Buffy hugged her mother tightly, nearly knocking the wind out of her.
Joyce held her, laughing a little. "Oh, Buffy! I'm so glad you're okay."
Face buried in her mother's hair, she inhaled the fragrance of White Linen and Finesse; the comforting scent of Mom. "How'd you know where to find me?"
"Rupert gave me directions. I wanted to come by last night but he said daylight was 'less worrisome'."
"Oh, Mom. You don't know how happy I am to see you." She stepped back, holding her mother's hands. "This is reconciliation moment, right? You're not just here to get that lipstick I borrowed."
Joyce's eyebrow shot up. "You borrowed my lipstick?" She smiled, giving Buffy's hands an affectionate shake. "Yes, this is reconciliation moment. I was actually prepared to grovel."
"Oh! Well, there's still time." They laughed. "Wanna come in?"
"Sure!" Joyce said, unsure. She saw Spike, standing there, looking tense. "Hello, Spike."
He nodded. "Good to see you, Joyce."
"So. This is what a vampire's lair looks like." While the furnishings were clearly junkyard salvage, they were adorned with bright, clean throws and arranged just so. A stone sarcophagus had been transformed into a funeral-home-chic chaise lounge. Fresh flowers, no doubt plundered from grave sites, colored the room. A TV, a refrigerator, a microwave... It was all strangely homey. "Did you do all this, Buffy?"
"You have seen my room, right?" She shook her head. "This is all Spike. He fixed it up just for me."
"It's not quite what I expected," Joyce said, noticing a pink bra on the floor before turning around to face them again. "I don't know what I expected, but... well, there aren't people hanging from hooks."
"We keep those in the basement," Spike said.
"Ah." Joyce smiled uneasily, and turned to her daughter, taking a deep breath. "I came here because I want to ask you back. Home." She put a hand up as Buffy opened her mouth to speak. "Just... hear me out, okay? I may not love your choice to keep this baby, but I do love you, and dammit, you're still my baby. I want to be there for you, to help you through this. And I know that, in the end, I'll adore whatever comes out of you. Human or... otherwise."
Eyes dewy, Buffy said, "Really?"
"Really." She nodded. "So. Will you please come back?"
Buffy scanned the ceiling. "Let me think. Okay." She grinned at her mother and turned to Spike. "Okay?"
He tried not to show his disappointment. He was glad that she was making things right with her mother, glad she was going to be in the right environment for a woman in her situation. But still, it hurt. "Of course. You go back with your mum."
"No." Buffy frowned. "I mean, you too."
"Wait," Joyce interjected, and Buffy looked at her. "Can we... talk outside for a sec?"
* * *
"Buffy, that invitation wasn't for the both of you. It was for you only. He's a grown man...pire, he can take care of himself."
"Mom, he's the father of my child. I need him."
"Honey," she chuckled, "You were fighting like cats and dogs when I got here -- it sounds like you need him like you need two little holes in your head!"
"That wasn't fighting, that was... squabbling. It's totally normal for us."
"Oh, so I get to look forward to hearing your daily squabble if he comes along? That's attractive."
"Mom. I'm not leaving without him."
Joyce lowered her voice. "Rupert told me about the spell, and about the possibilities of Spike going back to feeding on people -- I mean, I'm not even talking about us -- do you really believe the baby would be safe?"
Buffy said earnestly, "I have never felt safer than I feel with Spike. And the baby--" she remembered his hand over her belly, "I don't think he's ever loved anything so much."
Joyce breathed in, out. "I know I'm gonna regret this..."
"Eee!" Buffy clapped. "Thank you!"
"But!" She stopped her from bounding back inside. "But, he pays his own way, and he doesn't stay in the same room as you."
"Different rooms, Mom? We're having a baby!"
"Until I see a ring on your finger, young lady, you are not sleeping in the same bed. And especially not not sleeping!"
"That's not fair... you know I can't marry him."
"Exactly," she said with a triumphant smile. "We'll fix up the basement for him."
"Fine," Buffy sighed, already devising ways around the not sleeping together rule. She opened the door. "Start packing, Spike. It's moving day."
He shook his head. "I don't know, love."
"What do you mean you don't know?"
"It... doesn't feel right." He glanced at Joyce, and back at Buffy. "Bright side of your world and all. I don't belong in it."
"You do so belong in my bright side! Just not, you know, directly."
"You should go, love. I'll be fine here."
Now he turns noble? Not to be denied, she turned his back to her mother, rose on her tiptoes and whispered something in his ear.
He inhaled sharply. A slow, wicked grin followed as his gaze met hers.
