Chapter 1: The Gift
After staring at the crater that was once Sunnydale, the one Spike had created to save the world from the First Evil, Buffy and the Scoobies boarded the school bus. Everyone was so zonked from the battle that they passed out pretty quickly once the bus started moving.
Buffy was the first to fall asleep. She dreamed of Spike and the battle. Eventually, her dreams shifted into something else entirely. She had been to this mystical place once before with Angel. As the image became clearer, The Powers That Be were there smiling at her which was unsettling since they rarely ever smiled.
The Powers That Be stepped forward. "Miss Summers, you have saved the world again from the forces of evil. You have done well. We would like to bestow upon you a gift. You can ask for anything. There are no limits on what you can do with this gift. Think carefully, Miss Summers." They stepped back to let Buffy think.
Buffy already knew exactly what she was going to ask for. She wasn't going to use it for herself. Willow was her first thought. Bring back Tara. She got a bit teary eyed thinking about it but she was incredibly happy about her decision. "I know what I want. I would like you to bring back Tara Maclay for my best friend Willow Rosenberg. With all her memories in tact from wherever her soul has been since her death and obviously the memories before she had died as well. Can you do that? I know it's a lot to ask but you did say anything." She smiled at them and The Powers That Be nodded in unison.
The Powers That Be stepped forward once again. "It is done, Miss Summer. You are a very selfless individual. It is rare to see that quality in a human. Very well Miss Maclay will be returned to Miss Rosenberg. Please give us some time to arrange everything properly." They stepped back again.
Buffy was smiling so widely. "I don't know what to say other than thank you for the gift. I was never expecting to be rewarded for saving the world. And obviously take all the time you need. It's a pretty big request. Oh and would it be possible for you to warn me when you will be resurrecting Tara? I don't want Willow to be driving when Tara suddenly appears. That would be a disaster!" She looked at The Powers That Be and they again nodded in agreement.
The Powers That Be looked at Buffy one last time. "We will be seeing you again soon, Miss Summers." They faded into the background.
Buffy was jolted awake after her encounter with The Powers That Be with a smile on her face. Willow and Tara will be reunited. Though she felt bad for Kennedy but she knew that she made the right call. Kennedy would understand considering all that Willow had told her about Tara. As she looked around she noticed everyone was still asleep except for Giles who was driving. She yawned and decided to go back to sleep and would inform Giles about what transpired with the Powers That Be later. She thought he would be interested to know and be very pleased with her decision, as she drifted back to sleep.
As Buffy felt like she was being jostled, she realised that someone was actually shaking her awake. She slowly opened her eyes and Giles was giving her a warm smile. "Hello, sleepyhead. How did you sleep? We saw a rest area so we are taking a break from driving to stretch our legs and such."
Buffy smiled back. "Hey, pretty restful for once. Good idea, getting leg cramps is the pits. Oh, I have something to discuss with you alone when you have a moment."
Giles looked at her worried. "Is it something bad? I think I have had enough bad for quite awhile, Buffy."
Buffy shook her head. "Not at all. Something happened while I was sleeping. Could you spare a moment now?" Giles nodded.
Giles ushered her out of the school bus. "Let's take a walk and we can chat."
Buffy and Giles walked a bit in silence. "So Buffy, I think we are far enough away from the others to have our talk." He stopped and saw that there was a picnic table and gestured to Buffy to sit with him.
Buffy thought about what to say. "I was dreaming about Spike and the battle." Giles gave her an odd look. "Perv, not that way! Anyway, I was dreaming and suddenly it shifted into something else and I was face-to-face with The Powers That Be. They were telling me a job well done and they were bestowing me with a gift for my hard work. Saying I could ask for anything. They told me to think about it but I already made up my mind."
Giles looked at her skeptically. "Oh Buffy you know you should not trust what they say. And when you do ask you have to be very careful of what you say."
Buffy stopped his rant. "Giles, this wasn't my first encounter with them. I saw them once before when I visited Angel in LA. And they made good on their promise. Anyway, will you let me finish?" Giles nodded. "I told them I would like them to bring back Tara with all her memories in tact before and after her death. They seemed to be impressed with such a selfless act saying it is a rare quality to have in a human. And they agreed to all the terms. I just have to wait until I contact me again so I can make sure Willow isn't driving when Tara returns."
