A/N : Well, we've reached the end of this story. I hope it has lived up to your expectations so far, and will do so to the end. The support has been great for this fic and I'm so pleased, thanks a lot.
(For disclaimer, etc. - see chapter 1)
Spike's head tilted to one side as he stopped pacing the floor and paid attention to what his senses were telling him. The Sun was going down, within a few minutes it'd be safe for him to walk out of his crypt with his Slayer at his side.
He glanced at his blonde goddess, still sleeping in his bed. After they'd talked things through and he'd promised her everything would be okay, no matter what Wolfram and Hart or anybody else threw at them, Buffy had started yawning. Between the travelling and the stress she'd gone through, the poor young woman was practically dead on her feet. Spike had immediately offered her his bed for the night, apologising for the state of it, and the fact that the downstairs of the crypt was no warmer than the upper level.
"We could find ways to keep warm" she'd said shyly, hands creeping around his back and untucking his T-shirt from his jeans and making her intentions very clear.
Spike didn't have the willpower to resist her, and she knew the truth now, he had no reason to feel guilty or like he was taking advantage of her.
They made sweet love as the Sun came up and talked a while before she fell asleep in his arms. Whilst the Slayer dreamt of better things, Spike's mind was stuck on Wolfram and Hart and the potential lethal scenario that could easily arise if that firm had set their sights on Buffy. Why they'd come after the amnesiac Slayer was anybody's guess, and Spike could venture a fair few ideas since he'd been at this from every angle over the past few hours.
Having Buffy back here with an organisation as huge and evil as Wolfram and Hart coming after her, Spike knew that put them all in danger, not just himself but Dawn and Jason, and the rest of the gang since he had no doubt W&H would be keeping tabs on them too, and no doubt knew they'd all be visiting at the weekend for the Bit's wedding. Despite knowing it put so many lives in peril, when Spike looked at Buffy lying there sleeping, he couldn't regret finding her. He loved her more than he'd ever loved anyone else, than he ever thought it was possible to love anyone. Knowing she now loved him too, and that she planned to spend her life with him here, Spike had to keep pinching himself to check he wasn't dreaming.
Just then, as if she knew he was watching her, Buffy's eyes fluttered open and she rolled into the other half of the bed, a little surprised to find it empty.
"Spike?" she said, frowning slightly as she pushed her hair from her face and looked over at where he stood, "What are you doing all the way over there?" she asked sleepily.
"Not much, luv" he smiled at her as he came to sit on the edge of the bed beside her, "Just thinkin'" he admitted, "What did I ever do to deserve such a goddess as you?" he said softly, leaning in to kiss her lips.
"Flattery will get you everywhere" she told him with a sultry smile as her hands ran over his bare chest and down lower. She had his belt half unbuckled when he stopped her.
"As much as I'd love to oblige, pet" Spike sighed regretfully, "Your sister's called me three times today, in a right panic she is. Got it in her head that I've got myself in some kind of trouble and made me promise to head over there at first dark"
"It's dark again?" Buffy's eyes went wide, "I had no idea I'd slept so long"
"Not to worry, pet" Spike told her, "but I do have to go and see Dawn now. You up for coming with?"
"I... I guess" the Slayer nodded shakily, as she glanced away, "It's going to be so weird"
"For both of you" Spike nodded, "And I warn you, Dawnie's not one to hold back with the questions" he told her, "But I'll be there to hold your hand pet, help you explain and all. Okay?" he checked, head tilted to one side as he studied her, tried to get her to meet his eyes.
She managed a smile when she eventually looked at him properly again.
"Okay" she said with a firm nod, "Let's do this"
"This is insane" Buffy laughed nervously as she and Spike walked hand in hand into Revello Drive, "The stuff I've faced, life and death stuff, and now the idea of seeing my sister..." she said, showing Spike how her other hand was shaking violently.
"'S bound to feel weird, luv" he told her kindly, "but I'm here for you, and nothin' bad's gonna happen. Dawn'll be thrilled to see you"
"I can't wait to see her" Buffy admitted with a smile, "Somehow I feel like I know her, even though I don't remember much"
"Blood connection does that for you" Spike nodded knowingly, though he wasn't sure he fancied explaining about his vampiric family and their twisted connection right now. He was saved from having to as the couple neared the Summers house and he stopped walking.
