Heart Don't Lie by NautiBitz
Chapter #1 - A Bunny In The Oven

Timeline: An amorphous Season 4 AU where Spike is working with the Scoobs (unchipped), Buffy lives at home, Oz is still around and Giles still works at the high school library. Also, Anya has yet to return. Which is probably a good thing, considering she'd be really freaked out about now.

Author's Note: This began as an authorized sequel to Saber ShadowKitten's one-shot "Humping Like Bunnies." She said, "A Bunny In The Oven?" and I went from there. This first chapter you see was supposed to be the end of it, but then people wanted more, and a plot bunny (yes I said it) started hopping around in my brain...

All you need to know: In the previous story, Buffy and Spike were -- oops! -- transformed into rabbits by Willow. Humping naturally ensued. Here's the zany aftermath.

See more info about this story here.

"No," Buffy told the little plastic stick in her hand, "No! No! No!"

"This can't be happening," she said, but the 99.9% accurate TrueBlueE-Z® Early Detection Kit tacitly begged to differ.

She shook it like a thermometer, sat on the closed toilet seat, shut her eyes, counted to ten and peered at it again, even compared it to the picture on the back of the box; anything to give it another chance to prove that she was hallucinating.

Alas, it refused to indulge her, and the result at the end of the stick remained firm:




It was impossible -- the only two people she'd ever slept with were vampires. And the last vampire she'd slept with? That was just a total fluke. A freak accident! Nay, a nightmare in which she and Spike were sorcelled into rabbits by Willow, left alone to become hapless victims of base animal instinct. Okay, so once the spell had worn off they didn't exactly stop right away but still... fluke. And vampires are supposed to shoot blanks, anyway!

Buffy sighed.

It was impossible. But the damn stick didn't care.

* * *


"Pregnant," Buffy said for the third time, this time enunciating every vowel and consonant.

"Good lord. A-are you quite sure?"

"Let's see," she answered irately, "I wasn't 'quite sure' when my period was late. I wasn't 'quite sure' when I threw up every morning for five days in a row. But after the third positive pregnancy test, gee, I just couldn't be more sure."

"Well." Giles cleared his throat. "Well. This is... unexpected."

"No one expected it less than me," Buffy said dejectedly as she slumped down in the closest chair.

He placed a hand on her shoulder, intending comfort but feeling decidedly lacking. "I'm sorry. I can't imagine how hard this would be for a girl your age..." He perked up. "Now there's a thought. Have you considered talking to your--"

"Mother? Giles are you nuts? This isn't a mother-daughter bonding opportunity. This is a baby."

He reasoned with a tilt of his head, "Actually, that's exactly what a--"

"You know what I mean! I'm carrying Spike's baby! The baby of Spike! This is not a child that should be brought into the world!"

"I understand," he soothed. "Whatever you choose to do with this... situation, you know I'll support you."

"Thanks," Buffy said, calming down. "And I've chosen already. I want it out."

He gave her a sympathetic nod.

"What do you want out?" Willow asked casually as she strolled into the library.

"My demon spawn," Buffy said brightly.

Willow stopped in her tracks.

Xander came in a few paces behind her, nose in a comic book. "What about Spawn?"

Buffy braced herself. This evening was gonna be loads of fun.

* * *

"What I don't get is how he managed to..." Xander made a face, "you know."

"It's technically impossible," Giles affirmed. "Vampires aren't capable of reproduction -- in the human sense of the word anyway. My only guess is that when Spike was in rabbit form, his physiological functions were in, er, serviceable order."

"Oh god, this is all my fault!" Willow cried, head in her hands.

"Will, it's okay, these things happen," Buffy said, breaking her pacing pattern for a moment. "To me."

Willow offered a look of remorse, and the Slayer went back to pacing.

"So, if they were rabbits when it happened," Oz pondered aloud, "is the baby even human?"

Buffy's eyes widened in panic. "There's a little bunny growing inside me?"

"Oh, cute!" Willow cooed without thinking. When all eyes rested on her, she amended, "In a... really creepy way."

With a whimper, Buffy sat down.

Giles moved to allay her fears. "I sincerely doubt that it's a rabbit, Buffy. No traces of your shapeshifted selves remained after the enchantment, not to mention that it's physically impossible for humans to cross-breed with animals. No, I assume it happened at the precise moment you returned to your own bodies, and then simply continued on as if it were a normal conception."

Buffy wrinkled her nose at Giles. It was bad enough that a conception had taken place. Worse, that the product of it could be half vampire. Now the possibility of incubating a rabbit in her womb was giving her an entirely new kind of wiggins, and 'sincerely doubt' was the best he could do?

"We could run some tests, Willow and I," Giles offered. "Of course, we're ill-equipped for obstetric procedure here; you'd eventually have to see a professional. Perhaps I can call the Council and--"

"Eventually? Giles, I'm not waiting to see what this is."

"Right, of course not." He sat down beside her. "It's your body, and if you're sure you want it removed, we'll have it dealt with straight away."

"What's she gettin' removed now?" Spike's voice projected from the stacks before he sauntered into view, looking more interested in the books on the shelf than anything else. "That funny bump on her nose," he picked out an antique hardcover and weighed it in his hand, "or that dodgy stick up her arse?"

Buffy scoffed, hand on her nose. "I don't have a 'bump'."

He returned the book haphazardly to the wrong shelf and gauged the level of tension in the room: 'high' didn't begin to cover it. "I get the picture. White hats-only, Big Bad not in on this party. I'll just go back to my tunnel--"

"Actually, Spike, you're in on this one," Buffy said. "Deep."

"Well. This ought to be good." Leaning against the stacks, thumbs looped into his belt buckle, he settled in for a fresh round of wrongful accusations. "What did I allegedly do now?"

She hadn't planned to tell him -- the situation was humiliating enough without having to hear whatever cruel barb he was sure to toss her way. But somehow, with him standing there all slouchy and defiant, her sense of self-preservation was overpowered by a keen desire to make him suffer. Blind panic followed by waves of nausea would be a promising start.

"Thanks to you, Spike," she announced, "I've got a bunny in the oven."

"And she makes the funny that I didn't dare," Xander lauded, only to be kicked under the table by Willow.

"What's 'at?" Spike asked, confused. "Found a rabbit in your cooker? Why would I put one there? You know I like mine raw."

"Ew, and that's not the kind of oven I mean."

"I don't got all night to play 20 questions with you, girl. What are you on about?"

"I'm 'on about' the half-vampire, possibly half-bunny-rabbit bundle of joy that's growing inside me."

Spike's smirk faded as the implication in her words sunk in. Finally, he dismissed her. "Pft. Good one, Slayer. Almost got me."

"I'm not kidding. Believe me, I wish to God I was."

He searched her expression. "Right. Try a new one. Think I'd know if I could still sprog a lady after all these years."

"Well, congrats." Buffy's chair screeched as she got up to step away from the table, away from Spike. She shouldn't have told him. Bad, bad idea. "I'm sprogged."

"Then I suggest you re-check your calendar and give the real McCoy a call. I'm sure the whole fraternity will be thrilled."

"Excuse me?"

"This is no time for your snide remarks," Giles stood and plucked off his glasses to point menacingly at the vampire. "This is reality and you damn well better take responsibility for your actions!"

Spike frowned, all too aware that the Watcher would never pull a prank on him. The faces of the Scoobies were equally sincere. And Buffy looked like she was holding back either tears, or the urge to brutally stab him. Probably both.

"You were my second," she told him, "time."

Angel, just once, then him? Really?

She tore her gaze from his. Another truth she wished she hadn't shared. How did he do that?

Spike scrutinized her as she stood there, rubbing her shoulders and staring into space. She looked gorgeous, as usual. Normally this ticked him off and made him say all manner of insulting things. But now... now she had something of his budding in her belly, and that was... "Impossible."

"God! Is it so hard to believe I'm not a raging slut?"

"Not you. I meant, us. This. My little swimmers... swimming. How?"

"It was while you were rabbits," Willow supplied.

"So this is your fault, then?" Spike said distractedly, eyes never leaving his Slayer.

Willow whimpered guiltily. "W-- Well, Xander helped!"

"Hey, I didn't know they were Buffy and Spike!"

"Who's fault is it really, huh?" Buffy accused him, "The witch who made us into bunnies, the boy who put us in the same box, or the bunny who molested me?"

Spike's mouth flew open. "Molested? -- I...! You...!" Arms flailing, he finally came up with a coherent response. "I was a bloody RABBIT, for god's sake! Rabbits fuck! It's what they do!"

Buffy winced and turned away from him.

He approached her back. "Better question is, who was the one who begged me to keep going after we changed? Maybe that's how it happened." He caught her hands before she could smack him.

"I don't care how it happened, okay?" Tears welled in her eyes. "I just want it out of me!"

"Oh, you just want it out, do you?" He let go of her wrists. "Don't I get any say in this?"

She looked at him as if he'd grown two extra eyeballs. "You want me to have your baby?"

Spike shrugged. "Dunno. Might be nice. I could take little Billy to the park, teach him how to play baseball, how to climb trees..."

"How to rip the other kids' throats out," Xander added.

Spike laughed and pointed. "Yeah, he'll be hell on--" Buffy's withering glare stopped him from continuing that thought.

"You're criminally insane," Buffy said. "And now you're just trying to make my life harder by acting like you have some say in it."

"Well, I do!" He pointed at his chest. "I know my rights."

"You're a vampire. You don't have any rights."

"Well that's bloody unfair."

"You know what would make this fair? If you were the one who had to spend nine months fat and ugly and sick."

"You won't be ugly. Childbearing is a beautiful thing."

"Spare me the health class movie, I'm not--"

That's when she noticed the room had emptied out. Giles must have herded the crowd into his office.

And now Spike was squinting at her, head on a tilt, eyes all blue and sparkly... "I could take care of you. Find us a place to live. Hold your hair back while you toss your breakfast into the wazzer."

"What the hell is the matter with you? Not five minutes ago you were insulting my nose, and now you're proposing marriage?"

"Hey, hey. Who said anything about marriage?" Surprised that she might actually still be stinging from his previous insult, he raised her chin with his fingertips and said, "Buffy, you know I just say those things to rile you. Your nose wouldn't be your nose without the bump. It adds character."

"Oh, way to charm me." Shrugging him off, she marched to the table to gather her things. "This discussion is over. I'm not carrying some hellbaby to term just because you think it might be 'fun for a laugh'. A kid is not a novelty item, it's a person. Or a... rabbit... vampire -- thing."

"I know what it is. It's a gift."

Brow knit, she stared stubbornly at the floor. "Try a 'burden'."

"Look," Spike said and gently turned her to face him. "All I'm saying is, don't be so quick to decide, alright? This may be the only chance you get."

Buffy knew exactly what he meant. She had no illusions about the Slayer Life Span. But she couldn't bring a child into the world just to leave it behind... could she?

Should she?

What if this was fate? What if this union was supposed to yield a new kind of Chosen One and if she killed it, she'd ruin some age-old endtime prophecy?

And what if it had her nose? And his eyes?

Buffy exhaled. "I'll sleep on it."

Spike smiled.

* * *

Turning onto her back to face the ceiling, Buffy said, "Will you please stop staring at me and come inside already?"

Seconds later, a twig broke in the tree beside her house and a black-clad body tumbled through her window.

Spike straightened before her bed, scratched his head. "I, uh -- I thought you were asleep."

"Kind of hard to do with you stalking me." She propped herself up on her elbow, hand on her cheek. "And you don't have to whisper, my mom's not here."

He nodded, and stood there awkwardly for a moment. Finally he asked, "You alright?"

She regarded him with suspicion. "Suddenly you care?"

"Suddenly," he scoffed. "Not suddenly. I've been helping you for a while, you know."

"For your own personal gain."

"Yeah. Well. Sometimes. Can't blame me for that."

"I can blame you for a lot." She paused, waiting for him to process her pain. "Like, for instance, the Little Slugger growing in my gut."

"I did have a hand in that," he conceded, positively beaming.

"You're proud of this," she realized. "You're proud of knocking up the Slayer! What, does it up your vamp cred or something?"

"Oh yeah. Like the ancient saying goes: 'If you can't kill the Slayer, make her preggers'." He nodded soberly, then took a seat on the bed. "I'd be proud of knocking anyone up this day and time."

"Well, lucky you." She flopped back against her pillow. "You get to be proud while I'm the poster girl for unwed teen motherhood shame."

"Nothin' to be ashamed of," he said, his gaze traveling down to her belly. Still perfectly taut, nothing at all showing yet. But somewhere in there was a part of him.

Buffy saw the various expressions cross his face: wonderment, longing, fear, insecurity, longing, longing... She sighed and took his hand, then placed it on her silk-covered stomach.

A tiny awestruck breath escaped him as he held his palm against her. He looked up at her with a silly grin, and back down again.

Buffy rolled her eyes. Men.

"Can I...?" He motioned his head downward.

"Go ahead. You won't hear anything though."

He put his ear to her belly, his eyes facing her. "No. I can."

"What? How--" She panicked, deducting that it had to be a hellbeast if its heartbeat was audible already.

"Vampire, love." He pointed to his ear.

"Oh. Right." She calmed down. "You can hear it? Really?"

"Yeah. I wish you could hear it too..." He listened for a moment, then seized her arm and tapped two fingers along to the heartbeat he heard. It was fast, the kind of heartbeat only a tiny growing being could have, but insistent and strong.

For a moment, Buffy let herself experience the joy of creating life. They lay there like excited newlyweds of the picket fence variety, not a care in the world but the wonderful miracle they had to look forward to... and then reality came crashing back.

"Stop it." She sat up, rolling him off.

"What?" he asked with a frown.

"Spike, you know I can't have this baby."

"Why the bloody hell not?"

"Why not? The reasons why not could fill a book! Not just any book, one of Giles' tomes! With footnotes!"

Spike looked shattered, and Buffy felt a sudden inexplicable urge to take him in her arms and comfort him, tell him she would have the baby after all. But that was no way to make a life-altering decision.

Instead, she issued a challenge: "Give me one good reason why I should."

He slipped his jacket off, climbed up her lithe body, and stared into her eyes. "Because I love you."

Buffy laughed at first, but he didn't seem to be joking. At all.

He began to kiss and nibble at her neck, and spoke low into her ear. "And you love me."

"I do--" not, she wanted to say, but he covered her mouth with his own, tongue mingling with hers while roving one hand down her silky negligee and up, beneath the short hem.

Maybe it was an argument best saved for later.

Kiss turning fierce, he passed a thumb over her pubic hair, paused to caress her belly, then lifted her negligee as far as it would go. When it didn't yield at the top, he yanked at her spaghetti straps, finally leaving the stubborn scrap of silk at her midriff as he descended to taste her nipples.

Buffy arched her back and murmured his name.

"Tell me you haven't thought about us," he demanded, voice deep, kisses hard. "Tell me you haven't thought about it every night since."

Buffy couldn't lie. Not while he was reminding her of how amazing he was with his tongue. She weaved her hands into his hair and bucked forward. "Not just nights, oh god..."

He continued down her ribcage to her navel, dipping his tongue into her belly button, nipping at her soft curves. "Me too," he admitted between gentle bites. "Afternoon, morning, dawn, dusk, every time I bloody look at you..."

Buffy sounded her relief, recalling a time when Spike wasn't so forthcoming with his feelings. Hours after the bunny-sponsored sexcapades that had left them naked and exhausted on Giles' couch, she'd wriggled her way out of Spike's grasp without rousing him, a sudden bout of shame propelling her out the door. His reaction to her later that night had solidified her regret -- he'd been cavalier, even hurtful. He declared it a 'car wreck'. She one-upped him with 'nauseating'. They hadn't spoken of it since.

But apparently, they'd thought about it. A lot.

And now, with Spike nestled between her thighs, hand spread across her curls as he devoured her, braising his mouth with her sticky paste, she remembered why.

He was phenomenal.

"Oh god, oh god, oh god..." Buffy twisted the bedsheets in her fists until they popped off of the mattress corners. "I can't... I'm gonna--"

She opened her mouth first, and then a sweet cry pierced the air.

He kissed his way up her body as she continued to shudder from orgasm, then unbuckled and unfettered himself to gently penetrate her quivering entry.

Buffy tugged on his shirt and kicked at his pants, hooking her toes into the fabric edges, pushing downward.

He stopped to lose the shirt, but complete removal of the pants would require uncoupling. He'd have to save that for next time... and he was planning on a lot of 'next times', some of them immediately following 'this time'.

Frustrated, she pulled at him with a groan, wanting him harder, faster.

"Na-ah, pet. Gotta go gentle. Don't wanna hurt little Billy."

"Oh please," she said breathlessly. "Billy is ours. I think he can take it."

He smiled down at her and accelerated his thrusts. "Ours?"

She reddened. "You know what I..."

"I do know," he said, eyes flashing. "He's ours."

Spike sat up to kneel, and gripping her thighs, he slammed his hard stomach against her most sensitive flesh.

Buffy rose to the challenge and met him with equal fervor.

"Bloody animal, you are. I love it."

"Kiss me," she said, and bit his lip.

He was moved to repeat it: "I love you, Buffy."

"Stop saying that."

Grabbing a fistful of her hair, he said, "Get used to it."

Easier said than done. Sure, they'd slacked off and become friendlier than archenemies should ever be, but love -- that was a leap.

What was he up to? Was he utterly deluded, or was he lying just so she'd keep his precious offspring? And what did he truly want it for? Buffy clawed into his chest, getting angrier with every upstroke. How dare he lie to her. How dare he think she was that gullible--

"What's this?" Spike had found the scar on her neck -- the one that Angel left.

"Nothing," she tried to swat his hand away.

He frowned deeply, tracing it with his thumb. Then, he kissed the scar with such reverent tenderness that it felt like an apology for any wrongs that had ever been done to her.

Okay, so maybe he does love me.

At that revelation, she gave in; held on to him as the world fell away, as she felt herself spasming into another six seconds of blissful release.

Spike was blindsided, completely unprepared for the sensation of a slayer's orgasming pussy on his cock. Powerless, he erupted with a shout, then rode it out in long, deep strokes that made her squeal.

When they were both happily sated, she wrapped her arms around his neck and brought him close for an ardent kiss.

After a moment he lifted his head. "Think Billy's alright? We mighta jostled him a bit." Listening to her belly, he reported, "He pulled through, but he's grumpy. Says Mum needs to give Dad a good seeing-to to make up for it."

"Oh, is that what he said?"

He held up a hand, boyscout style. "Swear on my unlife."

She tousled his hair, teasing, "You want me to have your baby."

He fell into the crook of her neck. "I do."

She continued to pet him. "Am I wrong or is that kind of a freaky desire for a soulless baddie?"

"Hey, least I'm not the Noble Slayer wanting the Evil Vampire's baby. That's just perverted."

"Who said I wanted it?"

He extended his arms to inspect her expression, shock evident on his face.

She touched his angular cheekbone. "I'm not saying I don't... Look, once I find out that it's not a bunny or evil incarnate, I'll get back to you. Until then, you have to stop with the pressure."

"Pressure? What pressure?"

"Watching me sleep so you can ask me as soon as I wake up what my decision is? Giving it a name, a sex and a cute personality? Talking to it, calling me 'Mum'--"

He sighed. "Right, fine. No pressure, and we'll see." Then he added, patting her belly, "Didja hear that Billy? You might have a chance in hell after all."

"Well, you know, Sunnydale. Great odds for the chance in hell," Buffy pointed out with a tender smile.

"Oh, I'm betting on this one."


"Pervert," he retorted.

"White hat," she teased.

He gasped, appalled. "Bunny shagger."

"Buffy lover."

"Yeah," he said, tracing a finger along the tip of her nose. "Got me there."

More to come...
Chapter #2 - A Demon In The Sack

Buffy awoke from a jarring dream of seemingly unrelated images: an ornate goblet; flowing black hair and swirling silver eyes; the creepy gray demons they fought the night they went all bunny; a raging fire; a baby crying...

For a few blessed seconds, she was calmed by the notion that it was all a bad dream; everything was fine. Then she remembered -- it wasn't. She was pregnant, thanks in part to Spike.

Spike, her once-foe and present ally, who'd been inexplicably abstaining from his murderous ways of late; Spike, who'd been patrolling with her for weeks, claiming he had "nothing better to do"; Spike, who'd spent all night with her...

Spike, who was sound asleep on her belly.

Glancing down at the platinum-haired head nestled between her breasts, she noticed that their feet were facing the headboard, and recalled how they'd got... turned around the night before.

"I need to look at you," he'd said, flipping her onto her back and staring into her eyes as he groaned in orgasm.

She smiled to herself, letting the feeling of him wash over her. Him, inside her, all around her, the strength, the intensity, the illicit thrill... the love?

No. Impossible! Insane! They couldn't be in love. Gripped by panic, guilt and regret, a voice inside her shouted, Wrong! Wrong with a side order of Bad!

Make that to go...

She attempted to wriggle out from under him, but he suddenly held on tight with a growl.


Spike oriented himself and looked up.

"Hey," he said tentatively, voice raspy from sleep and sweet-nothing overuse.

"Hey, back." She forced a smile.

He straightened his elbows. "Am I crushing you?"

"Little bit."

Sensing her underlying dread, he said, "You want me to go?"

"What? No. I mean, daylight and all. You should, you should stay."

"What you wiggling away for then?"

"I -- I just... need..." She extricated herself by twisting onto her belly, away from him. "...to..."

He caught her, pulled her towards him, bending her knees until the warm, naked flesh of her back molded against his chest. Lips tickled her ear. "To what?"

Her mind erased all answers when his free hand trailed up her leg, when he dipped two fingers into her pussy.

"What is it you need?" He ran his hands down her sides, her hips, moving back and crouching down to lick up her thigh and pierce her with his tongue.

"Oh!" Buffy trembled.

Holding her hips, he began to bounce her softly on his face.

"Oh, god, Spike..." She felt her stomach clench, her body temperature rise. "Ohh, I'm gonna..."

"Mm..." He loved the way she announced her climaxes.

"No, wait, stop, I'm gonna..."

He paused, perplexed.

She gulped, "Sick! I'm gonna be sick!" and scrambled away.

* * *

"Leave me ALONE!"

Out in the hallway, Spike had an ear fastened to the bathroom door. "Just let me in, love! Didn't I say I'd hold back your--"

"Spike! Stop. Talking."

As he waited for another round to cease, he buttoned his jeans. "You gonna shut me out the entire nine months?"

He heard labored breathing.

Scraping chipped polish off his thumbnail, he said, "Least let me know if this morning sick lasts all through, 'cause I do tend to get frisky in--"

"Go..." Something hit the door with a muffled thud, making Spike jump. "AWAY!"

"No need to get worked up, love--"

"Shut up! And stop calling me love!"

He nodded. "I'll be downstairs, then."

* * *

By the time Buffy descended the staircase, she was showered, perfumed and casually made up. Hair tied back low and loose, she wore a calf-length slipdress with a side-slit that revealed a golden flash of leg with each step.

To Spike, she was a glorious vision. Can't believe you let me in your bed, he almost whispered.

Buffy noticed Spike on her couch, shirtless, staring at her with an open mouth and clutching a box of Peak Freans.

She halted, hand on the banister. "You... eat."

He looked down at the box. "Deprived me of your tasty bits. Had to look for something else sweet."

"Shut up," she said, continuing down the stairs. Just because he's cute and eats cookies and is an amazing, generous lover doesn't make him any less of a soulless demon. "Freak."

"Freans," he corrected, shaking the box while watching her descent. "Want me to make you something?"

"Now you cook, too?"

"Well, I'm not a complete dolt. Know how to scramble an egg or three."

"Eugh. Eggs." With a grimace, she touched her stomach and walked towards the door, out of his sight range.

"I'd offer you blood, but you're fresh out." He popped another cookie in his mouth.

"No thanks," he heard her say, and saw her again, coat in hand. "Do you... need some?"

He lifted a brow. "You buying? Or offering?"

Buffy pursed her lips, unamused. "Buying. I'll um, go to the butcher shop..."

Spike scrutinized her: shifty-eyed, cornered, fight-or-flight kicking in. Otherwise known as having second thoughts. "Where else you running off to?"

"I -- don't have to answer that."

"Answer me this then. There a doctor with a tiny vacuum cleaner involved?" He mimed one, sucking at the air.

She stared at him for a moment, studying this bizarre creature that had somehow made himself at home in her living room and her life. "Not yet."

With a shrug, he grabbed another cookie. "Don't take too long. Might not be here when you get back."

"And I should hurry why?" she goaded, opening the door.

"'Cause you can't bear to stay away from me."

She chortled, "Yeah, right."

* * *

Buffy wondered what was happening to her. Every step she'd taken away from the vicinity of Spike had been a battle, every move had to be deliberately steered in the right direction. To the butcher shop, to the pharmacy, to the ice cream parlor, to Giles' front door... It was like walking against the wind.

Was she simply realizing Spike's statement? Had it had some sort of magical effect on her? Should she just run back to him right now?

The door swung open.

"Oh Buffy!" Giles exclaimed, phone pressed to one ear. "Excellent timing, come in." He pointed at the phone and mouthed, 'Doctor'.

"Oh, goodie," she cheered with little enthusiasm and stepped into her Watcher's apartment to see a heaping pile of books on his table. Prophecy, prophecy, prophecy, apocalypse, apocalypse, portents...

"Yes, yes," she heard him say in the kitchen. "I'll discuss it with her now. Wonderful. I look forward to seeing you again." He hung up the phone.

Buffy's eyes widened at the title of one book. "'Rabbit Babies'?"

"What? Oh -- yes, well. I had to explore all of the--" He saw her face contorted in horror and tore the book from her hands. "I-it was a hoax, of course. In the early 18th century, a young woman named Mary Toft supposedly gave birth to several rabbits..."

"Multiple rabbit babies?"

"Yes, but it turned out she staged it for fortune and fame."

"So, what do you think happened?"

"I just told you--"

"Giles," she leveled with him. "There's popular theory and then there's Rupert's Believe It Or Not."

He sighed. "I believe she may have been attacked by a Mosengar demon. Their young resemble rabbits."

"Well! So glad I asked," Buffy said blithely, and nodded toward the phone. "Doctor, huh?"

"Indeed!" Giles perked up. "It so happens an old colleague of mine practices obstetrics in San Fernando Valley."

Arms crossed, head tilted suspiciously, she asked, "Old colleague?"

"Y-yes, she was a member of the council."

"And speaking of demons..."

He shook his head. "Buffy, I assure you. She's not a demon. I knew her very well, and..."

Smiling, she drawled, "Really? How well, exactly?"

"Well, we--" He stopped and gave her a stern expression. "That's not the point. The point is, she's trustworthy. And might I add, our only means of finding out exactly what you're carrying."

Buffy inhaled deeply, sat on his table and picked up a prophecy book. "Maybe not the only means."


"I've been dreaming."

* * *

"Thanks, Giles."

"Not at all, Buffy. Take care." She heard him close and lock the door.

A hand shot out in front of Buffy's face before she could block it, flattening against the wall beside her. Naturally, it was attached to a leather-clad arm... that was attached to an obnoxious vampire.

"You're off your game," Spike observed.

"You're off your rocker," she returned, relaxing.

"Must be the light-headedness. I smell blood."

She held up her shopping bag.

Eyes on hers, Spike traced the bag handles with his fingertips and dropped it to the ground, advancing. "I missed you."

"I missed you too. Much like I'd miss being staked to an anthill and covered in honey."

He pushed her against the wall and smirked. "Could be arranged."

"Stop," she whispered, making no moves to stop him.

"Might want to leave out the ants..."

"We're right outside Giles'."

"You'd rather be inside?" One hand still on the wall, he ran the other down her neck, easing open her coat lapels to brush his fingers over her dress, stopping briefly at her stomach, descending to the slit of her skirt and bunching up the fabric in his fist. "I know I would."

She murmured, "I don't want him to hear."

"Plan on screaming for me?"

"I'm not a screamer."

"Is that right?" Suddenly, he shoved her up the wall, letting her legs open and close around his waist.

She held onto his shoulders. "That's right."

"We'll see about that." He unbuttoned his jeans, pulled her panties aside and impaled her on his cock, eliciting a strangled cry.

He pressed his lips against her neck as he surged. "What was that? Hmm?"

"Wasn't a scream..."

"Just a little more volume, pet..."


Realizing he'd have no luck directly beside her Watcher's window, Spike carried her to a dark corner beneath the stairs, pressed a fingertip to her clit and massaged softly. "Please, Buffy... please... I want to hear you loving me. I want you to tell the world."

Buffy searched his eyes. Such passion, such devotion, such... oh, god, yes, deeper... She grabbed on to a handful of ivy as he thrust into her, her back flat against the stuccoed wall.

He closed in on her ear, doing that breathing thing he did so well. "Bloody... fucking..."

"Mmnn..." She shut her eyes, tightened her legs around his waist, returned his pelvic gestures with her own, the give and take between them fluid and fierce as it had ever been.

"Yes, yes, yes," she whispered, a crescendo intensifying, her fingers threading through his hair.

"Do it, do it, scream," he chanted in ragged breaths.

"Nuh-uh, not gonna..."

* * *

Giles was jolted out of a particularly engrossing read by a high-pitched wail that broke through the early evening silence.

He rushed to find his crossbow, flung open his door and... nothing. Just the sound of retreating footsteps and a burst of raucous laughter.

If he'd looked a bit closer, he might have seen something lurking in the shadows, slithering past the garden gates and following Buffy home.

* * *

"Are you two done yet?"

"Not nearly." Spike sprinkled several more kisses on Buffy's abdomen and dropped his head back down, listening. "You're a loud one, you are. Loud as your mum was tonight. You'll have a great set of pipes, that's for--"

She smacked him lightly and addressed her belly. "Can you tell your daddy to quit gloating?"

"Hmmm... he said, 'only if Mum promises to quit hitting Daddy dearest.'"

She chuckled, "Daddy lies."

"Hey, I'm just tellin' it like he says."

Softly, Buffy smoothed the hair behind her lover's ear. "Except Daddy likes to be smacked around, doesn't he?"

Eyes narrowing, Spike rose slowly, pulling her close. "Only by you, pet."

"Sick bastard," she whispered, and kissed him, biting his lip softly.


The doorbell rang. They shot up from the couch.

"Is it your--?"

"No," she whispered, and pulled the curtain aside. "Oh god, it's Willow and everyone... go upstairs. Hide."

He frowned, indignant. "I will not!"

"Spike! Please?" She squeezed his hand. "I'm not ready to tell them yet."

He narrowed his eyes. "Alright. But the time'll come when--"

"Go!" She stood up and ushered him toward the stairs. "And be quiet!"

"As a mouse, love." Grudgingly loosening his grip on her hand, he hiked up to the second floor.

After watching his retreat, she opened the door. "Hey guys!" As they barrelled in, she stole another glance up the steps. "To what do I owe the party?"

"Well, first of all, we've been worried aboutcha," Willow said.

"Aw, guys, I'm fine..."

"And second, Giles told me you've been having weird dreams. You know, about the... you know."

"You can say 'baby', Will. It's okay. Unless it's a bunny. In which case, feel free to say 'bunny.'"

"Right. The baby." She breathed a sigh of relief and held up a small white pouch tied with a leather string. "So I thought I'd bring you this."

"And this is what?"

"Well, it's sort of a dream-boosting charm. It has gemstones and herbs... basically it makes your dreams clearer, and more, you know, portent-y."

"Cool." Buffy weighed it in her hands. "Thanks, Will."

"And three," Xander said, holding up a pizza box, "who needs little bags of rocks when you've got pizza?"

"Ooh! ...Mushrooms?"

"You betcha. Extra cheese too."

"Yes! You're the best, Xand." Buffy flipped open the top and took a slice.

He glanced at Willow, pleased with himself. "I knew I'd win."

"Yeah, well, sure, pizza for the pregnant girl," Willow scoffed. "That's a no-brainer."

"You guys," Buffy tried to enunciate between munches. "Not a competition here. I'm just glad you all came." Oz nodded at her from the couch. "Oh, god, look at me! I'll get some plates."

"I'll get. You sit." Willow headed towards the kitchen. "Your mom's still out of town?"

"Uh-huh." She kneeled on the floor. "Some acquisitiony thing in San Francisco. She'll be back tomorrow night."

"Ah, 'rent-free." Xander placed the pizzabox on the coffee table and sat on the couch. "What's that like?"

"Mom and Dad still driving you crazy, huh?"

He leaned forward to talk with his hands. "Sometimes I wish they were straight-up evil, so you could give 'em a little taste of Slayer what-for."

"Mm. Would if I could, but the slayage -- strictly reserved for straight-ups. Vampires, demons.... It's a gig."

"A gig that's unsettlingly steady," Oz observed.

"The rewards of living on the mouth of hell."

Oz nodded at Buffy sagely.

"Speaking of all of the above," Xander asked, "seen Bunnicula today?"

"Huh?" Spike. "Me? Why? No."

Willow returned to the room with plates and napkins.

Xander shrugged. "Just curious. What with us not knowing why he's been so eager to help out and all. And now with this... new development that he seems weirdly happy about."

Buffy wiped her mouth with a napkin and paid attention to her slice. "Haven't seen him."

"Maybe reality hit and he freaked out," Willow offered. "And, you know, needs some alone time."

Xander cut a string of cheese with his fingers and brought it to his mouth. "And went so far as to skip town, I hope."


Upstairs. Oh god.

"Who's up for some TV?" Buffy blurted.

"What was that?"

"What was what?"


"That," Willow answered.

As a mouse, he says. More like a... "Rat! I think we have rats. Big ones."

Oz sniffed the air. "I don't smell a rat."

Willow burst into laughter. "Smell a...!" No one else joined in, and her laughter ebbed. "Because... funny."

"And just a tad on the ooky," Xander said. "No offense, Oz."

"None taken."

"Want me to go check it out, Buff?"

"No. I will. Still the Slayer, remember? You guys stay."

Buffy reached the top of the steps, padded over to her door and whispered, "You know, for a vampire? Not so stealthy with the stealth..."

But the room was empty. An open window told her that Spike was gone.

* * *

"Night guys!" Buffy sent her friends out the door. "Thanks for everything, really."

Willow gestured at the sachet in Buffy's hand. "Don't forget to put it on tonight!"

"I won't."

"Sweet dreams, m'lady," Xander called out.

Watching them go, Buffy walked to the edge of the porch. Just as her senses picked up on something demonic, Spike grabbed her from behind.

She whipped around, shoving him back toward the house. "Don't do that!"

He laughed.

She glared. "Where did you go?"

"What, you thought I was gonna stick around to play hide and seek with your pals? Not likely."

"God, you're so--" she sighed in frustration. "You could have at least left a note."

He tilted his head. "You were worried."

Realizing she was rubbing her shoulders, she dropped her hands to her sides. "No I wasn't."

"Yes you were! Look at you... heart racing. Face all flushed." Closing the gap between them, he touched the back of his hand to her face, trailing it down her neck, her collarbone, lingering at her breasts for a moment before settling open-palmed at her abdomen. "Even little Billy's doin' flip-flops."

"Shut up." She touched her belly. "And he's too young to wear shoes."

"Well, you can both stop fretting." He held up a pack of Marlboros. "I only left to get smokes."

"I don't care why you le--"

Spike kissed the breath out of her. Made her body go limp. Made her drop Willow's sachet.

Fingers weaving at the nape of his neck, she whispered between kisses, "Let's go inside."

"That's my girl." He directed her to the open door.

"Oh, the charm..."

"Mmm, I'm just oozin' with it, aren't I, baby?"

"No." She let him kiss her neck as they stumbled inside. "I need the charm... that Will gave me... I dropped it..."

"I'll see to it later, love. After I see to you..."

The door slammed shut.

Out on the porch, Willow's gift lay inanimate until a quiet chant emanated from the front lawn and a translucent light snaked toward it, lifting it up and making it glow.

The chant complete, the glow faded and the sachet dropped to the porch floor.

Opening eyes that swirled with shimmering silver, WinQuar replaced the hood of his cloak and made his way out to the street.

His mistress would be pleased.

More to come...
Chapter #3 - Quickening

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."

"What's 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.

"How much?"

"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.

He laughed.

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!"

More to come...
Chapter #4 - Split Decision

Gray demons. Silver eyes. The dream-boosting charm glowing on the front porch. Her stomach swelling, growing...

Spike's voice, urging, "Wake up, love. Something you need to see."

Buffy forced her eyes open, immediately swiveling to face him -- until she realized a) he wasn't there, and b) something was glowing in the otherwise dark room.

Not a dream. The sachet was giving off some kind of magic light that was being absorbed by her stomach -- her slowly rising stomach.

With a gasp, she plucked the charm from her neck, short-circuiting the unauthorized glow-and-grow. Turning it in her hand, she hopped out of bed, opened her window and tossed the offending object over the eave... then heard a distinct "Ow."

Frowning, Buffy noticed wisps of cigarette smoke drifting up from below and whispered, "Spike?"


Carefully, she crept out the window and climbed down the trellis, letting him help her to the ground. Straightening her pajama bottoms and tank top, she looked at him. "What are you doing here?"

"Nothing. I was just takin' a stroll, and..." He rolled his eyes. "Oh hell, you know why I'm here. Can't stay away from you. Bloody inconvenient, it is."

She half-smiled. "Tell me about it."

"'Specially when I get whacked by flying dreamcatchers." He held up the sachet. "Heavier than it looks. And what'd I do to deserve that anyway?"

"Knocked me up, for one." Before he could utter a comeback, she took his hand. "Touch."

Lips in a pout, he felt her abdomen. "Bit bigger, yeah?"

"Yeah. Thanks to what you're holding."

He glanced at the sachet. "This?"

"That's the magic Miracle-Gro that's been super-sizing me in my sleep. When I took it off, it stopped."

"So, baby's not a beastie. Just got pumped by--"

"Willow. And her mistakes."

* * *

"Honey?" Joyce called from the hallway. "Are you all right?"

"Uh-huh," Buffy answered, staring into the flushing toilet bowl, wishing she was dead. "Just... had some bad shrimp, I think."

"Oh, you didn't eat the shrimp down at the pier, did you?"

Buffy shut her eyes. "Caught me."

"You should probably stay home then. Skip your classes today."

"I'll be okay." Fairly confident the worst was over, she went to the sink.

"Are you sure? Want me to make you some tea before I go?"

"You don't have to do that."

"Honey, it's no trouble at all."

Buffy opened the door, careful to conceal her bottom half. "Okay."

Joyce smiled. "Want some toast, too? That always helped to settle your stomach."

"Thanks, Mom." Buffy returned a thin smile. "You always know how to bring the comfort."

"That's what moms do," she said, heading downstairs.

Buffy touched the bump on her stomach. I'm not ready for this.

* * *

Carrying the Zip-Loc by one corner, keeping it far from her body, Buffy approached Giles' door. Bright midday sun in her eyes, she became increasingly irate as she chose the right words to inform her Watcher of Willow's latest blunder.

"Oh, hello--"

Speak of the Willow. There she was, laptop in hand, big happy smile on. "Hey Buffy! Are you coming to Psych class?"

Pushing through the door, Buffy didn't waste a breath. "Are you trying to ruin my life? Or does it just come naturally to you?"

Willow stepped back. "What?"

"Buffy?" Giles asked. "What are you--"

She flung the plastic bag containing the sachet on the table. "This is the reason Baby Spike's on hyperspeed. I open my eyes last night to see it glowing and me inflating."

"What? Buffy, I wouldn't--!"

"You never mean to, Will, you just do."

"No, I... This can't be right. There's no way this could've..." She held the bag in her hands, brow wrinkling. "I'm good at this, really!"

"No. You're really not. Observe your handiwork," Buffy touched her stomach and spat, "I'm done being your guinea pig." She marched past her and plopped on the couch, resting her forehead in her hands.

Willow beseeched Giles. "I didn't--"

He put a hand on her shoulder. "I know. Perhaps we should talk about this later."

On the verge of tears, Willow glanced at Buffy, took the bag and left.

* * *

"You're sure about this?"

Buffy nodded. "I think it finally hit me. I've been in this über-denial, hoping it would go away... that it'd just end up being the weird and wacky sitch of the week, you know?"

"Of course." Giles touched her knee. "I think you've made the right decision, Buffy."

She inhaled and exhaled heavily, pushing Spike out of her mind. "I know."

"I'll make the appointment with Sanvi straight away. And you needn't worry about the expense, all right?"

"Thanks, Giles. For everything."

"It's the least I can do."

"God, how evil was I to take everything out on Willow?"

"Not evil, Buffy. Frightened. I'm sure she'll understand."

Buffy shook her head. "I totally snapped. She's my best friend, and I went Joan Crawford on her. She didn't deserve that." With a sigh, she stood up. "I think I'll go find her. Clock some quality groveling time before I get my slay on."

"Are you sure you're up to slaying tonight?"

"Oh yeah. Besides, it's been a while. The monsters must miss me."

* * *

Spike set his mug of blood on the sarcophagus and glanced at the crypt window. Nearly sunset. Nearly time to see her again.

He imagined what she might be wearing tonight, and more importantly, how quickly he could peel it off. Be a bit of a challenge with Joyce in the house, but he knew she'd crumble. Always did.

...Last night excluded. But that was different -- she was rightly spooked over the belly-upping, rightly angry at Willow.

Not that he didn't try. Fascinated by that little bump, he'd continued to rub her belly as they talked. Whatever she was saying ceased to make sense as desire overpowered his listening skills. She looked adorable in her PJs, face all scrubbed of makeup, cheeks shining in the dim light. She had that full-of-life look, literally. And her being full of his life? Sexy as hell.

Five minutes and counting. He grabbed his coat.

* * *

Buffy was nearing the back entrance of Stevenson Hall when she heard a yelp through the trees to her right.

Sprinting towards it, she ducked under a low branch, snapped off a twig to use as a stake and spotted a girl inching backward on the ground, a gray figure looming over her.

The Slayer hurdled through the air to jump-kick the thing away.


The girl on the ground was "Willow?"

As Willow caught her breath, the demon targeted her again.

Buffy grabbed it by the shoulders. "Hi? Slayer right behind you?"

"Buffy, it's a--"

"Winiqua?" she concluded, eyes wide as she saw its blank stare. "I thought I told you goons to get--" she threw it into a tree, "--gone!"

The creature ran away, and Buffy offered her friend a hand. "Hey."

"Hey." Willow stood up with her help. "They should be gone actually, but I guess I screwed up again."

"No, Will," Buffy said earnestly, "Look, I've been wacky hormone girl lately, and -- that's no excuse." She sighed. "I freaked out on you, a lot. I'm sorry."

Willow smiled. "I'm sorry too."

"Eh, in a few days, it'll all be bygones."

They began to walk side by side, toward the dorm. "So you're--"

"Getting it out. Yeah."

Willow's forehead scrunched. "I'm sorry. That you have to go through that?"

She shrugged. "Won't be so bad. I hear they give you crackers and juice afterward."

"I'd like to be there, for support. I mean, if you want me."

Buffy smiled. "I do. Thanks."

"You know, for a minute there," Willow chuckled, "I had this whole fantasy about you keeping it, and me and Oz babysitting and, with the Knott's Berry Farm montage... There were hats."

"God, not you too!"

"Just for a minute! I don't think you should keep it. Because, scary. And not what you need right now. But still. The fantasy..."

"I know. Part of me kind of... liked the idea. Maybe it was having something to look forward to." A smile tugged at her lips as she looked down. "And it was kind of fun playing house with--" she stopped herself from uttering Spike's name, "--it, alone in the house, you know, just playing the mom while the real article was away. But now she's back, and it's still here, and let's face it, I'm so not mom material. I have to save the world, or die trying. I can't do that with a crying baby on my hip. Or worse, an evil bloodsucking Eddie Munster..." She stopped in her tracks. "Why was that Winiqua going after you?"


"Sorry. Wacky hormone girl, train of thought askew. What did claymation-brain want with you? And why didn't he even try to attack me?"

"I don't know. Well, I don't know why he didn't attack you, but I do know what he wanted with me." She nodded gamely. "Man of few words though he was, he made it abundantly clear. He wanted me dead."

* * *

"You have a choice," Joyce said.

Weapons bag strapped on her shoulder, Buffy had just dashed down the staircase and come face to face with her mother, entering the house.

She blinked. "What?"

Joyce held up a plastic bag. "Pea or noodle? I wasn't sure what you'd be able to handle yet, so I got both."

"You brought me soup? But I feel much better. I don't deserve soup."

"Honey, everyone deserves soup. And look, it even comes with the round spoons you like."

Buffy smiled. "Thanks, Mom. I'll take the noodle on patrol with me."

"Patrol? Now?"

