We come to the end.

Disclaimer: JW, Mutant Enemy, and Fox Studios are lucky to own these guys.


Epilogue

There is a family reunion at the hotel we're staying at. Spike and I wander into the conference room where it is occurring. Here and there, we see flashes of ourselves. This young man has sharp cheekbones. That mother and daughter have green eyes, blonde hair. The pair of little boys running wild have eyes so blue, staring into them takes your breath away.

Unnoticed, we observe for a time, and then leave, hands twined together. These descendants of ours, they don't need to know who we are. We faded out of our family history years ago.

In those first years after he'd recovered, Spike and I had finished raising our family together, reveling in the chance to do what we'd planned so many years prior.

But the children had grown up and moved away, started their own families, and we learned to play the role of busy grandparents instead, becoming less and less a part of our offspring's lives.

The day came when our grandchildren began to look like our grandparents, and so we disappeared completely. It was just too awkward, and the next generations didn't remember us anyhow.

Our lives are our own now. We do whatever strikes our fancy. I enjoy being free of responsibilities at last. We see the world by moonlight, only letting ourselves be found to lend aid fighting the occasional apocalypse.

Long ago, Willow completed her mission with magic, returned the world to what it had once been. I hadn't fought her over it; it was inevitable. The restoration did bring back a certain balance, but with it, demons and apocalypses.

It also brought back the Slayer line.

Over time, the remaining Slayers fell in the line of battle. Faith had been the last to go. She'd lived to the ripe old age of 122, despite appearing no older than 50. The very next week, Marvin Harris, the current head of the updated Watcher's Council, informed us that the first new Slayer in 100 years had been called. Balance was restored.

Spike and I have no ties left to this world except each other. Everybody we had known and loved is gone. Even Angel is gone, in a grand fight and a heroic death, years ago.

The reunion and the hotel are in San Francisco. We haven't been here in decades.

When the sun rises, we return to our room, ensure the drapes are shut, and make love with as much passion as if it were the first time. Our need for each other hasn't dulled one bit.

After, Spike kisses me, caresses my face. "Love you Buffy. Love you 'til the end of the world. Prob'ly longer".

"Always," I reply.

We lay there, whole in each other, but a nagging feeling has been growing on me. In the last few months, I've realized I no longer feel completely satisfied.

Spike knows me, knows I have something I've been contemplating. He's been waiting on my cue, but now he brings it up. "Tell me, sweetheart. Don' keep it from me".

I cuddle into him, wondering how he'll respond to what I have to say. "I don't want to live forever," I tell him. "I never expected to live past 20, and here I am, almost ready for a bicentennial. It boggles the mind".

He's quiet, waiting for me to continue.

"I've seen too much, know too much. I'm tired. And I still remember Heaven," I add in a quiet voice.

Spike is silent, contemplating. "Don' reckon Heaven can be much better than this, Buffy. Get to be with you, fight with you, hold you in my arms as I sleep. I haven' been there, but for me? This is heaven, sweetheart". He pauses, thinking more. "What's makin' you feel like this? Maybe I can fix it".

"I'm ready to rest," I say simply.

He's quiet again. Eventually he speaks up. "Unless some nasty gets you, s'not gonna come about, pet. An' I don' think I can let some nasty get you. Goes agains' my nature too much to let it happen. 'M not ready to lose you."

He kisses me, says sadly, "Even if I walked out into the next sunrise, I'd lose you. "M not going same place as you".

"You are though," I interrupt him.

"'Preciate the sentiment, but don' think so, Buffy. You're The Chosen One. 'M just a vamp with a soul".

"No, you're more," I tell him earnestly. I hang my head, embarrassed to admit I've gone behind his back, kept something from him. "I contacted the coven awhile ago. I was worried about it. Didn't ever want to be apart from you, either. They have some way to tell where souls will end up. They promised we'd be together".

His face is unreadable.

"If you're not ready, I understand. If it's not what you want, I'll wait. I'll stay. Being with you is what matters most to me," I rush to explain. "We don't seem to be dying anytime soon, anyhow. I'm apparently immortal, and you're already dead. It works for us".

The silence stretches on. It's ok. I've learned patience. We both have.

"We'd really be together?" he ventures disbelievingly.

"Forever".

He sighs. "'M not sure as I'm ready to go on yet. But if I know I'll be with you, I won' mind, either". He kisses me, runs his hands over me. I shiver in anticipation.

"Next big apocalypse, then," he tells me. "I won' try so hard to save you, how 'bout?" I nod, satisfied. He continues, "Always fancied going' out in another blaze of glory. This time we'll do it together. Be bloody brilliant, we will".

His caresses increase. "And we'll meet on the other side?" he insists on asking.

"Promise," I promise. "We'll never let anything keep us apart again".

His body covers mine, making promises of its own. "I'll always find my way back to you," he agrees.