Giles looked a bit teary eyed. "Buffy, you could have asked for anything and you decided on Tara. The Powers That Be are correct. Selflessness is a bit rare. Willow will be so pleased. I am so proud of you. I am sorry I ever doubted you about anything including Spike. It was terribly wrong of me."
Buffy gave him a watery smile. "Willow hasn't been the same since she lost Tara. It kills me to see her blame herself. Remember that terrible ordeal when she turned into Warren? I can't sit back and watch her suffer any longer. She's my best friend. I know I could've asked for Mom for Dawn or Jenny for you. Or to be reunited with Spike or get Angel permanently ensouled or bringing back Anya for Xander but I thought about it and Tara is a mom to Dawn, you have moved on pretty much since Jenny, I've made peace with Spike, Anya died a hero and I've moved on from Angel. Nothing made sense except for bringing Tara back."
Giles gave a her smile. "I think you made a bloody brilliant decision. I am quite impressed. And you are correct in saying that I have more or less moved on from Jenny. I see your point about the others as well. Nothing else makes sense. If I was in your position, I think I would have chosen Tara as well. She grounded Willow in a way that no one else could. They are true soulmates. I look forward to Tara's return. Please let me know when it happens as well. I want to document it."
Buffy smiled like a loon. "I totally can't wait to see Willow's face! It will be priceless. And of course I'll keep you informed."
Giles looked pleased and nodded. "Ah good. Very well. We should head back before the others send out a search party. Again, Buffy I am quite proud of you. You have grown into a hell of a woman as Spike said." He stood and she followed. Giles walked closer to her and pulled her into a tight hug. She hugged just as tight. They let go after a moment and smiled at each other. They walked back to the bus in comfortable silence.
As Buffy and Giles approached the school bus, Willow and Xander greeted them. Willow smiled tiredly at Buffy. "Hey, where did you two run off to?"
Buffy wasn't sure how to answer and Giles saved her. "Buffy and I went for a walk to stretch our legs. Being on that blasted bus has done my legs in." Buffy and the Scoobies chuckled at how dramatic Giles was being.
Xander fidgeted. "Ready to continue driving or riding in your case Buff since your driving skills would send us off a cliff." Buffy rolled her eyes at him and huffed out a long, tortured sigh.
Buffy and the Scoobies piled back into the school bus. As Xander drove, Giles kept looking at Willow and smiled knowing what Buffy had done for her and couldn't wait for the witch's reaction.
Chapter 2: The Impending Homecoming
Buffy was starting to think Giles was right, that The Powers That Be were just stringing her along since three weeks had passed with no word. The nights since her encounter with them she was plagued with nightmares and barely got any sleep. She was starting to lose hope. And of course as soon as her hope started to fade that was when The Powers That Be appeared before her, this time when she was actually awake.
The Powers That Be stared at Buffy. “Your gift is ready. Miss Maclay will be returned to Miss Rosenberg in three days time. Miss Maclay needs to reacclimate herself to this world and once that is done she will appear to you, Miss Summers.” They all nodded in unison.
Buffy huffed out a sigh of relief. “I was beginning to think you were playing me or something. Like it was some cruel cosmic joke or whatever.” She looked at them in frustration.
The Powers That Be watched her carefully. “Miss Summers, we did inform you that it would time.”
Buffy looked annoyed. “I know! I just thought since you’re magical beings it would just take a few days or what not. I guess I should be thankful you showed up again. Anyway, thank you and will I be seeing you again when you deliver the gift?”
The Powers That Be shook their heads. “You will not Miss Summers. Miss Maclay will just appear in three days time. And if you are unsatisfied with our work, do not hesitate to contact us. Angel still knows how to summon us if need be.” They nodded their goodbyes and vanished once again.
Immediately, Buffy went to find Giles. She passed both Willow and Xander who both gave her odd looks. She finally found Giles. “Hey, can we talk again? It’s about what we discussed before.”
Giles regarded her with a smile knowing exactly what she was talking about. “Of course, shall we?” He instructed her to walk ahead until they were out of ear shot and knew they hadn’t been followed. “So, any news?”
