A/N : Apologies for the massive delay in updating. First came a general bout of writer's block, then I was busy, then I got sick, now we're back to the busy but still, thankfully I managed to get some writing and posting of fic done!
Here's the final chapter of this story, and I really hope it doesn't disappoint!
(For disclaimer, etc. - see chapter 1)
Chapter 13 - Back to Reality
"You alright, luv?" Spike asked a the sat on the ladder to the balcony in the Magic Box watching Buffy as she in turn watched Wesley, Willow, and Tara prepare for the spell that would switch herself and her other-self back to where they ought to be.
"I guess" she shrugged her shoulders as she turned to glance at him, "It's all kinda weird, knowing I'm going home when this place looks like it should be home anyway"
"Must be a bit strange, I'd wager" he nodded, glancing down at the ground, "Certainly is from where I'm sittin', which is why I got so annoyed with you before. I probably shouldn't've snapped like I did, pet, I'm sorry" he said, almost unable to look at her as he apologised.
"It's okay" Buffy assured him with a smile, "Honestly, you just freaked me out, told me a few things I didn't really want to hear, about the Spike in my world"
"'S not my place to say that how you treat him made him what he is" he shook his head, feeling a little strange talking about an alternate version of his self but carrying on regardless, "Could be that we're completely different, him and me. Maybe he doesn't have what it takes to be good like I do"
"Maybe" Buffy considered, "but maybe he does, and I just never gave him a chance to prove it" she sighed, "So much here is like my world, the places, the people even. Faith is like she was before the badness, Wes is just as smart plus a few degrees cooler" she smiled as she looked around the room at the gang, "Everybody else seems the same, there's just a couple of blanks is all" she said, looking a little sad.
"Your sis and your Watcher, right?" Spike checked and she nodded he was right, "Not to worry, pet. Wes and the Wiccas'll work up some mojo, you'll be home before you know it"
"And you'll get your Buffy back" she smiled, "Don't tell me that's not why you're really here for this spell"
"Got to admit I've bloody missed her" Spike told her, "Funny how two people who look so much alike can be so different" he mused.
"And how some people can be just the same" she said thoughtfully as their eyes met and he smiled slightly as he realised something. Things were going to be different after this spell, this Buffy was going to give her Spike a chance, or at least it seemed that way. Being here had changed her, seeing the world from a new perspective had given her a different point of view on things. He was about to make a comment about it when Wes called for their attention.
"Where do you need me?" Buffy asked and Willow took her hand positioning the blonde in the centre of a pentogram drawn out on the floor.
"Okay, now Spike, Faith" she called them over next and the two of them joined Wes, Willow, and Tara in forming a circle as Xander and Anya stood back and watched the proceedings unfold.
"Just relax, Buffy" Wesley told her, "There'll be a lot of words that won't mean much to you, possibly some light and a slight pulling sensation"
"And then I'll be back where I belong?" she guessed, and he confirmed she was correct with a single nod.
Taking a deep breath, Buffy closed her eyes and waited to be whisked away to her own reality, praying to The Powers That Be that this worked. The last thing she saw before she closed her eyes was Spike, and somehow she knew when she got home he'd be one of the first things she wanted to see too.
"How much longer is this going to take?" Buffy asked Giles as he attempted to translate a passage in the book in his hand. This particular part of the spell seemed to be in a completely different language to the rest and had baffled the poor witches to no end. Giles had to admit his demon languages were a little rusty and this one in particular was giving him terrible trouble. Anya's offer to help had been worse than useless as she too had retained little knowledge of such things and garbled her way through two sentences speaking of canoes and jam before Giles decided to take the book away from her again.
"I really couldn't say, Buffy" he sighed, putting the book down in the table, removing his glasses, and rubbing his tired eyes, "In all honesty, I'm finding this extremely difficult"
"And you really can't do the spell without it?" Xander checked from across the research table.
"Unfortunately not" Giles admitted with a shake of his head, "I wish it were possible but... this may take considerably longer than any of us imagined"
"Great" Buffy sighed as she paced slowly up and down the Magic Box. She hated this, the waiting for something to happen, she always hated it. At least she usually had Spike to take her mind off things when she needed him to. She smiled when she realised this world's Spike was just as good at that kind of thing, then frowned when she realised that was something she'd have to confess to when she got back where she belonged - if she ever did get back, she thought, as she glanced at Giles still struggling over the text before him.
Again she turned and started another length of the shop when suddenly something made her stop. She lifted her foot to take another step but it was as if some unseen force was pushing her back, making her stand still and yet at the same time she felt as if she were being pulled apart, dragged out of her own body. She flinched a little, struggling against a force she couldn't see, though nobody around her seemed to really notice.
Forcing her feet to walk she headed towards the door that led to the training room, finding that with effort she could make herself move, though the pulling sensation remained. It was only as she reached for the door knob that she realised what was happening. A blinding flash of light hit her right between the eyes, and then it was over.
"Woah" Buffy breathed as the brightness before her cleared and pure momentum drove her to open and walk through the door she realised was in front of her. She frowned as she looked around and realised she was in the training room at the back of the Magic Box. Glancing at all four walls, the floor, and everything she was fairly certain this was her room, and not Faith's, which surely could only mean one thing. She was home.
A sound off to her left made her spin around and it was only just now she noticed Spike, laid out on some mats in the corner, badly beaten and bruised.
"Oh my God" she gasped at the sight of him, her hand going to her face as she moved closer to him.
"Buffy?" he asked as his good eye opened and he gazed up at her.
"I'm here" she said, on auto-pilot as she knelt down beside him, "What happened to you?" she asked and he frowned a little, though the change in his expression was barely noticeable underneath all is bruises.