"Duty thing," she shrugged.

"Do you have to? You said it yourself: evil's on a downswing."

"True, but you never know when it might--" eat through your stomach lining, she wanted to say, complete with a good cry. "Upswing."

"Okay, but I want you to get some rest tonight. A sick slayer is a... Well, I just don't want you to be sick. Superpowers or not."

"Couple hours tops, and I'm back in bed. Promise."

* * *

"What have you done?" the voice whispered.

"I've done everything right! Made everything fall into place, as is my nature. I don't make mistakes."

"Is that right?"

"The charm was sleep-enchanted. She wasn't meant to awaken during the--"

"But SHE DID!" The mist grew into a huge, terrifying form, and reverted back to that of a swaying woman. "I will have no more mistakes. Do you hear me? No. More. Mistakes."

WinQuar grit his teeth. How dare she accuse him, of all creatures... "Yes, your Darkness."

Tiny silver numbers spiraling through his eyes, circumstances and their odds spinning in his brain, WinQuar placed his bet.

All or nothing.

* * *

Spike skidded to a halt at the playground swingset and addressed Buffy's silhouetted backside. "What do you think you're doing?"

Knocked out of her swing-induced reverie, Buffy glanced behind her and answered, "My job?"

"No," Spike said, shaking his head and picking up her weaponry bag.

She scoffed. "What do you mean 'no'?"

"No, you're not patrolling," he explained. "I patrol. You stay home."

"Spike!" She stood to reclaim her bag. "This is my calling. Did you think from now on I was gonna sit home with my feet up, knocking back bon bons and watching Ricki Lake?"

"Well, yeah." He took the bag back. "But I suggest Passions instead."

"You don't get to make these decisions for me. I'm going on with my life."

"Not if it'll hurt the baby, you're not! One kick to the gut and he's gone? No bloody way."

"I never said I was keeping it!" she shouted in exasperation, hands flopping against her sides.

Stunned, Spike paused, flexing his jaw. He could see it in her eyes -- she was getting rid of it.

She was getting rid of it.

"Fine," he sneered, and flung her weapons to the ground at her feet. "Convince yourself you don't care. Pretend nothing's changed."

Buffy closed her eyes as he stormed away. "Spike," she called, but he ignored her. "Spike?"

In seconds, he was gone.


With a deep sigh, Buffy picked up her bag and shuffled to the park's exit trail. Couldn't he see how hard this was for her?

Of course not. He's a demon. All he thinks about is himself.

Well, screw him. She didn't need to justify her decision to him. Didn't need to prove that it wasn't easy. No matter how much it hurt him, this was her future, her choice to make.

And even though he'd been all fluffy-puppy lately, what if it was only temporary? What if it really was a hex like he'd first claimed? What if it was revoked and he went all-out evil again? She'd been down that road before, and it was hard enough to keep her mother, her friends and herself safe. Keeping a baby safe... she couldn't imagine.

Pan out to big picture? 'Vampire Mom' not exactly the domestic title she envisioned for herself, were a domestic life in the cards for her at all. Which it wasn't.

Suddenly, Buffy felt goosebumps of the demon-detecting sort, and heard a faint rustle in the row of bushes beside her. She slung off her bag, peered through the leaves, whispered, "Spike?" and turned back to find a girl standing so close to her, she was nearly violating the 'personal bubble' rule.

"Hey, Slayer."

When the girl's forehead went bumpy, an unimpressed Buffy reached for Mr. Pointy. "This'll be a walk in the park--"

Suddenly, her arms were pinned behind her by a burly male vamp who popped the stake out of her hand.

"In the middle of a pun here!" She struggled, looking up and back at the girl. Shiny black tresses against beige shirt... *This* is the baby-killing whore in my dream?

"We hear you got somethin' to lose." Baby-Killing Whore faked her out with a left hook that was easy to evade, and shot her knee skyward to collide with Buffy's stomach. Hard.

Doubling over in pain, Buffy met a fast uppercut to the jaw.

"Too bad your traitor boyfriend bailed and left you and baby all alone." With big, heavy, so-three-years-ago boots, she double-kicked Buffy's sides -- whap whap.

Eyes narrowing, Buffy made a resolution. This bitch is going down, no matter what it takes.

"But let's face it," the girl was saying, "that kind of relationship never works out. Right, Gino?"

The guy who held Buffy's arms replied, "Sad but true."

"I say we do everyone a favor... and end it right now."

Another kick came flying at her midsection, but this time Buffy was prepared. Using her captor's momentum, she reared up: legs high and scissoring, she kicked both vampires in the face, dropped into a handstand, clasped her legs around Gino's neck and flipped him to the ground, twisting that thick neck until there was nothing left to twist.

Catching the girl's ankle in mid-bootstomp, she wrung once, hearing a satisfying snap. The girl screamed and fell.

Buffy grabbed her stake, dug a knee into the girl's torso and said, "I make the decisions around here," then pierced her through the chest.

That'll teach you to invade my dreams, baby-hating bitch from --

Falling through the dust, a stab of pain rocked her abdomen. Dropping the stake, she hunched over and clutched her stomach, one hand on the pavement.

A metallic taste filled her mouth, and she spit out blood.

Her eyes widened. "No."

* * *

Buffy stumbled into the Emergency Room.

"May I--?" A nurse stood up from behind the counter.

Buffy ignored her and pushed through the swinging doors.

"Hello? Excuse me?" The nurse called after her. "You have to register first!"

Buffy ran down the corridor and ducked into an empty examining room before anyone spotted her. "Stethoscope, dammit," she demanded, hands shaking as she rifled through drawers and cabinets. "Stethoscope!"

She found one in the last drawer. Hooking it into her ears, she sat on the examining table and ran the cool steel along her abdomen. "Come on," she muttered. "Where are you? Come on..."

Stilling her breath, listening closely, she heard a faint, fast-drumming sound. The same sound she'd heard during Dr. Patel's exam.

The heartbeat.

Buffy laughed, rubbed her stomach, and cried.

"I'm sorry, Billy," she whispered through her tears. "I'm so sorry."

* * *

When she got home, Spike was pacing the back porch.

With a smile, she called his name.

"Buffy!" He rushed over to her, kissed her face and held her close. "Someone said there was a fight; I couldn't find you anywhere--"

"I'm okay," she said, and led his hand under her shirt. "We're both okay."

He exhaled in relief and dropped to his knees, hugging her while pressing his ear against her belly. "Stronger than ever. God, Buffy, please don't do this to us..."

Buffy brushed a hand through his hair and said, "I'm keeping him. Or her. Or you know, It."

When this finally registered, he raised his chin.

"If it starts gnawing on me though, we're moving it to a test tube," she said. "And that's final."

He stood up. "You're serious? You mean it now."

She nodded. "We had a close call after you left. This vampire skank caught me off-guard and... I thought I lost..." She swallowed and grasped his hand. "I realized how much I want this baby to survive. Whatever kind of baby it turns out to be."

"Slayer..." Choked up, ecstatic, he swept her into his arms and spun her through the air.

Laughing, they toppled to the grass.

Poised above him, she said, "And the main thing is, I love you. I don't know why I love you so much, I--"

"I don't care why," he half-growled and rolled her onto her back. Holding her arms down, grinding his pelvis into hers, he closed in for a kiss...

"Buffy? Is that you?" Joyce's voice carried from across the lawn.

Buffy's eyes flew open. Spike froze.

"Spike?" Joyce called, confused.

"Uh..." Spike morphed into vamp face and proceeded to faux-choke his former nemesis. "Die, Slayer, Die!"

Annoyed, Buffy flung him off with a single whap and got to her feet as Joyce approached.

Spike stood and brushed the grass off his clothes.

"Honey? What's going on?"

"Hi, Mom," she said, attempting cheer.

Joyce looked from Buffy to Spike, taking in their guilty expressions.

"Uh-huh," Joyce said, folding her arms. "I thought I heard something out here. And apparently it was something. Want to tell me what's going on?"

"Not really," Buffy said. "We were just--"

"Having a row," Spike interrupted. "You know us two. Always fighting."

"That didn't look like fighting so much as humping, actually."

Oh god... Buffy took a deep breath. "Okay. Mom? We need to talk."

"Yeah, I'll say."

"I'll say goodnight then," Spike said.

Buffy turned to him and mouthed, "Later."

He winked and got serious when Joyce caught his gaze. "Night, Joyce. Uh, Mrs... Bye."

* * *

"Let me get this straight. Not only are you having sex with a vampire again, this time one without a soul, but you're also PREGNANT WITH HIS CHILD?"

"Um," Buffy said in a small voice. "Pretty much."

"Buffy!" She shook her daughter's shoulders. "What's happening to you? You're not telling me you're keeping this... this thing?"

"It's not a thing! It's a baby!"

"You just told me you don't know what it is... or that it's even safe to carry! This is the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard! I thought you were smarter than this!"

"Smarter than what? You at my age?"

"That's completely different, and you know it. I was twenty-one. Your father and I were married and in love. And although the jury's still out on this, I'm pretty sure Hank's one hundred percent human!"

"We're in love too."

"Since when?" Joyce cried, arms fanning out. "You hate each other! I was there when you met and he tried to bash your head in with a two by four! I was there when you threatened to stake him the first time he came back! And when he came here with a new chip on his shoulder? Your feelings hadn't changed! What could possibly have happened between then and now to make you fall head over heels?"

"We... he's been helping me, and, we've--"

"Grown closer? Spare me."

"We have!" Buffy cried. "God! What was I thinking when I thought you might understand?"

"There are a lot of things I can understand," Joyce said. "But I'm sorry, I don't understand this! I can't begin to understand this! If that makes me a bad mother--"

"Oh, let's not start with the bad mother crap. In fact, let's not even continue this conversation." Buffy marched up the steps.

Joyce followed her upstairs and saw her packing. "Oh, no you don't! You do NOT run out on me twice!"

When she tried to stop her, Buffy shook her off -- lightly, but the force catapulted her backward. It wasn't the first time she'd demonstrated her strength, but it was just as startling.

"I'm going to Giles'. If you need me you know where to find me."

Joyce watched in stunned, angry silence as Buffy zipped up her overnight bag and climbed out the window.

As Buffy hopped off the eave and scampered away, Joyce felt a twinge in her gut.

"Buffy!" she called out, but there was no use. Quietly, she said, "I'm sorry."

* * *


"Hi... Um, is this a bad time?"

"Not at all," Giles said, inviting her in. "Weaponry?"

She realized he was asking about her bag, and shook her head. "Sundry."

He frowned, perplexed.

"Clothes. Makeup. Toothbrush."

"I'm afraid I--" He caught her little match girl look, and understood. "I see."

"Just for a few nights?"

"Of course."

She smiled, knowing 'thanks' wasn't a big enough word.

"Tea?" At her nod, he walked to the kitchen and poured her a cup. "I take it you told your mother?"

"You take it right." She put her bag down and sat at the bar. "She wigged, big time. Not that I was expecting any less." With a shrug, she looked into her teacup. "But I think she'll get over it. I hope. I mean, she'll have to..."

Giles paused, his own teacup nearly at his lips. "She will?"

Inhaling, Buffy braced herself. "I decided to keep it. You know, whatever... it. Is."

Restraining an outburst, Giles managed, "I see."

"Look, I know what you think about this," Buffy cut in. "And you can lecture me all you want. Just... not tonight, okay?"

He nodded. "I'll try to control myself."

* * *

Buffy pulled back the coverlet of Giles' bed and slipped in. Lucky for her, he'd insisted that she take the bedroom and he sleep on the couch.

"Mmm... me and baby likey," she murmured as she stretched out, feeling the soft, cool sheets envelop her skin... and wondered what Spike was doing right now.

Suddenly, there was a knock at the front door. She sat up to listen.

"Spike?" she heard Giles say.

Buffy smiled. He was knocking down her door, of course. What else would he be doing?

"She here?"

Buffy crawled out of bed and made for the stairs. Giles was murmuring something she couldn't make out, but she could tell he wasn't thrilled to see him.

"Hi," she interrupted.

"God blind me," Spike awed, taking in the vision of her in a white satin nightgown. "What happened to the PJs?"

"Feeling luxurious," Buffy shrugged, and pointed upstairs. "Nice bed."

"Well, if that's all, Spike," Giles snipped. "You'll be going now?"

Spike looked upset.

Behind Giles, Buffy made eyes up the stairs, and wiggled a brow.

"Yeah," Spike said after receiving her message. "Just wanted to drop in. You know. Make sure your mum didn't chop you into little bits."

"I'm fine. Whole Buffy, see?" She mouthed 'ten minutes', and looked up toward the bedroom.

"Right. Well. See you tomorrow then. Night Rupert."

"Goodnight, Spike." Giles shut and locked the door.

"Sorry," Buffy said. "He's kind of attached. To the baby."

"No lectures tonight, right?" Giles said briskly, and Buffy nodded. "Then get some sleep."

Buffy gulped, and watched him return to his make-shift bed. "Okay. Goodnight, Giles. Sleep tight! Thanks again for letting me stay o--"

"Goodnight, Buffy."

"Right." She ascended the staircase, opened the bedroom door, and... Spike was lying in the center of the bed, fully dressed, arms folded behind his head.

She stifled a gasp, and closed the door behind her. When she reached the bedside she whispered hotly, "What part of ten minutes don't you understand?"

"Ten minutes?" He grasped her arm and pulled her down alongside him. "I thought you said, 'tie me up.'"

She whisper-giggled. "I definitely did NOT say 'tie me up.'"

"For the best, anyway, since I haven't got any rope. Unless your Watcher's got some kinks he hasn't shared..."

"Please, I don't want to know."

"Good." He pulled her close so their noses nearly touched. "You know I got worried there for a second, you all dolled up and staying in his bed?"

"Ew!" she gaped, slapping his chest. "Ew! Ew! Ew!"

"But now I'm here in his bed with you."

Buffy smiled. "Dirty."


She traced the erection that showed through his jeans and gave it a light squeeze. "I think you like being dirty."

"I do," he said, breath catching.

Nimbly unbuckling and unzipping, she slid down his body to kiss the tip of his cock. One thing she'd learned in their short time together? She loved doing this -- loved the feel of him pulsing in her mouth, loved his helpless reaction, loved being in control of his pleasure.

She spiraled her pointed tongue around the head, licked downward, sucked at his balls, licked up, took his shaft in her hand to angle it toward her and closed her lips over it, descending.

He shuddered. "God, Buffy..."

She let his cock bounce out of her mouth. "Be. Quiet."

Teeth clenched, his eyes rolled back.

So he liked the domination too, did he? With a devious grin, Buffy wondered where Giles kept his neckties.

More to come...
Chapter #5 - Of Undead Bondage

Buffy stirred, wearing the same contented smile she'd drifted off with. No nightmares, no anxiety... just a tranquil, dreamless rest. And while upon waking, a corner of her mind registered that her life was in shambles, all she could really focus on was Spike, and how wonderful he made her feel.

She touched the pillow beside her and remembered when he'd gone, what he'd whispered to her half-sleeping ear: "I love you, both of you. Do anything for you."

She wished he'd stayed. Wished she could wake up with him again, wrapped tightly in his arms. Not that she'd be able to explain his presence to anyone... herself included.

Did it matter why they were so in love? Not to her it didn't -- not anymore. If her mom couldn't handle it, that was just too bad. Buffy was starting her own little family. Her own little Addams Family, granted, but hey. If it was good enough for Morticia...

Hearing the sounds of breakfast preparation downstairs, she sat up, the smell of frying eggs making her suddenly hungry. Ravenous, in fact. Looks like someone's got Daddy's appetite.

"Eat now, shower later, huh?" She rubbed her naked belly-swell. "Roger, rabbit."

But first, it occurred to her as a flash of color caught her eye, Better put those away...

With a self-indulgent smile, she moved to release the silk neckties that were tethered to each bedpost corner.

* * *

After watching Giles silently putter around the kitchen for several minutes, Buffy tossed her toast crust onto her empty plate, wiped her hands and cleared her throat. "Okay. Go."


"The lecture. You're dying to make it." She shrugged. "So go ahead. I'm all ears."

He took a breath and faced her, placing his palms on the countertop. "I--" His lungs deflated, air streaming out. "I'm worried, that's all."

"Aw, c'mon," she challenged. "That's it?"

"What do you want me to say? That I think you're making a terrible mistake? That your sense of reason is... distorted, to put it mildly, and you've no idea what you're getting yourself into? And furthermore, that I think you're letting your relationship with Spike, however involved it may be, color your decision somehow? Is that what you want to hear?"

"My relationship with--?" She shook her head insistently. "There is no relationship, and no coloring, for that matter, from anyone but me. This is my decision, my -- Crayola box--"

"And that's precisely why I won't go on," he spoke over her, and stepped back, bringing her dish to the sink and continuing to talk with his back turned. "You're eighteen years old, Buffy, which is young, yes, to take on the responsibility of motherhood, but you and I both know you're not like other girls your age. What's more, you're not my daughter, nor are you technically my charge anymore. I can't tell you what to do." He whisked the dishtowel from his shoulder and muttered, "Let's face it, you've always done exactly what you wanted, regardless of what I think. Why should this be any different?"

Shaken by his curt dismissal, Buffy looked down. "Touché."

With a sigh, he turned to her. "Buffy. I'm not disappointed in you, or angry. I just... wish this hadn't happened."

"Well, I don't!"

At Giles' shocked expression, Buffy realized what she'd just said. Touching her stomach, she repeated softly, "I don't."

* * *

"Okay, I know I haven't been the most, well, trustable friend lately, but I need you to hear me out about this because I know I'm right," Willow blurted, after rehearsing it much more coherently in her head on the way over.

Buffy smiled and assured, "I trust you, Will. What's up?"

Glancing from Buffy to Giles, Willow pulled the sachet out of her skirt pocket. "Somebody else put a serious spell on this. As in, not me."

Giles moved forward first. "How can you be sure?"

"I tested it. Like a hundred times, in a hundred different ways. This girl I met in Wicca group, the one I told you about?" At Buffy's dazed nod, she continued, "She helped me. Turns out there's something mixed in with my spell; or, interweaved with it, or -- It's been tampered with, with a kind of dark magick I couldn't conjure if my life depended on it."

Giles took the charm and turned it in his hand, lifting and lowering his glasses.

Buffy spoke. "So that means..."

"Someone else wants to speed your delivery. Badly."

"Okay, so, maybe it was Vampirella." Buffy explained to Willow, "This chick I dusted last night looked a lot like Faceless Dream Girl. Maybe it was her."

"Yes, but why would she make your baby grow," Giles posed, "only to try to kill it in the womb? And get herself killed in the process?"

"Point." Buffy began to pace across the living room. "Well then, the -- ooh!" She snapped her fingers at her Watcher. "The Winiqua! I've been dreaming about them too, and one tried to kill Willow last night."

"They're back?" Giles asked.

"Well, one is, anyway."

"I'd like to say that's the answer," Giles said with a frown, "but Buffy, the Winiqua's intelligence doesn't exactly lend itself to complex spellcasting."

"Well... has Spike been around at all?" Willow wondered.

Giles lifted his eyes to Buffy, who was struck speechless.

"Because, I mean," Willow tread carefully, "if there's anyone we know who's stressed the wanting of this baby, it's him. Plus, evil..."

"No," Buffy pronounced, even as she was nagged by a memory: Dropping the charm on the front porch, Spike going to fetch it for her later, then lovingly putting it around her neck, licking down her collarbone, and... "No. He wouldn't."

"Buffy," Giles began, but was quickly cut off.

"I'm telling you, it's not him. For one thing, Spike doesn't have that kind of foresight. He's too impatient. When he wants something, he takes it. He's not Evil Professor, grand scheme guy. He doesn't calculate, he rarely plans, doesn't know a thing about magick--"

They were eyeballing her. Time to shut up.

"Buffy, we need to accept the possibility that Spike could be behind this. We have to question him."

"I could do a truth spell," Willow suggested.

"Whatever it is that'll give us the answer, we need to do it, and fast." He turned to Buffy. "Do you know where he is?"

"It's not him," she reiterated.

Eyes level with hers, he said, "There's only one way to know for sure."

Apparently outvoted, Buffy exhaled in resignation. "What do you want me to do?"

* * *

Spike sat in his crypt, staring absentmindedly at the TV and turning Buffy's white negligee in his hands.

She could move in here, it suddenly occurred to him. Yeah. He could knock a hole through the wall below, pretty it up a bit...

Suddenly, his door crashed open and sunlight flooded in, a few feet shy of his chair. He quickly stuffed the nightgown into the seat cushions and shot up into a guarded stance, then relaxed when he saw Buffy's slim silhouette diffusing the glare of early-afternoon bright.

She kicked the door shut and strut in, legs wrapped in black leather.

The girl definitely knew how to make an entrance.

"Miss me already, did you?"

Without saying a word, she stopped a short distance away, eyes probing the dark corners of the room.

"What?" Frowning, he stepped forward to close the gap between them. "What's wrong, love?"

Looking at him, seeing him as if for the first time, her mouth quirked in a half-smile. "They are."

"They who?"

She took a deep breath. "If I asked you to do something, something that might make you uncomfortable, would you do it?"

"Anything for you, pet." Not a second of hesitation. "Just name it." He rested his hands on her hips.

"Willow wants to do a truth spell. On you."

"On me? Why?" The thought process showed on his face. "Oh." He let go of her and plopped down in his chair. "Something's come to light. They think the Big Bad's behind it."

"Look, I know you're not, but--"

"I'll do it," he shrugged.

She smiled, loving him more than ever.

"When's it going down?"

"Later," she walked closer, and bent forward to lean her hands on his headrest. "After sundown."

She wasn't wearing a bra. "And you're here now at oh, twelve-thirty because..."

"Well," she drawled, lowering to bend her knees into the chair and mount his lap, "I thought I'd need more time to convince you."

He swallowed, watching her torso drop, and focused his gaze on her glossy lips. "Yeah?"


"Well," Spike slid his hands over her leather-clad ass and squeezed. "Got a bit of free time then."

Nodding, she grasped the base of his skull, and moaned as their lips touched.

The kiss deepened and he clutched at her hair, thrusting his pelvis up to meet hers. Panting, grunting, they tugged at one another's zippers. Once free, she stroked his erection with two hands, stopping only to shimmy out of her pants as he dazedly watched. He yanked off her shirt and grasped her thighs. Hooking one knee over each arm of the chair, she poised herself over his cock.

Cupping a hand between her legs, he rasped, "So wet for me."

"Always," she whispered, eyes sparkling.

When he brought his hand to her mouth, she sucked on his fingers and simultaneously dropped down. He groaned.

"Unh..." Buffy's head rolled back as she took him in, and slung forward to rest her forehead on his. They smiled saucily at one another.

"I'm gonna fuck you into six pm," she said, and he laughed.

* * *

"Now remember, if she asks you anything about us--"

"Be the strong and silent type, emphasis on silent. Heard it the first forty times, pet."

"I'm sorry. I just don't want everyone to know yet. It's not that I'm, you know, ashamed or anything--"

He smiled and tugged her close. "I'm beginning to think you get off on sneaking about."

"Shut up," Buffy laughed, looking down and up. "Maybe a little."

He moved to kiss her, but she managed to wriggle free, walking a few paces ahead, boot heels clicking down the high school hallway, ass swaying from side to side.

Before she turned the corner to the library, Spike snagged her arm and jerked his head to the right. "Wanna make use of this empty classroom?"

Swatting his chest, she whispered, "We just had sex for five hours straight. You want more?"

He arched a brow. "Don't you?"

She grinned and winked, "After."

With a chuckle, he grabbed a cigarette from his ear.

"Hey!" She plucked it out of his mouth. "Second hand smoke? Kills babies dead?"

"Sorry, love. Guess I'm just nervous."

"What are you nervous about?"

"I don't know," Spike said, opening the swinging doors for her, "Turning into a fluffy bunny rabbit again? Or worse?"

"What could be worse than that?" a girl's voice rang out.

Buffy slowed as she saw that the room was packed with not just the core Scoobies, but a few new faces as well. "Wow, I didn't realize this would be such an event -- is that Anya?"

"Uh, yeah," Xander admitted, looking vaguely guilty.

"Who the hell is Anya?" Spike said.

"I was a vengeance demon for eleven hundred years," she introduced herself matter-of-factly, "until last Spring, when I was cursed to live out a short, thankless mortal existence here on earth. Oh, and I had sex with Xander today."

Amidst a smattering of winces, a stonefaced Spike spoke up. "That part of the curse?"

"Gosh no!" Anya added guilelessly, "Xander's a great lay."

The Great Lay cleared his throat. "Uh, Anya, as much as I don't mind hearing that in private, that's not the kind of thing we share with others."

"What? It's true."

Willow, standing before a tableful of potions, gems and herbs, broke the silence. "Well, if there's one thing we can be sure of... Anya won't ever need a spell like this."

"And Blondie over there?" Spike pointed at the girl sitting beside Willow.

"Oh, this is Tara. She's the one I told you about, Buffy, from Wicca group?"

"Right," Spike said as Buffy waved awkwardly at the new girl. "Well, as much as I love an audience... I don't love an audience. Clear out people. This is just me, Buffy and the witch. The redheaded one."

"Sorry, but I can't allow that," Giles said, stepping forward. "The spell requires that several people be present."

"Right then, I'm off."

"Fine," Giles stopped him. "The four of us, in my office."

* * *

"Your eyes are all dilatey," Buffy observed, leaning forward in her chair. "How do you feel?"

"Like I've just eaten a raver," Spike replied.

"Good, then it's time to start." Willow picked up her notepad. "Now. State your first and last name, please?"

"This isn't a bloody polygraph, girl. Get to the point."

"Okay, and the answer is 'Spike'... 'The Bloody'..." She scribbled in her pad. "Why are you here?"

"Because Buffy asked me."

"No, I mean, why did you come back to Sunnydale?"

"To kill Buffy."

"Uh-huh, and why didn't you kill her?"

"Don't know. I just... couldn't."

"Do you want to kill her now?"

He chuckled. "God, no."

"When was the last time you bit anyone?"

Spike glanced at a wild-eyed Buffy, who quickly clarified, "Bit to kill."

He smirked, wishing he could suckle on that soft inner thigh again right now. Still couldn't believe she let him do that. Must've been the crypt... What was the question? Right. "The night I got here. I mean, I tried a couple times after that. Couldn't do it."

Buffy suppressed a sigh of relief. It was nice to get official confirmation.

"Any idea why you can't feed anymore?"

"Not a bloody clue."

"Did you cast a spell on the charm I made for Buffy?"

"No, I thought you did."

"Did you ask anyone else to cast a spell on the charm?"

"No." He rolled his eyes. "I didn't do it, didn't ask anyone else to do it, and I don't know who did. That about cover it?"

"Uh, yeah. Do you know anyone who'd want the baby to be born?"

"Besides me and the Slayer? No. Unless you count Rupert, who I know'll be cooing like a bloody mourning dove once he sees it."

"'Mourning' being the operative word," Giles grumbled.

Buffy frowned. "'Cause it'd be early in the--? Oh. That kind of morning. Go on."

Willow tapped her pen against the notepad. "Why do you want Buffy to have your baby?"

"Because I've always wanted a kid," he said, surprising himself with that truth. "And I love B--"

"Babies," Buffy blurted out, standing, "He loves babies. Can't get enough of them. Anyway, you asked him what we need to know. He didn't mess with the charm."

"Just trying to be thorough," a defensive Willow explained.

"Right. Of course. I know," Buffy said as casually as she could.

Giles looked mildly distressed. "Shall we move on to the Reveal spell?"

"Hey," Spike stood up. "You didn't say anything about another sodding--"

"It's not for you, it's for me," Buffy assured him. "You're done. Right, guys?"

At Willow's nod, Spike said, "Right then, I'll just take the antidote and be on my way."

"Oh, um, thing is? It's safer if we just let it be -- the reversal's a little risky. But it'll wear off in about twelve hours..."

"Twelve hours? Half a bloody day of sincerity?! You couldn't have told me that before?" He glowered at Buffy.

"Well, don't look at me, I didn't know! Look, all you have to do is go straight home and not talk. To anyone."

"But, Buffy? If he stays, maybe I can find out why he can't feed, if there's magick involved. It can be a two-for-one Reveal deal..."

Spike considered this for a moment. Find out what turned my head around once and for all? "I'll stick around."

* * *

Buffy sat Indian-style in the candlelit library, lulled by her friend's Latin dronings.

"Reveal," Willow said at last, and opened her eyes. Focusing on Buffy's midsection, she smiled. "Wow. That's really cool."


"I can see... inside of you."

"Is it ew?"

"No... it's beautiful."

"You can see the baby?" Spike asked from the stacks.

"Sort of. Not in detail, but I can see that there's like a white, shimmery sort of light surrounding it."

"Protection," Tara murmured.

"Exactly. Someone really wants to make sure this baby is okay."

"A wicked witch wants to protect the evil spawn? Hmm..." Xander mused. "Maybe that's because it's... evil?"

"Can it, Harris," Spike growled.

"And... weird. Your heart is... That's bizarre."

"My heart is what?"

"It's like, a crackling light blue."

Spike walked down from the stacks. "What d'you mean, crackling?"

"Wait... it's changing... turning... pink, not crackly anymore... wait." She looked up at Spike. His heart was visible through his chest too. "Whoa."

"What whoa?" Buffy asked, nervous. "Whoa, what?"

"Spike, come closer to Buffy."

He took a few cautious steps.

When he walked into Buffy's range, Willow gasped. "Oh, wow. This is... amazing."

"What?" they asked in unison.

"When you're close together, this brilliant pink light sort of bathes both of you."

"Ohh," Tara breathed.

"What does that mean?" Buffy demanded, looking from witch to witch.

"Spike, do me a favor," Willow said. "Go outside the room for a minute." As he obeyed, she watched the light separate and return to each of their hearts, then turn that crackly blue again. When the doors swung closed behind him, her eyes widened. "Buffy, your heart-light is totally nerping."

"It... it is? Nerping how?"

"As opposed to just crackling, it's like, having a conniption. I think I know what this is. Spike?"

He reentered the room, cautious.

"Do you guys ever feel like it... hurts to be apart?"

"Yeah," answered Spike, while Buffy scoffed, "No."

"Think about it, Buffy," Willow urged. "Do you ever feel like you need to see him? Like, when he's around, do you feel better, like everything's okay?"

"Oh dear god," Giles muttered.

"What are you saying, Will?"

"Someone bonded you two, big time."

"Someone whatted us?"

"It's a bonding spell. I have no idea how they did it, but they did."

"Of Undead Bondage," Xander said bitterly. "At least now we know why Spike won't go away."

"I once bonded a guy to his prize stallion," Anya reminisced. "His wife claimed he loved his horses more than he loved her. And by the time I was done with him-- ...What?"

Xander sighed. "Oz, care to take this one?"

Oz explained gently, "We're kinda havin' a moment here."

"Of course," Giles admonished himself for not realizing it earlier, "That's why he isn't feeding. That's why he thinks he cares for Buffy; for the child..."

Buffy's eyes widened. It's all been a lie...

"Undo it," Spike said suddenly.

"What?" asked Willow.

"Take it off." He pointed down at Buffy. "Off of her."

Buffy looked up at him with unconcealed hurt.

Willow ventured, "I don't know if that's the smartest thing to do right now..."

"I should say not," Giles agreed.

"You prefer her head spun by black magick?" He pointed at Giles. "Her life endangered by a force you know can't be good? And you call yourself her protector?" With a scoff, he headed for the door and barked, "Take it off her, no matter what it does to me!"

Watching the doors swing to a close, Buffy stood up and addressed Giles, her voice quivering. "You heard him."

"I can't allow this."

"Yes, you can."

"Buffy!" He grasped her shoulders. "Listen to me: if they were to reverse this bond, we could very well have another Angelus on our hands."

Tears springing forth and streaking her cheeks, Buffy gritted, "Bring him on."

More to come...
Chapter #6 - All Or Nothing

As if in a trance, Buffy dropped her coat and keys and ascended to Giles' bedroom. Opened and closed the door. Felt her way to the nearest lamp and switched it on.

Sitting on the bed, she pulled off her shirt and gazed at the bump on her stomach. It was still small, only slightly noticeable. She ran her hand over her smooth skin, up and down.

So little. He must be so little.

With a sniffle, she lay down on her side and tucked her knees up, cradling her belly.

"Buffy, I know you're feeling hurt," Giles had said softly. "But that's not a good enough reason to reverse this spell. Unleashing Spike, setting his monster free while you're this vulnerable -- it's something I simply cannot let you do."

Buffy hated that word. Especially when it was used to describe her.

She looked at the clock. 9:33. Spotted her bag, open on the floor, and slid down to rummage through it.

Giles would be at the library for a while. While he stayed there researching possible culprits, he expected her to get some rest. But resting wasn't an option for her. Not tonight.

She picked out a pair of loose drawstring sweats, a tank top, and a stake. She needed to see him.

With a shrug, she thought, Not like I can help it.

* * *

Tara sat down on Willow's bed. "If Mr. Giles is right, we shouldn't be doing this."

"I know," Willow said. "But I can't not try."

* * *

It was dark in the graveyard; only a sliver of the moon shone to guide her way, but Buffy didn't need light.

As it had for weeks, her body buzzed at his proximity -- but now that she knew this buzz was more or less manufactured, it was accompanied by a not-so-pleasant chill.

She spotted him perched yards away on a gravestone, back turned to her. Taking a breath, she marched in his direction.

Without turning, he said, "Leave me alone."

She stared at his back, voice shaking as she said, "I can't."

"Well, try!" He pitched a half-empty bottle of whiskey through the air, brown liquid ribboning out of it.


He pushed off the gravestone and spun to face her, praying the truth spell would allow him to say this: "Go home!"

She stared at him, wide-eyed.

* * *

Willow and Tara raised their joined hands into the air, chanting together as one.

"Inluminare!" Willow commanded, and between them, a floating sphere appeared, showing them an encapsulated vision of Spike and Buffy, surrounded by a magical light, standing in a dark graveyard.

"Disiungo." The light split in half.

Struggling to keep their focus absolutely clear, they recited a chant that ended with, "Extermino actutum!" and watched as the light disappeared.

Tara began to cast a protective charm, and a new light engulfed Buffy.

When the spell was complete, the sphere collapsed in on itself.

"Wow," Willow said, catching her breath and locking eyes with Tara, "That was... Wow."

* * *

Spike felt a wave of... something pass through him. Quickly shaking it off, he refocused on the girl standing before him, and on a careful choice of words that wouldn't have him blabbering the truth. "What? You want to talk this out?" He outstretched his arms. "You're a pawn, Buffy! Slave to a fucking spell! And if you know what's best for you, you'll turn around and bloody go home!"

Holding his gaze, she scowled... then slugged him in the jaw.

Licking the blood oozing from the corner of his mouth, Spike narrowed his eyes and growled measuredly, "Go. Home."

Furious, Buffy lashed out, nailing him with a series of painful combinations.

When he blocked the last swing, she made his chest her punching bag. "How dare you!" She pushed him to the ground and straddled him to continue her assault, but her punches were slowing down, losing steam as she shouted through her tears, "Making me believe you loved me, that you wanted me!"

He grabbed her wrists and corrected, "I do love you. I always want you."

Sobbing, she shook her head. "No you don't. It's just a... a side effect!"

He sighed. Time had come to tell her what he'd learned tonight. Buggery truth juice. Made him unable to lie to himself, as it turned out.

"Buffy, it wasn't the bond that did it," he said quietly. "Not for me, anyway."

She blinked several times. "What?"

"The spell didn't make me love you. Ever since I bloody met you, I've..." He sighed again. "Well, you can ask Dru. She's known from the start."

She slid back on his thighs. "I don't... I don't understand."

He sat up, propped on his elbows. "Don't you see, Buffy? I've loved you all along." His eyes were moist, his smile bittersweet. "But you... It's not the same for you."

"You've always loved me?"

"It doesn't matter. This thing we have? It's not healthy for you. Or the baby... Much as I want you to, you can't stick around me... not anymore. It isn't right."

She was silent for a moment, brow furrowed as she took this in. "No."

"What do you mean, no?"

"I mean you're wrong. Who says I didn't love you too? Before?"

He chuckled. "You were in love with Angel. But points for effort."

"I was. In love with him. But... I also had something for you."

Skeptical, he searched her eyes.

"I thought about you. Dreamt about you, long after you were gone... And all those times I could've killed you. Even though I couldn't stand you, something told me I didn't want you out of my life."

Wow. Maybe she wasn't just placating him.

"Spike?" Her voice was quiet, hopeful. "What if it's not a side effect? What if it just brought it out... or, I don't know, gave it a chance to grow?" Slowly, she bent down until her face was inches from his and whispered, "What if this is real?"

Dead heart expanding, Spike suddenly recognized that it didn't matter who or what was pulling their strings. Love was no different from magick -- no choices in it; no easy fixes; plenty of terrifying consequences; equal odds of exquisite pleasure or exquisite pain...

"It feels real." She brought his hand to her belly. "Doesn't it?"

Tears sprang to Spike's eyes. "More than anything I've ever felt in my entire life."

Realizing that was enough for her, Buffy gave in... and let herself be vulnerable.

Eyes speaking volumes, a silent agreement made, their mouths fused in submission and defiance.

* * *


Anya slowly lifted her exhausted head from the library table. "Is this in any way more productive than your last three 'a-ha's?"

"'The Bond of Dissonant Hearts'", Xander read proudly to prove her wrong, "Practiced in Ancient Babylonia to unite warrior to demon for blood rituals.'"

Giles stepped up. "Oh?" Peering over Xander's shoulder, he spun the book his way. "Dissonant hearts... that's promising."

"Promise! Terrific!" Anya smacked an open palm on the table and pleaded with her new boyfriend, "Can we leave now?"

Engrossed in the passage, Giles mumbled, "Yes, go on. I'll see you tomorrow."

* * *

"Come in, Spike," Buffy said again, and once more, he hesitated.

"What about the man of the flat?"

She glanced at the clock. "It's only ten-thirty. He'll be at the library all night. Nice place, all to ourselves..." She arched a brow and teased, "You can be the man of the flat."

He smirked, tempted. "I shouldn't."

"But you want to..."

"Of course I want to," he said, and chuckled. "Minx."

She pulled him through the door by his coat lapels. "How can I pass up True Confessions Guy? I get to hear what you really think, all night long."

"I can think of better things to do with my mouth..."

"Mmm... point taken."

As they kissed, he kicked the door closed.

"But first," Buffy said, resting a finger on his chin, "Do you love me more than you ever loved Dru?"

"Yes. Oh you're -- God!" he said in frustration as she laughed. "Knew I shouldn't have come in."

"You were inseparable for like a hundred years and I win? There must be something really special about me."

"Well yeah. You're one of a kind. I've never met anyone like you, strong and soft, all at once and -- will you quit doing this?"

"This is far too fun to quit. Even if it is the heart-bond talking, it's still nice to hear."

"Alright, wisegirl. What about you?"

"What about me what?" She stepped backward as he advanced.

"Love me more than anyone else you've ever loved?"

"I'm not under a truth spell, dummy."

"So?" He stepped forward. "Answer the question, pet. And try to be honest. It's only fair."

"What-- what was the question again?"

He brushed a hand over her cheek. "Do you love me more, right now, than you ever loved Angel?"

She paused for a moment, thinking it through. This was so different -- bonding spell notwithstanding. She was older now, a little wiser. It wasn't about adolescent drama anymore, it wasn't about wanting the unattainable; it was about who she loved being with; and even without a soul, Spike was so devoted, so good at making her feel like the only woman in the world... She smiled, fairly convinced. "Yeah."

After a beat, he shrugged, "Right then." Before she could protest, he threw her over his shoulder, made for the stairs and, as she shrieked and giggled, sprinted to the bedroom.

* * *

"Getting close to sunrise, love," he whispered, kissing her forehead. "I'd better be off."

"Nuh-uh," she said, finger-drawing a small infinity pattern on his chest. "Stay."

"I can't, baby, you know that." He kissed her shoulder. "What happens in the morning?"

"He won't come in." She touched his mussed hair. "Please don't go?"


"Spike," she whispered, gazing into his eyes. "Please. Please don't leave us again."

He melted. "Put it that way..."

"I win," she declared gaily, kissing him once before nudging him toward the bed. Giles had come home a few hours earlier, and they'd rolled to the floor to prevent any bed-squeaking.

He lifted the covers for her and she climbed in, facing him, slinging one bent leg over his hip. Tracing the angles of his face, she whispered, "Our baby's gonna be so pretty."

"Handsome, don't you mean."

"Do you really only want a boy?"

"No, of course not... Gah!"

As she giggled triumphantly, he said, feigning annoyance, "Remind me never to agree to this spell business again."

* * *

"It's quite fascinating, actually." Giles offered Willow a cup of tea, but she shook her head, eyes on the ceiling.

"Is there something wrong?" he asked, noticing that she was also fidgeting in her seat.

"No, no. I'm just... anxious to talk to Buffy. You know. See how she's doing."

"Of course. But I think it's best we let her rest while she can. Although I can't imagine she'll be asleep much longer. It is... my goodness, rather late."

"Are we sure she's up there?"

"I heard her moving about last night."

Phew. "Good."

"As I was saying, the bond--"

"Right, the bond!" she replied nervously, knee bouncing up and down.

He regarded her skeptically. "Yes. Well, It's quite ancient, and very powerful, used only for--"

"I undid it!" Willow blurted, unable to lie any longer.


"The bonding spell. I -- Oh god, you're gonna kill me -- I undid it. But only because Spike was right, it can't be good for her, and Buffy was so sad--"

"You did what?!" he whisper-shouted.

"Yeah, okay, but we, we put a temporary protection spell on-on Buffy, so he couldn't hurt her..."

"And the rest of us? Did it not occur to you that he could attack every one of her friends? Her mother? The free world? Good god!"

He ran up the stairs, Willow trailing behind, opened the door, and--

There they were, naked, entwined, and dead asleep.

Willow gasped.

Giles hurried over to the window and yanked open the blinds in one pull, announcing testily, "'Morning' dove's here!"

"AAH!" Hit by sunlight, a sizzling Spike rolled off the bed.

"Giles?" Buffy squeaked, scrambling to cover herself. "Will--?"

Spike scooched backward to a dark corner, pulling the blanket around his waist and glancing at his mortified lover. "Uh, look here Watcher, it's not what you think--"

"You've no bloody clue what I'm thinking." Giles stared him down.

He ceded, "Starting to get a picture..."

Finally able to speak, Willow shrieked, "I didn't mean to do this!"

Turning to leave the room, Giles said, "Buffy, a word."

* * *

Fully dressed, Buffy reluctantly stepped down the staircase to see Giles gathering weapons as Willow explained to him that she'd done everything right and she couldn't understand how anything could have gone wrong.

When Giles turned to face Buffy, she noticed a cross in his hand.

"What's that for?" Buffy asked warily.

"Your boyfriend, I'm afraid."

"Okay... Why?"

"Willow, as it turns out, reversed your spell last night. Despite my warnings and her better judgment."

Buffy frowned at them. "What?"

"You and Spike are now officially unbonded," he clarified.

"Wh... what?"

"No, Buffy, we must've done something wrong," Willow said, "Made the bond stronger. Or else, why would you--"

Buffy looked up at her friend, all the evidence clear on her face.

"Oh." Willow gasped. "Oh!"

Spike tumbled down the stairs, limboed under the window and slipped down the last step, all while fastening his jeans. "What time?"

Giles held up the cross. "Don't you come any closer."

Ignoring him, he strode toward the group. "What bloody time?"

"Huh?" Willow asked, still wrapping her mind around Buffy's unspoken confession.

"What time did you undo the sodding spell? Put that down, Rupert. I'm not gonna bite you."

He lowered it slowly, but didn't put it down.

"Uh, well, Tara came over at around nine and we, we had to set up the ingredients--"

"Get on with it!" Spike growled.

"I -- I think it was before ten! Oh! Yes, it was definitely right before ten, 'cause after we cleaned up, Tara and I sat down to watch Spongebob Squarepants, but we had to wait a while 'cause it starts at ten thirty..."

"We were still in the graveyard," Buffy said, turning to him. "I knew I felt something strange."

"Me too." Remembering all they'd said during the course of the night, after the bond had been broken, he smiled at her. "Well. What do you know?"

She smiled back at him.

"Buffy," Giles said, "he's not the man you think he is."

Positively smitten, she said, "Oh yes... He is."

Giles snapped them out of it. "Be that as it may, I want him out."


"Buffy, I can't let you invite a monster into my house. We don't know what he's capable of, and frankly, I don't want to find out."

"Standing right here," he reminded them.