Buffy nodded at Giles. “I was starting to doubt that The Powers That Be would ever come back and then they appeared to me while I was awake. They informed me that my gift will appear in three days time. That it needed to reacclimate to this world. So I suppose we should find a place to stay before that happens. That way we all get a much needed break and Willow gets some private with my gift.” By the time she stopped talking she couldn’t stop smiling widely.
Giles watched her intently and smiled just as widely. “Before you know it, three days will have come and gone. Brilliant! I must buy a camera to document the reunion.” He started to pace.
Buffy chuckled at him. “Really? You’re being ridiculous! But then again you are British and do have a point that this really is a special event.”
Giles rolled his eyes at her. “Thank you ever so much for telling me that I am too British for your American sensibilities once again. And it is quite right it is bloody special. It is Tara we are talking about, Buffy!” He looked so annoyed.
Buffy smirked. “I know, I know. I’m anxious for Tara to appear. I can’t wait to see Willow’s reaction. Oh my goodness! I gotta call Angel about this. He would be probably be interested in knowing about The Powers That Be and what it means for Willow.” Giles nodded at her.
Giles gave her a sweet smiles. “Indeed he would. Do tell me how he reacts. I best be getting back to the others. You call Angel and I will run interference so no one disrupts your conversation.” Buffy hugged him and he walked back to the others.
Buffy took her cell phone out and called Wolfham & Hart. When someone picked up, she launched into the reason for having to speak with Angel and the person redirected her call to his office line.
After the first ring, Angel answered. “This is Angel. How can I help you?”
Buffy cleared her throat nervously. “Hi, Angel. It’s Buffy. I wanted to talk to you if you have the time.”
Angel coughed into the phone. “Hi Buffy! It’s great to hear from you. I guess that means you survived and defeated The First. I knew you could it! And yes I have some time to talk. I also have some news to tell you as well but you should go first.”
Buffy sighed. “I did successfully kick some First Evil ass but with lots of help of course. So I was sleeping and dreaming and my dreams morphed into something else. It turns out that I was summoned by The Powers That Be. They told me that they were going to give me a gift and that I should think carefully about it but I already knew what I wanted so I told them I wanted them to resurrect Tara for Willow. And they agreed to all my terms. Then they vanished and hadn’t contacted me for three weeks. I thought they reneged on their agreement or something but they just appeared to me again while I was awake. The Powers That Be told me Tara would be returned to us in three days. So that’s all of it. In a few days, Willow will be reunited with Tara.”
Angel was silent for a moment on the phone. “Buffy, that’s really amazing news! That was incredible of you to request for Tara. You could’ve asked for anything. You really are selfless. Have you told Willow about this?”
Buffy chuckled. “Thank you, Angel. The Powers That Be and Giles both said the same thing you did. How selfless I am. And how it’s a rare quality to have. I haven’t told Willow because I want to surprise her. Giles wants to get a camera and document the whole thing. Oh and what did you want to talk about?”
Angel laughed at her. “It really is rare quality to have, Buffy but you’ve always been special. That will be quite a surprise. Please send me the photos that Giles takes. Oh right! Wolfham & Hart received a package a few weeks back that contained the amulet I gave you before the battle. The one you gave Spike. Anyway, Fred opened the package and the amulet was inside some ornate box. Wesley of course took it out of the box and suddenly Spike appeared but he was transparent and couldn’t leave the building or really communicate with us at first. Fred figured out how to fix it so he could talk and listen. Once he started talking he wouldn’t shut up of course. I knew that you had successfully defeated The First but I had no way of contacting you. So Fred is trying to extract Spike from the amulet and make him corporeal again. Spike kept talking about you, Buffy and asked if I approved of him. I gave him my blessing. I just want you to be happy and I know you definitely deserve it. You both do. Once we fix the corporeal part I’ll send him your way, okay?”
Buffy was speechless and had tears in her eyes. “Spike is alive? Well, sort of alive. Before I left him I told him I loved him but he didn’t believe me. I was actually kinda peeved at him for that but I understood why he didn’t. Since the battle I’ve been having dreams about him and the battle. I literally can’t get him out of my head. Maybe this is the reason. Because he never really died. Oh my goodness! I’m sorry for rambling on about Spike. I don’t want to make you feel uncomfortable or sad. It’s just that I never thought I’d get another chance at telling him how I felt.”
