Disclaimer" All characters involved in this story are not mine and I do not claim them. They do, however, belong to Joss Whedon and all affiliates concerned.

A/N" Well, this is it. The end of Warriors. Please, please, please, please read. I'm not begging, not a lot. Tell me what you think, it's my first Alternate Reality and if you like it enough I have another A/U spuffy fic ready to be put down on paper. Above all that, just enjoy the story.

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Ch. 9

Spike's eyes glowed yellow even though his features still remained human as a deep and ferocious growl emanated from somewhere within him. It didn't faze the dark creature, who only chuckled at the vampire who in turn grew more upset. The beast moved about the room, not leading on that Spike had hindered his motives, and ignoring him as well.

Spike was tense, ready to pounce if need be and Buffy could tell he was ready to jump into action. He never took his eyes off the stalking creature as it walked to and fro. Buffy knew it was irritated, she could sense the vibes of displeasure flowing off of it in waves. It was planning something all along; she could feel the fine hairs on the back of her neck prickle.

The creature finally stopped its pacing and turned to face Spike. The vampire glowered and leered towards it.

"So...lowly demon, why are you here? To stop me? To rescue these...these humans? To save the world?"

"I think I'll pick D, all of the above...so why don't we just make this easy on us both? You can let the humans go, and then we won't have to fight and cause a big mess and get all bloodied and bruised."

The creature laughed sinisterly.

"I don't think that is going to happen, vile lecher."

Spike smirked. "Why? Only one of us will end up bloodied and bruised and I'm willing to bet it's not gonna be me."

The beast howled with an eerie laugh.

"You are a pathetic waste of space, you under rated, undead, bloodsucking fiend."

"Oooh, that hurt my feelings. Got anything else?"

"I love a challenge. See what you can do with this!" the creature said with a chuckle.

The dark beast held his hand up and produced a glowing ball of red flames in his hand and launched it towards Spike. The vampire was quick and agile as Spike ducked the fireball and rolled, ending in a fighting stance once again. He pulled his sword out of the scabbard he had on his back and held onto it tightly. He wasn't sure if the beast could be killed with mortal weapons or what but he felt more capable to overcome it while wielding the blade.

"You are young and weak, demon. Very inexperienced when it comes to the likes of me. I have been here since the dawn of time. I rule over your kind. You should bow down to me, worship the very ground I walk on. Do you know who I am?"

Spike shrugged his shoulders and gave him a "don't know, don't care" look.

"I rule over all hell dimensions, and I've come to take pity on these humans who have given up this world. It's mine for the taking; it belongs to me as well as to all the demons that have come to roam this earth."

"I was told there was a way to stop you from taking this world. Is that true?"

The dark creature laughed heartily. "Only by a miracle. You see," it lowered the hood slowly, revealing a very beautiful, almost angelic human man. "You can't kill me. Not with your weapons, not with your hands. I may be human in form but I am not of this world. You cannot use brute force tactics on me, minion."

Spike sneered. "I am not your minion. And neither are these people."

The beast started pacing unflappably back and forth. "You're nothing to them. Who are these humans to you?"

"They are my friends...they're my family."

It stopped in its tracks and stared at Spike in jest. "Family?...ha. Family means you are related by blood. I know you are not a family."

"Family...is a much stronger bond than blood. It's about respect, acceptance and love."

The dark creature chuckled again. "I am sure they all love a killer, a creature of the night like you. You think just because you've been graced with a soul means you are perfect and holy in their eyes?"

"Far from it. But they have forgiven me of my past transgressions and accepted me as part of their family. I will protect them until the day I die."

"That is the soul talking. It has made you weak. Given you a conscience and humanity. Let us find out how strong you really are inside!"

The dark beast held his hands up in front of him, palms up and bellowed, "adducere ab".

Buffy, who was the only one conscious out of the seven, watched in horror as Spike's body was wracked with pain. His arms spread out and his head lolled back as he screamed in agony. Streams of white light shot out through his eyes and mouth until it cut off all at once and Spike was left standing there, shoulders hunched over and panting. He glared at the beast. Between the two of them hovered a sizzling white ball of fire, rolling around in mid-air.

