"Descendents," Spike said. "Catalina."
"Nope." Chance continued to drum on the back of his seat. "Different D."
Spike listened as he slowed for a yellow light. "Dead Boys--"
"Wrong! Distillers, 'Beat Your Heart Out'. I win!"
"How is that cheating?"
"You didn't hint 'second-rate chick band'."
"Dad!" Chance whacked his arm, and he laughed. "You're such a poseur. You love chick bands, admit it. Raincoats, Crass, the Runaways? Back me up, Mom."
"What?" Buffy took the fuzzy blue earmuffs off her head, the ones Anya had passed along after the twins' last birthday: they were shaped like bunny heads and thus had no business in the Harris house. Buffy kept them in her purse, as they came in handy during father/daughter games like Name That Beat (Even If It Sounds Exactly Like Every Other Punk Rock Beat Ever Beaten) and Who's More Obnoxious, Me or You? "Sorry; muffs."
"The Muffs! Another excellent example."
"Go me with my excellent example-giving," said Buffy. "What was that an example of?"
"Dad's a poseur."
"Psh. Yeah he is."
"Oh, now that's just not fair," Spike said. "Ian? Where's my bloody backup?"
"Out of it." Chance plucked the earbuds out of Ian's ears. "Wake up, Weenie!"
"I was listening to that! Give it back!"
"Dad needs you."
"Oh. Sorry, Daddy."
"Right, tell these two for me," fingers on his lips, he considered the options and settled on, "'Sod off you daft cows'."
"Don't you dare," Buffy warned her son, and slapped Spike's leg.
"What? They're hardly bad words," Spike justified, turning down Revello Drive.
"Yeah, it's pretty innocuous, Mom," Ian said.
"Sweetie, I love you, and I love your Dad but I don't want you to ever talk like him. Ever ever."
"He just said 'innoculous'," Chance said with air quotes and an eyeroll. "I'm thinking you don't need to worry."
"There's no L in innocuous," Ian said. "Dummy."
"Point taken," Buffy said.
"Besides, if he gets his big swishy wish and goes to boarding school in England," Chance said, doing her best Hermione as she held Ian's iPod out of his reach, "he'll talk like Harry Pot-tah! And our dear old Grandpa-paah."
"I'd rather talk like Grandpa than you."
"No one is talking like anyone because Peanut is not going anywhere," Buffy said. And that was final. He was her baby, dammit.
"Sorry." She shut her eyes. "Ian. Sorry."
"You're listening to a book?" Chance said, throwing the iPod at Ian in a fit of disappointment. "I can't believe I'm related to you."
"I get carsick when I read."
"Try some music, geekazoid!"
"Bunny!" Spike chastised. "Let him be his own man, will you?"
"'Man'? Hahahahaha!" She pointed at her little brother. "'Man'."
Ian stuck his tongue out at her and turned his head. She bonked him with a drumstick.
"Oi." Spike snapped his fingers toward the back seat as he parked the Porsche in the driveway. "Hand 'em over. Now."
Chance showed him her empty hands, magician style. "Gone."
"Those sticks are not to be used as--" Distracted by a glance at his wife, Spike's tone softened. "...weapons."
Bathed in golden afternoon sunlight, Buffy's hair tumbled over her face as she unlatched her seatbelt, and it occurred to him why she was being so mindful about it.
He covered her hand with his, and she looked up at him.
He slid her hair out of her eyes and breathed in. "Love you."
She kissed his palm. "Love you more."
"Guys?" Chance said, knocking on the seat. "Are you coming in to Gramma's house too, or are you just gonna sit here holding hands and being generally gross all day?"
"Gob up, bratty." Spike pulled Buffy close for a kiss. "Get out if you can't take the heat."
"Ugh," Chance said, opening the car door, but staying to add, "Why can't you be more like Xan and Anya? Jesse told me they never do it."
"Sick," muttered Ian, and got out to grab his bag in the trunk.
"You're supposed to be glad that we like each other," Buffy said.
"According to who? Because I so did not participate in that survey."
Ian hrumphed quietly before shutting the trunk, "According to whom, stupid."
"Whatevs." The Harris' minivan rolled in and Chance flashed a peace sign. "Later, skaters."
"And you're worried he's gonna sound like me," Spike said, shaking his head in disdain. "You've got to stop teaching her those early '90s colloquialisms, love."
"I'm not! It's all coming back, or something. And by the by, I never said 'later, skater' in my life. ...I don't think. God I hope not."
"Right. They're gone." He squeezed her hip. "Let's have a quickie."
"Why don't we..." Buffy caressed his face and said, voice low and flirty, "get the food out of the back and say hello to Mom and Dad instead?"
"How about..." their foreheads touched and he walked his fingers down to the hem of her dress, "we split the difference, you suck my dick and we call it a night?"
"Nice try," she said, pecked his lips, and got out of the car.
* * *
"Grandpa!" Ian shot through the living room, a tiny blond blur.
"Hello, Ian!" Giles crouched down for a hug. "How did you find the Asimov?"
"It was really good, I read it three times." He took The Intelligent Man's Guide to Science out of his knapsack. "I was reading a story of his too, and it made me wonder. Do you think if you walked from the light to the dark side of the moon it would suddenly go black? Or is it sort of like twilight first, and then it gets darker and darker?"
"That's an excellent question, Ian. I would assume it would be a gradual change, like on earth, but then again there is no atmosphere; perhaps--"
"Let's consult your books!"
"Well, we've packed them all for the renovation, but let's see what we can't dig up."
Spike watched with idle curiosity as his son came to life once more in the presence of his hero: a retired librarian.
