Disclaimer: Like I could create these guys.
All characters belong to Joss Whedon, UPN, Mutant Enemy, etc.
Distribution: OK, but let me know.
Feedback: Please!
Summary: An alternative ending (which you can bet will never happen) for Ep. 22 of this season, incorporating many (though not all) recent spoilers. The end of BtVs, and the beginning of The Spike Show.



Part 1. The Strumpet Wind

Slate blue storm clouds tumbled across the sky; thunder cracked and lightning sizzled. Buffy, Giles and Xander raced up the darkening street towards the park. Jonathan had confirmed where Warren intended to perform his ritual -- techno-pagan rites funneling power from the Hellmouth, making him master of Sunnydale -- and they knew Willow, with Anyanka's help, would soon intercept him.

"We've got to stop them!" Buffy cried, "they can't come back from this, Xand!"

"Right behind you," Xander panted.

"More speed, less talk," Giles gasped.

They heard another crash of thunder, and blue-white light illuminated the scene before them. A twisted wreck of silver metal lay on the grass, smoking, its original form and function indecipherable. Willow stood before a pentagram marked on the grass with yellow spray paint, her arms upraised, magical winds tossing her hair about her face. Her eyes were black with power and rage. Grimly beside her stood Anyanka, her face demonic, somehow supplying her with extra force. Before her was Warren, caught and held like a fly in amber in a flaring bubble of energy. They saw him writhe, and heard his muffled screams.

"We're too late!" Buffy sobbed. God, she wished Spike were here; his speed and strength might have stopped Anyanka, at least.

Sensing their approach, Willow spun to face them. The look of cold fury never left her face.

"Don't try and stop me," she hissed. "He's going to suffer. He's going to pay."

Buffy halted a few feet away. "Willow," she said, in a reasonable tone, "he's not worth it. This is not what Tara would want."

"Think about it, Will," Xander said, urgently, "she wouldn't want you to hurt yourself or anyone else. That's not what she was about. Anya -- please -- "

"Warren has loosened the constraints on the Hellmouth already;" Giles said. "If your power is joined to it the barrier could rupture -- the town and everyone in it could be killed, or worse." As he spoke, he surreptitiously fingered a bag of magic Unoro powder in his pocket. When he got close enough, he planned to toss it and hope enough would stick to Willow to break her concentration.

Seeing Giles edge closer to Willow, Anyanka snapped, "Don't listen to them! It's a trick!"

"You won't stop me!" Willow cried, "I know what you're up to! It's your fault - all of you!" As her head fell back, she began an incantation, and a wave of force stunned Buffy, Xander, and Giles, knocking them off their feet. A gale shrieked and Buffy staggered up again, bracing herself against the lashing gusts. She saw Willow stretch her arms out to her sides; lightning played across them, arcing from hand to hand --

-- And the deafening winds ceased abruptly. A door-sized portal blinked into existence directly behind Willow. An arid, rocky landscape was visible through the door, with sunlight blazing down. Buffy's heart turned over. Framed against the bright opening stood the black and white figure of Spike.


How like a younker or a prodigal
The scarfed bark puts from her native bay,
Hugg'd and embraced by the strumpet wind!
How like the prodigal doth she return,
With over-weather'd ribs and ragged sails,
Lean, rent, and beggar'd by the strumpet wind!

Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice