A/N : Here we are at the end of the road with this story. It's been fun writing this fic, I had the idea such a long time ago and I'm glad I finally took the time to write the story and post it for you all to read. Hope you enjoy the ending.
(For disclaimer, etc. - see chapter 1)

Chapter 23 - I Guess I'll Stay

"Tell me again why we're doing this now?" Buffy asked Spike as they stood together on the front porch of her house, her hand in his.

"Cos it's got to be done, pet" he reminded her, "And if we don't get inside in the next few minutes I'm going to parboil" he pointed out, with a look towards the sky.

"Right, knocking would be of the good" the blonde said to herself, raising her fist to the door once again and almost knocking on the forehead of her Watcher as he appeared where the door had been seconds before.

"Buffy" he said with surprise, "You're back"

"Giles, why are you still...? Oh my God!" her eyes went wide as the door was opened further and she spotted her mother coming down the stairs, tying her dressing gown around herself.

"Buffy, sweetheart" Joyce greeted her daughter as she came to the door, "We were so worried about you"

"How worried, exactly?" she checked, looking a little horrified as a few mental images she could have done without seeing passed through her mind.

Clearly Joyce did not understand what her daughter meant by that question, but Giles' awkward movements and Spike's ever-growing smirk gave away that they got it.

"Think what she's asking is did you and Giles here shag... spend the night together?" he changed tack from his usual foul-mouthed way of putting things, his old human self reminding his demon that Joyce was to all intents and purposes a lady, and his woman's mother, who deserved some respect.

"Oh honestly Buffy, that's ridiculous" her mother smiled, as Giles shot her a look, "Not that I meant... oh dear" she said awkwardly as she realised she just couldn't get out if this without causing offence.

"Perhaps it would be best if I were to go, leave you two to talk" Giles forced a smile at the two women, before glaring daggers at Spike.

"Er, if it's all the same to you, Mrs S, it's the three of us" the vampire said with a smile, deliberately ignoring the Watcher.

"Oh yeah, we should get inside" Buffy said, as she suddenly remembered, "But Giles, y'know you should stay. If it's okay, I'd like to call the whole gang and invite them over soon, when I've had a chance to explain some stuff..."

"Buffy, I already know" Joyce told her daughter as the four moved into the living room.

"You know?" the Slayer's eyes went wide as she glanced between her mother, Watcher, and lover, "How, how do you know? And what exactly do you know?"

"Perhaps I should relay to Buffy what we have discussed whilst you get dressed, Joyce" Giles offered and the older woman accepted, disappearing back upstairs, as Buffy moved to close the drapes behind the couch to protect Spike from the rising sun.

"Honestly Buffy, must we really endure the presence of... that" her Watcher said disastefully, casting a glance at Spike who seemed unphased by the fact he was being spoken of in such a derogatory manner.

"Slayer wants me here, then I'm here" he said without a sign of any particular emotion.

"I do want him here" Buffy confirmed as Giles removed his glasses and polished them furiously on his handkerchief.

"I confess, I have not told her everything, but your mother does know a great deal about your calling Buffy, and about a great many things that go on upon the Hellmouth" the Watcher explained.

"She seems to be pretty okay with it so far" the Slayer said hoping she wasn't imagining it.

"Indeed, she is a remarkable woman" Giles nodded, replacing his glasses on his nose, "To be honest, I think she was relieved to have explanations for so much that was previously unexplained"

"Did you tell her about Spike?" Buffy checked and her Watcher looked uneasy.

"I confess, I did" he said eventually, "She knows he is a vampire, and that his reputation is one of violence and evil"

"And yet she didn't try to stake me on sight" Spike tilted his head as he looked at this fellow Englishman, "Neither did you, which begs the question, why not?"

"I believe there must be some sort of rational explanation for Buffy's... attachment to you" Giles explained, "If that is so, I have no reason to wish to kill you... yet" he added with a look that bordered on menacing.

"Okay, so where were we?" Joyce asked breaking a tense moment as she returned to the living room and took a seat in the armchair, across from Spike and Buffy who were together on the couch. Giles decided to finally stop pacing and sat himself down in the second chair.

"Mom" Buffy looked guiltily at her, "I'm so sorry I didn't tell you about the slayage before now. I just, I didn't know where to start, and the last time I mentioned vampires, you thought I was going crazy, which I so don't blame you for but... I just didn't know how to explain" she admitted, in the rambling style she was prone to.