"Dawn's probably watchin' for me, luv" Spike said, turning to face Buffy beneath the street lamp a little way down the street, "'S up to you how you wanna play this. I can warn her of what's comin' or we can just go for it, straight up to the front door together"
"You know her better than I do now, Spike" Buffy sighed, "You think she needs a warning?" she asked, hoping he said no, after all if he had to go talk to her first Buffy wasn't sure she could stand hanging around and waiting to show herself. Nerves were making her feel terribly nauseous already.
"Let's just do it" Spike smirked, eager to relieve the fear and tension he could sense coming off the Slayer in waves. Gripping her hand tight in his, they walked up to the front gate and then up the path towards the house.
Dawn had been forced to move away from the window to go to the bathroom, but had left Jason on watch. She'd been so worried about Spike, she was desperate not to miss his arrival at the house.
The young man by the front window smiled when he saw his vampire friend, his expression shifting to a slight frown as he eyed the woman beside the bleached blond. Glancing to the mantle shelf he observed the picture of Buffy there and then turned his attention back to the couple that were headed for the front door. Surely Dawn's sister was dead, that couldn't be her, but then Spike had been acting very strangely, and they did live on a Hellmouth after all...
"Dawn!" he bellowed up the stairs, "Dawn, get down here!" he yelled and his fiancée duly appeared looking worried by the urgency of his tone.
"Jason, what's happening?" she asked as she ran down the stairs, "Is it Spike? Is he...?" the words died on her lips as she stopped a few steps from the bottom and glanced at the two people who had appeared at the front door. There was Spike, not at all injured or hurt as she'd feared, and beside him stood a woman she hadn't seen in five years and never expected too.
"Oh my God" she gasped, her hand covering her mouth as tears blurred her vision to an impossible level.
"Dawnie" Spike smiled up at her, "I found her in LA" he said simply, not knowing what else to tell her. There was a lot that needed to be said but those words would wait.
"Buffy?" the young girl squeaked, unable to believe her eyes as she came down the last few steps and stood just a few inches in front of her sister whom she could not ever remember seeing with brunette hair, and yet it was her.
"It's me, Dawnie" she confirmed, "I found my way home" she sobbed as the sister grabbed each other into a tight hug to the point where neither of them could really breathe, and yet neither of them cared.
"How the hell...?" Jason frowned, looking over at Spike who actually had to fight back tears of his own as he watched the two women he loved most in the world.
"Long story, mate" he said softly, "Bloody long story"
The sun rose on a new day, but the residents of 1630 Revello Drive barely noticed the change from dark to light. With the drapes firmly closed to keep Spike safe, Buffy and Dawn shared the couch and talked over all that happened since they last saw each other. With Spike's help, Buffy explained how they thought she'd ended up in Cleveland, and Dawnie and Jason shared their stories of how they got together and the wedding that was approaching.
Spike was immediately forgiven for his secrecy about finding Buffy, on her insistence actually, though it was obvious Dawn wouldn't have been mad at him anyway. She knew by now that anything he did, he did it or her own good, to keep her safe and happy at all times when it were possible.
"This is like the best wedding present ever" Dawn enthused for the twenty-seventh time since being reunited with her sister, "I can't even tell you what it means"
"Believe me, Dawnie, I know" Buffy told her, "For so long I was so lost, and then Spike found me" she smiled across at the bleached blond with such love in her eyes it almost overwhelmed him, "I knew, before he'd even told me everything, that I was safe with him, and so loved. He's pretty much my hero" she admitted, a little embarrassed when she realised how lame that sounded.
"That's our Spike" Dawn giggled, "Definitely the hero type these days"
"Ladies, please" he rolled his eyes, "If I had the circulation for it, I'd be blushing"
"Now I get what you were saying to me before" Jason said, snapping his fingers as realisation hit, "All that stuff about secrets and thinking about the past. It was all about Buffy" he realised and Spike smirked.
"Isn't everything?" he said as he glanced at her and she actually did blush under the intensity of his gaze. Her embarrassment only increased as her stomach growled loudly and it occurred to everybody how long they'd been sitting there talking. None of them had eaten for hours, and clearly that was taking it's toll.
It was Jason who offered to make the food. As interesting as it was hearing all about Buffy and how she was back, and so forth, he did feel kind of like a spare part. After all, he'd never met his fiancée's sister until today and he wasn't as much a part of the Slayer and demon world as the others were.
"I'll give you a hand, mate" Spike offered, following the lad to the kitchen, though he turned around twice to glance at Buffy on his way from one room to the other.
