A/N : Well, this fic's been a bit of a rollercoaster ride, but now that ride has to come to an end. I'm glad so many people have enjoyed reading this fic, and I thank you all for your reviews and opinions. Here's hoping the ending does not disappoint.
(For disclaimer, etc. - see chapter 1)

Chapter 24

"Something's changed" Willow said suddenly, "I can feel it, something's shifted" she said as silence reigned beyond the barrier. As the group edged towards the door there was a loud knocking on it that made them all jump back in alarm.

"Guys! Willow! It's me!" Buffy yelled.

"Buffy!" Dawn called back, "Davy was out there!" she warned.

"He still is" the Slayer explained, "but it's okay, you can let us in"

With just a moments hesitation, Willow summoned up her power and it took just a few minutes before the barrier came down in a flash of light. She hurried to open the door and Buffy came in, dragging an unconscious Davy behind her.

"I don't know what happened to him exactly" she admitted, "I got here, he turned and looked at me, something flashed in his eyes and then bam, he was out"

"Let's get him on the bed, take a look at him" Giles suggested, helping Buffy to do just that. Moments later the Slayer ran to her children and hugged them both tightly to her, so relieved to find them still alive and okay.

"Buffy, I think it's over" Willow told her, "Something changed. Is Luisa dead?"

"I guess so" the blonde nodded, "I left Spike fighting her, and if the battle's over she must be gone. There's just no way I can lose him" she said, getting tearful suddenly.

"Never gonna lose me again, luv" said a familiar English voice from the door and tears overcame Buffy as she let up her grip on her little girls just long enough to go to Spike, put her arms around him and help him from the door further into the room. He had a few nasty injuries, but nothing that wouldn't heal in a few days thanks to his powers.

"Thank God you're okay" Dawn cried too as she hugged her brother figure, "We were so worried"

"Wasn't exactly havin' a ball myself, pet" Spike told her, "but I knew I could beat that bitch down, had to really, for my girls" he smiled as he dropped to his knees on the floor where his children sat.

"Dada!" Ellie grinned reaching for him, and attracting Chloe's attention to the fact he was there. Spike hugged them both, injuries and pain all momentarily forgotten just for a second or two. He had Buffy and two gorgeous kids, he had his humanity and the love of a family. Again he wondered what he had ever done to deserve so much happiness, but thanked the Powers That Be he had them all the same.

"Where's Xander?" Willow asked after a moments silence.

"Yeah, and Illyria?" Andrew chimed in.

"They were on their way here when Illyria had a vision" Buffy explained to the group, "but it was more than just the regular kind, it was like too many all at once"

"It was Luisa" Spike filled in closing his eyes and cursing internally to himself, "She did a bloody spell or whatever, sent this fire ball thing into the air, told me it'd mess with Blue's head. I couldn't stop her, it was her or the kids, I... I had to make a choice"

"And you made the right one" Illyria told him as Xander helped her into the room.

"Bloody hell, Lyri, look at the state of you" Spike said as he scrambled to his feet and made sure his friend got to a comfortable chair as quickly as possible.

"You have a use for mirrors these days, William" she pointed out, "Take a look at yourself" she smirked slightly, noting the blood and dirt that covered him too.

"I think what we look like should be the last thing on our minds" Giles pointed out as he walked over to them, "It would seem Davy is back to normal, just unconscious" he explained, "I hazard a guess that when Luisa was defeated, all her power over him ended"

"Over Lyri too, I'd wager" Spike nodded, "Brain pictures give in a few minutes ago, did they luv?" he checked as Buffy came to stand behind him and put her arm around him, just so glad to know he was alive.

"They did" Illyria nodded her head slowly, "Though some of the pain remains in my skull, the bleeding has ceased, as have the images I would sooner forget"

"I still say you need to be checked out at a hospital" Xander told her as he sat on the arm of her chair and held her.

"And I repeat that I have no need for such a place" Illyria snapped half-heartedly, "Though I shall admit this young man has pleasing qualities I am quite certain his concern for my welfare shall drive me to distraction in the future" she rolled her eyes heavenward as she used the sarcasm Spike had taught her well these past months.

"You better believe it, baby" Xander told her, kissing her forehead.

"So, what now?" Dawn asked, "I mean, it's all over now, right?"
"So it would seem" Giles agreed, "I cannot speak for anyone else of course but I think the next item on my own agenda would be sleep" he admitted.

"Don't think you're alone in that, Watcher" Spike smirked as not just the kids but also Buffy yawned loudly.

"I'm okay" the Slayer told him, "I think maybe you and me could use an over due talk before anything else" she said and Spike nodded she was right.

After much hugging and relieved tears the gang finally went their separate ways. Xander took Illyria down the hall to his hotel room, whilst Willow said she'd stay with Giles and take turns to watch Davy till he came around. After that they'd have to make sure all the spells used on him were definitely over and then help him get home. That left the witch's room empty so she offered it to Dawn and Andrew, who were eager to give Buffy, Spike, and the kids, some space. The little family deserved at least one night alone, in particular the Slayer and ex-Vampire who had so much they needed to say.

It was a couple of hours after the battle had ended. The sun was low in the sky and Buffy was just tucking the kids into bed having had a shower and a change of clothes, and was now waiting whilst Spike took his turn. She was just coming out of the kids bedroom when he emerged from the other door in just a pair of jeans.

"Hey" Buffy half-smiled as they stood their staring at each other for a moment.

"Alright pet?" Spike checked as he looked back at her.

