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Heart Don't Lie

Heart Don't Lie
By NautiBitz
"Open Hearts"

Info and Author's Notes: See introduction.

Chapter summary: Finally, it's the big finale! Find out how this baby ends!

"Don't leave me hanging," Spike said, hoping to divert her attention as she neared the cradle. "What makes the good doctor so unique?"

"Little known fact," Lamashtu began as she dipped her fingertips into the goblet and drew a red X across her own chest. "Before the Slayers, there were the Three."

He watched her closely. "The Three."

"The insect; the beast; the blind maiden." As she spoke, she dabbed her face and shoulders with his blood. "All conjured out of parts of me by a clever little mystic, a founding father of the Watcher's Council."

"'Maiden with eyes of fire'," he recalled, and off her look of surprise, arched a provocative brow. "Seen it on an amulet."

"That amulet has no power over me!" she shouted, then composed herself. "It is merely a ...commemoration of a historical event."

"They issue limited edition collector's plates as well? We'd make a killing on eBay." She reached down to dab the baby, and a tinge of desperation snuck into his tone. "Go on then. How did the three little pigs blow your house down?"

"The insect weakened me with its poison sting. The beast tore me to shreds. And the maiden obliterated my remains, so I would never again tread the earth in my own skin."

"Thorough. But I would have ended it at 'earth'."

"They underestimated me," she agreed, complacent, "and they paid the price."

"Never underestimate your enemy."

She returned his meaningful stare. "As I was vanquished, I cursed them all. The insect would suffer the pain of death with every sting. The beast would be hunted by the light of the waning moon. And the maiden would bear children that I would torment in dreams, forever."

All the yammering was finally starting to make sense. "Children."

"Yes. You're looking at the last in a very long line," she said, seductively running her hands down Sanvi's torso. "Not to mention the best. Magically and scientifically reinforced to survive any possible possession. The Council thought they could monitor me this way, but all they did in the end was provide me with a perfectly indestructible host."

* * *

"Exstinguere!" Willow commanded, but the fire that surrounded her girlfriend kept raging.

"Did you try displacing a waterfall?" Tara shouted.

"It doesn't work! Nothing is working!"

"Almost three fingers!" Giles gazed at the night sky. "Amplify your magick! Everyone join hands and concentrate!"

Xander, Anya and Joyce joined hands with Willow. After a few futile attempts, Joyce noticed an odd noise, and took the bleating cell phone out of her pocket.

The fire flickered.

She pointed the phone at the blaze, and Willow uttered the command again.

Giles coughed, waving away the smoke that the dead fire left behind. "Did you just rescue us with a disco tune?"

Joyce passed him the leaf of paper. "Songs in the key of Abba."

"I'll be damned. The song is the key to mitigating her power."

"We sing the song," Xander said, and turned the paper, "we flash a shiny mirror, she goes back to collecting dust in the history books and we celebrate over double-deal meals at the Doublemeat Palace."

"Do I..." Willow cleared her throat, "have to sing?"

Xander patted her on the back. "You can lipsynch."

"We haven't much time; we have to find the entrance to her lair--"

"AAAAAAAA!" The blood-curdling scream came from Anya, due to a plethora of demonic rabbits that filed out of a nearby boulder and nipped at her open-toed shoes.

"I'm thinkin' we found it," Willow noted.

"DO SOMETHING!" Anya shrieked, hopping from one foot to the other. "KILL THEM!"

Willow grasped Tara's hand and recited an incantation that morphed them all into docile pet store types.

After shooing them away, Willow apologized to Anya with a shrug. "I have a strict no-bunny-killing rule."

Xander comforted his girlfriend. "They're just hopping off to make sweet bunny love. Which, fingers crossed, won't result in more apocalypse babies."


"What was that?" Anya glued herself to Xander, who was equally terrified by the rumbling growl.

"Whatever it is, it sounds bigger than a bunny," Tara guessed.

She was right. "Are those..."

"Lions in the forest," Buffy said behind them.

"It's déjà vu all over again," the girl at her side said.

The Slayerettes were struck speechless at the sight of two slayers in matching battle stances.

"Think we can take 'em?"

"After taking each other on? Fuck yeah."

"Good point," Buffy agreed. "Wild animals from hell, piece a cake."

* * *

"Your Darkness," WinQuar said.

"I know," she said, breathing in, eyes closed. "I can feel it. It is time."

