***Part Twenty-Seven***

Sometime in the Future - Sunnydale, California

"Tired, luv," Spike asked from where he sat at the computer desk when Buffy came out of the bathroom. She was clearly ready for the sleeping part of going to bed. He could always tell when she came out of the bathroom wearing pajamas that actually covered her body that it was sleep and not love she wanted out of their bed.

"Yes," she said softly. "You'd think with this immortal gig I wouldn't ever get tired." She sat on the bed and proceeded with her before bed ritual of putting lotion on her hands and arms. The last thing she did each night was slide the rings back on her fingers. She wore two now. The silver skeleton ring he had given her years ago under Red's spell was on her left middle finger and an anniversary band set in silver was on her left ring finger he had bought a few years ago.

He chuckled as he saved the additions he had made to his document and shut off the monitor. He would return to the computer once she had fallen asleep. "Well, pet, even immortals need their rest it would seem. You know, it's a tough life you have, having to protect the Big Bad and all."

"Yeah, and to think I once upon a time regretted saving you from Drusilla's clutches."

"Ouch," he said with a throaty laugh as he joined her on the bed. She was lying on her stomach and he moved above her, his hands going to her back to work at relieving the tension from his Slayer's muscles.

"This one is terrible, Spike. She's awful, and she's one of the ones I dreamt about. So, I don't get it because in my dream she wasn't this bad. I don't remember being this terrible and I had no idea what my calling was until Merrick came and got me. I was spoiled with the first two I worked with."

"I'm sorry, sweetheart," he whispered, knowing she just wanted to vent.

"I swear it makes more work for me. I not only have to slay the big bads."

"Hey, there are no big bads left for you to slay. You put the one and only under your spell instead of slayed him, remember?"

She laughed lightly timed with an expelled breath, so the laugh sounded odd and forced. "Okay, so I not only have to slay the big bad want to be's, but I have to watch someone else's back. It's just so not fair."

"I could come with you, pet."

"No, Spike, not yet. It's too soon."

"I don't like it."

"Spike, knowing you're a vampire and seeing you in game face on the battlefield is not the same thing. Please believe me on this."

"I do, pet," he said softly. "I just can't help but think you're protecting me."

"I'm not," she said turning around, her arms going around his neck. He nuzzled the side of her neck, kissing the scar there that he had made. It was the only scar on this side of her neck. "The Big Bad doesn't need my protection," she said as if she knew exactly what would drive him off the deep end. Of course, she usually did.

"I'm glad to hear you say that, sweetheart."

"Maybe we can go patrolling ourselves one night, give her a night off. I know I used to think I might actually kill for a night off once in a while."

"I like the sound of that. I don't like when the new slayer comes to town, no more kicking demon ass for Spike."

"Well, I can't stop you from going out on your own, you know."

"I know, but I don't want you bloody ticked off at me, Slayer. But I might have to take up a hobby, like knitting or something to keep me occupied while you're gone. It's supposed to be the man that's gone and the woman who sits at home waiting."

"Poor baby," she said, arching into him. He never grew tired of feeling her body against his. He still found it difficult to believe she was immortal because she was so very warm, very alive, and very humanlike. To him eternity had always been associated with cold and other undeadlike characteristics. "Do I get a reward if I let you come with us tomorrow?"

"A reward," he said with a chuckle kissing her collarbone. "I think something could be worked out in trade, yes." He kissed her as he slid her pajama bottoms out of his way. "You know you did save me, pet," he said softly, returning to her earlier comment about saving him from Drusilla.

"I didn't," she said, using her legs with the help of his feet to get her pajama bottoms out of the way. He thought she had learned by now not to bother with them, they always ended up off for one reason or another. She had gotten into the habit of wearing them though when Dawn's little ones started coming over for over nights once a week. This also meant that Spike had pajamas to wear when Niblet's little bits were in the house, but he never bloody wore them when they weren't in the house.

"Sure you did, pet. You saved me from a fate that would have included never knowing you. You helped make me the man I am."

"Oh well, in that case," she said softly, thrusting her body against his. She was so bloody amazing, and she was his all his. It never ceased to amaze him. "Why don't you let me show you the meaning of the words truly happy and true salvation, baby?"

"Are you sure you're not too tired, pet? Dawn and the little ones are coming by in the morning. You want to be a refreshed Auntie Buffy, don't you?" She loved Dawn's children. Spike found it rather ironic that Dawn, the Summers' child that really was not was the one to have the children. If Buffy wanted them, Spike honestly did not know. The one and only time he had heard her purposely make mention of children was when she found out about the prophecy he had fulfilled. Never again had the topic come up. Whether it was because she truly did not care or did not wish to burden him with something that he could not alter Spike did not know, but he liked to hope it was that she did not want them.

"I'm sure," she murmured, finding his ear and teasing it with her mouth and tongue.

It did not take Spike long to divest them both of their remaining clothing. She kept her promise, showing him as she did every day the meaning of the words truly happy, and he tried to return the favor tenfold. She had taken her home, her mom's home, and worked with him to make it into their home. She had given him everything and accepted not just his soul but the curse she fell under because of it, and yes he considered it a curse because it was not something she had wished for, asked for or even wanted. It was a risk he had taken, but as he fell over the edge and emptied himself inside of her he believed it had been a good risk, the right risk.

"Love you, William," she said as she shifted in the bed.

"Love you, too, Buffy," he whispered in return.

He felt loved, accepted, completed. He had a family, a real one, not one that was based on vampire lore and its hierarchy, but a Niblet of a sister who loved him, four nieces and nephews who ran to Uncle Spike first thing when they entered the house each time they came for a visit, a brother in-law who was not just a nice enough bloke but was appropriately frightened of Spike for Spike to know Dawn was safe and a father who in the end turned out to be a good man. He had paid for both Buffy and Dawn to attend college.

Buffy had her culinary arts degree just as she had thought she might do years ago. And Dawn worked as a social worker. The experience of what she and Buffy went through after their mom's death had caused her to want to go into a line of work and hope to make a difference. And she did.

He had told Buffy once that his soul and his demon recognized her light. His soul welcomed it, his demon rebelled against it not wanting anything light to get its hands on William. His demon was no longer difficult to control and no longer rebelled against him. Spike was in control and it was so bloody amazing to him to be a vampire and be in control and to be complete.

*The End*

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