Willow ran into Oz's arms when she saw him on the street. "You're ok!"
"Well, as ok as I can be," Oz replied through his distorted face. "I can't believe you want to hug me when I look and sound like this."
"Silly," Willow said. "I want to hug you no matter what."
"Ok. Is anyone else wiggin at the way wolf-boy looks?" Xander said. Cordelia hit him. "Hey!"
"This is fascinating," Giles said.
Buffy rolled her eyes. "I'm going back to bed. I suggest the rest of us do, too."
The group surrounded Oz to keep him out of sight and went up to their rooms. Spike and Giles said goodnight and went directly to their rooms down the hall.
"I don't want to stay with him," Xander said. "I may end up lunch."
"Don't talk to my boyfriend like that," Willow snapped. "You're so rude!"
"It's ok, Will," Oz practically growled. "I can sleep outside."
"We should make Xander sleep outside," Willow said.
Buffy threw up her hands. "Enough! Cordelia, why don't you share with Xander, Oz and Will, in here. I'll go somewhere else."
They looked at her with surprise. Xander was about to say something, then changed his mind at Buffy's murderous look. He grabbed Cordelia's hand. "C'mon, Cordy."
"Are you sure, Buffy?" Willow asked.
"Yes, I'm sure. Go to bed, you two," Buffy said, pushing them in the door of the room. She whispered to Willow, "I want details!" Willow blushed.
With the two doors shut, Buffy stood in the hall and sighed. "Now what?" she said to herself.
Walking down the hall, she knocked on a door and waited.
"Slayer?!" a shirtless Spike said. "What're you doing here?"
"Lemme crash with you?" Buffy asked.
Spike's mouth opened and closed a few times before he stepped aside to allow her to pass.
"Thanks," Buffy said, immediately flopping on the extra bed.
Spike nodded and shut the door, relocking it. He sat back down on his bed and picked up the book he was reading.
"What'cha reading?" Buffy asked, propping her head on her hand.
"Normally, I'd say it was a fantasy novel, but since we're no longer in Sunnyhell..."
"Sorry about that," Buffy said.
"It's not your fault, luv," Spike said.
"Somehow, I doubt that," Buffy sighed. "It seems where ever I go, trouble follows."
Spike got up and sat down on the edge of Buffy's bed. "Now, none of that Slayer," he said. "It's the Hellmouth, not you."
"I wish I could believe that," Buffy said. She laid her head back on the pillow and stared up at the ceiling. "When I was in LA, I ran into all sorts of baddies."
"Los Angeles is a bad place, luv," Spike said. He unknowingly brushed the hair off of her face. "Even I don't like it there."
Buffy laughed softly, but her eyes were troubled as she remembered things past. Tears formed in her eyes.
"Hey," Spike said. He brushed his thumb across her cheek, wiping the tear that fell.
"Sorry," Buffy said again.
Instead of responding, Spike leaned down and softly kissed her. Buffy was surprised at the feel of his cold lips against hers. It had been a long time since she'd been kissed. She responded by opening her mouth, touching her tongue to his lips.
Spike immediately responded, deepening the kiss. Buffy brought her hands up and wrapped them around his shoulders, pulling him down closer.
"Mmm," she said in his ear.
Spike chuckled under his breath. He moved and positioned them on the bed so that she was cradled in his arms. She blinked at him sleepily and smiled. He kissed her nose affectionately. "Goodnight, Buffy."
"'Night, William," Buffy said and fell fast asleep.
*William?* Spike thought as he ran his hand up and down Buffy's arm. *I haven't been called that in god knows how long.* He looked down into Buffy's sleeping face. *I think I like it.*
Bang, bang, bang.
Spike woke to the sound of someone pounding on his door. Untangling himself from Buffy's arms, he threw on his boxers, made sure she was completely covered, and answered the door.
"What the bloody hell is it?" he growled.
"Buffy's missing," Giles said. "And there's trouble."
"She's not missing, she's in here." Giles' eyes about popped out of his head. "Sleeping in the extra bed, mate," Spike lied at Giles' look.
"Extra bed, right," Giles said. "Well, if I may?"
Spike stood back and let the Watcher in. Giles looked at both beds, and Spike was glad that he had messed up the other one earlier that evening while reading. For some reason, he would rather keep the fact that he had made love with Buffy a secret for now.
