The same dream, reorganized and in slow motion: A group of gray humanoids chanting in a dark cave. A bronze goblet on an altar, filled with blood and surrounded by flames. A faceless dark-haired woman wielding a knife in one hand and a crying infant in the other. Suddenly, its eyelids open to stare with a cold, reptilian gaze, and the woman whispers, "It's got my eyes."
Gasping awake, Buffy sat up, fingering the sachet hanging from her neck. The term works like a charm came to mind... until panic attack took over.
"Mmm..." Oblivious, Spike hooked his chin over her shoulder and embraced her middle. "Morning, babies."
She grasped his forearm. "Spike..."
"What is it, kitten? Feel sick?"
"Not -- morning, no..."
"Hmmm..." Caressing the swell of her belly, he teased, "Gettin' big."
"Huh?" She shooed his hand away to see for herself -- and he wasn't wrong. There was a bump where there hadn't been the night before. It was small, but distinct. And far from normal. "What? How can that..."
He laughed. "I'll tell you how: you polished off half a pizza last night."
Voice trembling, she said, "This is not pizza."
"Buffy, it's all right..."
"No," Buffy pushed him away, swung her legs over the bed and placed her feet on the floor. "It's not." She looked down at her toes digging into the rug, the sachet swinging over them. "I saw its eyes."
"The baby. Our..." She turned to face him. "I think it's a vampire."
* * *
"This woman, who said it 'had her eyes'... you couldn't get a good look at her face?"
"That's what upped the creep factor. I could see it fine," Buffy explained as they approached the office door. "There was just nothing there."
"Rather odd," Giles said absently, raking his fingertips through his hair before knocking.
Watching him, Buffy smirked. "Rather."
He quickly dropped his hands and covered with, "Is there uh, anything else you remember? Anything at all?"
"Um, her shirt. Beige. Pretty. I think it was Donna Karan."
The door opened to reveal a smiling brunette in a lab coat. "Rupert!"
"Sanvi. It's so good to see you again," Giles walked in and hugged her in a way that screamed they'd once been intimate. Reminded of Buffy's presence, he stepped back. "And thank you for seeing us on such short notice."
"Are you kidding? What else would I do with my Sunday afternoon?" She held him at arm's length. "I still can't believe it. All this time we've been virtual neighbors!"
As they talked, Buffy sized up her Watcher's ex-squeeze. Though she was clearly all business -- no makeup, black hair tightly upswept, eyes framed by severe glasses -- Buffy knew a dish when she saw one. A few years younger than Giles, she guessed, with a clipped, melodic accent that sounded like a mix of Hindi and Brit. Dazzling smile, near-flawless skin...
Yup. Evil personified.
"Miss Summers, it's a pleasure -- and might I say an honor -- to meet you. I'm Doctor Sanvi Patel."
Buffy hesitated before shaking her hand.
"I can see that you don't completely trust me," the doctor observed with a sideways smile.
Giles tried to explain.
"No," she stopped him with an outstretched hand as she took a seat behind her mahogany desk. "I'm glad of that." She motioned for Buffy to sit in a facing chair. "You should be very careful. But let me assure you that I have a legitimate practice here in Northridge. Strictly human women and their human children. I don't intend to mar my reputation in any way."
"Of course not," Buffy agreed, glad that Willow was running a background check just in case.
"Quite honestly?" Dr. Patel leaned forward, "After leaving the Council, I wanted nothing more than to pretend the realm of the supernatural didn't exist. Sometimes it's easier that way -- I'm sure you understand." She glanced briefly at Giles.
Both the Slayer and her Watcher nodded soberly, understanding in different ways.
"But now," she stood and straightened her white coat lapels, "Here you are, a slayer with child. A vampire's child. The result of a witch's transformative spell. And fortunately, both of us want the very same thing -- and that is simply to find out what it is. Yes?"
* * *
"Well, you'll be relieved to know it isn't a rodent of any kind," Dr. Patel announced over the baby's amplified heartbeat, and swiveled the ultrasound monitor towards Buffy. "Completely human in appearance."
"One down," Buffy exhaled, squeezing Giles' hand. "Or hey, multiple..."
Giles gave her a tight smile.
"However, your suspicions about its accelerated growth were correct. The fetus appears to be about nine weeks along, not six."
The vampiric eyes Buffy saw in her dream flashed before her.
