"You should wear white more often," Buffy teased, touching the starchy collar of the Hanes t-shirt her watcher had insisted Spike wear. She couldn't resist -- he seemed so uncomfortable in it. "It's totally your color. Maybe something in a..." she walked her fingers up to his head, "fedora?"
With a smirk, he seized her hand and pulled her closer in his lap. "I don't do hats."
"Wonderful," Giles said into the phone. "Thank you so much, Sanvi, we do appreciate it. I appreciate it. Yes, well," he chuckled bashfully, and turned his back to his guests.
Spike and Buffy exchanged a look of intrigue and listened in.
"Yes, that would be... I'd like that very much. Yes... a-alright, we'll discuss it then. Very well. Bye." He hung up, smiling to himself until he noticed he had Buffy and Spike's rapt attention. So they're aware of life beyond their personal drama after all, he realized to his dismay. Lucky me.
"See, honey?" Buffy patted Spike's arm. "If you hadn't knocked me all up, Giles wouldn't have a hot date with a doctor tonight."
"There is no 'hot date', thank you." The smile resurfaced, along with his inner rogue. "...Tonight, anyway."
Buffy play-gasped. "Giles!"
"'Bout time he got shagged," Spike said, running his fingers through Buffy's silky hair. "How long's it been, mate? Two, three decades?"
"Do shut up. Both of you. And be grateful she was kind enough to fit us in at two."
Spike sat up. "Two? Can't she do it later?"
"I'm afraid not." He turned to browse the bookshelf. "She's very busy, and this is an emergency, after all."
"I'll get a blanket for the car then."
"Honey," Buffy said, "even for the non-combustible that car's like an Easy Bake on wheels. I don't want you baked. I need you bake-free."
"But I want to be there," he pouted. "Holding your hand, watching the monitor. Getting all puffed with pride when I see he's hung like his pop."
"Okay, that started out sweet and took a really wrong turn." She placed an index finger on his lips to prevent interruption, "Two-to-one odds of a betty, remember? And what, two thousand-to-one on a vampire bunny?" She looked to Giles, who shrugged a silent Give or take.
Spike nipped at her finger and said friskily, "I was a well-hung bunny too, as I recall."
"You don't recall anything about being a bunny." Extricating herself from his grasp, she put on her shoes.
"Sure I do. The intense craving for carrots, the sight of your cute fluffy cottontail -- it's all comin' back to me."
"Stop it." She pried his impish paws off her ass. "I swear you'll come with next time. In the meantime, just relax, take advantage of Giles' exciting amenities, and we'll be back before you can say 'Jack Rabbit'. Or something a lot longer." She roughed up his uncombed hair and gave him a soft peck on the lips.
"You're leaving now?"
"Yeah. It's like a two hour ride in the Slowmobile."
"I heard that," Giles said, pulling a book out of the shelf.
"What am I supposed to do in the meantime?"
Giles came at him with a stack of antique demon-identifying tomes and dumped them in his lap. "Find your midnight visitor."
"Oi, no fair!"
"Bye honey!" She blew him a kiss. "Have a good time!"
"I--" The door shut, and Spike glared at the dusty books in his lap, then at the shirt he wore. "White is not my color!"
* * *
"I swear it's bigger since this morning," Buffy said, scooting backward on the examination table. "I'm afraid it might not stop this time."
"I'd like you to come back tomorrow to see if it's continued to grow," the doctor said, starting the ultrasound prep. "Then perhaps we'll have a bead on the delivery time frame."
"Okay. Beads are good. Um... Do you think we could make the appointment sometime after dark?"
"If you'd prefer."
"Vampire Dad; really wants to be here. It's freaky, I know, but what can I do?"
She only smiled. "Rupert tells me he's one of a kind."
"He said that? About Spike," Buffy added, making sure she had the right vampire.
"He thinks quite a lot of him." She glanced behind her, in the direction of Giles, who waited outside the room. "But you didn't hear it from me."
That upped her on the cool chart enough for Buffy to feel comfortable with meddling. "You know, Giles -- I mean, Rupert -- he thinks a lot of you too."
Was that a faint blush? "Well. The feeling's mutual."
"This is none of my business, so feel free to call me cheeky, but you two dated once, right?"
"Oh, yes," Dr. Patel said. "We were fairly serious. It was work that came between us."
"I keep telling him he needs to learn how to juggle work and a social life..."
"Oh no, it wasn't anything like that. A project I was assigned gave me such a scare that I left the Council, the country, and, as it happens, the man I was falling in love with."