"Crazy situation, huh?" Jason shook his head as he checked the cupboards and refrigerator for possible ingredients that would soon become lunch for four, "I mean, people coming back from the dead is kind of normal in Sunnydale, but the Slayer being sucked through a portal, showing up in a whole other state with no memory or anything. That's way freaky"
"It's bloody brilliant is what it is" Spike pointed out as he reached past the boy and snagged a container of blood from the fridge, turning to get a mug to pour it into and then striding over to the microwave.
"Oh yeah, it's great and everything" Jason agreed, though Spike got the feeling his heart wasn't in it. He tilted his head as he observed the boy who was buttering bread for sandwiches and intentionally keeping his head down.
"You know" Spike said suddenly, "Dawnie loves you to bits, mate" he said, finally catching Jason's attention, "Don't think for a second that now she has her sister back in her life, she's not gonna need you. She bloody does, right?"
"Sure, I know" Jason nodded, the smile returning to his face as he looked back down at what he was doing.
Spike smirked as the microwave beeped and he took out his mug of warm plasma. Of course Jason knew Dawn would always love, want, and need him, but it had helped to have someone else say it, just to put his mind at rest.
It was late in the day when the lack of sleep finally overtook the general excitement in Dawn and she could barely keep her eyes open any longer. She hated having to say goodnight and leave the room that contained the sister she'd missed so much. She was so afraid that if she took her eyes off Buffy for a second the Slayer might just disappear. At the very least she dreaded going to sleep for fear she would wake and find that Buffy's return had all been a dream.
"I swear, Dawnie, I will still be here in the morning" the brunette smiled, running her finger through the length of Dawn's hair and pushing it back over her shoulder. Tears welled up in the young girl's eyes at the familiar action and realisation dawned on Buffy's own face as she recalled it herself. It was very vague, but it was there, another little memory, a tiny piece of the puzzle that made up her past life.
When Jason finally managed to prise the sisters apart and take Dawn off to their bed, Spike was only too pleased to be left alone with the Slayer.
"Wow" she said, a look of wonderment on her face, "That's my sister" she said with a grin that caused Spike to smile too.
"Yeah, that's our little Dawnie" he agreed, "Though pr'aps not so little anymore" he sighed, "Little Bit's grown up a lot, sort of had to really"
"Because I was gone" Buffy said sadly, looking almost guilty though she wasn't sure why she felt that way, after all she had no way to know she'd had a life here before. If she had known she was sure she would have been back like a shot. Dawn was so great, and even though her memories of the girl were vague, Buffy just knew they were sisters. Somehow it was just obvious.
"Hey now" said Spike, lifting Buffy's chin with his finger, making her look at him, "No more tears, eh pet? Lot more reasons to be happy right now than sobbin' your heart our, right?"
"Definitely" Buffy smiled, though tears still glistened in her eyes, maybe they were part of her happiness, she thought to herself, or possibly just because she was so overwhelmed by what was happening, "You know something else that's definite?" she said softly, as Spike's thumb moved over her cheek and wiped away the one lone tear that had escaped.
"What's that then, luv?" he asked her gently as they both subconsciously leaned in closer.
"I love you" she whispered, right before their lips met in a sweet kiss.
"Bloody love you too" he replied when they parted a moment later, but she barely had time to breath before they were kissing again.
Buffy had no idea why it had taken her so long to learn to love this man. The vampire side of him be damned, it didn't matter, he was good and sweet and kind. He'd kept a promise to look after her sister, that Buffy herself couldn't even recall, and he loved her, even after all this time, after all the awful things she'd said and done.
"Spike" she said, pulling away from his just a little, her arms still firmly around his neck, "I'm so sorry, for the way I used to treat you" she said solemnly, "I can't take it back, I don't even remember most of it" she admitted, "but I am sorry, and I love you now, no matter what" she said firmly, staring deep into his crystal blue eyes, "You believe me?"
"Course, pet" he nodded once, "We're gonna be alright, y'know Slayer" he promised her, "Wolfram & Hart be damned, we're gonna take anything those bastards throw at us and plenty more besides. When the smoke clears we will be left standing" he said firmly, "Dunno what I did to deserve what I've got, pet. You, the Bit, even Jason... The love of a good woman and a little family to go along with" he smirked, before turning deadly serious again, "I got all I ever wanted and I'll be dust before I let anyone take it away from me"
Buffy didn't have a verbal answer to such a speech. Instead she pulled him close and kissed him hard, showing him without words just what he meant to her, promising with her actions that what they had was forever, that he would never lose her or her love for him.
Come what may Buffy and Spike would be standing together, against anything that was thrown at them. The past didn't matter, it was the future that counted, and it was going to be a hell of a lot brighter, now they were back together again.