Gray demons. Silver eyes. The dream-boosting charm glowing on the front porch. Her stomach swelling, growing...
Spike's voice, urging, "Wake up, love. Something you need to see."
Buffy forced her eyes open, immediately swiveling to face him -- until she realized a) he wasn't there, and b) something was glowing in the otherwise dark room.
Not a dream. The sachet was giving off some kind of magic light that was being absorbed by her stomach -- her slowly rising stomach.
With a gasp, she plucked the charm from her neck, short-circuiting the unauthorized glow-and-grow. Turning it in her hand, she hopped out of bed, opened her window and tossed the offending object over the eave... then heard a distinct "Ow."
Frowning, Buffy noticed wisps of cigarette smoke drifting up from below and whispered, "Spike?"
Carefully, she crept out the window and climbed down the trellis, letting him help her to the ground. Straightening her pajama bottoms and tank top, she looked at him. "What are you doing here?"
"Nothing. I was just takin' a stroll, and..." He rolled his eyes. "Oh hell, you know why I'm here. Can't stay away from you. Bloody inconvenient, it is."
She half-smiled. "Tell me about it."
"'Specially when I get whacked by flying dreamcatchers." He held up the sachet. "Heavier than it looks. And what'd I do to deserve that anyway?"
"Knocked me up, for one." Before he could utter a comeback, she took his hand. "Touch."
Lips in a pout, he felt her abdomen. "Bit bigger, yeah?"
"Yeah. Thanks to what you're holding."
He glanced at the sachet. "This?"
"That's the magic Miracle-Gro that's been super-sizing me in my sleep. When I took it off, it stopped."
"So, baby's not a beastie. Just got pumped by--"
"Willow. And her mistakes."
* * *
"Honey?" Joyce called from the hallway. "Are you all right?"
"Uh-huh," Buffy answered, staring into the flushing toilet bowl, wishing she was dead. "Just... had some bad shrimp, I think."
"Oh, you didn't eat the shrimp down at the pier, did you?"
Buffy shut her eyes. "Caught me."
"You should probably stay home then. Skip your classes today."
"I'll be okay." Fairly confident the worst was over, she went to the sink.
"Are you sure? Want me to make you some tea before I go?"
"You don't have to do that."
"Honey, it's no trouble at all."
Buffy opened the door, careful to conceal her bottom half. "Okay."
Joyce smiled. "Want some toast, too? That always helped to settle your stomach."
"Thanks, Mom." Buffy returned a thin smile. "You always know how to bring the comfort."
"That's what moms do," she said, heading downstairs.
Buffy touched the bump on her stomach. I'm not ready for this.
* * *
Carrying the Zip-Loc by one corner, keeping it far from her body, Buffy approached Giles' door. Bright midday sun in her eyes, she became increasingly irate as she chose the right words to inform her Watcher of Willow's latest blunder.
Speak of the Willow. There she was, laptop in hand, big happy smile on. "Hey Buffy! Are you coming to Psych class?"
Pushing through the door, Buffy didn't waste a breath. "Are you trying to ruin my life? Or does it just come naturally to you?"
Willow stepped back. "What?"
"Buffy?" Giles asked. "What are you--"
She flung the plastic bag containing the sachet on the table. "This is the reason Baby Spike's on hyperspeed. I open my eyes last night to see it glowing and me inflating."
"What? Buffy, I wouldn't--!"
"You never mean to, Will, you just do."
"No, I... This can't be right. There's no way this could've..." She held the bag in her hands, brow wrinkling. "I'm good at this, really!"
"No. You're really not. Observe your handiwork," Buffy touched her stomach and spat, "I'm done being your guinea pig." She marched past her and plopped on the couch, resting her forehead in her hands.
Willow beseeched Giles. "I didn't--"
He put a hand on her shoulder. "I know. Perhaps we should talk about this later."
On the verge of tears, Willow glanced at Buffy, took the bag and left.
* * *
"You're sure about this?"