"Fine," Buffy resolved, "then I'm leaving too."

"Buffy, I'm not asking you to l--"

"Giles, what you don't get is that I believe in him. He's not gonna go Angelus on us -- don't you see? He was with me all night. It wasn't any different than before. It's not about the bond anymore--"

Willow spoke up. "So this has been going on for..." She looked around. "Sorry. Just absorbing."

Suddenly the front door opened and Xander traipsed in with Anya. "Hey guys! I brought jelly donuts." He nodded at Buffy, saying, "Buffy, rockin' the bedhead. And Spike... also rocking the -- not to mention shirtless, okay what's going on here?"

"Well, it's pretty obvious to me," Anya said.

"This isn't a very good time," Giles told Xander.

"Hold up. I'm not the kid who gets sent to his room here." He and Spike exchanged a mutual look of suspicion. "Please tell me these two were just battling to the death, and she somehow ripped his shirt in the skirmish."

After a moment of tense silence, Willow said, "They're a thing."

Buffy glanced at Willow, picking up on her feeling of betrayal. "Will--"

"They're a whatnow?" He looked from Buffy, who had her head down, to Spike, who lifted his chin proudly. "Uh-huh. I see. So the bond made you do it?"

"Bond's broken," Spike said.

"Willow undid it last night," Buffy supplied quietly.

"Uh-huh. So it's all over, but now you're evil again. Well that's great. Buffy can freely kill you. And if she doesn't, I will."

"Big talk for a little boy."

"Little... hey, I'm taller than you--"

Buffy rubbed her temples. "No one is killing anyone!"

"Why not?"

"This is a bit more complicated than you think," Giles explained to Xander.

Buffy sighed. "Willow reversed the spell, Spike and I are still in love, we're keeping the baby, and we're moving out. Is that clear enough to everyone? Are you all up to date on my personal life now?"

"You're keeping it?" Willow asked. "You didn't even tell me that."

"Willow, I'm sorry. Okay? There's been a lot going on. And I just didn't want a big intervention about it."

"I wouldn't do that..."

"I'm glad. Just, please, everyone, enough with the third degree." She took Spike's hand. "Spike and I are going upstairs to get my stuff. We're leaving at sunset."

* * *

After they heard Xander yelp, "Is she insane?" Spike closed out the commotion downstairs. "Sorry about all that, love."

Hand still on his, she stepped toward him, shaking her head. "It doesn't matter." Pure love gleaming in her eyes, she caressed his face. "I know what's real now."

* * *

"Real... not real, what's the difference, WinQuar?" Lamashtu pondered.

"In this reality?" After pacing before her altar, he came to a stop. "Very little."

The amorphous entity managed a smile.

"And when you regain control of it, your darkness..."

Wisps of mist swayed outward, simulating open arms. "I will decide what's real. For everyone."

More to come...
Chapter #7 - Cryptic Massages

Buffy and Spike strolled through the cemetery, hands clasped and swinging languidly as they took turns gazing at one another.

"You sure you okay, love?"

"I have never been better."

"I mean, with this. Staying with me." He readjusted her overnight bag on his shoulder.

"Spike," she came to a halt. "I don't want to be anywhere that's not with you."

He squinted at her. "You sure you're not still under a spell?"

She shook her head gently. "Just yours."

"Well. Hope it doesn't wear off."

"It won't," Buffy promised, returning his hand-squeeze. Looking down, she chuckled.

"What's so funny?"

"I just realized something." She lifted their interlocked hands and teased, "You're a hand-holder."

"Wh--?" He withdrew his grasp. "Am not."

She reclaimed his fingers with, "I like it."

He coiled her close, said flirtatiously, "Tell anyone, and I'll bite you."

"Your secret's safe with me." She kissed his knuckle. "Although you might wanna work on your threats."

His mouth spread into a wolfish grin. "C'mon," he led her toward his crypt. "I've got a surprise for you."

"Ooh... is it fang-tastic?"

"You'll see."

* * *

"Oh! Oh god! Please... please don't ever stop!"

"Don't fret, kitten, I can go all night."

"Mmmn..." Her eyes rolled back in ecstasy. "You're the best."

"Aren't I though?"

"Ohhh..." she exhaled, "fuck, yeah..."

He paused, and bent over to rumble in her ear, "You know you're gettin' me hard, right?"

She smiled. "Did I tell you you could stop?"

"Bossy," he drawled, and fanned his hands across Buffy's shoulderblade, spreading the massage oil over her skin while digging his thumbs into her knotted muscles. "I'll keep going, love, long as you can take it."

"You are so on, mister," she slurred, face smushed into a silky pillow, hands grasping the sides of the sarcophagus. He was straddling her naked thighs, easing the pain out of each sore spot as if he could feel it too. How did he know exactly where she hurt?

"I got you," he murmured soothingly. "Gonna take good care of you and Little Bit."

She sighed happily, "We're so lucky..."

"Speaking of the Bit," he said, grabbing another pillow from the floor, "belly up." He tucked it under her stomach. "Don't want 'im -- or, y'know... her -- to be squished."

"Is there like a daily quota on 'I love you's? Because I wanna say it again."

As if he would ever tire of hearing those words uttered from her mouth. "Think you've got a couple to go."

She arched her back in response to his touch. "Love you love you..."

"And while we're on the subject of quotas," he put forward, entranced by her upturned buttocks, "something tells me you and I've got a little catching up to do." He spent some quality time pouring and spreading the oil there.

Realizing what he had on his mind, Buffy gasped. "Hey! Big hornmonster. You said you'd go all night! With the massaging?"

"Who said I'd stop?" Tending to her lower back with one hand, he worked on rolling his jeans down with the other.

"Well... as long as you promise to keep... mmm..."

As she oohed and ahhed at his single-handed kneading, he stroked his erection, coating it with oil, then nudged it into the cleft between her cheeks.

She clenched. "Don't you dare put it in there."

"Why not?"

"I've never... it's weird."

He chuckled, touched by her naiveté. "Alright then. Not tonight. But you don't know what you're missing."


"Don't knock it till you try it, pet."

"I'm not gonna try it--"

He shushed her, fingers of one hand serpentining the outline of her spine. "I told you, baby, not tonight. Just relax." Aiming lower, he found her slick, warm folds and pressed forward.

Rearing back to take him in, her eyes widened at the simultaneous jolt of his cock filling her, his hands healing her.

Her death-grip on his shaft made it tough to concentrate, but he soldiered on, relentlessly circling his fingertips over the planes of her back.

Buffy began to bounce rhythmically and he swept up and down her slippery body, her ass, her thighs, up her back again; all the while pumping inside her perpetually-tight channel, massage oil mingling with her natural lubricant as she gasped and writhed against him, wordlessly begging for more.

He gave it to her by worming his thumb deep into her rectum.


Spike couldn't help but grin at the Slayer's adorably demure reaction.

Especially because it was followed by an exploratory, "Whoa," and a second, anything-but-demure "Ohhh."

Then: "Oh yeah."


"Oh yeah," she said, thinking, This introduction to an all-new height of sexual pleasure brought to you by Spike, International Sex God.

Overloaded with sensation, she convulsed and moaned in rapture.

Spike marveled at her, savoring the moment. Voice, breathy and throaty; body tremoring, bucking, accepting everything he offered. This was the Slayer in her purest form: uninhibited, wild, like a hot-blooded vampire fresh from the kill, only a hell of a lot more deadly.

Spent and panting, she arched backward, forcing him to sit up.

In his lap, with her back sliding against his front, she wrapped an arm around his neck and angled him in for a kiss.

Riding his cock, she reveled in the way he grunted and moaned into her mouth, the way his labored breath streamed in and out of his nose, and the way he held her -- as if this was the very first time he'd gotten his hands on her, or the last time he'd ever have the chance...

He squeezed her oil-sheened breasts, pinched her nipples, and slid one hand down her torso to rest on the ultimate testament to their love.

When she cupped her hand over his, he came.

* * *

"I just don't understand why she couldn't tell me," Willow grumped. "I'm supposed to be her best friend. Or, I thought I was..."

"It's not you, Will," Xander assured her. "Miss 'I Heart Vampires' has all of two things on her mind right now: herself, and... He of Little Chest Hair."

"Lack of chest hair," Oz shrugged. "Some girls dig it."

"So maybe she's not under a bonding spell anymore," Xander continued, "but she's under something else. Something far more sinister."

"Possibly Spike," Anya stated the obvious, "unless she's on top."

Giles cleared his throat. "Nevertheless, we've a lot of work to do, a lot of ground to cover. I'm convinced that this bond is the key to ascertaining who, or what, might want this child."

"Does it even matter?" Xander scoffed. "I mean, Buffy doesn't seem to care. Why should we?"

Anya said, "I know I don't care. Frankly, I'm sick of talking about it."

"I want you to remember, Xander, that you played a hand in this," Giles reprimanded. "Need I remind you of the rabbit boxes?"

"Oh, great! Again with the rabbits!" Anya yelped, shuddering.

Xander let out a sigh. "No one is more sorry about that than I am, Giles. I'm a big, fiery sphere of sorry. But do you see Buffy here, sorry about it too, hittin' the books and gettin' her research on with the rest of us? No. And why not? Because she's off somewhere, kinking it up with another animated corpse." He stood up and made for the door. "Call me when she snaps out of it."

All too happily, Anya followed him out.

"Well," Giles stammered, "I see."

"You know what?" Willow said suddenly, closing her book. "I'm also gonna leave. Maybe not as dramatically, but enough to show that I too, am against this. Because, I am. For now. Okay with you, Oz?"

"I can respect that."

When they were gone, Giles took a seat, alone in his living room. "Right then."

* * *

"I thought you weren't supposed to be evil anymore," she smiled, her nose brushing against his.

"I'm not!" He held up his left hand. "It's the thumb. Got a mind of its own."

"Well, teach it some manners. And would you go wash it already?"

"So uptight," he chuckled. "As if you didn't love it."

"'Love' is a very strong word." Pouting, she slipped into the crook of his arm and turned to stare at the shadows dancing on the crypt ceiling. "As is 'uptight'."

"'Adored', then?"

"More like, 'didn't hate'."


"Nuh-uh!" she lied.

"Yeah, well, soon you're gonna thank me for easing you into the very best shag of your life."

Eyes narrowing, she wagged a finger at him. "There will be no easing down that road."

"You're just sayin' that. Admit it, you're completely curious now."

After a pause, she snipped, "Shut up. Know-it-all freak."

He laughed. "As I thought."

Buffy whined softly, resting her head on his chest. "Can we stay like this forever? I don't want to slay things or go to school or have a life. I just want to lie here with you. And really, who needs food? Food is totally overrated."

"You need food, love," he said, lightly tapping her navel. "Remember?"

"Yeah, I wasn't serious about the food. I'm actually about to chow down on my own limbs." She mused, "Does Pizzeria Uno deliver to crypts?"

"Delivery boys tend to get eaten around here," he said, craving blood and a smoke. "I'll fetch you anything you need. What you got a hankering for?"

Sheepishly, she admitted, "My mom's three-cheese fajitas." A melancholy smile. "I know... Not gonna happen."

"You want to go see her? Try to mend the fence?"

She shook her head. "Not tonight. Not yet. I don't think I could handle rejection tonight."

"She won't reject you, love." He touched the back of his hand to her face. "She's your mum. I know she misses you just as much. If not a hell of a lot more."

She gave him a soft kiss.

"What was that for?"

"Being more than just a sexgod."

As he moved to kiss her, he heard a twig break outside. He straightened. "Suit up, quick."

"What? Why?"

Ear cocked, he whispered, "Something's out there."

* * *

After searching quietly for several minutes, Buffy called out to the elusive twig-breaking demon, "You know, you keep on hiding like this and I'm only gonna die from severe El Torito cravings. Ponder what that could do for your reputation..."

"Buffy, over here."

She stepped toward Spike, looking down at the ground beside a row of tombstones. When she passed them, she saw it.

"What the--?"

"A Gansao demon." He kicked it, turning it toward her so she could see its long, needle-shaped teeth. "Nasty little bugger. Lucky for us, it's dead." Their eyes met. "Question is..."

She finished, "Who killed it?"

* * *

"Faith's in Comaville. Angel's in L.A.," Buffy shrugged, chewing and swallowing a mouthful of chicken fajita. "If that Ginsu guy's as tough as you say he is, that rules out anyone else I know. Maybe some other demon had a bone to crunch with him."

"All I can figure," Spike agreed, shaking salt on the table. "Welched on a bet, maybe."

She leaned in. "Will you stop doing that?"

His hand froze in mid-air, salt streaming down. "Doing what?"

She raised her browline, indicating.

"Sorry." He put it away and grabbed the pepper. "Won't let me bring you off under the table; gotta do something with my hands."

"Why don't you order something and play with that?"

He shook his head, absently scanning the restaurant. "Mexicans give me heartburn."

"You mean Mexican. Mexican gives you heartburn."

He sniffed. "Sure. Right, that's what I meant."



"Promise me you won't eat anyone again."

"I promise." Off her less-than-convinced look, he added, "I've gone this long, haven't I?"

"Because you were under a spell."

"Oh, you mean I can eat people now? Brilliant! I'm off." He made a move to leave the booth and sat down again, taking her hand. "Buffy, I told you. I can control it. And I swear to you, the thought still makes me ill. 'Cept for the little nibbles off you, of course. You give me a taste of your blood every now and then, and I'm perfectly--"

Buffy's eyes widened. The waiter was hovering.

"Uh... can I get you two anything else?"

"Oh, no. No thanks. Just the check," Buffy replied quickly, "and we'll go back to rehearsing our play... About Dracula."

The waiter forced a noncommittal smile. "Great!"

"Nice save, love," he chuckled once the man was out of earshot.

"Spike! The staff of El Torito doesn't need to hear about how much you like to suck my blood," she whispered harshly. "And will you stop doing that!" She swiped the pepper shaker from his grasp.

"Maybe... they'd prefer to hear about the supple planes of your thighs," he proposed, drawing a diagram with his index finger in the salt/pepper mix. "Or the delectable curve... of your bum. Or the remarkable elasticity of your sweet... hot... wet..."

She gasped, and erased his artwork. "What are you, four?"

"Doubt a four year old would know what this is."

She sighed and said flippantly, "Exaggeration, Spike. Spike, Exaggeration. I'm sure you know each other. And stop--" she grabbed his hand as it dotted a nipple.

The check dropped between them, accompanied by the hesitant voice of the waiter. "Thanks... come again."

Buffy kept a wide grin in place until the man walked away. "I can't take you anywhere!" She dug into her pocket for money and banged it on the table.

Popping a cigarette into his mouth, he followed her out the door and toward the parking lot. Flicking his lighter, he asked on the exhale, "Alright. What's the problem?"

She spun around, arms dropping in exasperation, "I just remembered you're a moron!"

"An hour ago I was a sexgod," he returned smoothly. "No -- more than a sexgod, as I recall. Which is it, love?"

"W--Both!" She scoffed. "And don't change the subject!"

"Buffy," he laughed, "What'd I do?"

Just then, a vampire sprung from the shadows, teeth and claws bared.

Eyes never leaving Spike's, Buffy twisted its arm and kneed it in the face. "What didn't you do?"

When it stumbled backward onto Spike, he whapped it on the head to get it out of the way. "Got issue with my restaurant etiquette, do we?"

"Let's review." She stomped the vampire down as it jumped up, "You kept lighting cigarettes when it's clearly a non-smoking establishment," when it tried to bite her leg, she grabbed it by the hair, "you used up all their salt to draw dirty, not to mention grossly inaccurate representations of my anatomy on the table," she lifted it up, "you detailed the finer points of sucking my blood... Oh! And how could I forget," --she blocked and jabbed with her elbow-- "you went vamp-face twice--"

Puzzled, the vampire twisted at the waist to regard Spike, who threw a quick right cross.

With a corresponding jump-kick, she pushed the vampire into Spike's grasp and withdrew her stake, "--you made offensive remarks about the waiters," she drove it home, "and you hate! Mexican food!"

The vampire that buffered them disappeared. "And I deserve to die for which part, exactly?"

Buffy blinked at Spike, and down at the stake poised at his chest. With a gasp, she dropped it and backed away from him.


She shook her head, spooked.

"Hey," he approached her slowly, head ducked. "Love... What's this really about? Got a hunch it's not about the bloody food we have in common..." As he picked up her stake, it hit him. "Or maybe that's exactly what it is."

A quick guilty glance was her affirmative answer.

With a warm eye-smile, he stepped forward. "I don't know how to prove it to you, Buffy -- that I'll be staying on the wagon?" He closed the gap between them, voice drenched with conviction as he promised, "But I do know I will love you and protect you, and our child, to the end of the world. And I will do everything in my power to keep you loving me."

"Spike..." she whispered. "I'm never gonna stop loving you."

He studied her worried features.

"...No matter what you do." She sighed, and looked down. "And that's what I'm afraid of." Deep breath. "If I ever had to--"

Spike lifted her chin. "Stop being afraid, Buffy. I'm not gonna let you down." He caressed her face, never so sure of anything in his life. "I'm staying just as I am, just for you. I want to be your long haul guy."

Her lips pursed and parted, quivering. "You really mean that?"

He handed her the stake, pointy side down. "Cross my heart."

* * *

"Spike?" Giles looked tired: eyes red, clothes rumpled -- he'd obviously been poring over obscure passages all night. "What are you doing here?" He peered beyond Spike into the dark courtyard. "Where's Buffy?"

"Asleep. Look, I need to talk to you."

"You're not invited in." He crossed his arms and held his head high. "Go ahead, try it -- we've revoked your invitation."

"Whatever. Don't need to come in." Spike got to the point. "Found a Gansao demon not ten feet from the crypt tonight."

"A Gansao?" Giles whipped off his glasses, concerned. "Are you sure?"

"Trust me on this, mate. I knew a few, back in my less ambiguous days."

"You're aware that they--"

"Feed on anything pregnant? Yeah. Not telling Buffy that, though." He glowered. "And neither are you."

"No. No, I suppose we wouldn't want to alarm her. ...Did you manage to slay it?"

"Didn't have to. Why I'm here. It was already slayed."

"Already--?" He tried to process this.

"Someone got to it before we did. Someone strong."

"Yes, I -- I see."

"Anyway," he tapped his fingers on the doorframe, "thought it might... you know, help."

"I-it very well might. Uh, thank you." Giles walked to his table of books. "Would you like to--" When he looked back at the door, Spike was gone.

More to come...
Chapter #8 - Good Cryptkeeping

A/N: The song is '66' by The Afghan Whigs. Hear a sample of it here.

A Winiqua, slithering down a thin corridor. A fallen torch. A faraway chant. The crunch of bones as a Gansao's neck is broken. A golden disc skidding across a stone floor. The faceless woman, whispering, "The child is mine."

Buffy's eyes fluttered open. It took her a moment to orient herself: Spike's crypt. She sat up. Did she just have a dream? Something about a...

"Morning, sleepyhead." A styrofoam tray of breakfast food was plunked in her lap.

"Huh?" her voice cracked, hoarse from sleep. He got her breakfast? "How did you..."

"Turns out the local diner delivers to graveyards after all, long as you're breathing. Greased the groundskeeper's palm a minute before sunrise."

"The groundskeeper... there's a groundskeeper? And he knows you're here?"

"We have an understanding," he said. "He stays out of my way, I don't eat him."

"You can't eat him," she pointed out, opening the box.

"He doesn't know that." He nodded at the food. "Fresh out of the micro. If you don't want eggs--"

"I want, I want." She poked the eggs with the plastic fork. "Aw... Mexican omelette? You're so sweet and selfless."

Shoveling it into her mouth, she watched him carry an armful of empty jars and bottles and drop them into a cardboard box. "Whatcha doin'?"

"Fixing the place up. You gonna be staying here a while, I need to make it liveable."

She giggled at the irony. "You're the bestest demon boyfriend a girl could have."

"Don't you forget it." He smelled an old container of blood, wrinkled his nose, and threw it in the box. "Found a mattress last night, put it downstairs. I could move the linens there if you fancy more beauty sleep."

"Nah. I have to show my face at school at some point. Even if it is admittedly in dire need of beauty."

He squinted, closed the mini-fridge door, and moved to crouch down before her. "You don't have a clue how gorgeous you are, do you?"

"And you can say that with a straight face right now? I'm impressed."

"Buffy," he ran a hand through her tousled hair, "You are beautiful every hour of the day -- but especially in the morning."

"You've got to be kidding me."

"When you wake up, you're..." He got a faraway look in his eyes. "You're pure, you're raw. Nothing getting in the way of it, you're just... you. Perfection."

Mouth full of omelette, she asked, "Will you marry me?"

He laughed and rubbed her sheet-covered knee. "You know I will. Soon as I turn human and get a passport."

"Well, get a move-on," she said, working on her eggs again. "I can't wait around forever, ya know."

Eyes alight, he kissed her forehead and recommenced the cryptkeeping.

* * *

Buffy stepped out of Spike's poor excuse for a shower, shivering. "Can we maybe talk to that groundskeeper about using his facilities?" Turbaning a towel on her head and wrapping another around her body, she padded into the main room.

There, she was greeted with a heart-warming sight: the downstairs area, during the course of her shower, had been vastly improved -- an Oriental rug rolled out, a bureau dusted off and polished, the mattress and boxspring covered and dressed, an oil painting affixed to the wall -- all illuminated by the scores of candles that now dotted the room.

But mostly, it was him, passed out on the bed, mouth wide open, that made her melt.

Suppressing a giggle, she tiptoed up to him. "Guess even pretty vampires need their beauty sleep, huh?"

"Like berries," he breathed, eyes darting behind closed lids.

Buffy smiled. "Yeah, vampires and berries? Very similar." I should really get to school.

"Sweet. Like berries..."

She took an extra blanket from the floor and draped it over him. "You better be talkin' Buffy berries. You dream of Halle berries, and it's all over between us."


"And he's off the hook." She dried her hair.

"Lions in the forest..."

"Lions, huh?" She swept the towel over her body, one foot on the mattress. "Where'd all the berries go?"


"Down where?" This was way more fun than lecture hall. She spread her towel on a pillow and climbed in beside him.

Turning on his side to wrap his limbs around her, he gasped. "Not yours... My girl... Mine..."

"Yeah, I'm yours," she whispered, feathering kisses on his lips. "I'm all yours."

* * *

When Buffy slowly drifted back to conscious-land, Spike was holding her, watching her with a contented smile.

"Hey." She yawned, pulling an arm out from under him to stretch. Some of the candles had burned down. "What time is it?"

"Just past sunset."

She sighed. "You're screwing up my sleep schedule, you know. And my class schedule. Whatever scheduling I had is of the past."

"You needed rest," he said. "This is good for you."

"Yeah, but school missage. Again." Her eyes were inevitably drawn to his bare chest, down to the sheet that covered his lower half. Mm, naked Spike.

"No worries." He brushed an errant strand of hair out of her eyes. "I'll teach you everything you need to know."

"Oh yeah?" she asked, lifting her eyelashes while dragging her nails down his torso. "Like... what?"

"Don't tempt me," he warned with a smirk. "I'll ease down that road right now."

She gasped and swatted him. "One track mind much?"

"You were thinking of something else?"

"I wanna make you feel good," she insisted, peppering kisses on his neck. "I wanna know everything you like."

"Well, that'd be one of--"

She wrapped her hand around his cock and licked her way down his chest.

Spike groaned in approval... then heaved a sigh, miffed. "Bloody hell."

She lifted her head. "What?"

"Noise, outside." He grudgingly got up, and she followed.

* * *

"This is really starting to bug," Buffy said, stake in hand.

Spike agreed. "Oi! Show yourself! I got a world-class blowjob waitin' for me back at the crypt."

She turned to him, mouth agape. "That's 'everything you like'? That's all?"

"Well, yeah," he shrugged. "Thought you knew that."

"Oh." A beat. "Okay." She pushed him against the nearest tombstone and dropped to her knees.

"What are you--" Before he could finish that sentence, his pants were pried down to his ankles. "Christ, Buffy!" Looking around, he gasped as her ripe lips encircled his cock, and suddenly nothing else mattered. "Oh, fucking ...hell--"

"Mmm," she hummed as it lengthened in her mouth. She sucked him in, down to the base, letting it hit the back of her throat... hollowed her cheeks as she pulled back, lashing her tongue on the head while her fingers brushed against his scrotum.

He sucked in more air, blew it out, and grabbed a fistful of her hair. "Buff--! Yeh--!"

One hand grasping his ass, she went to town.

Buffy loved this part; hearing his awestruck groans and sputters, feeling his possessive tug on her hair...

Spike saw something flash by in his periphery, but he was beyond caring, too close to shooting his load. Long as whoever it was didn't get in the way of her mouth -- oh yeah, just. like. ...THAT.

Buffy kept her head firmly in place, swallowing every drop.

At his last spasm, she shot up to kiss him hungrily and guide his hand into her pants. "Touch me, touch me."

He arched a brow as he parted her pussy lips. That wet just from sucking him off...

"Unh, Spike," she gulped in air as he ran his fingers over her swollen, slippery nub. "Yeah..."

"That's my girl," he whispered, rubbing harder, captivated by the hot pink blossoming on her cheeks.

She rode his hand, faster, faster, faster... "Unnh! Unh! Mmnn..."

When she sagged against him, shuddering with aftershock, he chuckled. "Better get you back inside, pet."

"Hnuh?" All she could feel was the pounding: in her chest, in her ears, between her legs.

"Think we're both easy targets right now."

* * *

After struggling with the last button of her favorite size 2 jeans for nearly a minute, Buffy exhaled, giving up. "Next stop: the fun and exciting world of maternity muumuus."

She picked through her bag and found a suede skirt that hung low on the waist. "Hello, last chance at fashion. Please don't let me down."

When it fastened without a hitch, she straightened her blouse and opened her makeup bag. Holding up a compact mirror to apply her mascara, she called out for him. "Honey?"

Slowly, the crypt door creaked open, Spike behind it, squinting suspiciously. "Did you just call me... 'honey'?"

I did. I just called Spike 'honey'. She smiled. "Well, you are my honey. Aren't you?"

Tossing his cigarette onto the grass and entering the crypt, he strolled up to her, arm sliding around her waist. "I'll be any sweet, sticky condiment you want me to be."

"Good." She touched his lips with her pinky knuckle and held the mascara wand at his eye. "I mean, I considered 'marmalade', but it's so cliché."

"Not to mention a tad emasculating." He pushed the mascara wand down with one hand while sliding another up her blouse.

"I've seen you wear eyeliner, Mr. Masculine."

"Eyeliner is punk. Lash-enhancement is drag."

"Stop that," she murmured, intercepting the course of his impish bra-unclasping fingers, "punk. Save it for when we get back."

* * *

The Bronze was packed; Willow and Tara had to push their way to the stage.

"They've never opened for anyone so big before," Willow said over her shoulder while waving at Oz, setting up his gear. He nodded distractedly. "See, he has to look cool and not get all goofy when he sees me onstage. Not that he's ever really goofy... I guess I wear the goof in the family."

"You're not a goof," Tara laughed. "You're totally cool."

"You think so?"

"Yeah! You're... Willow-cool."

Willow grinned.

"Hey, um, you want me to get us something to drink?"

"Oh, I'll come with," Willow linked her arm into Tara's, "I don't wanna lose you."

* * *

"Wait, don't tell me -- the 'bloody amazing blooming onion'?"

"That's right," he flashed a bad-boy smirk. "And a plate of chicken fingers for the lady."

"Comin' right up, Spikey." The gorgeous waitress hip-switched away, leaving Buffy dumbstruck.


He threw up his hands in a 'what can I do?' gesture.

"What was that all about?"

He shrugged. "We've talked once or twice."

"Talked? Talked how?"

"Like people do when they open their mouths and words come out." His lips spread into a grin, and he leaned in. "Are you jealous?"

"No." She folded her arms, petulant. "I'm just not used to giant slutbombs calling my boyfriend 'Spikey.' I don't even call you 'Spikey.'"

"You are jealous!" he teased, unendingly amused.

"Should I be jealous, 'Spikey'?"

He laughed, "No! Told you, we've only talked. She's... friendly. That's all."

"Right. And by 'friendly' you mean 'seconds away from giving you a sweaty lapdance'."

"I'm not interested in the bloody barmaid!" he laughed. "I'm only interested in you."

"Have you looked at her? All Angelina-injecto-lips and long, wavy hair and belly-chain and all 'Ooh, your accent is so sexy, wanna see my blooming onion?' And did you see the way she condescended? Like I'm the Sandy to her Cha-Cha!"

"The who to her what?"

"Grease. And stop laughing at me!"

"Buffy," he said, taking her hand. "Have you looked at you? I, for one, can't stop."

Rolling her eyes, Buffy cracked a reluctant smile.

"Guinness tap for you," announced the waitress, placing two glasses between them, "And a Diet 7-Up for the 'lady.'"

Scowl on, Buffy made eye contact for a silent 'step off'. When the girl walked away smirking, Buffy rose out of her seat. "That's it, I'm kicking her ass."

Spike hooked her arm and pulled her down into his lap. "Now, now, pet." He ran a hand up her thigh. "No need to get violent."

Feeling his arousal jut into her through two sets of clothing, she scoffed over her shoulder, "Don't tell me this is some big male fantasy of yours -- chicks going Springer over you?"

"Just you, caring enough to fight for me," he replied as he lightly caressed her hair, neck, collarbone. "All it takes. I'm easy like that."

"Well," she defended herself with a pout, "you're my baby daddy."

"That I am, sweet." His thumb grazed her nipple, back and forth. "Now, I recall you mentioning something about a lapdance..."

Skin tingling, eyes rolling back, Buffy realized she was already involuntarily rubbing against him. How did he do that? Just one heady whisper in her ear and she was as good as naked.

"Up for it, Slayer?" he murmured, voice husky. "Not like anybody'd be the wiser. Lights are low... band's about to start... I could just inch up your skirt, and--"

The Bronze's main attraction struck up, drowning the remainder of Spike's sentence in overamped guitars. People scurried out of the bar area to rush the stage. Normally, she'd be up there too -- it was a band Buffy liked and hadn't seen live before -- but she was too focused on his hands lifting her skirt, his lips against her ear, and the fact that when a big, national act like this starts its set, no one stays in the bathroom.

As ideas went, it was pretty rash, and not entirely unslutty -- but it was better than right here in front of everyone, or outside, where vampires might spoil the fun.

Should she do it? What if someone she knew was here? Oz's band was on the bill, but they usually left soon after a gig. Scanning the crowd, her eyes finally settled on the bitch-waitress, who quickly looked away. With a wicked smile, Buffy craned her neck to give him a command. "Follow me."

You walked in
Just like smoke
With a little come on, come on, come on
In your walk
Well, come on

He didn't ask, just took her hand.

I've been waitin'
Are you waitin?
For my move, well I'm makin' it

They lost contact in the crammed main area, and then he spotted her strolling backward down the restroom hallway.

He grinned, and went after her.

When he caught up, she pushed him into the empty ladies' room, shoved him into a stall and clasped her mouth roughly over his.

A set of tinny speakers filtered the live music into the room.

I'll be down on my knees
Screamin' take me, take me, take me, take me
I'm yours

"Fuck me," she whispered hotly, unzipping his jeans. "Now."

Spike wasn't about to disobey: he furrowed her skirt, boosted her up to get her legs around his waist, and... she wasn't wearing panties.

He gasped. She smiled.

I've never felt so out of control
You don't even know what you're doin' to me
Come on and do it to me

Eyes on his, Buffy gripped the tops of the stalls on either side of her and let gravity take over.

Come on, come on
Come on little rabbit
Show me where you got it
'Cuz I know you got a habit

Come on...

* * *

"I feel kinda guilty," Willow yelled over the song, "that we were talking all through Oz's set and not, you know, vibin' on the music?"

"There's always the next show," Tara said, following her down the hallway.

The restroom door flew open in front of them, and two teens walked out, noses wrinkled. "How rude is that?" One turned to Tara. "I'd go to the men's room if I were you."

"What's that supposed to mean?" Tara frowned as the girls ran off tittering.

"Maybe somebody puked." Willow creaked open the door. It was near-empty -- only one stall was occupied and the floor was fairly clean. So far, no rudeness readily apparent.

Willow and Tara exchanged a shrug and chose their stalls.

But when she clicked the lock, Willow heard something over the music. Heavy breathing, followed by grunting.

Female whimper.

Male growl.

The sound of lips smacking. The sound of... other things... smacking... yuck! The entire row of stalls shuddering and vibrating.

Okay then! She flushed the toilet and fixed her skirt, rushing out to the sinks. Tara came out too, eyes sliding toward the stall and back at Willow.

I know! Willow mouthed, washing her hands. Get a room!

"Tell me about it," Tara muttered, unhinging a paper towel.


The faster they got out of there, the better. Willow opened the restroom door, and--

"Bloody hell..."

She froze, eyes widening. Spike? In here with some random skank?

A gulping, gasping, hoarse, "Yeah!" answered her question. As did the orgasmic "Buffy!" pant she could hear over the thunderous applause.

"Buffy?" Tara repeated to Willow, her volume unchecked against the post-applause lull.

The sex noises stopped.

"Let's get out of here," Willow said, rolling her eyes.

"Wait -- Willow?" Buffy's voice.

After some rustling and zipping, the stall opened. A shamefaced Buffy walked out first, and cleared her throat. "Hi."

Willow scoffed. "'Hi'?"

"Yeah, we were um -- we were just--"

"Getting it on in a public bathroom?"

Buffy looked at her. "Leaving."

Spike stepped out, guardedly eying the pair of witches.

"Whatever," Willow said, sick to her stomach.

"Will--" Buffy stepped forward.

"No," she stepped back. "I don't... I can't." Her throat constricted. "It's like I don't even know you anymore."

"Will, I'm sorry I didn't tell you--"

"It's not just that, Buffy. It's--" She sighed. "I've gotta go. C'mon, Tara."

Spike stepped forward. "Hey!"

Buffy held a hand to his chest, staring after her friend. "Don't."

* * *

"Over here, then?"

"Huh?" Buffy glanced up from her textbook, distracted, the previous night's encounter with Willow fresh in her mind.

She was so haunted by those words -- It's like I don't even know you anymore -- and that look of utter disappointment... I should write a book, she thought. How to Lose Friends and Alienate Family.

"The bassinet."

"The huh?"

"Patch of sunlight comes in right on this spot -- see? Be nice for him. I mean, provided he's not allergic like his pop."

"You want to..." She trailed off.

"You think it should be downstairs then?" He sniffed, thinking it through. "Yeah, you're prob'ly right."

She put her textbook down and stood up, finally realizing what all his yammering had been about. "Are you out of your mind?"

He looked at her, expression guileless. "What?"

"You want to put a bassinet in a crypt?"

"What's wrong with that?"

"How about everything?!" When he didn't respond, she elaborated, "It's dirty, it's dank, it's cold -- the floor is pure concrete..."

He frowned, affronted. "Don't hear you complaining when you're sprawled across it!"

"That's different! I'm not an infant! Sure, it's all well and good for kinky sex between two consenting superheroes, but can you even contemplate how dangerous a room like this would be for a baby?"

"I said I'd put wall-to-wall carpeting down, pad the sharp edges, and... Did you just call me a superhero?"

"Spike!" she yelled, arms akimbo. "I am not raising my child in a cemetery!"

"Your child?" he shouted, compliment forgotten. "Oh, so now it's just yours?"

"Well, I'm the only one here with half a brain!"

"Right, sure! First you don't even want it and now only you know what's best for--"

Knock, knock.

Their heads whipped toward the door, and back to each other.

When she moved to answer it, he pulled her back, shaking his head. The sun ruled out a vampire visitor, but other beasties didn't mind the daylight.

Knock, knock, knock.

Granted, they didn't usually knock first.

"I'm going," she whispered, and slowly opened the door.

The person she came face to face with was so unexpected and out of place that it took Buffy a moment to recognize her.


More to come...
Chapter #9 - Maternal Instincts


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! Only 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?"

* * *

3 AM.

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 got 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.

"Not yours!"

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?"

Spike smirked.

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."

"You sure?"

"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?"


"Thought so."

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."

More to come...
Chapter #10 - Expecting The Unexpected

A/N: The French translates to, respectively: "I speak French", "my little cream puff", "I'll teach you everything you need to know", and "Do you want to reach the seventh sky?" (which pretty much means 'I'm gonna make you come really hard'.) And yeah, I know that Spike being fluent in any language other than English is a bit of a character stretch, but I defy you to think it isn't hot. (ETA: pfeifferpack just pointed out that French could very well have been part of William's education. So, there you have it.)

A/N the second: I had never actually seen Beaches when I wrote this; I just knew it was a guilty favorite of Buffy's because of her song choice in 'Something Blue'. I found out later that there's an entire scene involving a bunny costume. Har.

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.

"God, Buffy..."


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?"

"Not quite..."

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--"

"I'm not."

"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."

More to come...
Chapter #11 - Craving and Caving

Spike wasn't alone.

He knew it the moment his focus downshifted from Buffy's cocktease of a goodnight kiss to a less distracting craving for nicotine.

Employing his bat-like radar, he detected that the lurker was female, soulless, not more than ten feet away...

"Hello, Spike."

...and up for conversation.

So much for radar. Or the fact that a friendly chat with anyone, let alone a late-night intruder, wasn't topping his list at the mo.

But, on the bright, it gave him time for a smoke -- and as he lit up, he caught a glimpse of a young blonde perched on the washing machine.

Hardly a code red, so he took a long, satisfying drag and played it blasé: "I don't believe I've had the pleasure."

"Believe it."

"Yeah?" One of the drawbacks of immortality: running into one-night stands from god only knew what decade. He scratched his bare chest and said, "Well, I meant to call."

"Oh, no. If you'd had that pleasure, you would have called. And called, and called..." She spread her legs languidly as she spoke, then shut them like a trap. "Let's just simple it up and say... I'm an old friend of your ex."

He wasn't buying it. "I know all her friends. Most have horns and produce mass quantities of phlegm." Tucking his Zippo into a front pocket, he leaned back on his cot. "They also have penises. Have you got one of those?"

"Ouch," she said, tickled. "Still smarting from the breakup, are we? I don't blame you; you're all heart. It's what I like about you."

She hopped off the washing machine and strutted into a patch of moonlight. "Once upon a Hellmouth, Drusilla gave this body eternal life."

"Well, why didn't you say so," he said, sarcasm cranked. "Now we can share all our secrets and be best pals."

"Tch. I know all your secrets." She rolled her head from side to side as if it were a new sensation. "Yours and hers and everyone's -- they're all the same; the last as snooze-inducing as the first." Frustrated, she hissed at herself, "Speak English, you fool!"

Watching her warily, Spike exhaled a lungful, stumped as to how this loony bird scored an invite into the Slayer's house. "Super, another nutter. She pass that on to you as well?"

In a flash, she closed the space between them and bent to meet him face-to-face, trembling with barely contained rage.

"Let's get one thing straight," Lamashtu said, her own rich voice filtering through the shell she wore, "I do the passing on around here and if you knew the extent to which you benefit, you would be on your knees before me, begging that I accept your undying gratitude. Night after blissful night, you delight in just a taste of the power that was once mine in the purest, truest sense and you will be weeping with regret when I've taken it all back -- the day your little apple-core is ripe and ready to fall from the vine."

Rattled as he was, he remained expressionless. "Uh-huh. Look, it's not that I don't fancy a little acute schizophrenia in my women every now and then, I do, but I think it's time you--" died, he meant to say with a deft plunge through the heart, but before he could aim, she overtook him on the cot and Kung-Fu-gripped his wrist so hard the stake popped out of his hand and fell to the cement floor with an impotent doink.

Clearly, he'd underestimated her. A lot.

Searching her eyes for clues, he said, "What the hell are you?"

"All in good time." Astraddle his knees, her fingertips trailed up his inner thigh, causing an immediate, involuntary reaction. "And my time is coming, puppet, you've seen to that." She turned her attention to his crotch. "How quickly it grows... Months into days."

He'd had quite enough of this unbidden tête-à-tête, but she was holding him in some kind of thrall and it took most of his energy to say, "Whatever you're selling, pet, I'm off the market."

"Oh, William." She stroked the outline of his erection and brushed her lips against his. "So loyal. So blind. You can't resist me, no one can. I'm all there is. I'm every heart's darkest desire. I'm the beginning..." she moved to his ear to give it a soft kiss, "and the end."

Flicking his lighter to set her product-enhanced flip-'do ablaze, he said, "Can I be the middle?"

"Bad boy," she scolded as if he'd done nothing worse than spill a glass of grape juice, then pushed him out of harm's way before fizzling to toast.

When the rank haze of burnt vampire dissipated and all that remained was an uneasy feeling in Spike's gut, the encounter took on the surreal quality of a dream: Was he seeing things? Had he fallen asleep? Was he sleeping still?

Was Buffy all right?

* * *

"Rule breaker," Buffy murmured with a sleepy smile before turning for a kiss, only to stop when she saw his worry-face. "What is it?"

"Nothing, love." He kissed her forehead, the bump on her nose. "Go back to sleep."

"Did you have a bad dream?"

"Yeah," he said, pulling her to his chest. "It's all right now." He hoped.

Buffy nuzzled into him and drifted back to sleep.

Who was that apparition in the basement, and what did she want?

She was too real not to be real, but she had to be more than a mere blood-daughter of Dru's -- young vampires screamed and clung to life when they burned, they weren't eerily stoic about it. Plus, her caress stank of sorcery. He didn't want her in the slightest, yet if his mind wasn't so trained on getting the Zippo open, he might have shot a load in his pants.

Which may not have been too awful, considering the bloody traitor still hadn't gone down.

Buffy turned once more to press her back to his front, emitting a sweet, girlish moan.

If he'd gotten hard any other way, he'd be tugging down her PJs for a quick midnight special about now, but this, he knew, wouldn't be right.

Besides, he didn't want to give What's-Her-Evil the satisfaction.

* * *

"Buff--" Joyce swung open her daughter's door, and stopped in her tracks.

They slept, spooned together, Buffy in Spike's embrace, his chin buried in her shoulder nook. The tableau was so ironically precious that she was moved to back out on tiptoe.

* * *

"Got an I.D. on our bodyguards yet?"

There was a long, perplexed pause. "Who is this?"

"Your mum," Spike said, scornful. "Who do you bloody think it is?"


"Points for Team Oxford." He paced restlessly around Buffy's room, pink phoneset in hand. She'd left him for school that morning, he had yet to sleep, and something was still... up. "Bloody geniuses, you are."

"Yes, well," Giles said. "It's a bit unusual, you... phoning."

Spike broke his pacing pattern for a moment to emphatically roll his eyes.

"Right. No, nothing on them yet." Giles paused. "Oh, but a word from the doctor this morning: the test results are in, and everything seems on course. Mother and child in fine health... Although the vampiric tests were uh, inconclusive, unfortunately."

"Great." He cut to the chase. "What do you know of bodily possession?"

"Uh... Quite a lot, actually."

* * *

Buffy roamed the occult section, finger gliding over the call numbers until she found it: Angelic Demons, Demonic Angels - How Nature, Nurture and Television Turn Black and White to Gray. "Bingo."

She heard a giggle, and spotted the source as Willow and Tara studying in a nearby booth.

In an effort not to be seen, she quickly spun in the opposite direction -- and slammed into a large student body. "Oh! Sorry!"

"It's okay, I should watch where you're going," the tall, hunky Teacher's Assistant from her psychology class said, and as they both reached for her fallen items, their skulls collided.

"Oh god," Buffy held her head. She knew she shouldn't have gotten out of bed that morning.

"Stay." Pointing at her, he carefully crouched to pick up her things, and passed them over. "Interesting selection."

The Demon book and a Pregnancy for Dummies VHS tape. "Um, yeah. It's for a, a term paper."

"A term paper on demon pregnancy."

"No, well, yeah, in a... kind of..."

He held up his hands. "It's none of my business."

"No, it's fine." Why was she hiding it? She wasn't ashamed, was she? And it was gonna start showing sooner or later. "Actually, I'm-- with-- Pregnant." While she could clearly stand to work on her delivery, it felt good to share. "And as you've just witnessed, often a dummy."

He'd deflated the moment she uttered the magic word. "Oh. You are?"

So, there was a good reason to hide it after all: Sympathy Face. "Don't feel bad for me! I don't."

"I don't-- I wasn't... You don't look--" He shook his head to stop ogling her stomach. "I'm sorry. It's just... You're just so... young."

She assured him with a shrug, "I'm old in spirit."

He nodded, and began to walk with her. "So, is the father a demon or an angel?"

"Would you believe... a generous helping of both?"