"No! No," Spike panicked. "Stop, wait! Tell me more about your amazing body! How do you keep it so firm and impenetrable and hey, you can cut yourself I see? How's that work?"

"Shut him up, will you?"

"I thought you'd never ask." WinQuar booted him in the face.

It felt like a two-ton barbell, but he didn't black out. Maybe luck was finally on his side.

Feigning unconsciousness, he silently begged the Powers that Be for another 'happy accident'.

* * *

"That's just freaky," Buffy said, when the cell phone opened the portal into the rock. "Albeit, convenient."

"Curiouser and curiouser..." Willow's voice echoed through the dark abyss.

Anya blinked. "We don't have to go down there, do we?"

"I do. But whoever wants to stay up here," Buffy squeezed her mother's shoulder, "I completely understand. In fact, I recommend it."

"I've already stepped through the looking glass, honey. Might as well see where it leads."

"I was afraid you'd say that."

"To Hell," Anya said nervously. "That's where it leads. Xander and I will stay here."

"Sorry An, but this is kind of what I do."

"I hate what you do. You don't get paid, and you constantly get hurt! Tell them to give you Spike's money."

"No one is getting anyone's money," Buffy said, venturing inside.

"Sure, you don't want it," Anya grumped. "But after he's dead and gone it will just fester in some bus station locker--"

"Anya!" Buffy snapped, then let it go. "Everyone who's coming, grab a weapon, fast."

Xander held open the duffel bag until Faith peered into it. "Should I be trusting you with implements of pain?"

"You want me to implement some pain right now?"

"Fair enough." He handed her the bag.

"Oh my god," Willow said, picking up an object on the ground. "This is Oz's lucky tuning fork. He wouldn't just leave it around unless he..."

"It's okay, Will. We're gonna save him too. It's a four-for-the-price of one saveathon. Who's with me?"

The only one without a weapon, Anya reluctantly selected a flail from the bag. "Me, I guess. Woohoo."

Everyone in the swinging flail's radius ducked.

"Good arm, An. Might wanna save it for the gods."

"Right." Anya tried to muster some Scooby-like enthusiasm. "Well, what are we waiting for? Let's go kick some legendary behind!"

* * *

The droning Winiqua chant reached a fever pitch, and he opened an eye to see Lamashtu lifting the baby out of the cradle.

When she went for the knife, Spike broke a chain.

Suddenly, a lion-shaped corpse sailed through the air and hit the wall beside her.

"You might wanna look into better security," Buffy said.

Spike almost sobbed in relief. My hero.

Lamashtu flinched subtly at the sight of Giles. "Kill them all."

Buffy beheaded the first Winiqua to cross her path. "Ooh, was he essential to the chantalong? My bad."

"None of them are essential. I can do this alone."

"Then I guess I'll just have to kill you."

"You're welcome to try."

With the help of her friends and a really sharp axe, Buffy fought her way to the middle of the room.

"Love, watch out!" She came into view, a Winiqua's arm caging her throat. "She's invincible!"

Spike. Buffy turned toward his voice, and for a moment, the world dimmed around them: Spike was okay. "Did you see her?"

Eyes sparkling, heart expanding, he said, "She's mine."

"All the way, baby." She hit her captor with the butt of her axe and rushed toward Spike, intending to hack at his chains. "You look diff--"

"Oi, behind you!"

She turned to defend herself, and Spike admiringly watched her do what she did best. Or, second best, anyway. He wondered, how many hours after giving birth could a slayer have sex?

Still fighting Winiquas at the foot of the altar, she produced a broken cell phone from her back pocket and pressed a button. A warped version of 'Take A Chance on Me' started to bleep, then died out completely.

Lamashtu frowned in confusion. So did Spike.

"Question." Buffy dropped the phone and the axe, and held a mirror to Lamashtu's face. Everyone else who was able followed suit. "Who's the fairest?"

At that moment, Venus aligned with the crescent moon, and the air in the cave was suddenly charged with electric energy.

All the mirrors in the room shattered at once and a centrifugal force pushed everyone who wasn't tethered to something into the walls. Everyone except Lamashtu and WinQuar, who were somehow impervious, and Buffy, who had managed to grab onto the altar.

"An interesting attempt, Slayer," Lamashtu said. "But you're too late."

"She's still breathing," Buffy countered. "That means I'm right on time."

"Yes. To see her die." She smashed a fist on the altar and sent Buffy flying.