Buffy nodded. "I think it finally hit me. I've been in this über-denial, hoping it would go away... that it'd just end up being the weird and wacky sitch of the week, you know?"
"Of course." Giles touched her knee. "I think you've made the right decision, Buffy."
She inhaled and exhaled heavily, pushing Spike out of her mind. "I know."
"I'll make the appointment with Sanvi straight away. And you needn't worry about the expense, all right?"
"Thanks, Giles. For everything."
"It's the least I can do."
"God, how evil was I to take everything out on Willow?"
"Not evil, Buffy. Frightened. I'm sure she'll understand."
Buffy shook her head. "I totally snapped. She's my best friend, and I went Joan Crawford on her. She didn't deserve that." With a sigh, she stood up. "I think I'll go find her. Clock some quality groveling time before I get my slay on."
"Are you sure you're up to slaying tonight?"
"Oh yeah. Besides, it's been a while. The monsters must miss me."
* * *
Spike set his mug of blood on the sarcophagus and glanced at the crypt window. Nearly sunset. Nearly time to see her again.
He imagined what she might be wearing tonight, and more importantly, how quickly he could peel it off. Be a bit of a challenge with Joyce in the house, but he knew she'd crumble. Always did.
...Last night excluded. But that was different -- she was rightly spooked over the belly-upping, rightly angry at Willow.
Not that he didn't try. Fascinated by that little bump, he'd continued to rub her belly as they talked. Whatever she was saying ceased to make sense as desire overpowered his listening skills. She looked adorable in her PJs, face all scrubbed of makeup, cheeks shining in the dim light. She had that full-of-life look, literally. And her being full of his life? Sexy as hell.
Five minutes and counting. He grabbed his coat.
* * *
Buffy was nearing the back entrance of Stevenson Hall when she heard a yelp through the trees to her right.
Sprinting towards it, she ducked under a low branch, snapped off a twig to use as a stake and spotted a girl inching backward on the ground, a gray figure looming over her.
The Slayer hurdled through the air to jump-kick the thing away.
The girl on the ground was... "Willow?"
As Willow caught her breath, the demon targeted her again.
Buffy grabbed it by the shoulders. "Hi? Slayer right behind you?"
"Buffy, it's a--"
"Winiqua?" she concluded, eyes wide as she saw its blank stare. "I thought I told you goons to get--" she threw it into a tree, "--gone!"
The creature ran away, and Buffy offered her friend a hand. "Hey."
"Hey." Willow stood up with her help. "They should be gone actually, but I guess I screwed up again."
"No, Will," Buffy said earnestly, "Look, I've been wacky hormone girl lately, and -- that's no excuse." She sighed. "I freaked out on you, a lot. I'm sorry."
Willow smiled. "I'm sorry too."
"Eh, in a few days, it'll all be bygones."
They began to walk side by side, toward the dorm. "So you're--"
"Getting it out. Yeah."
Willow's forehead scrunched. "I'm sorry. That you have to go through that?"
She shrugged. "Won't be so bad. I hear they give you crackers and juice afterward."
"I'd like to be there, for support. I mean, if you want me."
Buffy smiled. "I do. Thanks."
"You know, for a minute there," Willow chuckled, "I had this whole fantasy about you keeping it, and me and Oz babysitting and, with the Knott's Berry Farm montage... There were hats."
"God, not you too!"
"Just for a minute! I don't think you should keep it. Because, scary. And not what you need right now. But still. The fantasy..."
"I know. Part of me kind of... liked the idea. Maybe it was having something to look forward to." A smile tugged at her lips as she looked down. "And it was kind of fun playing house with--" she stopped herself from uttering Spike's name, "--it, alone in the house, you know, just playing the mom while the real article was away. But now she's back, and it's still here, and let's face it, I'm so not mom material. I have to save the world, or die trying. I can't do that with a crying baby on my hip. Or worse, an evil bloodsucking Eddie Munster..." She stopped in her tracks. "Why was that Winiqua going
"Sorry. Wacky hormone girl, train of thought askew. What did claymation-brain want with you? And why didn't he even try to attack me?"
