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Joyce stared down at the cell phone in her hand. They could go home. Giles had just called to report that they’d successfully convinced some group of knights and Glory that something called a Dagon sphere was the key. When they’d started fighting over it, Glory had been weakened enough that the knights had been able to destroy her somehow. It had apparently cost most of their lives, but Glory was gone. They could pack up tonight and head home. If they wanted to.

She sighed and looked out towards the ocean. Watching her girls together in the waves from her beach chair, she could almost pretend it was a normal vacation. Just a mother and her children enjoying a stay at the beach, along with the older daughter’s… photosensitive boyfriend.

Despite the complications of finding someone to look after the gallery and getting Dawn set up for home schooling for the rest of the school year, the forced vacation had been good for them all, giving time to heal both physically and mentally.

Dawn still had nightmares sometimes about her kidnapping, but she was doing better, especially with the constant reassurance that she was real and part of the family, no matter what she’d started out as.

Six years of slavery had taken their toll on Buffy, and she’d never fully go back to being the girl she’d been before it all, but she was adjusting. Sometimes she was a son instead of a daughter, and that was… strange and confusing, but Joyce was adjusting, too. And the relative peace and calm was helping Buffy to be Buffy more often. She still went out regularly to patrol their temporary home, but putting a hold on the slaying probably would have been an even bigger stressor.

Joyce looked back down at the phone. Giles had asked her to call once they had a plan for going back to Sunnydale. For a moment, she considered just staying in Florida, away from the dangers of the Hellmouth. But that was where Buffy’s duty as the slayer called her to be, and she needed her family there with her. That didn’t mean they had to go right away, though. The vacation house they’d rented was paid up for two more weeks. They’d spend the rest of that time here, and then… then they’d all go home.



A warm sea breeze ruffled her hair as she lay stretched out on a beach lounger, watching the setting sun paint the few rippled clouds a gold-kissed pink. She had this part of the beach mostly to herself with a refreshing fruity cocktail in a fake coconut half to keep her company. It even had a pink straw and a nifty little umbrella. All in all, it was a pretty good evening to be Buffy Summers.

Buffy Summers…. Her free hand drifted down her bikini clad body to the scar left by the emergency surgery. Thanks to her slayer healing, it looked like it was years old instead of just months. Emotionally, though…. She’d held it together in Sunnydale, but once they’d safely gotten to Florida, she’d fallen apart, retreating to Senka for a solid week while she struggled with the memories of what had been done to her as a slave.

She’d worked through a lot of it with the help of a demon therapist Giles had found. But some days, she just couldn’t handle being Buffy, and Senka would come out to play. Though those days had started becoming fewer and fewer.

Well, not counting the bedroom games she and Spike liked to play sometimes, but most of the time, that was her, just acting a role for fun. A smile tugged at the corner of her lips. Her vampire was very good at playing “naughty girl.” That husky, higher pitched voice…. Mmmm.

Her fantasies were interrupted by a blanket-shrouded figure settling down on the sand beside her. The sun continued to dip down, and the blanket was pushed back, exposing Spike to rays just strong enough to immediately pinken his skin. The freckles along his cheeks had started to fade a little, but they were still there. Buffy idly wondered if his habit of playing tag with Mr. Sunshine would keep them around longer.

It doesn’t really matter, she thought as she reached into the cooler by her side. Spike was Spike, freckled or not. She handed him a fake coconut filled with rum and lamb blood. Once he had the top off, she handed him the necessary pink straw and mini umbrella with all the solemnity of a religious ritual.

“Thanks, love,” he said gravely, the quirk of his lips and sparkle in his eyes betraying the amusement he was carefully keeping out of his voice.

Most of the time, Mom and Dawn would still be on the beach when Spike was able to join them, but sometimes they’d get an evening like this to themselves. Once the sun fully set, the beautiful blue glooming (gloaming, pet, the Spike voice in her head corrected) painting the night, they’d stroll along the beach together, talking or just hanging out. Collecting the occasional shell.

If they felt like it, they’d go out into the water, splashing around and playing in the waves like a pair of dolphins. And after, if no one else was around and they’d remembered to bring what they needed to counteract the very unpleasant friction of salt and sand, one of them would lay the other down on the sand and…. It was a damn good thing she’d asked Anya to take her toy shopping before they’d gone to Florida. So many great finds.

The sun dipped down below the horizon just as Spike finished his drink. He stood up and offered her a hand. She didn’t need it of course, but she took it anyway and let him pull her to her feet. This was going to be the last night here before the trip back to Sunnydale. Or home, as Mom and Dawn called it. Here or there, it didn’t really matter to Buffy. Familiar lands or strange, home was where the heart was, and hers was with Spike.


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Table of Contents
Previous Chapter: Chapter 19

Reviews ( 1 )

January 21, 2021 21:06

Aww what a great end to the story! I hate that it's over, but I do love how you put all this together and make sense of it all.