The Slayer helplessly somersaulted through the air and body-slammed into Angel, who was slowly coming awake. "...Buffy?"

"And if you're just joining us," she filled him in in an announcer's upbeat clip, "we're screwed."

With a glance toward the altar, she shouted, "Giles! Plan B!"

Giles struggled against gravity to get the amulet out of his pocket, only to see it shoot out of his hand... toward WinQuar. "Oh, dear."

"Buffy, do something!" Watching his daughter cry as Lamashtu lowered the dagger, Spike thrashed and popped another chain link. "Help her!"

"Trying!" A stray chain from Spike's pillar smacked her on the head. Thinking fast, she grabbed it, coiled it around one wrist and let go of Angel to ride the current toward the amulet.

"Don't just stand there," Lamashtu ordered her lackey, motionless in the entryway. "Destroy it!"

With a sly grin, WinQuar made no move to stop Buffy. "Why would I do that?"

Lamashtu narrowed her eyes. "So it is written. So it is set in--"

"I know what the tablet says," WinQuar said. "After all, I'm the one who wrote it."

Buffy crawled across the floor, amulet in her mouth.

"WinQuar--?" Lamashtu stared at him as if for the first time. "You betrayed me."

"And how."

"Don't you love me? Don't you want the Great Change?"

"The Great Change is coming, my love, only not at all the way you expected."

"Starting..." Looping Spike's chain around a spoke on the altar, Buffy slowly rose up, amulet pointed at Lamashtu. "...Now."

Nothing happened.

Buffy shook the amulet.

"I will not allow this!" Baby wailing in her arms, Lamashtu kicked Buffy in the face and the amulet skidded across the floor. "You ignorant child, you aren't worthy of defeating me! Purity is not a state of mind."

If Buffy wasn't worthy, Spike wondered, who the bloody hell was?

Not a state of mind.

She'd called it a cleansing... but then again, as Lamashtu's own personal emo love monster, maybe he'd always had the heart for this job.

Heart-shaped amulet. Realization hit Spike like a stream of sunlight on his old skin. Answer is within. "Buffy!"

When she turned to face him, he gestured at the amulet. "Let's get this done."

"What? No!"

He took a few measured breaths, looked her in the eye and said, "Trust me."

In a soft, melodious soprano, her mother began to sing:

"If you change your mind
I'm the first in line..."

Lamashtu cried, "That song is meaningless!"

"Honey I'm still free
Take a chance on me..."

Pushing aside her fear, her logic, and everything else that made sense, Buffy took a chance.

The amulet skidded his way.

"Gonna do my very best
and it ain't no lie,"

Giles chimed in, reaching out for Joyce's hand,

"If you put me to the test,
if you let me try."

The rest of the gang, even Willow, joined the sing-along -- with the exception of Faith, who assumed they'd all been possessed by The Brady Bunch.

"Ba-ba ba ba ba..."

As Lamashtu shook off something that looked like momentary confusion, Spike broke through the last chain that immobilized his right arm. His fingertips grazed the amulet, and he tucked it securely into his fist.

Looking up to meet Buffy's shocked expression, he gave her a wink, and held the amulet high. "Oi, Doctor! Mental patient you need to see!"

In his hand, the amulet glowed orange and popped open like a locket. Inside the locket was a black mirror.

Lamashtu was instantly mesmerized.

The glow beamed toward Sanvi's eyes, then into and through Angel and Oz. The trio formed a bright triangle of light, with Spike's position in the center bending it into a crude heart shape.

Buffy stared, astounded. The three warriors and the pure-hearted amulet wielder. Spike.

That's my guy, she thought with a rush of pride. Hot, brave, and totally worthy.

A swirling, screaming miasma left Sanvi's rigid body, but the fight wasn't quite over, considering it flew across the cave and into WinQuar's mouth.

Imbued with his master's power at last, the demigod roared. "Imbeciles, every one of you! You've all been willing pawns in my elaborate scheme aeons in the making! Bow down to me, for I have defeated the great Lamashtu! Nevermore will I be stepped on, underestimated, overlooked! Be witness to the dawn of a new era, where I shall reign su--"

A grenade landed at his feet, and he looked down at it, perplexed. "This isn't how it goes."

"Take cover!" Faith shouted, and the entryway exploded, WinQuar burst into a thousand gloppy pieces, and Lamashtu's essence swirled to the center of the domed ceiling.

