Buffy stirred, wearing the same contented smile she'd drifted off with. No nightmares, no anxiety... just a tranquil, dreamless rest. And while upon waking, a corner of her mind registered that her life was in shambles, all she could really focus on was Spike, and how wonderful he made her feel.
She touched the pillow beside her and remembered when he'd gone, what he'd whispered to her half-sleeping ear: "I love you, both of you. Do anything for you."
She wished he'd stayed. Wished she could wake up with him again, wrapped tightly in his arms. Not that she'd be able to explain his presence to anyone... herself included.
Did it matter why they were so in love? Not to her it didn't -- not anymore. If her mom couldn't handle it, that was just too bad. Buffy was starting her own little family. Her own little Addams Family, granted, but hey. If it was good enough for Morticia...
Hearing the sounds of breakfast preparation downstairs, she sat up, the smell of frying eggs making her suddenly hungry. Ravenous, in fact. Looks like someone's got Daddy's appetite.
"Eat now, shower later, huh?" She rubbed her naked belly-swell. "Roger, rabbit."
But first, it occurred to her as a flash of color caught her eye, Better put those away...
With a self-indulgent smile, she moved to release the silk neckties that were tethered to each bedpost corner.
* * *
After watching Giles silently putter around the kitchen for several minutes, Buffy tossed her toast crust onto her empty plate, wiped her hands and cleared her throat. "Okay. Go."
"The lecture. You're dying to make it." She shrugged. "So go ahead. I'm all ears."
He took a breath and faced her, placing his palms on the countertop. "I--" His lungs deflated, air streaming out. "I'm worried, that's all."
"Aw, c'mon," she challenged. "That's it?"
"What do you want me to say? That I think you're making a terrible mistake? That your sense of reason is... distorted, to put it mildly, and you've no idea what you're getting yourself into? And furthermore, that I think you're letting your relationship with Spike, however involved it may be, color your decision somehow? Is that what you want to hear?"
"My relationship with--?" She shook her head insistently. "There is no relationship, and no coloring, for that matter, from anyone but me. This is my decision, my-- Crayola box--"
"And that's precisely why I won't go on," he spoke over her, and stepped back, bringing her dish to the sink and continuing to talk with his back turned. "You're eighteen years old, Buffy, which is young, yes, to take on the responsibility of motherhood, but you and I both know you're not like other girls your age. What's more, you're not my daughter, nor are you technically my charge anymore. I can't tell you what to do." He whisked the dishtowel from his shoulder and muttered, "Let's face it, you've always done exactly what you wanted, regardless of what I think. Why should this be any different?"
Shaken by his curt dismissal, Buffy looked down. "Touché."
With a sigh, he turned to her. "Buffy. I'm not disappointed in you, or angry. I just... wish this hadn't happened."
"Well, I don't!"
At Giles' shocked expression, Buffy realized what she'd just said. Touching her stomach, she repeated softly, "I don't."
* * *
"Okay, I know I haven't been the most, well, trustable friend lately, but I need you to hear me out about this because I know I'm right," Willow blurted, after rehearsing it much more coherently in her head on the way over.
Buffy smiled and assured, "I trust you, Will. What's up?"
Glancing from Buffy to Giles, Willow pulled the sachet out of her skirt pocket. "Somebody else put a serious spell on this. As in, not me."
Giles moved forward first. "How can you be sure?"
"I tested it. Like a hundred times, in a hundred different ways. This girl I met in Wicca group, the one I told you about?" At Buffy's dazed nod, she continued, "She helped me. Turns out there's something mixed in with my spell; or, interweaved with it, or -- It's been tampered with, with a kind of dark magick I couldn't conjure if my life depended on it."
Giles took the charm and turned it in his hand, lifting and lowering his glasses.
Buffy spoke. "So that means..."
"Someone else wants to speed your delivery. Badly."
"Okay, so, maybe it was Vampirella." Buffy explained to Willow, "This chick I dusted last night looked a lot like Faceless Dream Girl. Maybe it was her."
"Yes, but why would she make your baby grow," Giles posed, "only to try to kill it in the womb? And get herself killed in the process?"
"Point." Buffy began to pace across the living room. "Well then, the -- ooh!" She snapped her fingers at her Watcher. "The Winiqua! I've been dreaming about them too, and one tried to kill Willow last night."
"They're back?" Giles asked.
"Well, one is, anyway."
"I'd like to say that's the answer," Giles said with a frown, "but Buffy, the Winiqua's intelligence doesn't exactly lend itself to complex spellcasting."