Angel gave a watery chuckle. “I know we could never be together for real because of my curse and you moved on. And I always hoped you would find someone. Though, I had hoped that it wouldn’t have been Spike. But as long as you’re happy Buffy, that’s all that really matters to me.”
Buffy gave a watery chuckle back. “Oh Angel! You have no idea how much that means to me. Somewhere in the insanity that is my life, I fell for that bloody crazy British vampire. I’ll never understand how it happened. It just did. Wow, I can’t believe both Willow and I are getting another chance at this whole thing called love. I mean Will is still devastated about Tara. Remember Amy the Rat? Well, she put a spell on Will so that on the outside she looked like the guy who killed Tara. She was starting to act like Warren too because if you don’t break the spell you permanently turn into the person that you were glamoured into. Thankfully, Kennedy broke the spell somehow but it was heartbreaking. Will still blames herself for what happened to Tara. We all know it was never her fault but I think she blames herself because she couldn’t bring her back from death like she did with me. Thank goodness I got the gift from The Powers That Be.” She sighed happily.
Angel listened intently. “I’m just happy you’ll be reunited with the one you love. Though, I will always be jealous because I’ll wish it was me. And as for the attraction it’s probably partly because of the British accent. Over the centuries, I’ve seen many women swoon when they hear it. That’s quite sad that Willow blames herself. I’m thrilled to know that she will be reunited with Tara. She’s the best of us. Wait, you mentioned a Kennedy. Is that her girlfriend? If so, that’s going to be really awkward. I hope Kennedy will understand.”
Buffy laughed. “Thank you. That means a lot. And of course it’s the British accent but Giles is British and I don’t find him attractive. I must also be a Spike thing. Anyway, we are always trying to tell her that it was all Warren’s fault, not hers. She really is the best of us. As for Kennedy, Willow told her everything about Tara and what happened. I think she will understand but it will still hurt which will be understandable. And I’ll definitely send you photos of their reunion. Giles and I are so excited for it to happen that we’re practically vibrating with anticipation. Xander and Willow keep giving us odd looks like we’ve lost our marbles. I’d love to tell Xander about Tara but I know he wouldn’t be able to keep the secret and it would ruin the surprise.”
Angel laughed. “You’re welcome, Buffy. And I’m happy to know you’re not attracted to Giles because that would really be weird. I’m not surprised Willow doesn’t listen to you guys. She has always been really stubborn. Oh my yes Xander would most certainly blurt it out to everyone. Best not to tell him. And I look forward to the photos.”
Buffy was silent for a moment. “Hey, Angel I better get going before Willow sends out a search party for me and I spoil the surprise. Oh and please let me know when Spike is corporeal again and is on his way to meet me. By the way it was really good talking to you again. Say hi to everyone for me.” She gave him her number to inform her about Spike’s whereabouts.
Angel sighed sadly. “It was great talking to you too Buffy. I’ll let everyone know how you’re doing. Please say hi to everyone for me as well. And I’ll definitely let you know when the Spike issue has been resolved and he’s on his way to you. Take care of yourself.”
Buffy sighed loudly. “Thank you Angel. Take care of yourself too. I’ll talk to you in the near future. Bye.” Angel said his goodbyes and they hung up.
Buffy started walking back to the bus. When she got closer, Willow greeted her with a smile. “How’s Angel doing?” Buffy looked at Willow confused. “Oh Giles told us you were planning on calling Angel.” Buffy nodded.
Buffy smiled at Willow. “I should’ve known Giles would tell everyone. Anyway, I have some news to share with everyone back at the bus. But I want to tell you first. So apparently Spike is alive. I’ll give everyone a full explanation on the bus.”
Willow lunged at her and hugged her tightly. “Oh my goddess! That’s really amazing, Buffy. I can’t wait to hear about it! I’m so happy for you!”
The two friends let go of each other and started walking back to the school bus. As they boarded, they were chatting and laughing aimlessly. Willow went to her seat next to Kennedy as Buffy was getting everyone’s attention.
