Like the panting Pavlov's dog he was, Spike immediately sprinted up the steps the moment Buffy's dulcet voice drifted down to him from the kitchen.
Hand poised on the doorknob, he willed himself into nonchalance. Shoulders back, body loose and disinterested... and casually swing open the door.
He couldn't help but falter when he caught a glimpse of her in the glow of the setting sun: soft and luminous, like she'd just stepped out of a Frederick Leighton painting.
Except she was real, and all his.
"Look!" Big grin widening, Buffy shook the shopping bags on her arms. "Stuff."
Her mother bustled in behind her, holding yet more bags.
With a wrinkled brow, he relieved Buffy of some of her haul. "You two knock over a Baby Gap or something?"
"Nope, just a Mommy Couture. This is all for me, me, me."
"I might have overcompensated a little," Joyce said with a guilty shrug.
He peered into a heavy Waldenbooks bag. "A little?"
"Come upstairs, lemme show you." She took the bags from her mother's hands, and he followed her out of the room.
* * *
Propped against the bed while Buffy tried something on, Spike made piles of books on the floor, sounding off the titles. "What to Expect When You're Expecting... So You're Having A Baby... Baby Names from Around the World?"
"I thought we should keep an open mind. You know, something other than Billy."
He opened it up. "Akbar Summers. Perfect."
Her head popped out from behind the closet door. "Don't be a wiseass. There are some beautiful names in there."
"Beautiful? For my boy?"
"Ah ah. You said already you'd love anything that pops out."
"Yeah, but still." He flipped a page. "Chip off the old block and all that."
"Accept it, Spike. There's a fifty percent chance it's gonna be a girl. And possibly, a vampire. And maybe a one percent chance it comes out with floppy ears. Are you ready?"
"For floppy ears?"
"No, for me." Buffy stepped out from behind the closet door in tight bluejeans and a salmon silk-and-lace top. "What do you think?"
Spike squinted. "How exactly is that maternal?"
"The jeans have this expandable front thingie. And the shirt..." She took the ties from the back and brought them around her waist. "See, for now, I can tie it."
"Untie it," he said, voice hollow.
She looked at him, and let them go. "Why?"
"Turn to the side." Appraising her profile, he nodded once. "Now take off your pants, 'cause I'm shagging you into the carpet."
She laughed. "You're crazy."
"I'm not kidding," he said.
"This really turns you on?"
"You with a bellyful of my baby and proud of it? Uh, yeah."
With a mischievous smile, she shut the bedroom door and whispered, "Can you be quick?"
He stood up. "Can you be quiet?"
"I think I proved that pretty well last night."
"How quick d'you want it?"
She unzipped her jeans and met him halfway. "Shut up and do me quick?"
"Right." He threw Baby Names from Around the World over his shoulder and crushed his mouth to hers.
* * *
Her breath was hot in his ear as she rode him fast and merciless on the floor between the bed and the window.
Easing her up, he fingered the lace front of her blouse. Hooded eyes on his, she directed his hand underneath, to her belly.
Spike grit his teeth, threw his head back.
There was a creak on the staircase. And no lock on the door.
Sharing her panic, he pushed up her blouse, caught a jiggling nipple in his mouth and sucked, hard.
Holding her breath, she rolled her hips twice and shuddered, her internal quake spurring his climax on: he surged violently and clamped her thighs down as he came into her, both struggling to keep quiet.
"How's the fashion show going?"
After shooting her lover a sated smile, Buffy tumbled off and put on her most innocent I didn't just have an orgasm voice: "I think he approves!"
"She looks sensational," Spike managed to say without panting, closing his jeans as he stood to watch a half-naked slayer crawl across the floor. Now that was a sight he'd never forget. "Better than Demi."
"Didn't I tell you that, Buffy?" Joyce asked from the PG-rated side of the door.
"Yeah, we'll see what you all say in five months." Buffy wriggled into her jeans. "Wanna come in? I'm just changing into something new." She checked herself in the mirror.
