Disclaimer, Summary, ect: See chaps 1 & 3.

Author's Notes: This is it. The final chapter, and I'm certain this time. lol. I'm gonna wrap this up with a little fluff, and a song. Now, unlike earlier and in some other fics I've done, no one's singing this song. I just... I thought it really fit where I wanted to end this, ya know? So, song lyrics will be seperate from the story. The song is Where I Belong/I Will Always Return from the Spirit: Stallion Of The Cimarron soundtrack. It's actually two different songs, but they have the same melody, so I'm using some lyrics from one, and some from the other. Enjoy! (Lyrics are in ~~)

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Chapter 10
The Flame Of Family
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~I hear the wind call your name,
The sound that leads me home again.
It sparks up the fire,
A flame that still burns.
To you, I will always return.~

Two months had passed since Buffy had told her friends about her relationship with Spike, and things had gotten considerably easier. Xander and Spike, well... No one would mistake them for the best of friends, that was sure. But it was.. Calm. Easy, between them. Early on, there'd been a few verbal battles, and even one thrown punch (on Xander's part, which Spike easily dodged), but things had calmed down after Spike had saved his life...

"Slayer! DUCK!" Buffy did as her boyfriend asked, just in time to avoid a claw swipe from a large, ugly grey thing. She rolled and came up in a fighting stance, having retrieved her dropped sword in mid roll. She swung almost blindly, her hair in her eyes, and managed to remove the creature's head in one swipe. Hurray for Slayer instinctive aim.

Not too far away, Spike was winning his own battle with one of the grey thing's nestmates. A quick snap of the neck, and it was dead. There'd been a third one, though. Where... There! The Slayer and vampire turned as one to charge at the third of the ugly grey triplets, which was at that moment attacking the rest of the Scoobies. Willow and Xander were attempting to keep it distracted while Giles tried to get a clean shot at it with his crossbow. Xander zigged when he should've zagged, and the thing hit him with a hard back hand (if you could call tenticles 'hands'), and sent him flying. Willow panicked and screamed Xander's name, giving the thing an oppertunity to slam her as well. Which it would've done, if Buffy hadn't leaped onto it's back at that very moment.

"Leave them alone, you ugly blob!", the Slayer shouted, hanging on as best she could to the creature's neck. "Come on! It's me you want!" A roar from the blobby grey thing was her only answer.

Spike carefully walked over to Xander, and had to bite his lip to keep from laughing. The boy was stuck. He was fine, and struggling, but his shirt was caught on the wings of a giant concrete angel. He spotted Spike as he kicked at the statue and muttered for it to let him go. Spike stared up at him, an amused look on his face. Xander snorted down at him. "I'm glad you find this funny, Evil Dead. Either help me down, or leave me alone. Don't just stand there."

Spike shrugged, and moved to walk away. "Suit yourself, mate."

Xander struggled for a moment, then reconsidered. "Wait. Spike, come on. The others are busy. Help me down, huh? I'll-" Nearly choked on the phrase. "-owe you one."

The vampire turned around, and cocked his head up at the human hanging from the statue. "You'll owe me, eh?" Gave a shrug. "I was gonna help you anyway, you know. But, since you've offered, I'll make a note of this."

Xander grumbled to himself about 'opening his big mouth', as Spike climbed up the statue on the opposite side from him. It took a moment, but Spike managed to untangle Xander's shirt from the statue's wing. For a moment, he was actually holding him up by his shirt before the boy managed to get a grip on the statue's arm and hang on. "Whew," he said quietly. "I knew I hated Angel for a good reason."

Spike chuckled. "Well, we have that in common, then." He started to climb back down the statue, and suddenly froze, listening. He reached out, and grabbed Xander's shirt, not allowing him to go any further down the statue. "Hang one a minute, Harris."

Xander pulled against the vampire's iron grip. "Hey, Dead-boy Junior, lemme go!"

At that moment, a stray crossbow bolt (one of Giles special ones with silver tips) embedded itself in the statue less than six inches below Xander. The boy froze as Spike released his shirt. "Now, you can go." Spike let go of the statue and dropped to the ground, then turned to walk away.

Xander stayed frozen for a moment, then scrambled down the statue and jogged to catch up with Spike. "You just saved my life."

"Yeah. And?"

Xander shook his head. "You aren't supposed to do that, Spike. I hate you. You hate me-"

"And Buffy loves you, Harris. I love Buffy. I don't want to see her hurt. And you bein' impaled on one of the Watcher's stray bolts would hurt her."

Xander nodded. "Oh. So you saved me for Buffy?"

"Yep."

Xander shook his head slowly. "Well, whyever you did it, thanks, man."

"You're welcome," Spike said, then cocked his head at the boy for a moment. "And 'whyever' isn't a word." Headed toward the others.

Xander snorted. "Oh, farbeit for me to refute the Unliving Dictionary."