"I don't know. Well, I don't know why he didn't attack you, but I do know what he wanted with me." She nodded gamely. "Man of few words though he was, he made it abundantly clear. He wanted me dead."
* * *
"You have a choice," Joyce said.
Weapons bag strapped on her shoulder, Buffy had just dashed down the staircase and come face to face with her mother, entering the house.
She blinked. "What?"
Joyce held up a plastic bag. "Pea or noodle? I wasn't sure what you'd be able to handle yet, so I got both."
"You brought me soup? But I feel much better. I don't deserve soup."
"Honey, everyone deserves soup. And look, it even comes with the round spoons you like."
Buffy smiled. "Thanks, Mom. I'll take the noodle on patrol with me."
"Duty thing," she shrugged.
"Do you have to? You said it yourself: evil's on a downswing."
"True, but you never know when it might--" eat through your stomach lining, she wanted to say, complete with a good cry. "Upswing."
"Okay, but I want you to get some rest tonight. A sick slayer is a... Well, I just don't want you to be sick. Superpowers or not."
"Couple hours tops, and I'm back in bed. Promise."
* * *
"What have you done?" the voice whispered.
"I've done everything right! Made everything fall into place, as is my nature. I don't make mistakes."
"Is that right?"
"The charm was sleep-enchanted. She wasn't meant to awaken during the--"
"But SHE DID!" The mist grew into a huge, terrifying form, and reverted back to that of a swaying woman. "I will have no more mistakes. Do you hear me? No. More. Mistakes."
WinQuar grit his teeth. How dare she accuse him, of all creatures... "Yes, your Darkness."
Tiny silver numbers spiraling through his eyes, circumstances and their odds spinning in his brain, WinQuar placed his bet.
All or nothing.
* * *
Spike skidded to a halt at the playground swingset and addressed Buffy's silhouetted backside. "What do you think you're doing?"
Knocked out of her swing-induced reverie, Buffy glanced behind her and answered, "My job?"
"No," Spike said, shaking his head and picking up her weaponry bag.
She scoffed. "What do you mean 'no'?"
"No, you're not patrolling," he explained. "I patrol. You stay home."
"Spike!" She stood to reclaim her bag. "This is my calling. Did you think from now on I was gonna sit home with my feet up, knocking back bon bons and watching Ricki Lake?"
"Well, yeah." He took the bag back. "But I suggest Passions instead."
"You don't get to make these decisions for me. I'm going on with my life."
"Not if it'll hurt the baby, you're not! One kick to the gut and he's gone? No bloody way."
"I never said I was keeping it!" she shouted in exasperation, hands flopping against her sides.
Stunned, Spike paused, flexing his jaw. He could see it in her eyes -- she was getting rid of it.
She was getting rid of it.
"Fine," he sneered, and flung her weapons to the ground at her feet. "Convince yourself you don't care. Pretend nothing's changed."
Buffy closed her eyes as he stormed away. "Spike," she called, but he ignored her. "Spike?"
In seconds, he was gone.
With a deep sigh, Buffy picked up her bag and shuffled to the park's exit trail. Couldn't he see how hard this was for her?
Of course not. He's a demon. All he thinks about is himself.
Well, screw him. She didn't need to justify her decision to him. Didn't need to prove that it wasn't easy. No matter how much it hurt him, this was her future, her choice to make.
And even though he'd been all fluffy-puppy lately, what if it was only temporary? What if it really was a hex like he'd first claimed? What if it was revoked and he went all-out evil again? She'd been down that road before, and it was hard enough to keep her mother, her friends and herself safe. Keeping a baby safe... she couldn't imagine.
Pan out to big picture? 'Vampire Mom' not exactly the domestic title she envisioned for herself, were a domestic life in the cards for her at all. Which it wasn't.
