A/N : Thanx so much to all the reviewers of the previous chapter; Moonjava, Daniel Wesley Rydell, Charmed-angel4, rrnrios, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Ape18, Moluvsnumber17, SlaYeRGiRLkaL, Courtney37, Spuffy6, Hellmouth2, Xtremely-Canadian, Aisling-Siobhan, velja, Mony19, Demonica Mills, Mr Lennox i pressume, Brunettepet, Rowan Rice, Freezyboncoolipants, Bridge, spuffy4eva, MaidenRo, funkydevil206, IceBlueRose, OnlyHaveEyesForYou, spuffygurl11, wigi, pixiecorn, meshomah, Lady Nightspike, Celestia Nailo, msberry, SpikeLovesMe, spikeswife1, in fact thanx to everyone who has reviewed any or all of the chapters of this story! You guys are all awesome and I hope you enjoy the ending to this fic!
(For disclaimer, etc. - see chapter 1)

Chapter 18

Buffy didn't really know where she was going when she left her house. She wasn't even entirely certain why she'd left in the first place. Those pictures her mother had shown her, herself and Spike all happy together as kids, it just made it so clear to her what she'd lost and that hurt more than she could say. Obviously at that age she hadn't felt for him exactly what she did now. There was no sexual element to it when they were five, but she saw him. Buffy saw the real William because she didn't have the understanding of the world to pre-judge him on what he was, a vampire. He was a person rather than a thing and she was forced to take notice of that. He'd become her friend, her boyfriend even, if one could call it that at pre-school age. He'd promised to marry her one day and she'd agreed to that, and still she wore the ring he'd given her, pretending she could not remove it just so she didn't have to part with it.

Yet when she had to face him now, those times when she knew she should just tell him the truth of how she felt, she bottled it all up and spat out nasty insults and threats instead of the love she so wanted to share with him. She knew why, if she was honest. She could blame the fact that she now knew what he was and that made a difference, but it didn't. She could say he had changed, not just in physical size and appearance, but completely in his personality, but he hadn't, not really. The real reason she wouldn't commit to having any kind of feelings for him was because she was afraid.

There wasn't much that got the Slayer so scared that she ran from it, but the prospect of facing another relationship like the one she had with Angel put a fear in her like she'd never faced before. Things could be so good with Spike for a while, they had been with Angel, but one little thing could turn her whole world on it's head and she couldn't take that a second time. If Spike got the chip out of his head he could be evil again, just like Angelus, and she couldn't take that risk...could she?

Before the chip Spike had taken her side to fight against Acathla and his grand-sire, and just last year they'd fought side by side against a vampire gang sent by the Mayor. One might say that was all for his own gain but what about now? Under the spell it seemed the chip didn't work at all, and yet he hadn't harmed her, not once. Whenever Spike was around Buffy or Joyce he'd gone to great efforts to hide his vamp face and keep the violence inside. He'd threatened Xander, lashed out at Anya and Angel, but not once had he really meant to hurt the Slayer or her mother. Buffy hoped it was because he really did like her, maybe love her like he'd said he did. They'd shared a bed every night and he'd held her when she cried, never once taking advantage and biting her or anything.

Buffy had, at length, come to the conclusion that perhaps Spike did share her feelings of love, and yet she knew she could never admit to her own. So long as she held on to memories of Angel, she could never learn to trust Spike fully enough to commit to him. It would be easier all around if they just stayed out of each others way.

"So, this is where you ended up?" said an English voice in the dark and Buffy sighed. There was no chance of that then.

"What business is it of yours what I do?" she snapped, getting up from the gravestone she'd been sitting on and making to storm away. Spike caught her wrist as she went past him.

"Maybe I want it to be my business" he told her, "Maybe I'm startin' to realise that...I want you" he said seriously, eyes locked onto hers. Buffy swallowed hard, steeling herself against emotions that were running riot inside of her.

"I want, doesn't get" she said coldly, pulling her arm from his grip and turning away. He gave chase as she should have known he would.

"Bloody hell, Buffy, give a bloke a chance" he implored her, "You can't just switch it off, and under that spell..."

"Under that spell, what?" she yelled, turning back to face him so suddenly he nearly fell over her, "Under that spell we thought we were friends - big whoop" she said sarcastically, "Spell over, friendship over" she explained, but he wasn't buying it.

