Love Conquers by JackOfSpikes



Summary:

As per the challenge from LisFayte:

Set during or after "Tabula Rasa." Giles is sent back in time about 9 months before Spike is born. Giles realizing that Spike really is his son after he gets back.

This is unbeta'd.


Rating: PG-13 Like/Dislike
Categories: BtVS: Season 6
Characters: None
Genres: Angst - Mild, Challenge Response, Romance
Warnings: None
Challenges: None
Series: None
Published: September 26 2009
Updated: August 27 2011


Index

Chapter 1: Prologue: Diligo Victum - Chapter 1: He Sleeps
Chapter 2: Chapter 2. Oh! Dear Lord!
Chapter 3: Chapter 3 The Importance of Being Henry
Chapter 4: Chapter 4 - The Key to Happiness


Chapter 1: Prologue: Diligo Victum - Chapter 1: He Sleeps

Author's Notes: For the purposes of this story, Spike has no debt with Sharky but still goes to the Magic Box. The loan shark and his minions will not feature in this story at this time.


Prologue: Diligo Victum

"When the fire goes out, when the crystal turns black, the spell will be cast. Diligo victum, diligo victum, diligo victum." Pulling out the crystal and staring into its depths, Willow Rosenberg tried to convince herself that she was doing the right thing. Love had to conquer everything else.

With a quick wave of her hands Willow sent the shard to safety, locking it forever in the realm of protection. She would not allow her friend to be forced into reliving the pain she was clearly in. Whatever happened, Willow convinced herself that it had to be better than what Buffy was going through now. With a happy skip Willow headed for the door of the house on Revello drive and towards the Magic Box, secure in the knowledge that her ‘Love Conquers' spell would not only help Buffy get over her depression at being torn from Heaven by basking in the love of her friends, but that Tara would stop being mad at her. She ignored the voice in her head that shouted if Tara ever found out about this she would leave her for good. She had to do this; she really did have no other choice. Willow could not bear the feelings of guilt over Buffy and anger from Tara any more. She had to fix it.

As the door to 1630 Revello slammed shut, the large bunch of unused herbs that Willow had carelessly left behind, fell and ignited. Willow had once again messed up a spell, but the consequences of this one would span time itself.

 

 

Chapter One: He sleeps.

Spike smelled the burning ozone of magic just before the darkness overcame him.

Dawn felt compelled to stand not realising the glow she could see was in fact coming from her.

For the first time since she'd been stolen from her place of rest, Buffy felt wave after wave of emotion hit her, as if everything she had failed to feel since she'd returned had been stored up somewhere and had finally been released.

Xander shot to his feet and raced first to Anya, who had passed out next to the similarly affected watcher, not realising yet that the almost crippling fear of his upcoming marriage had left him completely; knowing only that he had to get to his love.

Tara and Willow unconsciously reached for each other as they, too, slipped into the oblivion.

Xander watched frozen as the green mist that surrounded Dawn, lifted and seemed to split in two. The first half settled on the unconscious watcher, and then seemingly disappeared from view. The second half concentrated itself on Anya's chest until it solidified into a pendent and the maybe not so ex-vengeance demon woke with a start.

As Anya woke, so did the majority of the others, the only notable exceptions were Giles and Spike.

Tara seemed to gather herself more quickly and rushed over to check the two members of their group that were still unconscious. Reaching Spike first, she gasped as what she was seeing in his aura seeped into her consciousness. "He has his soul," she announced to the group in shock.

"Someone cursed Spike with a soul?" Buffy squeaked in disbelief.

"No, Buffy," the Wiccan assured her. "He has his soul. No curse. It's attached, so it's permanent and there's no trauma to it which means it returned on its own and as the demon isn't fighting it, I'd have to guess that Spike wanted his soul back."

Ignoring the loud questions and exclamations that her statements created, Tara moved to Giles. "Oh Goddess," she whispered. "He's in a mystical coma. We can't wake him. He has to come out of it on his own."

"What the Hell happened here?" The Slayer snarled in desperation. "I wish..."