"Wow," she said, not wanting to pry but hoping she'd share, "that's one scary project."
"It was so long ago," she waved her hand in dismissal. "I was young and easily frightened. I'm no slayer."
"Slayers get spooked too," Buffy assured her. "Leaving everything behind for the normal? Major fantasy of mine."
She gave her a sympathetic smile. "I was lucky to have the choice."
Buffy agreed. "And you chose the California dream."
Dr. Patel nodded. "I enrolled in medical school here, married an upstanding heart surgeon and never looked back."
"Until Giles called you." Buffy suddenly felt solely responsible for dragging this poor woman back to the dark side.
"All right, I lied. I did look back a little. After my divorce, there were a few times I thought about tracking Rupert down. Apologizing..." She looked off into space for a moment, and got back to her prep work. "And this, well I'd forgotten how very fascinating the realm of the supernatural can be. You can take the woman out of the Council..." Dr. Patel flipped the monitor switch.
There it was, on the screen: black and white evidence that the realm of the supernatural was alive and thriving... inside of her.
Buffy mentally completed the sentence: But you can't take the Council out of the Buffy.
* * *
Spike was bored. And starved. And stuck. Sure, leave the just-housebroken vampire cooped up with a pile of books and nothing to eat, there's a way to test his homicidal tendencies.
He tossed the volume he was barely skimming aside and raided the kitchen. Not a drop of leftover blood in the fridge, the inhospitable bastard. But there was an uncooked rump roast, and he could get creative with that.
Teeth elongating, he bit the plastic so he could drip the run-off into a mug, but not before it bled all over Giles' white shirt and the terra cotta floor.
With a sigh, he balanced the roast on the mug and used his shirt to sop up the mess, all while recognizing a pair of voices outside: Xander and Anya, arguing about policework as a valid career choice. She thought he'd look sexy in uniform, he thought he'd look like a Village Person.
Not caring to weigh in, Spike kept quiet, hoping they'd go away if no one answered the door.
He'd forgotten that at Watcher Headquarters, people didn't knock -- they just waltzed right in.
"Now if I could be an Indian chief, all bets would definitely be..." Xander's happy-go-lucky vibe turned to one of seething hatred and suspicion. "What are you doing here?"
"Nice to see you too." Spike tossed the shirt onto the bartop and sampled his fresh-squeezed au jus. Not repulsive, just needed to be warmed up a smidge.
Taking in Spike's demonic features and the bloodied white shirt, Xander signaled at Anya to stay back. "What did you do to him?"
Spike pressed START on the microwave keypad. "Him who?"
"You know who. Him Giles, that's who."
Anya asked her boyfriend, "Why do you keep doing that with your hands?"
"A cross! Get a cross!" He turned his squinty attention back to his nemesis. "I knew it. I knew you'd snap. I swear to god, if you hurt Giles..."
Spike laughed as he opened the microwave, "What you gonna do? Stand there some more?" He wiggled his fingers. "Oooh."
"If that's his blood, I'm gonna kill you."
"Oh for-- Get your panties unpinched, will you Harris?" Holding up the dripping rump roast, he said, "No red cellies in the house, had to make do." He arched a sinister brow. "That is until you lot came in."
"See?" Xander addressed Anya, who was ransacking a drawer. "Evil, with a capital... 'Eeugh'." Then he yelled, "Giles?!"
Spike snapped out of the comforting fantasy of merrily tearing Xander limb from limb. "He can't hear you, you nit."
"Found one!" She threw it to Xander, and they were all surprised when he caught it with ease.
Crosses. People always held them as if they were deadly, when in fact they packed about the same wallop as a hot curling iron. Not pleasant, but not terrifying either. "He's at the doctor. Took Buffy to get her swelly belly checked."
"Why should I believe you?"
"Why should I give a steamin' crap if you don't?" Oh hallelujah, the sun was setting.
"Maybe you can fool Buffy with your domesticated good guy routine, but you can't fool me. To me you're just a ticking time bomb, and when you go off I'm gonna be the only one here with the wits to end your worthless, despicable life."
"You're one to talk," Spike scoffed. "Your bit of rumpy pumpy here's been getting her bloodthirsty vengeance on for the better part of--" he looked to Anya, "what'd you say?"
"Eleven hundred years," she supplied proudly.
"--eleven hundred! I got what, a tenth of that." He chugged the remaining contents of his mug.
"It's not the same and you know it."
"No, it's worse!" He wiped his mouth. "What, you think she was treating these poor sods to dinner and a show all those centuries? She was torturing, maiming, killing..."