She wiggled a brow.
Remembering Joyce was in the room, he cleared his throat, got serious. "Right then. If you insist."
They spun around together, smiling.
Joyce sighed, accepting the fact that she was welcoming into her home her pregnant slayer of a daughter and the vampire of indeterminate evil who'd knocked her up in the first place. Magically. No one said parenting was easy, but there were no support groups for this. "Do you need any help with packing?"
"Well, I don't have much," Buffy said. "And we have to wait until dark, anyway."
"Until dark?" Joyce checked her watch. "But that's hours from--" She caught Buffy's meaningful glance. "Oh, right. No direct sunlight; it makes vampires...?"
"Disintegrate," Spike said matter-of-factly.
Joyce stared. "Oh."
He turned to Buffy. "Meantime, I'll make it less inviting down below. Don't want any other beasties calling this place home."
Spike jumped down the hatch, and took a moment to bask in Buffy's whispered promise.
I'll let you put it in my ass.
* * *
"I can't wait to take a real shower again," Buffy said, dropping the last of Spike's boxes in the living room. "Giles' place had like, zero water pressure. And yours was like a geyser. Only downward. And cold."
"What's like a geyser?" Joyce asked as she walked in from the den, then held up an oven-mitted hand. "Hold it -- I don't want to know."
"His shower," Buffy said with a smirk. "Anyway, I think I'm gonna go take one."
"Not yet, I made lasagna." Joyce eyed the hand resting possessively on her daughter's hip. "Do you... eat?"
He squeezed. "Depends what's on the menu."
She wasn't amused. Neither was Buffy.
He pulled his hand away and put it in his pocket. "Lasagna, yeah." He cleared his throat. "That sounds great."
* * *
"This is so, so mmmm," Buffy said, mouth full.
"It's delicious," Spike said.
"Isn't she the best?"
"Oh stop." Joyce waved a hand. "It's just standard recipe."
"We've been a little deprived," Buffy explained.
"You haven't been eating?"
"Oh, no. I made sure she ate. Three squares a day, didn't I, pet?"
"You tried, anyway. It's the quality, Mom, not the quantity."
Joyce cut into her piece. "Have you seen the doctor at all since you've decided to keep it?"
"No," Buffy said. "Should I?"
"Should you?" Joyce scoffed. "Of course you should -- you need nutritional guidelines, pre-natal pills... How many weeks along is it again?"
"Oh, well, with the growy thing, I can't be sure. But, real time, it's been um, god I've lost so much track of time--"
"Six weeks, five days."
Touched, she squeezed his hand. "Add a few to that for the total alongness. Maybe eleven, twelve weeks?"
"Huh. You're like me; you don't show very early. I didn't really start showing with you until about five months. But still, if your clothes aren't fitting we need to go shopping."
"Well, I never turn down a good shop, but ugh. Muumuus."
"They have some great maternity fashions nowadays, Buffy. You can look fabulous, like... Demi Moore."
"You're buying me a painted-on tux?"
Spike smirked into his plate. Note to self. Body paint.
"Well, whatever she wore when she was clothed." She chewed and swallowed. "How's school been?"
"Um, it's been... there."
"You haven't been going."
"No, but I plan to. It's just been a crazy week. I'll go back on Monday."
"Good. I'll help out with the baby as much as I can, we'll get sitters -- but you need to concentrate on getting a degree, so you'll have more opportunities for supporting it. It's hard for a single mother--"
"Oh," Joyce shut her eyes, sat back in her chair. "I'm sorry."
Spike looked at her. "I'm not going anywhere, Joyce."
She took a breath. "Of course you aren't. I don't know where that came from."
"I do." Buffy folded her arms and glared at her mom.
"Love, this isn't about her, it's about me." He addressed Joyce, "I know what I am, and what you think of me. But I'm gonna prove you wrong."
Joyce smiled tightly. "Don't worry about me, Spike. Worry about Buffy and your child."
"Got that covered, then." He took another bite.
"What are your plans, exactly?"
He swallowed his food, suddenly jagged in his throat. "Plans?"
"How will you be supporting your child. I assume you'll be getting a job--"
"A..." He blinked, frowned, looked to Buffy for help.
"Right, a job. Spike's not really the job type."
Joyce took a sip of her wine. "Okay, so then the money will what, sprout from a demon horn, or...?"
"In a manner of speaking." He held up his wine glass. "I'm a good gambler."
"Gambling! Oh that's a relief." Joyce didn't hold back her sarcasm.