Suddenly, Buffy felt goosebumps of the demon-detecting sort, and heard a faint rustle in the row of bushes beside her. She slung off her bag, peered through the leaves, whispered, "Spike?" and turned back to find a girl standing so close to her, she was nearly violating the 'personal bubble' rule.
When the girl's forehead went bumpy, an unimpressed Buffy reached for Mr. Pointy. "This'll be a walk in the park--"
Suddenly, her arms were pinned behind her by a burly male vamp who popped the stake out of her hand.
"In the middle of a pun here!" She struggled, looking up and back at the girl. Shiny black tresses against beige shirt... *This* is the baby-killing whore in my dream?
"We hear you got somethin' to lose." Baby-Killing Whore faked her out with a left hook that was easy to evade, and shot her knee skyward to collide with Buffy's stomach. Hard.
Doubling over in pain, Buffy met a fast uppercut to the jaw.
"Too bad your traitor boyfriend bailed and left you and baby all alone." With big, heavy, so-three-years-ago boots, she double-kicked Buffy's sides -- whap whap.
Eyes narrowing, Buffy made a resolution. This bitch is going down, no matter what it takes.
"But let's face it," the girl was saying, "that kind of relationship never works out. Right, Gino?"
The guy who held Buffy's arms replied, "Sad but true."
"I say we do everyone a favor... and end it right now."
Another kick came flying at her midsection, but this time Buffy was prepared. Using her captor's momentum, she reared up: legs high and scissoring, she kicked both vampires in the face, dropped into a handstand, clasped her legs around Gino's neck and flipped him to the ground, twisting that thick neck until there was nothing left to twist.
Catching the girl's ankle in mid-bootstomp, she wrung once, hearing a satisfying snap. The girl screamed and fell.
Buffy grabbed her stake, dug a knee into the girl's torso and said, "I make the decisions around here," then pierced her through the chest.
That'll teach you to invade my dreams, baby-hating bitch from--
Falling through the dust, a stab of pain rocked her abdomen. Dropping the stake, she hunched over and clutched her stomach, one hand on the pavement.
A metallic taste filled her mouth, and she spit out blood.
Her eyes widened. "No."
* * *
Buffy stumbled into the Emergency Room.
"May I--?" A nurse stood up from behind the counter.
Buffy ignored her and pushed through the swinging doors.
"Hello? Excuse me?" The nurse called after her. "You have to register first!"
Buffy ran down the corridor and ducked into an empty examining room before anyone spotted her. "Stethoscope, dammit," she demanded, hands shaking as she rifled through drawers and cabinets. "Stethoscope!"
She found one in the last drawer. Hooking it into her ears, she sat on the examining table and ran the cool steel along her abdomen. "Come on," she muttered. "Where are you? Come on..."
Stilling her breath, listening closely, she heard a faint, fast-drumming sound. The same sound she'd heard during Dr. Patel's exam.
Buffy laughed, rubbed her stomach, and cried.
"I'm sorry, Billy," she whispered through her tears. "I'm so sorry."
* * *
When she got home, Spike was pacing the back porch.
With a smile, she called his name.
"Buffy!" He rushed over to her, kissed her face and held her close. "Someone said there was a fight; I couldn't find you anywhere--"
"I'm okay," she said, and led his hand under her shirt. "We're both okay."
He exhaled in relief and dropped to his knees, hugging her while pressing his ear against her belly. "Stronger than ever. God, Buffy, please don't do this to us..."
Buffy brushed a hand through his hair and said, "I'm keeping him. Or her. Or you know, It."
When this finally registered, he raised his chin.
"If it starts gnawing on me though, we're moving it to a test tube," she said. "And that's final."
He stood up. "You're serious? You mean it now."
She nodded. "We had a close call after you left. This vampire skank caught me off-guard and... I thought I lost..." She swallowed and grasped his hand. "I realized how much I want this baby to survive. Whatever kind of baby it turns out to be."
"Slayer..." Choked up, ecstatic, he swept her into his arms and spun her through the air.
