Disclaimer: I don't own Buffy, I don't profit from posting this, and I have no personal possessions that are worth taking me to court over.


Several hours later, Buffy woke feeling refreshed. All the memories from her future self were finally integrated. She knew that Willow had organized a meeting with the rest of her friends for later that evening. Grabbing a change of clothes, Buffy headed for the bathroom. While showering, she thought about what she was going to say and how they would react. She knew that she would have to reassure Giles about the importance of not meddling with time. She would also have put Xander's mind at rest about Spike. Willow had probably already talked to Tara, though she wasn't sure how well that talk had gone. She figured she would find out when they arrived.

Making her way downstairs, she was surprised to see Spike up and about. She walked up behind him and wrapped her arms around him. She felt him jump and then relax.

"You know, love, the Slayer is just upstairs and she's kind of territorial about things she considers hers. You might want to meet up with me later to continue this."

Buffy tightened her hold a bit more, squeezing with enough pressure to break a normal person's ribs. She knew Spike was just trying to get a rise out of her and she didn't want to disappoint him. She relaxed her grip and allowed him to turn around in her arms.

"Oh, it's you, Slayer. I thought you were someone else."

"So you let just anyone wrap their arms around you from behind?"

"'Course not Slayer. Not just anyone. Only the girls."

"Just the girls, huh? Any girl in particular I should know about? Or do I just start killing girls at random?"

"You're the only girl for me. Bloody aggravating at times but 's worth it."

"Good answer." Buffy smiled up at Spike before leaning up to kiss him. They were so absorbed in each other they didn't hear the door open. Buffy's hands roamed up his back and started caressing the back of Spike's neck before they heard someone cough. They slowly pulled apart and turned toward the noise. Willow and Tara stood in the doorway smiling. Buffy leaned in for one last kiss before heading to where Tara and Willow stood. She reached out and hugged Tara then Willow. Motioning for Spike to follow them, Buffy and the other girls made their way to the living room. Sitting on the couch next to Spike, Buffy felt comfortable. She thought it was nice to be able to talk with Willow and Tara without everyone else around.

"So did you talk with your mom and Dawn?" Willow asked.

"I did. Right after I got back from patrolling last night. It seemed to go okay but I'm still waiting for the big mom freak out. She's supposed to call her doctor today and see about getting another check up. Dawn went to bed right after the talk so I haven't had the opportunity to chat with her. She seems to be taking it well but I'm not sure what's going on in her head. How are things with you?"

"Well, I uh, I told Tara about everything up until we travelled into the past. I think it's going okay. What do you think Tara?"

"I'm – I'm still trying to get my mind around it."

"You and me both, Glinda." Spike added.

"But I can kind of understand why you would do it. It's always seemed like it was your job to save the world and I guess this is just the biggest way you've done it. Going back in the past must have seemed like the last option available."

"Tara, it was the only option available. How was I supposed to fix the future when the events leading up to it had already happened? The only other option I could see meant taking away power from the other Slayers. That just seemed really bad; giving them power just to take it away. I thought it better for them to never experience it at all."

"Oh, I wasn't trying to judge you Buffy."

"I know Tara; I'm just a little on edge. With Giles and Xander on their way, I'm already feeling defensive about the decisions I've made. I just have this feeling that no matter how well I explain my actions I'm still going to get lectured; Giles about "meddling in the past" and Xander about starting a relationship with Spike."

"Buffy, just remember that we support you."

"I know, Will."

They sat around for a few more minutes. Dawn made her way downstairs, ignoring the group in the living room in favor of food in the kitchen. While she made herself a meal, there was a knock on the door. Buffy got up to open it.

"Hi, Giles. Come in." Buffy motioned for him to enter; noticing Xander on the walk behind him. "Hey, Xander. Just head into the living room, I'm going to get Dawn and then we'll start."

Buffy left the door open for Xander and headed for the kitchen and Dawn. She found her sitting on the island munching on some chips and a sandwich. She watched for a moment before hopping onto the counter next to her sister. Buffy snagged some chips and sat companionably for a few minutes. After a few moments she leaned her head onto Dawn's should and asked, "How are you doing?"

"I'm trying not to think about it. It's a lot to wrap my head around, ya know? So what's with the Scoobie meeting?"

"I'm gonna tell them most of the stuff I told you and mom last night – this morning. Minus the stuff about Spike's more violent actions. I don't want to have to deal with that on top of the time travel. I want them to get to know him without all that coloring their opinion. I know that he can be good. I wouldn't have trusted him with you and mom if I didn't. I just want them to know it too."

