Epilogue: ten months later
"Do you see them yet?" Buffy bounced up and down trying to see over the shoulders of the crowd waiting at the arrival gate.
"Think I see Red's hair." Spike craned his neck, but with what appeared to be the "Brady Bunch" and "Eight Is Enough" families also there to meet arrivals, he wasn't having much success.
Anya sidled up to Dawn and whispered, "I just hope Anne was able to find enough of that lace I asked her to pick up for me. I plan to have a veil at least as long as my train for that walk down the aisle."
It was a credit to Xander that he didn't blanch at the reminder of his impending date at the altar. He was less nervous about taking his vows than he had been right after his spontaneous proposal but still not ready for that long walk just yet.
"Oh, here they come!" Dawn spotted Giles' tweed before any of them. She had grown at least five inches since they had all said their goodbyes at this same gate.
It was a blur of tears and hugs and laughter as the whole group was reunited for the first time in close to a year.
"Did you bring back lots of cool souvenirs? What did you bring for me?" Dawn regressed to a small child at the thought of presents.
Tara answered with a delighted laugh. "We have tons of goodies. Something for everyone." She looked at Spike with a shy smile and promised, "We even remembered to pick up that Yorkshire Red tea you wanted, so you can have a lovely cuppa. Oh, and there's gooseberry jam too; your mom said you loved that as a child."
Spike shifted uncomfortably at the reminder that these people had been in close quarters with his mother for months now and there was no telling what stories she may have shared about his human existence. "And cheese. Don't forget the cheese!" Willow added. "Buffy, we brought you some Wensleydale like you asked, but I found this really yummy goat cheese in South Devon called Ticklemor that you're gonna love!"
"Goat cheese? Blech!" Dawn made a face to match her words. "I don't get Buffy's whole cheese love thing."
"What's not to love?" Buffy was puzzled how her pizza-loving sister could not appreciate the finer points of all things cheese.
"I'm just glad you are all back before the Hellmouth starts perking again," Buffy said to Willow and Tara. "I can always use the help of two very powerful witches fresh out of Hogwart's."
"The coven was quite helpful." Giles was proud of his protégées' progress. "The ladies are remarkably talented and now have the control over their natural magic to be a force to reckon with by any challenger."
Spike was watching his beaming mother as she stood at Giles' side. Clearly there was a story there and he couldn't wait to get her alone to hear it. If he guessed correctly, Giles was about to become even more a part of his life than he already was as Buffy's Watcher. He had never seen his mother so happy or young-looking.
"So, dearest," he addressed her. "How did you find the mother country? Changed a good deal, hasn't it?"
"Yes, it certainly has. Rupert…um…Mr. Giles has been a wonderful tour guide. Quite patient with my giddiness." Anne wrapped her son in a warm embrace and kissed his cheek. "I missed you terribly though and am glad to be home once more."
"I'm glad you're back too, Mum. Hasn't been the same with you gone. No one to keep me on the straight and narrow." Spike wiggled his eyebrows playfully.
"I'm certain that Buffy has done quite well without my assistance," Anne smiled fondly on the girl who had possession of her son's heart and acted as his very soul.
Buffy laughed. "I don't know. Spike's a real handful at times, but I do my best." She winked at Spike over his mother's shoulder as she hugged the older woman.
The looks they exchanged clearly showed they knew just how much of a handful he was in ways that no mother wanted to hear details.
Spike wrapped an arm around his two loves and led them from the terminal. Buffy leaned in close and whispered so low only vampiric hearing could catch, "I plan to have my hands full pretty soon too, after everyone's settled." Spike smiled and shook his head in amazement at how his life had changed so completely in such a short time.
Dawn looked at Tara closely. "So, no left over trouble from Glory's mind thingie?"
"Nope, I'm better than ever, according to the Council's doctors. I don't even have nightmares of that anymore." Tara and Willow walked hand in hand next to the coltish former key.
"I'm glad to hear that because I want all my bridesmaids to be completely sane and healthy on the big day," Anya chimed in.
"Yes, because the guest list alone insures complete insanity without the wedding party making it worse," Xander added ruefully. "She's inviting all her demon friends to the wedding and I haven't got any idea how to explain some of them to my family." He thought for a moment then added, "Then again, I'm not sure how to explain my family to anyone either."
"Well, we have our work cut out for us then, don't we?" Anne patted Anya on the hand. "I am delighted you are taking your time to make certain every 't' is crossed and every 'i' is dotted."
"I'm happy you're back to help me plan," Anya admitted. "I need a mother's touch to pull this whole wedding and marriage thing off without blowing it."
Anne looked at her son and Buffy and smiled. "Perhaps you won't be the only couple in need of a mother's advice."
Buffy blushed. "Well, they don't usually have marriage ceremonies between slayers and vampires."
"Nonsense! My son is a gentleman and he'd not do less than make an honest woman of his love," Anne chided. "Rupert, surely you agree with me on that point?"
"Yes, well…it is all rather unorthodox…," he began but quickly crumbled at Anne's troubled look. "But then as you said many times as we toured London, change is often of the good. It IS the Hellmouth, after all, and normal rules don't always apply."
"You see, dear, you can have your big day as well in good time," Anne assured Buffy. She looked at Tara and Willow and added, "And one day, when the world is sane, all those who love will be able to vow it before God and man."
Dawn hugged Anne and said the words they all were thinking, "I'm so glad my spell brought you to us. We all need a mom and you're one of the best!" Dawn then winked at the sputtering Giles. "Okay, Giles didn't need a mom…but I think he needs you anyway."
"Indeed," Giles agreed. "I couldn't have put it better."