Epilogue: Accidentally His
Even with all the demon fighting and waitressing, and not to mention the sex-having with Spike, she still had been counting the days since she'd left Sunnydale. It had been five weeks of living in a cheap, almost run-down motel. Five weeks of eating Chinese food. Five long weeks.
Her stay in L.A. had certainly not been the getaway she thought it was going to be. She wondered why she thought it would in the first place when the last time she'd come here, she still ended up doing the thing she left Sunnydale for in the first place. The only reason she'd lasted as long as she had in this place again was because of Spike who, surprisingly, helped her with the slaying – well, some of the time. But that was okay with her because she didn't expect him to change overnight or to change period. What mattered to her was that he was really trying. For her. And she could see it.
Even so, she still couldn't help lying awake at night, thinking about the people she'd left – again. She missed her mom and her friends, especially since her birthday was only a few days away. She missed Giles and her training schedule. Even sitting in a classroom bored to tears was worth missing.
Even though her mom, Giles and her friends had hurt her, they were still her family and Buffy knew that they cared about her. She understood that they were just looking out for her – in a very pushy, irritating and controlling way. But she knew, one day she'd be going back to Sunnydale when she was ready.
"Well, that was fun," Spike breathed sarcastically, slightly limping up the stairs of the motel they'd been staying at for the past few weeks. They'd just defeated a demon which had been preying on club goers in an alley a couple of blocks down.
Buffy turned to him, walking beside him unhurt. "I can't believe you got knocked unconscious. Again."
Spike shot her a glance of contempt with his narrowed eyes and half-opened mouth. "Thing was strong," he defended, putting the key in the lock of their motel room door and pushing it open.
Buffy gave him a pointed look but shrugged the topic off. "And ugly even for a demon," she mused as she stepped into the room, still facing Spike. "Kind of like --"
Spike broke Buffy's train of thought with a gritted, "Angel."
Buffy sighed and bit her bottom lip to try and hide her smile. She'd told Spike to stop insulting Angel but she had to admit, it amused her when he did it, especially when he'd pout at the same time. "Spike. We've talked about this before and --"
"Buffy." Angel cleared his throat and made his presence known.
Buffy turned to face the room and saw Angel standing beside the bed. Instantly putting up her defenses and attempting to prove to Spike that Angel showing up unannounced meant nothing to her, she crossed her arms over her chest and held her chin up. "How did you find us?"
"Sniffed around, did you?" Spike said sourly.
"The usual," Angel said with a shrug, walking nearer to the two as they entered the room and as Spike closed the door behind them.
Buffy wasn't amused at all. She didn't like the fact that Angel followed them when she obviously didn't want anything to do with him anymore since that night she left Sunnydale. Her face was stern, her lips a straight rigid line as she asked with the least bit of interest, "What are you doing here?"
"It's Willow. She's in trouble," Angel answered.
Buffy's face softened as the faint line between her brows appeared in worry. "What kind of trouble?" She had not wanted the conversation to get any longer but this was her best friend, who she hadn't seen in a while.
Spike only rolled his eyes, convinced that Angel was just making things up to make Buffy come home.
"Some hunters found two kids dead in the woods. The town concluded that it was the work of some cult because of the symbols on the hands of the children. Some moms started a group – Mothers Opposed To The Occult – and they've been protesting and campaigning against the murders and against witchcraft. They urged the school to search everyone's locker and found witchcraft-related materials in Willow and Amy's lockers. They're holding the two in City Hall as we speak."
Spike scoffed, though he was starting to believe Angel and was a little concerned about Willow, who he happened to like. He reckoned the Sunnydale townspeople wouldn't be taking the situation lightly and could possibly consider doing some old 'burning witches' ritual. "And what do you want us to do? Sweep in and save the day after what you lot did?"
"No, not you," Angel retorted, sneering at the other vampire. "Just Buffy."
Spike stepped forward further. "Well she bloody well isn't --"
"Spike." Buffy stopped him by the arm. He turned to her and saw her pleading for him to shut up with her almost puppy dog-like eyes. Spike sighed and let Angel continue his yammering.
"Giles thinks you need some time alone and that we shouldn't bother you, but I think a month is more than enough for you. And him," Angel muttered the two last words. "This is Willow, Buffy. She needs you. I don't know what they plan to do with them but it can't be anything good."
Despite being pissed off at Angel for showing up in their motel room, she knew he was right. Willow was her best friend and she needed to help her. Besides, Willow was the only one who really hadn't force the undoing of the claim.
A few minutes later, with much less convincing than Angel had prepared for, Buffy was stuffing the few clothes she had into her duffel bag.
"I can't believe you talked me into this," Spike huffed as he took the duffel bag from Buffy's hand and walked out of the room.
Buffy followed him, half-smiling. She'd told Spike that if he wanted to stay and wait for her to come back, he could. But it made her happy that he wanted to come; that he wanted to be involved. "I didn't. You wanted to come." Or maybe he just wanted to guard her against Angel. Either way, it was a sweet gesture.
The two gazed into each other's eyes, forgetting the other vampire with them. Angel groaned and ruined the moment, having enough of the yuck-fest. "God. Enough with the moon-eyes already."
A good two hours after the very long, silent and awkward drive back to Sunnydale, they arrived at Sunnydale High and headed straight to the library, with Angel leading them.
Angel pushed the door slightly open but stopped when he saw Buffy just standing there, seemingly anxious to see her friends again.
"You okay?" Angel asked her.
Buffy looked at Spike who took her hand in his, bracing her. She faced Angel again and nodded.
As they walked into the room, Xander immediately got up from his seat and smiled. He quickly approached Buffy, taking her into his arms and warranting a jealous glare from the two vampires. They pulled away from each other after a second. After which, Xander looked over at Spike who stood beside Buffy.
"Spike," Xander acknowledged.
To which Spike replied with the same tone, "Dimwit."
Buffy slapped Spike's stomach, still with an amused grin, before walking up to her watcher who had stood up to welcome her as well.
"I'm terribly sorry," Giles said ruefully, shaking his head in all sincerity.
Buffy smiled and squeezed his shoulders. "Let's deal with this first."
"Right," Giles said, heading back to the chair where he sat in front of the computer.
Oz, who had finally talked to Willow a few days after Buffy left Sunnydale, waved at Buffy. He was sitting beside the chair Xander had been sitting on earlier.
Buffy waved back at him and followed Giles. She looked at the computer screen over his shoulder. "What have you found?"
Xander sat across from Giles and began to tell Buffy about how they broke into City Hall. "We found nothing about the two. No records. No nothing."
"We then did a little research on the Internet and found this article," Giles said, pointing at the screen. He then scrolled down the page and continued. "We found that the two children are Greta Strauss, age six, and Hans Strauss, eight."
"Hansel and Gretel?" Buffy asked, intrigued.
Giles nodded. "Yes."
"Fairy tales are real," Angel confirmed while walking to the steps and sitting down.
Buffy quirked an eyebrow at Xander, who shook his head. "I couldn't believe it at first either."
"And then, we found more articles every fifty years. All the same," Oz said. "As it turns out, the two children have died a hundred years ago and have been returning every fifty years to try and persuade a town into killing 'bad girls'."
"Which, in this case, are witches," Buffy continued with a nod.
"Yes. Some demons thrive by fostering hatred and persecution amongst the mortal animals. Not by destroying men, but by watching men destroy each other. Now, they feed us our darkest fear and turn peaceful communities into vigilantes."
"Lucky us," Angel muttered.
"So what do we do?" Spike asked, breaking his silence. Everyone in the room turned, mostly with surprise to the counter on which he had been leaning on. Buffy only smiled.
"Holy macaroni, they're going to burn them!" Xander exclaimed as they burst through the door of City Hall.
The demon, guised as Hansel and Gretel, commanded the townsfolk to attack the group. Oz hurriedly ran to the fire hose in the corner and sprayed the angry mob that was headed for them while Giles recited a German incantation to reveal the demon in its true form.
"Xander! Find Amy!" Willow shouted above all the commotion, still tied to the post on top of a pile of burning books.
Xander narrowed his eyes, confused. "What?"