Tears welled up in her eyes as she took a step forward and reached about a hand, fingers running down the side of his face where blood had run just hours before from the gash on his head that was already healing. A few nasty looking bruises marred the skin of his chest and arms and she hated to see him hurt like this. It only served to remind her of all the beatings he'd suffered at her own hands, how badly they'd hurt each other up to now.

"Oh Spike" she cried as she finally fell into his arms, sobbing her heart out, "I was so scared of losing you again" she admitted as they held each other tight.

"Can't say I was lovin' the idea myself, luv" he told her as he rubbed her back, "but it's alright, I'm here now. We're here together, and nothing is ever going to spoil what we have, not again"

"You can't know that" she cried into his chest but he was quite adamant about it, and pulled away til he could see her face.

"Now you listen to me, Slayer" he said, holding her chin in his hand and making her look at him, "I love you, Buffy Summers" he reminded her, "Love you more than I ever loved anyone in my whole bloody existence. You and the kids, you mean everything to me, and nothing and no-one could ever make me leave you, you hear me?"

"I hear" she nodded as more tears came to her eyes and she reached up to kiss him tenderly, "I love you Spike" she whispered against his lips, "God, I love you so much, I can't even tell you"

With no words left to explain how they felt anymore, the only other option was to show each other just how deep their love ran. Both of them had waited far too long for this day and both were strangely nervous as they went into the bedroom and lay down together. Still these nerves meant nothing as they looked into each others eyes and the old fire ignited between them, made stronger and more special by the love they now shared.

As they made true love together for just the second time in their relationship, neither could hold back tears. It was all too special, too emotional, and like nothing else they'd ever shared before.

As they lay spent together afterwards, Buffy sighed, snuggling as far into his embrace as she could get.

"I wish I'd figured out sooner what you meant to me" she said as her head lay on his chest, "Things could've been so different"

"Different doesn't necessarily mean better, luv" Spike pointed out as he kissed the top of her head, "Thinkin' about what we have now, yeah it's been a rough ride getting here but, there's nothin' I'd really change" he told her.

"I missed you" Buffy replied as her reason for wanting things to have been different, "Those months without you were so hard, if it wasn't for the kids I don't know how..." her sentence trailed away and Spike felt a damp patch forming on his skin from her tears. He held her tighter and tried to soothe her.

"I missed you too, sweetheart" he told her, "Every bloody day, and I so wish I hadn't been such a petrified little nancy boy and come and found you the moment I had the chance" he explained, "but I can't change that, I can only say I'm sorry that we both had to go through so much pain, and that I love you and don't have plans to ever, ever leave you again"

When she looked up at him, he hated to have to see the tears in her eyes and did all he could think of to do to ease her pain that still existed. He leaned down and kissed her gently, his hands sliding down her naked body beneath the covers.

"Spike" she gasped, as his lips left hers and travelled down her throat, "Marry me" she whispered in his ear.

"What did you say?" he asked, suddenly stopping what he had been doing and looking into her eyes. With a slight laugh she repeated her words.

"Marry me" she said, without a hint of nerves or regret, "I love you so much and I can't stand not having you in my life" she explained, "So I thought maybe you'd want to marry me?" she said, waiting for some kind of reaction and unable to read any expression on his face other than confusion.

"Way to throw a fella off his game, pet" he said a moment later, blinking in shock, "You really do believe in bleedin' girl power and all that, don't you?"

"I believe in certain guys giving answers to important questions before certain girls explode from the anticipation" she said, feeling suddenly nervous about her question.

"Do I want to marry you?" Spike echoed her question back, fingers running through her hair as he looked at her, "Buffy, luv, I want nothing else" he assured her, "Yes, I'll marry you" he smiled as she practically threw herself at him and kissed him deeply. They ended up making sweet love again, and the near full moon was high in the sky when they next paid attention to anything but each other.

"Remember this?" Spike smirked as he pulled a ring from his finger and showed it to the woman in his arms.

"How could I forget?" she smiled, as she saw it was the silver skull ring he'd given to her during their fake engagement years ago, under another of Willow's botched spell attempts.

"I know you did it your way" Spike said as he shifted away from her and pulled himself up til he was on his knees beside her, "but I'm an old fashioned sort of bloke, and now we're gonna do it my way" he smirked, taking hold of Buffy's hand in his as she pulled herself up to a sitting position, both of them still naked from their earlier activities and not caring at all.

"Buffy Anne Summers, I've loved you for years now, possibly since the very first time I laid eyes on you in fact" Spike told her, "We've come a bloody long way since then, had our good times and plenty of bloody bad ones too. We've both died and lived longer than we should, we've made two soddin' gorgeous kids together, and I can't tell you how much you mean to me. I love you so much, Slayer. Will you marry me?"

"I will" she said with a tearful smile as he slid the old ring on her finger and then kissed her again, what would have been another round of physical love proving being interrupted by Chloe crying from across the hall.

"Bugger" Spike cursed, though he was smiling as they both got out of bed to go to their kids, Buffy pulling on her dressing gown and Spike going for his jeans again since he had nothing else there. Annoyingly, by the time the pair reached the children's bedroom door, their girl was silent again.

"Must've been talking in a dream or something" Buffy whispered, "She seems fine now" she said as she stood in the doorway, Spike right behind her with his arms around her waist.

"Don't reckon I'll be dreaming at all tonight" he told her just as softly, "What's left to dream for when I already have you and them?" he shrugged as Buffy turned in his arms and gazed up into his bright blue eyes.

"I was just thinking the exact same thing" she smiled, right before they kissed.

The End

A/N2 : Had to end on the Spuffy, it was the only way I know! Final reviews would be very much appreciated. I've loved writing this fic, which has been a little different to most of my others, and again I thank everyone who has taken the time to read and review.