Playful but curious, he egged, "How is that possible?"

"I'll let you know when I find out." She rapped her fingernails on the book.

"I'm Riley, by the way. Riley Finn."

"I know, you're my T.A.," she said, taking her usual care not to shake hands too hard. "It's okay, I don't expect you to recognize my random face in the crowd. I'm--"

"Buffy Summers, Row 3. Except for yesterday, when you were allll the way in the back."

"Um, yeah," she said, surprised and flattered. "Wow, you must have a file cabinet up there."

"Not really," he said with a good-natured but slightly guilty smile, and it dawned on her: Cute T.A. has a crush!

Her immediate impulse to rush to tell Willow was replaced by the depressing truth that Willow was no longer her best friend. And that her best friend these days was... Spike?

Yeah, life was weird.

* * *

As she deadbolted the front door, Buffy could hear that the shower was in use. Good, she thought, hanging up her jacket, Cleanliness is next to sexliness. Or, cleanliness makes me wanna get next to Spikeliness... sext by... oh, forget it.

Just as she gave up on fashioning that raw material into a zingy soundbite, a moan of agony echoed from the bathroom.


Worried, she made haste up the stairs and into the hallway bath. Head hung in defeat, Spike had one hand on the tile wall and the other on his erection.

"You started without me?"

He opened the stall. "Oh, thank god you're here."


"I can't get rid of it," he whined, gesturing at his hard-on. "It won't go down on its own or from anything I do to it. It's driving me mad."

Buffy slid her ponytail holder off, one corner of her mouth turned up. "This looks like a job for the Slayer."

* * *

Buffy peered at him under furrowed brow, insulted that her zealous blow job had yet to do the trick.

"I'm telling you, someone spiked my blood with Viagra." Or more likely, that thing masquerading as a vampire had done something to him... but he couldn't bring himself to tell her about that yet. "It's not you, baby, you're the best! You're the best at everything."

But, Buffy realized, they hadn't done everything. There was a promise she hadn't delivered yet, and surely a new experience would get him off -- her too, by proxy anyhow, since she loved to see him lust-whipped.

Making up her mind, she stood up in the filling tub, pressed her palms against the wall and arched her back, the hint unmistakable. "It's your lucky day, Spike."

His mouth went dry. "It... is?"

"Mmhmmn." She showcased for him, briefly spreading her cheeks. "You know you wanna."

"God, yes. I mean, no! I can't." Running his fingers over her irresistible, soap-lathered ass, he said, "First time should be special, Buffy, with candles and soft linens and buckets of lube--"

"Now. Before I change my mind."

Persuaded all too easily, he swiped a bottle of Baby Oil from the nearby sinktop. "This'll work."

* * *

Is it still a curse, Spike wondered, if the pain it causes comes with this much pleasure?

It had to be, because despite the unprecedented dirty-talking and squirming and jiggling she was doing as she rode him on the tub floor like a horny cowgirl, Spike could not come for the unlife of him.

She, on the other hand, had just crested orgasm number five and was fast approaching six. Spurring her on was the dangling showerhead's spray that grazed her clit on every upstroke, the sumptuous warm water that gushed and lapped between them on every downstroke, and, oh yeah, the anal sex.

For Buffy, this new frontier was a revelation. She'd registered that he had yet to come, but once she'd rocked back into him, his full length sheathed and pulsing in her rectum, sending sharp tingles up her spine, she'd kind of ceased to care.

"Yeah, you love it," he snarled. "You love it, you horny little slut."

"Fuck you," she said, panting and convulsing as she came... AGAIN.

This was killing him. Here was pious, demure Buffy, cursing him out and violently climaxing while he ravaged her virgin ass -- an image so beautiful and messy and hot, and yet he couldn't express how much he appreciated it! Also, his scrotum was about to petrify, the agony was so intense.

Even with repeated musings like, You're fucking The Slayer in the ass. You're buggering Angel's Girl. Buffy is begging you for more -- all of which would normally see him shooting like a fire hose -- an end to his torment was nowhere in sight.

Buffy had to stop. Not only was she physically wrecked, but so far she'd broken a faucet knob, detached some of the Mexican tile splash and just about yanked the showerhead from the wall -- one more tub-shaking orgasm and the entire house might cave in.

Gasping for air, she turned off the water and said, "I've gotta... I can't... anymore..."

Seated on his haunches beneath her, he groaned in frustration and shook her on his cock.

"Really?" She threw in some alluring swiveling. "Still nothing?"

"Any other day, I swear to you, I'd have been done for thirty seconds in."

"So you're saying I should be thankful?"

"Very funny." He whimpered, desperate, "Buffy..."

"I don't know what else to do!" Taking pity on his poor non-existent soul, she offered, "We could try face to face."

"Yeah... Yeah, that might help."

"Wash off."

He cleaned up while she stepped out of the shower, spread a towel on the floor and waited for him on her back.

As he crawled over her, he said, "I love you, you know that?"

"You better," she said.

He pushed into her wet, clenching pussy, and, looking into her fluttering eyes, he came on the third thrust.

Face contorted in ecstasy, Spike froze in place until the last glorious spurt.

She laughed when he dropped his head on her chest, exhaling in relief as he said, "Oh, sweet salvation."

"Well, can't say it's not an ego-boost. You really like looking at me." Funny, she could almost feel it inside her, warm and... minty-fresh? Did he not rinse off all the Irish Spring?

"I really do." He nuzzled his cheek against her soft breast, resolving never to move again. "Thank god it's over."

"Hey," she smacked his head.

Mouth smushed against her skin, he said, "You know what I mean..."

"I know. That was mostly for calling me a slut."

"That was the blue balls talking."

"Suuure," she said, twirling a damp lock of his hair on her fingertip. "Oh my god, you've been lying to me."

Spike tensed. How could she tell?

"Your hair is naturally curly. How cute is that?"

And he was off the hook. "Bite your tongue! 'Cute', she says."

"Mini-us might have curly hair."

At that, he raised his head. Her smile was dazzling... and contagious. "I'd almost forgotten about our Mini."

"How could you forget? She's practically coconut-sized," she said, knocking on his coconut head.

"You're exaggerating. She's..." he touched the slight swell of her belly, "not even peach-sized." When he looked up, she was gazing adoringly at him. "What?"

"You said 'she'."

He hemmed and hawed until he settled on, "I was humoring you."

"I love you," she said, and passionately kissed her new best friend.

* * *

"...Rolling boil," Spike read aloud, then peered into the pot. He had no doubt about the boiling; it was the rolling he wasn't so sure of. With a shrug, he poured in half a box of pasta shells, popped a fallen shell in his mouth, crunched on it, and spit it into the sink.

The back door opened, and Joyce paused, grocery bag in hand. "Oh. Hello, Spike."

He wiped his mouth, hoping she wouldn't broach the awkward subject of finding him in bed with her daughter that morning. "Joyce."

"Are you doing what I think you're doing?"

He shrugged. "She craves, I cave."

For the second or third time that week, she thought He truly loves her... followed by the umpteenth rerun of He's a hundred year old monster who could turn on a dime. The two concepts together didn't add up, and frankly, she was tired of doing the math. Filing a few groceries into the fridge, she asked, "What's her highness up to? Lounging majestically?"

"Doin' her homework. That grapefruit juice?" At her nod, he took it and added it to a glass half-full of O.J. "Thanks, saved me a run."

"Two parts orange, one part grapefruit?" she asked, referring to Buffy's childhood comfort drink.

"And 'a little-bitty shot of V8, don't forget the sprig of celery', unquote."

"Really? That's new."

"The squirt talking, I expect."

She watched him for a moment. "You know, for a creature of the night, you're awfully considerate."

He closed the bottle and handed it back with a wink. "Let's not spread that vicious rumor about, yeah?"

"I wouldn't dream of it. Oh, here -- why don't you put these up tonight." She slung a plastic bag across the island that contained a set of long, chocolate brown drapes. "The darkest ones I could find."

Spike inspected them, confused. The basement windows were too small for drapes.

"If you're going to be sleeping above ground, I'd like you to be safe." When he got the picture, she smiled warmly and left him there to stare at the offering, touched beyond words.

* * *

"What the fuck?"

Spike opened a groggy eye as Buffy rushed to her full-length mirror crying, "Not again!"

When she gave him a profile view, he saw it: She was bigger. Months bigger. Coconut-sized, come to think of it.

"What happened yesterday?" Buffy began to pace, hands in her hair. "What did we do different? I went to school, the library, spoke to Riley, walked home, ass sex..."

"Who's Riley?"

"Did anybody give you anything, do anything...?"

"Well, your mother gave me the drapes..." He pointed at the freshly-dressed windows.

Her eyes narrowed. "You."

He blinked. "Me? What'd I--"

"You," she marched toward him. "It was warm. Why was it so warm?"


"When you came inside me, I felt it. Why did I feel it?"

"Because I was in the bath so long? I don't bloody--" Then he remembered, whispering, "Months into days."


He stared at her, horrified. "How quickly it grows."

"You're freaking me out, Spike. Stop it."

"We need to see your watcher. Right now."

"No. You're gonna tell me what's going on. Right now."

* * *

"I'm not speaking to you!"

"I told you I'm sorry!" He tried to keep up with her, but it was tough with all the shadow-hopping he had to do. "See, I knew you'd go off like this, it's why I didn't tell you!"

"If you'd told me, this wouldn't have happened!" She gestured at her distended belly, and kept walking.

"Oh, like you could've pieced it together? You're such a genius you'd have figured out that a possessed vampire witch infused me with some kind of fetus-expanding superjizz."

"No," she spoke to him as if he were a moron, "I wouldn't have touched you if I knew some skanky whore got you horny!"

"She didn't get me-- Oh, bloody..." He ducked under an awning, a down duvet his only protection from the morning sun. He hadn't even had time to put on a shirt, what with all the face-saving. "I couldn't help it, alright? It was magick!"

"That's what they all say. 'It wasn't my fault, it just happened, it was magick!'"

"I burnt her to a crisp! What more proof do you need that I wasn't into it?"

"Oh, whatever! That's like flirting for you!"

"Don't be such a ninny."

"Don't be such a jackass!" She pounded on the door and Giles opened it, allowing the maelstrom that was Buffy and Spike into his living room.

"Rupert, tell her I'm not to blame." Spike cast down his blanket and stomped on it to put out a smoldering fire. "Tell her about the possession thing, the power, and all that other rot you told me yesterday."

"He knew about this yesterday? God, this is just like the Ginsu! Why are you always going behind my back? Augh!" Buffy shrieked. "MEN!!"

"Good," Giles said, visibly pained. "My eardrums are in serviceable order after all."

"Look at me," Buffy demanded of Giles. "I'm a freakshow. And it's all his fault."

"Fair enough," said Giles.

"Oi, whose side are you on?"

Buffy sneered, "A side you haven't been on long enough to lay any claim to."

"Oh, easy for you to say, the good fight being your bloody birthright! You know how hard this is for me? What it does to my image alone--"

"Oh," Buffy poured on the sarcasm, "Satan forbid all your make-believe followers have to go find some other imaginar--AH!" Suddenly she doubled over, a blow inside her forcing her to her knees.

Spike rushed to her aid. "Baby, what? What is it? What happened?"

"I don't..."

Clutching her stomach, she looked up at him, an awestruck breath catching in her throat. "I think he kicked."

His little slugger packed that much of a wallop? It was enough to make him misty-eyed. "Guess he doesn't like Mum and Dad fighting."

She said gamely, "Looks like he's got our strength."

"Looks like." He kissed her face, then her ear, whispering, "Forgive me, please. I'm a colossal idiot."

"Yeah, you are." She sniffled, tapping his bare chest. "No more secrets, okay?"

He clasped his hand over hers, looked deep in her eyes. "Cross my heart."

The kiss passioned up -- until they remembered where they were, and guiltily turned to Giles, who was exhibiting his usual Herculean patience. "Now then. Who wants to tell me what this is all about?"

More to come...
Chapter #12 - Hot Cross Bunnies

"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."

Complete silence.

"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!"

"I'm sorr--"

"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."

More to come...
Chapter #13 - Pre-Natal Attraction

WARNING: If you're squeamish about the pregnant physique and its uh... capabilities, you may want to gloss over this one. Although you'll be missing out on all the hot sex.

Faceless Lady isn't faceless anymore: tonight she's overcompensating with hundreds of faces, each one flashing to the next at an all too rapid clip.

"Show me who you are," says Buffy, and the quick-switch settles on a pretty young blonde, then morphs one last time...

...into her Conversational French professor?

Well, if the Gucci boot fits... "I always said you were too fashion-forward for a teacher."

"L'enfant appartient à moi," Prof. Rousseau says, advancing with a long knife.

Buffy roundhouse-kicks it out of her hand and snaps into battle stance. "Psycho killer, qu'est-ce que c'est?"

In the ensuing tussle, Buffy winds up on her back on the stone floor, the woman on top of her. In her periphery, a flat, shiny disc catches her eye but before she can grab it, her arms are pinned ...and she's stark ravin' naked.

"Tu veux atteindre le septième ciel?" her professor asks with a saucy wink, then zeroes in on Buffy's left nipple. With her mouth.

Whoa, unexpected, but feels really...

Buffy woke herself up with a gasp.

The first thing she realized was that the last part wasn't a dream: her nipple was indeed being sucked on, only it was by Spike, and not her possessed forty-something female French teacher.

Which was comforting, to say the least... but a quick glance at the clock radio told her it was 4am. What made him so randy in the middle of the night? Had she been talking girl-on-girl action in her sleep? Had he been visited by another Magical Witch Bunny?

She whispered his name, but that only made him suck harder, and that made her forget whatever it was she planned to say. Arching into him, she bit back a soft moan, then remembered Mom wasn't home and let it out.

Encouraged, he began to move with her, over her.

Buffy noted that there was some kind of barrier between them. A pillow?

With a reluctant glance, her suspicions were confirmed: she was the pillow. Another night, another big, fat growth spurt.

At her whimper, he rose to kiss her neck and assure quickly, deliriously before returning to his boob-worship, "Shhh... you're so beautiful, you taste so good, so fucking delicious, oh Buffy..."

Well, if he was gonna call her 'beautiful' in his raspy bedroom voice, and circle his tongue like that, and oh, suck it like that... she could maybe file the worry under 'later'. There was sensual sleepy sex to be had, and she wasn't not horny...

She watched him for a while. It wasn't just her belly that had grown, her cup size had too, and though Spike was hardly a breast man she understood it as an irresistible novelty.

But then she noticed something odd. He was swallowing after every third suck: Suck, suck, suck, gulp. Suck, suck, suck, gulp.

Suddenly, she made the connection between his choice of words, her new third trimester size, and what he was so gleefully in the midst of.

She shoved him up by the forehead. "What are you doing?"

He looked all flushed and worked up and disoriented. "Shh, baby--"

"Don't shush me." She shielded the breast he instinctively aimed for. "What are you doing?"

"Nothing, just loving you, you sweet, gorgeous, tasty thing--"

"Stop!" Holding him at bay, she squeezed and saw it, a tiny droplet of white. "Oh my god, you're drinking my breast milk! Get off me!"

"Please don't make me," he begged her in a devilishly sexy whisper, "please," and before she could think, she'd let him go and he was feasting again with gusto.

Lately Spike had developed a child-like fascination with everything the female human body could do that a vampire's couldn't; he was always trying to sniff her socks or follow her into the bathroom. While those curiosities were comprehensible if not mildly annoying, this? Was just wrong.


"Spike..." Her struggle came out halfhearted, because it felt mind-bendingly good. "That's not for you."

He raised his head to say, "Got dibs 'til baby gets here." And back again.

"Stop it," she whined, "it's weird..."

"It's delicious," he said, invading her mouth with his flavored tongue.

God, he was freaky.

...and god, she wanted him.

Returning his zealous kiss, she wrapped her arms around his head, whispered in his ear, "Okay," and pushed him back down to her breasts.

* * *

"I'm pretty sure it's a mislead, but be careful anyway. You're the best, Xander. Merci bunches." She turned off the phone and used it to whap Spike, who hadn't stopped copping feels throughout the entire conversation. "God! Don't you ever get enough?"

"Never." She straddled his thighs to continue the assault, and he cheerfully took the hits, preferring to pull her towel away and cup her breasts. "What's this about him being the best? Thought I was."

"Weren't you even listening?" At his headshake, she dropped the phone on the bed. "He's checking out Professor Rousseau so I don't have to be seen around campus with my enormo-gut."

"Mmm, more for me." Now that she was nude, he was hard again.

"No more for you. I have to get dressed."

"Why? We've got hours."

"We've had hours, Spike."

"What's a few more?"

"We just showered!"

"I see no reason we can't shower again, my voluptuous, bountiful... blossoming... blossom--"

"See? You're even running out of descriptives." She got to her feet. "Give it up."

He propped up against the headboard, threw an arm behind his head. "Fecund, I didn't use that one yet."

"Use that one and I'll stake you," she promised, and went to her closet to rifle through the selection. "Straight to the supersize. Yay for fatness."

"You're not fat."

"No, I'm 'fecund'," she said with disdain, finding the largest pair of panties she owned.

"Turn to the side for me."

"No! Why are you so into my body like this?"

"I don't know... It's so... Fecund."

"Stake. Killing you."

He breathed in, exhaled, hand running down his naked torso. "Can I lick your belly button?"

"No, you cannot." She pulled her size 6 underwear as far as they would go... which wasn't very far. "One thing I hoped I'd never need: thunderpants. Only solution," she said, kicking them off. "None-derpants."

He idly cradled his balls, his erection. "Bend over for me."

She answered with a silent Excuse me?

"Touch your toes."

"I'm not gonna --! I'm not here for your amusement."

"Just for a second. Come on, be my peep show girl."

She gave him a disdainful look, but bent down anyway. Wow, touching toes, not so easy. She tried again, making it a balance exercise.

"Yeah," he whispered, stroking his cock. She looked like a pregnant Elvgren, at once innocent and pure, incredibly fuckable and undeniably fertile. "Gonna jet my juice all over that big, plump--"

"Okay, I heard that, and I'm disturbed." She stood straight. "Peep show over."

"Oh, come on--" He tried to look past the closet door she'd moved behind.

"Come on nothing." She came back in a three-tone tube dress, each band a different shade of blue, and checked it in the mirror.

That could work, too. "Very nice."

"Are you on drugs? I look like a beach ball."

"It's stunning! Look at you!"

"But this!" She gestured at her bump. "Why with this bloaty balloon?"

"I hate to break it to you, Slayer, but you're pregnant."

She sulked, hand on her belly, eyes on the mirror. "I hate it."

He stopped stroking. "You know, I hear some women have to suffer through this condition for weeks. Sometimes months."

"Very funny." She sighed and grabbed her hairbrush. "I know, I know, blessing in evil disguise. Of course it figures that I'd be the Concord when I get the one guy in all the world who thinks big roundy slow-moving airplanes are hot."

He could watch her brush her hair all day. "I'm not the only one, love."

"In a couple days I'll be too big for sex, you know."

"Nice try." He reached for a book on her bedside table and opened it to a dog-eared page. "Says right here you can go to the very end. And I quote --"

She yanked the book out of his hands, gawked at its cover, and at him. "You've been reading my Girlfriends Guide To Pregnancy?"

"Just the good parts."

"Fine. You win." She gave it back and returned to the closet mirror, then looked at herself in profile. "You're gonna be disappointed when it's over though, aren't you? When I'm Buffy-sized again."

"Oh, sweetheart." He went to her and wrapped his arms around her from behind. "I'll never be disappointed with you. I'm just enjoying what I got while I got it."

She looked at his hands on her body, unable to focus on the mirror now that he wasn't in it. "All eight thousand pounds of it."

"Balloon-sized, peach-sized, Buffy-sized," he ran a light touch up her thighs, bringing her dress along for the ride, "I'll always want to take your clothes off."

"Hey! Trickster."

"Look how beautiful you are," he said. "Can't you see what I see?"

"You're not there. It's ooky."

He shrugged. "Just think of me as the voice of God."

"You? The voice of God."

"Yeah." He shook her shoulders and said in a booming Dracula voice, "YOU ARE SEXY, BUFFY SUMMERS..." Buffy laughed. "YOU ARE SO SEXY I WANT YOU TO IMMACULATELY CONCEIVE THE SECOND BLOODY COMING OF BUNNY RABBITS!!!" He jiggled her breasts and added, "I HAAAVE... SPOOOOKEN..."

"Okay, since when is God Transylvanian?" she wondered, wiping away a laugh-tear.

"Made you look. Now, pay attention." He grasped the top of her tube dress, and in her reflection, it began to roll down seemingly on its own. "Normally you've got fantastic tits, but these..." he revealed her to the mirror, "these are porn tits. So sayeth the Lord."

She chortled, but he wasn't wrong. "They're somewhat porntastic."

"Look at these nipples. So big and ripe and red..."

She buckled as he began to massage them. "They're red 'cause you won't leave them alone."

"They're clearly asking for it," he said. "Open your eyes."

Her Invisible Dracula God was squeezing her breasts, holding them up, letting them bounce free.

"Look at your face."

She glimpsed herself, piqued and aroused. It did make her look kind of pretty.

"Wait 'til you see the rest of you." He pulled her desk chair toward the mirror and sat down, urging her to sit on his lap and to spread her legs. "Open up for God..."

"Stop," she said, blushing.

"I will when you admit how beautiful you are like this." He teased apart her labia. "What'd I say? Like a blossoming red rose."

She looked away shyly, but then he began to touch her, and she wondered what that looked like...

"When I make love to you," he moved her hair away from her neck, "you glow."

"I do not..." Her tone matched his now, quiet and flirtatious.

"Wanna bet," he rolled her dress up and off, and swept his hands down her sides, "my golden goddess?"

His unabashed worship made her skin prickle, made her pussy ache, made her inhibitions melt. It didn't matter that she had a small watermelon for a midsection. In fact, she was convinced that Spike could probably make her feel sexy if she was suddenly transformed into a large-scale bumblebee. He'd think the oozing honey was way hot.

She reached back to touch his neck, and he repositioned her in his lap to slide her wet center over the tip of his cock, back and forth.

"Oh... God..." Her nipples crinkled.

"Want it?"

"Uh-huh," she whispered, so he grit his teeth and lowered her into place, agonizingly slow. She held her breath in anticipation, finally letting out a long, sensual exhale.

Spike kept the pace measured and deliberate, moving her hips up and down, until he could point out, "And... there's our glow."

She looked at herself, and smiled.

"Sweet little apple-cheeks." He chucked her cheek, then caressed her belly, saying with profound amazement, "Look what I done to you."

It was obvious he wasn't just referring to her glow. He was overcome with pride, and she was starting to get why.

So, for one breathtaking afternoon in front of the mirror, with Spike's adoring stream of consciousness guiding the way, Buffy saw herself for the first time through the eyes of love.

* * *

"Please stop," Giles said, refusing to look in the rearview at the heavy-petters in his back seat. "I can hear the... smacking."

"You heard him," Buffy pushed his solar plexus and tried to be firm. "Stop."

Undeterred, Spike pawed her breast and kissed a line down her neck.

"I'm sorry, Giles, he's like a dog with a bone." She winced. "Uh -- pretend I didn't say 'bone.'"

With a snigger, Spike clasped her hand over the 'bone' in question, making her gasp.

"I truly wish I could."

"You ever seen anyone so magnificent?" Spike said amorously, hands all over his Buffy, who murmured a hoarse chuckle.

"Never," Giles said, humoring him for the hundredth time.

"And she's all mine," he said. "Every sweet, supple, swollen centimeter of her."

"I think I preferred the smacking," Giles said.

* * *

"So, let's out with it: boy or girl?"


"Would you really like to know?" Dr. Patel said.

"Yes," said Spike, while Buffy said, "No!"

"Here," Spike leaned in to the doctor, "just whisper it in my ear."

"Spike!" Buffy said, "I want it to be a surprise -- for both of us. Don't tell him."

Dr. Patel admitted, "Actually I don't know myself yet. The baby's playing hard-to-get."

"Hmpf," Spike said disapprovingly. "Just like her mother."

Buffy slapped his hand. "Behave."

"Ah, there's the head," Dr. Patel said, pointing at the monitor. "He or she looks very healthy. The forced growth doesn't look to have adversely affected its development at all. Look there... it's sucking its thumb."

"Just like his father," Buffy snarked. She looked to him expecting a comeback, but he'd gone completely speechless, staring at the ultrasound picture.

She touched his hand, and he glanced down at her, taking her hand to his chest.

"You see that?" he asked, choked up. "Tiny little bugger..." He quickly rubbed a tear away, remembering to maintain manly composure.

Buffy kissed his hand.

"About 14 inches long... I'd say we're at 28 weeks or so. That's four weeks ahead of yesterday, about half of the change the day before."

"So, how long have we got, doc?"

"If it goes on at this rate, anywhere from..." the doctor wavered. "From..."

"Sanvi?" Giles caught her just as she lost consciousness.

Slumped backward in his arms, she opened her eyes, calmly looked around the room, laughed, and fainted again.

Giles called her name again, and she jerked awake with a gasp, wild-eyed and shaken. "What happened?"

"You... you fainted," Giles said. "Are you alright?"

"Yes, I'm..." He helped her to her feet. "I'm fine. It's nothing, really, just a... I haven't been sleeping well."

Spike and Buffy exchanged a look of trepidation.

"Why don't you sit down."

"No, no, I'm alright, really." She turned to Buffy to apologize, but teetered again. "Right. I suppose I'd better sit down then."

* * *

Buffy sat shotgun on the quiet ride back to Sunnydale. Even Spike didn't have much to say. She looked at Giles' profile, his deep frown, and thought she'd just out with it. "What happened to her back at the Council?"

He watched the road for a long moment. "I don't know."

"'kay," she said, letting it go.

"They wouldn't tell me," he said, clearly bitter. "One day she was there, the next she was gone... They wouldn't tell me why she left. All I knew of were the nightmares. Ghastly."

"Like, how ghastly," she asked, "on a scale of one to, say... Buffy?"

"She dreamt she ate an infant's heart every night for seven days."

"Ah," she nodded. "Buffy ghastly."

"Wait, hold on," Spike perked up in the back seat. "You're letting a bloody lilin deliver my baby?"

"Don't be daft, Sanvi's no 'lilin'. Even if there were such a thing--"

"Oh, there is! I know for a fact!"

"Um," said Buffy, raising a tentative hand, "Not hip to the groovy demon lingo?"

Giles explained, "Lilin are the favored daughters of Lilith, the first woman."

"They eat baby hearts for fun and profit," Spike said.

"Folkloric nonsense engineered to justify the patriarchy."

"Sod how it started, doesn't mean it's not practiced. You of all people should understand, Mister I Was A Disciple of Eyghon."

Giles glanced at Buffy. "You told him about that?"

"Well, I..." He'd asked her about her tat scar, what was she supposed to do, lie? "Sorry?"

"Dru dabbled in Lilith-worship back when -- I remember the Seven Day Feast."

Buffy turned to gape.

"Well, I didn't eat any babies! I couldn't even watch! It was a female-only event." He gazed out the window, envisioning blood-spattered bacchanalian orgies. "Always wondered what they did in there..."

Buffy rolled her eyes.

"Poseurs all," said Giles. "Not a true lilin among them."

"What makes you so bloody sure?"

"Because Lilith's about as real as, as, as the Easter Bunny!"

"Shhhh." Buffy pet her stomach, protecting Junior from the travesty. "Don't listen to him."

"The most anyone's ever written about her was in a novel. A fictional novel meant to entertain and amuse."

"I know the one, The Song. Dru had the oldest known copy."

"I very much doubt that, since I've got the 7th century original," Giles snipped. "Look, not one child was reported missing or slain when Sanvi had the nightmares, therefore nothing happened, and I don't want to hear any more about it!"

* * *

"I don't want you going back to her," Spike said, holding Buffy's hand as they walked to her front door.

"Oh, come on. She's not a baby-eater! She had some scary nightmares, the end."

"Now you're sounding like him. I'm telling you, I've got a bad feeling about her. You can't trust his judgment -- he's thinking with his heart, not his head."

"Funny, that's exactly what he said I was doing with you."

He smirked sidelong at her. "Touché."

They went up the porch steps. "I guess Mom's still in L.A."

"Reeally," he drawled, shoulder resting on the house, devilish eyebrow arching.

Buffy wondered, Is there an award for World's Horniest Man? 'Cause he'd totally win. "You have the keys."

Hand raised, he opened his fist and let the keys dangle. She reached to grab them, but wasn't quick enough. Slowly, he trailed a fingertip down her jacket lapel, nudging it open over her hardening nipple. "Gonna give Daddy a taste?"

She turned bright red. "Out here? No way!"

"Guess you can't go inside then."

"I'll fight you for 'em."

"Now that I'd like to see. All that jiggling--"


A sedan with a glowing plastic pizza on its roof came to a dramatic halt in her driveway, and Xander jumped out. "Guys! Guys."

"Bloody interloper," Spike muttered.

Buffy was perplexed. "When did you start working for Pizza Boy?"

"It's my first day, and judging by the five cold pies in the back, also my last. Look, Buff, I went to see your teacher today. Turns out she didn't show up for work, so I got Will to hack up her address, which, FYI, is thirty miles out of town, so I didn't have the means to swing by until now. Buffy..." He gulped.

"Oh, god." Buffy didn't want to hear it.

"She's dead. And by dead, I mean there's nothing left but skin dead."

* * *

"Tomorrow he receives the tablet." WinQuar paced from one end of the office to the other, mirror shards crunching beneath his feet.

"Good for us," Lamashtu stretched on the couch, getting reaccustomed to tonight's skin. "Unfortunate for him."

"Yes, yes," he said, but there were too many opportunities for error in this equation, too many of these 'friends' of hers on hand to muck it up. If only he had access to his full arsenal of abilities here...

"Is that worry I detect in your tone, WinQuar?"

"No," he said defensively, then hung his head. "Yes."

She clucked her tongue. "Have you no faith in your maker?"

"My goddess." He dropped to his knees before her. "My faith is eternal, growing only stronger after these thousands of years. It is I who feels lacking, as though I've failed you."

"But you haven't failed me yet." She ran a fingertip over his bald head. "We're almost there, WinQuar. I'm nearly free. This body..." she rubbed his face over her front, stood up and undulated like liquid, "sings to me. It sings the song of my infinite power!"

Head dazed and heart bursting with fresh arousal and adoration, he thought, I gaze upon the most glorious sight in all the world. "I can hear it, Lamashtu."

She shrugged off her white lab coat, shook out her lustrous black hair and looked at him, expectant. "What did you just call me?"

"Forgive me... Sanvi."

More to come...
Chapter #14 - Slaying For Two

A/N: Angelic Demons, Demonic Angels is not a real book. Neither is The Song of the Lilin, but it's loosely based on The Alphabet of Ben-Sira, understood to be medieval rabbinic satire, thus exposing the myth of Lilith as a crock. So I'm taking some major liberties.

Also: If you were following this fic on my site a few years ago, this chapter should be NEW TO YOU.

Love Is All You Need... Or Is It?

When a conscience-less being exhibits a great propensity to love, is this a sign of his redemptive potential? To know, we must first determine the motivation of this love. If it is truly selfless

"Oh, that poor woman," Joyce said, and Buffy looked up from her book. Her mom was still mulling over the newspaper article about Professor Rousseau. "You know she has two grown kids in France? I wonder if they even know yet."

"Remember, she mighta been evil," Buffy said, refocusing on Angelic Demons. "Mighta been the mastermind behind this great kidnap caper from the get-go." Who loves truly selflessly? I don't.

"You don't really believe that, do you?"

"No," Buffy said, closing the book. "But if I believe anything else, her massacre is my fault."

"Oh, honey, no it's not! You're the victim here, someone is doing this to you, and--" Joyce stopped mid-tirade to sniff the air. "What are you eating?"

Busted, Buffy slowly offered up the small multicolored bag she had in her lap. "Gummy shark?"

"I told you I'd make you breakfast. I'm staying home to take care of you today, will you please take advantage of it?"

"This is breakfast. Gummy breakfast."

"But you're eating for two now. Think about the baby."

"Mom, unless the magick stops, I'll only be eating, sleeping and my personal favorite, dressing for two for a couple days more, max."

Sighing, she took a seat beside her daughter at the kitchen island. "It's so hard for me to wrap my mind around this."

"You're telling me," she said through a mouthful of gummy.

"I'm getting worried, Buffy. Aren't you worried?"

"I can't afford to worry. Either we find her, or she finds us."

"What if it's too late?"

"It won't be," she said, summoning her slayer bravado. "No one is getting anywhere near my baby. Come showdown, Evil's gonna find out it messed with the wrong mother."

She dug for another shark, but found the bag empty. "Aw, phooey."

* * *

Giles turned the old book in his hands. Every hour was precious now, he was better off translating the Babylonian tablet he'd received that afternoon -- if anything, it could shed some light on the caster of their bonding spell.

He heard a student meander into the library and took it as a sign. Stowing The Song of the Lilin into his desk -- perhaps he'd bring it home and browse it there -- he put on a librarian air and went out to the main room, where he was met with a curious sight.

"Good lord. What happened to you?"

* * *

"Okay - Spike?" Buffy clamped his evil hand between her thighs before it finger-walked any further. "The 'P' in PDA doesn't stand for 'parental'."

"So come upstairs with me," he murmured at her cleavage, obsessed with his newly discovered use for it, "and I'll show you what the 'D' stands for."

"While my boobs are, no doubt, dying of curiosity," she said, pulling his head away from them, "they're gonna have to wait. Mom is home to spend time with me. I can't just run off with my boyfriend for a quickie."

"She's on the phone." Maybe he could convince her to catch his load in her mouth this time, instead of all over her neck... "What's the harm if she doesn't notice us gone?"

"Mmn..." He'd somehow reopened her thighs and was now gently frigging her, which always served to switch her logic button off. "Well... Maybe just for a--"

"Buffy?" her mother called before rushing into the living room.

Buffy shoved Spike across the couch and smoothed out her dress. "What's up?"

Joyce handed her the phone. "I think it's Willow."

"Hello?" All Buffy heard was incoherent blubbering followed by a high-pitched wail. "...Willow?"


"Where are you? Are you at your dorm?" There was a possible positive, so Buffy told her to wait there and hung up. "Can you drop me off?"

"Of course," Joyce said. "I'll get our coats."

"What?" Spike, who'd been furtively sniffing his fingers while devising a Plan B, was confounded. "You're running to her rescue after the way she treated you?"

"It's called friendship, Spike. You should try it sometime."

"Friends are for single people who have nothing better to do."

"Wow. You must have had a giant funeral." At his smirk, she blew him a kiss. "I'll make it up to you."

As they scrambled off, he sighed, lay back on the couch and turned up Oprah.

* * *

Buffy found Willow face-down on her bed, shuddering with sobs. "Oh, Will..." She stroked her hair. "Thank god you're okay."

"I'm not okay," she sobbed, "I'm really not okay."

"I mean, no bodily harm. That's all I meant."

"I'm sorry... I know you hate me right now, but I didn't know who else to call..."

"I don't hate you, you hate me -- Wait, did someone do something to you? Because I will kill them."

"No... It's about," she heaved in a gulping breath, "Tara. And Oz."

"Oh my god. Tara and Oz?"

"No... Tara and me. Me and Tara."

Buffy stared at her friend's trembling back. "Huh?"

* * *

"And then he turned all wolfy, like totally on his own, and it's not even that time of the month. He could've killed her! And, and I don't even know where he is, and I'm worried, but... he wouldn't want to see me anyway, you know?"

"I'll make sure we find him. Don't worry."

"Thank you..." She broke into a new bout of sobs. "I love him so much, you know, but I'm in love with Tara."

Buffy was still trying to make sense of it all without appearing uptight.

"I've never felt this way about anyone before. And when we... you know..."

"You... you know'ed? You already you know'ed?"

"It was like, better than anything. ...It was perfect."

"But-- You two are magick-heavy. Maybe it was, you know, magick?"

"This was the regular kind of magic, Buffy. Without the k."

"Are you sure it's not just... I mean, maybe you just have more... common interests, or..."

"Buffy... Please..."

"I'm sorry, I'm being dumb. C'mere."

As she reached up for a hug, Willow finally noticed her belly. "Oh my god, you're--"

"A Beluga with legs? Yeah. Baby-stealing skank put me on fast-forward again. But let's not talk about me."

"No, you're... this is huge! I mean, figuratively and literally, god you must be so scared!" She wiped her tears away. "I can't believe how pig-heady I was about you and Spike, I was just..."

Buffy hugged her close. "We are so bygones, Will."

* * *

"Oz, I understand your concerns, but I don't think staying locked in a cage for the rest of your life will solve anything. If you could tell me what brought it on..."

Still refusing to share, Oz sat on the floor of the book cage with his back to Giles, rocking to and fro.

Giles sighed. "Of course, you're welcome to stay the night if you'd like." He looked at his watch and thought, But do suppress your murderous impulses until my date is over.

Which suddenly wrought an idea: "Perhaps there's a positive implication. If the wolf can be evoked at will, mightn't it also be suppressed?"

Oz turned his head, considering the possibility.

* * *

Buffy walked briskly down the campus' exit path. Willow was a lesbian. Or, she thought she was... and Buffy wasn't handling it as well as she wanted to.

It wasn't the lesbianism... mostly. It was more that she thought she knew her friend better than that. Didn't she?

Well, she hadn't exactly been paying much attention since Spike came back. Or while Angel was around last year... or basically, any time her own problems eclipsed that of the world around her. Which was just about always.

But still, she felt somehow betrayed. She loved Oz. She wanted Willow to stay with him forever, and no one deserved to be hurt like this, least of all a stand-up guy like him.

Also, deep down, she'd always kinda thought that she'd be the first to experiment with a girl. It made sense -- it almost happened with Faith.

Buffy sighed. This wasn't about morality or competition. What was the real issue?

Was learning Willow's secret identity sort of like walking in on your hero doing her soulless vampire boyfriend in a sleazy public bathroom?

It was exactly like that, she realized, because no matter how it looked from the outside, Willow was only following her heart. And Buffy had become a firm believer in that cause.

She slowed, feeling the need to go back and share this revelation with her friend. But then there was a rustle in the leaves to her right that put her on alert: Oz?

"Miss? Excuse me, Miss?" A male voice from behind her. Yay, just what she didn't need, civilian intervention.

Turning on her heel, she saw Riley rushing toward her.

He stopped in his tracks, dumbfounded. "Buffy? ...I... I didn't recognize..."

"Oh," she said, realizing that he was gawking at her stomach. "Big baby. Had a growth spurt, kinda overnight." Another rustle. She had to get him out of there.

"Does... that even happen?"

She heard it again. "Look, I need to cut through these trees. I'll catch you later?"

"Wait--" he said, looking a little desperate. "You shouldn't be walking home alone."

"Believe me, I should."

"Hey," he blurted quickly, stopping her again, "How 'bout some coffee? Want some coffee? I could really go for some coffee right now."

Okay, now he was getting weird. "I need to get home."

"I beg you not to go that way."

"Why not?"


Taking his frightened stare to mean that the vampire was right behind her, she pinched Riley in a strategic pressure point and let him crash to the ground before facing her opponent.

"Thanks," the vampire said. "You just made my night a lot easier."

"Try 'harder'," she said, whipping a stake out of her pocket.

The vampire did a double take. "You're the Slayer? Aren't you a little..." he gestured at her stomach, "fat?"

She gasped. "Fat?" Oh no he didn't! "I'm pregnant, you 'tard!"

"Ah, I kinda suspected, but you never want to assume, you know? Chicks are so sensitive about their problem areas."

"This has never been a problem area, okay? My thighs, maybe, but -- What the hell am I doing?"

Fielding her first swing, he said, "Should you be slaying this far along?" He swept her legs out from under her. "I mean, think about the baby."

"What is it with everyone today?" Amazingly, she was able to do a backwards flip into battle stance. "Look at me! How can I not think about the baby?"

During her ensuing barrage, the vampire noted, "Wow, that really doesn't slow you down, does it?"

"Nope," she said, just as surprised. Whether it was out of ire or protective adrenaline, Buffy was in tip-top form. "Eating for two, dressing for two," she pushed him against a tree, raised her stake and closed in on her target, "and slaying for two." Poof!

"What the..."

Oh, god, Riley!
She looked to see him sitting up against a bench... Was that a CB radio in his hand? "Are you okay? That guy hit you and ran off."

Tucking his radio away, Riley rubbed the tender area of his skull that had broken his fall. "Maybe it's the mild concussion talking, but I could swear you just killed a vampire."

"Um..." When in doubt, play blonde. "Vampire? What?"

"Vicious bloodsucker that usually takes about four guys with a taser to snag... you obliterated with one little stick." He got excited. "You're part of the Initiative, aren't you? Some secret biogenetic weapon!"

"The Initiative? What the hell's the Initiative?"

"Uh," his eyes darted to the side, "never mind?"

After a figurative and literal pregnant pause, she asked, "Who are you?"

"Who am I? Who are you?"

"I take it you're not just a mild-mannered teacher's assistant."

"And you're not just a cute student. I mean, your strength, and your agile agility... I've never seen anyone move like that before. And I'm talking without the...!" He motioned at her midsection. "You just...!" He gesticulated wildly. "And then... poof!"

Arms crossed, she waited. "I asked you first."

He sighed. "Special Agent Riley Finn of the U.S. Armed Forces. And you?"

The army? What was the army doing on her turf? "Vampire Slayer Buffy Summers of the Sacred Duty."

"Would you, uh... would you mind running that one by me again?"

"Mystical destiny. I kill vampires. It's what I do. And obviously, I do pretty well. Why are you here?"

"Well, for one thing, I don't think we knew you were here. And for another... it's classified." He finally had the strength to get himself into a standing position. "I'd ask you if you were okay, but I'm probably in worse shape."

"Look, I've got it under control here, so you can take your taser gang back to Fort Dix--"

"I respect that you've got a system, but that's not really your call."

"I've kept the demon population down to tiny all on my own for over three years. How long have you been here? What have you accomplished?" Then she worried: "What do you want to accomplish?"

"I'm not at liberty to say." But somehow, she made him feel horribly guilty for trying to keep it from her. "We tag and study hostile subterrestrials, all right?"

"You study them? What for?" He was silent. "Let me guess. You follow orders, period."

"And I'm guessing you don't."

"That's right." What if the Initiative was behind her pregnancy? Or the demon pile-ups outside her house? Riley seemed guileless enough, but his superiors... "What can you tell me about this Initiative?"

"I've already told you too much," he said, clearly kicking himself, "If anybody found out..."

"People aren't supposed to know about me either." She looked him over. "You still want to get that coffee?"

* * *

"Not to worry," Giles told Buffy. "Oz is accounted for. A bit shaken, but none the worse for wear." He'd finally sent him on his way with a few books on Zen mastery and an old containment charm he had hanging in his office.

"Oh, thank god. Look, there's some big news I need to tell you, but later, 'kay?"

"Yes, well I do have that... dinner... meeting... this evening, so--"

"Ooh, I forgot about your date! Nothing's more important than that, Giles. Have a great time, and I'll call you tomorrow."

"Right. See you then." Giles hung up the phone, and picked up the Assyro-Babylonian translation he'd written out on a yellow pad.


"'Three inhuman warriors keep the baby safe'", he interpreted. "Bloody..."

Giles got up and grabbed The Song of the Lilin, turning the pages rapidly. "Three angels, three--" He found the passage he was looking for. "By god, this is the tablet."

* * *

Spike stopped in the middle of Main Street for another deep inhale. She was close.

There -- her voice, coming from the direction of the Espresso Pump. Closing in on the open-air cafe, he saw her sitting inside at a cozy table...

With a boy.

What the hell did she think she was doing?

Why were they so close and whispery?

Was that a giggle?

Oh, that was it. He was going in.

To announce his presence, Spike plucked a stir-straw from their centerpiece, pulled a chair from their table and sat with a defiant pelvic slouch.

"Spike!" Buffy said, overly cheerful, which only made him more suspicious. "What are you doing here?"

Did that look she was giving him say go away? Like hell he would!

He chewed on the straw, looking from her to him, him to her, waiting for either a rational explanation or an excuse to kill the bastard. Preferably the latter.

The lunk spoke, hand outstretched. "Hey, I'm Riley."

Spike didn't move a muscle. He just stared dangerously.

"I'm sorry," Buffy said. "This is Spike, my jealous boyfriend."

"Oh. It's very... awkward to meet you."

The nerve of this guy! The nerve of both of them! He felt Buffy's hand on his knee and jumped.

"Spike, it's not what you think. Keep your temper in check, okay?"