"Look at what I found. A shiny soul to add to my collection." The beast sounded conceited.

During its playful teasing, Spike had reached his hand into his duster, grasping onto the object that was nestled inside and held onto it for dear life. As the beast reached out to pull the glowing ball of fire towards him, Spike hurled the orb and shouted, "Capture."

The orb enveloped the soul and sprang back into Spike's open palm like a yo-yo.

"Mine," he growled.

"Well, well, you may possess the soul on your being but the ball is still in my court. Let's see how you really feel about your so called family now. You're nothing but a worthless, vile predator. I wonder if they will love you when you've killed one or more of them."

The dark beast produced a jewel-studded dagger from the folds of its robes and sliced it across Buffy's arm. The demon within Spike struggled to come forward, to feast on the sweet ambrosia because the demon knew slayer's blood was the ultimate life-blood around. The beast noticed Spike's reaction and laughed. Spike cocked his head and turned his flashing yellow eyes back to it, an evil smirk forming on his lips.

Spike glared at the impudent wanker. His demon had taken a back seat and his azure eyes darkened with a smoldering hate building up.

"You bleeding ponce. You really do think I'm weak and unstable? You wanna know what I'm thinking right now? Two things, actually. First, I think I'm feeling a bitter, burning hatred for you and what you have done to me, to the people I most care about, and what you have yet to do. And second? I just now figured out what my two gifts are. My soul, which I am still in possession of by the way, and...my heart. My heart that is so full of love for these...humans, as you call them, it's bursting at the seams. Two things rarely found in a, to use your words, evil, disgusting, vile creature like myself. I am in possession of these things and I use them for good. Things you do not or will not ever own. I am above you cause I can feel love and I can give love freely, without restraint."

Spike walked over to Buffy and touched her gently on the cheek.

"I love you, Buffy."

She took a deep and satisfying gulp of air and turned to Spike, hugging him tightly.

"I love you, Spike." she pulled back and he smiled at her lovingly, pushing a stray hair back behind her ear and kissing her lightly on the forehead.

He slid over and stood between the witches, touching each girl on the arm and proclaiming his devotion to the both. In turn, they responded with their sentiments and he continued on to the other two females and did the same. Lastly, he made it around to stand between the two guys. He placed a hand on each man's shoulder and paused. Quietly, he announced...

"I love you both, whelp...I mean Xander, and Giles."

Xander's muscles relaxed as he stood blinking continuously. Giles squeezed Spikes shoulder and reaffirmed him of his love as Xander turned and looked at Spike, making eye contact and looking a bit uncomfortable. He slapped Spike on the back and chuckled nervously.

"Love ya', too, pal! In a...non...homosexual...kind of way." He shifted and chuckled again.

Spike laughed. "Yeah, me too."

He made his way back to stand in front of the beast as the others gathered behind Spike. Buffy noticed the beast looked a bit perplexed and unnerved.

"You see, I have so much more power than you. It's not about the physical strength. It's what I carry deep inside. I control the demon. It doesn't control me. I have the power to give. I have my family, my loved ones to give me strength as well. You...you have nothing. You don't belong here. I have the upper hand."

"I can still beat you all and take what I came here for." The beast growled out.

"Yes, you just may be able to, but I'd like to see you try."

The dark beast raised his hands quickly and in a blink of an eye, Spike flung the orb of Lathicos towards the creature. A brilliant flash of white light burst out, illuminating the small room. When the light dimmed, they all stared at where the beast had been standing just moments before. Spike, out of pure exhaustion and the loss of a vital part of his being, collapsed before them. All 14 hands reached out to grab him as everything went dark.

He heard people shuffling about, people talking softly, laughing, things being moved around. He thought he had opened his eyes, but everything still remained dark. He felt Buffy nearby, smelled her heavenly scent, wanted to reach out and touch her, hold her close to him. Maybe he would call to her. Nothing happened. What was going on? He didn't feel threatened in anyway. In fact, he felt warm and comfortable, surrounded by familiar things and people.