"I guess it's kinda hard to have a relationship if everyone hates him. I would even if they did-"

"But you really don't want to fight on two different fronts."

"When did you get so smart?"

"I picked up some stuff here and there."

"Well, you have a choice; do you want to go upstairs or do you want to join us?"

"I think I'm going to join you guys. I kind of want to be there for moral support." Dawn replied.

"Just remember not to mention anything about Spike and the attempt."

"I got it, Buffy. I'll just smack Xander if he tries to start something."

"Don't forget about Anya. She might come to his defense. I wouldn't want to mess with a thousand year old ex-demon."

"Ex being the key word. She's just a mere mortal now."

"Yeah, yeah."

They both hopped off the counter and headed for the living room. Buffy could feel the headache already starting when she walked into the living room to hear Xander insulting Spike. For his part Spike was keeping quiet and trying not to get angry. She stepped in before things could get out of hand. She sat down on the arm of the couch next to Spike and addressed Xander.

"Xander, stop. I invited Spike here. It was my choice to let him into the house. He's helped me a lot in the last few days so I want you to give him a chance."

"Yeah, but Buffy, he's the evil undead. One quarter of the Scourge of Europe. The guy who came to town to kill you."

"I know that Xander but he's also the guy who watched over Dawn and my mom after Glory showed up here last night. He's the only other person in this town who is as strong as I am that isn't interested in killing me."

"How do you know that he wouldn't kill you without that chip in his head?"

Buffy should have known that Xander would toss out that argument. She thought about how to answer it then turned to Spike.

"If you really wanted to kill me, would the chip stop you?" Buffy asked him.

"Not bloody likely. If I had really been interested in killing her I could have hired out the job. I know of a group of assassins who, once hired, just keep coming and coming. They never give up and never stop until the job is complete. I could have easily snapped her neck and dealt with the headache afterwards."

"So what stops you from doing any of that?" Giles asked.

"Cuz, Buffy treats me decent. Treated me decent even before this bloody chip. She accepted my nature and showed me some compassion when I had to go against it. She's the first person in my whole life that did that other than my mother. Peaches and Darla preferred to torture me. Dru just liked to cause me pain. The two Slayers that I killed would have probably given me a dusty end if I had been around them like this. Slayer's the first one that gave me a chance."

"And you think you can possibly go against one hundred and twenty years of instinct because Buffy gave you a chance?" Giles continued.

"I know that I'd dust myself first before I ever did anything that would hurt Buffy." Spike's voice shook with intensity.

"And on that note let's get to the important part of this meeting. The reason I called all of you here."

"Yes, what is it Buffy?" Giles asked.

"What I'm about to tell you is going to seem like something out of a science fiction movie, but let's face it. My life is one giant science fiction movie. I want you to wait until I've finished telling the story before interrupting or asking any questions."

"All right Buffy. You have our undivided attention." Giles said.

Buffy leaned a little into Spike for support; a motion not unnoticed by the others. She spent the next half hour going over everything she had told Spike and her family just hours ago. When she came to the part about Spike leaving to get his soul, she saw Giles and Xander glance at him. Giles had an expression that indicated he wanted to ask a question; Xander's face held a look of disbelief.

After finishing her story, Buffy slid off the arm into Spike's lap. She rested her head against his shoulder while waiting for the questions to start. Dawn slid over next to them putting Buffy's feet across her lap and resting her head on his other shoulder. She knew that Giles was going to be the first to start with the questions.

"What – what made you do something so irresponsible?" Giles exploded.

Buffy winced before responding, "Didn't you just hear what I said? I died and was brought back. Because of that, the First Evil was able to break through to our world. We stopped it but at the cost of the Slayer line. The decision I made had a huge impact on the future. I couldn't just let it happen. I had to do something to change it."

"Yes, but time travel?"

"What other choice did I have, Giles. Mistakes made in the past affected the future. Changing the past was the only way to change the future. If Faith were to die tomorrow then the Slayer line would continue. There was no choice to make but if there were then I would do it again in a heartbeat."

"So what plans do you have for defeating Glory?"

"Well, we've got two options. Either we can leave town allowing Glory to turn it upside down looking for the Key or we can kill Ben. I know that the Slayer's calling is to protect the innocent but I don't consider Ben an innocent. He knows that he shares a body with Glory. He knows that Glory has plans to open the barriers between dimensions. Glory finds out through Ben that the Key is human. Everything he does is for his own self-preservation. There is nothing innocent about him. And while I really don't like the idea of killing him, I really hate the idea of running away and letting Glory have run of the town. On the scales, it's the life of one innocent against the lives of thousands. Seems like a no brainer to me."