"Who gave her the grenade?" Buffy said, and Xander shrugged guiltily.

Faith didn't see the problem. "What? We got the bad guy."

"Wrong," Lamashtu's essence hissed. "I can become any one of you and rip you to shreds!"

Buffy waved her hand at that statement in response.

"Oh. That sucks."

"Eenie... meenie..." the essence taunted.

Everything Giles had forgotten was slowly coming back. "She can only possess females! And... large, overconfident demigods, evidently. Keep your mouths shut tight!"

"Okay, except, nausea kicking in," Willow warned, pinned against the wall. "Probably gonna barf."

"Ah, memories." Xander yelled, "Any chance we can let her off the magic Gravitron before the floor drops?"

Unable to move against the quickening current, Buffy looked to her baby, mercifully content for the time being in Sanvi's arms. Sanvi, Spike, Oz and Angel were still frozen in place, beams of light filtering through their bodies. Why hadn't the laser show stopped?

"Sanvi!" The last puzzle piece in Giles' mind clicked into place. "Look up! You must look up!"

She craned her neck, and the light shot from her eyes into the disembodied entity.

As Lamashtu screamed, as her soul met its ultimate revenge, Sanvi, Angel and Oz spoke in unison:

"We are the Three. On this night Lamashtu you meet your eternal end. This world and its parallels are purged of your legacy, your curse, your dark children. This is the Great Change."

At once, the legend burned to nothing, the amulet hinged shut, the centrifugal force stopped abruptly, and the Three collapsed.

Spike ripped through the chains and dove for his falling baby, destroying his pillar in the process, but it wasn't necessary -- Buffy intercepted to catch her just in time.

The baby greeted Buffy with a, "Ga-a!"

Buffy hugged her close, kissed her head.

It was over. They had won.


As the gang assessed the damage and helped the fallen to their feet, Buffy and Spike stayed contentedly put; lost in their own world again. Only now it was a world with a population of three.

She regarded his dangling chains and the broken pillar. "You know, if you coulda done that all along..."

"Yeah." He looked back, flexed his arm, his hand. "I didn't think I could." He reached out to touch the baby's face, then stopped, unsure.

With a smile, she gently placed their daughter into his arms. "You earned it, Pureheart."

The baby cooed at him, and he burst into sobs. "God, she's so beautiful."

She wiped away her own welling tears. "Narcissistic much?"

"Yeah?" At her nod, he justified, "Haven't seen myself in decades."

She pushed an errant lock of hair behind his ear. "She's all you."

"Oh, come on. She has your... toes." He held up the baby's foot. "See?" Then he said in awe, "Look at them. All tiny and perfectly round, like berries."

At that, they both looked at one another, remembering the vivid dream they'd just had.

Fingers still poised at his ear, Buffy said, "Déjà vu."

He glanced at the dead lion-thing on the floor. "Lions in the..."

"Is that sweat?" She touched his forehead. "Do you have a fever or something? You're..." it took her a moment to place the subtle difference, "warm."

"Oh. Yeah. Funny thing..."

She touched his chest and gasped, hand flying to her mouth. A tear slid down her cheek. "Spike?"

He gave her a sheepish shrug. "Still want me?"

"Are you kidding me?" She pressed her ear against his chest, then grabbed the amulet and opened it, turning the mirror on him. "Oh my god, Spike! You're human! You are so marrying me right away."

He tore his eyes away from his fascinating reflection. "W--"

"Sorry, but you have no choice. It's a done deal."

He shut the amulet, head shaking in disdain. "Way to bring the romance, pe--"

Before he could hit the 't' she clasped her mouth over his and they kissed, baby cradled between them, until suddenly Buffy pulled back. "Wait a second. If you're human, how did you break that pillar?"

"I... have no idea."

Giles, who was helping Sanvi nearby, perked up.

Buffy's eyes grew wide. "Silly rabbit. Slayer dreams are for..."

"...Slayers," Spike finished the line from their shared dream. Then he shook it off with a laugh. "That's ridiculous, you know I'm not a slayer. I can't be. I'm a--"

"Heads up," Giles said.

Without looking, Spike caught the dagger an inch from his face, a beat before Buffy had the chance. "Oi, watch where you're tossing that thing you wanker, there's a baby here!" Everyone was staring at him. "What?!"

Buffy took the dagger and cut a shallow line down his bicep. Before he could even finish complaining, it had begun to heal.