"WHOA! Ix-nay on the Ish-way, Buffster, Anya's got a shiny new pendent." Xander quickly interrupted. "I think our best choice is to make Giles comfortable in the training room, then deal with everything on a case by case," he suggested with uncharacteristic maturity. "Tara, can you see about waking, Spike. We need to know if he's gonna be capable of being a part of this or if the soul's going to cause him problems."

"I'm fine," Spike mumbled as he gingerly sat up. He kept his eyes averted as he announced his own little bombshell, "Its not new."

Buffy looked at him blankly before shaking her head, First things first she silently ordered herself. "You okay to help me move Giles?" she asked quietly, moving to the side of the recovering bleached blond.

"Just give me sec, Slayer. I need to clear m'head," he replied with equal softness as his gaze drifted unwillingly towards the unconscious man; his soul keening loudly.

With slow deliberate steps Spike moved closer to Giles, staring down at the other Brit with an unreadable expression on his face. Silently, he motioned to the Slayer to take the Watcher's feet. Together they carried the comatose man to the training room couch, neither saying a word.

As soon as Buffy and Spike returned to the table, Xander focused on the vampire. "You okay, Spike?"

Spike stared at the carpenter in open-mouthed shock; never before had Alexander Harris spoken to him in such a way. Spike could hear the concern in the young brunette's voice and it floored him.

"Um...yeah...I'm fine, Harris. How ‘bout you? You feelin' okay, mate?" Spike watched the man sceptically.

Xander chuckled and shrugged self consciously. "Man, I've been jealous of you for years, I don't know what happened to any of us, all I do know is that the jealousy is gone and I'm man enough to admit that soul or no soul, without you this summer- I'd be dead. I owe you my thanks and my respect and I hope you'll accept both."

Spike's eyes widened briefly as the other spoke. A slight smile crossed his lips as a softness settled on his features. He offered a slightly shaking hand to the brunette and smiled broadly as his proffered grasp was easily accepted.

As their hands parted Xander stepped back into his self appointed role as ‘the man in charge'. In clear and precise detail he explained to the others what he had seen.

Willow listened, saying nothing. She had no idea what had happened. The only ones that were supposed to be affected were Buffy and Tara. As the quiet blonde slipped her hand into Willow's left, the redhead made the decision to say nothing for the moment. As long as Giles woke up quickly, and nobody else seemed to be hurt, she couldn't see any reason to rock the boat with her girl.

"I'm not a demon," Anya informed them all. Picking up the new pendant that rested on her chest, she took the time to study it. "It's not a Vengeance Pendent. I don't recognise it at all."

"Well if that green mist that Xander saw was actually Dawn's Keyness, then maybe it would be better to lock that thing away until we can discuss it with Giles. The last thing we need is for it to fall into the wrong hands and have someone breaking down dimensional walls or something equally of the bad." Buffy offered with a shudder. Her tone lighter than it had been since she had been brought back. She couldn't get over the fact that everything that had happened to her felt like it occurred years in the past. She felt like she'd been given a new lease on life. The whole world looked brand new.

"Buffy?" Dawn hesitantly tried to gain her sister's attention. "You're acting different," she offered guardedly, unable to clearly state what it was about her sister that seemed to have changed, but hoping with desperation that it was a good thing.

"I feel different, not so much depresso girl anymore," Buffy smiled at her sister as she answered her question.

Buffy's smiled turned into a grin of delight when Dawn threw herself into the blonde's waiting arms.

The momentary jubilation of the gang was brought back under control with Xander's next question. "What about you, Wills? Any changes?"

As all eye's turned to her, Willow blushed. "Nope. No changes here. Everything's the same in Willowland."

The conversation quickly turned back to the watcher. No one but Willow noticed the speculative gaze of the vampire that watched her; no one except the white Wiccan, whose suspicion grew.

"So what's the deal with the soul, Spike? You said it wasn't new," Buffy asked the quite vampire, allowing his attention to drift back to her. She was surprised to note the butterflies in her stomach when his gaze locked with hers.