"Well... has Spike been around at all?" Willow wondered.
Giles lifted his eyes to Buffy, who was struck speechless.
"Because, I mean," Willow tread carefully, "if there's anyone we know who's stressed the wanting of this baby, it's him. Plus, evil..."
"No," Buffy pronounced, even as she was nagged by a memory: Dropping the charm on the front porch, Spike going to fetch it for her later, then lovingly putting it around her neck, licking down her collarbone, and... "No. He wouldn't."
"Buffy," Giles began, but was quickly cut off.
"I'm telling you, it's not him. For one thing, Spike doesn't have that kind of foresight. He's too impatient. When he wants something, he takes it. He's not Evil Professor, grand scheme guy. He doesn't calculate, he rarely plans, doesn't know a thing about magick--"
They were eyeballing her. Time to shut up.
"Buffy, we need to accept the possibility that Spike could be behind this. We have to question him."
"I could do a truth spell," Willow suggested.
"Whatever it is that'll give us the answer, we need to do it, and fast." He turned to Buffy. "Do you know where he is?"
"It's not him," she reiterated.
Eyes level with hers, he said, "There's only one way to know for sure."
Apparently outvoted, Buffy exhaled in resignation. "What do you want me to do?"
* * *
Spike sat in his crypt, staring absentmindedly at the TV and turning Buffy's white negligee in his hands.
She could move in here, it suddenly occurred to him. Yeah. He could knock a hole through the wall below, pretty it up a bit...
Suddenly, his door crashed open and sunlight flooded in, a few feet shy of his chair. He quickly stuffed the nightgown into the seat cushions and shot up into a guarded stance, then relaxed when he saw Buffy's slim silhouette diffusing the glare of early-afternoon bright.
She kicked the door shut and strut in, legs wrapped in black leather.
The girl definitely knew how to make an entrance.
"Miss me already, did you?"
Without saying a word, she stopped a short distance away, eyes probing the dark corners of the room.
"What?" Frowning, he stepped forward to close the gap between them. "What's wrong, love?"
Looking at him, seeing him as if for the first time, her mouth quirked in a half-smile. "They are."
She took a deep breath. "If I asked you to do something, something that might make you uncomfortable, would you do it?"
"Anything for you, pet." Not a second of hesitation. "Just name it." He rested his hands on her hips.
"Willow wants to do a truth spell. On you."
"On me? Why?" The thought process showed on his face. "Oh." He let go of her and plopped down in his chair. "Something's come to light. They think the Big Bad's behind it."
"Look, I know you're not, but--"
"I'll do it," he shrugged.
She smiled, loving him more than ever.
"When's it going down?"
"Later," she walked closer, and bent forward to lean her hands on his headrest. "After sundown."
She wasn't wearing a bra. "And you're here now at oh, twelve-thirty because..."
"Well," she drawled, lowering to bend her knees into the chair and mount his lap, "I thought I'd need more time to convince you."
He swallowed, watching her torso drop, and focused his gaze on her glossy lips. "Yeah?"
"Well," Spike slid his hands over her leather-clad ass and squeezed. "Got a bit of free time then."
Nodding, she grasped the base of his skull, and moaned as their lips touched.
The kiss deepened and he clutched at her hair, thrusting his pelvis up to meet hers. Panting, grunting, they tugged at one another's zippers. Once free, she stroked his erection with two hands, stopping only to shimmy out of her pants as he dazedly watched. He yanked off her shirt and grasped her thighs. Hooking one knee over each arm of the chair, she poised herself over his cock.
Cupping a hand between her legs, he rasped, "So wet for me."
"Always," she whispered, eyes sparkling.
When he brought his hand to her mouth, she sucked on his fingers and simultaneously dropped down. He groaned.
"Unh..." Buffy's head rolled back as she took him in, and slung forward to rest her forehead on his. They smiled saucily at one another.
"I'm gonna fuck you into six pm," she said, and he laughed.
* * *
"Now remember, if she asks you anything about us--"
"Be the strong and silent type, emphasis on silent. Heard it the first forty times, pet."
"I'm sorry. I just don't want everyone to know yet. It's not that I'm, you know, ashamed or anything--"
He smiled and tugged her close. "I'm beginning to think you get off on sneaking about."
"Shut up," Buffy laughed, looking down and up. "Maybe a little."
He moved to kiss her, but she managed to wriggle free, walking a few paces ahead, boot heels clicking down the high school hallway, ass swaying from side to side.