"Look, I made five grand a few nights ago. Won it fair and square." He turned to Buffy, squeezing her thigh. "Tucked it away for the Bit."
"You did?" Buffy looked a little hurt. "That's news to me."
"Yeah, well, I wanted to surprise you. Where'd you think my money came from anyway?"
"I... guess I didn't want to ask."
"Right. You thought I was robbing the innocents of Sunnydale. Which I did my share of, I won't lie to you. But I don't. Not anymore."
"But, gambling..." She remembered the dead Gansao demon. "Isn't it dangerous?"
"No more than patrolling, pet."
She had to give him that.
Joyce sighed. "Well. This has been enlightening."
"Look," Spike said. "I know I'm not the stand-up guy you hoped she'd end up with. But I'm honest, where it counts. And I'm on your side."
"For your sake, I hope you are."
* * *
"Your mum's a great lady."
"Yeah, right." Buffy sat beside him on his new cot.
"I mean it. She's strong, stubborn like you, doesn't take any guff. Got a good head on her shoulders -- and she'll protect you to the bitter end. I like her."
She smiled. "You're kind of amazing, you know that?"
He nodded soberly. "I'm also sexy and athletic."
Climbing into his lap, she murmured, "It all goes with the amazing package of you."
"So it's back to my package, is it?" Their foreheads touched.
"It's never away from your package."
When she wiggled for emphasis, he pushed her to arm's length. "Buffy," he couldn't believe he was about to say this, "you'd better go to bed."
She was just as incredulous. "What?"
It took every effort not to surge up against her, pull off her top, lick those hard little... Focus. "You don't want to make your mum cross the first night, do you?"
"Well -- no, but -- don't you wanna...?" She circled her hips.
He gripped her shoulders, held her still. "Of course I do. But I know when I'm pushing my luck."
A coy smile. "How 'bout we just make out a lot?"
"How 'bout you go to bed," he managed, vocal chords tight, "and we make love when she's gone?"
"But she's taking me shopping tomorrow," she pouted.
"Don't give me that lip," he murmured and tugged on her pouty lip with his teeth, close to crumbling. "You know what it does to me..."
She pulled back and said blithely, "Fine. Be responsible."
Wait. She was getting off of his lap, knowing how hard she'd just made him? Right. My idea. He rasped, "Tomorrow, love."
"Tomorrow, sex." She winked at him and made her way up the stairs.
Spike sighed, wishing he wasn't so bloody honorable.
He laughed. "Honorable?"
* * *
There was a light padding of bare feet across the kitchen floor. Spike could smell her Herbal Essences conditioner from the cot.
Vampire stealth mode on, he crept up the steps and quietly opened the door. She was facing the refrigerator, freezer light showcasing her curves through the thin white cotton of the thigh-length nightshirt she wore. He stepped into the room, closed the door behind him.
Buffy spun around, ice cream bucket and spoon pressed to her chest. She gave him a guilty look. "I had a craving."
"Me too." He strode forward, pinned her against the fridge and kissed the cool chocolate out of her mouth.
She whispered with a grin, "I thought you said no nookie."
"I'm an idiot, remember?" He brushed his hands up her thighs, bringing the nightshirt along for the ride. "Shouldn't listen to me."
"And, hey," she justified, forehead touching his neck, "not like we're in a bed... or sleeping..."
"No, it's not." She was panty-less again. How wonderfully convenient.
He snaked a hand between her legs, making her moan softly as he rubbed. He used the other hand to tug himself out of his already unfastened jeans.
Feeling mischievous, she smeared a dollop of ice cream on his bare abdomen and the head of his cock.
"You better be planning to--"
She put the ice cream bucket on the counter and dropped to her knees, licking it up and taking him in her mouth.
"Fuck," he breathed.
She spiraled her tongue around the tip. "Mmm." She looked up. "Chocolatey."
"Get up here," he whispered. "Now."
She obeyed, and he grasped her hair and captured her lips fiercely.
He shoved her up the fridge door, causing magnets and shopping lists to fall at his feet. She giggled, and he thrust into her, catching her grunt in his mouth.
But the fridge shook and rattled with each grind, and that wouldn't do. He carried her to the island, moved a few items out of the way, sat her on it. She wrapped her legs around him. The height wasn't right.
"Floor, floor," she whispered.
After ten minutes of heavy breathing, urgent groping and painstakingly suppressed moans, he bit back an ecstatic shout as he came, flattening her backside into the linoleum.
Once she'd recovered enough to speak, she asked, "Come to bed with me?"
"Oh, baby, I can't. She throws me out and we can't even do this."
She pouted, touching his hair. "But I can't sleep without you."
