I've been working on this fic for a little while now after reading some rumors about
how the season might end. I want to thank Heller for helping me out with a beta read.




Chapter 1
Good News?


The phone rang for the fifth time, "Dawn........get the phone!" Buffy
called as she walked up the basement steps with a basket of laundry.



"Fine, but I'm busy too!" Dawn grumbled as she pushed her school books
away from her and raced to the phone, "Hello...yeah, hold on Xander."
Dawn lay the phone down on the kitchen counter, "Buffy it's for you...
Xander."



Buffy sat the basket of clothes on the kitchen island and picked up
the phone,


"Hello...yes..........she is? When? ........I don't think that it's a
good idea for Caleb to be there when she comes.........I know it's
Willow we're talking about but remember how she attacked me over Spike?
Yes, I know she's better or they wouldn't let her come home,
but humor me.......let Spike baby-sit Caleb when we pick her up
okay?.....Yes, Spike. We've baby-sat before........okay. I'll see you
tomorrow night. Bye." Buffy frowned as she hung up the phone.


"What was that about?" Dawn asked as she absentmindedly folded clothes
from the basket.

"Willow is being released tomorrow night, she asked Xander and Anya to
pick her up, he wants us to go too." Buffy put her hand on Dawn's
shoulder,
"How do you feel about that?"

Dawn stared at the shirt she held in her hand for several moments as if
it might offer up an answer for her, "I don't know,Buffy. I mean I know it's
Willow, but I was on that bus - I saw some of my classmates die because of
Willow. I know she was devastated over Tara's death........but still she didn't care to check anything out
and she fell right into Warren's trap." Dawn shuddered at the memory.


Buffy ran her hand through Dawn's hair like she had done when the girl
was younger, "I know what you went through, Dawn. You don't have to go.
You can stay here and help Spike baby-sit Caleb."


"Spike is gonna baby-sit? And why isn't Caleb going with.........hey you
don't want Willow to see Caleb or Spike do you? You're afraid." Dawns
eyes widened. "Why are you afraid?"

Buffy furiously chewed on her bottom lip, "Dawn....I....last time I saw
Willow she more or less let me know that her life was ruined because of
me. If I had never shown up in Sunnydale she wouldn't have lost people she
cared about, first Jesse and then countless others in high school and then, of
course ,Tara. Dawn, she was so angry and bitter at Xander and I. She went on
and on about how unfair and how wrong it was for me to go on and be happy
with Spike. an evil vampire. She wasn't quite as hard on Xander about Anya,
but the anger was there. You could see her bitterness over being left alone,
almost as if was our fault that Tara died. It was scary." Buffy paused for a moment,
"By the end of the visit she had apologized, said she was just stressed
and that I was the person she vented on. But still.......Dawn, if you
could have seen her eyes." Buffy rubbed her arms as a chill came over her.


"It's okay, Buffy. I 'm sure she didn't mean it. I think I will stay
with Spike though." It was Dawn's turn to comfort Buffy with a small
hug. Trying to lighten the mood, Dawn picked up a pair of black boxers from the
laundry basket, "So why are these in our laundry?" She smiled as she twirled the boxers on her
finger.

"Those.....hmm." Buffy laughed as she reached for the boxers.


"Hey, those are mine!" Spike's voice boomed as the back door opened and
he also went for the boxers.

Dawn laughed as she pulled them back out of his reach.

"Don't lose those, they're the only ones I have." Spike smirked at Dawn.


Dawn looked at Buffy with raised eyebrows, Buffy shrugged her shoulders,
"He's telling the truth."


"You mean he doesn't wear........oh...more info then I needed." Dawn
handed the boxers to Spike. "I'm gonna finish my homework and you need
to tell Spike the news." Dawn spoke to Buffy as she left the room.

"What news, luv?" Spike asked as leaned against the counter.

"You're baby-sitting Caleb tomorrow night." Buffy said lightly as she
finished folding the laundry.

"Okay, why?" Spike asked arching his eyebrow.

"I'm going to go to the airport with Xander and Anya to pick
up.............." She looked directly in his eyes now and almost whispered the name, "Willow."

Spike stood straight up at the mention of the redheads name, "They're
letting her out then?" He asked his tone serious, his eyes dark with
worry.


"Yes, isn't that good news?" Buffy asked as she plastered a smile on her
face.


"I don't know, pet. Is it?" Spike asked her as he took her hand in his.

"Well of course it is, if the doctors say she's well. Then that's good
news for all of us." Buffy began to worry her bottom lip again.

"Pet, it's okay to be worried about this, Red really lost it when
Tara died. She was so out of it she didn't even know her parents for several
months. And I know that your last visit with her wasn't the best even though you
wouldn't tell me everything." He squeezed her hand tightly, "I'm here for you though
and if that means baby-sitting the whelp and Anya's brat then so be it."


Buffy smiled at him then, "Thanks. And Dawn is going to stay with you."

He nodded, "Good I don't think its a good idea for her to see Willow
yet." He pulled Buffy closer to him, kissing her the top of her head. I'm not
sure it's a good idea for anyone to see her yet he thought as he held Buffy
tight. He knew he wasn't' ready to see her - he had tried to warn the others
that she had gone over the deep end but no one listened until it was too late.