Willow struggled with her bonds. "She turned herself into a rat! Find her!"
Giles quickly finished the incantation by throwing a bottle of potion to the floor by the children who were approaching him and the demon appeared.
Seeing the tall demon, everyone in the room except for the Scoobies ran out, screaming in fear. Buffy saw one of the wooden posts, to which Amy had been tied to, and had an idea. She gestured over the post at Spike and he nodded. They broke the stake, hurled it at and impaled the demon.
After killing the demon, Buffy ran to Willow.
"Buffy?" Willow's eyes were wide, her mouth slightly agape and slightly curled up into a relieved smile as Buffy began to cut her loose.
As soon as Willow was untied, she rushed to Buffy and wrapped her arms around her, holding her so tightly that if Buffy wasn't the Slayer, she wouldn't have been able to breathe. "I'm so glad you're here. I'm so sorry about..."
"Will," Buffy said through Willow's rambling, dropping her arms to her sides with Willow still hugging her.
"... everything. We've missed you. I've missed you. I promise I'll never--"
Willow pulled away with an abashed smile. "Sorry. I'm just really glad you're back."
Buffy smiled faintly. "Me, too." She glanced at Spike through the corner of her eye and saw that he was not pleased with what she'd just admitted. He'd been on her for days, asking if she wanted to go home and she had always said no.
"Come on. Let's get out of here."
Spike didn't have the opportunity to talk to Buffy about what she'd said to Willow on their way back to the Summers' home. From Sunnydale high, they headed home immediately.
Standing at the front porch of their home was Joyce. Her eyes were soft, rimmed with unshed tears; her lips tugged into an apologetic smile. She welcomed Buffy with an embrace and said, "I'm so sorry, honey."
Joyce faced Spike who ducked his head. "I hope you can forgive me, Spike, for interfering the way I did. You two caught me by surprise and... Well that's no excuse for what we did."
After all the apologies had been made, and everyone agreed to never interfere with Buffy and Spike's relationship – even the reluctant Xander – they all went inside the house for some early breakfast.
Everyone went home later, except for Spike who had stayed and went out the back porch. Buffy peered out the glass of the kitchen door and saw Spike sitting on the steps. She held the knob and took a deep breath before striding out the door. She sat down beside Spike.
Spike spoke, however still not facing her. He was staring out into the darkness of the early morning. "Could have told me, you know."
Buffy nodded meekly, clasping her hands between her knees.
"Been wanting to go back here for a while, haven't you?"
"I wasn't sure... I wasn't ready then," she said with a voice Spike could have barely heard.
Spike turned to her. "And you are now?"
"I don't know. Seeing everybody... I've missed them," Buffy whispered, her head bowed down, refusing to look into Spike's eyes.
He gazed at her momentarily and then faced away. "Right."
"I think I need to stay."
"'Course. I understand."
Buffy lifted her head and met Spike's blue eyes. "You do?"
"Well, no," he sighed sadly. "But if it's what you want..."
Spike forced a smile, reaching out and caressing her cheek. "Okay, then."
"How about you?"
"There's nothing here for a creature of the night like me, is there?"
"You're fighting evil. You're pulling for the good guys now."
"I'm supposed to be the Big Bad," he declared.
Buffy wrung her hands in frustration. She wanted to slap him and tell him, 'I'm here you vampire!' but she didn't want to impose. If he wanted to leave, he had every right to. "And now you're the Slayer's side kick."
Spike grinned. "I'd like to think of myself as your partner."
"Whatever you decide..." Buffy said softly, holding back the urge to cry through the tears stinging her eyes.
Spike gave no reply and simply stood up. "I should be off. Sun should come up soon." He started to walk, leaving a disappointed Slayer behind.
Buffy steeled herself and tried to pull her lips as wide as she could to form something resembling a smile, as fake as it was.
Spike turned to her with a huge smirk on his face. "Get some sleep now, pet," he said, walking backwards and disappearing into the night. "I'll see you tomorrow when I'm less likely to burst into flame."
Buffy chuckled, and then smiled to herself. He was staying. Because he was hers. He was her vampire. But the best thing was that in her heart, she knew: she was his – accidentally or not.