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~I can't stand the distance.
I can't dream alone.
I can't wait to see you.
Yes I'm on my way home.

Cause everything I want,
Is everything that's here.
And when we're all together,
There's nothing to fear..~

A month after that, the whole group of Scoobies, Spike included, were at the Summers home for Thanksgiving dinner. Joyce, Buffy, Dawn, and Willow were in the kitchen. Spike would've prefered that he be included in the cooking, but Joyce had insisted that he stay in the living room with the boys. It was a Summers family tradition for the girls to cook. So, that's how Spike wound up watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade with Giles and Xander.

"Ooh! Look! The Budweiser Clydesdales!", Xander said excitedly.

Giles chuckled. "Really, Xander. You're worse than Dawn."

Spike sighed from his spot on the couch. "Is there anything else on? Anything at all?"

Giles shook his head. "No. Not really. And you know that Buffy would kill us if we changed the channel, anyway."

"Yeah," Xander said. "No messing with Summers traditions. Trust me. Last year, I tried to change the channel when Rudolph was on, and both Buffy *and* Dawn attacked me."

Spike shook his head. "They can be ruthless."

"Tell me about it."

Several hours and one huge meal later, everyone was spread out around the living room. Resting with bellies full of turkey, stuffing, and various other foods, and watching what was left of a football game. Well, the members of the group that were still awake were watching. Everyone else was asleep. By the time that the game was over, the whole group was sound asleep.

To Spike's suprise, at dinner, Giles had stood up and proposed a toast. To old and new friends, and special occasions. Like anniversaries. Spike had thought that everyone had forgotten, that no one would remember that Thanksgiving had been the day that he'd come to live with them, and set on the road to becoming one of the group. An official Scooby. He'd been wrong about them not remembering. And, according to everyone present at the dinner that night, he had officially gained 'Scooby' status. Buffy made a big show of presenting him with a Scooby-Doo keychain, identical to the ones that everyone else already had.

"Welcome to the Scoobies, Spike."

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Two weeks before Christmas, and Buffy was panicked. She hadn't done ANY of her shopping! None of it! Not one present! And now she and Spike were walking around the mall (him under protest) after agreeing to meet Xander and Willow in the food court in three hours. She glanced at her boyfriend. "So.. any ideas what you're getting everyone?"

Spike cocked his head. "Well, I was thinking of getting Red a copy of that new Dean Koontz novel she was lookin' at the other day. Rupert, I'm giving him an antique sword that I've been holding on to for years. I already got Joyce and Bit's gifts. And yours," he said with a grin.

"Ooh! Gimme a hint?"

"Nope."

She pouted. "Not even a little, teeny tiny hint?"

He chuckled. "No. Well.. I'll just tell you that you'll like it. But that's it."

She 'humph'ed. "Fine. Then I won't give you a hint either."

"You haven't gotten anything yet!"

"Well, when I do, I'm not telling you."

The went around the mall for the next three hours, and by the time they met the others, all were secure in their purchases. This was gonna be the best Christmas, ever.

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~And wherever I wander,
The one thing I've learned.
It's to here I will always,
Always,
Return.~

Sounds of happy laughter and ripping paper rung through the Summers living room that Christmas morning. Dawn was the first to open her gifts. A new book from her favorite book series from Giles. A sweater from Willow. A couple of CDs from Xander. A copy of Beauty And The Beast (her old one had worn out), and a couple of new outfits from Joyce. A stuffed dolphin to add to her collection from Buffy, along with yet another CD. And finally, a giant stuffed Rhino (her favorite animal) from Spike. How he'd gotten that thing into the house, let alone wrapped and under the tree without anyone noticing, no one knew.

Willow went next, then Xander, Giles and Joyce, and the Buffy. She opened the three packages from her mom first. Two new outfits, three new movies, and a gift card from The Gap. Teenager heaven. Next, she opened the two packages from Giles. Ooh! A new crossbow! Count on her Watcher to be practical as well as sentimental. And the other package was a beautiful locket with a picture of Joyce on one side, and Dawn on the other. Giles told her it was to help keep family close to her heart. Willow and Xander had both chipped in to get Buffy a brand new chest for her room, since the other one had been destroyed in a rather unfortunate 'accident' earlier that month. Finally, she opened Spike's gift.

"Oh..", she said, her eyes getting wide. She pulled the jacket out of the box and held it up for everyone to see. A leather duster, in her size, identical to his except for the red velvet that lined the interior of hers. "Spike.. It's beautiful.."

The vampire shrugged a little, rather uncomfortable now that everyone's attention was on him. "I just thought.. You're always borrowin' mine, so this way you won't have to anymore." Chewed his lip for a moment. "Did you see what's in the pocket?"

Buffy turned the jacket around. "Pocket?"

"The interior pocket."