"Destroying entire cities," Anya added.
"Wow," Spike said. "Cities, really?"
"Whipped up a couple world wars too," she said with a humble shrug.
"No kidding! One and two? How--"
"Okay, is there a short to this story?" Xander interrupted, hoping they'd stop doing that.
"Yeah, I never destroyed a bloody city. All I done was take my rightful place at the top of the food chain."
"Parasites aren't at the top of the food chain, they're at the bottom."
"You say to-may-to..."
Frustrated, Xander explained, "Anya is mortal now. Her powers were taken from her; she can't hurt anyone anymore. You, on the other hand--"
"I, on the other hand," he spoke over him as he sauntered out of the kitchen, "choose not to hurt anyone anymore. Which one earns a cookie, hm?"
Anya said, "He has a point..."
"A-ha, so you admit it!" Xander said, ignoring her and shaking the wooden cross at Spike. "You're only playing nice to get into Buffy's cookie jar!"
Her fucking cookie jar? "Watch your mouth, boy."
"I will when you watch where you put yours."
Suddenly, Xander was pinned to the wall courtesy of a really brassed-off vampire, the cross his only means of defense.
Bare skin sizzling against the symbol, Spike warned through grit teeth, "That goddess saves the world and your sorry life on a weekly basis. Show some bloody respect."
After a hard glare, Spike loosed his hold and left.
Xander threw the cross at the door as it shut, retorting with, "Oh yeah, well... you're dumb!"
* * *
"He did what?" Incredulous, Buffy stood beside Giles in the now-Spikeless apartment.
"He slammed Xander against a wall and then just swaggered out, like Dirty Harry. Only bare-chested."
Xander goggled at Anya. "I thought you said I was like-- Never mind. It's no big deal, Buff. Water, bridge, let's just forget it."
"Are you kidding? It's an enormous deal. He can't just go around manhandling my friends."
"Can we use a word other than 'manhandling'?" He reasoned with Buffy, "Look, it didn't even hurt! The cross probably hurt him more than he hurt me."
"The cross? You used a cross?"
"Just a little one," Xander said. "Anyway, we're both fine. Walking, talking, feeling lucky..."
"I'm still gonna kick his ass," Buffy resolved.
"No, Buffy -- Aside from the obv that you're in no condition to kick anyone's ass," he admitted, "he was kinda just looking out for you. He misunderstood something I said."
"Xander asked Spike to stop putting his lips on your body," Anya helpfully explained.
"That's not what I meant," Xander said. "I meant kissing! And there was a context--"
"Then Spike called you a goddess. Xander thought he was being self-righteous and psychotic, but I thought it was nice and not at all insane."
Buffy looked from one to the other. "Okay, huh?"
"I was confused too at first," Anya said. "But it's because Xander compared your underpants to a jar of baked goods that Spike felt he had to defend your honor."
Before Buffy could ask, Xander said, "You know I honor your honor, Buff. I would never dis your honor. I'm honoriffic, I'm honorrhea! ...okay, scratch that." He sat down, defeated. "I just hate the guy. Is that so wrong?"
"Well... I can't make you like him," she sat on the couch beside him, "but you're gonna have to learn to tolerate him, Xand. He's the father--"
"Oh, don't!" He shielded his eyes. "Don't say it!"
"Of my child," she emphasized, and forced eye contact. "I love you, but if you want to stay in my life, this is something you have to do."
Somewhere in the recesses of his psyche, Xander knew that Buffy wasn't irrational or spellbound -- she was in love. In love with the Asshole of Assholia, but in love nonetheless. And truth be told, his own romantic choices weren't the most intelligent either.
As this knowledge slowly made its way to the fore, he cupped his hand over hers and said gently, sweetly, "All right. And I say this because some day, when we're old and gray and you've grown to resent him right down to his full head of still-shiny hair, I want to be there to see you slay him."
She blinked, and gave him a brisk nod. "Deal."
* * *
"Say it again, you wall-eyed, pantywaist, bile-stinking troll!" Teeth gnashed, Spike punched one eye, then the other. "Say it! To! My! Face!"
"Grgle," the wall-eyed demon said, drifting out of consciousness. "Gghrg..."
"He can't say it no more, he's half dead," Willy the Snitch reasoned. "Come on, fellas, violence-free zone, remember?" He beseeched the other patrons, who sat passively at the poker table, "Guys, help me out here!"
"She's not worth it, Spike."
Spike shot up. "Who said that?"