"Buffy," Giles said, shaking the Slayer. "You need to wake up."
"Don't wanna. Go ‘way," Buffy said, not moving.
"We have a problem and we need you," Giles said. Spike slipped on his pants while Giles was trying to wake Buffy.
"No," Buffy said.
"Let me try," Spike said. Giles shrugged and Spike leaned down to Buffy's ear. "Slayer?" he whispered seductively. "If you wake up, you get a treat."
Buffy opened one eye and looked at Spike. "Like what?"
Spike smiled suggestively. "Like me," he whispered. "And one more thing, your Watcher is in the room."
Buffy about bolted upright, but was saved from embarrassment by Spike's hand holding her down. "I didn't say anything. He thinks I slept in the other bed. But remember, you have nothing on…"
Buffy blushed and nodded. "Thanks. Hey, Giles," Buffy said louder. "Gimme a minute to get up."
"Ok, Buffy. We'll meet in my room," Giles said. He turned to the door. "Coming Spike?"
"I'll be there in a sec, just let me put my shirt on," Spike said. Giles left and Spike closed the door behind him.
"That was close," Buffy said, sitting up and retrieving her clothes from the floor.
Spike leaned against the door and watched her naked form redressing. He felt himself becoming aroused.
"Stop ogling me and finish getting dressed," Buffy said with her hands on her now jean clad hips. "We have work to do."
Spike groaned and closed his eyes, willing his arousal away. It didn't work, but he obeyed Buffy anyway.
A few minutes later, the misplaced group from Sunnydale sat in Giles' room. According to the Watcher, a renegade band of mercenaries was planning on attacking the town. This ruthless bunch attacked several times a year, looting and pillaging Athena's Bluff.
"So, are we going to aid and abet the townsfolk?" Xander asked.
"I think we should," Giles said. "They accepted us here with no qualms and employed us."
"And some of them are our friends," Willow added. She patted Oz's leg. "Should Oz help, too?"
"I don't know, Will," Oz said through his snout. He was still part werewolf, part human. "I don't want to scare anyone."
"I'm thinking we're probably gonna need all the scare power we can get, Oz," Buffy said. "I've heard of these guys. Roland says the group is made up of ogres, orcs, humans, elves and goblins. All vicous in their own ways."
"Are we going to kill them?" Cordelia asked from Xander's side.
"Yes," Giles said. "Because if we don't, they'll kill us."
"Ok. We need a plan," Xander said after a few minutes of silence. "And I, having maintained all my military knowledge, have one."
Xander explained to the group his plan, then they gathered their weapons which Giles had procured from Roland, the bartender, and went into the street.
Looking around cautiously, the Slayer, the vampire, the Watcher and the Slayerettes noticed most of the townspeople were in hiding. A few brave men of various races stood guarding their businesses.
"You guys shouldn't be out here," Roland said, holding a short sword.
"Don't worry, Roland. We're here to help," Buffy said.
"Yeah. We do this sort of thing all the time back home," Xander said.
Roland looked over the group of young ladies and gentlemen, pausing to look curiously at Oz, then turned to Giles. "Are you going to allow them to risk there lives?"
"Like Xander said, they do fight often," Giles said.
"Pretend we're your own private army," Xander said. He turned to his friends. "Ready for some slayage?"
Buffy saluted. "Ready, Colonel Xand-man."
"Funny, Buff. Really funny," Xander said.
The group split up. Spike, Buffy and Oz went to the west entrance of town, where, according to Roland's information, the mercenaries should come from. Xander, Willow, Cordelia and Giles stayed near the tavern. They had several nets and burlap sacks they planned to throw to give them time to attack any armed foe.
"They're coming," Oz said in his deep guttural voice. Spike and Buffy nodded and prepared to jump onto the backs of horses as the riders entered the town. They didn't have long to wait.
Ten men rode slowly past the trio's hiding place, planning to sneak into town before wreaking havoc upon it. Buffy motioned to Oz, who let out an unearthly howl. The men froze, stopping their horses at the loud, close sound. That's when Buffy, Spike and Oz attacked.
Leaping upon the back of one of the horses, Buffy took a swing and knocked the rider to the ground. She kicked him in the face as he stood up, then jumped off, swatting the horse so it bolted away.