The word temper seemed to hold special significance. So she didn't want to scare Captain America away with a pair of sharp fangs, did she? All the more reason to do it.

She was putting on her jacket. "Thanks for the coffee, Riley."

"Anytime. I mean--" he looked at Spike, "Not any time..."

Before he could so much as flash a yellowy eye, Buffy yanked him out of his seat.

* * *

It couldn't be right. It couldn't be.

Giles stared at the passage he'd just translated.


It couldn't be... but it was.

"Lamashtu." The name seemed to leave his mouth as a curling mist, and at the last syllable the doorbell rang, nearly startling him out of his skin.

He checked his watch. "Blast!" Shoving the notes into drawers, he picked up the tablet and wrapped it in protective cloth. "Just a minute!"

What was he doing? Sanvi wasn't involved -- damn Spike for making him suspect. But alas, his first inclination was always to be better safe than sorry, so he quickly secured it in his best hiding place, checked his hair, and rushed to the door. "Coming!"

"Don't tell me you forgot about me."

"I, I, I," Giles stammered, entranced by the vision in blue standing in his doorway. "Sanvi, you look... absolutely stunning." He swallowed. "Like no time has passed..."

"...since our last night together?"

"Yes." It was no more than a whisper. "Oh, do... Do come in."

Lamashtu smiled. This would be easier than she thought.

* * *

Petulant, Buffy said, "Thanks a lot, Spike!"

His jaw dropped as she ambled on ahead of him. "Oh, excuse the flippin' hell out of me for ruining your date!"

"It wasn't a date, you dimwit! I was getting valuable information out of him."

"Information on what, the girth of his hard-on for you?"

"Uch! You're such a pig!" She cut between two parked cars and waited for a break in traffic.

"I'm a man," he said, waiting beside her. "I know what other men have on their minds."

"Yeah, project much?"

"Don't Psych 101 me--"

Buffy mumbled, "God, I'm treated like a pariah all day, but when I want to cross a damn street--" She addressed the one car that finally stopped for her, "Thank you!"

"He wants you alright." He kept up with her. "You just can't tell 'cause you're blinded by his cornfed good manners!"

"Spike, please." She turned to him once they'd found a quiet area. "You are the only man who thinks this body is sexy, and that's because you're a vampire with an all-things human fetish!"

"No, I'm a man with an all-things Buffy fetish. And I won't let some overgrown barn-bred frat boy -- who clearly has a saviour complex, if you want to get analytical -- try to take you away from me!"

She cracked a smile. An all-things Buffy fetish. He was so annoyingly adorable. "I can't be taken unless I want to go, Spike. Do I look like I want to be anywhere else?"

Anger diffusing, he drew in a breath, let it out slowly, touched her hair. "Better not."

She got on her tiptoes, kissed his lips, and whispered in his ear, "He's an agent in a top-secret faction of the army that conducts shady experiments on demons."

The government? Is that what happened to Rich Boy Arnie?

"Believe me, it's news to me too. I thought maybe they could've set up the pregnancy... but they don't deal in magick. They're strictly sci, no fi. When you came in, I was just about to get the location of their HQ."

He fished Riley's CB radio out of his pocket and pressed a button. "Would this help?"

With a gasp, she took it from him, fumbling to turn it off. "How did you get this?"

"Nicked it from his jacket."

"I don't believe you! You... pickpocket!"

"Well, couldn't kill him, had to do something."

"Did it have to be illegal?"

He wasn't sure how to answer that. "You do remember who I am, right?"

"Yeah, yeah." She tucked the radio back into his coat -- admittedly, his way was easier than sitting through another faux date. "I'll bring it to Willow tomorrow, maybe she can track down the base."

"In other words, and I want to hear you say this, I've stolen something useful."

"By sheer accident."



He touched her chin. "Close enough."

"You are so bad," she said, which always made him horny.

She took his hand, continuing to face him as she backed up and pulled him down the street.

He rubbed her hand softly, teasingly. "Where are you taking me?"

"Home," she said with a sensual toss of her hair. "I wanna hear more about this fetish of yours."

"If you're taking me home," he pressed, eyes flirting with hers, "why are we headed toward that alley?"

She shrugged. "Short cut?"

"Could turn out a bit longer than you think," he teased.

"Much longer than I thought," she said with a wink, stepping up on a curb.

He gasped, gave her a reproachful look, and dropped the act. "You say the sweetest things, baby."

Sexual energy crackling between them, Buffy said, "There is nothing sweet about what I'm gonna do to you."

Before he could convey his acute state of turned on, the light flickered behind her, and with mounting dread Spike noticed something terrible emerging from the dark alley they were supposed to make not-sweet love in.

"Well, speak of the saviour complex," he breathed, and Buffy turned her head.

Is that...

He came fully into view, and Spike spoke first.

"If it isn't Mr. Tall, Dark and Unwelcome."

Buffy opened her mouth, but no words came out.


More to come...
Chapter #15 - Big Babies

A/N: If you read the rough draft of this chapter elsewhere, please note that I made a substantial story revision here, in Angel's private talk with Buffy. (I had to give her more reason to doubt Spike's loyalty.) Also, the 'hacksaw' demon Angel mentions was the one responsible for Cordelia's overnight pregnancy in AtS. Don't blame me for the dumb name.

Angel paused to take in the 'what's wrong with this picture' before him: the massive belly-swell. The affectionate hand-holding.

The Spike.

The only logical explanation was that Buffy had been brainwashed into demon incubation -- and the peroxided dickweed standing beside her was to blame.

"Hey!" Buffy objected as Spike was knocked on his back, a snarling Angel on top of him.

"What did you do to her?"

Spike chuckled, smugger than smug. "Well, if you don't know by now, mate..." The punch connected before he could deflect.

"Angel!" Buffy tried to stop him, but they suddenly became a growly blur on the ground, rolling around and trading blows. "Spike!" Oh, for the love of testosterone... "Both of you!"

"What is that inside her?" Angel demanded, slamming Spike's head on the pavement with each question mark, "Hacksaw spawn? Drig demon? What?"

"A wee Spike," he replied, jaunty. "Turns out my virility defies the laws of nature."

"Bullshit!" Now a slam on every exclamation, "Tell! Me! The truth!"

"That is the truth, you plonker!" Spike grabbed Angel by the lapels and somersaulted him over his head. They both stood, and he staggered, a little woozy. "Face it, she ain't your girl anymore."

They trapped each other in a double block. "Using magick to make her yours doesn't count."

"Why use magick when you can use good old-fashioned mind-blowing se--" Angel practically broke his nose to stop that 'x'. Spike laughed off the pain as they separated and circled each other like wolves. "Lots of it."

"Let me guess. Dru got tired of you again, and since following in my footsteps is all you know, you went after Buffy."

"What you get for leaving the door wide open." They fell into another scrabble on the sidewalk.

Okay, as sexy as this was, it was attracting too much attention, and Buffy couldn't risk them panicking the clueless citizens of Sunnydale by letting their vamp faces show.

Pushing aside her wanton thoughts of a naked boyfriend sandwich, she yanked Spike up by the scruff of his neck and tossed him at a car. This made Angel think she'd been momentarily snapped out of her spell, until she tossed him just as roughly towards a brick storefront wall.

"Now that we've established that you both pee really far, can we please discuss this like grown-ups?"

"He started it," Spike groused, licking his wounds.

"Buffy," Angel said measuredly, "Listen to me. You don't know what you're saying. You're under some kind of--" he glanced at the small surrounding crowd, "influence."

"I'm not under any kind of 'influence', Angel. It's hard to take in all at once, I know, and there were ...influences involved, but this, right now, is real."

He wasn't listening. "Gotta hand it to you, Spike, I never thought you could pull off a stunt like this. You've always been too much of a moron."

She shot a hand behind her to keep Spike back, and said irately, "Be that as it may--"

"Hey!" said Spike.

"--he's my moron." Buffy made sincere but curt eye contact with Angel. "Look, I know all the reasons I probably shouldn't love him, but I do. And no matter what you think of it, I'm having his baby."

Spike was so touched, he didn't even smirk. He took her hand, and they exchanged a sweet look.

I never should have left for L.A., Angel thought, it obviously drove her insane. "Vampires don't make babies."

"This one does."

"Spike, please." She opened with, "It's a long story."

"We were rabbits for a night," Spike said, hoping it would make him leave faster.

"Or, not so long." Luckily their audience had moved on.

"I guess that explains it," Angel said, completely confused.

"Well, it was a spell, I mean it wasn't intentional or anything."

"Willow flubs again," Spike threw in.

"And Xander, putting us in the same box..."

"Right, just as much his fault."

"And then there was the sachet growth spell, right?" She looked to Spike for feedback as though they were a long-married couple.

"No, the bonding came first. Before the bunnies, I think."

"Oh yeah, the bondage-- I mean uh, the bonding spell." She told Angel, "So we'd actually want to be around each other all the time."

"But then that was lifted."

"Right, that was lifted, and--"

"But we still wanted to be around each other all the time."

"Yeah." Buffy smiled at him, and turned to Angel, who didn't look pleased. "And then there was the last one..."

Spike got super-cocky, thumbs in belt-loops. "The last one."

She prayed he wouldn't share how it... took. "Which made the baby go all Speedy Gonzales, and now I can drop any minute. Even though I'm actually only -- what am I?"

"Almost eight weeks, love."

"...Almost eight weeks along. God, I can't believe it's been less than two months since Bunny Night."

Their fingers entwined. "Feels a lot longer."

"Not too long, I hope."

He touched her hair. "Just right, Goldilocks."

Angel folded his arms, trying to make sense of all this nonsense. "The baby is human."

"Take a listen," Spike said, pointing a thumb at her midsection. "Heart don't lie."

Angel had already heard the heartbeat. They all knew the sound of a healthy human baby in the womb. Which is why this didn't sit well with him. "Neither does the soul. Where's yours, William?"

"Still flittin' about in the ether, I expect. Funny how I can be soul free and manage to stay off the sauce, when you turn into a massacre-ing, hell-raising lunatic each time you misplace yours."

"That is funny," he said pointedly, and looked at Buffy.

"He's not lying," she said. "He's pigsblood-only now. Certified by a truth spell and my own two eyes."

The pieces still didn't fit -- most jagged of all Spike.

"And the very best part?" Spike stood behind Buffy to possessively and with much suggestion wrap his arms around her. "No bothersome curse. Right, kitten?"

Buffy wrestled herself free with a scoff. "Cut it out."

Spike was only a little hurt. He knew he shouldn't expect her to feel comfortable throwing their perfect happiness in her doomed-if-you-do's face, but she didn't have to pander to him, either. "Why are you here, anyway? Other than to criticize the Slayer's life choices, I mean."

Angel looked from one to the other. Spike had a point, as much as he hated to admit it. Straightening, he pulled a folded piece of paper out of his pocket. "Cordelia had a vision."

"Cordelia has visions?" Buffy said.

He left it at, "It's a long story."

"Right." She unfolded the paper to reveal a crude drawing: three clusters of symbols inside a vaguely triangular shape. "Wait, I know this. I saw it in a dream."

Spike turned the drawing toward him. "What is it?"

"It's like a... gold disc-y thing..."

"It's an amulet," Angel said. "In Cordy's vision, there's a woman holding a baby, preparing it for a... ritual of some kind." He looked at Buffy, apprehensive. "You're trying to save it, and..."


"In the vision? You don't. But it's not set in stone, her visions are designed to be prevented. As long as we act on them."

"So you're here to save the day," Spike realized. Bloody figured.

"I'm here to help."

"Right. Thanks for the tip, Mighty Mouse, but as you can see we're doing just swell without you. Buffy saw this trinket in her dream, so your mad dash to save your damsel is a big load of pointless. Don't let the Sunnydale sign hit you on your way out."

"I'll leave when I know she's safe." He noticed Buffy still staring at the paper. "Don't worry, Buffy. We can stop this."

"Oi! You don't get to say that, that's my line! Or haven't you read the memo, I'm the leading man around here, not you!"

"Then start acting like it," Buffy said, and Angel shot him a haughty victory smirk. "The symbols were never clear in my dream. This amulet is the key, Spike. I can feel it."

Spike exhaled noisily, relenting. "Fine. Let's ring Oxford."

"We can't, he's got his date tonight. I say we hit book central," she hooked one arm through each boy's elbow, "and see if we can make some threew-- uhm, headway." She bit her lip.

Noticing the slip and her little set-up as they walked, Spike did a double take. "Why you little hormonal... Get your hands off him." He moved her to the side, taking the center spot. "We don't do that, alright?"

Angel and Spike exchanged a furtive glance. ...Anymore.

* * *

"I can't imagine what happened to it," Giles said, inspecting the rump roast. "It's as if it's been bled dry." He shrugged at Sanvi, who was leaning against the dining table, wine glass in hand. "Well, nothing a little Worcestershire can't fix."

Lamashtu filed through Sanvi's memory banks and came up with, "If only I wasn't so dreadfully allergic."

"Yes, of course. I'd forgotten." He smiled, convinced that Spike was wrong -- this was the Sanvi he'd known and loved. "I feel awful about this. I don't know how I lost track of the time."

"Oh, Rupert, really. I know how absorbed you can get. I'm the same way, remember? What was it, a breakthrough in the Slayer's case?"

Giles lit the pilot light. "We agreed not to talk about this tonight."

"What can I say? You've piqued my interest."

"Well... A breakthrough, yes, though not necessarily in Buffy's case."

"Oh?" She could feel it, hidden somewhere in the apartment. But where?

"If I'm right, it would shatter the core of the demon mythos as we know it. Sounds mad, I know, and off a suggestion of Spike's, no less. Turns out he may have been onto something after all."

"Spike has the intuition of a woman." She took a sip of her Merlot and noticed his puzzlement. "Or so Buffy tells me."

"I... Well I've never thought about it, but perhaps he does."

"Please, go on. Unless you'd rather not share."

"No, I'd be happy to, it's just... It's about Lilith." He watched her face for clues, but she didn't flicker. "I believe she was the first female entity after all. And I think I've discovered that the Song of the Lilin is actually an embellished interpretation of the truth."

"Interesting," she said. "Something like that could get you reinstated to the Council."

"Yes, well." Was his desire that transparent? "If my theory is correct."

"I wouldn't doubt it." She put down her wineglass. "Try me."

He had to admit, it excited him to talk shop with a colleague again. "She wasn't simply the first woman, but the first demon to exist on this earthly plane. A god among demons, if you will." He put the rump roast in the oven and poked at it. "It was her blood passed on through millennia, diluted from heir to heir. Eventually, she was banished as all the old ones were, cursed to touch earth as a half-breed or... through bodily possession."

When he closed the oven and stood, he felt her directly behind him. "Good guess."

Oh dear lord.

Giles stayed very still, recalling an old Council joke: How do you speak Demonic? Very carefully. "And you would know, because you're..."

"She." She stepped forward, her front nearly touching his back. "The 'queen of the night', the 'dark mother of all creation'. 'Lilith'. But I don't answer to my oppressor's names, I answer only to the name I gave myself."

"Lamashtu," he whispered, and again it snaked out into the air as mist. "You've used Sanvi's body before."



"How do I do it without ripping her to confetti when I'm done? She's an exception, like her mother and her mother before. Or haven't you read that far on your tablet?"

Sanvi? On the tablet?

He quickly whirled to face her, making a great clatter against the oven, meat fork in hand. "This isn't your world anymore." He sidestepped, backing away from her looming presence. "It will never be yours again."

"That's where you're wrong, Rupert. I don't want this world." Without breaking eye contact, she grabbed a small mirror on the wall, smashed it against the countertop, and used a sharp sliver to cut his shirt buttons. "I want to start a new one."

"That's..." he dropped the meat fork as his hand lost sensation, "r-rather ambitious..."

"Tell me..." she touched his cheek, still trailing the sliver down his body, making him shudder in both fear and arousal. "Have you gotten to the part where it says I alone am the source of the Slayer's power? That I was brutally contained by your kind, sucked dry, until I, the last full-blood left on earth, was vanquished with my very own essence?"

No, he couldn't say he had gotten that far...

"Silly Watcher. Why do you think Slayers can only be female? No mortal man could survive the full potency of the first woman's spirit. Men are so weak. So frail. So easily corrupted..."

Eyes wide, he said, "Why are you telling me all this?"

"Knowledge is your aphrodisiac, is it not?" She moved to his ear and whispered seductively, "Would you like to know the first secret of the tablet?"

To his astonishment, her soundless mouthing in his ear emerged as a whisper from his lips: "It isn't solely an account of things past. It's a prophecy."

"I simply adore you Watcher boys." She slid his glasses off. "So bloody intelligent." The lethal shard made its way toward his belt buckle.

"J-just go on and get it over with, I'm not afraid to die."

She laughed. "What makes you think I'd want to kill you?"

"I know your plot," he said, everything clicking into place. "I know how to stop you."

"Oh, Rupert. I'm not going to kill you. I'm going to fuck you." She cut through his belt loops, threw the mirror shard over her shoulder and whipped out his belt. "And when it's all over, you won't remember a thing."

"Right-o," he said as they slid to the floor, "Fair enough."

* * *

"Cordelia has visions?" Xander and Willow said at once, with Xander adding, "My Cordelia?"

"Yeah," said Angel.

"She doesn't ever, I dunno, mention me, ...does she?"


"Good. Then we're even."

"Except for the two times you just mentioned her," Spike felt compelled to point out.

"You know, Buff, I never thought I'd say this," Xander said, "but I think Angel's the better man for you. Doesn't talk much, keeps to himself, is very seldom naked..."

"Xander," Willow shushed him.

"Whoo," said Buffy, pulling her chair in at the library table, "this room is just gushin' with the boy-love." Everyone looked at her. "Not in a gay way." She remembered Willow. "But, not that there's anything wrong with the gay... way... anyway, look, here's the deal." She showed them the picture. "Amulet, triangly, gold, these symbols are etched onto it."

"Hmm. That might be Akkadian," Willow said. "Or Babylonian? I don't know, maybe we--"

"Hey, warrior bondy thing from Babylon! I found that. Me." Xander realized he had no more to say. "Babble on, Will."

"...need Giles, I was gonna say."

"Oh, let the poor sod have a shag once in his life."

The young people at the table made ew faces. "It's just that he's the language expert. But maybe there's a spell I can do..."

"No witching at this table," Spike ordered. "Or anywhere near my baby."

"Fine, Mr. ...No-Faithy Guy," Willow huffed, and opened her computer. "I'll bet my handy-dandy transcoder script can crack it anyway."

Just like old times, Buffy thought with a surge of sentimentality. "Did I mention I'm really glad you guys are here?"

"Ah, I had nothin' better to do," Xander said with a wave of his hand. "Anya's mad at me for losing my second job in a week. She thinks it's time we settled down for the sake of the kids."

"Didn't you guys start dating like, last Tuesday?"

"Try telling her that."

"Well I personally prefer research to the sticky business of love," Willow said, connecting her scanner. "It feels nice to be Scooby again, doesn't it Xand? Just the three of us?"

"Uh, hello?" Spike said, raising a finger.

"...And Spike and Angel?"

"Don't have to mention him on my account."

"Angel?" He was lurking restlessly near the office when Buffy got his attention. "Are you okay?"

He said, "Can I talk to you a second?"

"Sure," Buffy said, and before Spike could argue, she pointed at him. "Stay. And be good... or no cookies." She whispered in his ear, "And no milk."

Eyes rolling up involuntarily, he let her go.

When Buffy was out of earshot, Xander coughed into his fist, "Whipped."

* * *

Buffy closed the office door behind her.

"So..." she said, letting a few seconds pass, "what'dja want to talk about?"

Eyes meeting, they let out a tension laugh.

Rubbing his hands together, he sat down on the couch and sighed.

"I'm sorry," she said, taking a seat on the swivel chair. "I wish you'd... I don't know, called first? There could've been some warning."

"You think that would've helped?"

"No. I just really didn't want you to find out this way."

"Yeah," he said.

"I know," she said, letting the chair spin. "I sure can pick 'em."

"It's just--" He took a seat closer to her. "He's no fluffy bunny rabbit, Buffy. I've hunted with him. I've seen what he's capable of."

"I'm not an idiot, Angel, I've seen it too. But he's changed."

"Without a soul? It doesn't make any sense!"

"I don't know what to tell you! Somehow he can control himself without a soul. Just because you can't--" She stopped herself, and looked down. "I'm sorry. That was out of line."

He shook his head and leaned forward. "We can all control ourselves for a little while. A couple of months lying in wait for the big bragging-rights kill? That's nothing. We've all done that."

She stared at him. "But... the truth spell. There was a truth spell."

"Are you sure it worked? I mean, you said she turned you into rabbits."

Buffy's carefully constructed belief system began to crumble at its foundation. He had a point. What if Willow's truth spell hadn't worked at all, or he'd used some method to evade it? What if Spike had been playing her since day one?

She shook herself out of the doubt spiral so obviously brought on by hormonal flux, residual feelings for her ex, and his overly protective good intentions. There's no way.

"Once," Angel lowered his voice, "I watched Spike tear a newborn from its mother's arms, impale it on its father's cane and bite into its skull like it was a candy apple. He handed it back saying it needed more salt."

Horrified, Buffy felt her stomach lurch.

"Look, I'm not trying to tell you how to live your life. But you're in danger, and you don't know who's really behind this." Their eyes met. "Ask yourself, can you truly trust him?"

Buffy looked at him, wondering all over again, Can I?

"Eureka!" came Willow's voice from the main room, and Buffy welcomed the distraction.

* * *

"We've been looking at the drawing upside down," Willow said, rotating the scanned image and hilighting a symbol. "See, now you can clearly see it's early Sumerian. I-if you were me."

"Who's the language expert now?" Xander high-fived her. "Eat your heart out, Giles."

At that turn of phrase, Buffy frowned at the drawing.

"So?" Spike asked. "What's it say?"

"Well, I haven't gotten that far yet, you have to give me a few hours." She added under her breath, "Or ten minutes of a magick spell..."

"Right, a few hours then."

Buffy picked up the paper, a queasy feeling sinking in. "Do the spell."

"Why?" Spike shot up, hand going to her belly. "It's happening? Someone call an ambulance."

She shook her head no. "This isn't a triangle, Spike." She slapped the paper against his chest. "It's a heart."

* * *

"What did I say? Lilin, it's bloody lilin after the sprog. 'No', he says, 'there's no such bloody thing. Lilith's the bloody Easter Bunny, my doctor girl's a bloody saint!' What's a few dreams about eating seven baby hearts?"

"Spike, if you don't stop doing that I'm throwing you out of the car," Buffy said.

He threw over his shoulder, "Be hard from the back seat."

Angel, who was driving, volunteered with a shrug, "I'll do it."

"Yeah, you just love this, don't you? Coming between me and Buffy with your big broody 'I'm just here to help' bollocks."

"I am just here to help."


"Spike, his 'bollocks' aren't coming anywhere be..tween... Oh god. Are we there yet?"

* * *

"Okay, so I think this one might mean, 'The short, gamey one with hair of boulder'."

"Boulder hair?" Xander considered it. "Sounds difficult to manage."

"Oh," she grumbled. "I wish Tara would get here already so we could do the spell."

"Hey," Xander said, looking from his book to the drawing, faster and faster and faster, "Hey, hey! Is this... It is! Oh I think I boulder!"

"You found it?" He turned it toward her and she gave it a look. "Good job, Xander! And lookie, Latin explanation, I can do this! See, 'bulla aurea', that means gold amulet--"

"Uh... Will?"

"'Orbusum'... 'orbusum'..."


That's when she noticed two dozen Winiquas emerging from the library stacks.

* * *

"Spike, get down from there!" Buffy hissed, embarrassed. "They might be... you know!"

"No such luck," Spike said as he peered into Giles' second story window. "He's alone. Looks dead."


"Oh no, sorry. He's breathing."

Buffy scoffed, rolling her eyes at Angel for effect.

"Sleeping with a big, daft grin on his face. No wonder he can't hear the door. Succu-doc did him right."

"We don't know she's a ...Succudoc. Or that he got 'did'." Buffy rushed up to the wall to stage-whisper, "Would you please come down so we can break and enter like normal people?" She turned just in time to see three Winiquas tackle Angel to the ground. "Angel!"

"'Angel!'", Spike mocked, falsetto, as he jumped down to join the fracas. "'Heaven forbid anyone sully your precious nancy hairdo!'"

"Buffy!" The voice came from inside her head, clear as a phantom bell.

"What?" Buffy asked, mystified into inaction. "Who said...?"

Fighting off a slew of demons all by himself, Angel said, "Feel free to jump in any time now!"

"Yeah, when one comes after me I'll take a swing, all right?" Spike laughed. Dozens of Winiqua attacking Angel, none of them wanting any part of either Buffy or Spike. Man, they were stupid.

"It's Tara," the voice in Buffy's head said. "Willow's in trouble."

More to come...
Chapter #16 - Fuzzy Details

"Willow?" Returning to a library in shambles, Buffy feared the worst. "Xander?"

"In here," Xander peeped from the floor of the open bookcage, an unconscious Willow in his lap. "She put up a nifty force field to hold 'em back. Guess it wiped her out."

Breathless, Tara fell to her knees to squeeze her girlfriend's hand. "You did it, Willow."

"I'm so glad you're both okay." Buffy helped lift Willow, and brought Xander to his feet. "What happened?"

"They smashed Will's computer, made off with the drawing, the books... Not sure how they plan to see any of it, what with the extreme vision impairment."

"Huh?" Tara blinked.

"Winiquas," Buffy said, and Xander nodded a confirmation.

"So the Blind Brigade's into Lilith worship." Spike scratched his head. "Never pegged them for the bloodmoon gypsy types. Guess it takes all kinds."

"I knew it," Buffy said. "I knew they were in my dreams for a reason. That's why they won't lay a finger on us, they're working for her."

"No worries, love, they just made our lives easier. We follow their trail..."

She completed his thought: "They lead us to Possesso Witch."

"Trouble is," he sniffed the air, walking toward the door that ultimately led to the tunnels, "they don't have much of a scent. Let's hope they leave a breadcrumb or two."

"Something doesn't add up," Angel said.

"Yeah," said Spike. "You bein' here."

Willow murmured, "Short and gamey."

"O...kay," Buffy said. "I think that's enough excitement for today. Let's get everyone home."

"Have Angel drop them off," Spike said. "You and I can start the witch hunt."

Angel murmured Buffy's name, and their eyes met to speak without words.

Finally she said, "I think we need to stick together, Spike."

Jaw steeled, fists twitching, Spike glared at his nemesis.

* * *

"Will you please stop before I stake you both!"

They were at it again, this time in the visitor's parking lot of the UCS campus. After they'd dropped off the last of her friends, Spike managed to do what he did best: stir up another shitstorm.

"Guys, this is getting really old," she sighed.

As they spun on the asphalt Fight Club style, Spike astraddle Angel, Buffy observed with a touch of intrigue, "And slightly homoerotic."

Choke-holds easing, they turned to look at her.

She shrugged.

The boys uncoupled and stood up warily. Giving her a glower, Spike searched his pockets for a cigarette, and was startled by a sudden electronic noise emanating from his chest.


'Abort! Abort!'

He fished Riley's CB radio out of his coat.

'There's too many of them. They're everywhere. Retreat!'

"What the," Angel said, and Buffy shushed him.

'Describe the HSTs, Agent Forrest.'

'Approximately six-foot, skin blueish-gray, hairless, their eyes are... fucking creepy...'

"Hello, bread crumb," Spike said. Buffy shushed him too.

'Agent down. I repeat, agent down!' Riley's voice. 'We need a medic.'

'Already on its way.'

Spike shook the radio. "On its way to where?"

Suddenly, a short siren sounded, and an unmarked ambulance sped by.

Buffy said, "I'll take a wild guess and say... follow that car?"

* * *

"Bloody hell."

Angel nodded. "That's a lot of demons."

A fifty-yard-wide clearing in the forest was overrun with Winiqua, seemingly impervious to the retreating army's assault.

With a shrug, Buffy charged ahead. "I only need one."

"Buffy, wait." Angel reached out for her.

"Shut up and stay back," she said, and Spike silently cheered her on. "They're not allowed to hurt me."

Stepping into the clearing, she poked one on the shoulder, intending to punch it in the face, drag it away, threaten it and make it show her where their boss lived.

She encountered a slight problem: when she poked it, not just one, but all of them turned to face her.


Physically incapable of punching three hundred demons at once, she took the next logical course of action.

She waved and said, "Hiya."

All three hundred heads cocked in tandem, like dogs trying to decipher an owner's command.

"Take me to your leader?"

No response.

"Or, I'll kill each and every one of you, one by one."


"For example," she said and broke the closest Winiqua's neck. "Now, who wants to co... oper...ate...?"

By the time she'd finished talking, each and every Winiqua in the clearing had simultaneously broken its own neck.

While she took in this bizarre turn of events, Spike and Angel came out of the shadows.

"Quicker than poison Kool-Aid." Spike nudged one with his boot to double-check: Head on backwards. Definitely dead. "Here lies the Cult of No Personality."

"This isn't gonna be an easy find-and-slay, is it?" Buffy said, turning to Angel. "This is so much more." Suddenly, it dawned on her: "This is the big one."

Angel gazed at her meaningfully, features dark with concern. He touched her arm, cuffed her elbow.

Helpless, Spike watched the ex-star-crossed lovers share a moment. If it weren't for his immediate presence, they'd probably be clenched in a melancholy embrace.

He felt sick to his stomach. One night and Angel was already taking his place.

The fact that they couldn't consummate was little comfort to him. It wasn't about that. It was that he could sense that Buffy was wondering where her fate truly belonged.

And maybe... maybe she was right.

"Buffy!" came a voice from the trees.

Under any other circumstance, Spike wouldn't be quite so relieved to see a strapping young fellow run towards his girlfriend. He laughed. "Speaking of no personality."

"Crap, it's Riley."

"Who's Riley?" Angel asked.

"Vampire groupie," Spike said. "Show him your fangs."

"Spike." Buffy elbowed him.

"Buffy!" Out of breath, Riley looked around him to make sure the coast was clear. "I really shouldn't be talking to you right now, but I have to know. How did you do it?"

"I didn't. They did it themselves."

"They self-destructed?"

"Demon go boom," Buffy said. "Mass seppuku."

"But why?"

"First tell us where they came from," Spike said.

He nodded at Spike. "Spud."

Over Angel's snicker, he corrected, "That's Spike."

"Right. Spike. Sorry. And you are...?"

Spike patted Angel hard on the back, gave his shoulder a tight pinch. "This is my brother. Brutus."

"Brothers. Huh. You don't look anything alike."

"Different mothers," said Angel.

Riley whispered at Buffy, "Are they slayers too?"

"No, there's only one slayer." Ironic that they were a stone's throw from the hospital that was keeping Faith alive -- she could see the Sunnydale General sign from where she stood. "Most of the time."

"I don't know where they came from," Riley said. "The sewers, maybe, or a cave? All I know is we were getting a signal from these coordinates."

"What kind of signal?"

"Electro-magnetic pulses, interferences in the usual radio waves. The kind that relate to a certain... type of hostile activity."

"In other words," Spike translated, "you crashed their Magic: The Gathering."

"Already underway," Riley confirmed. "And then more just kept popping up, looked like out of thin air."

The three shared a worried frown.

"Do you guys know what they're after?" He added, "Strictly off the record."

"I have a tiny clue," Buffy said, and teetered as she clutched her stomach. "Or a big one with really strong legs."

"Did he kick again?"

"Big time." She nodded at Spike. "He wants out."

"Not here, he doesn't. Anywhere but here." He led her to a nearby rock formation with something of a natural chair, sat her down on it and kneeled before her. "You tell him to stay in."

"They want your--?" Riley's radio bleeped and someone spoke. "Pardon." He turned and walked away and they heard bits and pieces between their conversation: "...looks like we interrupted some kind of self-sacrifice ritual..."

"Can't we just carry her to the hospital?" Angel suggested.

"Negative, no civilians in the area," Riley said into his radio.

"I can't deliver this baby with just any doctor," Buffy said, breath uneven. "Not if it's..." she glanced at Riley, "got special needs. We'd have to call Dr. Patel."

"And sit back and watch while she eats mymamysmrt?" The last bit was muffled due to Buffy's palm over his mouth.

"We'll need a clean-up crew before morning," Riley was saying as he surveyed the area, "at least three trucks and a bulldozer."

"We'll discuss this later, Spike." She took in a steadying breath and dropped her hands to his biceps. "Anyway, false alarm. I'm okay."

"You sure?"

She nodded. "Can we go home now?"

He touched her cheek, grateful for her choice of pronoun. "Of course we can, love."

As he helped her off of the rock, he paused for a second, and looked around, puzzled.

"What is it?" she asked him.

"Nothing," he said, and shook it off. "Déjà vu."

* * *

"The Slayer grows weak. The heart grows ripe." Lamashtu scanned the ceiling with a satisfied grin. "As it is written. As it is set in stone."

"What of the tablet? Shall I send more men to search?"

"He's hidden it well. So well I can't imagine he'll find it by the morrow's night. But I'll leave that decision to you."

"There is one thing I feel I must discuss with you, your darkness."

She arched Sanvi's brow.

Fear colored his voice as he spoke. "And that is your weakness for the vampire."

"You dare call me weak? What do you know of the end of days beyond what I have told you?"

"I know that every calculation of any possibility I test proves that his mere existence is a threat to you, and to everything we have worked toward--"

"You and your calculations. You callous fool. Can't you see why I chose him over any other?"

"You suggest that I am unfeeling?"

"I suggest that you feel for the wrong reasons."

"And he?" WinQuar challenged. "You expect him to love you purely and truly? He never will."

"Of course he will. Once the Great Change comes, and I inhabit the Slayer's body."

He looked up at her, astonished.

She smiled.

"He won't suspect a thing. I'll be everything she was... only better."

* * *

"So," Angel said, shifting into drive. "Where to?"

"Um," Buffy shot a guilty glance at Spike. "My place."

Recalling the quickest route to Revello Drive, Angel asked as casually as he could, "Him too?"

"We live together, you see, me and the Slayer. Me, Buffy, her mum, we're a real cozy family. 'Fact, just the other day, we--"

"Shut up, Spike." Buffy leaned forward in the back seat, and asked her ex, "Do you want to crash in the basement?"

Spike scoffed. "He bloody does not!"

"Look, the sun's coming up in a couple hours," she explained, "and I think we should be together when we wake up--"

"Oh do you now!"

"Not like that. God, Spike."

"I didn't mean it like that either." He turned to look at her, and her cheeks burned red. Worse yet, he caught Angel chortling to himself in his periphery. "Why can't he stay at the mansion? Or better yet, go home?"

"I'm not leaving until I know Buffy's safe," Angel said, making a full, law-abiding stop at a stop sign before moving on. "Deal with it."

Arms folded tight, Spike stared out the window at the passing eucalyptus trees. "God I wish you were evil again."

"Keep pissing Buffy off," he muttered, "you might get your wish."

Spike was aghast -- too aghast to hear the incredulous 'Excuse me?' that came from the back seat. "You think she'll jump into your bed if I make her mad? You obviously don't know the first thing about what gets her--"

"Hey, you know what?" Buffy interjected perkily, before her boyfriend could say the word 'wet'. "Now you're both pissing me off."

"Did you see that, Buffy? The nasty little fangs of Angelus prongin' out when he doesn't get his way?"

"Angelus didn't make me say that." Angel glared at Spike. "William the Bloody did."

"Yeah, I really wanted you to insult my girl."

"Your--?" Angel took a deep breath, then said through grit teeth, "Look. All that matters right now is that Buffy needs help. You and I are gonna have to put aside our petty differences and focus on--"

"Oh look at you, so good and pure and bloody perfect, you're her knight in shining ethics! Until you lose your precious soul that is and start pluckin' off her friends--'"

"And when are you gonna get 'bored', Spike? Next week? Next year? Tomorrow?"

"Never," he enunciated slowly. "I'm here to stay."

"Isn't that what you told Dru?"

"Right, stop the car, let's take this outside--"

The car swerved, narrowly missing a tree. "Get your hands off the wheel, you stupid--"

A mile and three hours past Over It, Buffy grabbed them both by the hair, conked their heads together and growled a single, all-encompassing reason to let it go:


Contrite, they mumbled a pair of apologies, and Buffy was granted silence for the rest of the ride.

* * *

"I'll stay up a while," Angel said, standing in her living room. "Make sure everything's okay."

"Thank you," Joyce said, a little shaken after being filled in on the day's events. "Would you like some coffee? Hot chocolate?"

"No, thanks, I don't..."

Buffy clued her in. "He's not weird like Spike."

"Oh! Some blood, then?"

"Uh, sure. That'd be great."

"Okay, well, I'm beat," Buffy said awkwardly. "So... I'm gonna go to sleep."

"Right," Spike said, following her up the stairs and flashing his rival a taunting wink. "'Sleep'. 'Night night, Angel."

* * *

"Do you have to be such a jerk all the time?"

"You know," Spike got under the covers beside her, "it wouldn't kill you to show me some support."

"Support? You're lucky I didn't stake you!" She turned away from him. "You're so insensitive."

As opposed to the ever-sensitive Angel, he wanted to say, but bit his tongue. He didn't want to start a row, not while he was dying to touch her, dying to feel her love him again. "I'm sorry, love." He cozied up to her, hand on her belly. "Daddy's sorry. Let's not fight, yeah?"

She sighed, and nodded.

"That's my girl." Breathing in her scent, he softly kissed her ear, her cheek, her neck, her shoulder and back up again. He began a slow grind, moving his hand up to her breast and squeezing, working himself into a mild frenzy. His kisses got hotter, his caress more brazen...

And then she flicked his hand away with a terse, "Not tonight."

He froze in place, mouth still open against her skin. She was turning him down?

Right. Of course she was.

Of course she was.

He rolled off of her and got out of bed.

"I didn't say you had to leave."

"Didn't you?" He found his jeans.

"Oh, please. Just 'cause I'm not in the mood for freaky sex--"

"That all I am to you? 'Freaky sex'."

"Spike, of course not--"

"I'm sorry I'm not like Sir Prancealot downstairs, all rose petals and white horses and tender longing glances. I'm crude and impulsive, I like it rough, and yeah, sometimes I'm a jerk. But at least I don't treat you like a bloody china doll set to break. I treat you like a real woman, Buffy. The real woman you are." And with that, he walked out.

* * *

"Not lookin' for company," Spike said as he lit his cigarette.

Angel stood beside him anyway, hands in his pockets.

"Right then," Spike began, "let me speed things up. You never liked me, you don't trust me, you don't believe I love her, you're not fully clean unless you're Zestfully clean. Can I have my smoke in peace now?"

Staring at the porch floor, Angel said, "There's something I didn't tell her about the vision."

Their eyes met, and Spike got the message. A chill clawed into his flesh. "Buffy..."

He couldn't finish. Buffy dies.

Angel nodded, turning to the moon.

Feeling his throat constrict, Spike looked at his fingers. "You said it wasn't set in stone."

"Nothing is."

"Good." He chucked the cig across the lawn. "Then we got nothing to worry about."

He went back inside, leaving Angel there to brood.

* * *

Spike brushed a thumb over his sleeping beauty's soft cheek, reminding himself that Buffy was too strong, in body and spirit, to let anyone do her in. She had too much fire, she was too bloody exceptional, and he'd known it from the start. It was why he fell in love with her.

Angel could stay and play out his stoic guardian fantasy all he wanted. Meantime, Spike would be out proving that he had what it took to be the Slayer's leading man.

"You and baby gonna be just fine," he whispered. "Dad's gonna see to it."

* * *

"Spike?" Buffy wandered into the kitchen, surprised to find her mother and Angel quietly communing at the island. Self-conscious, she raked a hand through her sleep-mussed hair. "Oh, hi."

Angel stood up straight, expression hard to read as ever. "How are you?"

"I'm okay..." She looked at her mother. "Where's Spike?"

"I don't know, I haven't seen him all morning." She gasped. "Oh god, you grew again."

Buffy hadn't noticed. "Oh... yeah. I guess so." Then she muttered quietly, too quietly for a normal person to hear, "Is it so hard to leave a note?"

"He bolted about an hour and a half before sunrise," Angel said. "In my car."

"You let him take your car?"

Angel raised a weary 'what do you think?' brow.

Duh. Of course he didn't let him. Buffy could just see the wires sparking, the punk-rock scowl on Spike's face, the two-finger salute as he sped off, radio cranked to 11...

She felt a tinge of resentment toward Angel for returning to Sunnydale. He clearly brought out the juvenile delinquent in Spike, not to mention the doubt in her mind. Buffy wanted -- no, needed -- to believe in her boyfriend right now, but Angel had planted a seed that was uncontrollably sprouting: Where had he gone? What was he up to? Why did he have to leave her there and make her wonder?

It was all well and good and sexy to be treated like a 'real woman', but she couldn't see how it entailed running away when the going got tough. Especially when she could be giving birth to their damned love child any second now.

Buffy made up her mind. "If he survives the daylight, I'm going to kill him."

* * *

Angelus once said, If you want to survive in the underworld, you have to know how to bluff.

Back when he still looked up to his grandsire, Spike took that advice to heart, and honed his skills to the best of his ability.

Since then it had gotten him out of a lot of scrapes -- it helped when he was the only one at the poker table with enough facial muscles to articulate an expression, and it helped in times like this, when, say, a dozen varieties of demon had him cornered in the back of a pub near the sun-lined exit door.

"He's bluffing," sneered a particularly large reptilian species.

"She's... got an army now?" another less burly one ventured to ask.

"Not just an army. The US of bloody A. Federally funded, she is." He held up Riley's CB radio and turned on a frequency, a woman's voice:

--hundred hours, hostile subterrestrial clean sweep op--

He flipped it off. "The Slayer and her men are on the way," Spike said. "Helicopters, tanks, supersonic flux capacitors of mass destruction, you name it. You don't stand a chance, boys. They'll paralyze you in an instant, then take you apart, organ by organ. Just like they did to Arnie."

"I knew it," said Merv. "I knew it was her!"

"That's right. They're coming for all of you. Unless..."


He shrugged. "Well, unless I say the word."

"I will make you say this word, puny traitor!"

Merv shot out an elastic arm and clotheslined the angry giant before he could attack. "What do you want?"

Spike made himself look formidable. "A demon clan called Winiqua are out in force, doing whatever Mumsy tells 'em."

"Yeah, so?"

He held up the wedding photo he'd stolen from Sanvi Patel's apartment after ransacking the place for clues. "I'd like to know where Mumsy is."

"How should we know?"

Dammit, this was the third hangout he'd hit and still no one had a clue what he was on about. Who was he kidding, anyway? He wasn't cut out to be a white hat. Maybe Buffy deserved better after all.

But then a small voice laced with sarcasm rose up from behind the melee: "Shyeah, good luck finding WinQuar." There was a snicker. "'Good luck'. Get it?"

"Who said that?" Spike said.

His antagonists turned to reveal a dwarfish demon on a barstool, nursing a Long Island iced tea.

He noticed everyone staring. "What?"

Spike pushed the demons out of his way. "Good luck finding who?"

"What do you mean, who? I don't know who that chick is," he nodded at the photo, "but the master of the Winiqua is WinQuar, everyone knows that."

Not really -- it was in none of Giles' texts. "WinQuar?"

"He's one of the old ones. You know, fire, brimstone, begin the beguine? I don't know why he'd be wasting his time here, though. He's big time. Works on the higher planes."

"The higher planes?"

The dwarf demon blinked at him. "Don't you have an army to call off?"

"Oh. Right." He pushed a button and brought it to his mouth. "Roger, uh, come in, base... headquarters... Charlie... Hold back the infantry 'til further notice, thanks. Over and out." Then he took the bar stool beside the demon. "Talk."

* * *

"Tea? Coffee? I could make breakfast. Or brunch, as it happens." Giles giggled at the clock. "Scrambled eggs?"

Buffy, Xander and Willow exchanged a bewildered look, and the Slayer spoke up. "N-no, we don't need to--"

"Speak for yourself," Xander said, forging ahead. "I'll have sunny side-ups, just a little runny, with buttered white toast, 'k thanks."

"Right-o," he said, slapping his hands together. "Coming right up."

"So..." Buffy broke the ice by stating the obvious. "Date go well?"

"Oh no," Giles opened his refrigerator, "she cancelled right after you called, emergency delivery."

Well, she couldn't say she wasn't relieved to find out her doctor wasn't a baby-eating monster. But still... "You mean you're just... naturally pod-like this morning?"

"Yes, I..." He stopped what he was doing to think. "I don't know why, but I woke up magnificently rested. Oh, you thought -- Oh for heaven's sake. You people need to get lives."