Laughing, they toppled to the grass.
Poised above him, she said, "And the main thing is, I love you. I don't know why I love you so much, I--"
"I don't care why," he half-growled and rolled her onto her back. Holding her arms down, grinding his pelvis into hers, he closed in for a kiss...
"Buffy? Is that you?" Joyce's voice carried from across the lawn.
Buffy's eyes flew open. Spike froze.
"Spike?" Joyce called, confused.
"Uh..." Spike morphed into vamp face and proceeded to faux-choke his former nemesis. "Die, Slayer, die!"
Annoyed, Buffy flung him off with a single whap and got to her feet as Joyce approached.
Spike stood and brushed the grass off his clothes.
"Honey? What's going on?"
"Hi, Mom," she said, attempting cheer.
Joyce looked from Buffy to Spike, taking in their guilty expressions.
"Uh-huh," Joyce said, folding her arms. "I thought I heard something out here. And apparently it was something. Want to tell me what's going on?"
"Not really," Buffy said. "We were just--"
"Having a row," Spike interrupted. "You know us two. Always fighting."
"That didn't look like fighting so much as humping, actually."
Oh god... Buffy took a deep breath. "Okay. Mom? We need to talk."
"Yeah, I'll say."
"I'll say goodnight then," Spike said.
Buffy turned to him and mouthed, "Later."
He winked and got serious when Joyce caught his gaze. "Night, Joyce. Uh, Mrs... Bye."
* * *
"Let me get this straight. Not only are you having sex with a vampire again, this time one without a soul, but you're also PREGNANT WITH HIS CHILD?"
"Um," Buffy said in a small voice. "Pretty much."
"Buffy!" She shook her daughter's shoulders. "What's happening to you? You're not telling me you're keeping this... this thing?"
"It's not a thing! It's a baby!"
"You just told me you don't know what it is... or that it's even safe to carry! This is the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard! I thought you were smarter than this!"
"Smarter than what? You at my age?"
"That's completely different, and you know it. I was twenty-one. Your father and I were married and in love. And although the jury's still out on this, I'm pretty sure Hank's one hundred percent human!"
"We're in love too."
"Since when?" Joyce cried, arms fanning out. "You hate each other! I was there when you met and he tried to bash your head in with a two by four! I was there when you threatened to stake him the first time he came back! And when he came here with a new chip on his shoulder? Your feelings hadn't changed! What could possibly have happened between then and now to make you fall head over heels?"
"We... he's been helping me, and, we've--"
"Grown closer? Spare me."
"We have!" Buffy cried. "God! What was I thinking when I thought you might understand?"
"There are a lot of things I can understand," Joyce said. "But I'm sorry, I don't understand this! I can't begin to understand this! If that makes me a bad mother--"
"Oh, let's not start with the bad mother crap. In fact, let's not even continue this conversation." Buffy marched up the steps.
Joyce followed her upstairs and saw her packing. "Oh, no you don't! You do NOT run out on me twice!"
When she tried to stop her, Buffy shook her off -- lightly, but the force catapulted her backward. It wasn't the first time she'd demonstrated her strength, but it was just as startling.
"I'm going to Giles'. If you need me you know where to find me."
Joyce watched in stunned, angry silence as Buffy zipped up her overnight bag and climbed out the window.
As Buffy hopped off the eave and scampered away, Joyce felt a twinge in her gut.
"Buffy!" she called out, but there was no use. Quietly, she said, "I'm sorry."
* * *
"Hi... Um, is this a bad time?"
"Not at all," Giles said, inviting her in. "Weaponry?"
She realized he was asking about her bag, and shook her head. "Sundry."
He frowned, perplexed.
"Clothes. Makeup. Toothbrush."
"I'm afraid I--" He caught her little match girl look, and understood. "I see."
"Just for a few nights?"
She smiled, knowing 'thanks' wasn't a big enough word.