Spike shrugged nonchalantly. "Rupes didn't trust me with Dawn without it."

"You let him curse you," Willow gasped in shock and more than a little envy. She hated that Giles had done such a powerful spell without her.

"Hell, no!" Spike snorted with derision. "Told him I wanted to fight for it and demon girl told us about the Trials."

"The Trials?" Tara quietly asked, turning to Anya.

Anya moved to join the others at the research table before she answered. "If you want something badly enough and are willing to pay the price you can go through the Trials. Every trial is different and specifically set up to cater to the supplicant. In Spike's case he had to face his victims and ask for forgiveness."

"Wow," Willow stared at the vampire with new respect. "Why didn't you tell us?"

"I didn't want to ask you or the Whelp to forgive me, I figured after Angelus' shite it'd be an uphill battle. Better to let sleepin' dogs lie." Spike replied quietly, a new shyness clear for them all to see.

"And me?" Buffy queried. "Why didn't you tell me?"

"You had enough of your own stuff to deal with, luv. Didn't seem right layin' mine on you, too."

"Thank you," Buffy smiled softly. "If it means anything to you, you have my forgiveness."

Spike swallowed to hold back his tears as Willow and Xander echoed her sentiments.

Willow smiled nervously; to all intents and purposes the effects of her spell seemed to be beneficial. Now, if only Giles would wake up.

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Chapter 2: Chapter 2. Oh! Dear Lord!

Author's Notes: Need to say that this has not been betaed...it's been so long since I've written anything, that I didn't want Tasha to think I was using her. But if the wonderful and sweet lady feels the need to make any needed corrections...I am soooo not one to argue! LOL   Enjoy


Chapter 2: Oh! Dear Lord

Giles blinked in confusion. ‘Where, the devil, am I?' he thought as he glanced around. The more he saw the more confused he became. He assumed he was dreaming when he realised he was in an unfamiliar bedroom, he felt like he had slipped into an episode of ‘Upstairs, Downstairs' and Gordon Jackson would make his entrance at any moment.

The ex-librarian called on the wealth of knowledge his experience as the curator for the London Museum had garnered him. The room he was in appeared to be a perfectly replicated late 19th century sleeping chamber. Even the material of the curtains and bedspread were in keeping with the fabrics of the time. He marvelled at the exquisitely preserved examples; they were the best he had ever seen.

Giles looked down at himself and was surprised to find he was dressed in a nightshirt, typical of the period.

He pinched himself.

An illusive scent attracted his attention. He sighed deeply when he realised what it was that he could smell. ‘Magic! Oh, Willow, what have you done?'

As he pondered his options, the door to ‘his' bedroom opened quietly and a well dressed female entered, moving directly towards the closed curtains.

Giles felt his heart speed up as her beauty captivated him. She was glorious. Her light brown hair was flecked with natural golden highlights. She seemed petite even in the bulky garments of the day. Her rosy cheeks indicated good health as much as her high cheekbones and delicate bone structure spoke of good breeding.

After she opened the curtains, allowing the day's light to brighten the room, she turned towards him, seeming to start fractionally upon the realisation that he was alert to her presence.

Her vibrant blue eyes locked with his. She studied him for a moment before slightly tilting her head to the side. "Husband, are you well?" Her voice was tunefully gentle.

Giles frowned in consternation. "I beg your pardon?"

"I asked if you were well, Husband," she offered, unconcerned.

"Madam, who exactly is it that you think that I am?"

"Henry Arthur Giles Kingston, my husband; who do you think you are?" she asked with, not a little, amusement, her eyes twinkling merrily."

"Rupert Giles, madam. A bachelor," he responded automatically.

"Well, in that case, sir, it would be unseemly were I to remain, shall I call your man to you?" She seemed completely unperturbed by the entire situation.

At his cautious nod, she tossed him an amused smile as she moved towards the door. "Until we decide which of us is wrong, perhaps you should call me Mrs Kingston. I will await you in the morning room so that we may investigate this extraordinary anomaly."

