DISCLAIMER IS ON FIRST PAGE

Birthday Girl, "Epilogue"

The door opened and Buffy and Spike exited the office. They exchanged a thoughtful hug as Dawn emerged from Wesley's office. They broke apart and Spike took Dawn in an even grander embrace.

"You have to go with big sis, Bit," Spike whispered in the young girl's ear. "Finish school, and be good for me."

Tears welled in Dawn's eyes. She didn't want to let him go, not again. She broke from him and tried her best to put on her strong face, despite the rolling droplets collecting on the floor in front of her. She looked to Buffy.

"We're only a call away," she reassured her kid sister.

Dawn nodded as they were joined by Wesley, Angel, and Harmony. It was so difficult for the two Summers girls. Just when the reunion was starting, they had to cut it short with goodbyes.

Buffy gave Wesley a small hug and thanked him for looking after Dawn, and awkwardly said goodbye to Harmony, as the two were never very close, even when Harmony was alive. Dawn crossed over to Angel as Buffy looked on.

"Thank you," she whispered as she took the tortured vampire into an embrace, this one more timid than the one she bestowed upon Spike. As she pulled away, Angel tried to give her a reassuring smile, but it didn't seem to work that well.

"Yeah, well... anytime," he replied with a tiny nod. He tried to motion to Buffy, but she took a slight step backward. He nodded in understanding. It hurt him so much to not be allowed by her to say goodbye, but he knew that things were not great between them.

Buffy turned one last time to Spike, wringing the red shirt in her hands. The sight almost made him cringe, but he had to remind himself that it was her nerves acting up and that he'd probably do the same thing. He gave a small sniffle, and looked deeply over her. Tears stained the front of her blouse and she couldn't bring her eyes to meet his. He pulled her into his arms and kissed the top of her head ever so gently.

"You need anything, you or Dawn, say the word, and I'll be there," he whispered. He felt her head nod beneath his chin and let her go. She took Dawn's hand and squeezed it lightly and together, they walked out of Wolfram and Hart.

It wasn't their time yet, but it would be. Maybe someday, but not today.