"Mostly Glory, pet" he reminded her, "Specifically, glass, flames, and fists that pack a mightier punch than they ought to" he listed, wincing as the effort of talking caused certain parts of his aching body to complain, "Didn't bother me though, pet, so I won't have you feelin' guilty, and you tell the Bit to hush her noise too" he told her, "Must've apologised ten bloody times for the state I was in, and it wasn't her fault" he said firmly, "Never was gonna give up her identity, not to that hell-bitch, let the evil thing kill me first... nearly bloody did" he said as he considered how true the statement really was.
Tears filled Buffy's eyes as she took in what had happened, the fact that it seemed Spike had taken on Glory for the sake of herself and Dawn, the fact he was laying here so badly beaten on her account, when she hadn't actually been here. Of course another Buffy had, one that loved Spike, which made her wonder if his faithfulness came from the fact he'd gotten closer to the other Buffy than she would ever allow him to get. She pushed that thought from her mind as he looked up at her with what seemed to be a worried gaze.
"Buffy..." he said her name too softly, the only way he could find to speak in his current state.
"I'm sorry" was all she could find to say in reply as she leant down over him and put her lips to his in a soft, tender kiss. When she pulled away a moment later he was looking at her strangely, and she knew he knew the truth.
"Buffy?" this time it was a question, he wanted to be sure he wasn't hallucinating the fact that the real Slayer, the one who belonged in this world, had just willingly kissed him.
"Hi honey, I'm home" she smiled as a tear escaped and ran down her cheek, "And it looks like I'm just in time" she said, running her fingers gently through his hair and down his cheek, "Glory means business now, huh?"
"That she does, pet" Spike agreed, still a little baffled by how his Slayer was behaving, "So bloody glad to have you back, luv, you don't know..."
"Ssh" she silenced him with a finger that hovered near his lips, "I do know. I know I've treated you worse than you deserved lately, when all you've tried to do is help me" she told him tearfully, "Things are going to change Spike, I swear. They'll be better"
Spike couldn't find words to answer her. His voice had a habit of deserting him since the beating he took anyway, and right now he wasn't sure how Buffy's words should be taken. It was her, the real her, and yet there was still something different about her, and a softness in her eyes as she looked down on him that he didn't recall ever seeing before. He wasn't about to argue with her though. She wanted to treat him better, that was fine by him.
Buffy smiled and cried at the same time as she looked down on a man she now felt she could maybe learn to love. Whatever happened from here on out she was determined to at least give him a chance. If this Spike could be half the man she'd encountered in the other dimension she knew she could get to like him an awful lot, maybe even love him like he professed to love her. That couldn't be a bad thing, it just couldn't.
"What was...?" Buffy frowned as she blinked hard a couple of times and looked down at the hand she'd reached out to the training room doorknob. Now there was no door in front of her, only space and then people - Wesley, Faith, Willow and Tara, and...
"Spike?" she said with tears in her eyes as she realised where she was and with whom. This was her world, her friends, and her boyfriend.
"Buffy" the vampire smiled as he realised the spell had worked, that this was the woman he loved. He had no time to say more as she threw herself into his embrace, crushing her lips to his in a passionate kiss.
"Good work, guys" Faith grinned as she realised her real sister-Slayer was back, there was no doubt about it at all.
"Wonderful" Wes nodded, attempting to take a step back and wobbling somewhat from the effects of the magick's he and his Wiccan friends had used. Faith's arm shot out to steady him and she smiled at her man. As well as being pretty hot, he really was one of the smartest guys she knew.
"God, I missed you" Spike told Buffy when they finally parted and she gasped in air.
"I missed you too" she smiled, and behind them Faith faked putting her fingers down her throat and vomiting. Willow gave her an unimpressed look but was smiling nevertheless. Even herself and Tara weren't quite so overly cute in public as the supposed evil vampire and mighty Slayer girl.
"So, looks like everything is back to normal" Xander commented as the reunited couple across the room resumed their kissing.
No sooner had the boy spoken than a loud smash was heard and the front window came crashing into the Magic Box, the pair of demons that had caused the damage lumbering in right after. Faith was the first person they came to, and catching her off-guard one of the giant creatures easily back-handed her out of the way. Her head caught the wall with an almighty smack and she was immediately knocked unconscious.
Wesley ran to his girlfriends aid, as Willow pressed her right hand flat to Tara's left and with a few well chosen words sprang up a barrier to keep the demons at bay. The expressions on their faces proved they were having problems holding them back and Spike was the first to go for the weapons cabinet, he was a little stunned to realise Buffy was right by his side.
"You sure you're up for this, luv?" he checked, after all she'd only just got back from wherever the hell she'd been, and she wasn't usually up for breaking evil heads so readily anyway.
"I'm a Slayer, Spike" she said with a smile and a nod, "I was born ready"
As the pair ran forward, Buffy ordered the barrier be dropped, and on her command her witch friends complied. The fighting couple put everything they had into the battle that faced them as the others stayed back, watching in awe at the way Buffy fought. They were used to seeing Spike do this, and Faith of course, but it was as if Buffy had suddenly found the Slayer within and she was letting it out full-force.
What perhaps surprised her friends most was the fact she was smiling as she fought, but then why shouldn't she? She was doing what she was born to do, at the side of the man she would love to the day she died. That couldn't be a bad thing, it just couldn't.
A/N2 : Yep, that's it, that's all she wrote! I really hope the ending didn't suck.
Oh, I may have a one-shot idea on a Christmassy Spuffy theme, but it depends if it develops into anything worth posting within the next week...