Taking a seat, he wiped her leftover lipgloss on his t-shirt and smoothed back his hair.
"No, that's all right. I'm thinking of ordering Chinese. Sound good?"
"Sounds delish," Buffy said, seeing the depression in the mattress where Spike sat, but no Spike. Quickly, she turned to make sure he was real.
And there he was with his Yeah, you're my girl smirk. Definitely real, just un-reflecty.
"I'll get the menus. Come on downstairs when you're ready to order, okay?"
"Sure Mom," she sat on Spike's lap and eased him onto his back. "We'll be right down. I just have one more thing to show him."
He wrapped his arms around her and rolled her over, kissed her softly.
"Okay, but don't be too long."
Tongue sliding against Spike's, Buffy replied absently, "Mmhmm."
* * *
"So I'm mindin' my own business, and they walk right by me." He held one eggroll in each hand to demonstrate. "Close enough to eat, all four of 'em. Taking the alley door to their escape car, right?"
Joyce nodded, rapt.
"So it hits me who they are, and I turn 'round and shout," he wiggled the eggroll as it addressed the other, "'Oi, you might have suckered 'em here, but you'll never make it in America with your poncy music and those bloody stupid haircuts!'"
Joyce covered her mouth to giggle. "You said that? To the Beatles."
He took a bite out of his eggroll alter-ego and nodded. "Looked right dejected, they did."
Pointing with her chopsticks, Buffy said, "You are such a liar."
"Why would I lie about that?" He watched her munch on a snowpea. "Most wrong thing I ever said."
"Shyeah. Begging to differ."
He raised a brow. "Are you now?"
"Please. That doesn't even crack the top ten."
"Oh, now there's a list? Spike's all-time greatest misses?"
She nodded. "'I'm gonna kill you on Saturday, Slayer.' 'I'm gonna kill you tonight.' 'Soon as I get the blank of blankity blank, you're as good as dead.' Should I go on?"
"Oh, right. Like you've never said," hand on his heart, he went into girl-mimic-mode, "'Spike, I've really had it with you, I mean it this time, you're in for it now! And yet... there's something about you, I just can't... do it!' Drops stake. Kisses irresistible villain."
"Shut up!" Chuckling, she kneed his thigh. "That never even happened!"
"'You're not like the other villains, Spike! You're dreamy! Let's make a baby!'" He quaked with laughter while ducking her inevitable swats.
And sitting there watching them, Joyce noticed something remarkable: she hadn't seen her daughter this happy in a long, long time.
* * *
"Morning, Mom." She closed the back door behind her.
"Buffy!" Joyce stirred her coffee. "I thought you were asleep."
"Nah, I needed to go for a jog. I haven't really trained or patrolled in a week, feeling kind of useless."
"Don't you usually train with Giles on Sundays?"
Buffy shrugged, averted her eyes. "Usually."
"Shouldn't you at least call him? See if he's found anything out?"
"'Bout what?" Peering into the refrigerator, she chose a bottle of Aquafina.
Joyce stared at her daughter. "About the spellcasting fiend who obviously wants your baby? Or have you forgotten about that?"
Buffy slammed the refrigerator door a little too forcefully, and had to pick up a fallen magnet that said 'Fortune favors the brave'.
Touching its smooth surface, she said, "I dream about it every night. I couldn't forget about it even if I wanted to."
"Oh. Honey, why didn't you say--"
"Because there's nothing I can do." She replaced the magnet. "I have nothing to go on. It's like catching the last five minutes of a Fellini movie. Over and over and over again."
"Maybe if you worked together with Giles--"
"Mom, it's not that simple. He doesn't trust Spike, and--"
"Aren't there more important things at stake here than the way he feels about your boyfriend?"
Buffy was stubbornly silent.
With a sigh, Joyce leveled with her. "Look, it's just that I could tell when I spoke to him... He desperately wants to see you."
"Yeah?" Their eyes met. "Well I don't really want to see him." Dropping her walkman on the table, she left the room.