As the doctor outlined the baby parts that supported her case, Buffy looked to her Watcher, frightened.
"For all we know it could be a by-product of being a slayer," he offered. "This is unprecedented after all."
"Yeah but, why the sudden growth spurt? And what if it keeps... spurting? What do I do?"
Sanvi patted her arm. "I'm going to run some tests. Provided it doesn't grow to maturity over the next week, you'll have some time."
With a whimper, Buffy dropped her head back on the pillow.
* * *
Spike paced through the foyer. This was maddening. No, stupid, more like. He exhaled a bitter chuckle. Give me a cigar and the image'll be complete.
What was wrong with this picture? Why was he, William the Bloody, slayer of slayers, vampire feared the world over, doing sod-all with his time but worrying and waiting for a slayer to return with news of their lovechild?
He hated this. He hated that he had not a lick of control over the way he felt about this girl. Couldn't stop... loving her, caring about her. It was sick, is what it was.
And where was she, anyway? He glanced at the VCR clock. Sat on the couch. Leafed through a magazine, put it down. Looked out the window. She should be back by now.
He got up to pace and recalled a time when he worried about Drusilla this much. Dru. He shook his head. "If you could see me now..."
You'd be sorry, 'cause this is all your fault, he surmised. Bitch.
Dru had to run off and abandon him yet again, forcing him to return to Sunnydale to avenge the girl she blamed... except the moment he saw Buffy, something made him change his mind. He couldn't put his finger on it. Maybe it was the moonlight shining on her skin as she stood there in the University quad. Maybe it was the way she looked at him -- boldness masking fear and a buzzing undercurrent of desire. Or maybe it was the attractive lilt in her voice when she said, "You just can't stay away, can you?"
Of course, they'd scrabbled like animals. Danced their usual dance, but he knew something was different. Didn't want to admit it then, but he knew. And it wasn't just him, either -- something stopped her from dusting him that night. She let him go with a threat: "If I find out you've killed anyone..."
Immediately afterwards, he became useless as a vampire. Couldn't bite a human, or anything with a heartbeat, to save his life. He sought her out to angrily accuse her of witchcraft, but believed her denial. One thing the Slayer wasn't was a witch.
He made sure to badger her the whole night through, though. And the next night, too. Tried to get to the bottom of it: even pressured the gang to do some detective work. They came up empty, but he suspected they were wary of getting anywhere near that gift horse's mouth.
Mysteriously, he found himself unable to stop following her around, and by default, fighting by her side. He tried extortion as an explanation for a while -- give me blood money and I'll help you lot out, but it didn't take for long. Funny thing was, Buffy seemed to want him around, if only to have someone to argue with. And when those dim-witted Winiquas became a nuisance...
What was taking her so bloody long? He hated that he couldn't go with her, couldn't be there for her, couldn't know right away. Damned sunlight. Why couldn't they have made the appointment now, at dusk?
He heard the distinct putter of Giles' car slow to a stop out front. Doubts and fears forgotten, he waited at the door and opened it before she did.
Buffy's lips pursed into a wan smile. "Hey."
"You all right?"
She crumpled into his arms.
"Oh, baby." He kissed her head.
She didn't say anything, didn't cry, just felt the comfort of his embrace.
After a moment, he asked, "What's the verdict?"
Her head shook against his chest. "Worse."
He sighed histrionically. "It's a girl then?"
"Not funny." She stepped back, sniffled. "I've only been pregnant for six weeks, but the baby's over two months along."
"Do something I should know about two months ago?"
She could have staked him with that glare.
"Sorry. Couldn't resist. So it's on a diet of Miracle-Gro. Means less time off your feet. Could be a slayer perk."
"Or a vampire un-perk," she pouted, walking towards the living room couch.
"Vampire?" He followed her. "That's a load and you know it. Vampires don't grow. We stop growing, remember? 'Cept for the hair and fingernails. And another thing. We don't have heartbeats."
"Yeah. I get that, and thanks for the reminder about your state of walking-deadness. But, you didn't see its eyes..."
"In the dream?" He sat beside her on the couch. "Pet. Witchly trinket or no, could've been your fear talking, just the same. That, or one too many viewings of Rosemary's Baby."
She exhaled, lifted her gaze to his. "I have to make a decision, Spike. Soon."
"About..." He pulled back. "Oh."
"I know what you want. I know what Giles wants. I just don't know what I want."
