Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.

Beta'd by the wonderful Marella916.


Joyce was a bit stunned by everything she had learned. The idea of going home to mull over what she had heard was sounding very attractive right now. Saying her goodbyes she led Dawn from the school. Both of them were quiet on the drive home. Dawn opened the door and proceeded up to her room while Joyce went into the kitchen to start dinner.

§

Over the next few weeks Joyce often found herself meeting with Rupert Giles. At first she was full of questions about her daughter and her calling. She also peppered the watcher with questions about Spike. Noticing his hesitance in answering those questions she cornered him one day, at his apartment, demanding the truth. "Rupert, why is it that every time I ask about Spike you hem and haw before answering me? I know you're keeping things from me."

Giles knew this was coming, Joyce was neither stupid nor naïve and eventually he would have to tell her about Spike's history. But how much to tell her and what the repercussions were when she heard the whole story had Giles choosing his words carefully during their previous conversations. "Spike's history is colorful to say the least. For many years he was a classic example of a vampire. Killing indiscriminately, cutting a swath of murder and mayhem everywhere he went. He told you about the military and what they did to him. It was then that he slowly started to change. It wasn't easy and it didn't happen over night. But he did change, with no encouragement from any one. Most of the people he was with didn't see the change or if they did they refused to acknowledge it."

Taking a seat on the couch Giles struggled on how to proceed. "There is evil everywhere, in everyone. The group Spike had aligned himself with were battling the First Evil. The First Evil is the source and embodiment of all the evil in humanity and the world. The First is older than demons, existing before there were even humans. It sent it's minions to do its work, humans willing to give up their humanity to serve a terrible master. These humans opened the hellmouth, in doing so they let Turok-Hun, ancient vampires, out of hell. These vampires are more lethal than any vampire ever seen. Hard to kill, deadly and so old they do not have a human form like the vampires of today."

Rising Giles made his way to the kitchen, taking a few moments to gather his thoughts as he prepared a pot of tea. Returning to the living room he took up his tale again. "The slayer at the time had accepted Spike as an ally. As they were preparing for the final battle against the First an associate arrived with a talisman that could only be worn by a champion, ensouled but more than human. Spike wore the talisman knowing it could, would mean his death. In the end his sacrifice ended the battle. All the vampires were turned to ash and the seal closed and buried under the collapse of the town until the end of time."

Joyce had been sipping her tea during Giles story, "What happened to Spike? I mean he's here and not dust so how did that happen?"

"He died."

"But how?" Joyce was very confused, she might be accepting of vampires, it was hard to dispute when Spike had shown her his 'game face' but coming back from the dead? That was a little too much to believe.

"He became trapped in the amulet. A law firm in service to all things demonic and evil released him from it. He made new allies upon his release, those fighting the good fight and they joined forces to destroy the group that had brought him back. It was foolhardy at best, their group was small in number and a few died before the larger battle even began. Spike died again in the final fight. After this death he was brought before the Powers that Be, they informed him that because of his selfless actions he was now their champion."

"Oh, wow. I mean that's, well that's just." Joyce was babbling unable to truly comprehend what Giles was telling her. What he said next was so unbelievable Joyce was at a loss to respond.

"All of that happened in another dimension about 8 years ahead of ours. He was, in essence, sent back in time, to assist the powers in preventing the same things from occurring here."

After a few minutes of stunned silence Joyce started talking again. "So he's from the future? Does that mean he knows everything that's going to happen? I have so many questions to ask him. Is Buffy okay? What about Dawn? Are they married?"

Giles interrupted her before she could ask any more questions. "Joyce, I'm afraid it isn't that simple. I said in essence he has been sent back in time. He is from a different dimension; the timeline here is not going to be exactly the same. In the few short months he has been here things have already changed from what he lived through. I don't think he will be able to answer your questions."