"You're really doing it," Buffy said, struck with nostalgia at the sight of the hallway, bare except for a few stacked boxes. "You're really tearing the house down."
"Summers-Hart Enterprises made an offer we couldn't refuse," Joyce said, "what with it costing us absolutely nothing. Y'know, besides signing it over to you."
"You're demolishing my happy childhood memories, Spike."
"'Happy'? That what you're going with now?" He pecked her pouty lip and took her coat to hang. "Don't blame me, blame your girlfriend, he's the one doing the demo."
"I heard that," Xander said, entering the house. "And I thought I was your girlfriend."
"Okay," Buffy said, "maybe not so much 'happy' as, you know, relentlessly eventful."
"Definitely relentless," Joyce agreed, rubbing her daughter's shoulder.
"Excuse me?" Chance horned her way between them. "But how can the first three years of my life not be the happiest memory ever? Seriously."
"Silly Bunny." Buffy pulled at one of Chance's spirally golden curls, watching it spring back into shape. "I'm talking pre-you, when I was young and self-absorbed and when did you put pink and black in your hair?"
"Um. Dad said it was okay."
As Chance zipped out of her grasp, Buffy swung around to Spike, who already had his hands up in defense.
"I said they were lovely colors. Didn't say anything about hair."
"Welcome to the teen years," Joyce said, and added under her breath, "At least she won't be setting her high school gym on fire."
Spike arched a brow. "I wouldn't bet on that."
* * *
The gang chatted noisily in the kitchen, swapping stories and tackling various steps of food preparation like a not-so-oily machine.
For Buffy and the Slayerettes, Thanksgiving held a personal significance. A celebration of their first demonless, post-apocalyptic get-together -- their reintroduction to the Regular -- it was their very own freedom feast.
For Spike, it was something to endure, but even he had begun to accept it as a necessary rite for the general moving on of things. Plus, she always promised an especially raunchy blow job after any big family outing, so long as he smiled through the festivities. She didn't always come through, but when she did... It was worth smiling for.
"Off." Buffy slapped Spike's hand away from the antipasto platter and returned her attention to Anya and Tara's spirited pregnancy compare-off.
They were the main reason Buffy had considered trying again -- seeing her friends so glowy and excited by the news made her pine for that feeling. She'd never had a chance to really want a pregnancy, and since Spike had been pestering her for more kids all along, she knew he'd rise to the occasion. She was right, literally: Before she could even finish the phrase 'what do you think?', he'd bent her over her dojo's pommel horse, bareback.
Of course, the bloom had since worn off the rose for her friends. Tara was midway through her third trimester, and Anya, suffering very vocally as she headed into her fourth, was far from glowy.
"You think that's bad?" Anya was saying. "I can't feel my ass."
"The tenth month," Buffy empathized, "It's a doozy. I could have sworn Peanut was taking out a mortgage on my uterus. He refused to leave."
"Most fun I ever had," Spike said, stealing a cube of provolone. She smacked his hand again.
"Xander hasn't touched me in months," Anya said. "Not that I want him to. Ugh."
"Isn't she the cutest pregnant gal ever?" Xander said, hugging her and kissing her cheek.
"Get off me," Anya said. "I hate you."
"Love you too, babe."
As several conversations struck up around them, Spike rested a palm on Buffy's belly and whispered in her ear, "You're the cutest."
"Shush, Major Obvious. I thought you wanted to wait to tell."
Chance glowered at her from across the room. "Mom?"
"Is there something you need to share with the group? Or, I don't know... me?"
Buffy frowned. "I don't know what you're--"
"Are you pregnant?"
The entire kitchen hushed.
She looked at Spike, who shrugged an okay, and turned back to her daughter, then the crowd in the kitchen. "Well, everyone's here. I was gonna wait until dinner, but... yeah. I am." She held his hand. "We are."
Amidst the ensuing cheer of Wow! Three babies on the way!, Chance left the room.
Buffy nudged Spike. "That bridge you mentioned?"
"Crossing it," he said, and stole another couple of pieces from the platter.
* * *
"There you are."
Chance didn't look up.
"Nibble?" When she kept silent, Spike sat beside her on the porch swing and tossed the cheese cube at a chirping finch, making it flee in terror. She didn't laugh along, and that was a first.
Spike cleared his throat and got serious. "Look, we should have told you and Ian first. I don't know why we thought--"
"Whatever. It's not like you ever tell us anything anyway."
"What's that mean?"
"I'm more grown up than you think, is all."
"Bunny. Sweetheart." He tried to catch her eye. "Something you want to know, just ask me." Unless it involves oh, I don't know, the real origin of your nickname. He really wished he could come clean -- the true stories he could tell! -- but Buffy would have his balls for breakfast. And not in a sexy way.
She chipped at her pink and black nailpolish and fought back a lump in her throat. "Do you really think I'm rotten to the core? Like you have to start over 'cause me and Peanut aren't good enough?"
"What? No! God, no!" He pulled her close. "We're just kidding when we say things like that. Your mother and I adore you. You know that. We did this because we're proud of the amazing human beings we've made. Of what you and Ian are becoming."
After a moment, she said, "Lame."
"Hey." He shook her gently, brought her hand to his heart. "You are the best thing that ever happened to me. That is no lie."
He felt her soften.
"You're my miracle, and Ian's my boy, and this baby is in no way going to replace either one of you. All right?"
She sniffled, overwhelmed. Too much was changing right now. "My ears hurt."
"What's that, baby?"
"Chance!" Xander's twelve year old, Jesse, shouted from the street as he careened across it. "You bring your board, man? This street is tight!"
"Fresh asphalt, byatch!" As she got up to join her friend, she warned Spike with forced sass, "It better not be a girl."