She was near him. "Spike", Buffy softly spoke into his ear. "We're waiting for you, our valiant hero."

He willed his eyes to open at that moment. An angel's face hovered over his own and he smiled as reached up to run his fingers through her silky, golden locks. She smiled back and at that instant he thought he felt his heart beat.

"'Bout time, you mighty warrior, you." Xander popped up out of nowhere, coming across all loud and boisterous. Spike almost tumbled off the couch.

"Yeah, yeah. I'm officially back among the living. Don't be so loud, my head is pounding, you twit." Xander frowned.

Spike rolled his eyes. "I mean twit in a good sense, kinda like a pet name. You know, like when I call you whelp." Xander smiled again, shrugged and went back to whatever he was doing beforehand.

Out of the blue, a yelling match erupted between Giles and Mr. Wainwright in the hall. Spike could clearly hear what was being said even though they were in the other room. The man was shutting them down, kicking them out, taking everything away. Spike gathered all the strength he could muster and jumped off the couch to find the two men. As he rounded the corner, Mr. Wainwright was up in Giles face, poking him not so gently in the chest. Spike grabbed the man and pushed him away as he stepped in between the two gentlemen.

Spike growled, "Mr. Wainwright, I have a feeling everything that just transpired between yourself and Dr. Giles never happened. You will be leaving this house as soon as possible, happy that you have a home to go to and a future to look forward to, and never doubting ever again Dr. Giles' abilities. Do I make myself clear, Mr. Wainwright?"

Spike quickly transformed into his vampire disguise, a low snarl accompanying it. Mr. Wainwright's eyes grew wide and he backed a step away as Spike returned back to his human face once again. Mr. Wainwright reached around Spike and extended his hand out to Giles. Giles took it and shook firmly.

"Very well, Dr. Giles, everything is in order. I will get back to my offices and file all the necessary paperwork to cover any damages that have incurred. Call if you need anything, anything at all. Good day, sir."

They watched him walk off quickly and Spike smiled evilly as he turned to look at Giles who smiled in return, slapped him on the back and walked him back into the study.

The witches were sitting on the floor across from one another holding hands and chanting softly. Spike noticed a bright light taking form in between the girls. They both stood and turned to look at him, Willow holding out her hand to him. He took it and Tara presented him with the ball of light, his soul.

"I think you lost something," Willow crooned tenderly. "Would you like it back? It followed us all the way back here; I think that means something."

"Do you think I need it?" Spike looked around the room at the others. No one said a thing but just stood and stared back at him. Willow touched his arm and smiled, a twinkle in her eyes.

"It's really up to you. We love you either way, and won't judge you on your decision."

He sighed. "I feel so empty without it, like I've lost an essential organ or something...yeah, I want it back."

"Very well...Return." Tara blew on her hand like she was blowing him a kiss.

It hit him like a bolt of electricity and his whole body hummed, but it was a very good feeling.

"Much better, much, much better." He smiled like he never smiled before. He knew everything was going to be fine from now on. These humans were an important part of his life, and he was telling the truth when he said he would protect them all for the rest of his life, or unlife as he so often referred to it. This warmed the cockles of his undead heart, causing it to vibrate with life.

"For a true hero isn't measured by the size of his strength, but by the strength of his heart." (1) Giles laughed deeply. "Come on, let's go celebrate."

Everyone filed out of the room except Buffy. As Spike walked up to her, she grabbed him by his lapels once again, rising up onto her toes to look him square in the eyes.

"I think we were starting something when that mean old beastie interrupted us. Care to start all over again?"

"Nothing better in this world I would rather do." Spike cupped her face gently in his hands and pulled her mouth to meet his in a blinding, searing kiss like none other. Yep, everything was going to be fine.

The End

A/N I know, I know it's sappy. Happiness abounds. Review me, let me know what you really thought!!

1 Quote used from Disney's Hercules. Not mine, so don't sue me.

TBC