"Okay, you're not a slayer, you're a superslayer. What the hell did she do to you?" She frowned. "You're not a god, are you?"

"Not quite," Sanvi said, seated on the altar. Wearily, she explained, "Now that she's gone, I can remember everything she did... in my body." She hazarded a shy sidelong glance at Giles, and cleared her throat. "Her intent was to make him a pure-blooded vampire, as pure as her first creation. Winquar stopped the process, and now, he's a human infused directly with her essence. Much like the very first Slayer."

"She claimed that no mortal man could survive the potency of her spirit," Giles said.

"Yes, but he sparked the Great Change," Sanvi argued. "He's the catalyst, the funnel."

Angel added with a touch of bitterness, "The exception to the rule."

Spike glanced at his former rival, who suddenly looked a whole lot shorter.

"Boy slayer," Faith sized him up. "Wicked hot."

Eyes on her man, Buffy pointed a finger behind her. "Down, girl. Off."

"I got it. He's all yours, big sis." Arms up in surrender, Faith turned her attention to Angel. He looked like he needed some comforting about now... "The ex is fair game, though, right?"

"No," Buffy said, and explained, "Hello? The curse?"

"A soul death with every 'sting'," Sanvi recalled. "That was her doing. With her legacy purged, that aspect of Angel's curse should no longer pose a problem."

"Huh," Angel said, while Faith said, "Bonus," and Buffy said, "Oh."

"Buffy," Spike turned her chin back his way and murmured, "I told you, we don't do that anymore."

She cocked a brow. "Anymore?"

"Um, ever. We have never, ever, and come to think of it this really isn't the sort of talk a child should--"

Buffy hushed him with a soft kiss. "I only want you, Spike. For the rest of our lives."

He grinned at her for a moment, then tickled the baby's chin. "Hear that, Bitty? Odds were against us, they were, but we won the pot, my lovely little chance in hell."

"Chance," Buffy said, head on a tilt. "I like it."

He shrugged. "Better than Akbar."

Suddenly, a distant explosion rocked the cave, and they frowned at one another.

The sounds of flares and heavy footsteps grew closer and closer until... "Shh, stay back."

Buffy squinted. "Who is that?"

"FREEZE!" Riley charged out of the dark hallway with an enormous torpedo gun. Seeing a room full of perplexed civilians and exploded demon parts, he slowly lowered his weapon. "Guess we're a little late."

"Um... kinda," Buffy said. "But hey, very imposing entrance."

"Thanks." Riley waved at Spike. "Glad you're okay."

"You are?"

Riley's men came out of the shadows, and one said, "Must've been some party."

"Definitely ground zero," another confirmed, holding up a beeping sensor.

"Ground zero?" Buffy asked. "Is everything okay out there?"

"Yes and no," Riley said. "While we were trying to blow a hole into that boulder, I got a call from headquarters. All the hostiles in captivity just... disintegrated all of a sudden."

"All of them? I don't understand."

"Her dark children," Giles realized. "The vampires and demon species she created..." his eyes met Buffy's, "have all been expunged from the earth."

"Whoa," said Oz.

"No way," said Faith. "Just like that?"

"Bloody hell," said Spike.

"But if all the vampires are gone, then how come Angel is--?"

Buffy spoke loudly over Xander, "--going back to L.A.? Because it's his home now, Xander."

"Rrright," he said, realizing that Riley didn't know Angel was a 'hostile'. "Gotcha."

"Perhaps the Three protected all who took part in the ritual," Sanvi said.

"Exception to the rule," Spike said to Angel.

Another rumble prompted Riley to warn, "This cave is unstable. We need to move out, pronto."

"Wow. No more vampires or demons." The idea sunk in for Willow as they followed the commandos out. "What are we all gonna do now?"

"I don't know. Maybe," Xander gasped, "Have a life?"

"A life," Willow sounded out. "A life."

"Ready to have a life with me?" Buffy stood up, offering Spike a hand.

"I can't bloody wait." He didn't mean for it to come out as lustily as it did. But then again, he couldn't think of anything he wanted to do more.

"Mom, can you hold her for a quick second?"

"Of course. But hurry up."

"Uh-huh." They pressed into one another, hips and mouths fusing. Exploring his newly warm, incredibly arousing super-boy-slayer body, she paused at his upper thigh. "Why are your pants slashed?"

"Uh..." Voice raspy, he cleared his throat. "What?"