* * *
On her stomach, turning a page in her textbook, Buffy smiled when she heard her door open and close. "Sun goes down, Spike comes up."
"Clothes come off." He sat on the bed, raised her shirt and kissed the small of her peach-soft back. "Spike goes down."
"Not tonight, Spike doesn't."
He raised his head and ventured, "Buffy goes down?"
She gave him a no-nonsense glare.
"What? Mum's not home." He rubbed circles on her back. "Cat's away..."
"Mice won't play. 'Cause I just checked my syllabus, and guess what? I've got an exam tomorrow."
"Oral exam? I've got just the tongue for a good cramming." He wiggled it to demonstrate.
She snorted. "Give it a rest, Spike."
He smoothed her shirt down. Temporarily. "What's the test for?"
"French." She held up her pen. "And don't tell me you speak it or I'll make you have sex with me and whisper it in my ear."
He bent down to whisper in her ear: "Je parle français."
She shivered. "Stop it. I have to concentrate."
"If you say so, ma petite tarte de crème."
Emitting a frustrated groan, she spun to wrap her arms around his neck. "Big sexy know-it-all. Is there anything you don't know?"
"Calculus." He looked up, thoughtful. "Chinese. The hustle." He tugged at her shirt. "How to undo this bloody button."
Chuckling, she caught his hand. "You shouldn't be undoing it anyway. You should be helping me."
"I am." His nose brushed against hers. "I'm helping you get undressed."
"No." She touched a finger to his lips. "Help me with French. And not the kissy kind."
"Alright, fine." Relenting, he pulled back. "I'll be your bloody teacher."
"Mmm..." Naughty thought montage invading her brain, she ran her hands down his chest. "Professor Spike."
"See, you're asking for it!"
"I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I won't do that again. I promise."
"Hey, I'm not complaining, I'll play whatever you want." He bent down to kiss her neck.
Oh. God. "Okay. Stop! Stop. We're studying. Studying."
He nodded, swallowed. "Right. Okay. Studying."
For a long moment, they searched each other's eyes... until she threw her pen aside, grabbed his head and said, "Teach me, Professor Spike."
Snickering evilly, he wrapped her legs around his waist and bore down on her. "Oh, I'll teach you, all right. Je t'enseignerai tout ce que tu dois savoir."
"Wanna be teacher's pet?" Voice low and urgent, he unzipped her pants and yanked them off her hips. "Tu veux atteindre le septième ciel?"
"Ooh, la la!"
* * *
Squeak, squeak, squeak, squeak--
Joyce looked up at the ceiling and shut the front door as hard as she could.
The squeaking stopped. There was a muffled thump.
Sighing in defeat, she took off her coat. My daughter is having sex with her vampire lover, right now, in my house.
Starting dinner, that was a good course of action.
* * *
"Early morning cram session," Joyce noted smugly. "You must have a test."
"French," Buffy confirmed with a nod. "Turns out Spike speaks it fluently, though. Last night he helped me study."
Grabbing a carton of Tropicana from the refrigerator, Joyce mumbled, "There's a word for it."
"Nothing." She opened the carton, and glanced at the cooktop behind Buffy. "Are you boiling something?"
"Oh. I had this intense craving for pasta shells this morning. Is that weird?"
Surprised, Joyce said, "Like mother, like daughter."
"Yup. The first trimester it was pasta shells in olive oil. Then it was bowties in tomato sauce with black olives -- sliced, not whole. Then it was..." She looked up for a moment, and pointed. "Penne. Drenched in alfredo."
"Ugh." She clutched her belly. "The drenching. I can't even imagine right now."
"Give it time."
* * *
Buffy took a deep, long breath before entering Psych 101. You can do this. You can. Hey, maybe she'll even ask you to sit with her. It's happened before...
She walked in and saw Willow there, a couple of empty seats beside her -- one no doubt reserved for Oz. Buffy paused in the aisle, books at her chest, waiting for eye contact.