"Watcher not keen on being a granddad? There's a shocker."
"Well, he didn't outright tell me to get rid of it, but he's worried. Can you blame him? I mean, I've got enough danger in my life. And now there's the possibility that some evil little vampire hybrid might eat me from the inside out. Which, picnic, not."
Spike said resolutely, "Won't happen."
"What makes you so sure?"
He shrugged. "It's got a soul, of course."
* * *
"The baby," Buffy said into the phone as she stared into the refrigerator. "Has a soul, right? I mean, it's at least part human, so it definitely has a soul."
"Well, I... I suppose," Giles said. "I suppose it does."
"Then, okay, so why would it feed on me?"
He took a breath. "Babies, ensouled or not, are not known for their stalwart adherence to conscience, Buffy. They do whatever it is they must to survive. If a fetus needs sustenance, it will take it. If your fetus needs blood--"
"Right." Buffy peered at the mug Spike had left on the kitchen counter. "Okay. Just asking. Gotta run."
Hanging up the phone, she approached the mug, dipped her finger in and slowly brought it to her mouth.
"What are you--?"
"Nothing!" Buffy chirped as she twirled and hid her hand behind her back.
Spike accosted her with a frown. "Were you about to taste my blood?"
She forced a chuckle. "No."
He grabbed the hand she was hiding, and held it up. "Looks like blood. Smells like--"
"Okay, okay, I did... try. But only 'cause I realized if he wants blood, if it'll stop him from lunching on me, then I should just let him--"
"You don't let him anything. You give a vampire his first taste of blood, and the hunger never stops."
"I thought you didn't think he was--"
"I'm not letting you take any chances."
"But -- the doctor said the placenta has blood..."
"That's your own blood. His own blood. Blood from another, that's different. Even if it is pig sludge."
There was a tinge of pain in Spike's tone. She knew he couldn't feed on the living -- he'd claimed the thought of it turned his stomach, and the fact that he hardly left her side was alibi enough. But discomfort or no, he was still a vampire, ruled by demonic instinct. It had to be difficult to curb the impulse to feed. "So... how do you do it then?"
He stared at her crimson finger. "Do what?"
"Drink pig sludge when you'd rather be drinking people? Control the, the hunger?"
"I've been around a long time, pet. Just... got a lot of control, is all."
She raised a brow. "And that's why you're salivating over my finger?"
"Well, you... you're a different story," he said, eyes boring into hers. "You bring me to my knees." He licked her finger, then took it in his mouth and sucked.
She quivered, mesmerized.
"C'mere," he rasped, and pulled her flush against him.
"No," she pushed him away.
"What you mean, no?"
"I mean, you have to go. The sun's down, my mom's coming home in two hours, and I really need some time to think about everything."
Off of his blank expression, she added, "Alone?"
Smirking, he captured her once again. "I love it when you try to resist me."
"I'm serious!" She wrested free and scurried to the opposite side of the kitchen.
"No, you're not," he said, stalking her. "You want me to stay."
"Do not..." She let a smile slip.
He smiled. She took off. He gave chase.
Spike caught her on the stairs, grabbed her by the chest and bent her forward as she squealed and giggled. "Don't try to resist me." Running his fingers up her thighs, he lifted her skirt and rubbed her bottom, shredding the thong that got in his way. "It won't do you any good."
Her ass high in the air, Buffy rested her palms on the staircase in front of her.
"Want me to go, do you?" he asked, unzipping his jeans.
"Yep," she lied, anticipating his next move.
He nudged the tip of his erection against her slippery opening.
"This much." Pushing back, letting him in, she felt a prickling sensation shoot from her pelvis to her neck.
"I know what you really want," he sneered as he thrust forward. "I always know." He held her by her hips, maneuvering her to and fro. "Still want me to go?"
"Not... at the moment..." she breathed.
A car door slammed in the driveway.
Buffy shot up. "Oh god! My mom!"
"Bloody hell," he growled, and picked her up, propelling her up the staircase, trying not to trip over his jeans.
"Let me go!" she protested in annoyance, attempting to wriggle out of his grasp.
"Be quiet," he ordered, and got them up the stairs and into her darkened room, kicking the door shut just as the front door opened.
"Buffy?" they heard.
"Spike--" she hissed as he flung her face-first over the bed and continued to slide in and out of her.
"I said," he repeated through grit teeth as he cupped a hand over her mouth, "Be. Quiet."