Before she turned the corner to the library, Spike snagged her arm and jerked his head to the right. "Wanna make use of this empty classroom?"
Swatting his chest, she whispered, "We just had sex for five hours straight. You want more?"
He arched a brow. "Don't you?"
She grinned and winked, "After."
With a chuckle, he grabbed a cigarette from his ear.
"Hey!" She plucked it out of his mouth. "Second hand smoke? Kills babies dead?"
"Sorry, love. Guess I'm just nervous."
"What are you nervous about?"
"I don't know," Spike said, opening the swinging doors for her, "Turning into a fluffy bunny rabbit again? Or worse?"
"What could be worse than that?" a girl's voice rang out.
Buffy slowed as she saw that the room was packed with not just the core Scoobies, but a few new faces as well. "Wow, I didn't realize this would be such an event -- is that Anya?"
"Uh, yeah," Xander admitted, looking vaguely guilty.
"Who the hell is Anya?" Spike said.
"I was a vengeance demon for eleven hundred years," she introduced herself matter-of-factly, "until last Spring, when I was cursed to live out a short, thankless mortal existence here on earth. Oh, and I had sex with Xander today."
Amidst a smattering of winces, a stonefaced Spike spoke up. "That part of the curse?"
"Gosh no!" Anya added guilelessly, "Xander's a great lay."
The Great Lay cleared his throat. "Uh, Anya, as much as I don't mind hearing that in private, that's not the kind of thing we share with others."
"What? It's true."
Willow, standing before a tableful of potions, gems and herbs, broke the silence. "Well, if there's one thing we can be sure of... Anya won't ever need a spell like this."
"And Blondie over there?" Spike pointed at the girl sitting beside Willow.
"Oh, this is Tara. She's the one I told you about, Buffy, from Wicca group?"
"Right," Spike said as Buffy waved awkwardly at the new girl. "Well, as much as I love an audience... I don't love an audience. Clear out people. This is just me, Buffy and the witch. The redheaded one."
"Sorry, but I can't allow that," Giles said, stepping forward. "The spell requires that several people be present."
"Right then, I'm off."
"Fine," Giles stopped him. "The four of us, in my office."
* * *
"Your eyes are all dilatey," Buffy observed, leaning forward in her chair. "How do you feel?"
"Like I've just eaten a raver," Spike replied.
"Good, then it's time to start." Willow picked up her notepad. "Now. State your first and last name, please?"
"This isn't a bloody polygraph, girl. Get to the point."
"Okay, and the answer is 'Spike'... 'The Bloody'..." She scribbled in her pad. "Why are you here?"
"Because Buffy asked me."
"No, I mean, why did you come back to Sunnydale?"
"To kill Buffy."
"Uh-huh, and why didn't you kill her?"
"Don't know. I just... couldn't."
"Do you want to kill her now?"
He chuckled. "God, no."
"When was the last time you bit anyone?"
Spike glanced at a wild-eyed Buffy, who quickly clarified, "Bit to kill."
He smirked, wishing he could suckle on that soft inner thigh again right now. Still couldn't believe she let him do that. Must've been the crypt... What was the question? Right. "The night I got here. I mean, I tried a couple times after that. Couldn't do it."
Buffy suppressed a sigh of relief. It was nice to get official confirmation.
"Any idea why you can't feed anymore?"
"Not a bloody clue."
"Did you cast a spell on the charm I made for Buffy?"
"No, I thought you did."
"Did you ask anyone else to cast a spell on the charm?"
"No." He rolled his eyes. "I didn't do it, didn't ask anyone else to do it, and I don't know who did. That about cover it?"
"Uh, yeah. Do you know anyone who'd want the baby to be born?"
"Besides me and the Slayer? No. Unless you count Rupert, who I know'll be cooing like a bloody mourning dove once he sees it."
"'Mourning' being the operative word," Giles grumbled.
Buffy frowned. "'Cause it'd be early in the--? Oh. That kind of morning. Go on."
Willow tapped her pen against the notepad. "Why do you want Buffy to have your baby?"
"Because I've always wanted a kid," he said, surprising himself with that truth. "And I love B--"
"Babies," Buffy blurted out, standing, "He loves babies. Can't get enough of them. Anyway, you asked him what we need to know. He didn't mess with the charm."
"Just trying to be thorough," a defensive Willow explained.
"Right. Of course. I know," Buffy said as casually as she could.
Giles looked mildly distressed. "Shall we move on to the Reveal spell?"