With a light-hearted wave the vision was gone from his sight, out the door she had entered such a short time before.

"Oh! Dear Lord," Giles muttered, befuddled.

~*~*~

Xander glanced towards Tara as Buffy and Spike moved Giles to the training room, his mind racing with hitherto unknown agility. As the two blonds re-entered the shop proper, the carpenter faced the girl who might be able to answer the question that had been bothering him. "Tara?"

The white Wiccan turned her attention to Xander, smiling softly, subtly encouraging him to speak his mind.

"You read auras, right?"

Tara gave a quick nod as she softly affirmed his question and her gaze turned quizzical, wondering in what direction his thoughts were leading him.

"Why are you only seeing Spike's soul now? I mean, he's had it for a while, so you should have seen it before now, shouldn't you?"

"I...I don't know," she stuttered slightly, turning her questioning gaze towards the blond in question.

"'S not her fault," Spike muttered a little belligerently, clearly uncomfortable with the subject. "I asked the watcher to mask it; didn't want anyone ta know."

"Well the only way to cancel a spell that Giles placed, would be for another spell, by a more powerful spell-caster to take precedence," Anya stated with certainty. "But you shouldn't worry about it, Spike, we can always replace it now that we know about it," she concluded, completely missing the point of the spell in the first place.

Spike gazed flatly at the ex-vengeance demon and deadpanned his reply as he rolled his eyes. "Right, I'll just close up that pesky bag and forget all about the cat that was in it."

Buffy snickered softly as Xander took back control of the conversation. "Point being, folks, we have an unknown spell floating around and an unconscious watcher. What do we do?"

Tara's eyes quickly flitted from the doorway of the training room to Willow before focusing on the group as a whole. "We wait," she replied firmly. "There are too many unknowns."

The group glanced at each other uneasily. They couldn't argue with her; they knew she was right, but waiting was something that none of them had ever learned to do.

Waiting totally sucked.

~*~*~*~

Giles cautiously made his way into the Morning Room, as directed by ‘his' manservant. The woman he had briefly conversed with earlier sat patiently on the midnight blue couch waiting for him. The Watcher quickly scanned the room, silently marvelling at the newness of the room furnishings; even as head of the London Museum, he had never dreamed that he would, one day, see such a collection of ‘antiques' in pristine condition.

As Anne watched and waited for the man she thought of as her husband to acknowledge her, she silently mused at his apparent good health. It had been so long since he had been able to walk around on his own. The doctor's had all agreed that his condition was in its final stages and that he had not long for this world. However, the man that stood in her parlour seemed to completely belie that premise; his upright and proud statue displayed the fine figure of a man that she had married. The only problem seemed to be his apparently addled mind.

Her earlier amusement had quickly been replaced with a plethora of other emotions; anger and confusion not the very least of all that she felt. She inwardly huffed with indignation at his denial of their relationship, granted they had married out of familial obligation rather than the love she had fanaticised about as a child, but that, in no way, mitigated the honest respect with which they had always treated each other. To deny her place in his life was an affront to her societal position on so many levels that she was in danger of momentarily forgetting her upbringing and displaying herself in a manner most unseemly. Had she been standing she would have found it most difficult to refrain from stamping her foot in vexation.

At the completion of his cursory perusal of the room, Giles flinched slightly in shock as his eyes darted back to the painting above the fireplace that his normally agile mine had finally alerted him to. In normal circumstances the images captured by the artist's skilful brush strokes would show the casual observer a simple portrait of a couple posing while dressed in their wedding finery, and while the sight of a man that could have been his twin should have shocked him, it was the very real memory of where he had previously seen this particular picture. An image came unbidden to him; an image of his late grandmother's drawing room as she showed her loving grandson the portrait of her beloved Great Uncle Henry and his wife, Anne.

"Oh! Dear Lord!"

 

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Chapter 3: Chapter 3 The Importance of Being Henry

Chapter 3. The importance of being Henry

A few moments of utter silence followed Giles' explanation of exactly who he was and where he was from. He had instantly realised that, to this woman at least, he could not pretend to be her husband whilst he attempted to research a way home. He knew with absolute certainty that he could not lie to her; he needed her aide too badly and were she to evict him from her home he would be in dire straights indeed.