At once, they all pointed at each other.
"Bloody cowards." He stood and stepped on the groaning demon's face, feeling loads better. "Any of you got a problem with me and the Slayer, you tell me straight. We'll talk it out like sensible men."
"Good." He pulled up his chair at the poker table and leaned back, glancing at his hand and the meager spoils he could win this round. These guys were small potatoes; wasn't a lot of point to playing for kittens and golden molars -- Spike was far more interested in U.S. currency. "Where's Rich Boy Arnie tonight? Hiding out from the likes of me I expect."
The demons at the table traded looks, and one finally spoke up. "Arnie's gone. I thought you knew."
"Nobody's seen him in weeks."
"Is that right?" It didn't take a genius to deduce that they suspected his girlfriend, but Spike couldn't easily defend her -- not at the risk of the underworld knowing about her physical disadvantage.
He checked the clock: Buffy was probably back, and he'd gotten what he'd come for -- a good, satisfying brawl. "Guess it's your lucky night, boys. I fold."
* * *
"So here's a funny question," Oz said after running into Buffy on Main Street and offering her a ride home. "Have you seen Willow?"
Buffy wasn't sure how to answer. Did he not know about the rift? Or did he know everything? "We're not exactly on... We haven't been so much-- No. I haven't." Loosening the seat belt to accommodate her bump, she said, "Funnier, maybe: have you seen Spike?"
"No." He changed lanes. "Urgent?"
"Nah." She waved a dismissive hand but continued to scan the streets, eyes peeled for a platinum head. Not that she needed to know where her boyfriend was every second of the day. No, sir. She was only slightly concerned that he may be doing something really stupid. "You?"
"Hard to say. I haven't heard from her since I left to tour with Dingoes last weekend, and her roommate just told me she's been MIA for days."
"Oh, I saw her in the library with Tara yesterday. She's probably just been hanging with her." She felt a pang of jealousy at the thought. "Doing witchy stuff."
"Huh. That's new."
"Yeah," she said with a wistful sigh as they passed the new under-construction wing of Sunnydale High. "Everything changes all of the time."
They drove in silence for until he said, "The thing is, about Willow? You're kind of her hero. Which means she holds you to higher standards than anyone else."
"Her hero?" She snorted a laugh. "Not after last weekend."
"Maybe not. But on the plus side, losing the pedestal earns you 'real' status, and from there? Pretty much impossible to screw up again."
Suppressing a hormone-fueled urge to burst into tears, Buffy smiled and said, "I hope so."
* * *
Spike opened the front door and walked directly into Buffy's fist.
Head snapping backward from the blow, he said, "Ow! What was--"
"That's for manhandling Xander!" As soon as he dropped his guard, she popped him another one. "And that's for making me worry about you!"
"Now let me see it." Wrangling him by his shoulders into the house, she flung him against the coat rack and lifted his shirt. "Oh, baby!" Her demeanor softened at the sight of the cross-shaped burn mark on his chest and she moved to kiss its outline.
"What... Yeah, okay." They toppled to the floor as she continued to make better. Dazed, he made the obligatory protest: "Your mum?"
"L.A." Feeling his every little muscle jump and quiver beneath her lips and his taut goosefleshing skin, she was compelled to go lower.
There was one important issue left: "What'd the doc say?"
"Six months along."
"Shut up." She ripped open and yanked down his pants.
When her tongue flicked over the tip of his cock, he was more than happy to shut up, sit back, and enjoy.
* * *
Resting his head on the pointy toe of Lamashtu's Gucci boots, WinQuar groveled. "I beg your forgiveness."
She felt better in this body, more in tune. This one was sophisticated, European, far more eloquent than the last -- her choice, naturally. "I've rediscovered much in the last twenty-four hours, but one thing in particular has made an impression."
She kicked him in the face. "Never send a man to do a woman's job."
"Yes, your darkness," he said, pinching his bleeding nose.
"That Spike... He's something of a wild card, is he not?"
WinQuar peered at the love of his life as she contemplated another man. "A twig. I could crush him with my bare hands."
She sighed. "You know I find male competition boring. And you of all creatures should anticipate the consequence of such an ill-advised action, hmm?" She leaned forward to veil her menace with a loving caress. "Let's not let it get in the way of our purpose here... yes?"
Of course, he was wrong, and she was right. "It is only that I've missed you." His eyes welled with silver tears of repressed joy. "It has been so long since..."
She licked a fallen tear from his cheek, and promised, "Soon, my darling son. Soon."