Willow looked up, frowned, and quickly refocused on her notepad.
But, it apparently won't happen again. Defeated, Buffy took a seat in the back, her one consolation that she could go home to Spike in two hours and ravish the hell out of him.
* * *
As she entered the foyer, Joyce caught a glimpse of pale skin; Buffy's head moving on his chest... and was that a whimper? Okay, they were allowed to do it beyond her line of vision, but this was unacceptable.
She flipped on the living room light. "I told you two no..."
Buffy was fully clothed, wrapped in his arms.
"...TV?" she finished lamely.
Spike smirked. "Hello Joyce."
"Hi, Mom." Buffy sniffled, eyes red. "How was work?"
"What's wrong?" She stepped forward. "Are you okay?"
Buffy nodded at the television set. "Fictional sadness."
"Oh." Joyce relaxed. "Work was fine. How was your French test?"
"Aced it," she said, nuzzling into Spike's hand in her hair.
"Good for you!"
Buffy realized that her mother still looked uncomfortable, and that it may have something to do with her boyfriend's state of half-nakedness. "Oh, um, there was an ice cream disaster, Spike's shirt was a casualty. No hanky panky happened, I swear..." At that point, anyway.
"I believe you," she interrupted, hands up. "Is that today's mail?" At Buffy's nod, she picked it up from the coffee table. "Have you eaten yet?"
"The question is, have I stopped eating. Which reminds me." Buffy tapped on Spike's bare chest, "Pass me the Java Chip?"
"Only if you stop watching this drivel."
"Drivel? Beaches is not drivel. And you've watched it this far without a peep!"
"Yeah, well, I'm peeping now. I'm missing a perfectly good Road Rules because of you."
She scoffed, and gestured at her mother. "You heard that, right? You see what I have to put up with? Road Rules."
Leafing through the bills, Joyce paused to say wryly, "Oh, the unspeakable torture."
"Exactly!" She swiped the ice cream carton from Spike. "See, Mom understands. Torture."
"No love, this--" Spike said, pointing at Bette Midler, warbling her lungs out. "This is torture. Bloody chick flick with no other purpose but to pluck out your bloody heartstrings with bloody senseless death and sad songs and--"
She gasped. "You're afraid you're gonna cry!"
"Am not!" he barked defensively. "Why would I--"
"Awwwwwwww...." She tickled his chest.
"Hey! Don't patronize me, Missy -- or don't you remember who you're talking to? I'm William the Bloody! I don't cry, I make people cry! No matter how whipped you think I am--"
Laughing, she pet his chest. "It's okay, honey, just let it out... Do you want me to hold you?"
"Bloody...!" He growled in frustration. "Are you done? Had your fun yet?"
The doorbell rang, and Joyce went to answer it.
"Wait, Mom, watch out." Buffy pulled back the curtain, but couldn't see who was there. "Let me get it."
"No, I'll do it," Spike nudged her up.
"Just what I need, a shirtless vampire butler," Joyce said. "Don't worry, I know who it is."
"Who?" Buffy muted the TV and waited, ears perked.
"Hi, come on in." Joyce re-emerged in the living room with Giles at her side.
"Giles?" Buffy smoothed out her clothing. "What -- what are you doing here?"
"Erm..." He glanced at Spike, who was putting on his ice-cream-stained shirt, then at Joyce.
Joyce spoke up. "I uh, I told him you wanted to see him."
"I know, I meddled. But I also know that deep down, it's the truth." She stood there for a moment, wringing her hands, then said, "I'll let you talk," before making herself scarce.
Giles watched her hurry up the steps, and cleared his throat. "Right. Well. ...Hello, Buffy. Spike."
"Rupert." Spike tucked a stake in his back pocket and picked up his coat.
"Where are you going?" Buffy implored.
"Having a smoke, doing the rounds. Won't be long."
"Well, be careful..."