Spike put on his game face and ran into the group of horses, scaring them. Three men fell off as the horses reared up at the sight of the demon. Spike was on them in an instant.
Oz used his claws to swipe at three other riders, knocking them off their horses. He ripped one mercenary's throat out, swung around and hit another across the face, tearing it away. The mercenary screamed.
Although stakes usually work better on vampires, plunging one into the throat of an enemy rendered him just as dead. Buffy quickly ducked as a rider still on his horse swung his sword at her head.
Spike was having a blast. He hadn't fought this way in a long time. After breaking two of the downed riders necks, he went after the third.
They didn't see two of the mercenaries ride into town.
Cordelia and Willow nodded. Giles held a sword in his hand easily, as part of being a Watcher required extensive training with the weapon.
"Now!" Xander yelled. The trio ran into the street, throwing their nets up and over the riders. The riders fell to the ground, struggling to remove the cumbersome objects.
Giles ran up as Willow and Cordelia ran back to the relative safety of the tavern's doorway. Xander held one of the mercenaries down while Giles attacked the other one, swinging his blade like a pro.
"You guys ok?" Buffy asked. She wasn't even out of breath.
"Great. You?" Xander asked, puffing.
"Got seven of them. We let Spike feed off their dead bodies," Buffy said.
"Now that's something I would have rather not heard," Giles said, wiping the sword blade on the dead mercenary by his feet. Willow and Cordelia ran up, hugging their respective boyfriends.
Roland walked slowly up to the group of friends. "That was amazing work, Giles," he said. "You really know how to handle a sword."
"Thank you, Roland." Giles replied. "If you'd inform the others that the mercenaries have all been dispatched and their bodies are just outside of town, I think we'll go and get cleaned up."
Roland nodded and walked away.
"Well, that was fun," Willow said.
"Fun? Wills, I think you've been a Slayerette way too long," Buffy said. Everyone laughed.
The party was in honor of them.
Dressing up in new outfits bought from the dressmaker and tailor, the group mingled with their new friends in the town's street. Musicians played as people dance, ate free food and drank heavily. Children and adults alike played games and enjoyed the festivities.
"You look beautiful," Spike said as he walked up to Buffy. He gave her a flower.
"Thanks," Buffy said. "You don't look so bad yourself."
Spike laughed and extended his hand to her, bowing slightly. "Dance?"
"I'd love to," Buffy accepted. They moved to join the dancers, which included Cordelia, Xander, Willow and a still half transformed Oz. People didn't comment on Oz's appearance, though, because they were use to the many different races in their world.
Moving in time to the music, Buffy was swept away with a feeling of happiness and contentment. *If we don't get back to Sunnydale, it wouldn't be that bad,* she thought as Spike kissed the tip of her nose.
The festivities lasted well into the night. Eventually, Spike and Buffy returned to Spike's room and made love until dawn.
Oz was the first to propose. They had found that the effects of his lycanthropy only lasted for five days and nights. Oz had saved enough money from his job as a musician and helping the blacksmith to have a small house built.
Xander and Cordelia followed soon afterwards, as Cordelia opened her own dress shop, designing fashions that combined their world with the new one. Xander helped in the kitchen at the tavern.
They had pretty much given up hope of ever returning to Sunnydale. In fact, they really didn't care. They had found a niche within the town of Athena's Bluff and were quite happy with their new lives.
Spike and Buffy went public soon after Cordelia and Xander's wedding. To their chagrin, the other couples had already figured it out. So had the rest of the town. And so Buffy and Spike decided to follow suit, after all, there was no need to be mortal enemies when Spike worked for the butcher's shop, and were married on a quiet sun-filled day.
Laughter filled the room, as it did every meal. Conversation flowed freely, but instead of talk about vampires, demons and sacred duties, it centered upon work, love and family.
"What'cha thinking ‘bout, Will?" Buffy asked, sitting next to her best friend on the back porch after dinner.
"Sometimes, I come out here and look up in the sky and wonder if I'll ever see my parents again," Willow said. "Not that I'm complaining. I really like it here."
"I hear ya," Buffy said, sipping her ale. "I miss my mom, too. I miss slaying. Heck, I even miss school sometimes."