"We 'need to get lives'?" Buffy said.

"Us... 'people'?"

"Well, we had a pretty full life last night," Willow pointed out.

"Yes, so you've said. Tell me all about it then, I'm all ears."

* * *

"No sign of Spike yet?" Buffy whispered into the phone.

"No," whispered Joyce. "Why are we whispering?"

She peered out into the living room, where Giles dangled a crystal in Willow's face. "He's hypnotizing them so we can recreate everything the Winiqua stole last night. Can you do me a little favor?"

"Of course, anything."

"Can you give Dr. Patel a call for me, find out if she's, you know, alive, and maybe what happened to her last night? I've got her info right here."

* * *

"What's this one?" Willow asked, pointing at one of the symbol clusters.

Giles lowered his glasses. "Well, the direct translation is 'The short, gamey one with the hair of boulder'."

Willow was amazed. "I was right?"

"No way!" Xander said.

"It could mean a variety of things, I suppose. And this one, 'The large, black insect... tooth'? Ah, and finally, 'The maiden with eyes of fire'. Wait... this all seems so familiar, yet I can't put my finger on it..." He took off his glasses and pinched the bridge of his nose.

"Are you okay?"

"Yes, yes. I just feel like I've... misplaced something dreadfully important."

"Eyes of fire, that sounds -- oof!" Buffy doubled over.

"No," Willow panicked, "Don't have the baby yet, we need to figure this out first!"

"Just another kick," Buffy said, catching her breath. "Thumper's getting antsy."

"Don't you mean 'rabbity'?" Xander watched that one land with a thud, and turned to Giles. "So! Three people. Or, two people and one big bug. What does it mean?"

Outside, there was a woman's shriek, followed by what sounded an awful lot like a car crashing through Giles' courtyard.

They ran outside to see Angel's '67 Plymouth gnarled on the fountain, with an iron gate attached to its steaming grill and not surprisingly, a Spike inside.

He threw his coat over his head as he sprinted to Giles' door, exposed parts catching fire along the way.

"Spike!" Buffy ran in after him and frantically extinguished the fire.

Giles stood outside, still in shock.

"I'm calling the police!" the shrieking neighbor shrieked. "You're out of here! You and all your weirdo freaks!"

Giles slowly nodded, and followed two of his weirdo freaks inside.

"You stupid jackass!" Buffy smacked Spike. "Why do you have to be so goddamn melodramatic? You could've killed yourself!"

"Buffy, listen to me," Spike said, clasping her hands. "I know who it is."

"I was worried about you! Where did you--"

"He's a god, Buffy. A real, bona-fide fucking god."

"What?" She blinked away her tears. "Who's a god?"

"The thing behind all of this." He put a palm on her belly. "The thing that made everything happen from the get."


"WinQuar," he said. "The God of Chance."

* * *

"I don't understand--"

"Of course you don't. All you understand is fate; using your piddling array of spells to manipulate the odds; and not always wisely. You're a one-trick pony, WinQuar. It's time I had something new... to ride on."

"Have I not served you? Have I not provided all you require?"

"You've been indispensable. So far." She laughed and said patronizingly, "Shouldn't you have seen this coming?"

He gnashed his teeth. "You did not fashion me that way."

"Of course not. However could I use you if you could foresee your own betrayal?"

A decision made, WinQuar turned away from her.

"Where are you going?"

"To manipulate fate."

* * *

"WinQuar," Giles said, scratching his head.

"Big in Babylon," Spike said with a nod to Xander, who smiled humbly.

"I find it rather odd that I've never heard of him."

"Books don't know his true name--" He hissed and recoiled as Buffy dabbed his deepest burn with alcohol. "Ow!"

"Stop being a baby," she said.

"I'm a vampire, I don't get infected!"

"Suck it up," she drew out slowly, with unwitting allure.

Pacified by the thought of tasting those lips sometime soon, Spike shifted in his chair and continued, "I reckon he hasn't made enough waves to earn a mention. 'Til now."

"Could have started with a ripple, but no," Buffy wrapped Spike's forearm in gauze, "he goes straight to the tsunami."

"The God of Chance." Dazed, Giles took a seat on the couch. "Well, that should explain quite a lot, shouldn't it?"

"How do we find him?"

There was a brisk knock at the door, and they all got quiet, wondering who it could possibly be.


Oh. It was only the--



More to come...
Chapter #17 - A Chance In Sunnyhell

"Quick, hide!" Buffy pulled Spike out of his chair. "Get in the bathroom!"

"Yeah, they'll never find me there," he snorted, but followed her lead anyway.

After Buffy shoved him in and locked the door, she noticed Xander cowering in the hallway. "What are you doing?"

"I fear the Fuzz. It's only semi-irrational."

"Fine. Stay here." She heard the front door open.

"Good afternoon, officers," Giles said. "How can I help you?"

"Are you the owner of this apartment?"

"I'm the renter. Is there a... a problem?"

Buffy came out to the living room. One of the men glanced at her, then told Giles, "We'd like to speak to the driver of the vehicle."

"I'm sorry, vehicle?"

"The vehicle that crashed through your apartment complex's front gates and is currently residing in the middle of your courtyard."

"Ah yes. That vehicle."

"It was me," Buffy said. "I did it."

Spike scoffed, loudly.

"Is that him? Is he inside?"

Buffy glanced at Xander, who was still hiding, and said, "No, it was me."

The cops shared a chuckle. "Witness said it was a man, not a pregnant lady. Mind if we take a look around?"

"Yes, I do mind," Giles said. "I believe you need a search warrant for that."

There was a flick, and smoke wafted into the room. Spike was smoking?

"Sir, if we suspect that you're harboring a felon, we can arrest you."

"Okay, okay," Xander said, emerging from the hallway with his hands up, trembling. "I confess. I'm Reckless Endangerment Felon Guy, take me downtown, book me, do your worst."

"Xander, what are you doing?"

"Turn around, sir--"

He shrugged at Buffy as they cuffed him. "I got time, you don't."

Buffy was touched. Xander always surprised her.

"That's not him!" The shrieking neighbor appeared as they took him out. "He had white hair, and he was on fire! I saw the same man scaling the building last night, I'm telling you they're all crazies!"

"All right, Ma'am," said the second cop as he closed the door on her. "Thank you. We've got it under control here."

While they uncuffed Xander, there was a muffled transmission on their radio. The first cop sighed. "Car's unregistered and uninsured. We're gonna have to impound it."

"Oh for bloody's sake," Spike said, shocking them all as he strode into the living room, cigarette in his mouth. "It was me, alright? I done it." He dug into his pockets and shook two billfolds in the air. "But I got half a G for each of you says otherwise."

Stunned, Buffy frowned at the money.

"We don't take bribes, sir. You'll have to come with us."

Spike sighed and grudgingly took out another two folds. "Fine. A thousand each. Come on then. Almost Christmastime..."

The first cop looked it over suspiciously. "Is there blood on this money?" He lifted his radio to his mouth and said to the other, "Cuff him."

"Just my luck, they send the honest ones." But he noticed Willow and Tara had joined hands, and were whispering something.

Eyes going blank, the first cop said into his radio, "Perp escaped through a back window. We searched the premises, no one here knows the guy. We'll comb the area accessible by foot. Send a tow for the car." He turned it off, and said to Spike before they left, "Have a nice day."

When the door closed, Xander said, "Hi, my best friend is a Jedi."

Hand on hip, Buffy had other concerns. "Where the hell did that come from?"

Spike waved the cash. "Scared it out of a few monsters."

"Let me get this straight. You ran off last night, in the middle of all this ...to gamble?"

"No, I ran off to get some information, and as a bonus I made a little cash. For you!"

"Funny how it's 'for me', and yet I know nothing about it!"

With a collective sigh, the Scoobies took their seats in the living room to wait for the storm to pass.

"Funny how I thought it came second to the bloody god wants to gobble up our baby!"

Sensing the gang's discomfort, Buffy led him to the bathroom with a terse, "Come with me."

* * *

"I can't believe you!" she whispered hotly.

"Well believe me when I say our nest egg's close to fifty grand now."

"Fifty..." She didn't understand. "Thousand?"

"In two weeks, Daddy's earned half Junior's college fund. Now how 'bout a little gratitude?"

"Spike, you make me ill. You haven't 'earned' anything in your life! And P.S.? I will never have anything to do with your filthy, blood-stained, extorted money, so keep it to yourself and leave me and my child out of it!" She slapped the bills out of his hand.

Watching his loot litter the floor, he scoffed. "You're a piece of work."

Her jaw dropped. "I? I am a piece of work?"

"Yeah, you!" He backed her up against the sink as he spoke. "One minute I'm the greatest thing that ever bloody happened to you, the next I'm nothing but a worthless dreg of a lowlife!" Teeth clenched, he growled, "Why don't you do us all a bloody fucking favor and bloody make up your bloody fucking mind!"

She glared at him, nostrils flared, air streaming out.

He glared at her, just as stubborn.

She swallowed, and glanced at his lips.

He glanced at hers.

And suddenly, their mouths collided, hands magnetizing to napes of necks and downward.

"Spike," she said, biting his ear and freeing his t-shirt from his jeans, "Please, I need you..."

"Anything you want, kitten," he kissed a fast, grateful path over her collarbone as he hiked up her dress, "Anything."

* * *

"Mmph. Unh."


"So," Xander said, tapping the couch. "Got any really loud music?"

"That's not a bad idea," Giles said, and headed to the stereo.

"Oh my god, Xander!" Anya came rushing into the apartment, out of breath. "Are you hurt?"


"I saw Spike driving like a madman down on Main and I thought of your squishy parts being broken." She ran into his arms. "I don't want your squishy parts broken."

Xander pulled her close. "My parts are whole and squishy as ever. Wait, that... sounded wrong."

"Let's go home to your basement," she said, nuzzling like a cat. "There, I can make sure all your parts are in working order. And by all, I mean--"

"Music?" Willow begged of Giles.

"Yes, here we are." He turned up 'Bad Moon Rising'.

"As much as I'd love to be thoroughly checked," Xander told Anya, "there's a teensy apocalypse we need to stop first."

"Is this about Buffy again?" At his affirmative shrug, Anya sighed and sat down. "Well? Where is she?"

"She's uh... running a parts check on Spike. But we're hoping it's an express service, like Jiffy Lube."


* * *

Oh, to be taken in again.

For Spike, this was all there was, all he wanted. Everything fell away but her warmth, her scent... her pulse thrumming beneath her skin.

Staring into the mirror over the sink, Buffy watched her cheeks flush as he eased his way in from behind.

He touched her open mouth and said, "Love your lips."

Nibbling his finger and bringing him close to her ear, she whispered with a sly grin, "Tell me more, God."

* * *

"'A golden amulet used to defeat baby-stealers and said to drive away Li- li- tu," Giles said, shouting over the music and squinting at the text that Willow had transcribed under hypnosis.

"Lilitu?" Willow asked. "Isn't that Lilith?"

"Who?" Giles said.

"Lilith!" Willow shouted.

"I don't see how this is fair," Anya said. "I think we should tell them to jiffy faster. What if someone has to pee?"

"Do you have to pee?"

"No, but someone will, and they'll still be in there, gleefully copulating and contributing nothing to the research at hand."

* * *

"...and your bouncy, shiny hair," he grabbed it and took a deep inhale, "smells so good... feels so silky and bloody clean... just... makes me want to defile you..."

She guided his hand to her swollen clitoris. "Defile me how?"

"You wait 'til Junior's safe in a crib." He gave it a soft pinch, then rolled it between two fingertips. "You won't get out of bed for a week."


Her naughty little smile was intoxicating. He sped up his thrusts and sneered, "Count on it."

So close... Still focused on the mirror, she begged him, "Please, please, more, say more, say anything."

"Tell me something, Buffy," he angled her face toward his. "Tell me why you love me."

He didn't get an answer. By the time he reached the end of the sentence she'd already begun to climax, and as she shuddered uncontrollably against him, Spike gave in and let go.

At his last ecstatic surge, he slipped on his money.

Reflexes dimmed by the afterthroes of passion, Buffy grabbed whatever she could to avoid falling with him. Unfortunately, the doorknob of Giles' recessed medicine cabinet wasn't the best choice: as they toppled ungracefully to the floor, the entire unit popped out of the wall and came crashing down with them.

On her back, surrounded by a mess of mirror shards, grooming products and blood-spattered cash, Buffy came to a conclusion. "We really shouldn't have sex in bathrooms."

"Yeah," he said, crushed beneath her. "You're probably right."

"Sorry!" She tried to get up. "It's just... gravity isn't my friend right now."

"S'alright. I can always appreciate a good jiggle."

"Stop it." She swatted his roving hands away. "We've gotta clean up and get back out there before they figure out what we've been doing."

"Because Giles always blares Classic Rock Explosion when we're just sussing things out."

Using the sink to hoist herself up, she said, "You think they know?"

"That their little girl's not a virgin anymore?" He gave her a snarky look while brushing mirror bits off his shirt. "Safe to say yes."

Her frown turned to a pout. "Now I can't face them. This is your fault. Why do you make me do such slutty things all the time?"

"Oh pouty, don't fret." He pulled her close, touched her bottom lip. "Remember who you are. You're the Slayer, you're all grown up, and you're gonna be a mum. You've got a right to be as slutty as you want." He added quickly, "With me."

"Not in Giles' bathroom I don't."

"Well, granted, he might not be thrilled with this gaping hole in his wall..."

That's when Spike noticed it: a large, rectangular tablet wedged into the crevice, its protective shroud sagging to reveal a symbol he recognized from Cordelia's drawing.

"Or maybe he will."

* * *

"That's it! My ears can't take any more." Anya got up just as the bathroom door opened. "Are you finished with your sex now? Because I'd really like Giles to turn down his attempt to recapture his long-lost youth."

Buffy tried to look innocent. "We weren't--"

"Right, fun's over," Spike announced, cutting off the stereo and waving the tablet at Giles. "Found this. Got ancient chicken scratch all over it, you must've hid it ages back and forgot it. Could pertain, yeah?"

"It... certainly could." Giles took the tablet in hand as if for the first time. "Where did you find this?"

"Hidey-hole behind your bathroom cabinet. Dead crafty of you, mate. Oh, and," Spike placed a wad of bills onto the tablet, "for the damage."

"Damage--?" Giles rethought his question when he saw Buffy's blush. "Never mind." He stuffed the money in his pocket and inspected the tablet. "How very odd... it is indeed my hiding place for my most precious books, but I've never seen this before in my life."

"Maybe it was planted?" Willow suggested. "Maybe WinQuar did it!"

Anya scoffed. "WinQuar would never do anything so plebeian."

Everyone in the room turned to Anya, agog.

"Well, I should know," she said with a shrug. "I dated him, after all."

Xander broke the stunned silence first. "You knew who WinQuar was all along?"

"Not all along. Just the last seven hundred years or so."

"Why didn't you say anything when I, oh, I don't know, mentioned the Winiqua?"

"I figured you all knew. I thought everyone knew. He's the Chance man. The go-to guy for probability theory. The Winiqua are just helper clones for his dirty work. See, when we first met, I was doing this one really tricky vengeance on a compulsive gambler--"

"I risked my hide," Spike lamented, sitting down, "for information we already bloody had."

Buffy snorted a laugh.

"Funny," Xander said. "I was led to believe luck was a lady. Turns out it's a guy who scored with my girlfriend once."

"Well, repeatedly, but it was a long time ago."

"Thanks, I feel better."

"So, how does he operate?" Willow asked. "Like, could he have put that spell on the sachet I gave Buffy?"

"Right. After I dropped it on the porch," Buffy said, sitting in Spike's lap.

Anya frowned, considering. "Well, he's very good at what he does. He'd have at least narrowed down the odds to you most certainly dropping it so a spell could be cast. But he's not much of a spellcaster on his own."

"So he could have hired someone to cast the baby-growing spell? Or the bonding spell?"

"He could have. Otherwise, he'd have to piggy-back."


"On someone else's power," Anya nodded. "Demigods can do that sort of thing."

"Hold on," Xander said, trying to understand. "I thought he was a god. Now he's been demoted?"

"Oh, he's a god. It's only when he travels on this plane that he has to take a more human form and lose a substantial amount of power in the process."

"I know this," Giles said, pacing. "The sacrifice of power for tangible form..."

"Which could explain why the first growth spell didn't keep," Buffy said. "And why he probably had to spike Spike's -- uh, why he had to spike Spike as a last resort."

"It explains everything but the girl," Spike said. "And why he's got front-row tickets to her Lilith Fair."

"Maybe he is the girl," Buffy said. "He's a god, maybe he can possess whoever he wants."

"Oh no, love, the vampire who spiked me was all woman, inside and out."

She tilted her head. "What do you mean 'inside'?"

"The entity inside! Not her..." Spike growled in frustration, then squinted at her. "You wanna take this back to the loo?"

"Shut up," she said, trying to conceal a shy smile. He winked.

"The bunnies!" Willow blurted, bouncing in her seat. "It wasn't me! I didn't do it! It was WinQuar, he made it happen!"

Anya shuddered. "It's always bunnies with you people."

"Of course!" said Giles, happy to have a thought click into place after an unusually clouded day. "The Winiquas were there to see to it, to see that your spell was altered! Yes, of course -- they were dispatched for that purpose from the very start!"

"So the rabbit boxes weren't my fault either?" Xander said.

"I imagine that had to be chanced out as well."

"Yes!" Xander and Willow high-fived.

"Wow," Buffy said. "I feel so puppet-on-a-stringy. But I don't get it, what's he got to gain?"

Anya shrugged. "Search me."

"Maybe his demonogical clock is ticking," Xander offered.

"Giles, how fast can you translate that tablet?"

"Well, in a matter of... hours, I suppose."

"The faster the better." Buffy stood up. "In the meantime, Anya, you're gonna tell me everything you know about your ex." Her eyes flashed with impending victory. "I'm thinking his luck is about to change."

* * *

Buffy opened Giles' door to find Angel standing there, a shiny hubcap in his hand. "Tell me this doesn't belong to my car."

Buffy batted her eyelashes. "This doesn't belong to my car?"

He spotted Spike, who toodle-ooed at him.

"Count to ten," Buffy said, stopping him from advancing. "Or a hundred, whatever works. No time for caveman antics."

He relented, and dropped the hubcap. "What's up?"

* * *

"Fascinating," Giles said. "The tablet has the same inscriptions as the amulet. It says it's used to protect infants from harm and to defeat an evil spirit."

"She's not evil," Willow said. "I'm so sick of all the texts demonizing her for refusing to lie beneath Adam! I mean, woman on top! Deal with it!" Tara stroked her arm to calm her down. "I'm sorry, it's just I wrote this paper about her for Western Religions and made, like, every case for her innocence that could possibly be made."

"I'm sorry, who are you talking about?" Giles asked, squinting.

"Lilith! And you know, just because people do evil things in her name doesn't mean she was a bad person. Or... mythical figure."

"Lilith. Lilith..." He shook his head. "I'm drawing a blank."

Everyone in the room made the same bemused face.

"Giles," Buffy said. "We know you think she's a figment of patriarchal imagination and whatnot, but you don't have to pretend you've never heard of her. The amulet is shaped like a heart."

His frown deepened. "What on earth are you talking about?"

Bemusement turned to caution. "You don't remember anything about Lilith," she said, attempting to jog his memory. "The first woman? Favored daughters? Seven-day feast?" She added as a last ditch effort, "Baby hearts, yum?"

Spike threw in, "Song of the Lilin ring any bells?"

"I..." It occurred to him that this was the thing he felt he'd misplaced, but he had no memory of it. "Not in the slightest."

"Somebody wiped your brai-ain," Spike sing-songed. "Watcher had company last night after all."

"It wasn't Dr. Patel," Buffy said. "Mom talked to her, everything Giles said checked out. She spent the night at the hospital."

"Says she! You gonna believe some ex-Watcher's word? Over the phone no less?"

"But Spike, if she's not ribbons today, she couldn't have been possessed last night, right?"

He gave her that. "I still say she ain't delivering my sprog."

"I'm sorry," Giles said, trying to make sense of it all. "You think Sanvi was inhabited by this... Lilith-worshipping god?"

"Not Sanvi, someone else," Buffy said. "Who came to you last night and brainwashed you, big time. You must've been onto something. Something huge. And I bet you anything it has something to do with that tablet."

"Yes!" Giles concurred. "Now, quickly, tell me who this Lilith is!"

Xander put forth, "If the hypnotist needs hypnosis, but there's no one around to hypnotize him, does anyone hear me scream 'Sweet Jesus, help us, it's all over'?"

"Um," Tara spoke up, raising her hand. "I know hypnosis."

* * *

"I fall asleep at the dining table. The smoke detector wakes me... I turn off the oven before a fire starts... throw out the roast, tidy up the kitchen... take a long shower... go upstairs to bed..."

"Go back to the dining table. You fall asleep. Are you dreaming?"

He nodded. "I'm in the kitchen."

"In the dream, you're in the kitchen? Is there a woman with you?"

"No, no woman."

Tara shrugged at Willow, ready to give up.

"Only the owl."

Their eyes widened. "The... the owl?"

He smiled. "It's lovely. It has the most expressive eyes..."

"Does... does it speak to you?"

"Would I like to know the secret of the tablet?"

"Yes," Willow said. "Yes, you would."

"The answer... is within," he said, and chuckled.

Buffy rolled her eyes.

"Goodie, back to square one," Spike whispered. "The answer's in the bloody text; he still has to translate the sodding thing."

As Tara gently roused Giles, Willow clued them in. "There's a legend that Lilith visits people's dreams in the form of an owl. Whatever's happening here? It's gettin' a little spooky." Her face fell into a pout. "And it's disproving my whole thesis."

* * *

"Another mention of the amulet," Giles announced. "Here it says, 'Forged in gold by the fathers, emblazoned with the spirits of three immortal... no, not immortal, inhuman warriors chosen to defeat She of the Dark...' Oh, and look, there's a caution here, as if they assume we'd have the thing stashed in our dresser drawer: 'Beware. Only the pure of heart can wield the mighty weapon of the warriors three.'"

"Leaves us out, then," Spike asided to Angel.

"Pure of heart?" Xander said, "What does that even mean?"

"It means if we had it, I'd probably give it to you," Buffy said.

"Aw, shucks..."

"Problem is, we don't. And if I give birth before we find it, we're screwed."

"Well, the owl said the answer was within," Tara said. "So maybe the tablet's like a treasure map or something."

"Yes," Giles said, turning the tablet on its side. "Perhaps it's a code..."

"The answer is within." Buffy stopped pacing. "Guys? The answer is within!"

"Yes, that's what the owl..." Before Giles could stop her, she'd swiped the tablet out of his hands and hurled it full-strength at the wall. "Buffy, have you gone completely--?"

It smashed to pieces, and a flat, heart-shaped, golden amulet skidded across the floor to Angel's foot. He recoiled with a hiss.

While everyone else voiced their surprise, Spike only said, "That's my girl."

Buffy shot him a smug smile.

"Ancient Cracker Jacks," Xander noted. "The toy surprise is inside."

"Good show, Buffy," Giles said, patting her back. "Of course there may have been much more to discover in the tablet, possibly the correct way to wield the amulet, but... this is good. This is better."

She made an oops face. "That was kind of impulsive, huh?"

Spike wanted to take her right there on Giles' oriental rug. "That was perfect."

"So," Xander swallowed a fear-lump in his throat, "I'm supposed to wield that? It kinda burned a hole into Angel there... through his shoe."

"It's probably just been blessed," Angel said, only slightly disappointed. Of course a vampire wouldn't be considered pure of heart, soul or no soul. "You should be fine."

"No he will not," Anya said. "I don't want you touching that, Xander. Who knows, it could burn right through flesh and bone in a heartbeat!"

"Thanks for the vote of confidence, hon."

"Wusses all," Spike said, bending toward the amulet, "I'll give it a wield."

The chorus of shouted "NO!"s was deafening. Especially from Buffy.

"I was kidding." He straightened and nodded toward Xander. "But demon girl's right, might want to put on some industrial work gloves or something."

"Pfft," Buffy made a move to pick it up.

"Now, hold on," Giles said, interrupting her. "I-it may be quite deadly."

"You think my heart isn't pure?"

"Well I'm quite sure it... is -- of course -- but, let's not hurry into this without knowing the true meaning of--"

"I don't have time for semantics." Buffy scooped it up with nary a side effect. "There, I didn't burn. Now let's use it on someone who will."

"They say fortune favors the brave." A deep, gravelly voice turned them all toward the staircase.

Sizing up the hulking demigod, Buffy closed her fist around the amulet. "Then this must be my lucky night."

More to come...
Chapter #18 - Who's Your Daddy?

A/N: You're going to hate me for what happens here, but I swear it gets better. Also - if you read this on my LJ, please note that there are some substantial revisions.

"Buffy," Giles said, mostly as a courtesy, as she'd already made a beeline to WinQuar's face. "Wait."

"If you do not listen," her target warned solemnly, "the infant you cherish will die."

Fist in mid-trajectory, Buffy eased off with a suspicious glare. "Aren't you the one who wants to kill it?"

"I have no use for it." Letting his hood fall, he scanned the motley group. "Greetings, Anyanka. It's been a long time."

"Winky! Wow! What are the odds?" Anya's nervous attempt at congeniality was a flop. "Oh, but please don't answer that."

"Winky," Xander appraised with a nod. "Suddenly not so threatening."

"He's not the threat." Truth dawning, Spike toed a broken piece of tablet, caught it in the air. "She is."

WinQuar uttered a sarcastic, "How extraordinarily perceptive of you."

"But Lilith is a biblical bogiemyth. She's not even real." Buffy paused. "Right?"

The demigod chuckled at her ignorance. "Your so-called 'Lilith' has become legend, but she is no myth. Though the breadth of her being eludes mortal comprehension, she is very much alive, and you may call her Lamashtu."

Giles frowned, a sense-memory jogged: A whisper in his ear. A chill down his back. The meat fork clattering to the floor. "Lamashtu..."

"The bloody Easter Bunny herself." Spike tossed the tablet bit to Giles, who turned it in his fingertips. "Hippity-hoppiting on the Hellmouth."

"So we're fighting a god and a legend?" Xander processed. "This is gonna be the best apocalypse ever."

Shaking off a bolt of fear, Buffy got to the point. "What does she want with my baby?"

"She wishes to consume its still-beating heart in order to recover her powers, darken the skies and rule this world once more."

"And if wishes were ponies," Buffy glibbed, "we'd all have little ponies."

"She ruled the world once before?" Willow asked.

"But of course. She is the First."

"Na-ah. I've met the First Evil," Buffy said.

"The First Evil that you speak of forged Lamashtu, the first earth walker; the first of flesh and bone. The first to fashion those who brought us all to this juncture." Everyone still looked confused, so he clarified, "She created vampires."

Buffy looked at Spike, then Angel. They both shrugged at her. And Giles looked completely perplexed.

"Vampires, succubi, incubi, scores of nocturnal demon species... and myself, in a manner of speaking. These creations were her instruments of survival."

"Good lord," said Giles.

"I need to sit down," Willow said, already sitting down. "Everything I thought I knew is wrong."

"When the black skies turned perilously bright and humanity took its fateful purchase, Lamashtu prevailed by creating the night lurkers, herself requiring only the purest blood to stay alive: the heartblood of infants." He breathed in and smiled into space, nostalgic. "It was an exciting time."

"I'll bet," snarked Buffy. "Infanticide is a blast."

"I was a secondary god to this realm, fleshless, beingless, but she chose me as her companion and gave me corporeal form. Out of clay, she carved this demon skin, thus introducing me to the myriad carnal delights that the sensory realms had to offer."

"Did you know about this too?" Xander asked Anya.

"No! It's not like we lay around all day talking about our exes." She whispered, "I mostly slapped him a lot and called him a worthless peon. He liked that."

He cleared his throat and continued, "Lamashtu and I lived in perpetual bliss. Until she was taken. Brutalized and demeaned in the name of your 'science'. Slain," he choked up, "like a milkless goat."

"You'll forgive us if we don't care."

"In her last moments she made me promise to resurrect her, to restore her former throne. It required considerable patience and study, but I persevered. Eventually, Lamashtu selected a suitable vampire, and I pinpointed his precise match."

"Spike's 'precise match' being a slayer who what," Buffy said, "happened to be on active duty that week?"

"Why, no. It took me decades to find you."

"Me?" She stared at him. "Why me?"

"You were the slayer most likely to accept his seed in a variety of parallel circumstances."

Horrified, Buffy gasped. Intrigued, Spike cocked a brow.

"Good lord," Giles said once more, this time with resignation.

"A variety?" Angel asked.

"Yes, it was a thrilling discovery. Each milestone I tested yielded the same results: they were destined to copulate. Some in several weeks, some in several years. However, time was of the essence. Certain factors had to be... manipulated."

"The bonding and the bunnies," Willow said.

"Yes," said WinQuar. "Your powers served me well."

"I was your piggyback?" She was once again besieged by guilt. "Oh, great! It's still all my fault."

"No, I think it's still his," Buffy said, the bad aftertaste of prophecy in her mouth. "Is lecture hour over yet, Winky? 'Cause I'm suddenly feeling 'destined' to slay you."

"There is one question you have yet to ask."

"Why he's feeding us information," Angel posed warily, "after a plan several thousand years in the making goes off without a hitch."

"Okay, I'll bite," Buffy said, hands on hips. "Why turn on Queen Akasha when her meal ticket's about to drop?"

A bitter chuckle. "Because I love her."

"Uh-huh." Buffy nodded. "You know, I've heard that flowers say it just as well, if not better, than murder and betrayal."

"I am but a demon at heart. A demon who was fool enough to assume she'd want me as her consort after the Great Change. As it turns out," he glared pointedly at his rival, "she has someone else in mind."

Spike looked around him, pointed at his chest. "Me?"

WinQuar didn't have to answer.

"But I'm no god."

"She wishes to make you one."

There was a pause. "She can do that?"


"What, I'm just asking!"

"At her full potency," WinQuar said, "Lamashtu will be capable of anything. When you resisted her wiles--"

"Thank you very much!" Spike made a gesture at Buffy. "You hear that? I resisted!"

"I feel much better now," she said.

"The mother of all succubi is not accustomed to rejection. Least of all by her chosen son. Thus, she has become obsessed. Her last act before the Change will be to make you her eternal concubine. Not me."

"Concubine?" Xander couldn't help but interject. "How much of a 'change' are we lookin' at here?"

"However, if her plan should fail, resulting in her untimely vanquishing," WinQuar hinted, "I would leave this forsaken place, take her spirit to another realm--"

"And you two will live evilly ever after, never to bother the innocent townsfolk of Sunnydale again." Buffy squinted at Spike. "I wonder where I've heard this song before."

Spike gave her a smirk. "Demons In Love: The Musical?"

"Which leads us to the thrilling finale, 'Ding Dong The Baby-Eating Bitch Is Dead'." Buffy turned to WinQuar. "How do we ring in the finale?"

"You will know when the time is nigh."

"Now you get vague? Just tell me what I have to do."

"I did not come here to tell you how. Only to lead you by chance to victory. The rest is up to y--" He choked as Buffy throttled him and smashed his head against the wall.

"I don't know if a god can even be killed in the traditional sense," Buffy said, "but I'm pretty sure I can make your corporeal ass feel a world of pain. The kind that doesn't turn you on."

"Perhaps... Perhaps I can show you an auspicious course of action. One in which Lamashtu is defeated."

"Good idea." She let him breathe again.

"I should warn you that you may not like what you see."

"Whatever. Just get on with the show."

"As you wish." Stretching his arms, WinQuar closed his eyes and opened them. Silver symbols spiralled through his pupils, spinning fast and faster, until everyone in the room was treated to the same vision:

Buffy kisses Angel passionately in a sunlit park, wedding veil on her head.

The image chopped up like a broken film reel and disappeared.

"What the bloody hell was...?"

"Sorry," WinQuar said with a shrug. "Too far ahead." He cleared his throat, glanced sidelong at Spike, stretched his arms out again and loosened his shoulders. "This might take a moment. Enjoy the ride."

Once again, Spike was relegated to third wheel as Buffy and Angel tried and failed to avoid awkward eye contact.

Just when he thought the knife in his back couldn't stab any deeper, the visions kicked in.

"Get out," Buffy says with a sneer. Angel shoves Spike out of Giles' apartment.

Distraught, she finds comfort in Angel's arms.

- chop -

Buffy in labor on a hospital bed, clutching Angel's hand. He tenderly touches her sweat-beaded forehead.

- chop -

A torch-lit cave, dead Winiquas strewn everywhere. Spike is chained to a pillar in the center. A mystical cyclone keeps Buffy and all of her friends pressed helplessly against the walls.

Sanvi is at the altar holding a crying baby in one hand, a long knife in the other.

The amulet skids toward Spike. He reaches for it, picks it up, roars in agony... and his body crumbles to dust.

- chop -

Sanvi drops the knife and runs after Spike's ashes, spinning in the wind.

The cyclone slows. Angel captures Sanvi. Buffy swipes the baby out of her hands and grabs the amulet.

- chop -

A sobbing Buffy, baby safe in her arms, collapses into Angel's embrace, whimpering his name. Sanvi is dead at their feet. "Shhh," he says, and kisses Buffy's head. "It's over now. It's over."

The vision ceased. No one could speak.

Spike broke the silence. "Can you show me one where he dies?"

WinQuar regarded Angel. "I could. But it would not end in the Slayer's favor."

"So no matter how you slice it, I'm the expendable one."

"I am happy to say that you are correct."

"Sanvi," Giles said. "Oh my poor Sanvi."

Spike scoffed at him. "Thanks."

"I don't accept this," Buffy finally said. "He... he knows now not to touch that amulet, so there's no way he'll die, there must be another course of action, one where everybody lives--"

"I chose the outcome with the least casualties. Do with it what you will."

Her eyes widened. Save her boyfriend or save the world? How could fate be so cruel to foist this dilemma onto her not once, but twice?

"Well." Spike took a deep, grounding breath. "Guess I need to go see a doctor."

"No," Buffy said, "I won't let you."

"Why not?" he countered bitterly, "You'll have what you want in the end."

She blinked at him, not sure she heard right. "What?"

WinQuar said, "Seeing the doctor now would not be wise."

"What I 'want in the end'? How can you say that?"

"Then take me to the rabbit hole," he said, ignoring her. "Let's set this bloody unbirthday in motion."

"Oh no," Buffy protested. "If you go to that cave, we all go."

"Not when she wants to eat my baby's heart, you don't."

"Your baby," WinQuar spurted a laugh. "Potent seed from a vampire?" He laughed again.

"What d'you mean, why are you laughing? That's my baby in there. Isn't it?"

"No it isn't." He smirked. "It's Hers."

Spike's mouth went dry. "What?"

"Huh?" Buffy blinked.

"Lamashtu is our creator, after all."

"But I'm the chosen son."

"Yes, you were the vehicle through which it funneled. Your body served its singular purpose. But this divine offspring that the Slayer carries is no more your kin than it is mine, or his," he pointed at Angel, "or any other bloodsucker that ever stalked the shadows."

"Now I have to sit down," Buffy said.

"That's my baby," Spike insisted. "I know it! I can..." He turned to her for backup. "Buffy?"

She was unable to offer any sympathy. Her world had just upturned too. Was she carrying an ancient deity's evil spawn... or her boyfriend's? If it didn't truly belong to him, or either of them, would he die to protect it? Would she?

She looked up at him, and he seemed to be scanning the same process. "No, it's not true," he finally said. "It's not true. None of this is true. That whole vision was a lie. Can't you see, Buffy? He's playing us!"

"I shall leave you to your destiny," WinQuar said with a courteous nod, and disappeared.

Anya groaned in frustration. "I always hated when he did that."

"Get him back! Get him back here and make him tell the truth! That wasn't real!"

Angel said, "Look, real or not--"

"Oh don't you say another word!" Spike began to pace like an animal in a cage. "Not you, not any of you! You've all been against me since day bloody one." He pointed at Angel. "Especially you."

"Spike," Buffy said. "Don't get stupid."

"I know what you're all thinking. 'Now that it's not his baby and she was never really his girl, his bumpies are gonna show and off he'll go, into the arms of evil'. Because what've I got to be good for now?" He seethed at Buffy. "Don't tell me you're not thinking it. It's all over your face."

She shook her head slightly to the contrary, eyes moistening.

"Nobody here believes I've got what it takes. Not really. So why not give in, let old Soulhaver take the spoils?"

"Hey," Angel began to interject.

"Shut! Your gob!" Spike was on the verge of tears. "You all want a show, that it? You want to see Spike break down, give you what you've been waiting for?"


"Right then."

In a flash, he changed his face, grabbed the nearest human by the shoulders, and sunk his teeth into her throat.

Willow sputtered and flailed while he took great, big, audible gulps and the rest of the room sprang from shock to frenzied action.

Everyone in the room except Buffy, whose nightmare was coming true and all she could do to stop it was whisper, "Stop. Please stop."

The next few seconds were a blur, ending with Angel holding Spike in a full nelson as Willow reeled woozily into her friends.

"What are you doing?" Buffy searched her boyfriend's face for a hint of humanity. "What the hell are you doing?"

Eyes still cat-like, Willow's blood staining his lips, he said, "Making up your mind."

She slapped him across the face, and he laughed.

"Go on, say it. You know you want to."

Shutting her eyes, she spat, "Get out."

"Brava. Good show." As Angel wrangled him toward the door, he dug into his pocket and tossed her a small key. "Do what you want with it. I don't care."

"What is this?"

"The key to my heart," he said with mock flourish, and Angel cast him out and locked the door.

Buffy stared at the door, at the key, and at Willow. She was conscious, they'd stopped the blood, and Xander was already on the phone with 911.

Damn you, Spike.

Angel reflexively touched her shoulder, and she realized she wanted to find comfort in his embrace.

After a second, she drew away.

Fate would have to find some other bitch.

* * *

Outside in the courtyard, Spike's head was spinning and his guts were churning. "Mind over matter," he told himself. "Mind over--"

He clasped his stomach and puked into an azalea bush. Thick, black liquid.

Willow's blood.

"Just have to get back on the horse," he said, wiping his mouth.

"Don't do this, Spike. It isn't you." At first he thought her voice was in his head, but Buffy had appeared behind him.

"Shouldn't you be in someone's big strong arms right now?"

"I don't want his arms." She threw the key at his back. "And I don't want the fucking key to your money."

He sighed, letting his human face return. "Not with the self-righteous bit. Just take it and leave me alone."

"You were supposed to be my long-haul guy, remember?" She meant to convey anger, but it came out as desperation. "You crossed your heart."

Spike looked her in the eye and said, "Things change, Slayer. People move on. You saw it yourself just now in the giant karmic ViewMaster of Destiny."

"I don't care what I saw. I need you, Spike." She touched her stomach. "We need you."

"What for? I was just a 'funnel'."

"So, what?" A tear slid down her cheek. "You're telling me the baby's all you really cared about? That you pretended to love me so I'd have your kid? Am I supposed to believe that?"

He steeled himself, knowing how to bluff. "That's right."

As he walked off she looked at the fallen key and whispered caustically, "Heart don't lie."

He stopped in his tracks, but didn't turn.

"Isn't that what you said?"

He didn't answer.

"Just because yours doesn't beat," she said, trembling, "doesn't mean I can't hear it."

"I'm not human, Buffy. I never will be. I'll never have a soul."

"That's not what I mean. And you know I don't care if you never have those things--"

"No? I heard you and Angel in the library last night!" Spike spun to see her reaction. "And I know how your mind works. You didn't want to believe it, did you, because you fell hard for me, and I've done some pretty nice things for you, and you hate being taken for a fool -- but I saw the way you looked at me when you came out of that room. After he told you what I did."

Caught off guard, she didn't know how to respond.

"I could tell you why I did that," he began, voice only slightly wavering. "To prove myself worthy of hunting alongside him and Dru. I could tell you that whatever vile, heinous thing I dreamed up, Angelus always found a way to top me. And, I could tell you that I'd never once in a million years do anything like that ever again, because you changed me from the inside out, Buffy, you made me feel like a man again, but none of that matters, because it won't make any sodding difference to you."

She wanted to tell him that it would. But how could she, when he'd just tried to kill her closest friend?

"That vision..." he said. "It might be a lie, a great big setup. Hell, it more than likely is. But I can hear what's in your heart, and it's something that will never go away as long as I can do this." He morphed into a demon. "Doubt."

Buffy couldn't argue, because he was right.

"So why keep fighting my nature, when this is all I'll ever be?"

Lips trembling, she tried to form words to stop him.

"Goodbye, Buffy. I hope he, uh..." Emotions getting the best of him, he tried again. "I hope he saves you."

An ambulance that was wailing in the distance pulled up. His exit cue.

Spike, wait! Don't do this. I love you. I love you.

If only it were that easy.

* * *

"I'm okay, I don't need to go to the hospital," Willow said as she was strapped into the gurney, "it's just a little... Ooh, blackout."

Buffy apologized again, and took her friend's hand.

"It's not your fault, Buffy. And, he probably would have stopped." For the sake of the emergency medical personnel, she added, "Darn puppy."

"Maybe, but he was my... puppy, and probably isn't good enough. I shouldn't have let him get away."

"Well," Anya said with a sigh. "Next time you see him he'll probably be chained to a pillar in some dark cave."

Buffy got suspicious. "How do you know that?"

"Once Winky's visions are set in motion they follow a pretty staid course."

"Is that right?" Buffy confronted the former vengeance demon. "You know, Anyanka, I'm beginning to wonder if it's not just coincidence that you happen to resurface when your so-called ex shows up with a new world order." She got in her face. "Did he promise to give you your powers back, is that it?"

"What? No!" Anya was aghast. "I haven't seen him in centuries! It was a passing fling! Xander, tell her!" To her shock, he was visibly torn. "Xander?"

"What's it like being one of the 'favored daughters'?" Buffy accused.

"I don't even know what that means! I came back here for Xander, because I thought we could have something meaningful. Why would I want the world to end when I'm just beginning to figure out how to live in it?" She scoffed. "I can see why Spike lost it, you people have serious trust issues!"

Buffy faltered. Anya really did seem freakishly devoted to Xander, and she wasn't wrong about the trust issues. "You better hope you're telling me the truth, or you're gonna find out wh--" She felt an odd sensation and noticed water all over her feet and the floor. "Wh..."

"Grab a wheelchair, will you?" said one EMT to the other. "We've got a water breaker."

"Bloody hell," said Giles.

"Ew!" Anya hopped out of the way.

"No, wait! I'm not ready!"

"Maybe not, but the baby sure is."

* * *

"We'll meet you there," Giles said. "I uh... I called Sanvi. She's on her way."

Buffy nodded and checked that the amulet was still around her neck. If Sanvi wasn't quite herself, any reaction to it would tip her off. And if she had to use it on her to save the world... she didn't want to think about that right now.

Angel helped her wheelchair onto the ambulance and the EMT asked, "You the father?"

Buffy and Angel exchanged a disquieted glance, and he said, "Yeah."

"Okay then, come aboard."

This was too weird. Not too long ago it had been her secret fantasy to marry Angel and bear his miraculous children. Now, it felt like a dream from another life.

In this life, he was a poor substitute for the man she really wanted.

Even though the man she really wanted had just attacked her best friend.

She turned to Willow, who was being prepped for transfusion.

She knew she couldn't forgive Spike for this. But she also knew that he did it solely for that purpose. He wanted to be hated, wanted to be ostracized. For some stupid reason, he assumed that leaving her would make her life better.

The moron.

At that thought, Buffy had her first contraction.

* * *


Polishing off the quart of Jack he'd downed with a roll of X-tra Strength Tums, Spike noticed a young, red-blooded buck accosting him all by his lonesome in the still of night.

"Well, if it isn't Private Buffychaser," he said with a widening grin. What a perfect way to reacquire his old eating habits. "Somebody down there must like me."

"Excuse me?" said Riley.

His face changed. "I'm gonna enjoy killing you."

Shocked as he was, Riley managed to hold his own in their ensuing tussle. Spike was sort of impressed, until he inevitably got the upper hand.

But just as he was about to pierce the boy's skin, Buffy's angst-ridden face flashed before his eyes... and he couldn't do it.

"I'm sorry," Riley said earnestly, "But I have to do this."

A searing pain ripped through Spike's chest, making him stagger backward. "Bloody..."

Did he just get staked?

He looked down.

Not staked. Shot.

As Riley lifted his CB to his mouth, Spike scrambled to get away. If it was a tranq it would take a while to affect his sluggish system, and bugger if he was letting the New Mengele Army have its wicked way with him.

