Spike wasn't exactly in his element at the reception Joyce had thrown for them. At the moment, the only people he knew there were the Summers women, and Joyce was currently showing off her newly-married daughter, while Dawn was put in charge of hostess duties.

Which left Spike to do nothing but give the occasional small wave when Buffy gestured to him, indicating who the husband in question was. Although he supposed this was better than actually socializing…

Spike looked up as the front door opened and four familiar faces appeared. While Xander didn't exactly share the sunny expression of the three women accompanying him, Spike knew the fact that he was there was nothing short of a miracle—and one that would make Buffy very happy, even if Spike didn't understand why she bothered to keep the whelp around.

Buffy turned from the woman she'd been talking to, her face lighting up at the sight of her friends. She quickly excused herself from her current conversation, going to them and hugging each one in turn.

Spike approached the group, his arm going around Buffy as she pulled away from Xander. "Glad you could all make it," Spike said.

Xander met Spike's eyes defiantly. "I'm only here because of Buffy."

Spike shrugged. "Yeah, me, too."

Willow took a step forward. "We're happy you're happy, Buffy," she said. "And…and I wish you two the best. I really do."

Buffy hugged the redhead again. "Thank you. It means so much to me that you're here. All of you."

"Sorry I'm lagging a bit behind the others, but it seems I was stuck carrying all the packages."

Buffy's smile widened as she saw her Watcher come in carrying several bags. "Giles! You came! And with presents."

"Some of those are from the rest of us," Anya said. "I just said that everyone should come together so some people wouldn't try not to show up." She glanced between Xander and Giles.

"Well, everyone is here," Buffy said. "And that… It means so much to me. Really. I love all of you, and I didn't want to lose you anybody."

"You won't," Xander said. "Not that I'm anywhere near happy with the thought of you shacking up with Evil Dead over there, but since this seems to be permanent…"

"It is," Buffy said, taking Spike's hand. "Spike's part of my life now, and nothing can change that. You're going to have to get used to it."

"We are getting used to it," Giles replied. "It will just take a little time. He is, after all, a vampire. With everything that happened because of Angelus…"

"I am nothing like him," Spike said through gritted teeth.

"I know," Giles conceded. "And I do trust you marginally better than I would him. But the fact remains that you are a vampire involved with my Slayer, and I can't easily come to terms with that." He turned to Buffy. "But I'm also not going to abandon you. You're more than just my Slayer. You're like a daughter to me. I know what a claim means, and I know that separating you from Spike will never be an option. So I can…learn to live with this."

Tears glistened in the corner of Buffy's eyes. "Thank you, Giles. It means a lot to me that you're at least trying to be okay with this."

"I am." Giles grimaced slightly. "Now if you don't mind, could you show me where to put all of these down? My arms are beginning to tire."

"Oh, right! Of course." Buffy took some of the bags from Giles as she led him over to where the other presents were.

Spike looked at Buffy's friends. He was an uneasy fit in their group, he knew—especially where two of them were concerned—but if they were willing to try this, so was he. They were important to Buffy, and that made them important to him as well.

He turned to look over towards where Dawn had stopped Buffy and Giles on their way back. Buffy looked so bright, so radiant, that for a second, Spike could've sworn he felt his long-dead heart beat. When he'd come to Sunnydale, it had all been for Drusilla, his dark princess. But somehow he'd manage to lose the woman who had been the reason for his existence for over a century only to find something else entirely.

Something better…

Buffy looked out the rolled-down window on the passenger's side of Spike's DeSoto, what she saw making her frown. "Honey, you're going the wrong way."

Spike gave a quick glance towards her. "No I'm not."

"Yes, you are. The house is the back there," Buffy said, pointing behind them.

"We're not going there."

Buffy frowned. "We're not headed towards your crypt either..."

"I know."

"Where are we going?"

"It's a surprise. Just sit tight. We'll be there soon enough."


"Your mum isn't expecting us, pet," Spike told her. "As a matter of fact, she packed the bag for you that's currently in the trunk."

"There's a bag for me in the trunk?"

"Isn't that what I just said?"

"Well, yeah, but…"

"Learn a little patience, Slayer."

Buffy crossed her arms in front of her. Imagine Spike of all people telling her to be patient…

Spike couldn't help but chuckle at her pout. "It's a good surprise, kitten. I promise."

"I don't like surprises," Buffy said, pout still firmly in place.

"Humor me."

Buffy stayed quiet for the rest of the ride until Spike finally pulled off the road. "This is a hotel," she said.

"Yeah. Probably why they have that 'hotel' sign out front."

"If you wanted to have sex, we could've gone to your crypt. Or, you know, the apartment even though there's no furniture and we're technically not supposed to move in for another few days, but we do have the keys."

"I know, but…" Spike parked the car near the entrance before turning to look at her. "I know we can't have a real honeymoon, what with you having to guard the Hellmouth and my sun allergy, but I thought maybe for one night…"

"We could ignore all that?"


Buffy placed her hand over his. "Thank you."

"It's not just for you, y'know," Spike said with a crooked smile. "I kinda like the idea of getting a night in a hotel with you all to myself, too." He looked her over once, his smile turning to a leer.

Buffy giggled. "Well, let's get to it then."

"Don't have to tell me twice," Spike said as he got out of the car and went around to the trunk for her bag.

They walked together into the hotel, Buffy waiting for Spike as he got the key to their room. She followed him to the elevator, glancing around the lobby. "This is a nice place," Buffy commented.

"Like I'd take my wife to some fleabag…"

Buffy smiled the way she always did when she thought of herself as Spike's wife. "Didn't think you would. Just making an observation."

They took the elevator to the top floor of the hotel, and then Buffy continued to follow him as he led her down the hall to the room. Spike unlocked the door, and Buffy gasped as they walked inside. "It's huge!" she exclaimed.

"It's a suite, luv."

Buffy looked around, noticing the décor. The walls were lined with wood paneling, the windows were circular, and the carpet was a deep blue. Netting and a large, silver anchor hung from the walls. She turned back towards Spike. "I'm noticing a theme here…"

"They have themed suites in this hotel. This is the 'nautical' one." Spike ran his hand through his hair. "I know it's a little corny, but…"

"I love it," Buffy said, wrapping her arms around his waist. "It's perfect."

Spike grinned. "Yeah? I'm glad you do…"

"Although I do have one question."

"What's that, pet?"

Buffy stepped back, looking at him with wide, almost-innocent eyes. "What are you going to do with me now that you have me all alone on your ship, you evil—yet devilishly handsome—pirate captain, you?"

Spike's grin widened, his tongue curling over his teeth. "I'm going to ravish you, milady."

Buffy laughed with delight as Spike scooped her up and carried her off to bed.

And that is the end. After nine months, this fic has reached its close. wipes sweat from brow But I do have plenty of plot bunnies scratching to be let out of their cage, so hopefully you'll enjoy the new stories I have planned. :)

Thank you to everyone who read this, and an extra special thanks to those who reviewed. All your kind words meant so much. And even though this is the end, please keep it up. Let me know what you thought about the last chapter.