Buffy let go of her indignance and gave in, secretly delighting in this more... snarly side of Spike.
He pulled her up into the position he'd had her in on the stairs, and she rose on her tiptoes to meet his thrusts.
"Buffy?" her mother called out again, but farther away this time. Still downstairs, but probably in the kitchen...
Spike brought a hand under her and rubbed at her clit, forcing her to bite into the comforter to stifle a moan.
He pushed harder, faster, urgently, until his eyes rolled back and he'd emptied his load.
As the bed shook for his final thrust, one of Buffy's textbooks fell and landed with a thunk.
Spike froze. But Buffy was too far gone to stop. Gotta come...
"Buffy?" In the foyer again. "Are you up there?"
"Shit," she breathed, wishing her mother would just wait, just a second... had to keep her downstairs somehow. "Coming, Mom!"
Bloody right you are...
She writhed against him wildly as he remained buried inside of her, his fingers working her in steady rhythm.
He felt her begin to shudder and bent down to grab a pillow, letting her bury her face in it and cry out.
Still quivering, she pushed him off and motioned for him to climb out the window. She found her bathrobe and put it on over her clothes, then wrapped a towel around her head.
He sat at the windowsill, watching her with a smile.
"Go!" she mouthed.
He pursed his lips to send her a kiss, then dropped into a backward somersault down the eave.
* * *
"Hey, Mom," Buffy casually greeted as she entered the kitchen, her legs still wobbly and numb. "You're home early."
"I took an earlier flight." Holding Spike's mug, Joyce turned. "What is this?"
"That?" Buffy tried to use her sex-fried brain. "That... is just a little experiment I was working on. Juicing without a juicer. It... didn't really work out."
"Funny," she inspected the contents of the mug. "It almost looks like blood."
Buffy took it from her and laughed. "It does. Hence, the not working." She turned on the faucet and cleaned it out. "So how was Frisco?"
"Oh, you know. Lots of artsier-than-thou types. But I got some great pieces. How was Sunnydale?"
"Oh, you know. Same old, squared." She tightened the belt of her robe, hoping the rumpled clothing beneath was entirely hidden.
"Are you all right?" Joyce asked, concern lining her features.
"Me? Yeah! I'm fine."
"Are you sure? You seem a little jittery. And your face is bright red..." She reached out to touch Buffy's cheek.
"No, I'm fine," she drew back. "Really. It's just been a crazy week."
"Anything I should know about?"
Her mouth went dry. "Huh?"
"Any evil brewing I should beware of?"
"Oh! No," Buffy blurted. "Evil on a downswing. For now, at least."
"Well, there's a relief. Feel up to a moviefest? We can break out the Jiffy-Pop..."
Buffy couldn't imagine spending all night with her mother without committing major spillage. "I've got a ton of homework for Psych class tomorrow. I should get back to it. Raincheck?"
"Of course, honey. I'll see you in the morning."
Buffy was walking back to the foyer when she heard, "And hon? Will you pick up those undies you left on the stairs?"
Her eyes widened. There they were, soaked with her come, torn at the seams, and hanging haphazardly on the railing. "Guess they fell out of the laundry basket!" she yelled, and tucked them into her robe pocket, grumbling, "Spike, you are so dead..."
* * *
"I want him alive," the voice hissed.
"The bloodsucker? But he's of no--"
"I will need him. When the time is ripe."
WinQuar nodded once at the hazy mist of a figure before him. "As you wish, your Darkness."
"You've done well for me, WinQuar. When this phase is complete, you will be rewarded." The whispering haze momentarily took the form of a woman, bending and swaying in the air. Tendrils of mist curled toward him, spiraled up his middle, brushed across his lips and whispered in his ear, "But first, my sweet... You have work to do. Yes?"
Shaking with lust, WinQuar choked, "Ye - yes..."
The haze smiled, and retracted.
WinQuar shot his arms into the air and spoke in his native tongue, finishing with a repeated chant: "WiniQua! WiniQua! WiniQua!" With each repetition, a new figure materialized behind him, each a blank-eyed clone of their silver-eyed creator.
The army of Winiqua demons stood in wait for their master's instruction.
He barked at them in harsh, authoritative syllables. Immediately, they dropped to their knees and bowed before the hazy figure, crying out in unison:
"Hail Lamashtu! She of the Night!"