Buffy patiently waited until everyone settled down. “First, Angel says hi. Second, I found out that Spike is still alive. Angel told me that Wolfham & Hart received a package containing the amulet he was wearing when he disappeared. Wesley opened the box with the amulet in it and everyone got a surprise. Spike just suddenly appeared to them. Though, he’s not corporeal but they are working on fixing that issue. Once it’s resolved he plans to join us.”
Dawn’s face lit up as bright as a Christmas tree. “Spike is coming back to us! That’s the most amazing news ever!” Buffy smiled at her sister thinking about the other news that would rock her world too.
Xander smiled. “Oh the other bloody Brit is returning!” He imitated a really bad British accent. Everyone laughed. “I’m happy for you, Buff!”
Giles smiled brightly at Buffy. “Wonderful news, Buffy! I am happy for you, truly.”
Faith even piped in. “Oh man I’ve missed that badass vampire. I’m glad he’s coming back to you, Buff. To us all.” She smiled at the other Slayer.
Buffy smiled at everyone. “Thank you guys. I couldn’t be happier with the news Angel shared with me. I can’t wait to see Spike again. Ugh now it’s the waiting game though! I’m going to be driving everyone insane with my impatience I’m sure.”
Everyone chuckled at what she said. Dawn looked like she was about to burst. “Buffy, I can’t wait to see Spike again either! We’re both going to drive everyone mad as Giles would say.” She smirked at Giles and he rolled his eyes at her.
As everyone settled down after hearing the news about Spike, Buffy sat down near Willow and started chatting with her. They both couldn’t wait to hear from Angel about Spike becoming corporeal again. Neither could concentrate on anything because of all the excitement. After awhile, Willow turned her attention to Kennedy and Buffy started to doze off again dreaming of Spike and Tara. Thinking of how everyone would react to Tara’s return and how she would act when Spike was standing right in front of her again. Would she hug, kiss or hug and kiss him when she saw him again? Knowing her it would probably be both. She would finally get her happy ending she always dreamed about as a kid. Though, she never thought it was going to be a vampire that she would fell for. All Buffy knew was that she couldn’t contain her happiness knowing that she would see Spike again and be able to tell him she loved him. She wished so hard that he would believe her when she said it again. If he didn’t she was determined to convince him for the rest of their time together. Eventually her thoughts and dreams went back to Tara and how Willow would react. It would be very similar to how she would react to seeing Spike but even more intense considering how everything turned out and how Tara died. She had no doubt in that assumption.
Chapter 3: The Night Before
Buffy and Giles encouraged the Scoobies and the newly minted Slayers to settle into a hotel for the next few nights. Everyone deserved a good night’s sleep after what they had went through. Both Buffy and Giles had ulterior motives since tomorrow was the day that Tara would return to Willow.
Giles was as giddy as Buffy was about the next day. The others all thought they had lost their marbles. Giles steered Buffy away from the rest. “Buffy, tomorrow is the day. You and Willow should bunk together. That way when Tara returns you could bunk with me or Xander. We do not want to involve Kennedy if we can help it. It will be too heartbreaking.” He whispered.
Buffy nodded in agreement. “You have a good point, Giles. Though I’m definitely not bunking with Xander. He snores like a freight train. Looks like you’re stuck with me.” She chuckled lightly.
Giles rolled his eyes. “Of course your concern is his abhorrent snoring and not about Willow and Tara. And might I add, how do you know that I do not snore as well?”
Buffy smiled at Giles. “Well of course I’m concerned about Willow and Tara but I know they’ll be consumed by each other the moment their eyes meet and forget that everyone else exists. And I know you don’t snore because I’ve been in the same room as you while you’ve slept many times. You’re as silent as the dead.”
Giles sputtered for a response. “Well, yes I do agree. When Willow sees Tara again everything else will fall away but I am quite positive Willow will have questions for you, Buffy.” She smiled at him. “It is quite comforting to know that I am as silent as the dead so that my Slayer’s sleep would not be thwarted.” He said in blatant sarcasm.
Buffy smirked. “Oh, true! I’m sure she will have lots of questions but I’m not sure she’ll ask them right away if you know what I mean.” She wiggled her eyebrows and Giles gave her an appalled look. “You’re so British with your posh words like thwart. I mean, who says that word anymore? You need to start acting like you live in the twenty-first century and not the nineteenth century.” She rolled her at him.