§

Buffy was still dreaming at night. They were becoming frustrating; she could tell the same man was in every dream just by his voice. But she never got a look at his face, even the dreams where they were fighting. Tonight she woke up panting. Who ever he was he had her pinned, clearly the winner in their fight. Then suddenly he jumped off and ran away. She didn't know whether to be more upset that she lost the fight or that he had jumped off. From what she could tell while he had her down he was very well muscled and about her height. She could also tell that he thoroughly enjoyed every aspect of the fight from feeling his hard length pressing into her thigh. It made her blush to think that she was having dreams about a man that she didn't know fighting her and who was aroused! Buffy briefly thought about telling Giles about her dream. But after he gave her the brush off last time she decided not to. Although now Buffy was thinking that these weren't slayer dreams. Nobody had tried to kill her the Saturday after she had the dream. Unless Giles and his new group of fighters really had taken care of it?

"Hey Buffy, we're Bronzing tonight you in?" Cordelia said as she came up to Buffy at lunch in school the next morning.

"Sure why not."

§

Angel had been looking for the slayer for weeks now in Sunnydale. He was sure the rumors couldn't be true. Willy the snitch said the slayer was retired. What was more unbelievable was that William was supposedly in town and was patrolling. He remembered the insipid vamp Dru had brought home one night over a century ago. He had disappeared shortly after the two had met. Dru had been inconsolable for weeks after, blathering on about how her William was lost to the sunshine. Angel thought she meant the idiot had dusted himself by walking into the sun, but here he was. Angel had caught a glimpse of him one night. He might have changed his look but those eyes were distinctive and Angel knew it was him right away. Distracted over how he was going to have to stake William, Angel didn't notice that he was near the Bronze until he literally bumped into the slayer.

"Oh, sorry."

"Watch where you're going!" Buffy shoved the man away from her.

Angel was suprised that this tiny blond could push him so far. "Hey, you're the slayer. I've been looking for you."

"Sorry buddy, I'm retired." Shock had Buffy answering before she realized what he had said.

"Retired? How can you be retired?! Slayers don't retire."

"Wait! How do you know about Slayers? Who are you?!"

"I'm a friend."

"Maybe I don't want a friend."

"Never said I was yours."

"Listen, I don't know what your malfunction is but I already told you I'm retired."

"Do you think that's really an option? You're standing on the mouth of hell. And it's about to open."

"You're new so let me explain a few things. One – You got info? Tell it to Giles. Two – I'm retired. Three – You're creeping me out. So unless you want my first act after coming out of retirement to be kicking your butt all over this alley leave me alone."

"You can't turn your back on this. You've gotta be ready."

"Like I said tell it to Giles. You can find him in the high school library. He's got a group of demon fighters. They'll take care of it." Buffy turned and flounced away to join Cordelia and the Cordettes who were waiting for her at the door.

"So who was that salty goodness?" Cordelia asked eyeing the stranger up and down.

Buffy looked over her shoulder at the dark haired man who was staring at her. "Just some creep. Forget about him." She said turning to lead the group to the club.

§

Joyce Summers was not a stupid woman, nor was she naïve. Rupert Giles was hiding something from her, she knew it in her bones. He knew more than he was telling and she was going to find out what it was. Things didn't make sense. Joyce was well aware she was new to this world of the supernatural and the mystical. But how could being sent back in time be a reward? From what little Giles had told and what she was able to read in between the lines, Spike had loved that girl that died. Someone he had met here in Sunnydale. So sending him back to the same town and the same point in time where he would meet and fall in love with someone who would die didn't seem to be much of a reward.

Thinking about the situation left Joyce with two possible scenarios. One - the Powers that Be were cruel beings who didn't have the ability to feel for those they manipulated. Or two – there was something going on, something big. And she would bet her last dollar that Giles knew what it was. Joyce was pretty sure it was the later. But she wasn't denying that the former held sway. Those Powers had destroyed the life Joyce wanted for her daughter. Until she knew more, Joyce wasn't inclined to help the powers get what they wanted. Once she had the answers to her questions she'd make a decision but not before.