"Base One, this is Finn," Riley reported. "NSP-20 capsule dispensed into first non-captive."

Watching Spike sprint down the alley, he had a little trouble getting the next part out. "Subject should be dead within the hour."

More to come...

A/N: I am not as evil as I seem.
Chapter #19 - Labor Pains

A/N: Lots of little revisions in this one since its initial posting on my LJ.

"This is all wrong." Finding herself in the throes of a fierce contraction, sweat-beaded forehead dangerously close to being caressed by the only other person in the room, Buffy took a stand. "I can't do this."

"Yes, you can," Angel assured her, "I'm here for you."

Exactly her point. "Thanks, but can you not be?"

"Oh. Okay." He sat up, then reconsidered. "As soon as Giles gets back."

The contraction ebbed, and when she was finally able to speak without all the panting, she said, "I'm not a china doll, Angel."

"I never said you were."

"Look, I know I died in Cordy's vision..." Off of his obvious surprise, she said, "Why else would you rush up here without so much as a phone call?"

"I would've--" He gave up. "Yeah."

"So I can't blame you for wanting to protect me; I'd do the same for you." Realizing that she was still clutching his arm, she let go. "And it doesn't help that whenever you're around, I turn fifteen all over again. 'Angel's gonna make everything better.'"

Brow knit, he stared unseeingly at the floor.

"But we both know that I can take care of myself," she said. "And all tonight's choose-your-own-adventure-vision proved is that nobody knows how it ends. Gods, prophets, the Powers that Be... they're hoping we make the right choices, but the future is still ours to make."

"And your future is with him?"

Their eyes met, and she looked away.

Angel walked to the window. "He could be on a killing spree right now."

"He could be halfway to Mexico right now," she retorted, "winning Drusilla back with a bouquet of baby hearts! Angel, the thought of what Spike 'could' be doing makes me so angry, and so scared that I..." She exhaled a shaky breath, and got to the point. "But I would rather be alone for the rest of my life than force you into second place. You're too good to be anyone's consolation prize."

He wanted to say something thoughtful, but all that came out was an incredulous, "Second place?"

Apologetic, she tried to explain, "He's like a... a virus. A flesh eating, biohazardous virus that gets into your system and never goes away, like rabies or ebola or that thing that's killing all the birds and..." her eyes welled, "I really wish he was here."

"Huh." Still perplexed, he tried, "So, not even if I miraculously turned human?"

"Well," she thought out loud, "I might not say no to a moment of perfect happiness, but..."

He cracked a shy grin.

"...that would be all." She blushed. "I'm sorry, I'm hormonal. This is why you should go."

With a sober nod, he took her hand and bent down to gently kiss her forehead. "I'll call you the second my heart starts beating."

She laughed.

"Here you are!" Joyce barged in, making the ex-lovers separate. "I brought you a change of clothes, your homework, every magazine on the stand and look!" She held up a small bag of Gummy Sharks. "Breakfast."

Buffy smiled. "Thanks, Mom."

"Where's the doctor?"

"She's on her way."

"Where's Spike?"

There was an uncomfortable silence, and Angel said, "I'll be outside."

* * *

"This is all wrong." Spike stumbled down an alleyway and collided with a dumpster, not sure where he was anymore. "This is... What's...?"

The pain had suddenly graduated from searing to excruciating, as if his blood had been replaced with battery acid ...and was his skin turning blue?

This was no standard bullet, no tranquilizer shot, no mystical poison arrow that could be remedied with a quick nip at a slayer's neck.

This was science. And nothing was scarier than that.

Determined to extract it, he clenched his teeth and probed the hole in his chest.

It felt like a tiny metal octopus, held in place by several prongs. Assuming the pain couldn't get any worse, he gave one a tug.

"Bloody HELL!" Spike toppled onto his back on the ground, shuddering, a hand over his bleeding heart.

He hacked up something strange and glutinous and thought, This can't be how it ends.

"I was supposed to die for her!" he shouted to the black sky in desperation. "Stupid lying gods with their fake visions. Well she won't have him now, will she? They'll all burn because I won't be there to save their useless hides. And good bloody riddance!"


It took him a moment to register the sound: a baby crying in an apartment facing the alleyway.

He blinked, vision blurring. "Hey little one! Did I wake you?"

It took a breath, and wailed again.

"Shhh shhh shhh! Hang on, hang on, I got a lullaby for you!" He thought for a second, then bellowed gamely, "Here comes Peter Cottontail, hopping down to Sunnydale! Hippity hoppity, evil's on its way!"

The baby cried louder.

"You're right, you're right, that's a stupid song." He coughed, and ignored the pain that came with it. "I know better ones. Like, uh... Oh! Remember this one?" Hitting the dumpster for percussion, he sang off-key, "Death or glory-y-y! Becomes just another storyyy! Death or glor--"

"SHUT THE FUCK UP, ASSHOLE!" a man yelled from another window.

"Oi, sod off! I'm singing a bloody lullaby to my bloody fucking baby!"

"Your baby," came Drusilla's sotto voce lilt. "S'not your bloody baby."

* * *

"If it's not his, then whose is it?" Joyce implored. "What kind of demon can make a baby? What is it you're not telling me?"

"Nothing," Buffy lied, unwilling to reveal the scale of danger they were in. "That's all I know."

"Well, you're safe and Willow is okay, and that's what matters."

"One more ounce of blood and she wouldn't have been okay at all." She shut her eyes, fresh tears forming. "I didn't think he had it in him."

Joyce sat beside her and sighed. "I can't say I'm surprised."

"Mom, I really don't need to hear the 'men are scum, vampires are scummier' speech--"

"He's been an emotional wreck ever since Angel got here."

Buffy blinked at her mother. "Huh?"

"And without any reassurance from you..."

"You're saying I drove him to drink?"

"Of course not. All I'm saying is, think about how rejected he felt. How terrified he was of losing everything he thought he had." She watched Buffy consider this. "That last ounce may not have been an accident. Maybe he was testing the limits of your trust."

"I don't test well. And he knows hurting my friends is a deal-breaker."

"Is it?"

Her mother had a point. She'd forgiven Angel his past transgressions; why was Spike, a vampire capable of being a near-model citizen without a soul, judged on a harsher scale?

It hit her that she'd spent the past twenty-four hours trying to prove something to Angel, not to Spike -- she just assumed his slavish devotion wouldn't waver, and once Angel was gone and satisfied that she wasn't making a grave mistake, they would pick up exactly where they left off.

But how could she expect that from someone who'd suddenly been forced to accept that his lifelong rival was still a threat, the baby he'd given his heart to wasn't his, and his brightest future lay in sacrificing himself so his girlfriend could find happiness with another man?

Guiltily, she recalled their quickie in the bathroom, where she soaked up all of his adoration and gave none of it back -- not even when he begged her for it.

"Even if it wasn't," she said, "I wouldn't know how to make things right."

"Stop trying to make sense of everything," Joyce advised. "Deep inside, you trust him, I know you do. You'll make things right when he sees that."

"Since when do you trust Spike?"

She looked at her levelly. "We're talking about your feelings, not mine."

"Then why are you telling me this?"

"Because he's what you want." She placed a palm on Buffy's belly. "It's a Mom thing. You'll understand in a few hours."

* * *

"Dru?" Spike tried to focus as she crawled up his prone body. "Drusilla? What are you--"

"Shhhh." She placed a long fingernail over his lips, then trailed it down to his chest, patronizingly clucking her tongue. "Poor little thing. Love's golden arrow at him should have fled, not Death's ebon dart to strike him dead."

A tear spilled down his temple. "Help me, Dru. Please help me."

"But you've been such a naughty boy." Eyes darkening, she jabbed her razor-sharp talon into the hole in his chest, wiggled it around. "Made a little bunny rabbit with the Slayer and now it's gone and gobbled up your heart."

"I couldn't help myself." The pain became an oddly comforting sensation as it radiated outward to every nerve ending in his body. "She made me weak."

"It's all right, my love. I'm the gleaming black starling come to carry you away."

He searched her face. "You've always had wings, haven't you?"

"Great big wings to fly us far from here, where no magic sun will find us."

"I need to see the baby first. I have to give her a name."

"Shhh, they're watching you." She kissed his ear and warned, "You mustn't stay. They'll take you to her and make you one of them."

Her voice and body and face became Buffy's. "One of us."

"Buffy." He touched her flaxen hair, her neck. "Oh Buffy, thank god it's you. How'd you find me?"

She sat up and brought his hands to her naked breasts. "I saw you in the mirror."

Watching her mount his growing erection, he noticed there was something different about her: her body was slender, back to Buffy-sized. "Where's the baby?"

"There was never any baby, Spike. It's all been a test. We're testing you to see if you have what it takes."

He frowned. "Did I fail?"

She opened her hand and unspooled the amulet. Dangling it over his wound, which had miraculously healed, she said, "That all depends on what you do next."

"What..." He held onto her swiveling hips, "What do I do next?"

"Quit feeling sorry for yourself, for starters. Then come and meet me outside the hospital." She flattened the amulet on his chest and bent down to brush her lips against his. "We're gonna make history tonight, Pureheart. We're gonna change everything."

Her last words echoing off the alley walls, she vanished, leaving him alone and hard. All over.

When did paralysis set in?

The wound was still there, of course. He was hallucinating, and he was dying.


Seconds before the world went black, Spike sensed someone approaching. One, two, three sets of footsteps? Four?

The foot soldiers of death had come to drag him away.

* * *

Something was wrong.

Tip-off one was the broken glass scattered all over the courtyard. Two was the classic Plymouth hubcap in the potted plant by Giles' front door... and when Oz knocked, the door gave as if it had been busted open.

Quietly, he picked up the hubcap and ventured into the apartment. Things were worse inside: furniture upturned, books strewn everywhere. Like there'd been a struggle.

He called out, "Giles?" and startled as the phone rang in response.

His quest for closure had brought him here: Before leaving Sunnydale for good, he had to see Willow. A brief talk, even a quick goodbye would be enough...

But now he was afraid he was getting much more than he bargained for.

He answered the phone. "Giles residence."


"No," Oz said, still looking around. "He's, uh, not here right now."

"This is Quentin Travers. It is imperative that I speak to him. Do you know where he is, where I can contact him, or Buffy Summers?"

"You're from the Council," Oz deduced.

There was a pause. "Yes. Who is this?"

"Uh, I'm a friend of--"

"Never mind. You must find him and tell him that the song holds the key. Do you hear me? The fate of the world depends on you delivering this message. The song holds the key."

"What song?"

"Mr. Giles will know." Click.

Facing the kitchen, he heard a creak behind him, and turned to catch a shadowy figure leaving the apartment.

He hung up the phone and sniffed the air. Winiqua.

And something worse.

Willow's blood.

There was a dried spot on the floor. Two more towards the door.

Hubcap in hand, he crept out to the courtyard and spied the demon slinking away.

Adrenaline on his side, he pounced on it and bashed its skull with the heavy steel disc until it was pretty much dead and he heard himself sobbing, "What did you do to her? What did you do to Willow?"

Hair sprouted on his hand, and he dropped the bumper, shaking.

I won't change, I won't change, I won't change.

The transformation reversed, and he exhaled in relief.

Then he noticed the book.

Prying it out of the dead demon's fingertips, he read the cover. The Song of The Lilin.

"Get out of here! I'm not afraid to use this!" A woman brandishing a small .22 lurched toward him, and he backed away, hands up. "I've had it with you hooligans, your cars crashing into the courtyard, your ambulances at all hours of the night--"

"Hospital," Oz said, and sprinted to his van while the woman screamed at the morbid sight he left behind.

* * *

In the hospital parking lot, Sanvi emerged from her car and strode quickly toward the doctor's entrance.

Her cell phone twittered an Abba song. "Yes, this is Doctor Patel."

"Doctor Patel. Quentin Travers."

"Oh." She stopped walking. "Hello."

"Listen to me very carefully." He sounded agitated, unusually distressed. "You are a weapon fashioned for a single purpose."

She looked around the empty lot. "Is this a joke?"

"I'm afraid it isn't. We should have known you'd be the one, but we had so many false alarms with your mother... with all of them."

"My mother... What are you saying, Quentin? What do you mean, I'm a weapon?" There was no answer, and she remembered how frustrating it was to be a pawn in their top-secret schemes. "What have you people done to me?"

"The Council has... prepared you for what you'll be facing."

"Prepared me?! Prepared me how?" Again, no answer. "At least tell me what I'm facing, for god's sake."

"There isn't time. All you need know is you have the power to invoke the spirit of the three. You must--"

Suddenly, Sanvi checked out.

"--know when to open your--" There was a great clatter and he gasped. "No! Oh god no! No, don't--"

Lamashtu smiled. "I'll be sure to do that. Ta ta."

As Travers choked and pled for his life over the line, she crunched the phone in her hand and headed for the woods.

"You can thank me for that later, Sanvi."

* * *

Buffy growled as another contraction racked her body. "Where the hell is she?"

"She should be here any minute," Giles said, barely withstanding the pain she was inflicting on his wrist.

"Why does she have to deliver it?" Joyce pressed. "It's human, isn't it, and Spike said he didn't trust her to do it, something about old associations..."

Giles looked to Buffy. They'd agreed that keeping Sanvi away from the baby would only postpone the inevitable and could put more people in danger. Above all, they needed to work with someone they knew could survive a possession.

"Giles trusts her," Buffy said, and her mother was quieted.

There was a rap at the door, and Angel came in. "He wanted to talk to you; I told him it wasn't really the best time--" Riley appeared behind him, pale and clearly shaken.

"Riley?" Buffy squeaked between breaths, "Kinda... in the middle of something here."

"Yeah. I uh... can I talk to you privately?"

"Not really." The contraction abated, and she let out a long exhale. "What is it?"

He looked at her mother, at Giles, at her. "There's something you need to know. ...It's about Spike."

"What?" She sat up, heart pounding. "Did you see him? What happened?"

"He, uh..." He couldn't figure out how to break it to her gently, so he just came out with it: "He's a vampire."

Buffy laughed in relief. "God, I thought you were gonna tell me you staked him."

"You... you knew he was a vampire?"

"Well, yeah. He's been one for over a century."

"Why are you...? What were you doing with a...?" He looked around, on edge. "Who else here is a vampire?"

"Nobody," Buffy said firmly. "Look, he's not one of the bad guys, okay? He's different."

"Didn't seem any different when he tried to bite me."

"He tried to bite you? God, that is so typical of him!" She threw her hands up in frustration. "I'm sorry, he's acting out, big time. Where did you see him?"

Riley swallowed hard, unable to answer.

Her eyes widened in fright. "Riley? What did you do?"

* * *

"Oz!" Xander stopped him in the hospital corridor. "Where you been, man?"

"Around. Hey, do you know where I can find Giles?"

"Oh, he's probably in Buffy's room. Upstairs. I'll take ya."

"What happened to Buffy?"

"She's having a baby." He frowned. "Didn't you see Will yet?"

Oz had already peeked into the room. Willow, bandage on her neck, tube in her arm, holding hands and giggling with Tara. He didn't want to intrude. "Yeah. I just um, gotta get this book to Giles before I forget."

"Yes, do that and go away," Anya said, then turned to Xander. "Can we go to the broom closet now? I need to have unprotected sex before the world ends."

Xander cleared his throat and steered Oz toward the elevator. "She's in room 314. Have fun!"

* * *

"You did what?" Buffy said again.

Riley took the capsule gun out of his holster, showed it to her. "It's an experimental technique. Burrows into the heart. It... works as a coagulant. Petrifies things from the inside out."

"Things. You mean vampires."

"Yeah... but... this is the first time it's been used on a free-ranging hostile, so--"

"And the first 'free-range' you choose happens to be my boyfriend?"

"He was going to kill me, I used it in self-defense!"

"If he really wanted to kill you, you would be dead," she said with confidence. "There's got to be a way to stop the effect, an antidote..."

"I'm sorry," was all Riley could offer.

"Well then where is he?" She retied the back of her gown. "Where did this happ--?"

As Buffy was immobilized by a sharp contraction, Joyce said, "Honey, I hate to say it, he's not your priority right now."

"I can't let him die out there. I have to find him."

"Someone else will have to. Angel?"

After a pause, he looked at Buffy and said, "Yeah. Of course. I'll bring him back to you."

Buffy gave him a grateful smile. "Thank you."

"The capsule has a tracer," Riley said. "I'll contact base, have them tell me where the signal stops."

Oz walked in, demon guts caked on his t-shirt and an antique book stowed under his arm. "Bad time?"

"All day long, I'm afraid," Giles said. "What brings you?"

"Council called," he handed it over. "Said this holds the key. Pretty sure it's yours."

He rifled through The Song of the Lilin, wishing he could remember just one thing it said. "This holds the key?"

"Well it's either that, or the broken cell phone in the parking lot playing 'Take A Chance on Me'."

"'Take a Chance on Me'? The Abba tune?"

"Yeah. You a fan?"

"No," Giles said, and peered out the window. "But Sanvi is."

"That's impossible," Riley was saying into his radio. "The same coordinates as last night? How could he have gotten that far?"

"Her lair," Buffy snapped her fingers at Angel, "It's in the woods."

"She was underneath us," Angel realized, shaking his head. "I'll go check it out, look for a way in." He turned to Oz. "Is that Winiqua on your shirt?"

"Good call."

"If they're blind, it might throw them off the scent. You can let me borrow it or come along, your choice."

"I'm feeling oddly imprudent tonight," Oz decided, and followed him out.

Riley turned to Buffy. "Is there anything I can do?"

"Yeah," Buffy said. "You can get the hell away from me before I have the strength to kill you."

Jaw flexing, Riley nodded, and left the room.

"Well then," Giles broke the tense silence that followed, "I think I'll try Sanvi again. And I suppose I should ring the Council, evidently they know something."

As he walked out, Buffy and her mother failed to notice that a leaf of paper slipped out of the book and flitted under a chair.

On one side, a reflective surface with golden eyes etched into it. On the other, the side that was glued to the book, four lines of music notation.

* * *


Spike woke up screaming, shards of unendurable agony splintering through his veins.

"Ah, you're awake," Lamashtu said, and held up the blood-soaked capsule that she'd extracted from his chest. "Clever cocktail. Human enzymes, synthetic toxins, and a dash of devil's milk. Some things never change."

He could barely see, but he recognized his surroundings: smack in the middle of the rabbit hole, Queen of Hearts on his lap.

"But, what doesn't kill you makes you stronger, yes?" She licked his wound and waited for him to stop groaning. "Or in your case, what does kill you."

"Fuck off," he took great pains to say, "you bloody. fucking. hellhussy."

"I just brought you back from the dead, a simple 'thank you' would suffice."

That's when he noticed the deafening thud reverberating in his ears. The sweat dripping from his brow.

The inexplicable need for oxygen.

She smiled at him. "Enjoy it while it lasts."

More to come

A/N: Oh yeah. I went there.
Chapter #20 - Pitter Patter

A/N: I don't know how the Abba thing happened. I'm not even an Abba fan. I swear that bit took on a life of its own -- further proof of their intrinsic evil.


For Oz, it was a lure, beckoning him to its source and triggering an impulse to chase, to attack, to maul. Like Toucan Sam, Willow once observed, if he had a thirst for blood.

Preoccupied with his own failing detection skills, Angel eventually noticed that Oz had spoken. "What?"

"I smell fear." He fished the containment charm Giles had given him out of his pocket, wrapped it around his hand. "I think I can track it."

With newfound respect, Angel let him take the lead.

* * *

"You..." Spike gulped frantically at the dank air; none of it seemed to be enough. "You made me..."

"Don't worry, darling, it's only temporary. A cleansing," Lamashtu soothed, turning a sharp dagger in the firelight. "I wouldn't wish humanity on my worst enemy. But then, humanity is my worst enemy, isn't it?"

What was she planning to do with that dagger? Was the baby here? Where was Buffy?

Was it all over, and had Succudoc won the world?

"Now open up and say 'ah'." She cut into the tip of her tongue, and instead of blood, a black mist rose out of the incision.


Pinching his nose until he gasped, she latched her mouth over his and didn't let go. Spike choked and floundered and thrashed, powerless, as Lamashtu's icy-cold essence invaded his body.

"Your Darkness," he heard WinQuar say from across the room. "Perhaps you can finish this later. It is time."

She pulled away, miffed at the inconvenience. "Well, it appears I have a baby to deliver. Why don't you rest until my return?"

Against his will, he succumbed to her suggestion.

* * *

"Willow! You're released!"

"Shhh! I kinda released myself." She blinked at Xander. "What were you doing in the...?"

Behind him, Anya exited the broom closet as inconspicuously as she could.

Willow was appalled. "Am I the only one of us who doesn't have sex in public?"

"Well there was that one time," Tara put forth with a blush and a grin.

"Oh yeah," Willow said, suddenly haughty. "I guess that qualifies me for the club after all."

"What?" Xander blinked at them. "One time? With who? Oz doesn't strike me as the..." He waved his fingers in front of them. "Wait a second."

"We're going upstairs to see Buffy," Willow announced, walking toward the elevators. "Coming with, or are you two going for another round?"


"Xander," Anya whispered. "Don't ogle the lesbians."


The nurses at the reception desk hushed.

"I mean uh... thespians?! Damn those actors, always... doing that acting... thing..." He followed them down the hallway and whispered, "When did this happen? Feel free to leave in the vivid details."

"Xander," Anya and Willow hissed in stereo.

"Sorry." He put his head down. "I just don't get why I have to be the last to know about these things."

"Because you spaz out." Willow pressed the elevator button and pointed at the reception desk. "Case in point."

He gasped. "That's why Oz was so freaked!"

"When did you see Oz?"

"Tonight. He said he saw you, and he went upstairs to bring Giles a book. I'm guessing you didn't see him..."

The elevator door opened with a ding, but no one entered.

"Hey," Willow said, feeling avoidy, "wanna make sure Faith's still in a coma?"

"Sure," Xander agreed. "But I get to draw the funny moustache on."

Willow pressed the down arrow. "Deal."

* * *

"Sanvi isn't answering her phone," Giles reported, worried. "And neither is anyone at the Council."

"This is ridiculous," Joyce said. "She can't just hold the baby in. I'm getting another doctor."

"Mom, it's--"

"I apologize for the delay," Sanvi hurried into the room. "Dreadful accident on highway 5. How are we doing?"

Noticing the beige Donna Karan blouse the doctor wore, Buffy double-checked for the amulet. "Better, now that you're here."

"Good." Sanvi examined Buffy like a seasoned pro. "Ten centimeters; you're ready to push. Are you wearing a necklace?"

"Huh?" She dropped her hands to her sides. "I... Yeah. Why?"

"It's best to remove large pieces of jewelry before delivery. In case of complications."

"Oh. Um, Giles, can you...?" Tentatively, Buffy unclasped the chain, and without hesitation, Sanvi plucked it out of her hand and passed it along, saying, "Here you are."

Slayer and Watcher stared in wonder. If Lamashtu could touch it with nary a consequence, how could they use it against her?

* * *

"It ends here?"

The fear trail had brought them to the same rock formation Buffy had rested on the night before, Angel realized. The one that, come to think of it, resembled a triangular throne...

"Maybe. Not sure. I lost it, or it disap--"

There was a high-pitched noise, and Angel yanked Oz away.

Huddled behind a tree, they watched as several Winiquas emerged from an opening in the rock and marched in the direction of the hospital.

So the rock was the portal. But how?

When it was safe to move, they returned to it, but the mass appeared solid again, impenetrable as ever.

"Somehow I don't think 'open sesame's gonna fly," Oz said.

"There's got to be a way in." Angel slid his hands down the rock face. "Some kind of key."

"Huh," Oz said. "'The Song holds the key.' Guess I should've read the book."

Leaves crunched nearby. They froze, senses on alert, but before they could react, the Winiqua had them surrounded.

Oz billowed his demon-scented shirt, but that didn't stop one from sending him flying into a tree with a single whap.

Fighting them off, Angel yelled to Oz, "Go! Get the book and find the key!"

Oz was nabbed by another demon and flung in Angel's direction. He landed on something painful and dug it out of his back pocket -- his lucky tuning fork.

He couldn't help but acknowledge the irony. What can hold a key better than this?

With that thought, he remembered the noise that the portal made, and the broken cell phone's ring tone. The verse replayed in his mind: Ba-ba ba ba ba...

Coincidence? Probably. But it was worth a try.

He tossed it toward the Winiqua that was coming for him. It whizzed past its head, hit the rock and pinged a dulcet A.

And just like that, the invisible door opened.

"It is them," the remaining Winiqua said together, and shoved them both through the portal.

The rock closed instantly behind them, and the duo stood alone at the top of a narrow, winding staircase.

"What the...?"

"Key of A," Oz said, bemused. "It was the Abba song. This a demon of the disco era?"

"More like the Stone Age," Angel said. "And she's not a demon."

Oz felt his hackles rise as a low feline growl resonated from the stairwell. "She's a gigantic catmonster from the Studio 54 in Hell."

"No." A scaley oversized lion with a mane of serpents came into view, followed by another. "She's an omnipotent god. These are her bouncers."

Staring into the shining eyes of imminent grisly death, Oz said, "Not sure I want to be on the guest list."

* * *

"You're almost there, you're almost there..."

"One more great, big push!"

"I don't wanna! I don't wanna!"

"We're all here for you."

"Where's Willow?"

"Er... downstairs. I think."

"You'll let me hold it, right? You'll let me hold it as soon as it comes out?"

"Of course I will," Sanvi said with a chuckle. "It is your child after all."

Buffy shut her eyes and concentrated.

* * *

"She looks sorta..."

"Peaceful?" Willow offered, head on a tilt.

"Diabolical," Xander concluded.

"Yeah, you're right."

"Her eyeballs are twitching rapidly under her eyelids," Anya said. "Is that normal?"

"I'm not sure, but I do know that poking a slayer is never a good idea. Even if she is comatose."

Anya stopped poking Faith.

"Willow?" Tara interjected, wondering if the voice she'd just heard in her mind was really Buffy's. "I think we need to go upstairs. I think the baby's coming."

* * *

"Don't move," Angel warned. "Don't look them in the eye."

One was sniffing his shirt. "Invincible?"

"We're about to find out," Angel said, gums receding, fangs elongating. "Stay back. I don't know if I can protect you."

One roared, and an instinctive rumble escaped from Oz's throat.

Consequently, his skeleton began its painful rearrangement, punctuated by the containment charm popping off of his hand and skittering down the stairwell.

"Don't worry about me," he said, going with it. "I'm an animal."

The guardians lunged. The werewolf retaliated. Angel jumped into the fray. Scrabbling wildly, the four creatures tumbled down the pitch-black rabbit hole.

* * *

"Congratulations, Buffy," Sanvi proudly proclaimed as the baby showcased its formidable lung power, "you've given birth to a healthy baby girl."

Joyce's breath caught as she glimpsed her granddaughter for the first time. "Oh, she's perfect!"

"Give her to me," said an exhausted Buffy, keenly aware that the battle had just begun. "I need to hold her."

"All fingers and toes, no unusual traits." With a wink, Sanvi gently placed the newborn in Buffy's arms. "Shall I ask your friends in?"

Buffy didn't answer.

She was transfixed: gazing upon this tiny pink alien that had caused so much turmoil in her body and her life, she suddenly understood. Why she saw it through, why she had to keep fighting. This was her doing, her destiny. Her reason.

And not just hers. Those sparkling blue eyes, the arched browline and angular lips, the curly blonde hair... it was unmistakeable.

Her little girl was a miniature Spike.

* * *


At this stern command, the guardians fled.

Errant tufts of fur following them down the stairwell, the werewolf crashed head-first to the stone floor with a whimper, and the vampire, broken and bloodied, slid to the last step.

"Welcome," WinQuar said. Wielding a torch that lit the narrow passageway, he was flanked by a cadre of eyeless clones. "We've been expecting you."

Oz slowly returned to human form, confused and barely conscious.

Sneering as he crunched a dislocated shoulder into place, Angel said, "I knew this was a set-up."

"And yet you still came." WinQuar threw Oz a robe. "Put this on and get to your feet."

Two Winiqua lifted Oz off the ground.

"You don't need him," Angel said as two more lifted him. "Let him go."

"Oh, but that's where you're wrong. I need all three of you."


WinQuar waved the torch and his cronies followed, dragging Oz and Angel down the passageway into a dome-shaped room -- the cave in the vision.

At the north end, a small, crude altar. Atop it, a cradle, a goblet, and an antique dagger. On the walls, huge symbols were painted in blood.

As they chained Angel to a stone pillar in the west side of the cave, Oz was bound to one in the east.

And strapped to the pillar in the center, living, breathing and obnoxiously snoring... was Spike.

"Surprise." WinQuar thrust the torch at Angel, stopping just shy of his face. "Now you'll get to see how it really ends."

* * *

"Somebody told a big fat fib," Willow said, touching the baby's face. "You are the spittin' image of your daddy."

"Yes, you are," Buffy cooed to her newborn, "and you're gonna see him real soon." She glanced out the window at Sanvi, still talking to Giles in the hall. She asided to Willow so the nurse in the room wouldn't hear, "I don't get it. What's she waiting for?"

"I don't know," Willow said. "It'd be great if our protection spell was that good... but I kinda highly doubt it."

"Well, more prep time for me. Hold Junior while I get dressed?"

"I... Oh..." Willow didn't quite know how.

"I can take her," offered the nurse good-naturedly. "She should be examined in the nursery anyway."

"She's fine," Buffy said, holding her blanketed bundle tightly. "I'm taking her home."

"You both need to be examined before you're released. It's hospital policy."

"That's nice. Obi Wan?"

"O-okay," Willow said, shutting her eyes and opening them, attempting to manipulate the nurse's mind without Tara's help. "You'll make an exception this once."

"I'll make an exception this once," the nurse said, and as her eyes locked into Willow's, they said together, "Hemorrhage."

"Huh?" Buffy peered from one to the other, both under some kind of thrall.

And then, something warm gushed out of her, staining the white sheet that covered her, blossoming out into an inkblot of dark red.

"No." Fighting against the pain, Buffy glowered at the nurse. "You can't have her. She's mine."

"The Slayer weakens, the heart grows ripe," the nurse and Willow recited together, "masses perish, day falls to night." They smiled. "I'll take her now."

Giles was right outside, if she could just get his attention...


* * *

"Rupert, I have something to confess."

He stammered for a moment and dug for the amulet in his pocket. "Do you?"

Sanvi took a breath, paused, and finally said, "I lost some time tonight. And I think... this is going to sound strange. I think the Council called me and told me I wasn't quite human."

Giles was thrown. Lamashtu hadn't entered Sanvi's body yet?

"I know, it hardly makes sense, but I've lost time before. In England. I'm beginning to think they may have been behind it. I have this nagging sensation that I'm forgetting something vital, but I can't put my finger on it."

He loosed his hold on the amulet. "Oh, Sanvi."

"You know something," she realized, and gripped his arm. "What did they do to me? Who am I a weapon against?"

"A-a weapon?"

Willow emerged from the room in a panic. "Something's wrong with Buffy!"

* * *

"Oh my god," Joyce cried, returning to a daughter in the midst of what looked like an epileptic fit. "What happened? I was only gone for a minute!"

"We, we were just talking," Willow babbled. "She was about to get dressed, and suddenly she had these convulsions--"

"She's hemorrhaging," Sanvi said, and gave quick orders to an intern. "I'm sorry, but everyone will have to leave."

"It's okay," Joyce assured herself and the gang as they left the room, "Buffy is a strong girl, she's going to be--... Where's the baby?"

"I -- I don't know." Willow's eyes widened. "Oh god, I don't remember!"

"Did anyone see anything?" Giles urged. "Does anyone remember who was in there last?"

Tara said, "Wasn't there a nurse in there with you two? Green scrubs?"

"I... don't remember any nurse," Willow said, crestfallen.

"She possessed the bloody nurse," Giles said. "And without Buffy, we won't know where to find her. Dammit, I was so sure she'd take Sanvi."

"Who is this 'she'?" Joyce threw her hands up in frustration. "Will someone at least tell me who's stolen my granddaughter?"

"Her name is Lamashtu," he said, and with it, a dark mist slithered out of his mouth and down the hall. "Did you see that?"

"See what?"

He distinctly saw it take a right turn. "It must lead to her when she's nearby." He began to follow it, a flash of memory cleaving through the fog. "Speak her name, the wind will change; sing it and she'll... she'll... what was it?" He opened The Song of the Lilin and fanned through the pages as he walked.

"Tara, you should go with him," Willow said.


She nodded, and tapped her own temple. "Report back to me up here, okay?"

"Okay." Tara kissed Willow, gathered her courage, and ran down the hallway after Giles.

* * *

"So," said the security guard, leaning in to the receptionist at the lonely rear entrance desk, "I've been thinking about us."

"Really," the receptionist drawled.

"Rea--" A local alarm went off. "Shit. If that's another prank..." He straightened and pointed at her. "This conversation isn't over."

"I hope not," she said with a stubborn grin as he left.

"Hey Christine," came a whisper from the stairs, "can you come here a sec?"

The receptionist spotted the nurse in the shadows. "Karen? What are you doing hiding over there?" She got out of her seat and approached her friend. "Why are you holding a baby?"

"Can you hold her for me real quick?"

"Um... I guess so..."

Bundle safely in her arms, the receptionist took a deep, cleansing breath and made for the exit door.

* * *

"There's gotta be something we can do for her," Xander said, trying to peer past the closed blinds of Buffy's hospital room. "Will, can't you chant it away or something?"

"You think I didn't try? God spells are a little out of my league, you know."

"What if the doctor turns into Lamashtu while she's trying to save Buffy?" Anya wondered. "Won't she just let her die? Or kill her?"

Joyce stopped wringing her hands to say, "Oh, god."

"Don't worry, Mrs. Summers, I'm going in." Willow centered her energy and said, "Eye of Acana, I call on thee."

Before her, a tiny sphere of light appeared.

"Ooh, it worked!" She refocused and demanded, "Show me what I cannot see."

The sphere zipped under the door.

* * *

"Which way?" Tara stopped beside Giles at the elevator. An alarm was ringing on another floor.

He whispered the name again, and the mist waved into the stairwell.


They tried to hurry down the stairs, but others were filing in, reacting to the alarm. People shouted at the duo to slow down.

When Giles finally pushed through to the first floor, he slipped on something viscous.

Tara covered her mouth, shocked and sickened. Behind her, a woman screamed.

Giles was sitting in human remains. Long ribbons of ripped skin and teal fabric.

Backing up in horror, the security guard said, "Holy god, Christine! Where's Christine?!"

Guessing that whoever Christine was, she wasn't quite herself anymore, Tara helped Giles to his feet.

"Lamashtu," he said again with determination, and the mist curved out the door, into the night.

* * *

The Eye of Acana bounced around the room.

"I found no excess placenta," Sanvi was saying. "And she's not reacting to uterine massage. Administer fifty more cc's of Pitocin."

Willow's minion floated behind the intern, verifying his actions. If Lamashtu could possess anyone she chose, she could easily jump into this body and adjust a dosage...

He turned, and the eye dove to the floor, zipping out of his way and hiding under a chair.

The heart monitor's beeps began to speed up.

"Doctor, maybe we shouldn't--"

"She can take it. Trust me."

He attached the bag to the drip.

Buffy's heartbeat doubled.

"Two forty-eight," the intern read off, "two fifty, two fifty-six, two sixty bpm? This is impossible..."

"I know. Just wait."

Willow didn't know what to do. It was too hard to tell if Sanvi was genuinely helping or--

Beneath her, under the chair, she noticed the words "The Song of the Lilin" scrawled onto a leaf of paper, along with rudimentary music notes.

How'd that get there?

"Two seventy-two! Doctor, she's going to--"

For a second, the beeping ceased, and the sound that followed brought Willow's body, still in the hallway with Xander and Joyce, crashing to the floor:

The long, sustained tone that signals death.

More to come...
Chapter #21 - Going Down

"When I make love to you, you glow."

Together, they gaze at her abdomen, glowing and expanding against his palm.

Buffy chuckles, grabbing a handful of ivy as he thrusts into her, her back flat on the stuccoed wall. "Will you marry me?"

"Well, you know Sunnydale," Spike says. "Great odds for the chance in hell."

"Just ask the lions in the forest, right?"

"Like berries." He frowns, standing up from the boulder in Breaker's Woods. "Déjà vu."

"Silly rabbit." She takes his hand and they stroll toward his crypt. "Slayer dreams are for slayers."

"Take a listen, pet. Heart don't lie."

"Stronger than ever," she confirms, ear pressed to his belly, on her knees in the back yard. "Did she kiss you?"

"Of course not." He pulls her close. "No mortal man could survive the full potency of my spirit."

"The key is in the song," she says, skipping away from him. "The answer is within."

"The answer to what?" He follows her down an alleyway. "Hey, how far are we going, anyway?"

"All the way, baby." Her voice echoes through the cave, around a chanting circle of Winiquas. "We're gonna make history tonight. We're gonna change everything."

"Buffy? Where are you? I can't see you anymore."

Blood drips into a bronze goblet on an altar and Buffy cries, "Our heart doesn't belong to you!"

Spike shouts over a raging fire, "Buffy!"

The amulet skids across a stone floor and he reaches out for it.

"Spike, no!" Buffy screams, and disintegrates to dust.

"Open your eyes." Knife in one hand and a crying infant in the other, Sanvi presses the blade to the baby's flesh. "Open your eyes, or you'll miss it."


Chained to a pillar in Lamashtu's cave, Spike awoke with a gasp.


Six thousand miles away, in an airtight container aboard a cargo jet, his ex-lover woke up, heaving with sobs.


In the understaffed coma ward of Sunnydale General, a wanted criminal sat up for the first time in twenty-four weeks.


And two floors above her, in room 314, Buffy came to life and grabbed Sanvi by the throat.


"I don't die easy," Buffy said, shaking. "Neither will my daughter."

Sanvi squeaked through a constricted windpipe, "What--?"

"I think we've played 'doctor' long enough, don't you?" She heard the intern creeping up behind her, and knocked him out with a left-hand backfist. "Let's play this my way."

"Miss Summers, it-it's me, Sanvi Patel..."

"Really?" She yanked the needle out of her arm and held it to the doctor's chest. "What happens if I inject this into your heart? Will she come to save you?"

"Stop," Xander said, breaking in with the rest of the gang. "She's not her, it was the nurse!"

"Yeah, but this is the body she really needs."

"Buffy, what are you doing?" Joyce pleaded, "Don't, you'll kill her!"

"Just a little... pinprick..."

The second the needle pierced her skin, Sanvi's arms shot out, causing everyone in the room to hit the walls.

"You are a clever one." Lamashtu stood up, pulled off Sanvi's ponytail barrette and tossed her glasses aside. "But not clever enough to stop me." She ran toward the window and crash-dived through the pane.

Xander hobbled over and looked out. "Heading for the woods like an evil gazelle."

Buffy put her suitcase on the bed, unzipped it, and pulled out a crossbow. "Then we go hunting."

"Are you sure you can fight, Buffy? How do you feel?"

She tossed her mother a switchblade. "Like saving my family."

* * *

"Lamashtu," Giles whispered as they crept through the forest brush, and the mist bent in another direction. "Strange. She's turned 'round."

"Turned?" Tara spun on her heel, and gasped when she came face to face with Sanvi Patel. "O...or switched."

Lamashtu folded her arms. "Hello, Rupert."

"Hello... Lamashtu."

She breathed in, out. "I suppose I'm hard to forget."

"I remember everything," he lied. "Where is the child?"

"The child is where she belongs: in Hell, with me. And if you remembered anything beyond my name you'd know that amulet is useless in your possession."

Giles returned it to his pocket.

"As is that silly old book." She narrowed her eyes and it burst into flame.

He fumbled and let it fall, lighting a pile of leaves on the ground.

"Humans and your futile trinkets, your puzzle pieces that make no picture." She shook her head in disdain. "Give up, Watcher. I've already won. My star is two fingers from the new moon and at three, the Great Change will be underway."

The brush ignited in front of Giles and Tara and sealed them in a ring of fire.

"So it is written," Lamashtu said. "So it is set in stone."

* * *

Spike's head was pounding. He wasn't sure from what: the death, the resurrection, Lamashtu's wicked puff of halitosis, or the bloody Winiqua chants that were really starting to grate.

"Knock it off, you daft sods," he grumbled. "She heard you the first time."

A baby's cry pealed through the din, and his heart jumped with hope.

"What are they doing here?" he heard Sanvi say, and WinQuar reply, "They managed to break in."

"How?" She sighed. "Never mind. Have your monkeys reinforce the portal and kill the trespassers."

"They shall prove valuable when the Slayer comes. I strongly suggest we keep them alive."

Who were 'they'? He tried to turn his head, but his neck was chained tight.

"Isn't her boyfriend enough of a bargaining tool?"

"I would not bet on it."

"Women," she said. "We are a fickle lot, yes?"

After a pause, he said dispassionately, "Yes."

"You're the one that can see the future. Let's hope for your sake you're right."

"This will unfold perfectly according to plan, that I can assure you."

"I don't doubt it. The amulet is taken care of, the Slayer hasn't a clue how to stop me, and I have all I need right here." The baby cried.

With a helpless grunt, Spike rattled his chains.

Sanvi came into view, a blanketed bundle in her arms. "You were supposed to wake up when I told you to."

"You want me? You can have me. Just don't hurt the baby."

Sanvi laughed. "Tempting. But I'll pass." She approached the altar and picked up the knife.

"Please," he begged her, a tear sliding down his cheek. "Don't do this."

"Oh, how thoughtless of me." She put the knife down. "Would you like to see your daughter before I cut out her heart?"

"My... I thought she wasn't mine."

"WinQuar," Lamashtu tsk-tsked, "what did you tell this poor boy?"

"Whatever I had to, your darkness."

"To separate them; of course. Well done."

He humbly bowed his head.

"WinQuar has a gift for circumvention. But as you can plainly see," Lamashtu pulled the blanket down, revealing the baby's face to Spike, "this little stunner's all yours, inside and out. And I wouldn't have it any other way."

The baby cooed at him, and Spike burst into sobs.

She took the child back to the altar.

"No! Please, don't--"

"The tablet is very specific," she said, and gently placed the baby in the cradle. "The heart that shall free me is born of an impossible union: the seed of a vampire, the womb of a slayer; my blood and my spirit, intermingled." She picked up the knife and the goblet and walked toward him. "But I couldn't use any old vampire. It had to be one whose heart bled like a woman's."

"What are you on about?"

"Tell me, WinQuar, what were the chances that a lovely maiden would spurn young William, that he'd run out into the night, crushed and desolate, and that he'd cross paths with a vampire called Drusilla?

"They were infinitely slim, as I recall."

Spike frowned, bewildered. "You--?"

"Made it all happen, from the very start." She lowered herself onto his lap and caressed his face. "You're my personal creation, Spike. A demon that can love like no other."

* * *

Tara and Giles sat back to back in the center of the flaming ring. They'd tried everything; magic spells, charging through... it was impenetrable. They were stuck.

"Two fingers from the new moon," Giles said, squinting at the sky, hand extended. "Well, it's not Vega. Is it... can it be Venus? Her 'star' is Venus?"

"It'd make sense, being the symbol of divine womanhood and all."

"Yes, and how were they to know the difference between stars and planets..."

"Is it three fingers yet?"

"Two and a half. Have you reached her?"

"I'm trying, but the fire is... it's obstructing my powers somehow. Maybe if we join hands and focus."

* * *

Buffy took the leaf of paper out of Willow's hands as they hastened down the hallway. "Anyone read notes?"

"If I had a piano," Willow said.

"Wait a second, let me try," Joyce said, and solfeged it out.

"Good work, Mom. Where'd you learn to do that?"

"I was in a choral group in college. Here's what's odd: we sang this song. It's 'Take A Chance on Me'."

"So... either Abba was an instrument of the devil, or -- There really isn't an 'or' to that, is there?"

Everyone sounded their agreement.

Buffy flipped the page over to the shiny illustration. "What's this?"

"Metaphor for possession, maybe? The evil refle--" Suddenly Willow stumbled, clutching her head.

"What's wrong?"

"It's Tara. And... and Giles? They saw Doctor Patel; she... She shot fire out of her eyes."

"'Maiden with eyes of fire'." Buffy glanced at the drawing of eyes on a reflective surface. "Everything else has been literal so far, why not this?"

"Lamashtu's perfect host would logically have a drawback," Anya said. "There's always a cost."

Buffy concluded, "She can't look herself in the eye."

"Can you look me in the eye, B?"

The group stopped dead in their tracks to gape at the source of this unwelcome interjection.