"No" he shook his head, "It's more than that, we had a connection"

She moved to walk away and he grabbed at her again, turning her around and holding her firmly in place, a hand on each of her upper arms.

"You loved me Buffy, and I loved you" he said, making her listen, "You're wearing my ring because we promised to marry each other for God's sake, that doesn't just mean nothing"

"Yes, it does" she half-yelled, seeming as though she were trying to convince herself as much as him, "Kids play games Spike, they make up stuff, they pretend to have weddings and all kinds of crazy things" she told him, pulling out of his grasp but remaining in front of him, "but that's all it is, a kids game...and ours is over now" she ended quietly, suddenly walking away so fast that Spike had only just registered she'd started moving when she was gone. She was crying again, he could smell her salty tears on the breeze and he hated it.

Still, he didn't go after her. He knew there was little point since they'd only end up fighting again and that got neither of them anywhere fast. He'd come out here both to look for her and find some place to call his own. He refused to be dependant on the Scoobies or Joyce, he was tougher than that. So the chip those Soldier Boys shoved up his brain stopped him hitting humans, but he could wail on any demons that came calling. He remembered getting twinges when he bit into Anya's ankles as a Little Bit, but there was not so much as a buzz when he's sunk his fangs into Angel. It'd make sense too, for the Initiative to make him non-violent to humans only, made unlife a little less rough on him at least.

As Buffy's scent faded away, Spike set off to find himself a crypt somewhere in the graveyard that he could fix up, or at least catch some sleep in. Joyce had treated him like a normal kid and got him in the habit of sleeping nights and being awake during the day, meaning he was getting tired already.

Tomorrow he'd deal with his Slayer issues. Maybe he'd grab her and snog her til she gave in to him, that idea had potential. If he didn't love her so damn much he might just kill her and have done with it to end all the trouble, but it was too late for that now. He was falling in love with the silly bint, and no-one could save him from that.

When Buffy arrived home, Joyce offered to get her some food but the Slayer declined saying she wasn't feeling so good and just wanted to go to bed. Her mother tried to apologise for upsetting her but Buffy assured her it wasn't her fault before hugging both her and Giles and hurrying up to her room.

"I suppose I should really be going" the Watcher realised, checking his watch, "I've taken up quite enough of your time one way or another"

"I'm not complaining" Joyce smiled, "You can take up my time any day...or night" she added with a decidedly suggestive look, that for the time being at least Giles tried to ignore. They shared one last kiss before he let himself out and Joyce decided perhaps she might turn in for the night too. She passed by Buffy's room, and headed for her own, hoping her daughter was no longer as upset as she had been.

In truth, the Slayer wasn't feeling too great at all. She sat on her bed looking into the same box of Angel related items that she had been looking at earlier. He was good-looking, she still thought that as she looked at the photographs, and the claddagh ring always brought both a smile to her lips and a tear to her eye for different reasons. He'd been her first true love, and now he was gone, having caused a lot of heart-ache in the in-between time. In short he wasn't perfect, but then neither was she and she was a human being, more or less. Parker had been human too and he'd treated her appallingly. With a sigh she got up from the bed, took the box over to the waste paper bin and poured the contents into it.

Buffy paused a moment to consider what she'd just done, and she smiled. The past was done with, no use dwelling on it. Tomorrow was another day, the future lay before her and it could be anything she wanted it to be. With a grin she got herself changed for bed and lay down to go to sleep.

The clock said it was ten thirty as she snuggled down under the covers, but she was still awake well past midnight. Somehow Buffy just could not find a comfortable position in which to sleep. The bed felt too big, which was insane when she thought about how much smaller she was last night, but she'd had someone to share the space with then. Screwing her eyes tight shut against the memories she turned over once again and concentrated on sleep, unfortunately that was easier said than done.

Letting her imagination wander, Buffy could feel Spike's arms around her, not the little boy holding the little girl, but the man holding the woman as it had been last night. It felt so good just to be held like that, to be loved as she knew she was. Tears came to her eyes once again when she realised what an idiot she'd been telling Spike it was all over between them when it was only just beginning. Life goes on, she'd come to that conclusion, let go of Angel in a way she hadn't before, and still she was lying here all alone...it didn't make sense.