"Hey," Spike stood up. "You didn't say anything about another sodding--"
"It's not for you, it's for me," Buffy assured him. "You're done. Right, guys?"
At Willow's nod, Spike said, "Right then, I'll just take the antidote and be on my way."
"Oh, um, thing is? It's safer if we just let it be -- the reversal's a little risky. But it'll wear off in about twelve hours..."
"Twelve hours? Half a bloody day of sincerity?! You couldn't have told me that before?" He glowered at Buffy.
"Well, don't look at me, I didn't know! Look, all you have to do is go straight home and not talk. To anyone."
"But, Buffy? If he stays, maybe I can find out why he can't feed, if there's magick involved. It can be a two-for-one Reveal deal..."
Spike considered this for a moment. Find out what turned my head around once and for all? "I'll stick around."
* * *
Buffy sat Indian-style in the candlelit library, lulled by her friend's Latin dronings.
"Reveal," Willow said at last, and opened her eyes. Focusing on Buffy's midsection, she smiled. "Wow. That's really cool."
"I can see... inside of you."
"Is it ew?"
"No... it's beautiful."
"You can see the baby?" Spike asked from the stacks.
"Sort of. Not in detail, but I can see that there's like a white, shimmery sort of light surrounding it."
"Protection," Tara murmured.
"Exactly. Someone really wants to make sure this baby is okay."
"A wicked witch wants to protect the evil spawn? Hmm..." Xander mused. "Maybe that's because it's... evil?"
"Can it, Harris," Spike growled.
"And... weird. Your heart is... That's bizarre."
"My heart is what?"
"It's like, a crackling light blue."
Spike walked down from the stacks. "What d'you mean, crackling?"
"Wait... it's changing... turning... pink, not crackly anymore... wait." She looked up at Spike. His heart was visible through his chest too. "Whoa."
"What whoa?" Buffy asked, nervous. "Whoa, what?"
"Spike, come closer to Buffy."
He took a few cautious steps.
When he walked into Buffy's range, Willow gasped. "Oh, wow. This is... amazing."
"What?" they asked in unison.
"When you're close together, this brilliant pink light sort of bathes both of you."
"Ohh," Tara breathed.
"What does that mean?" Buffy demanded, looking from witch to witch.
"Spike, do me a favor," Willow said. "Go outside the room for a minute." As he obeyed, she watched the light separate and return to each of their hearts, then turn that crackly blue again. When the doors swung closed behind him, her eyes widened. "Buffy, your heart-light is totally nerping."
"It... it is? Nerping how?"
"As opposed to just crackling, it's like, having a conniption. I think I know what this is. Spike?"
He reentered the room, cautious.
"Do you guys ever feel like it... hurts to be apart?"
"Yeah," answered Spike, while Buffy scoffed, "No."
"Think about it, Buffy," Willow urged. "Do you ever feel like you need to see him? Like, when he's around, do you feel better, like everything's okay?"
"Oh dear god," Giles muttered.
"What are you saying, Will?"
"Someone bonded you two, big time."
"Someone whatted us?"
"It's a bonding spell. I have no idea how they did it, but they did."
"Of Undead Bondage," Xander said bitterly. "At least now we know why Spike won't go away."
"I once bonded a guy to his prize stallion," Anya reminisced. "His wife claimed he loved his horses more than he loved her. And by the time I was done with him-- ...What?"
Xander sighed. "Oz, care to take this one?"
Oz explained gently, "We're kinda havin' a moment here."
"Of course," Giles admonished himself for not realizing it earlier, "That's why he isn't feeding. That's why he thinks he cares for Buffy; for the child..."
Buffy's eyes widened. It's all been a lie...
"Undo it," Spike said suddenly.
"What?" asked Willow.
"Take it off." He pointed down at Buffy. "Off of her."
Buffy looked up at him with unconcealed hurt.
Willow ventured, "I don't know if that's the smartest thing to do right now..."
"I should say not," Giles agreed.
"You prefer her head spun by black magick?" He pointed at Giles. "Her life endangered by a force you know can't be good? And you call yourself her protector?" With a scoff, he headed for the door and barked, "Take it off her, no matter what it does to me!"
Watching the doors swing to a close, Buffy stood up and addressed Giles, her voice quivering. "You heard him."
"I can't allow this."
"Yes, you can."
"Buffy!" He grasped her shoulders. "Listen to me: if they were to reverse this bond, we could very well have another Angelus on our hands."
Tears springing forth and streaking her cheeks, Buffy gritted, "Bring him on."