"Tea?" At her nod, he walked to the kitchen and poured her a cup. "I take it you told your mother?"
"You take it right." She put her bag down and sat at the bar. "She wigged, big time. Not that I was expecting any less." With a shrug, she looked into her teacup. "But I think she'll get over it. I hope. I mean, she'll have to..."
Giles paused, his own teacup nearly at his lips. "She will?"
Inhaling, Buffy braced herself. "I decided to keep it. You know, whatever... it. Is."
Restraining an outburst, Giles managed, "I see."
"Look, I know what you think about this," Buffy cut in. "And you can lecture me all you want. Just... not tonight, okay?"
He nodded. "I'll try to control myself."
* * *
Buffy pulled back the coverlet of Giles' bed and slipped in. Lucky for her, he'd insisted that she take the bedroom and he sleep on the couch.
"Mmm... me and baby likey," she murmured as she stretched out, feeling the soft, cool sheets envelop her skin... and wondered what Spike was doing right now.
Suddenly, there was a knock at the front door. She sat up to listen.
"Spike?" she heard Giles say.
Buffy smiled. He was knocking down her door, of course. What else would he be doing?
Buffy crawled out of bed and made for the stairs. Giles was murmuring something she couldn't make out, but she could tell he wasn't thrilled to see him.
"Hi," she interrupted.
"God blind me," Spike awed, taking in the vision of her in a white satin nightgown. "What happened to the PJs?"
"Feeling luxurious," Buffy shrugged, and pointed upstairs. "Nice bed."
"Well, if that's all, Spike," Giles snipped. "You'll be going now?"
Spike looked upset.
Behind Giles, Buffy made eyes up the stairs, and wiggled a brow.
"Yeah," Spike said after receiving her message. "Just wanted to drop in. You know. Make sure your mum didn't chop you into little bits."
"I'm fine. Whole Buffy, see?" She mouthed 'ten minutes', and looked up toward the bedroom.
"Right. Well. See you tomorrow then. Night Rupert."
"Goodnight, Spike." Giles shut and locked the door.
"Sorry," Buffy said. "He's kind of attached. To the baby."
"No lectures tonight, right?" Giles said briskly, and Buffy nodded. "Then get some sleep."
Buffy gulped, and watched him return to his make-shift bed. "Okay. Goodnight, Giles. Sleep tight! Thanks again for letting me stay o--"
"Right." She ascended the staircase, opened the bedroom door, and... Spike was lying in the center of the bed, fully dressed, arms folded behind his head.
She stifled a gasp, and closed the door behind her. When she reached the bedside she whispered hotly, "What part of ten minutes don't you understand?"
"Ten minutes?" He grasped her arm and pulled her down alongside him. "I thought you said, 'tie me up.'"
She whisper-giggled. "I definitely did NOT say 'tie me up.'"
"For the best, anyway, since I haven't got any rope. Unless your Watcher's got some kinks he hasn't shared..."
"Please, I don't want to know."
"Good." He pulled her close so their noses nearly touched. "You know I got worried there for a second, you all dolled up and staying in his bed?"
"Ew!" she gaped, slapping his chest. "Ew! Ew! Ew!"
"But now I'm here in his bed with you."
Buffy smiled. "Dirty."
She traced the erection that showed through his jeans and gave it a light squeeze. "I think you like being dirty."
"I do," he said, breath catching.
Nimbly unbuckling and unzipping, she slid down his body to kiss the tip of his cock. One thing she'd learned in their short time together? She loved doing this -- loved the feel of him pulsing in her mouth, loved his helpless reaction, loved being in control of his pleasure.
She spiraled her pointed tongue around the head, licked downward, sucked at his balls, licked up, took his shaft in her hand to angle it toward her and closed her lips over it, descending.
He shuddered. "God, Buffy..."
She let his cock bounce out of her mouth. "Be. Quiet."
Teeth clenched, his eyes rolled back.
So he liked the domination too, did he? With a devious grin, Buffy wondered where Giles kept his neckties.