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The woman in the mirror had lines around her mouth and eyes, left by decades of both laughter and pain. Her hair had long ago gone silver, and she’d stopped bothering to dye it. She sometimes talked about a facelift to take care of the saggy skin, but that was mostly because her boyfriend was adorable when he pouted at the thought. All in all, she had to admit she looked pretty good considering she’d just turned eighty-three. She looked about sixty-seven, tops, thanks to both good genes and advanced Slayer healing.

She finished washing her hands at the bathroom sink and headed back out to where Spike was waiting for her. She supposed she should be at some fancy, stuffy restaurant for her birthday, considering her age, but she loved this little dance club they’d found. They played “retro” (how weird was that, the music of her youth being retro now?) music that you could really dance to, both slow and fast.

A slow song started up just as she spotted Spike waiting at the edge of the dance floor, talking to a pretty young woman. She’d gotten used to that over the years. Spike was faithful, but he also really liked talking to women. The fact that he seemed seriously annoyed was also helping to keep away the jealousy.

“… dance with me,” the woman demanded as Buffy got into hearing range.

“What, are you deaf, or just stupid?” Spike asked. “Told you I was here with someone else. Now, shove off.”

“You mean that wrinkled old granny? Jeez, I thought that was like your mom or grandma or something.” The woman wrinkled her nose in disgust, and Spike visibly flinched at the connection between his mother and the woman he was dating. That bitch! “Come on, you can do a lot better than some dried up cougar.”

Before Buffy could head over and shove the skankho away from her man, Spike went from upset to seriously pissed off.

“That ‘wrinkled old granny’ has more personality, grace, and beauty in the tip of her little finger than you’ve in your entire body.” His voice was low and growly as he took a predatory step towards the woman, making her back off. “Now. Sod. Off. You skanky little cunt.”

“You heard the man,” Buffy said, coming up to them and putting her hand on Spike’s shoulder. “Sod off.”

“Hello, cutie,” he murmured huskily, turning towards her.

He wrapped his arms around her, the other woman completely forgotten as he drew Buffy into a slow dance. When she’d been young and stupid, she’d sometimes hated how well he could see into her. Now that she was wiser, it was one of the things she loved about him. As he looked at her – eyes full of tenderness and desire – she didn’t feel like an old woman. She felt like Buffy.

“Happy birthday, love.”

And as he tilted his head down to kiss her, she was the most beautiful woman in the world.

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