Her boyfriend left, and she was alone in the living room with Giles. "If you're gonna tell me how dangerous Spike is, how he shouldn't be here, you can just--"
"Well... good." She moved over on the couch, leaving a space for him to sit.
He sat beside her, and a moment passed in awkward silence as he considered where to begin.
"Java Chip?" she offered, picking up the carton of ice cream. He declined, and she put it back down again.
Steepling his hands, he said, "I believe I once told you that there are two types of monster. Those who want to be redeemed... and those who can't possibly be."
"Because they can't love," she nodded; remembering... and then his meaning struck her.
"Yes." He took off his glasses, folded them closed, ran his thumb along the wire rim. "He cares for you a great deal, Buffy. It defies all rational explanation; it's... it's mystifying, really... but it's undeniable."
She squinted at him, thinking he must have been replaced with Pod Giles. "Are you actually saying... you think Spike is redemption-worthy?"
"I suppose I am. Strange as that sounds." He returned her smile, then lifted a finger in warning. "But I do believe he has a long way to go. And if he does turn round and kill us all, I reserve my right to say 'I told y--'"
The door smacked open, and Spike whirled in like a tornado, panting. "Hate to break up your little heart to heart, but there's something out there."
* * *
"What is it?" Buffy asked, hands in her coat pockets.
Giles bent down to inspect the reeking pile, covering his nose with his arm. "A Legoa. A Grankth. And underneath that... a badly decomposing... Plyn'p. I think. Or a Mudge." He chuckled. "Could be a bloody Zuxugna, for all I can make of him."
"Right," Buffy said, eyebrows up. "Ask a stupid question..."
Giles said to Spike, "It's not just Gansaos they're after."
"Yeah. Looks like they're mowing down any beastie unlucky enough to stroll by."
"Hey. What? Hello?" Buffy said. "How do you know about the Gansao? And who's they?"
"Not sure," Giles said, wiping his hands on his slacks. "Whoever they are, they've clearly been fighting your battles -- only I'm not convinced it's to protect the world from evil."
"Maybe not the world," Spike said ominously. "Maybe just us."
Joyce opened the back door, and called out to the three figures standing in silence at the woodsy end of her backyard, "Who's up for pizza?"
* * *
"Now that was a kick," Lamashtu drawled like a Sunnydale native as she sat back and fluffed out her new blonde bob. "So, WinQuar, whattaya think?"
"It is not worthy of you, your darkness."
"Of course it's not." Her face morphed, and she ran her fingertips over its ridges, down to her sharp fangs. "Vampire bodies. Never as fun as human, and way hard to control. Ugh, is this how everybody talks around here? I sound like the Slayer." With a frustrated sigh, she said, "Anyway, it'll do for tonight. Tomorrow I want someone a little less moronic, mmkay?"
Nodding, he watched her hands move over her legs, her torso, her breasts, and lost his train of thought.
"Now, what was it you wanted to tell me, Winnie?" She made a face, disgusted at herself. "'Winnie'?"
"Uh..." He cleared his throat. "There's been a minor setback, something I did not foresee."
Her hands plunked to her lap. "Not what I wanted to hear."
"Do bear in mind that I brought you this body, that I helped you achieve corporeal form."
She rolled her yellow eyes. "Well, the body sucks. Go on."
WinQuar steeled himself for her wrath. "During your... transformation, the Slayer found the carcasses of three demons my men killed."
She sat up. "You left them out to be discovered?"
"Not I, the Winiqua--"
"Nuh-uh, you!" Lamashtu said, pointing a finger. "You're responsible for them!" She gaped and accused, "You're losing your touch!"
"I--" He took a steadying breath. "I only gave them your orders. They were told to protect, to kill. Nothing else."
"Well tell them..." She lunged and grabbed him by the neck, "...to pick up a fucking shovel while they're at it!"
Catapulted into a torch on the far wall, WinQuar's cloak ignited.
"I'm going out," she said, smoke wafting up the stairwell as he flailed on the stone floor behind her. "Don't wait up."