*****
"This is a short list of things for you to know about keeping Caleb."
Anya instructed as she handed Spike a notebook. "His likes, dislikes everything is in
there." She nodded as she put the chubby little boy down in the floor with his
stuffed dog in one hand and a matchbox car held tightly in the other.

"Just keep an eye on him, he can run very fast." Xander grinned at the
little boy, "And try not to teach him any of your bad habits."

"I think Bit and I can manage." Spike replied with a grin.

"Dawn is staying with you?" Xander asked with surprise.

"Yes, Dawn decided to stay." Buffy told him as she entered the room,
"She's just not ready, Xan. And I'm not gonna push her."

"I know it was hard on her Buffy, but despite everything this is Willow.
She was my best friend, my first true friend, I just don't want her feelings hurt if Dawn isn't' there." Xander
explained softly.

"And Dawn doesn't want to go and we aren't going to force her." Spike
spoke up from the floor where he sat with Caleb rolling the toy car back and
forth.

"Xander, Willow will understand. Okay. Let's go." Buffy kissed Spike
lightly on the cheek. "Tell Dawn I said bye."

"Okay, I'll tell her. "


"Bye bye Caleb." Anya and Xander said in unison.
"Don't forget the notebook." Anya added before the left.


Spike picked up the notebook and threw it with a flourish onto the
couch, Caleb giggled, "That's funny isn't it? You have a thicker handbook then the
Slayer handbook your Aunt Buffy never used." He tickled the little boy's tummy and Dawn
was met with the sound of giggles as she entered the house.


"Hey." Dawn called out as she entered the room, "Have they already
left?"

"Yes, Buffy said to tell you bye."

"Was Xander upset that I didn't go?" Dawn asked wearily.

"You know Xander..........but it's okay." Spike smiled at her as she sat
down on the floor and Caleb crawled into her lap. "Ooh huh, a pretty girl
walks in and Uncle Spike is all forgotten." He smiled as he stood up.

"This is gonna be okay with Willow isn't' it?" Dawn asked as Caleb
tangled his hands in her hair.

"Of course it is Lil Bit." Spike assured her.

"I mean we don't have to worry, Willow is better she won't hurt anyone
again?" Dawn asked chewing on her lip just like her big sister did.

"No, worries, Dawn." Spike smiled at her. No worries at all as long as
I'm around she won't have the chance to hurt anyone I love again.

*******
The airport was crowded as Xander, Anya and Buffy waited at Gate 16 for
Willow to arrive. "Why didn't her parents pick her up?" Buffy asked
nervously.

"Oh, Willow wanted to see us first, we're dropping her off at her
parents.
You
sound nervous, Buffy. Aren't you happy that Willow is better?" Xander
asked concern in his voice.

"Of course I'm happy." Buffy forced a smile.

"But she's afraid that Willow may not be herself and that she may go to
the
darkside again. And I really can't blame her for that." Anya stated
matter -
of- factly.

"Anya!" Xander shook his head at his wife, "I can't believe you two.
Willow
is
okay, she's coming back to us."

"I didn't say she was going to be bad just that it could happen." Anya
pouted.

"There she is!" Xander smiled and walked towards the redhead, "Willow!"
He pulled her into a tight hug.

"Xander, it's so good to be home." Willow exclaimed as she returned the
hug.
She pulled back from him, "Anya" She gave Anya a small hug, then turned
to
Buffy, "Buffy! I'm so glad you came." She hugged the petite blond
tightly.

"I'm glad you're home too, Willow." Buffy replied sincerely.

"Where is Dawn?" Willow asked as she looked around the airport.

"Baby-sitting Caleb." Buffy answered with a smile.

"I need to talk to her, I have so much to apologize for." Willow sighed.

"Not now, now we go get your luggage and maybe a cup of coffee?"
Xander led the way to baggage claim and Willow pointed out her bag.

The four friends sat around a table drinking coffee and eating pie.
Buffy
reached
for her phone, "I'm gong to call Dawn and Spi.. um Dawn.....so she won't
worry."

"Good idea, ask how Caleb is?" Anya replied.

Buffy dialed the phone, "Hey, we're okay. We've stopped for coffee and
dessert."
Buffy laughed softly and dropped her voice, "No, you get dessert later."

Anya mouthed the words, "Caleb?"

"Anya wants to know if Caleb is okay. I'll see you later. Bye." Buffy
turned off the phone.

"Caleb is fine." She told Anya as she put the phone away.

"Was that Spike?" Willow asked as she sipped her coffee.

"Uh, yes it was." Buffy smiled, "He's with Dawn and Caleb."

"I need to apologize to him too." Willow shook her head, "I made such a
mess
of things."

"We aren't going to worry about that now, Willow. Hey, we better get you
to
your parents before they start worrying." Xander took the check and went
to
pay.

"Well here we are." Willow stared at the house in front of her, "Home
sweet
home."
Her parents heard the car and came out to meet her.

"We'll see you tomorrow?" Xander asked as Willow got out of the car with
her
bag.

"Yes, tomorrow." Willow smiled and waved good-bye to her friends as her
parents rushed to greet her.


And down the street, someone watched the scene with a sly smile,
"Welcome
home,
Willow" Amy said out loud.


TBC