Willow laughed. "Xander doesn't. I think the only thing he misses from our world is junk food."
Buffy played with the simple band on her left ring finger. Spike had made it for her himself. "I wonder how long we've been here."
"Yeah. It's not like they have weeks or months like we use to. From what Oz and I have figured out, there are around fifty days between full moons. So, if we multiply fifty by the number of times Oz has changed into his partial werewolf, which is about twenty-five, then divide that by 365…"
"Never mind, Wills," Buffy interrupted, laughing. "You lost me long ago."
"How are my beautiful ladies tonight?" Xander said as he joined them on the steps.
"Good, Xander. You?" Willow said.
"Can't complain. New material is coming in from Lantham tomorrow, so Cordy will have me busy storing it," Xander said.
"Listen to us, talking so casually about our families," Buffy said. "I didn't think I would even live long enough to graduate high school, now I'm married and my two best friends are married and we have responsibilities."
"Aah! Don't say that word!" Xander said.
"What word?" Willow asked. "Responsibility?"
"That's it! That's the dreaded one!" Xander exclaimed with a comical grin. "I shall never fall!"
"Too late, Xand," Buffy said. "You already have."
Xander pretended to be shot in the heart. "Oh no! I'm dying! I shall not live to see another twin sunset!" Willow and Buffy laughed. Giles joined the trio on the porch, sitting on a handmade chair.
"Hey Giles," Buffy said, squeezing Giles' knee affectionately. "How's the book business?"
"It's doing remarkably well. I'm teaching so many people to read the English language," Giles said.
"You know what's funny," Willow said. "That we ended up somewhere that speaks English. I mean, can you imagine the problems we would have had it no one did? Speak English, I mean."
They sobered at the thought. "That would have been horrible," Xander said sincerely. The each sat in thought as they listened to the sounds of the night.
"I guess now is as good of time as any," Giles said, reaching into the small bag he had brought to the house.
"What's up, G-man?" Xander asked.
"Monks from Pantronia brought this book of Fairy Tales to me when they came through town the other day," he said, taking out a book. "I've been reading it and have found some extraordinary information that I thought you'd like might to hear."
Oz and Spike had finished the dishes and came out to join the group on the porch.
"What I miss?" Cordelia said as she came out the door. "Sorry, nature call."
"Giles was telling us about something he found in a book," Willow said.
"Reminds me of the good old days," Xander said, hugging his wife to him. "When we'd sit in the library for hours, researching prophecies. Wait a minute…I hated researching."
The fellow Slayerettes laughed.
"If you're through, Xander," Giles said. He cleared his throat. "As I was saying, the Monks brought this book of Fairy Tales to me, and as I was reading through it I came across something remarkable. It seems we are in this book."
"What?" The listeners said almost collectively.
"It's written as a story about our lives in Sunnydale, up until the day we…well, arrived here," he said.
"Wow," Willow said.
"I second that," Oz said.
"Does it say anything about Spike?" Buffy asked, squeezing her husband's hand.
"Only the times where he interacted directly with us in some fashion. The time he came to Parent Night, the episode at the church, when he helped Buffy against…Angelus," Giles said.
"It's ok, Giles. You can say his name. Angel has been gone for a long time now," Buffy said.
Giles nodded, then continued. "This is the important part. It seems that there may be a way to get back."
"Back? To Sunnydale?" Cordelia asked.
"Correct," Giles said.
"Oh, wow," this time it was Xander who said it.
They looked at one another, various emotions playing across their features.
"Well, I propose that we don't decide to do anything tonight," Giles said, standing. "Let's wait and talk it over some more tomorrow night?"
"Sure, Giles," Buffy said. "Why don't we meet at your bookstore."
Giles nodded and walked off into the night. The other couples said their good-byes to Willow and Oz and followed suit.
"Will?" Oz said, taking his wife's hand. He played with the ring on her finger.
"Oh, Oz," Willow said, starting to cry. "Do you think it's true? Do you think we can go home?"
"If Giles says so, I believe it," Oz said. He knew that Willow wanted to see her parents again. "When we do get home, I'm going to have a lot of explaining to do to your parents."
Willow laughed softly. "Yeah. It's bad enough that I disappeared. But to get married, oh boy!"
Oz laughed as well, and hugged Willow tightly.