"I believe you," she stated softly. "My husband did not have the imagination required to invent a story quite that complex. However, I would caution contacting the Watcher's Council. While they are fully aware of Henry's illness, as it was the only reason they released him from their employ, were they to discover your good health, they would insist on your return. Unfortunately, therein lies a problem; my father is an upper level council member, and a rather ruthless one at that, I'm afraid. He has coveted Henry's title for years. Were you to present your situation to them, I fear that he would use his position to frustrate your efforts to return to your time."

"What would he hope to achieve?" Giles questioned, confused.

Anne blushed and turned her face from him, "My marriage was arranged for me, Mr Giles. My husband wished to wed me and my father wanted a grandson with the title of Earl," she stated with quite dignity. "With Henry's illness, my father's demands have been unable to be fulfilled."

"And by taking over Henry's body...I see," Giles shifted uncomfortably, at a loss in his inability to offer comfort to the lovely but embarrassed woman, especially given his absolute knowledge that great, great, great uncle Henry had indeed fathered a son. If memory served, and it rarely failed him, Henry's son, William, was born in the December of 1855. With just a hint of trepidation, Giles forced himself to ask his question calmly. "Would you be so kind, madam, as to enlighten me with today's exact date?"

Anne flashed him a relieved smile, thankful for the change in subject. "It is November the eleventh, in the year of our Lord, 1854."

Four months; he had just over four months to find a way home - or he would father a child. With a slightly shaking voice, Giles proposed a plan of action. "I believe I should begin with Henry's books," he announced with a slight touch of urgency.

~*~*~*~

After a month of searching, Giles believed, he had finally uncovered the spell Willow had used, but given the makeup of his group of young associates and taking into consideration the effects of the Hellmouth as well as Willow's tendency to make errors in her spell casting, the watcher was very much afraid that his hypothesis regarding the entire situation was, in all probability, going to prove correct.

It took the displaced man a further month to work up the courage to inform the fair-haired beauty, that he had undeniably fallen in love with, the full complexity of all that he had discovered.

~*~*~*

Anne's relief, when informed the full ramifications of Willow's spell, was like a balm to Rupert's dismay. His elation at the knowledge that, while she had never loved her husband, she was unable to say the same thing about the man that now inhabited her husband's body, was no small consolation to the fact that in all likelihood he would not return to the future until ‘Henry's' death in the past.

Without considering the possibility that Dawn's ‘keyness' could had been utilized, Giles came to the conclusion that the only way that Willow's use of the Diligo Victum spell could have resulted in his trip through time, was if the Powers-That-Be had intervened; he was well aware that the witch was powerful, but her gifts were certainly not so great as to be able to span time itself.

Anne's romantic nature insisted that the fates had stepped in to assist the undisciplined girl, thus allowing the union of two destined souls to unite. She waxed lyrically to the blushing scholar, reiterating time and again that love, did indeed, conquer all.

While Anne's romanticism encouraged poetry, Giles' more pragmatic nature demanded that if he was to remain in the past as Henry, then he first needed more knowledge of Henry's life. Further, he needed a plausible lie to cover any inadvertent mistakes he may make. Finally ‘Henry' needed to remarry his wife; Rupert Giles may have been inhabiting the body of Henry Arthur Giles Kingston, but he was still in complete control of his mental faculties; no child of his would been born out of wedlock, thank you very much. He, also, rather suspected that Anne would be very much of the same opinion. So, taking the proverbial bull by the horns, he interrupted the lady in question from her romantic imaginations, "Anne, my dear, if we used the excuse of Henry's rather miraculous recovery, do you think renewing your marriage vows would be out of place?"

Anne's eyes sparkled with mischievous glee, "I think, my good man, that if you are desirous of introducing this young William that you have told me about, to the world, it would be a necessity."

A Month later they were re-married.