"Same here." He nuzzled into her neck. "Can't do a bloody thing without you anymore. Thought that was supposed to stop with the spell being reversed, but I guess we're bound for--" Her heartbeat had slowed, her breath deepened. She'd fallen asleep.
He watched her lovingly for a moment, then panicked. How the hell was he gonna get her upstairs?
If she'd had trouble sleeping without him, he didn't want to wake her. Maybe if he was very, very quiet and careful...
You're a vampire. You can do this. Mothers of Slayers don't have the vampire detection talent. ...Right?
Well, he'd have to take the risk.
He closed his jeans, picked her up in his arms -- gotta remember to clean all this up -- and carried her to the staircase.
He froze at a creaking floorboard, wondering when it had gotten so loud. Listening for Joyce's breathing -- still steady -- he continued.
"Mmm," Buffy moaned in his arms.
He froze again, hoping she wouldn't do that again.
He couldn't help but feel proud to be the subject of her dream. Yeah, that's right. She loves me.
Mercifully, she stayed quiet the rest of the trip.
When he placed her on her bed, she turned onto her side. "Spike..."
"I'm here baby," he whispered, and wedged a pillow under her bent knee.
She hugged it, and sighed.
He stood there for a good minute, watching her hug The Pillow That Should Be Him with her content sleep-smile, until suddenly, her features darkened and she kicked the pillow away with a shout: "No!"
He stepped back, heard Joyce's even breathing stop.
Her mother was on her way, so Spike did the only thing he could do: he dropped down, slid under Buffy's bed and hoped for the best.
"Don't you dare touch my baby!"
Oh, love... He wanted to wake her, hold her, tell her it was okay. Ask her what she saw, but the light in the room went on, and her mother said, "Buffy?"
A terrified gasp, and Buffy woke up. "Spike?" A pause. "Oh... Mom. Hi."
"Were you having a bad dream?"
"Yeah... How'd I get here?"
Joyce's feet came close, and the bed sagged. Good thing he didn't have to breathe.
"Everything's all right now, sweetie. You're home now."
"Yeah. Home. Right. I was confused."
"Are you okay? Do you want to talk about it?"
"No. No, it's nothing. Really. Go back to sleep, I'll be fine."
"Completely sure. And can you close the door? I think it was the night light in the hallway, kind of gave me weirdness."
"Of course, sweetie. Goodnight."
The bedroom light went off and Joyce was out the door.
A few seconds later, Buffy whispered, "Spike?"
He edged out of his hiding place and kneeled at her bedside, keeping his voice to a whisper. "Spidey senses pick me up?"
She pulled a thread of carpet out of his hair and touched his face. "I have Spikey senses now."
He kissed her hand, her fingers.
She noticed his pensive expression. "What's wrong?"
He figured he may as well come out with it. "You weren't... talking to me, were you? In that nightmare you just had?"
"What'd I say?"
"Uh, 'don't you dare touch my baby', etcetera."
"Oh! God... Honey, no. Of course not. Faceless lady, not you. And a bunch of Winiquas, surprise surprise. And something... something shiny. Why can't I remember anything anymore?"
He winked. "Too much sex on the brain."
She pursed her lips in response, and searched his eyes. "How could you think it was you?"
"Well, you said my name, and then..."
"Oh." She remembered with a blush. "Oh. That was a different dream."
God, she was adorable. "Was it?"
"Yeah. More of a baby-making than a baby-taking."
"Yeah?" He lazed a thumb over her cotton-covered nipple. "And what exactly was I doing to you?"
"Don't you get me started again." She took his hand in hers. "Did you carry me up here?"
"Wouldn't have if I knew you were a sleeptalker."
"I didn't know either." Holding his hand up to the moonlight, she said, "You are, you know. A sleeptalker."
He nodded, watching the glow slide over their joined hands. "So I've been told."
She scowled at him. "Don't make me think about the one who told you."
Grinning, he sang, "Jeeeaaalous..."
"Shut up." She swatted him. "There was no one before me, ever. Got it? I don't care from true."
"Buffy." Voice low, he leaned in close, squeezed her hand and got her attention. "I have a past..."
She pulled away. "I'm well aware--"
He spoke over her, "...and so do you."
She looked to the side, exhaled.
"But," he lifted her chin, "it all brought us here, didn't it? Now the future is ours, you and me, and this little Bit..." he cupped her belly, "is the ultimate proof of that."
With a smile, she lay back against her pillow. "Sweet talker."
Touching her hair as she drifted off, he whispered, "Never be another for me, love. Never could be."