"Just that. I don't want to go back. There's nothing in Sunnydale that I miss," Xander said. "I have everything I need right here. You. A good job. Friends, both new and old…"
"What if I want to go home?" Cordelia said.
Xander looked at her. "Do you?"
"I don't know. I miss some things. Like Neiman Marcus, capuccino, shoe sales," she said.
"That's right, Cordy. Always thinking about those material things," Xander joked.
"Xander, be serious."
"You want serious? Ok. Can you tell me that you really miss your parents? School? Sunnydale?"
Cordelia thought for a moment. "Actually, no."
"Me neither," Xander said. They climbed into bed and Xander wrapped his arms around his wife. "Does that make us bad people?"
"I don't know, Xander. I really don't know."
"Sorry, Pet," Spike said. "Just thinking."
"About?" Buffy prompted.
"What Giles told us."
"Me, too," Buffy said, snuggling next to his perpetually cold body.
"Do you want to go home?" Spike asked, running his hand through her hair.
"I'm not sure. I miss my mom, more that I thought I ever would. I also worry about not being there to do my slayer duties."
"I wouldn't be surprised if the next Slayer appeared after you turned up missing," Spike said.
"I know. But I still feel responsible."
They sat in silence for a few minutes, deep in thought.
"What about you?" Buffy asked.
"You mean, do I want to go back?" Spike said.
"If I did, I'd have to give up an awful lot. Sunlight, for one. You."
"Back in Sunnydale we're mortal enemies, love," he said. "I'm a demon, remember?"
Buffy sighed. "I know, but that doesn't mean I can't love you."
He kissed the top of her head. "I love you, too."
Couple by couple, the friends arrived at Giles' bookstore. Nervous chit chat filled the room as they waited for Giles to begin.
"Has everyone decided?" Giles finally said.
"I have a question first," Buffy said. "Do you think there's a way to come back here if we want to?"
Giles was startled. "Well, I…yes, perhaps. All you would need is to have a copy of the page in this book."
"Really?" Xander said. "We could do that?"
"In theory," Giles said. "But it may not be true."
They were silent, each thinking over the depth of their decisions.
"Have we decided?" Giles said, breaking the silence. Solemn faces nodded. "Ok. Those who wish to return home, please raise your hands."
Willow and Oz's hands went up first. They had decided that morning to return to Sunnydale.
Buffy looked longingly at Willow and Oz, then at Spike and finally at Giles. She slowly raised her hand. Spike and Buffy had agreed to make separate decisions when the time came, not wanting to pressure the other into something they didn't want to do.
When Spike saw Buffy's hand raise, he knew in his heart he had no choice. He raised his hand as well.
Giles looked to Cordelia and Xander. Both their hands remained down. "I take it you two are staying in Athena's Bluff?"
Xander looked at Cordelia, then back to Giles. "Yeah. We're staying."
The others were shocked.
"But why, Xander?" Willow asked.
"We have everything we need here," Xander answered.
"Like what?" Buffy asked.
"Like each other. And our baby," Xander said.
"Baby!" Willow and Buffy said simultaneously.
"Your pregnant?" Buffy asked Cordelia.
"Yes. I'm pregnant," Cordelia confirmed. Everyone moved at once, hugging the lucky couple and offering their congratulations.
"I hate to put a damper on the good news," Giles said. "But if we are going to do this, I suggest we do it now."
"Wait, Giles," Buffy said. "Are you coming back?"
Giles nodded. "Of course. Wherever you go, I shall go."
Buffy's eyes filled up with tears. She hugged her Watcher. Giles cleared his throat again, removing his glasses and cleaning them off. "Well, shall we start?"
The group hugged Cordelia and Xander one more time, and Giles gave them last minute instructions in case they changed their mind. Xander made Giles take a copy of the page with him, just in case they wanted to return for a visit.
Cordelia and Xander stood hand and hand and watched as Giles read the incantation on the page. Xander turned to his wife and smiled sadly, tears in his eyes. She squeezed his hand. When they looked back, their friends were gone.
Cordelia walked into the tavern, arms holding baby Willow. "Hey, Roland. Hey guys," she said as she approached the bar.
"Cordelia, it's always a pleasure," Roland said. "And little Willow, you are as beautiful as ever."
