Summary: The conclusion of my trilogy, sequel to "All That's Good and Bad" and "In the End a Beginning". The apocalypse is upon them. Will the prophecy hold true or will the slayer lose everyone including one or both of her mighty warriors before the final bell has tolled?

A/N: This is the third and last story. I'll try to give you a run down of what went on before, but if you haven't read the other two stories, well you might get lost.

I know, I know. It's been so long. Too many excuses to list so I'll leave it at that and just sorry. Hope you still are reading and enjoying. And thanks for the reviews.

Disclaimer: All characters are the property of Joss Whedon and his affiliates. Of course he can't claim my made up characters.

What went on before: Spike came back from his excursion newly souled and crazed. Buffy found out and decided to help him with the madness. Their relationship slowly developed over time until The First had other plans and by mind control using the technology of the chip, sent him to rid the world of the slayer. Meanwhile, Giles is back and doing what he does best; Anya is a demon but willing to help the gang and Xander is by her side; Willow and new gal pal Meg, a modern day druidess, has joined the scooby gang; Dawn is feeling a surge of power and knowledge she is sure is coming from her keyness.

Later, Giles realizes Spike is in need of a chipectomy, which frees him to rescue the slayer who is vacationing in the Hellmouth. When the super couple returns, Spike and company recognize that he no longer is in love with the slayer, a dilemma bestowed to him through The First. However, nothing keeps the warriors down when he actually does end up falling in love with her all over again. But The First is still playing games as Angel shows up at the Summers' door with a message that he was beckoned. That evening, Buffy has a hellish dream of what could be the outcome of their battle with the First.

Spike sat up in Buffy's bed, his back leaning against the headboard, while he willingly stroked the lush locks of his slayer as she slept somewhat peacefully on the other side. His mind wandered as he recounted the following evening in his head. It seemed so long ago to him even though it had been less than twelve hours prior.

Firstly, the patrol that he and Buffy did together, given the pleasure of running into their newest foe, the one who aimed to destroy the world, was enough to knock the chip off of anybody's shoulder.

Secondly, the appearance of the one person he would rather not have seen again in what was left of his lifetime. Angel's showing up only led to confusion for everybody, and for Spike, awkwardness and uncertainty. Awkward because of the vampires' tumultuous past together that was mostly, to be honest, not a nice one. The uncertainty came from his own doubts. Now that he had totally fallen head over heels for Buffy, something he thought would never have happened the first time around let alone a second time, her first true love showing up at her door unannounced was like dousing the flame. He felt inadequate once again and was positive he would do something stupid to push Buffy back into the great poufter's arms.

And thirdly, the nightmare Buffy was blessed with in the middle of the night set him on edge even though he kept his calm while comforting his girl back to a more tranquil slumber with whispers of promises of never leaving her side. But that was something he would think over later. At the moment, he wanted to back track to the unexpected arrival of his grandsire.

Oh, but the look on said grandsire's face when he set his gaze upon the bleached blonde vamp. "Buffy, what is he doing here?" Angel spat.

Angel had pointed his stubby digit at him as Spike puffed out his chest and gave him his best smirk. Buffy had to subdue the older vampire and tell him to cool down just to get him to back off. Otherwise, he would have pounced on Spike with no shame or regret at all.

He growled softly and pushed those annoying thoughts back into the recesses of his brain as he continued his deliberation of the arrival of Angel. What had the ponce said when Buffy had opened the door? 'Someone had told him that we may be in need of his services', Spike remembered.

"He never said who." Spike said bitterly, then looked down to see if he woke up Buffy with his proclamation.

"But I'll be sure to find out," he mumbled.

He rejoiced in the fact that after Buffy pulled Angel into the dining room out of earshot— well, human earshot—and explained to him that Spike was on their side now, Captain Brood's demeanor changed. Spike knew that Angel had caught a whiff of his grandchilde all over his ex and heard him ask Buffy, "What side is that, exactly? What's Willy boy been doing lately, or should I ask, who?"

At that moment, Spike had felt his demon coming forth, forcing him to walk into the dining room to pummel the bastard to within an inch of his unlife. But before he could take one step in that direction, an audible slap pealed through the air, stopping him in his tracks and he listened carefully in hopes he would hear a wooden stake being driven into the dead heart and dust settling on the floor.

He recalled Buffy's exact words to her ex-boyfriend: "You have no right coming in here, putting him down in any way. You don't know a thing about what he's been through."

"Buffy…," the git tried to interrupt.

"I'm not finished talking yet." Spike heard her deep intake of breath before she continued her sermon. "Angel, he's a part of the team and has been for a very long time. At first, yes, somewhat reluctantly, but we didn't treat him with the utmost respect either. In fact, we treated him like dirt. I'll admit this though, when he faced the demon hellgod to protect my sister, I knew then. I knew something was working on him to put him on a different path. But then I died and do you know what he did? He stuck around and helped not only to take care of Dawn but helped the others with patrols. That whole summer he stayed here, and not once, as I've been told by Willow and Xander, did he complain about any of it."