"Well, after all Rupert's told me, I can see why" Joyce sighed, "It's a lot to take in, but it is wonderful to have a reason for all the things that you do, all the trouble. I could hardly believe my little girl was getting into so many fights, cutting class, letting her grades slide, it just isn't how you used to be, Buffy"

"It's how I have to be now" the blonde explained, "I do my best Mom, but you have no idea how hard it is, balancing school, and home, and friends, and family, and the slayage..." she explained, grateful for Spike who sat close beside her, his thumb stroking her wrist as he held onto her hand.

"And yet amongst all this, you found yourself a boyfriend?" Joyce asked with a look as Buffy and Spike glanced at each other.

"I guess you know I kinda didn't do that the conventional way either?" the Slayer said with an almost guilty smile.

"Yes, I know that Spike is a... well, a vampire" she said awkwardly, the term felt so foreign on her tongue and it was strange as she stared at the bleached blond, he really didn't look like she imagined such an apparent monster should.

"Look, Mrs Summers..." Spike began only to have her interrupt and insist he call her Joyce, since apparently he was older than her anyway somehow, "Right then, Joyce, fact is I'm not much bothered whether you or Buffy's mates accept me or not. Yeah, I'm a vampire, and I've done a lot of bad, evil things, I don't have a soul and I don't give a monkey's what any of you think about me" he explained honestly, "but it matters to Buffy that she has your approval. All I can tell you to hopefully convince you is that I love your daughter Joyce, and I would never harm her or anyone that mattered to her. I don't know how I fell in love with her, or how she fell for me if I'm honest, but this is for real, and I won't let anybody stand in the way of us bein' together. Come bloody hell or high water, I'll be standing by her side"

His little speech brought tears to the eyes of both women, and though he tried to look unimpressed, even Giles couldn't help but think how genuinely touching those words were. Though Spike had been one of the most evil vampires to walk the earth, the same could be said of Angelus, and he had turned out to be a respected ally for some time. Simply because Spike was technically without a soul did not prove he would continue to do evil things, after all every human being had a soul and the prisons were full of plenty of them who had committed equally as horrific crimes as any vampire or demon.

"I'll admit, there's still a lot I don't understand about this situation" Joyce told her daughter, "And we are going to be having several long talks about all this Slayer business, and so forth, young lady" she warned her daughter, "But, from what Mr Giles has said, it seems to me you can more than handle yourself against anything that tries anything, so unless he proves otherwise, I will accept Spike as the decent young man he appears to be" she said, earning a smirk that bordered on a genuine smile from the vampire, as he saw his lovers face light up at the very same words.

"You won't regret it, Mom" Buffy told her, "Me and Spike, it's an always and forever kind of deal. I never loved anyone like I love him"

"Same goes for me" he nodded in agreement, "She's like no other woman I ever met, and I bloody love her, more than even she'll ever know"

The Scooby Gang gathered around in the Summers living room, all feeling a little awkward. At Buffy's request, Xander had brought Cordy along, and Willow had called Oz so that everybody who had attended the party last night were present in the room now.

"So, where to start?" the Slayer said, glancing at Spike who smiled encouragingly and squeezed her hand, "Okay, guys, I got you here cos we need to talk, all of us"

"Well, first off..." Xander started only to be interrupted by the vampire across the room from him.

"Slayer meant she needs to talk, not you, Whelp" he said firmly, and Buffy jumped in fast before a fight broke out.

"No, I don't want an argument, please" she urged the vampire and her friend, "That's the last thing I want"

"I think, we were kind of hoping for an explanation" Willow ventured in her usual soft tone, "I mean, I'm not gonna judge, Buffy, if you want to be with Spike it won't stop me being your best friend, same as always" she assured the blonde, "but... and I mean this in a totally polite way" she said, glancing at the vampire in question, "aren't you kind of evil?" she asked awkwardly, making Spike smirk. The little red-head seemed genuinely sweet and adorable, and as obviously scared as she was she still asked her question which Spike admired her for.

"'M not gonna lie about it" he said honestly, "I got a demon in me, same as any other vamp. I kill to eat, and I've killed for fun" he told her straight, "but Buffy here means the bloody world to me, and I wouldn't let any harm come to her, or any of her mates"

"Okay" Willow nodded, "Well, that's... that's very nice, thank you" she smiled, holding on tight to her boyfriends hand.