"There is one other option, Buffy. We could take the Key out of the equation."

"If you're suggesting what I think you're suggesting, you can get that thought out of your head right now. I will kill anyone who gets near her. It wasn't an option the first time I went through this, it isn't an option now." The hostility in her voice allowed no room for argument.

"Buffy, what's he talking about?" There was a hint of fear in Dawn's voice.

"I'll tell you later, Dawnie. Just know that what he's suggesting isn't ever going to happen."

"But Buffy-"

"Later, Dawn. There are other things to worry about right now. Like how we're going to take out Ben. I know that his co-habitation with Glory causes his dismissal from the hospital but I don't know where he stays. It could be with Glory or somewhere completely different."

"We'll look into it. I'm sure we will find him in time."

"I can use a scrying mirror to find him or – or a locator spell. If it's done when Ben's form is being used, I shouldn't have a problem." Willow offered.

"Then that's the plan. We'll locate Ben; take care of him, and then party at the Bronze. I hate to kick everyone out but I'm tired and I have to patrol in a few hours."

Buffy knew that there would be more questions for her to answer over the next few days. Buffy stayed seated on Spike's lap while watching everyone file out of the house. Once the door closed on the final person, Buffy let out a long sigh. She knew that she had made a hard decision; killing Ben. She also knew that Giles wasn't going to let the possibility of terminating Dawn.

Seated in a chair across from the couple, Dawn asked, "Buffy, what was Giles talking about; the other option."

Buffy sighed again. "He was talking about killing you. If you happen to die before the ceremony can begin then the Key is lost forever and Glory won't have the ability to use you. But as I told you, it's NOT going to happen. Giles brought up that idea the first time around and I vetoed it then. I would rather jump off that tower again before I let you die."

"Nibblet, the Watcher was just covering every option. There's no way I would ever let him touch a hair on your head. You don't have to worry about it."

"I just can't believe that Giles would actually suggest something like that. I thought he liked me." Dawn cried.

"Giles does like you Dawnie, but sometimes he starts to think with his head before his heart. This is one of those cases. You know what Giles is like; he's more mental than emotional."

"Ya got that right, pet. Your Watcher's always been a bit mental."

"Yeah, well, he's just being all Gilesy. I can understand him a little bit. If it were anyone other than Dawn, you, or my friends, I probably would have agreed with him the first time around and then none of this would have happened. Now, why don't we all go back to bed 'cause I don't know about you but I didn't get anywhere near enough sleep this morning."

"You do know that mom's going to be home soon, don't you? What's she gonna think when she gets home and finds all of us asleep."

"Don't worry about that, little bit. I'll stay up and keep an eye out for your mom. I don't need much sleep anyway. You go on upstairs and get you beauty rest."

"Thanks, Spike." Dawn rose from her chair and kissed his cheek on her way upstairs.

"That goes for you too Slayer. You should get some more sleep too."

Buffy stood up just to reposition herself on the couch. Using Spike's lap as a pillow, Buffy quickly fell asleep. Spike rested a hand on her head and started running his fingers through the strands. He carefully grabbed the remote off the coffee table. Keeping the volume low, he stayed entertained.

It was late afternoon when Joyce came home. Quietly entering the house, she was surprised to see Buffy asleep on the couch. Spike was sitting with his head back and looked like he was asleep. Joyce took a few steps towards them. Upon hearing her footsteps, Spike's head jerked up and turned towards the sound. He motioned for Joyce to go into the dining room and gently extricated himself from underneath Buffy.

"How long have they been sleeping?" Joyce whispered.

"About two hours. The Scoobies and her Watcher came by this afternoon. She told them everything. Including the plan about killing Ben. Giles started spewing some rot about taking Dawn out of the equation. Buffy thinks he meant killing her."

Joyce's eyes flashed with anger but before she could get a word out Spike cut her off. "Buffy put a stop to that talk right away. She put her foot down about no one coming anywhere near the Nibblet. Said she'd sooner die herself before she'd let anyone come near her sister. I agreed with her, too. Not about Buffy dying but about not letting anyone near her. After that, they left, Dawn went upstairs, and Buffy decided to use my lap for a pillow. They were both still a bit knackered so I told them I'd give you the run down on what happened."

