Author: Heather Martin (SinisterChic)

Rating: PG13

Spoilers: Season 6, Season 7, Angel season 5

Summary: S/B, Learning of Spike's resurrection Dawn and she venture to LA in search of him. But they are too late. . . Or are they? Is there a way to fix things before they began to get dark?

Archive: Just let me know where

Chapter 29- Your Reward

The first thing Tara saw was Willow. The red-head gave her a watery smile and squeezed her hand.

"Hey, you," Willow greeted.

Tara smiled. "Hi."

"You've been out for quite awhile."

"What'd I miss?"

Willow became serious. She let go of her girlfriend's hand and looked away. She was suddenly scared.

"I'm going away for awhile," Willow announced.

Surprise came over Tara. "Why? Not exactly the best news to wake up to."

"I did some stuff I shouldn't have."

Tara's expression darkened. "Magic stuff?"

Willow shifted nervously in her seat. "I'm not ready to talk about it. I'm going to England for help. It-It's my idea."

There was a span of silence.

"I-I'll come with you," Tara offered. "You could use a friend by your side."

Willow looked Tara back in the eye. "You can't go anywhere now. If you still want to come after you're all better, and after you've heard the whole story, then you're welcome."

Anya and Xander got married outside in a gazebo. There were no relatives invited, unless you counted their real family: Giles, Buffy, Willow, Dawn, and Tara. When the bouquet was tossed it practically fell into the slayer's arms. Her eyes stung, and she longed for something that she would never have.

The reception was held at the Summers residence. Buffy watched from the couch as Xander and Anya twirled around with Dawn to some music. Off to the side Willow and Tara whispered together. They seemed to be doing all right. In two days Willow would be heading to the coven. Tara was going to head over with her and see how it worked out. The scene around her filled her with bitter sweetness. Everything was resolved. Everyone was happy.

Except for herself.

Buffy snuck out without anyone noticing. The night was warm and quiet. Lightening bugs occasionally lit up in the blackness. Buffy sat down on the bottom step of her back porch to witness them.

Out of the shadows emerged a white head. The rest of him camouflaged with the night. The vamp slowly neared. He timidly met her gaze.

"Buffy," he whispered.

"Spike," she answered.

He stuffed his hands in his pockets. "There's something I gotta do."

She nodded. "You're going away. Seems that's the new trend. Willow, Tara, and Giles to England for a coven visit. Xander and Anya honeymoon in Hawaii. And you to Africa, right? For a soul?"

He shuffled his feet. "Can't go on knowin what might get loose given the opportunity. Want to know the people around me are safe- Want to give you what you deserve."

"We've been over this. I deserve a man who has a bit of monster. Can't happen. I have to settle for a monster with a bit . . . No, a big chunk of man."

His eyes widened at that.

"Go get your soul, Spike. I'll love you with it. But don't do it for me. Do it for you. Because frankly, I don't give a damn what you could do, I care about what you actually do," she added.

He opened his mouth but nothing came out.

"Go on, go. I'll be waiting," she said.

He turned to go. Then he paused and turned back around. She stood, hopeful that he had changed his mind. She wished for him to stay. She really did mean her words.

"Can I have a kiss goodbye?" he asked.

Buffy moved forward. She tenderly brought her lips to brush against his. There was no passion in the action. All there was, was love tinged with sadness.

"Promise to come back to me?" She touched his cheek.

He laid his palm over her hand. "No matter what."

Her heart felt like it tore in two when he pulled away. And she wondered if it really had, fore she was sure he took a part of her away with him.

He'll come back, she told herself, wrapping her arms around herself. He promised.

The pain was more than he ever felt, even with Glory. Spike rolled over and slowly rose to his knees. His alabaster skin was marred with black and blue. He stared into the dark cave.

"You have endured the required trials," a deep voice rumbled.

"Bloody right I have. So, you'll give me what I want? Make me what I was? So Buffy can get what she deserves."

The demon came out. His green eyes glowed brightly.

"Very well."

The demon placed his hand over Spike's heart. A reddish glow formed, followed by heat. Spike threw back his head and hollered.

"We will grant you . . . life."

Okay, life doesn't necessarily mean human, children. That's the end. Yet again, remember, there will be a sequel entitled Second the First.