Getting out of bed, she pulled on the first clothes she could find and crept out of her room and down the stairs, hoping not to wake her mother. She passed the table in the hall, trying to find some shoes, accidentally knocking something from it. She knelt to pick it up and by the light of the moon that shone through the window by the door, she realised what she held in hands - the photographs from earlier. The one right on top of the stack as she gathered them up was of her and Spike, but not a picture she remembered posing for. She was watching TV and the back of her head was facing camera, but Spike was staring at her with such adoration, it amazed her. It made her even more determined to find him and tell him what she should've told him before.

Shoving the picture in the pocket of her jacket she pulled on her shoes and crept out the front door. The only clue she had as to where he might be was the cemetery they'd had there fight in before. With any luck he wouldn't have gone far from there, she might even be able to feel his presence...

"Or I'll follow the paper trail" she said to herself as she got a few feet from the spot they'd stood at earlier, having found a cigarette butt crushed into the ground. When he was wound up about anything, Spike chain smoked. She'd noticed at Giles apartment and even before that when they'd fought together against Angelus. She'd complained about the filthy habit, but she was glad of it now.

Buffy was a few feet from a large crypt when the trail ended and she didn't need anyone to tell her that Spike was inside. He always did give her a different feeling to other vampires, as if it wasn't just her spider sense that vibrated but her whole being when he was close by. Maybe she'd been fighting an attraction to him longer than she thought.

Taking a deep breath and briefly asking herself what the hell she was doing, she pushed open the door to the crypt and went inside.

Immediately a figure leapt out of the darkness, spinning her around and pinning her to the wall, only to find his head ached like hell.

"Oh, it's you" Spike frowned, when he realised. His hands leaving her body to hold his own head til the pain subsided. He'd barely touched her so it didn't last long.

"You sound disappointed" Buffy said sadly, pulling herself from the wall and straightening out her jacket.

"Well, yeah" Spike smirked, "Found out this chip in my skull only works on humans. If you were a demon I could have done myself some killing" he pointed out, "Could use the release to be honest"

"Sorry to disappoint" Buffy half-joked, making him genuinely smile.

"Doubt you're capable of that, luv" he told her, "Still, didn't expect to see you so soon. What's up? Bed too big without me?" he joked, as he turned his back on her.

"Yes" she replied, the honesty of her answer shocking him into stillness, "The bed's too big, the house is too big, it's all wrong without you there"

He turned back slowly, looking suspiciously at her. All he could think was that another spell had been cast on her, either that or she'd gone completely sack of hammers, because not five hours ago she was telling him in no uncertain terms how little he meant to her.

When he didn't say anything, Buffy took the photograph from her pocket, stepped forward and held it out to him. After a moment he took it and smiled in spite of himself as he looked at it.

"Cute picture, Slayer" he commented, "but I don't see what good you think you're doing coming here, telling me you miss me and showing me pictures when a few hours ago you were giving me the speech about all of it meaning nothing. You can't just go back and forth changing your mind because..."

"Spike!" she interrupted in frustration as she came to stand right in front of him, "Just, shut up" she told him, putting a hand behind his head and pulling him into a kiss.

The whole world could've ended in true apocalyptic style, and it's doubtful either of them would've noticed as their arms wound round each other and the kiss deepened til they both moaned.

When Buffy realised she should really breathe before she passed out she pulled away a little, gasping in lungfuls of oxygen but smiling widely.

"So, what do you say, Spikey?" she giggled, "Still wanna be my Fang-face boy?"

He smirked at that, running his fingers through her blonde locks.

"All depends" he said playfully, "You still gonna marry me? Be my best Slayer-bint?" he asked, making her laugh out loud.

"Always" was her eventual answer, the mood turning serious again as he put his lips to hers, kissing her soundly and holding her so tight her feet almost came off the ground.

The photograph he'd been holding fluttered down to the floor, landing face up. A five year old vampire boy, who only had eyes for a similarly aged Slayer. It seemed insane but any idiot could see they were happy, both there in that picture and now in their adult forms, kissing each other senseless. For now at least, nothing else mattered.

The End

A/N2 : So there it is, end of the story. I loved writing this one and the response from you guys was awesome! Hope you'll all have the time and inclination to write a final review, because that would be great. As to a sequel, probably not for this fic, but don't worry more ideas are already forming in my head and starting to formulate on the page/screen!