"Thank you, Spike. I'm going to go upstairs and change. Would you like to stay for dinner? I'm just going to order take-out but you're more than welcome to join us."

"Thanks, Joyce, but I've got to get back to my crypt. I've been away since last night and the nasties around here like to claim things that don't belong to them. I'm gonna make a run there and then I'll be back. I'll tell Buffy while you change."

"Okay Spike. I'll see you in a little while then."

As Joyce made her way upstairs, Spike walked into the living room to see Buffy sitting up on the couch rubbing the sleep from her eyes. He sat down next to her and wrapped an arm around her shoulder. He pulled her in tight before asking, "How much of that did you hear?"

"I woke up as soon as I lost my pillow." Buffy stuck out her lower lip, doing a fine imitation of a pout.

"Sorry, love, I didn't want to disturb you. Your mother knows about this afternoon's meeting and about Giles's threat against Dawn. She's none too happy with your Watcher right now. She's upstairs changing. I'm going to head out and check on my crypt. I've got to pick up some more blood too. I'll be back around sun down so don't go patrolling without me."

"I won't Spike." Buffy gathered her thoughts for a moment before asking, "While you're at your crypt why don't you gather a couple of changes of clothes and stay here until we defeat Glory. I like having you around, just in case I'm not here to take out the bad guys."

"Is that the only reason you want me around, Slayer?" Spike smirked.

"Well, there is the advantage of you having unlimited Buffy on tap. Of course if you want to stay in your crypt, you can." Buffy grinned back at him.

"Why don't you talk it over with your mum? If she agrees, we can grab some stuff on our way back from patrol. Perhaps even have a nice grope or two before we head back here."

"Now that sounds like a plan I can get behind." Buffy her face up to look him in the eye. Spike leaned forward and caught her mouth with his. The tip of his tongue darted out to lick at the seam of her lips. Buffy readily responded to his exploration with an answering flick of her tongue. Soon, however; Buffy had to pull back to breath.

"I've figured out one good thing about vampires." She said breathlessly.

"What's that love?"

"Since you don't need to breathe, make-out sessions can last a long time."

"Too true, Slayer. Now I better leg it before my knob starts talking for me. I'll be back around sun down."

Buffy leaned forward for another kiss before rising from the couch. She headed upstairs while Spike headed out the back door. Hearing the shower running, Buffy walked into her mom's room to wait for her. Minutes later, Joyce walked into the room.

"Hey, mom. How was work today?"

"Just fine Buffy. I've got another shipment of paintings and sculptures coming in next week. Before you ask, yes, I did call the doctor. After much arguing, I managed to get that test scheduled for the end of the week."

"I'm glad to hear that mom. I don't think I could deal with losing you again."

"You're not going to have to."

Joyce walked over to her daughter and gave her a good hard hug. It was comforting to both women. "Now, what do you want for dinner?"

"I was thinking pizza, but see if you can get a side of buffalo wings for Spike. It's one of his favorite foods."

"Speaking of Spike, did he leave already?"

"Yeah, he went out the back way; out through the sewers. He's gonna be back here around sun down. I wanted to ask you something but I don't want you to wig out on me."

"You want Spike to stay here? I may be a mother but I also know about being a mother to a Slayer. If you're scared about Glory, having Spike here would put your mind at ease a little more. Am I right?"

"For the most part. I also want him here because I love him and I want to prove it to him. I really don't want him to think this is just Riley rebound. I also want the chance to get to know him better. My opinion of him is kind of based on memories of events that haven't happened yet; based on stuff he hasn't done. I know going into this that what I feel is right but I want a chance to get to know this Spike and not some pedestalled version I've built up in my head."

"The only condition I have about him staying here is that you two do not share the same bed while I'm in the house. I know that mentally you're 4 years older but I still think of you as my baby girl."

"Thanks mom. And nothing's gonna happen for a while. I don't want to jump right into something physical without having the emotional taken care of."

"Good, now go order dinner while I get your sister up. If she sleeps any longer, she's not going to want to go to school tomorrow."

Buffy left her mom at the top of the stairs but she turned back when she heard her name called.

"And Buffy?"

"Yeah mom?"

"No matter what happens, always know that I love you and am proud of you."

"I love you too mom."

Buffy practically ran down the stair and into the dining room. As she was calling in their dinner order, she couldn't help but think over her mother's words. 'No fun while she was in the house, but what about when she was out of the house?' She couldn't wait to tell Spike.