"Oh." She flipped the duster slightly inside out, and gasped as she pulled a beautifully carved stake from the pocket. It was longer than her normal, throw away ones, and it was customized. At the top of it, there was a design that represented a solar eclipse. The union of night and day. Her name had been carved into the sun side, and Spike's into the moon side. Below it, there was a small metal plate that had the words 'Love Is Forever' engraved into it. "Spike.. I don't.. I don't know what to say.. It's wonderful. No one's ever done anything like this for me." She leaned across the couch and gave him a quick kiss on the cheek. "I love it. I love you. Thank you, Spike."

If it had been possible, the vampire would've blushed. "Yeah, well.. I felt bad about you losin' Mr. Pointy, and just thought-"

"This is better than Mr. Pointy, Spike." She smiled at him, and he fidgeted uncomfortably as the others exchanged grins.

Dawn shoved the remaining packages toward him. "These're yours, Spike. It's your turn to open."

Spike looked at the little pile of gifts. "What?"

Buffy looked at him and laughed. "Let me give you a hint. You take your hands, and use them to remove the paper, then hold up what someone gave you and smile. Got it?"

Spike shook his head. "You all got me stuff?"

Joyce moved to sit on Spike's other side and patted his back gently. "You're a part of the family, William. Of course we got you presents."

There was a chorus of nods and 'yeah's all around the room. Then Xander spoke up. "Come on, Spike. You're supposed to open them on Christmas, not wait until New Years."

With one last disbelieving glance around the room, Spike picked up a small package. The tag identified it as being from Willow. He started to open it carefully, trying not to rip the paper, but then he began to get excited as the reality of what was happening hit him, and the paper came off in shreds. Willow had gotten him an original copy of Alice In Wonderland. As in, the actual book. Spike held the old volume and looked to Willow. "It's.. It's my favorite book. How did you know?"

Willow chewed her lip and shrugged. "You quoted it once. A few months ago. And Buffy told me that you don't have much of your own stuff down in the basement, so I thought I'd add to your library. I'm glad you like it."

The next gift was from Giles. A collection of song books, old and new. "Rupert.. Thank you.. How..?"

The Watcher smiled. "Buffy told me you had Dawn's old keyboard in your room. I thought you might like to have something to play on it."

Spike grinned, and set the song books on top of the copy of Alice In Wonderland, then reached for the next gift. From Xander. He cocked his head at the boy. "Nothing's gonna jump out of here and stake me, right, Harris?"

Xander laughed. "Aw, come on, man. Don't you trust me?"

Spike chuckled and ripped the paper. Grinned at the contents of the package. Held it up. "Xander has seen fit to give me a very interesting educational film." It was Interview With The Vampire. Everyone laughed.

Dawn had gotten him a small portable CD player. "So you won't bug me for mine anymore," she joked as he opened the package.

Joyce gave Spike several shirts. Colored shirts. Colors besides red, black, and white. One dark blue, one deep purple, and one a light blue that would bring out his eyes when he wore it. He hugged her in thanks, then turned to open his final gift. From Buffy.

The Slayer fidgeted in her seat. "It's not as.. expensive and stuff as what you got me. I hope you like it."

Spike smiled at her, and opened the package. A brand new, leather bound notebook, with the name 'William "Spike" Edwards Jr.' in gold leaf on the cover. He picked it up slowly, reverently. Looked to Buffy with wide, and slightly watery eyes. "Luv.. I love it. How did you ever find something like this?"

She shrugged. "The specialty stationary shop at the mall. It came in like three days ago. Barely had enough time to wrap it before today, with everything else, you know." Looked at him shyly. "It's for poetry. Or songs, or anything you want to write. I think it's alot better than those old ratty notebooks of ours that you've been using."

He'd found a stash of Buffy and Dawn's old schoolwork in the basement, and with Joyce's permission (provided that he saved everything he tore out) had been using the blank pages at the back for his compositions. Now, he had something much better. "Buffy.. I don't know what to say. No one's ever done anything like this for me before. Thank you."

"You're welcome."

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That night, as Spike stretched out on his bed, in his room, for he no longer thought of it as 'Buffy's basement', with his gifts carefully arranged within easy reach, he realized something. Home wasn't just where you are. Wasn't just where you exist. Home is people. Home is family. And now, for the first time in over a century, Spike could truly say that he *was* home.

~It's to *you*
I will always,
Always,
Return~

THE END
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Author's Notes 2: Yay! Done! Test Subject is officially finished. I may do some editing to remove typos later, but this is the end. Well, tell me what you guys thought!? Please? Now that this is done, I can devote more time to OOT:PP and my second book. Not to mention my collaborations with Tequila Sunrise. We did a one chapter thing the other night, a post ep for Same Time, Same Place, called Midnight Visitor. It's under our joint name Tiger Sunrise. I'd love for some of you to go check it out, if you would. I think I did really good as Crazy!Spike in that one. Well, that's all for now! Hope to see you all around Out Of Time: Pleistocene Panic! Byes!

-Tigerwolf