The baby gurgled at him.
"Xander around?" Cordelia said as the men laughed at the baby.
"He's in back," Roland answered. Cordelia nodded and thanked him, then made her way to the back of the tavern.
"Xander? Where are you?"
"Right here," Xander said, stepping out of the cellar. He kissed Cordelia on the cheek, then took the baby from her. "And how's my Willow?"
"She's cranky, as usual," Cordelia said. "Takes after her father."
"Hey! I resemble that remark," Xander said playfully. "So, what brings you by?"
"I got a shipment of books with my materials," she answered. "I thought we could go to Giles' bookstore and put them away.
Xander nodded his head, a sad look in his eyes. "It's too bad they didn't come back."
"I know," Cordelia said. "Then we could have gone for a visit, and I could have picked up some supplies."
Xander laughed. "That's my Cordy, always thinking of others."
The happy family walked down the street to the bookstore. Cordelia had the messenger drop the box off at the store. The entered and allowed the memories to surface, both good and sad, of their long departed friends.
"C'mon, let's get to work," Xander said, setting the baby on the floor.
They were half way through the box when they heard a sudden noise coming from the back of the store. "Get Willow," Xander said. "And be ready to run for help if I call out."
Cordelia obeyed immediately, having lived through the few dangers this world had to offer. Xander kissed her and Willow's cheek, then drew his knife and slowly made his way to the back of the store.
"Cordelia?" Cordelia heard her name being called. "Can you come back here?"
Moving quickly at the tone of Xander's voice, Cordelia hurried with Willow to her husband. She stopped short when her eyes caught the occupants of the room.
"Hey, Cordelia," Buffy said, standing. She held out a hand to Spike and helped him to his feet. "How are you guys?"
"But…what…who…" Xander tried to say. Cordelia just stared, mouth agape.
"Are you going to stand there all day or come and hug your friends?" Buffy said smiling.
Xander snapped out of his stupor and picked Buffy up, swinging her around the room. "It's so good to see you!" he said.
"You to, Xand," Buffy said laughing. When Xander put her down, she hugged Cordelia. "Hi Cordy!"
"Hi yourself! Wow! This is so…wow!" Cordelia said.
"And who's this cute little bundle?" Buffy asked as Spike and Xander shook hands.
"This is Willow," Cordelia said.
"Willow?" Buffy said with a puzzled look. "Someone else has the name Willow?"
"Buffy, this is our baby," Xander said proudly. "Little Willow."
It was Buffy's turn to be speechless. "But…but…"
"What's wrong, Buffy?" Xander asked.
"When we went back to Sunnydale, it was only three days since we disappeared," Spike said. "I almost got a real bad case of sunburn."
"You mean time barely moved?" Xander said.
"According to Giles, this world has a much faster timeline than ours. When we got back to Sunnydale, only Willow's parents were worried. My mom was still out of town, so she didn't even know I was gone."
"How many days have passed in Sunnydale before you came back here?" Cordelia asked.
"One and a half," Buffy said.
Xander sat heavily on a chair. He couldn't believe his ears. He suddenly jumped up, waving his arms wildly. "Your back! This means that Cordy and I can go to Sunnydale and return here!"
"You sure can."
Xander ran over to Cordelia and hugged his wife and daughter. "This is so great. Now we can say good-bye to our parents or visit everyone as often as we want!"
Buffy and Spike laughed. "You sure can. That's why Spike and I came back. It's the weekend in Sunnydale. That means, according to Willow's calculations, we have about 16 moons before we have to get back."
"Are Willow and Oz returning, too?" Xander asked.
"As soon as we send you two, make that three, back to get them. They're waiting to see if the incantation worked," Buffy said.
"Well, what are we waiting for? Tell Roland we had a family emergency, will ya, Buff?" Xander said. "Though I think he'll be so happy to see you, he won't mind."
"And keep my shop open, Buffy," Cordelia said. "You should have no trouble, seeing as you were in there often enough in the past."
"Sure. Are you ready?" Buffy asked.
Xander looked at Cordelia, who shifted Willow into a better position and nodded. "Ready."
"Hold hands and read the incantation. That's all it takes," Buffy said.
"Ok. See you later?"
"Alternate universes couldn't keep us away," she replied with a smile.