Eleven months later, on Christmas Eve, William Rupert Giles Kingston, was born.


~*~*~*~

18 years later (January, 1873)


William quietly opened the door to his father's sleeping chamber, unwilling to create any noise that may disturb the ailing man. With silent footsteps he made his way to the end of the bed, content to wait for the man he revered above all others to wake on his own.

It was so difficult for him to see the strong but gentle giant of his childhood waste away before his eyes. William had been greatly disappointed when it became very apparent that he would never reach his father's impressive height, and while he could, certainly, be considered at the higher end of the average height amongst his peers, his adoration and admiration of the sleeping man had made him greatly desirous of emulating him in every way possible. Thus his failure to reach a physical equivalent had palled on him. In fact, had it not been for his father's timely intervention and wisdom, William was quite sure he would have allowed his maudlin thoughts to manifest into his acting in the most unbecoming behaviour imagineable. He had definitely been in danger of actually...he swallowed in distaste, suddenly uncomfortable to even think the word let alone complete the action. For as long as he could remember, his father's disgust at anyone who acted in that abhorrent manner, had been William's assurance that that particular behaviour could be considered the single most disgraceful breach of social etiquette that anyone could ever make. William shuddered slightly, mentally berating himself, once again, for allowing himself to sink so low in self pity that he had almost, dare he even think it? Yes, his father's words reverberated through him, ‘never shy from your mistakes, my son, merely use them as a learning experience'. ‘I, William Rupert Giles Kingston, almost disgraced myself, and my parents, by wallowing in self pity deeply enough that it could have nearly been called...brooding.' Instantly shame filled him, but as he nervously glanced to his, still sleeping, father, his heart filled with love; he hadn't succumbed, his father had pulled him back from the very brink, and he honestly believed that the near miss had gained him a level of maturity he would not, otherwise, have reached.

As his eyes continued to rest on his father, his love and admiration of the man were plain to see. Pride filled him with the very secure knowledge that, while his achievements so far in life had been, in no small part, due to the patient and caring teacher that lay before him, he had surpassed his father's requirements on his own merits. His pride lay not in himself, but in the knowledge that he had made this great man proud of him. His acceptance at Oxford had been confirmed, and special note had been made of the fact that he was already fluent in French, Greek, Latin and Hebrew. His artistic side would have the opportunity to flourish with the large literary collection housed in the great library. His swordsmanship would suffer no lack of practice, given the Gentleman's Society and their predilection to supporting the sport. Finally the Young Watchers group would allow him to continue in his studies into the occult.

"William," the weak raspy voice interrupted the young man's musing.

"Father," William answered with a smile, "Mother said you asked for me?" The gentle young man offered quietly as he moved from his place at the foot of the bed, to sit by his father's side.

Giles smiled softly at his son; his pride and joy. However, knowing his time was short, he took a sip from the glass of water William was offering him, before settling back into his pillows to have the conversation he had dreaded since the first time his infant son had opened his trusting cobalt blue eyes and Giles recognised him as the man he would become.

 

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Chapter 4: Chapter 4 - The Key to Happiness

The Key to Happiness

Giles gazed into the loving eyes of his son, knowing that he had been so very wrong in his past. As soon as he realised just who it was his beloved boy would become, the watcher spent every spare moment in study. Research became his catch-phrase, and not surprisingly, the young and agile mind that belonged to a boy that seemed to feel that Rupert had hung the moon, followed eagerly in his footsteps.

It had taken years of study to uncover the truth. A truth, that, had he known it at the time, would have changed not only his interactions with a soulless vampire, but that of the children, too.

The great tomes that Giles had emersed himself in, had told of rare and special demons. Demons that clung to the remnants of humanity, desperate to return to a place of Grace they had once known; non-corporeal spirits that grasped onto a sliver of soul and then clung to it jealously and made it their own. These remarkable beings, revelled in their humanity, learning, then embracing, the plethora of emotions that mankind took for granted. These demons, these vampire demons: loved, hated, felt joy, felt pain, matured, developed, and finally, if they sought the return of the rest of their soul, they were blessed.

