Author: Spikelicious
Title: Family Ties
Summary: Buffy comes back, but she's very different, and intent on claiming her family!
Disclaimer: The usual. Joss is boss.
Special thanks to Larissa, who helps me with all my stories, and is a great friend!

Spike was half-heartedly patrolling when he first felt it. His hackles rose, and he sniffed the air, trying to identify whatever force was rippling around him. He couldn't hear or see anything unusual, but he felt the air around him thickening, almost vibrating. He crouched down into an attack position, fairly certain that if something was to appear out of nowhere it would most likely attack first and ask questions later; such were the creatures that were attracted to the Hellmouth.

The air began to resonate with energy, and little sparks of static electricity began to crackle around him. Spike looked around warily, trying to discern the source of the disturbance, when a smallish portal opened and spit something out. Something nude, and body shaped, small and fragile looking. The portal snapped shut and the air was once again still and calm.

Spike slowly approached the small form, which was lying on its side facing away from him, cautiously listening for a heartbeat. There it was, the steady staccato beating of a human heart, and he could now hear the steady breathing as well. It was a small, human...woman. A small, naked, human woman with blonde hair...Spike growled in disbelief and panic. Surely it couldn't be?

He circled the small body and then fell onto his knees directly in front of it. His undead heart in his throat, he lifted one trembling hand to gently push away the cascade of golden hair that covered the woman's face. Even though she was completely nude, he had eyes only for her face as it was revealed. He fell back in shock, barely catching himself with one outstretched hand. Staring at the form in front of him, he croaked out,

The woman didn't stir, and Spike sat in front of her, immobile. The night Buffy had defeated Glory and closed fabric of the dimensions with her life, he had seen her dead body with his own eyes, had sobbed over it as his will to live died with her. They had buried her, mourned her passing. Then, Spike had settled into the daily routine of pushing aside the desperate urge to greet the sunrise, to protect Dawn as he'd promised. But if this was truly Buffy, what had really happened? Was this a doppelganger, a different Buffy from a different dimension?

His muddled brain could not take anymore, and he did the first thing that made sense. He pushed aside all thought and focused on screaming one word, silently in his mind:


Giles, Anya, Xander, Willow and Tara were gathered in the Magic Box, doing various forms of research, when Willow's head shot up, a look of surprise on her pale face. Tara immediately moved over to her lover in concern. Sweetie, what is it?

Willow faced them. It's Spike. He just called to me like he was in trouble or something!

Giles moved to sit next to her, curiosity warring with trepidation on his tired, drawn face.

I know that you've been able to speak to his mind before, but has he ever contacted you first?

Willow shook her head, surprise now replaced with concern.

No, well, I mean...we've never tried! I've touched his mind a few times since...since that night, but it was too painful to really stay long enough to talk.

Xander asked, joining them at the table and staring intently at his friend. Anya stood behind him and placed her hands on his shoulders in a gesture of familiar comfort.

Well, from, you know. Buffy. She bit her lip and fell silent, contemplating the suffering the heartbroken vampire must be going through for his mind to be so raw. The others shifted uneasily.

Willow's gaze suddenly became distant, as if she were listening to something that was coming from far away. After a moment, all remaining color drained from the witch's face and she gasped as if she simply could not hold a breath.

Oh my....oh my goddess. Oh... Her stricken gaze refocused on her friends around her.
Spike...he's in the cemetery...he's sitting on the ground next to-- she frantically shook her head, trying to make sense of the images Spike was feeding her brain. These were not fantastic images that Spike was creating. She knew for certain, she was actually seeing what he was seeing.

She leapt up, knocking the chair out from underneath her and whipping one of her hands out towards the coatrack near the door. Muttering , she pulled the cloak she'd worn earlier through the air and into her grasp, turning to the door, then turning back as if she'd forgotten something.

Taking a deep breath, she looked at each of them in turn and stated quietly,

Buffy is alive.