Spike could hear Buffy moving about and wondered if she had begun pacing the floor as she carried on with her tale. "I came back and I couldn't deal. Everything was so bright and harsh and he was…he was my salvation. He could deal…deal better than my friends could. We became friends, but unfortunately, things took a nose dive and I gave him what I thought he wanted because it made me feel. But the whole time, I was using him for my own benefit. Things happened that I will never discuss with you, things that got out of hand and he left. He finally listened to me for once, and he left. I knew then. I knew that I felt something for him and I vowed then that I would stop pushing people away."

Spike heard her sigh as she pulled a chair out and sat. "He came back though. At first I was surprised he came back to Sunnydale at all, but right away I knew there was something wrong; I just didn't know what. He didn't look himself, he didn't act like himself, speaking nonsense and such. When he showed up at the cemetery looking and acting all cocky again, I grew angry. It was shortly after that I found out; I found out he had his soul."

"What!? Spike has a soul? You have got to be kidding me? Buffy, had it ever occurred to you that he was lying?"

"Oh, yeah, it did. But I knew. I could see it, inside and out. And with the help of all of us, he's been doing just fine. Listen Angel, I've seen you at your best and your worst. I've seen Spike at his best and worst as well, but I believed in him. I never gave up on him just like he never gave up on me. All he wanted all along was to give me something he thought I deserved; a chance to live and to be happy. Funny thing about Spike. He knows me much better than I know myself sometimes. He can read me like a book. He also figured out that death is always going to be around me. It's my life and I have to be happy about that. Of course, he figured all that out after he got his soul back. Do you think he regrets it? Having fought trial after trial to win it back? Ask him sometime, I can just bet I know what his answer will be."

There was a moment of penetrating silence that followed. He heard Buffy scoot the chair back under the table. "I can't tell you what to do, but I can ask you to give him a chance. I know it will be hard, you've known him a hell of a lot longer than any of us and I'm sure you know what he was capable of way back then. I don't know the back-story between the two of you but it's time to grow up and put the past behind you. Live in the now."

Buffy made her way to the stairway when Angel gently grasped her arm.

"Buffy? Are you and he…are you in love with him?"

"Yes, very much so. Willow and Giles can fill you in on what we know for now and also find you a place to lay your head for the night. Goodnight Angel. I'll see you in the morning."

Buffy was met by Spike at the foot of the stairs, her hand sliding into his as they made their way up to her bedroom together leaving a stunned Angel looking on.

Spike would like to say that he was a good boy and didn't glance back to give Angel his infamous taunting smirk before slipping through Buffy's bedroom door, but there are certain habits that are harder to break for a 125 year old vampire.

Back in the present, Spike chuckled softly, more to himself. He knew that Angel, or rather Angelus, always seemed to get his way, always seemed to come out on top and Spike couldn't help flaunting it when he didn't. Of course, Spike's cockiness was his downfall for many a battle he endured with his grandsire. Maybe it was time, for Buffy's sake more than his, to put his differences aside and try to make amends with the arrogant bastard. Hell, from what records showed, they would have to fight side by side in the upcoming battle. What better time than the present to work the kinks out with Angel so they would be more focused on fighting who they were supposed to be fighting with.

Buffy sighed as she rolled over onto her back, her eyes trying hard to open and focus.

"G'morning, luv. How're you feeling?"

"Rested." She pulled herself up a bit to snuggle into the crook of his arm as she began to draw figure eights lazily across his bare chest. Every once in a while she'd touch a sensitive spot causing the vampire to twitch slightly.

"Sorry, forgot ticklish Spike," Buffy breathily announced and she kissed the exact same sensitive spot lightly. Spike responded with a soft groan which caused a chain reaction of feather light kisses across his torso as she moved smoothly over him and down across muscular abs until she reached the button of his jeans just below his bellybutton. She knew she had accomplished what she set out to do; she felt the accomplishment between the valley of her breasts, begging her to release it.

Her fingers danced lightly over the hard mound until they reached the button of his pants as she deftly undid it with one hand. A gasp escaped his throat, one of pure joy and excitement, yet he gently grabbed her by the shoulders and hefted her up all the way on top of him.

"Buffy?" She looked at him questionably as he hurried to reassure her. "It's just that, even though I really like where this is going, I— and I can't believe I'm saying this— think it would be better if we don't forge ahead right at the moment because of our unexpected "guest" who can not only hear everything, but smell…"

"Oh, yeah. Good call." And Buffy rolled off of Spike back to her side of the bed feeling cold and lost once again while Spike mentally kicked himself. He had to think fast to make her understand it had nothing to do with her. He knew he wanted her, and wanted her badly enough to just chuck the whole abstaining and screw Angel's sensitivities. But Spike was thinking of her more than anything and he didn't want her to have to endure the wrath of her ex and his practicalities. That's all she needed right now at such an intense time in their lives.