Angel, regardless of the soul, was not one of these remarkable beings. To Angelus, the soul was a curse; and once the beast was free of the curse, he returned to being an atypical vampire of the kind that plagued the world. There was nothing special about him. There was no redeeming quality. He was quite simply - a monster who had been cursed; and without the soul no trace of humanity remained at all.

It had been their mindset that had laid the foundation for the betrayal that the loss of the soul had caused them. They had made the mistake of thinking of him as a vampire with a soul, rather than what he actually was; a vampire with a curse. They had been such ignorant fools; and, in their arrogant, self-righteousness, they had dismissed, or worse been contemptuous, of the truly remarkable individual in their midst.

Rupert Giles prayed with every fibre of his being, that when he returned to his original time, he could undo the wrong; re-educate the others; then perhaps his son would forgive him. But, first, he needed to talk to the dear boy that was seated by his side.

~*~*~*~

"Spike," Buffy began hesitantly, as she faced the now attentive vampire. "I don't want to make you uncomfortable, but can I ask you some stuff about the soul?"

Spike looked wary as he parried her question. "Like what, Slayer?"

"Well, it's just that," she paused for a moment, as if looking for the words she wanted to use. "Well Anya said that the demon had to really want it, and I was just wondering what would be, you know, enough, to make the demon want it?"

Spike titled his head to the side, considering the blonde, vaguely wondering if maybe this time she would ‘get it'. "You, pet," he offered with absolute certainty. "You and the Li'l Bit."

At her clear look of incomprehension, he elaborated. "I made you a promise, Buffy; before Glory. I promised to protect her. And if I'd managed to do my job on the bloody tower, we prolly wouldn't be even havin' this convo. I failed once, luv, wasn't about to fail you a second time. So when your watcher told me he wouldn't trust me without the soul, I knew I had to do somethin' about it," he offered with a shrug. "Asked around; did the trials; paid the piper and all that."

He smiled softly as he remembered, "I got forgiven and before I knew it, William was back."

"But, you're not all, you know, angsty and guilt laden, and, well, tortured, or anything?" Willow piped up, unknowingly asking the question that Buffy had been thinking.

"I got forgiven," he repeated slowly. "You know? Clean slate?" Suddenly realising the source of their confusion and the blond's expression closed off. "I admitted my crimes and then paid for them. I was completely cleansed and given a new start. It's my soul and it's permanent. It's not the bloody result of a vengeance curse."

Willow gasped, horrified at his blunt delivery of the facts. Her eye's darted immediately to her friend, fearfully anticipating the usual meltdown over her ex-lover. She was startled to see Buffy directing a lopsided smile at the bleached blond.

"And, strange as this may be to hear, I wouldn't have expected anything less from you," the slayer gave a soft chuckle at the startled look on Spike's face. "I get it, Spike, I finally get it. You are nothing like Angel. And if I'm gonna be all honest-girl here, I have to say that I'm glad." As his expressive eye's widened slightly with her declaration, she had the sudden internal urging to really make his day. "I'm so unbelievably of the glad that we got to keep the better vamp."

Dawn, Xander, Anya and Tara, joined Buffy in her giggle-fest over the gob-smacked vampire's expression.

Willow once again relaxed.

~*~*~*~

"My boy," Giles whispered as he reached up with a shaky hand to cup the cheek of his child. "There is so much to tell you and so little time in which to do so."

William lifted his own hand to capture his father's, noticing the slight shaking of his elder's arm in his effort to touch. The curly haired man-child brought Giles' hand down to be clasped in both of his; both alleviating the stress of effort on his father, and his own desire for contact. "If part of what you wish to tell me refers to your adventures in time travelling, be still, Father, Mother told me of your journeying just after the onset of your illness."

Giles smiled softly at the thought of his beloved wife. "Your mother is a blessing that I have neither earned nor deserved. I dread the thought of returning to my own troubled time without the benefit of her soothing presence."

"Will we meet again in my lifetime, Father?" William asked softly, his eye's clearly showing his trepidation.