Giles sighed. “I suppose you are right about Willow but you most certainly did not have to be in such a vulgar manner.” He gave her exasperated look. “Excuse me for speaking English the right bloody way unlike most of you uneducated Americans.”
Buffy giggled a bit. “Giles, I’m only teasing about your Britishness. You take it so personally. Though I do have to admit that your way of speaking is always entertaining for us mere Americans.”
Giles sighed once again. “Oh brilliant! That makes me feel better. I see that I am only here for your entertainment.” He gave a small smile. “Well, we best be going to sleep since tomorrow will be a big day.” He hugged her. “Good night, Buffy.”
Buffy hugged him back. “Good night, Giles.” She walked back to her room that she shared with Willow.
As Buffy approached her room’s door, Faith stopped her. “Hey B! Wait up!” Buffy slowed down until Faith had caught up to her. “Awesome to hear about Spike returning but you and Giles are hiding something. I can feel it in my bones. What’s going on? Care to share with the class?”
Buffy steered Faith away from her door so they’d have more privacy. “You always know, Faith! Ugh! So one night I was dreaming about the battle and Spike.” Faith cocked her eyebrow. “No, not those kinds of dreams about Spike. Get your mind out of the gutter! Anyway, The Powers That Be paid me a visit in my sleep telling me that I would be receiving a gift for saving the world again. They asked me what I would like to have and I asked for them if they could bring back Tara for Willow. They agreed. I only told Giles about it and now you. It’s a surprise so don’t say anything to anyone especially Xander.”
Faith’s eyes widened. “What can I say my mind can’t help where it goes.” She smirked. “Well damn, B! That’s one big ass surprise. Red’s going to freak but in a really good way. So is that why we stopped for a few nights?”
Buffy nodded. “Yes, partly but also to rest. We all deserve it. Tomorrow is the big day. I can’t wait to see Will’s face!” She said giddily.
Faith observed Buffy for a moment. “Uh, B, where you going to go when Red and Tara want to make lady love?” She chuckled.
Buffy rolled her eyes. “Faith, seriously, stop! Mind, gutter remember. Anyway my only option is sharing a room with Giles because Xander is a loud snorer.” She sighed.
Faith contemplated what to say. “You could share with me? I know you’re not the biggest fan of mine considering our history but I’d be willing to share.” She looked unsure.
Buffy smiled and suddenly hugged Faith. “Oh thank goodness!” She backed away. “I was going to ask you but Giles offered and I wasn’t sure how you would react.”
Faith smiled. “Glad I could help, B. I’ll see ya tomorrow soon to be roomie. Good night.” She walked back to her room.
Buffy went back to her room that she shared with Willow. “Hey Will. Looking forward to sleeping in a real bed again? I sure am!”
Willow chuckled. “Oh my goddess yes! So what took you so long getting back to the room?”
Buffy’s eyes went wide for a second. “Oh Giles just had something to tell me. Nothing important. Then I ran into Faith.”
Willow smirked at her friend. “Buff, is there something on your mind? You have that avoidy look. What’s up?”
Buffy blushed a smidge. “Oh it’s nothing important, Will. Though I was thinking of bunking with Faith tomorrow night if you don’t mind. Ever since avoiding the apocalypse, I’ve been wanting to catch up with her since it seems she has changed. But I don’t want to think that I’m choosing her over you.” She looked away.
Willow grimaced a bit. “I mean I can’t blame my brain for worrying but I do get it a bit. And if I can redeem myself from almost ending the world, Faith can come back from what she’s done too. Just be careful.” She gave Buffy a small smile.
Buffy smiled. “Oh, Will! You don’t have to worry so much. Faith helped saved the world. I think we can trust her but I’ll still be careful for your sake.”
Willow yawned and laid down in her bed. “I know that I worry too much but I appreciate you humouring me. It’s been a long day and very uncomfortable on that blasted bus. I’ll see you in the morning, Buff. Good night.”
Buffy laid down and closed eyes. “Good night, Will. See you in the morning.” She closed her eyes and smiled to herself knowing what will be greeting Willow in the morning.