She pulled back. "Did that succu-bitch do something to you?"

"What? No! I mean... not in the... I didn't like it! And it's not what you're thinking! It was hardly anything at all!" He looked to Sanvi for support. "Oi, back me up, Doc."

"Er... It's all getting a bit hazy now." Blushing, Sanvi made a quick exit.

Spike didn't bother to deflect the inevitable smack upside his head. "Great. Thanks."

Joyce called out behind her, "Remember our talk, Buffy."

"Right." She looked at Spike, took in a deep breath and said the words as if they were foreign to her, "I trust you, Spike."

He blinked, taking that in. "So the smack was just...?"

Her lips curled up at one corner. "Foreplay."

"Oh," he said, and leaned in. "Then you're forgiven and I approve."

As they left the cave, Joyce patted her on the back and said, "Good start."

The room began to rumble, and behind them, the cave ceiling collapsed.

"Run!" Riley shouted.

Joyce tripped on her way up the steps, twisting her ankle. "I'll be okay, just take her and run ahead."

"I'm not leaving you." Buffy made a decision. "Spike? You can probably outrun me now." She kissed Chance and handed her over. "Get her safe. I'll take care of Mom."

"You sure? I can carry your mum instead--"

As the floor quaked, she looked him in the eye. "I'm not losing either of you again."

He nodded. "You'll be right behind me?"

"Count on it."

He grabbed the nape of her neck, gave her a kiss and bounded ahead with the baby.

Trying to ignore her still-aching bonesaw injury, Buffy crutched her mother up the winding staircase.

"Buffy...?" Joyce said, and she followed her mother's frightened gaze: the floor was collapsing behind them, falling away into pitch-black oblivion.

Hoisting her mother onto her back, Buffy said with determination, "This is not how it's gonna end."

* * *

As Spike made it out into the open, the foundation of the portal began to crumble.

"Buffy?" Stunned, he watched the ground cave in. "Buffy!"

"Don't worry, we'll get her." Riley yanked a retractable thermoset cord out of his utility belt and quickly grounded it to a tree, then jumped into the abyss.

He yelled out to her, but all they heard in response were his echoes.

Ten seconds. Twenty. Thirty. Nothing but eerie silence.

"That's it, I'm going in. This isn't how it bloody ends." Spike stopped pacing and handed the baby to Xander. "Drop her and you lose an eye." He walked to the edge and pointed at Forrest. "Give me your belt."

Just then, Forrest felt a double tug. "Pull!"

"You heard him, people! Pull!" Spike yanked at the cord along with Angel, Faith, and Riley's men.

Finally, out of the dust emerged Riley, with Joyce affixed to his harness and Buffy on his back.

When they got to solid ground, Spike and Buffy met in a fervid embrace.

"Are you all right, Ma'am?" Riley asked Joyce. "Do you need an escort to the hospital?"

"God, no," Joyce said. "I'm fine, thanks to you. And my incredibly brave daughter."

Buffy smiled at her. "Runs in the family."

"So," Xander said, docile baby in his arms. "Doublemeat?"

"Home," Buffy, Spike and Joyce said at once.

"Probably for the best," Xander said, handing the baby to Buffy. "Someone's due for the Great Diaper Change." Everybody groaned. "What? Too soon?"

"Ooh. Diapers." Buffy passed the buck. "That's Spike's job."

"Me? I don't know how to--"

"'It's not a burden, it's a gift!'" she quoted him perkily.

"Right." With a smirk, he said to Chance, "Let's go unwrap your gift then."

Joyce turned to the bereft gang of directionless misfits in their wake. "Why don't you all come over? We can order pizza. My treat."

"Ooh," said Giles, hand raised. "Pepperoni?"

"Anything you want."

A cacophony of deceptively casual "great, sure, okay, why not"s followed, and they all walked with new purpose toward the parking lot.

Behind them, all that remained of Lamashtu's lair was a huge, ragged but distinctly heart-shaped hole in the forest floor.

Spike took Buffy's hand, their shoulders touched, and they exchanged radiant smiles. History had been made, a new era had begun, their lives had been drastically altered... and all they could think about was sexing each other's brains out.

Their new nemesis, more formidable than any before her, screamed and successfully diverted their attention.

"Hey cutie, what's the matter, love?"

"Are you hungry, sweetie? Do you think she's hungry?"

Chance calmed, her mission accomplished...

For now.

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