Remorseful eye's met the blue eyes of his curious child, "It would not be safe to tell you, my boy. However, I will tell you two things that, while what I say may appear cryptic in nature, there will come a time when the meanings will become clearer."

William smiled softly; his intelligent eye's alight with curiosity.

"A time will come when you will be in need of aide, not knowing who to turn to. At that time, you will not wish it, but you must seek out the one you know as family, even if they do not recognise you as such. Secondly, after that time, you need to hold on to your hope; you will be recognised as family, my son. You will be loved dearly and you will be asked for forgiveness.

~*~*~*~

"Not that I'm wanting a return to those times or anything, but what's with the non-angst-y-ness of a brood boy less-than-happy comment?" Xander asked when his curiosity demanded to be sated.

Buffy smiled sadly at her brunette friend. Looking down at the table, needing the inanimate wood grain to focus on, the blonde took a breath before starting to softly speak. "When I first came back, I was so incredibly confused, I had all these thoughts and memories that I just couldn't make sense of." Looking up at her friends, she, once again, gave them her sad smile before continuing. "You guys were all so happy that I was back, that I just couldn't tell you what was going on. I needed quiet. Some time to think."

"Why didn't you tell us, Buffy? We would have understood," Willow asked a little petulantly, part of her still a little miffed that Buffy had never thanked her.

"I was too angry, Willow. Angry and confused Buffy is not a good thing."

"Angry? About what?" Willow asked ingenuously, momentarily forgetting where she had brought Buffy back from.

Incredulous eyes focused on the redhead from all directions.

"I'd be guessing the yanking of a happy spirit-Buffy from Heaven and the having to dig her way out of her own grave would be up there in the top two of reasons," Dawn answered sarcastically.

Willow blushed deeply, hanging her head and remembering exactly why she'd been spell-casty-Willow that morning.

Buffy decided to regain the group's attention, releasing the embarrassed witch from their speculative gazes. "Anyway, whatever this spell is that's hit us, it's like it's been years for me; like I've had the time I needed to process everything and deal."

The other's nodded in understanding, while silently encouraging her to continue.

Buffy shrugged in slight discomfort, still not really comfortable with being all talky-girl. "The memories that I didn't recognise suddenly made sense." With a look of outraged indignation, the blonde seemed to completely change topics. "Why did no-one tell me that Riley was a human Angel?"

Dawn snickered, while Spike bit his lip and looked around the room, anywhere but Buffy's face, not willing to jeopardise the new peace between them by laughing at her.

"Pretty sure you're the only one not to pick up on that, Buffy. I'm guessing that nobody mentioned it ‘cause it was pretty big there with the obvious," the brunette informed her sister.

Willow and Xander nodded in agreement, both talking over each other while separately stating that they thought it had been a deliberate choice on her part."

Buffy rolled her eyes in self-deprecation, "You guy's aren't getting it, they were exactly the same. I mean; seriously, whatever he was telling himself, Riley left because he couldn't stand it that I didn't need his protection. Angel gets turned human when he gets some Mohra Demon blood in him, then as soon as he discovers he's no longer super strong and I'm the one doing the savage, he's all demanding-boy and gets the powers to take the day back." Buffy shook her head in disbelief before continuing, "The powers told him I could die, so he turns all protector guy and tells them he's willing to give up his humanity to keep me safe," she snorted indelicately, "then he stays in LA while I go back to Sunnydale - and die. Oh yeah! He was a big ol' help, what with the not being here and all. He might have got away with lying to the powers and to himself, but as soon as I died with him no-where around, they got pissed and let me know." Her expression turned hard and unforgiving. "When you cut to the chase, he couldn't handle a woman who didn't need him to protect her. Exactly like Riley!"

"You know," Xander began thoughtfully. "I have always genuinely hated Angel." The brunette carpenter smiled broadly at the group as a whole, "I love being right!"

~*~*~*~

In a bedroom in London, a young man closed his father's lifeless eyes before collapsing over his body. In his grief - he wept.

 

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