He rolled to his side and drew her closer, nuzzling the side of her neck just below her ear. "Hey, there, lamb. What happened to this "taking things slow" business anyway? It was only a few evenings ago that we had our first official patrol slash date since the ol' heart was squeezed dry." Spike chuckled softly, blowing cool air into her ear which caused her to shiver with delight.

Unconsciously, his thumb found its way under the hem of her tank top and brushed casually back and forth across her taut belly. "You know I love you, sweets, told you so. I just think, now that Peaches is here in your home, we should wait until…well, until I can sit down and have a talk with the grandsire about matters of love and whatnot. Maybe take care of our past qualms while we're at it. Can't be fighting with the poufter when we're supposed to be fighting on the same team, right?"

Buffy rolled over to face him, her leg tenderly slipping between his and giving him an understanding smile. "No problems here. Really. It's just so hard to restrain when my desires are so strong, having your body so deliciously close yet not being able to fulfill all my wanton desires and ravish you." Her voice dropped seductively as her right hand slid from his hip to cup his back side.

"Uh huh, I'd almost forgotten you were a temptress, you little minx. You keep that up love, and I'll be revoking my moral standards right now. Besides, don't you think we need to talk about the nightmare last night?" he sincerely asked while brushing a strand of hair away from her face. He wanted to see her reaction when he'd brought up the previous night's interruption.

"Oh, great, kill the mood why don't you. It was just a dream, I'm sure." She announced with timid insistence.

"Buffy, please don't keep things from me. I can't help if you don't trust me and include me in on things," he almost begged her to tell him.

"I'm afraid if I speak about it, it will come true." Spike could hear the restraint in her voice. He knew it took a lot to scare the slayer so something in the dream had her clamming up. He didn't want to push and he knew he couldn't take her fears about the upcoming events away, but he could put a damper on them somehow.

"Alright, then tell me the gist of the dream. Was it about The First?"

She nodded her head with reluctance. "It was so dark…and I was alone. You were dead, all of you were dead, covered in so much blood, leaving me alone. I'm always alone. Everybody leaves."

"Buffy, look at me." She did as he asked and looked up, eyes troubled with a faint trace of apprehension.

"Listen to me. You're a fighter. You've always come through. Even death never kept you down, you know? Don't fear the loneliness cause there's always going to be a way around it. Live with it, deal with it. It'll only make you stronger. But don't shut yourself away, because it'll have the opposite affect. I'm here to stay, you know that. I will fight to the end; I've told you that before. And I don't give up easily. Do you think I'd be lying here next to this warm, enticing body of yours if I was a quitter? I dug up the answers, I opened up to you, I gave us a chance to find out what we had. I found something good and bright because I found you, and I'm never going to give you up. I'd hope you'd do the same for me cause, no, I'm not going anywhere. Buffy, I overheard you talking to Angel." He noticed the look on her face and rolled his eyes.

"Vampire luv, it's what I do. I heard you tell him I was your salvation when you came back from death the second time. I want you to know…you were mine. And I'll never forget it. Never." His voice dropped off with a slight hitch as he pushed back the exasperating tears that formed.

Buffy heard the voice of his eternal soul and felt rejuvenated. A sense of freedom, security and direction hit her all at once and she fell deeper in love with the man next to her. She wrapped her arms around his neck and pulled their bodies together, melding the warmth and coolness, complimenting one another. Their eyes met briefly before she voraciously captured his mouth with hers. He gasped slightly but met her eagerly as he kissed her back hungrily. His lips were gentle, tender and careful but both knew when to pull back.

How did she get so lucky to find someone who could make her feel so alive, so safe, so loved?

Buffy stroked his temple with her fingertips as she whispered, "I love you, Spike. I'm the luckiest slayer to ever have lived."

"Love you, too. Nothing will ever change that."

She was grateful to live in the same universe with this man, to have a relationship with him. And to think she almost lost a chance to have that relationship. His perseverance never failing, never faltering, he kept at her until she was worn down. She was fortunate that he never stopped until he got what he wanted. Angel had told her that about Spike so very long ago. Yet even when the tables were turned and she didn't know if she could fight hard enough to win him back, he did it again. He fought to find answers and found love for her again.

"Best get up and get your shower. Got things to do, people to see, nasties to fight."

Buffy lightly brushed her lips across his before bouncing out of bed and rummaging for clothes in her closet. She watched him watching her as she made her way across the room to the door, a smile playing at his mouth the whole time. As she opened the door to step through, she twirled around and blew him a luscious kiss before closing the door behind her.

Spike sighed with delight. She was his interior sun and it burned, but in a good way, warming him from the inside out, keeping his feet on the right path and his mind set on a bright future. Together they would carry on though in reality he knew and understood the road ahead would be bumpy.

First rise to get over: talking to Angel.

To be continued…