he read or watched the flickering flames lick at the wood in the fireplace.  Everything felt vaguely haunted, even more so than it did when he first arrived.  Everywhere he looked, he was pursued by memories: the beach where Buffy and he had their first picnic after her arrival, the green valley where Harmony had let slip that he was in love with the former Slayer, the wildflower bedecked fields where she had been taken from him in a maelstrom of fire and wind.  Even in his library he was pursued by the ghost of Buffy's green eyes smiling at him as she added marshmallows to his hot chocolate.  But there was one place he refused to visit until the very end.

Cordelia had stopped explaining to one of the newly sired arrivals the evils of polyester in mid-sentence with a quick gasp.

"Um, Drusilla?" she said in a strangely small voice.  "I'm thinking something's going on down there."

Dru's eyes whipped to the other woman as Cordelia's face grew pale.  "It's starting, isn't it?"

Cordy tilted her head in thought.  "Yeah, I'd say so.  It feels… weird.  Not painful, really, but sort of like… you know how before a power outage sometimes the lights will blink?"

Harmony stared at her friend. "There's blinking?" 

"Oh yeah," Cordelia said emphatically.  "Morse code level blinking."

"It's all right, Cordelia," Drusilla said, sitting next to her as the girl caught her breath.  "There's no need to be frightened.  Everything is going to be just fine.  You have only a few moments left, and then you'll be free to move on from here."

In spite of herself, Cordy gripped the seer's hand firmly.  "Good place, right?"

"Very good place," she assured her, squeezing her hand in return.  "I'm quite sure."

"Right.  Better have lots of shoes up there.  I'm just saying," Cordelia said with a smile.  "Nice to have friends around.  Spike?"

"Yeah, Legs.  Right here," he said, moving closer. 

"Look, thanks for taking over for me.  I know Spike and Angel didn't really get along so good, but he needs someone looking after him.  It's good to know it'll be you.  You won't put up with his moaning and groaning, either.  Sometimes he needs a good kick in the pants, and I know you can do that pretty well," Cordelia said honestly.  "Really, thank you."

The blond smiled at her for a second.  "Welcome, Cor.  Have a good trip."

"I'd say I'll send you a postcard, but they're so tacky," Cordy joked.  Her face fell a moment later though.  "I don't do scared," she said through gritted teeth more to herself than anyone else.

Tara looked at her for a long moment, and then set her mouth in what was a pretty good imitation of Willow's resolve face.  "Would it help if you weren't going alone?"

Everyone's gaze turned on Tara at once.

"You're certain?" Drusilla asked carefully.

"Yeah," Tara said, and she smiled peacefully.  "Yeah, it's time.  William's right.  Willow's okay, and I can still keep tabs on her from up there, I think.  It's time to go."

"You called me William," Spike said, his voice cracking a bit.  "Never done that before."

"It just felt right.  Everything is going to be okay for you.  I just know it," Tara assured him, her face glowing with inner tranquility. 

"Goodbye, Tara dear," Drusilla said with a note of sadness behind her smile.  "I'm sure we'll meet again one day.  When we do, pancakes?"

"With blueberry syrup," Tara agreed. 

"Shoot.  Everybody's leaving," Harmony pouted.  "Sounds like fun though!"

"So, ready?" Tara asked Cordelia in a confident voice.

"Yeah," Cordy said.  "Yeah, I think I am."

The two women joined hands and, accompanied by a highly theatrical crescendo that no one doubted was Cordelia's doing, they faded slowly from sight, leaving behind only air.

"Guess that's my cue, eh?" Spike said.

"You can have a moment, William," Drusilla told him.  "I'm sorry to lose you again, and even more sorry that you aren't going to the rest you've earned, but I promise, I'll never be far.  Whether you know it or not, you'll always have my love."

Harmony blew her nose delicately on pink tissue.  "That's so sweet!  Good luck, Spikey!"

"Thanks, Harm," he said, giving her a kiss on the cheek.  Turning to Drusilla, he took her hand in his and raised it to his lips.  "Thank you, Drusilla, for everything."

As the time came near, Spike willed himself alone to the one place in Limbo he hadn't revisited.  As the plum blossoms gently spiraled to the ground like snowflakes in the lane where Buffy had told him that she had chosen to be with him, that she loved him, he closed his eyes and remembered what it felt like to be truly loved even if it was only for a brief time.

"Was worth it," he said softly.  "Was worth every minute of it and always will be." 

Then Spike too faded out of sight, not sure of his destination, but willing to do whatever he had to in order to make Buffy's dreams come true.  Somewhere far away, from another plane of existence, a joyful cheering rang forth.

"Alone again, huh Dru?" Harmony said as she sat with the Englishwoman on William's couch.

"I suppose so, Harmony," Drusilla agreed.  "Lots of comings and goings all the time, but we remain constant, it seems."

"Yeah," Harmony said.  "I'm gonna go grab a pizza with some of the new arrivals from that vampire attack in Belgium.  Wanna come?"

"Not just now," Drusilla answered with a sigh. 

Harmony cocked her head thoughtfully.  "You okay, Dru?"

Drusilla smiled at the girl's show of concern.  "Yes, Harmony.  I'll be just fine.  You go and have a good time.  I'll see you later, perhaps for dessert."

"Kay," she said as she left, leaving behind her a scent of cotton candy and fresh squeezed oranges.

Drusilla prodded the fire with a poker morosely; she wasn't really fine, but she didn't want to bring down Harmony's good spirits if she could help it.  Her Sight told her only that the road William was going to travel was filled with perils and trials.  She had confidence in him, but she missed him already, along with Tara and Cordelia and even Darla.  Sometimes she just became tired of being alone.

"I beg your pardon upon me, my lady," said an unfamiliar voice in the doorway,  "but are you perhaps Drusilla?"

"Yes," she said, turning towards the speaker, "I'm Drusilla.  Is there something you wan…"

She broke off mid-word as she took in the person who had just entered the room.  Tall and slim, he was clad entirely in soft forest green, his clothing looking like something from long before she had been born, and a bow and quiver of arrows were slung over his shoulder.  His face was very fair, with brilliant blue eyes and a soft, kindly mouth.  With a start, she realized that the points of two decidedly non-human ears were just visible in the shining strands of his long, golden hair.

"Huh?" she asked intelligently.

"I have found you, then," he said, smiling warmly at her and making her very glad she was sitting down as her knees melted into butter cream icing.  "Tara and William spoke truly.  You are wondrous fair, if you will forgive my boldness in saying it."

Drusilla blinked slowly.  "Tara and William?"

"Indeed.  They have laid upon me the charge of protecting you and being your companion for so long as you desire me.  Will you walk with me, lady?" he asked as he took her hand and guided her to her feet.

"I think I would like that very much," she said with a shy smile while inwardly giggling hysterically over her friends' parting gift.  "Very much indeed."

"So… do you like trees, Drusilla?"