"Sounds cool to me" Oz agreed with her, not feeling his opinion was needed much more than that. He said very little at the best of times, and in all honesty his head was a little over-full after all Willow had told him last night regarding the supernatural elements if Sunnydale. As far as he could see, his job was to be here for Willow, nod his agreement to what was said, and then shut up again.

"I know this is weird for you" Buffy said, looking to Xander in particular, "It's weird for us too, we so never expected to fall in love like this, but we did, and it's real, and I so want all of you to understand" she told them, "Xand?" she urged him to respond, as he currently wasn't even looking at her.

"Xander, come on" Cordy shoved him lightly in the shoulder with her own, "You so need to be a man right now"
"Hey, I'm not the one here who's not a man" he snapped at her, his meaning very clear.

"You sure about that, mate?" Spike asked with a tilt of his head as he stared the boy down, "Cos it seems to me a man'd stand up and admit what he's feelin', even if it is for someone he thought he was s'posed to hate" he smirked, knowing by now that Xander must have realised the similarities in their situations. Okay, so Cordelia wasn't evil in the traditional sense, but Buffy had explained to Spike how weird it was that he was sensing lusty wrong feelings between Xander and QueenC. They were from opposite sides of the divide in their own way and yet they'd fallen for each other, much like Buffy and Spike had.

"Oh, I am not afraid to stand up and say this" Xander countered as he got to his feet to make his point, "I love Cordelia, okay?" he said firmly, looking around the room at all his friends, "We're in love, and I don't care who knows it"

"Well, me either" she said bravely getting to her feet also, "I... I love Xander too" she faltered only slightly in her declaration that seemed so strange to say, and yet felt wonderful to admit too.

Joyce got everyone's attention, when her laughter broke an awkward silence.

"I'm sorry" she apologised, covering her mouth with her hand til she was calm again, "It's just, I feel like I'm in the middle of a movie" she declared, "All these declarations of love flying around, well, I almost feel like a spare wheel"

"You're not alone in that, Joyce" Giles agreed, feeling both overly old and lonely.

"Not to be playing copy cat or anything and I so wouldn't usually do this with an audience but... Oz" Willow said with a shaky smile, "I kind of love you too"

"Huh" was his only response at first, then he added, "That's cool, cos y'know I feel the same way" he smiled, whiserping the actual words 'I love you' as he gently brushed his lips against her own in a sweet kiss.

"Okay, just so I can be sure, somebody pinch me" said Buffy, and Spike obliged her, making her flinch, "Nope, not dreaming" she declared with a grin that threatened to split her face in two, "I guess everything really has worked out this well"

"You won't be wanting me to whisk you off somewhere exotic then, luv?" Spike checked as her mother and most of her friends gasped.

"You were going to leave!" Joyce asked, looking stunned and a little hurt.

"No, well, not really" Buffy shook her head, "Me and Spike, we just talked about what might happen, y'know if you guys hated the idea of us being together"

"It's cool, Buff" Xander assured her now back in his seat with his arm around Cordelia's shoulders, "I mean, I'm not saying I love the idea of you and Evil Dead here getting up close and personal, but I'm not going to lose one of my best friends over choice of love partner" he told her, "I'm not a hypocrite"

"Thank you, Xander" Buffy smiled, feeling a little teary that everything had worked out so well, "All of you, I'm just so happy that you all understand"

"You're our best friend, Buffy" Willow reminded her, "That doesn't change just because you love somebody we're a little... uncertain about"

"Indeed" Giles agreed, "You are still the same Buffy we know and love" he smiled, "So long as Spike fully understands what will become of him should he ever hurt you..."

"I get it, Watcher, don't get your knickers twisted" Spike rolled his eyes, "But I don't plan on messing the Slayer around, she means too bloody much to me" he said, looking back at the woman beside him, "I love her, with everything I've got"

"And I love you too, William" she smiled as they both leant in close and shared a quick kiss.

Whatever came next, be it demons and Hellmouth eruptions, or lovers' tiffs and painful breakups, this gang of lovers, friends, and family would endure it together, and that was all that mattered.

The End

A/N2: Yeah, it was pretty fluffy and corny at the end, but I just couldn't help myself. Hope you guys liked it!