"Oh my god," Joyce gasped, "it's--"

"Faith." Buffy stared at the gaunt slayer, wearing an ill-fitting nurse's outfit and brandishing a bone saw. "You're awake."

* * *

"What's the matter?" Lamashtu teased, tip of her blade poised at Spike's throat. "Hellcat got your tongue?"

Their eyes met, and he shook with laughter.

She shifted uncomfortably. "What are you laughing at?"

"The world's first control freak."

"No one laughs at me. Need I remind you who I am?"

"Look at you," Spike said. "All prickly and flustered. You can't control anyone, you can't even control me--"

She backhanded him.

Lip bloody, he concluded, "And that scares the living hell out of you."

"Let's get one thing straight. You?" She slashed at his pantleg, cutting into his thigh. "I can control."

"Oi! Got a zipper for that!"

She stuck her hand under the denim, grabbed his cock and squeezed it tight. "How quickly it grows, yes?"

He tried not to physically react, but he was only human. "Must be right lonely at the top, if you're this desperate for a good shag."

"I could make you come in an instant."

"Yeah well, so can most birds with a firm grip. Doesn't make you Jesus."

"And when you do, you'll forget everything you know."

"Right, the famous earth-shaking loboto-gasm." He gulped as she ran her fingers up and down his length. "Gotta warn you, you get a leg up on me and the Slayer kills us both. Whether I remember who she is or not."

"She'd never find out."

"You don't know Buffy. She's got like this extra-sensory Other Woman radar--"

The baby squealed, little pink fists in the air.

"See?" He nodded in the baby's direction. "She's got it too."

"That reminds me," Lamashtu said with a swift inhale. "I have better things to do."

He struggled against his chains. "Wait--"

"It's sweet that you're trying to buy time. But this is happening. With," she stabbed the dagger into his heart, "or without you."

* * *

"That's right, B, I'm awake -- just in time for your weekly visit." Faith tilted her head, looked up. "Oh wait; what am I saying? You'd never visit me."

Xander whispered to Anya, "I told you not to poke her."

"Okay, Faith, I get it," Buffy said measuredly, reaching for the handle of the crossbow on her back. "But I really, really don't have time for this."

"You're gonna make time." She grabbed Willow and held the bone saw against her bandaged neck. "Right the hell now."

"I promise you we will do this later," Buffy reasoned, planning exit strategies. "But you have to let her go. The world is going to end, tonight--"

"'Unless I stop it!'" Faith mocked her melodramatically. "Lucky for me, I don't give a shit. I would love to see you all burn."

"There she is!" someone shouted from afar, and as Faith turned to look, Willow bit her arm, making her drop her weapon.

Buffy kicked her to the floor, pointed the crossbow at her head and told her friends to run.

"Are you gonna be o--"

"Just find them! Go!"

She watched them take the stairs, and stood over Faith as the group of security guards neared.

"That's her!" the intern from her hospital room said, pointing at Buffy. "She strangled the doctor and punched me out!"

Buffy's eyes widened. Willow was supposed to take care of that guy...

"No kidding," Faith said, mildly impressed. "You did that?"

Three guns cocked at her, Buffy dropped the crossbow and held her hands up. "Look, there's been a mistake. This woman is--"

"Save it for the cops."

One guard helped Faith to her feet, asking, "Are you all right, Nurse?"

"She's not a nurse!"

"Yeah, I-I think so," Faith said, milking it. "What's gonna happen to her?"

"The police will sort it out when they get here."

"She's a patient, you idiots," Buffy said. "Look at how big her shoes are!"

"She's obviously out of her mind," Faith poured it on thick. "It could be drugs. Angel dust, maybe. Watch her, she's capable of anything."

Buffy rolled her eyes. Then she noticed Faith picking up the bone saw.

In an instant, she had it at the guard's throat. "Drop the guns and back off!"

"Faith, what are you--?"

"I've been wasting away in a hospital bed, dreaming about this for months! I'll be damned if I have to wait another second to bring you down." She pushed the elevator button. "Everybody, back off or I saw this motherfucker in half!"

The guards put their guns on the ground and backed up, hands in the air.

The elevator door opened. "Get in, B. Do it!"

Well, it was the more straightforward alternative...

Buffy picked up a gun and pointed it at the guards as she backed into the elevator. Faith disarmed the guard and pushed him to the floor, then jumped inside.

The doors closed, and they immediately pointed their guns at each other.

Faith fired first.

* * *

Blood trickled into the bronze goblet.

Lamashtu watched Spike valiantly bear the pain. Just as he was on the brink of losing consciousness, she licked his wound and it sutured shut. "You see, William, I'm a creator, not a destroyer."

"Could've fooled me," he said, breath heavy.

"I only want what's best for the world. The human race was a blunder. Don't you see? Once we return the earth to its pure, original state, our sustenance will no longer depend on their blood." She sipped from the goblet, then brought it to his lips. "Delicious as it may be."

"Thanks," he said, sardonic. "But I'm suddenly not hungry."

She put the goblet down beside them. "I wasn't always this way. In my day--"

"We reminiscing now?" He scoffed. "Think I'd rather be stabbed again."

"In my day, I didn't rule with fear."

"No, you ruled with puppies and sunshine and a bagful of baby hearts."

"In other words, 'taking my rightful place at the top of the food chain'," she said, quoting him verbatim. "Survival of the fittest, yes?"

"If that's true, then I put my money on the Slayer."

One end of her mouth upturned. "Which one?"

"What do you mean, 'which one'?"

* * *



Click. Click. Click. Click. Click.

"Fucking security guards," Faith said, and they both dropped their bulletless guns. "Guess it's just you and me and what our mommas gave us."

"Or," Buffy said, and dove for the bone saw.

"Look who's playin' dirty full-time now," Faith praised as she fought for the saw. "Did gutting me and leaving me for dead send Pollyanna down the dark path?"

"I swear to God I didn't mean for that to happen to you--" The elbow in her eye interrupted that thought.

"Save it." Faith grabbed the saw and pulled the emergency stop lever. An alarm sounded and the car crunched to a halt. "I ain't lookin' for anything here but good, hard payback."

"Fine." As she stood up, Buffy glanced at the ceiling's escape hatch, and back at her opponent. "Take your best shot."

She fielded a swing, balanced her palms on the railing and scissor-kicked the saw to the floor. When Faith reached for it, Buffy piggybacked onto her shoulders and used her momentum and height to punch at the escape hatch and spring through it.

"Oh, no you don't!"

Buffy cried out as the bone saw blade severed her Achilles tendon. She hoisted herself out of harm's way and as she held her bleeding ankle and looked around the dark elevator chute for an exit sign, she heard Faith cackle.

"I've always wanted to wipe the ceiling with you, B. Looks like now, I can."

Suddenly the elevator car lurched and sped toward the ceiling.

Falling onto her stomach, Buffy struggled to grab the ladder rungs, just out of her reach...

* * *

"Right now she's thinking, 'If only my arms were longer. Mom always told me to drink more milk but did I listen? No.'"

"How the hell do you know that?"

"She and I, and you and them, we're all connected," Lamashtu said. "You by the blood, she by the spirit. I can experience her feelings whenever I wish. Her fear, her anger, her pain... her lust..."

"Fancy words for a common peeping tom." Spike recoiled from her touch. "You wake the other one up that way?"

"Believe it or not, there are some things I don't have to orchestrate." She toasted with the goblet. "To happy accidents."

* * *

Xander popped a Jeep's side mirror out of place and handed it to Joyce, who was staring at the hospital. "Mrs. Summers?"

"Do you think she's all right in there?"

"I'm sure security took care of Faith. Buffy's probably on her way right..." Willow trailed off as she heard a strangely familiar tune coming from the center of the parking lot. "Is that...?"

"Okay, this Abba demon is really starting to ook me out."

"It must be Dr. Patel's phone," Joyce said, picking up the crushed device that bleated a warped midi rendition of 'Take A Chance on Me'. "Let's go."

* * *

The rungs were flying by too quickly. All she could hope for was that there was a foot of space between the roof of the elevator and the ceiling.

Buffy braced herself for impact, and then--

The elevator stopped. One floor from the top.

She heard a ding, followed by Faith swearing under her breath.

The nurse pushing a stretcher into the elevator didn't notice the deranged occupant until it aimed a gun at her and said, strings of greasy hair over her sunken eyes, "I'm not going down."

The nurse screamed and ran.

"Oh, that's real nice," Faith shouted. "Leave your dying patient behind!"

Buffy grabbed hold of the ladder and began the painful climb down, boot heels clacking on each rung.

"Don't think I can't hear you!" Quickly, Faith apologized to the poor bastard on the stretcher and hopped onto it to get through the chute. She ran across the top of the elevator car, jumped to the ladder and gave chase.

As Faith kicked at her head, Buffy punched at her white loafers. One came off and plummeted ten floors, the sound of impact demonstrating just how far they'd fall.

Flashing back to her pre-coma plunge, Faith swung out and slipped, sailing past Buffy, who shouted her name. She grabbed the first thing she could: an elevator cable.

After a moment, Buffy called out, "Faith? Are you..."

"Dead?" she shouted, hanging in the dark, not sure what to do next. "No such luck, B. More like the cat in that stupid poster."

"You're... covered in spaghetti?"

She rolled her eyes, and spoke slowly, "No, the other cat."

"Oh. Right."

The cable began to rise, signaling that the car was coming down.

Buffy watched her zoom past, legs dangling. Faith was about to get squished.

* * *

"Now that is a quandary," Lamashtu said. "I know what I would do. But would she do the same? Probably not."

"Who? What quandary? Tell me what's happening!"

"Relax," she patted his head and stood up, taking her dagger and goblet to the altar. "You'll see her eventually."

Spike scowled at her. "I'll see her in a few minutes, when she tears you limb from limb."

"She'd never kill a human."

"I think she'd make an exception for you."

"Still," she shrugged, tending to the baby. "It would be a feat of epic proportions."

"That body you're in is only flesh and bone."

"Not while I'm in it, darling. Why do you think I chose it?"

"Because she's the Chosen One's OB-GYN," he said matter-of-factly.

"This body and I go back a touch further than her career in medicine. Aeons further."

"Is that right?"

She held up a finger and cocked her head, as if listening to a transmission. "Exactly what I thought she'd do. Tsk, tsk, tsk... What a fool."

* * *

"You really wanna test the nine lives theory?" Buffy shouted, reaching into the elevator shaft toward Faith. "Take my hand, dammit!"

As the elevator loomed closer, their fingers twined, and Buffy used all of her strength to yank her over to the ladder. They leered at one another, and the elevator passed them, heading down.

And then, with a single unexpected jab, Faith pushed Buffy off the ladder.

Buffy fell backwards down the shaft, arms and legs akimbo, and crashed hard on the roof of the elevator car.

In seconds, Faith was on top of her, in her face. "Do you have any idea how much I hate you?"

Barely able to move, she spat, "Do you have any idea how much I don't care?"

"You'll care when I rip your guts out."

"With what? Your coma-breath?"

With a primal shout, Faith rose up, arms high and hands clasped, and came down with a two-fisted blow to the stomach.

Reflexively, Buffy crunched into fetal position and coughed up blood.

Faith sat back, curious. "You don't look so good, B."

Clutching her stomach, Buffy said through grit teeth, "I just had a baby."

Faith looked horrified. "How long was I asleep?"

Then she remembered pieces of a dream she'd had; the one that woke her up.

The elevator stopped, and heavy footsteps filled it. "You, up there! This is the police! Come down quietly or we'll start shooting!"

Begrudgingly, Faith outstretched a hand. Buffy peered at it, suspicious.

Faith sighed and said, "You want to save the kid or what?"

More to come...
Chapter #22 - Open Hearts

"Don't leave me hanging," Spike said, hoping to divert her attention as she neared the cradle. "What makes the good doctor so unique?"

"Little known fact," Lamashtu began as she dipped her fingertips into the goblet and drew a red X across her own chest. "Before the Slayers, there were the Three."

He watched her closely. "The Three."

"The insect; the beast; the blind maiden." As she spoke, she dabbed her face and shoulders with his blood. "All conjured out of parts of me by a clever little mystic, a founding father of the Watcher's Council."

"'Maiden with eyes of fire'," he recalled, and off her look of surprise, arched a provocative brow. "Seen it on an amulet."

"That amulet has no power over me!" She composed herself. "It is merely a ...commemoration of a historical event."

"They issue limited edition collector's plates as well? We'd make a killing on eBay." She reached down to dab the baby, and a tinge of desperation snuck into his tone. "Go on then. How did the three little pigs blow your house down?"

"The insect weakened me with its poison sting. The beast tore me to shreds. And the maiden obliterated my remains, so I would never again tread the earth in my own skin."

"Thorough. But I would have ended it at 'earth'."

"They underestimated me," she agreed, complacent, "and they paid the price."

"Never underestimate your enemy."

She returned his meaningful stare. "As I was vanquished, I cursed them all. The insect would suffer the pain of death with every sting. The beast would be hunted by the light of the waning moon. And the maiden would bear children that I would torment in dreams, forever."

All the yammering was finally starting to make sense. "Children."

"Yes. You're looking at the last in a very long line," she said, seductively running her hands down Sanvi's torso. "Not to mention the best. Magically and scientifically reinforced to survive any possible possession. The Council thought they could monitor me this way, but all they did in the end was provide me with a perfectly indestructible host."

* * *

"Exstinguere!" Willow commanded, but the fire that surrounded her girlfriend kept raging.

"Did you try displacing a waterfall?" Tara shouted.

"It doesn't work! Nothing is working!"

"Almost three fingers!" Giles gazed at the night sky. "Amplify your magick! Everyone join hands and concentrate!"

Xander, Anya and Joyce joined hands with Willow. After a few futile attempts, Joyce noticed an odd noise, and took the bleating cell phone out of her pocket.

The fire flickered.

She pointed the phone at the blaze, and Willow uttered the command again.

Giles coughed, waving away the smoke that the dead fire left behind. "Did you just rescue us with a disco tune?"

Joyce passed him the leaf of paper. "Songs in the key of Abba."

"I'll be damned. The song is the key to mitigating her power."

"We sing the song," Xander said, and turned the paper, "we flash a shiny mirror, she goes back to collecting dust in the history books and we celebrate over double-deal meals at the Doublemeat Palace."

"Do I..." Willow cleared her throat, "have to sing?"

Xander patted her on the back. "You can lipsynch."

"We haven't much time; we have to find the entrance to her lair--"

"AAAAAAAA!" The blood-curdling scream came from Anya, due to a plethora of demonic rabbits that filed out of a nearby boulder and nipped at her open-toed shoes.

"I'm thinkin' we found it," Willow noted.

"DO SOMETHING!" Anya shrieked, hopping from one foot to the other. "KILL THEM!"

Willow grasped Tara's hand and recited an incantation that morphed them all into docile pet store types.

After shooing them away, Willow apologized to Anya with a shrug. "I have a strict no-bunny-killing rule."

Xander comforted his girlfriend. "They're just hopping off to make sweet bunny love. Which, fingers crossed, won't result in more apocalypse babies."


"What was that?" Anya glued herself to Xander, who was equally terrified by the rumbling growl.

"Whatever it is, it sounds bigger than a bunny," Tara guessed.

She was right. "Are those..."

"Lions in the forest," Buffy said behind them.

"It's déjà vu all over again," the girl at her side said.

The Slayerettes were struck speechless at the sight of two slayers in matching battle stances.

"Think we can take 'em?"

"After taking each other on? Fuck yeah."

"Good point," Buffy agreed. "Wild animals from hell, piece a cake."

* * *

"Your Darkness," WinQuar said.

"I know," she said, breathing in, eyes closed. "I can feel it. It is time."

"No! No," Spike panicked. "Stop, wait! Tell me more about your amazing body! How do you keep it so firm and impenetrable and hey, you can cut yourself I see? How's that work?"

"Shut him up, will you?"

"I thought you'd never ask." WinQuar booted him in the face.

It felt like a two-ton barbell, but he didn't black out. Maybe luck was finally on his side.

Feigning unconsciousness, he silently begged the Powers that Be for another 'happy accident'.

* * *

"That's just freaky," Buffy said, when the cell phone opened the portal into the rock. "Albeit, convenient."

"Curiouser and curiouser..." Willow's voice echoed through the dark abyss.

Anya blinked. "We don't have to go down there, do we?"

"I do. But whoever wants to stay up here," Buffy squeezed her mother's shoulder, "I completely understand. In fact, I recommend it."

"I've already stepped through the looking glass, honey. Might as well see where it leads."

"I was afraid you'd say that."

"To Hell," Anya said nervously. "That's where it leads. Xander and I will stay here."

"Sorry An, but this is kind of what I do."

"I hate what you do. You don't get paid, and you constantly get hurt! Tell them to give you Spike's money."

"No one is getting anyone's money," Buffy said, venturing inside.

"Sure, you don't want it," Anya grumped. "But after he's dead and gone it will just fester in some bus station locker--"

"Anya!" Buffy snapped, then let it go. "Everyone who's coming, grab a weapon, fast."

Xander held open the duffel bag until Faith peered into it. "Should I be trusting you with implements of pain?"

"You want me to implement some pain right now?"

"Fair enough." He handed her the bag.

"Oh my god," Willow said, picking up an object on the ground. "This is Oz's lucky tuning fork. He wouldn't just leave it around unless he..."

"It's okay, Will. We're gonna save him too. It's a four-for-the-price of one saveathon. Who's with me?"

The only one without a weapon, Anya reluctantly selected a flail from the bag. "Me, I guess. Woohoo."

Everyone in the swinging flail's radius ducked.

"Good arm, An. Might wanna save it for the gods."

"Right." Anya tried to muster some Scooby-like enthusiasm. "Well, what are we waiting for? Let's go kick some legendary behind!"

* * *

The droning Winiqua chant reached a fever pitch, and he opened an eye to see Lamashtu lifting the baby out of the cradle.

When she went for the knife, Spike broke a chain.

Suddenly, a lion-shaped corpse sailed through the air and hit the wall beside her.

"You might wanna look into better security," Buffy said.

Spike almost sobbed in relief. My hero.

Lamashtu flinched subtly at the sight of Giles. "Kill them all."

Buffy beheaded the first Winiqua to cross her path. "Ooh, was he essential to the chantalong? My bad."

"None of them are essential. I can do this alone."

"Then I guess I'll just have to kill you."

"You're welcome to try."

With the help of her friends and a really sharp axe, Buffy fought her way to the middle of the room.

"Love, watch out!" She came into view, a Winiqua's arm caging her throat. "She's invincible!"

Spike. Buffy turned toward his voice, and for a moment, the world dimmed around them: Spike was okay. "Did you see her?"

Eyes sparkling, heart expanding, he said, "She's mine."

"All the way, baby." She hit her captor with the butt of her axe and rushed toward Spike, intending to hack at his chains. "You look diff--"

"Oi, behind you!"

She turned to defend herself, and Spike admiringly watched her do what she did best. Or, second best, anyway. He wondered, how many hours after giving birth could a slayer have sex?

Still fighting Winiquas at the foot of the altar, she produced a broken cell phone from her back pocket and pressed a button. A warped version of 'Take A Chance on Me' started to bleep, then died out completely.

Lamashtu frowned in confusion. So did Spike.

"Question." Buffy dropped the phone and the axe, and held a mirror to Lamashtu's face. Everyone else who was able followed suit. "Who's the fairest?"

At that moment, Venus aligned with the new moon, and the air in the cave was suddenly charged with electric energy.

All the mirrors in the room shattered at once and a centrifugal force pushed everyone who wasn't tethered to something into the walls. Everyone except Lamashtu and WinQuar, who were somehow impervious, and Buffy, who had managed to grab onto the altar.

"An interesting attempt, Slayer," Lamashtu said. "But you're too late."

"She's still breathing," Buffy countered. "That means I'm right on time."

"Yes. To see her die." She crashed a fist on the altar and sent Buffy flying.

The Slayer helplessly somersaulted through the air and body-slammed into Angel, who was slowly coming awake. "...Buffy?"

"And if you're just joining us," she filled him in in an announcer's upbeat clip, "we're screwed."

With a glance toward the altar, she shouted, "Giles! Plan B!"

Giles struggled against gravity to get the amulet out of his pocket, only to see it shoot out of his hand... toward WinQuar. "Oh, dear."

"Buffy, do something!" Watching his daughter cry as Lamashtu lowered the dagger, Spike thrashed and popped another chain link. "Help her!"

"Trying!" A stray chain from Spike's pillar smacked her on the head. Thinking fast, she grabbed it, coiled it around one wrist and let go of Angel to ride the current toward the amulet.

"Don't just stand there," Lamashtu ordered her lackey, motionless in the entryway. "Destroy it!"

With a sly grin, WinQuar made no move to stop Buffy. "Why would I do that?"

Lamashtu narrowed her eyes. "So it is written. So it is set in--"

"I know what the tablet says," WinQuar said. "After all, I'm the one who wrote it."

Buffy crawled across the floor, amulet in her mouth.

"WinQuar--?" Lamashtu stared at him as if for the first time. "You betrayed me."

"And how."

"Don't you love me? Don't you want the Great Change?"

"The Great Change is coming, my love, only not at all the way you expected."

"Starting..." Looping Spike's chain around a spoke on the altar, Buffy slowly rose up, amulet pointed at Lamashtu. "...Now."

Nothing happened.

Buffy shook the amulet.

"I will not allow this!" Baby wailing in her arms, Lamashtu kicked Buffy in the face and the amulet skidded across the floor. "You ignorant child, you aren't worthy of defeating me! Purity is not a state of mind."

If Buffy wasn't worthy, who the bloody hell was?

Not a state of mind.

She'd called it a cleansing... but then again, as Lamashtu's own personal emo love monster, maybe he'd always had the heart for this job.

Heart-shaped amulet. Realization hit Spike like a stream of sunlight on his old skin. Answer is within. "Buffy!"

When she turned to face him, he gestured at the amulet. "Let's get this done."

"What? No!"

He took a few measured breaths, looked her in the eye and said, "Trust me."

In a soft, melodious soprano, her mother began to sing:

"If you change your mind
I'm the first in line..."

Lamashtu cried, "That song is meaningless!"

"Honey I'm still free
Take a chance on me..."

Pushing aside her fear, her logic, and everything else that made sense, Buffy took a chance.

The amulet skidded his way.

"Gonna do my very best
and it ain't no lie,"

Giles chimed in, reaching out for Joyce's hand,

"If you put me to the test,
if you let me try."

The rest of the gang, even Willow, joined the sing-along -- with the exception of Faith, who assumed they'd all been possessed by The Brady Bunch.

"Ba-ba ba ba ba..."

As Lamashtu shook off something that looked like momentary confusion, Spike broke through the last chain that immobilized his right arm. His fingertips grazed the amulet, and he tucked it securely into his fist.

Looking up to meet Buffy's shocked expression, he gave her a wink, and held the amulet high. "Oi, Doctor! Mental patient you need to see!"

In his hand, the amulet glowed orange and popped open like a locket. Inside the locket was a black mirror.

Lamashtu was instantly mesmerized.

The glow beamed toward Sanvi's eyes, then into and through Angel and Oz. The trio formed a bright triangle of light, with Spike's position in the center bending it into a crude heart shape.

Buffy stared, astounded. The three warriors and the pure-hearted amulet wielder. Spike.

That's my guy, she thought with a rush of pride. Hot, brave, and totally worthy.

A swirling, screaming miasma left Sanvi's rigid body, but the fight wasn't quite over, considering it flew across the cave and into WinQuar's mouth.

Imbued with his master's power at last, the demigod roared. "Imbeciles, every one of you! You've all been willing pawns in my elaborate scheme aeons in the making! Bow down to me, for I have defeated the great Lamashtu! Nevermore will I be stepped on, underestimated, overlooked! Be witness to the dawn of a new era, where I shall reign su--"

A grenade landed at his feet, and he looked down at it, perplexed. "This isn't how it goes."

"Take cover!" Faith shouted, and the entryway exploded, WinQuar burst into a thousand gloppy pieces, and Lamashtu's essence swirled to the center of the domed ceiling.

"Who gave her the grenade?" Buffy said, and Xander shrugged guiltily.

Faith didn't see the problem. "What? We got the bad guy."

"Wrong," Lamashtu's essence hissed. "I can become any one of you and rip you to shreds!"

Buffy waved her hand at that statement in response.

"Oh. That sucks."

"Eenie... meenie..." the essence taunted.

Everything Giles had forgotten was slowly coming back. "She can only possess females! And... large, overconfident demigods, evidently. Keep your mouths shut tight!"

"Okay, except, nausea kicking in," Willow warned, pinned against the wall. "Probably gonna barf."

"Ah, memories." Xander yelled, "Any chance we can let her off the magic Gravitron before the floor drops?"

Unable to move against the quickening current, Buffy looked to her baby, mercifully content for the time being in Sanvi's arms. Sanvi, Spike, Oz and Angel were still frozen in place, beams of light filtering through their bodies. Why hadn't the laser show stopped?

"Sanvi!" The last puzzle piece in Giles' mind clicked into place. "Look up! You must look up!"

She craned her neck, and the light shot from her eyes into the disembodied entity.

As Lamashtu screamed, as her soul met its ultimate revenge, Sanvi, Angel and Oz spoke in unison:

"We are the Three. On this night Lamashtu you meet your eternal end. This world and its parallels are purged of your legacy, your curse, your dark children. This is the Great Change."

At once, the legend burned to nothing, the amulet hinged shut, the centrifugal force stopped abruptly, and the Three collapsed.

Spike ripped through the chains and dove for his falling baby, destroying his pillar in the process, but it wasn't necessary -- Buffy intercepted to catch her just in time.

The baby greeted Buffy with a, "Ga-a!"

Buffy hugged her close, kissed her head.

It was over. They had won.


As the gang assessed the damage and helped the fallen to their feet, Buffy and Spike stayed contentedly put; lost in their own world again. Only now it was a world with a population of three.

She regarded his dangling chains and the broken pillar. "You know, if you coulda done that all along..."

"Yeah." He looked back, flexed his arm, his hand. "I didn't think I could." He reached out to touch the baby's face, then stopped, unsure.

With a smile, she gently placed their daughter into his arms. "You earned it, Pureheart."

The baby cooed at him, and he burst into sobs. "God, she's so beautiful."

She wiped away her own welling tears. "Narcissistic much?"

"Yeah?" At her nod, he justified, "Haven't seen myself in decades."

She pushed an errant lock of hair behind his ear. "She's all you."

"Oh, come on. She has your... toes." He held up the baby's foot. "See?" Then he said in awe, "Look at them. All tiny and perfectly round, like berries."

At that, they both looked at one another.

Fingers still poised at his ear, Buffy said, "Déjà vu."

He glanced at the dead lion-thing on the floor. "Lions in the..."

"Is that sweat?" She touched his forehead. "Do you have a fever or something? You're..." it took her a moment to place the subtle difference, "warm."

"Oh. Yeah. Funny thing..."

She touched his chest and gasped, hand flying to her mouth. A tear slid down her cheek. "Spike?"

He gave her a sheepish shrug. "Still want me?"

"Are you kidding me?" She pressed her ear against his chest, then grabbed the amulet and opened it, turning the mirror on him. "Oh my god, Spike! You're human! You are so marrying me right away."

He tore his eyes away from his fascinating reflection. "W--"

"Sorry, but you have no choice. It's a done deal."

He shut the amulet, head shaking in disdain. "Way to bring the romance, pe--"

Before he could hit the 't' she clasped her mouth over his and they kissed, baby cradled between them, until suddenly Buffy pulled back. "Wait a second. If you're human, how did you break that pillar?"

"I... have no idea."

Giles, who was helping Sanvi nearby, perked up.

Buffy's eyes grew wide. "Silly rabbit. Slayer dreams are for..."

"...Slayers," Spike finished the line from their shared dream. Then he shook it off with a laugh. "That's ridiculous, you know I'm not a slayer. I can't be. I'm a--"

"Heads up," Giles said.

Without looking, Spike caught the dagger an inch from his face, a beat before Buffy had the chance. "Oi, watch where you're tossing that thing you wanker, there's a baby here!" Everyone was staring at him. "What?!"

Buffy took the dagger and cut a shallow line down his bicep. Before he could even finish complaining, it had begun to heal.

"Okay, you're not a slayer, you're a superslayer. What the hell did she do to you?" She frowned. "You're not a god, are you?"

"Not quite," Sanvi said, seated on the altar. Wearily, she explained, "Now that she's gone, I can remember everything she did... in my body." She hazarded a shy sidelong glance at Giles, and cleared her throat. "Her intent was to make him a pure-blooded vampire, as pure as her first creation. Winquar stopped the process, and now, he's a human infused directly with her essence. Much like the very first Slayer."

"She claimed that no mortal man could survive the potency of her spirit," Giles said.

"Yes, but he sparked the Great Change," Sanvi argued. "He's the catalyst, the funnel."

Angel added with a touch of bitterness, "The exception to the rule."

Spike glanced at his former rival, who suddenly looked a whole lot shorter.

"Boy slayer," Faith sized him up. "Wicked hot."

"Down, girl." Eyes on her man, Buffy pointed a finger behind her. "Off."

"I got it. He's all yours, big sis." Arms up in surrender, Faith turned her attention to Angel. He looked like he needed some comforting about now... "The ex is fair game, though, right?"

"No," Buffy said, and explained, "Hello? The curse?"

"A soul death with every 'sting'," Sanvi recalled. "That was her doing. With her legacy purged, that aspect of Angel's curse should no longer pose a problem."

"Huh," Angel said, while Faith said, "Bonus," and Buffy said, "Oh."

"Buffy," Spike turned her chin back his way and murmured, "I told you, we don't do that anymore."

She cocked a brow. "Anymore?"

"Um, ever. We have never, ever, and come to think of it this really isn't the sort of talk a child should--"

Buffy hushed him with a soft kiss. "I only want you, Spike. For the rest of our lives."

He grinned at her for a moment, then tickled the baby's chin. "Hear that, Bitty? Odds were against us, they were, but we won the pot, my lovely little chance in hell."

"Chance," Buffy said, head on a tilt. "I like it."

He shrugged. "Better than Akbar."

Suddenly, a distant explosion rocked the cave, and they frowned at one another.

The sounds of flares and heavy footsteps grew closer and closer until... "Shh, stay back."

Buffy squinted. "Who is that?"

"FREEZE!" Riley charged out of the dark hallway with an enormous torpedo gun. Seeing a room full of perplexed civilians and exploded demon parts, he slowly lowered his weapon. "Guess we're a little late."

"Um... kinda," Buffy said. "But hey, very imposing entrance."

"Thanks." Riley waved at Spike. "Glad you're okay."

"You are?"

Riley's men came out of the shadows, and one said, "Must've been some party."

"Definitely ground zero," another confirmed, holding up a beeping sensor.

"Ground zero?" Buffy asked. "Is everything okay out there?"

"Yes and no," Riley said. "While we were trying to blow a hole into that boulder, I got a call from headquarters. All the hostiles in captivity just... disintegrated all of a sudden."

"All of them? I don't understand."

"Her dark children," Giles realized. "The vampires and demon species she created..." his eyes met Buffy's, "have all been expunged from the earth."

"Whoa," said Oz.

"No way," said Faith. "Just like that?"

"Bloody hell," said Spike.

"But if all the vampires are gone, then how come Angel is--?"

Buffy spoke loudly over Xander, "--going back to L.A.? Because it's his home now, Xander."

"Rrright. Gotcha."

"Perhaps the Three protected all who took part in the ritual," Sanvi said.

"Exception to the rule," Spike said to Angel.

Another rumble prompted Riley to warn, "This cave is unstable. We need to move out, pronto."

"Wow. No more vampires or demons." The idea sunk in for Willow as they followed the commandos out. "What are we all gonna do now?"

"I don't know. Maybe," Xander gasped, "Have a life?"

"A life," Willow sounded out. "A life."

"Ready to have a life with me?" Buffy stood up, offering Spike a hand.

"I can't bloody wait." He didn't mean for it to come out as lustily as it did. But then again, he couldn't think of anything he wanted to do more.

"Mom, can you hold her for a quick second?"

"Of course. But hurry up."

"Uh-huh." They pressed into one another, hips and mouths fusing. Exploring his newly warm, incredibly arousing super-boy-slayer body, she paused at his upper thigh. "Why are your pants slashed?"

"Uh..." Voice raspy, he cleared his throat. "What?"

She pulled back. "Did that succu-bitch do something to you?"

"What? No! I mean... not in the... I didn't like it! And it's not what you're thinking! It was hardly anything at all!" He looked to Sanvi for support. "Oi, back me up, Doc."

"Er... It's all getting a bit hazy now." Blushing, Sanvi made a quick exit.

Spike didn't bother to deflect the inevitable smack upside his head. "Great. Thanks."

Joyce called out behind her, "Remember our talk, Buffy."

"Right." She looked at Spike, took in a deep breath and said the words as if they were foreign to her, "I trust you, Spike."

He blinked, taking that in. "So the smack was just...?"

Her lips curled up at one corner. "Foreplay."

"Oh," he said, and leaned in. "Then you're forgiven and I approve."

As they left the cave, Joyce patted her on the back and said, "Good start."

The room began to rumble, and behind them, the cave ceiling collapsed.

"Run!" Riley shouted.

Joyce tripped on her way up the steps, twisting her ankle. "I'll be okay, just take her and run ahead."

"I'm not leaving you." Buffy made a decision. "Spike? You can probably outrun me now." She kissed Chance and handed her over. "Get her safe. I'll take care of Mom."

"You sure? I can carry your mum instead--"

As the floor quaked, she looked him in the eye. "I'm not losing either of you again."

He nodded. "You'll be right behind me?"

"Count on it."

He grabbed the nape of her neck, gave her a kiss and bounded ahead with the baby.

Trying to ignore her still-aching bonesaw injury, Buffy crutched her mother up the winding staircase.

"Buffy...?" Joyce said, and she followed her mother's frightened gaze: the floor was collapsing behind them, falling away into pitch-black oblivion.

Hoisting her mother onto her back, Buffy said with determination, "This is not how it's gonna end."

* * *

As Spike made it out into the open, the foundation of the portal began to crumble.

"Buffy?" Stunned, he watched the ground cave in. "Buffy!"

"Don't worry, we'll get her." Riley yanked a retractable thermoset cord out of his utility belt and quickly grounded it to a tree, then jumped into the abyss.

He yelled out to her, but all they heard in response were his echoes.

Ten seconds. Twenty. Thirty. Nothing but eerie silence.

"That's it, I'm going in. This isn't how it bloody ends." Spike stopped pacing and handed the baby to Xander. "Drop her and you lose an eye." He walked to the edge and pointed at Forrest. "Give me your belt."

Just then, Forrest felt a double tug. "Pull!"

"You heard him, people! Pull!" Spike yanked at the cord along with Angel, Faith, and Riley's men.

Finally, out of the dust emerged Riley, with Joyce affixed to his harness and Buffy on his back.

When they got to solid ground, Spike and Buffy met in a fervid embrace.

"Are you all right, Ma'am?" Riley asked Joyce. "Do you need an escort to the hospital?"

"God, no," Joyce said. "I'm fine, thanks to you. And my incredibly brave daughter."

Buffy smiled at her. "Runs in the family."

"So," Xander said, docile baby in his arms. "Doublemeat?"

"Home," Buffy, Spike and Joyce said at once.

"Probably for the best," Xander said, handing the baby to Buffy. "Someone's due for the Great Diaper Change." Everybody groaned. "What? Too soon?"

"Ooh. Diapers." Buffy passed the buck. "That's Spike's job."

"Me? I don't know how to--"

"'It's not a burden, it's a gift!'" she quoted him perkily.

"Right." With a smirk, he said to Chance, "Let's go unwrap your gift then."

Joyce turned to the bereft gang of directionless misfits in their wake. "Why don't you all come over? We can order pizza. My treat."

"Ooh," said Giles, hand raised. "Pepperoni?"

"Anything you want."

A cacophony of deceptively casual "great, sure, okay, why not"s followed, and they all walked with new purpose toward the parking lot.

Behind them, all that remained of Lamashtu's lair was a huge, ragged but distinctly heart-shaped hole in the forest floor.

Spike took Buffy's hand, their shoulders touched, and they exchanged radiant smiles. History had been made, a new era had begun, their lives had been drastically altered... and all they could think about was sexing each other's brains out.

Their new nemesis, more formidable than any before her, screamed and successfully diverted their attention.

"Hey cutie, what's the matter, love?"

"Are you hungry, sweetie? Do you think she's hungry?"

Chance calmed, her mission accomplished...

For now.

A/N: Get it? Because babies don't let you have sex, ever again. Poor sexless Spuffy. Cue lunky demon chorus line singing Abba song, and we're out...

Just kidding, I wouldn't leave it there. Still more to come...
Chapter #23 - Light of Day

Spike was awakened by a strange sensation: bright, intense heat on his face.

With a frantic gasp, he sat up, only to be soothed and gently eased back into the window-shaped patch of morning light by a gorgeous, naked woman who had once been his archenemy.

Tenderly, gratefully, Buffy caressed his cheek and peppered kisses on his sunbathed skin.

One hand weaving into her tousled hair, the other sliding down her silky back, he remembered the baby. "Where's--"

She covered his mouth and turned her head toward the makeshift bassinet beside the bed. "Sleeping."

Of everything that had occurred in the last twenty-four hours, that was possibly the greatest miracle of all. Apparently accustomed to all the noise and attention, Chance wound up just as the post-apocalypse pizza party wound down. Subsequently, she spent half the night cradled between her parents and the other half wondering why she couldn't stay there.

Which left Buffy and Spike with a running total of three uncompleted shags and the fastest blow job in history. She'd literally just tongued the tip, and it was over.

But now... Could they actually take their time?

She brushed her lips against his while straddling his lap. "You look beautiful in this light."

His cock stirred at her touch. "Think that's my line."

"Shhh." She bit softly at his ear, "It's my turn to tell you what I love about you."

Well. In that case...

"I love," she spoke in a heady whisper and slid her wet center over the length of his hardening cock, "every inch of you."


"I love your eyes, when you look at me. When you want me."

Eyes flashing with desire, he grasped her hips as she slowly took him in. "Always want you."

"Your voice," she inhaled sharply, lashes fluttering. "Your accent. This scar..." She traced the angles of his face. "Your tongue, when it curls up like that..."

He grabbed her and sucked in a nipple.

"Mmmn!" She began to move her hips to and fro. "When it does that... too..."

"Go on." He pulled her close to speak into her ear. "I'm listening."

She giggled. "I love..." Faster, a little faster... "Your attitude... Your wit. Your bravery." She placed her palm on his solar plexus. "Your heart, that's always been pure..."

Touched, he covered her hand with his.

"Your passion..." She rode him firmly, making the bed shake. "Unh, your--"

Chance let out a squeal.

"Baby?" he concluded.

As Chance worked up a fuss, Buffy dropped her head on his chest. "I give up. She wins."

"This round, love." Exhaling his pent up tension, he rubbed her ass and gave it a brisk pat. "Not the war."

She sighed, "I'll start the coffee."

"I'll change her nappies."

Together, the new parents got out of bed.

* * *

"Buffy, come look."

Coffee mug in hand, she stepped out onto the sundrenched back porch to see him standing in his pajama bottoms, squinting at the clear blue sky, a happy little Chance in his grasp.

"What's up?"

He wrapped an arm around her and pulled her close. "It's a beautiful day."


"This isn't the end of evil, you know."

That's what Angel told her on the front porch the night before, after she'd asked him what his immediate plans were.

She had to admire his consistency -- the man liked his brooding.

"Of course not," she replied thinly, "I mean, three slayers, nothing to slay... not seeing the hilarity in that cosmic joke."

"Hey," he said with a shrug, "if you get bored, you can always come for me."

Their eyes met and quickly diverted. She knew he didn't mean it the way it landed, but there it was. "Angel, I'm sorry--"

"Don't be." He moved his hand closer to hers, stopped just shy of contact. "I'm... happy for you."

"Once more, with feeling?"

"I mean it. You deserve what you want in life. Even if it is ...you know." He was still having a hard time with the concept. "Spike."

"You deserve happiness too." She quickly added, "But could you not find it with Faith, at least not tonight? I mean, she just came out of a coma for god's sake, not to mention the whole almost poisoning you to death; granted I don't have a leg to stand on with Spike, but--"

"Buffy," he interjected. "I'm not interested in her."

"Oh. Then. Nevermind." She chuckled, embarrassed. "I saw you talking earlier, I guess I just assumed--"

"She asked if she could come with us."


"Oz offered to drive me down to L.A. Wasn't looking forward to walking it."

"The car. Right. Spike will make that up to you, I promise."

From inside the house came a baby's shrill cry followed by a collective Ewwww. "The diaper-changing is a start."

Riley opened the front door and asked, "Have either of you seen Forrest?"

Suddenly, a siren blared and three police cars screeched to a halt on the street.

"Crap. The hospital." As the cops closed in with pointed guns, Buffy raised her hands. "If I told you I was saving the world, would you believe me?"

"Faith Lehane?"

"No." Lowering her hands, Buffy noticed one of the cops shining his flashlight into a jeep in her driveway. "What are you--"

"In here, detective. Just like her picture, only naked."

He opened the door, and the people on the porch stared, dumbstruck, as Faith and Forrest gracelessly tumbled out of the car, struggling to get their clothes on.

Buffy stated the obvious. "There's Forrest."

"Faith Lehane, you're under arrest for the murder of Deputy Mayor Allan Finch--"

"It was an accident," she protested as he latched the cuffs.

"--and in connection to the discovery of three corpses found in the general hospital--"

"Hey, that wasn't me, all right?" She turned to her fellow slayer. "Chime in any time now, B."

"Oh. Yeah. She's telling the truth, I was with her the whole time. She didn't kill anyone."

"And you didn't assault a hospital employee?" the detective said, silencing her. "I could take you in too."

Angel stepped in front of her. "She just had a baby."

"I know. That's why I'm not arresting her yet."

Faith said, "What, no break for the girl who just came out of a coma?"

"Pet," came Spike's cautious voice from the doorway, "what do the nice policemen want?"

"Oh, you know, what they always want." She looked back to see him and the rest of the gang gathered behind him. "Truth, justice... a little jedi magic..."

"They're not gonna get it," Riley announced after speaking into his radio. "I'm sorry, detective, but this is a military matter."

"You've got to be kidding me," he sighed, eying the soldier's credentials.

"We'll take it from here."

Buffy smiled at her new friend. Evil wasn't over, but good seemed to be winning out more and more.


"It really is." Buffy touched her daughter's head and nuzzled against her boyfriend's naked chest, then whispered in his ear, "Want to spend the rest of it in a dark hotel room?"

"I'll pack a bag."

* * *

"Thanks, Mom. Love you!" Buffy hung up the phone just as Spike entered the room.

He latched the door behind him. "She okay?"

"Gram's got it covered, said to stop calling already." She sat up in the disheveled bed, reached for the aluminum pitcher he held. Took a long gulp, then gasped for air. "What took so long?"

"You wanted ice." He took an ice cube out and touched it to her nipple, then rolled it down to her taut stomach, liking the way she squealed and her skin quivered in response. He ran it over her slick, swollen labia, then popped it in his mouth, crunching as he said, "Only working ice machine's in the bloody lobby."

Failing to undress him with her left hand while chugging the water with her right, she snapped her fingers at his zipper.

"Clerk told me if I want service," he dropped his jeans and crawled over her, wiggled his brow, "I should take you to a 'nice hotel'."

She fished out an ice cube and touched it to his neck, then slid it down his bare torso, making him shudder before it melted away on his thickening shaft. "Did you tell him you broke the nice hotel?"

He looked up, breathed in. "I told him you like to live dangerously."

She tightened her thigh muscles against his hips. "Uh-huh."

"And that you're a screamer." He tipped the pitcher, aiming down her cleavage.

She shrieked as ice cold liquid coasted down her front and puddled between her legs. "You fuck!"

"And that you have a filthy little mouth." He kissed and bit her lips.

She commandeered the pitcher and poured it on his crotch.

After a shout, he rubbed his chilled tip into her crevice. "What's wrong, love? Miss the feeling?"

Her eyes rolled up. "Mmnh..."

He grabbed an ice cube and nudged it into her pussy with his cock, watching her ecstatic reaction. "You like it cold, Slayer?"

"I like it any way you give it," she said, "Slayer."

"Good answer," he praised in arousal, and stuck an ice cube into her ass.


"You did say 'any way'."

"I did, didn't I?"

Taking her coquettish smile as a yes, he motioned at her to stay and hastily rifled through their overnight bag. There it was, hiding beneath a box of condoms: a bottle of Wet. "Oh, look what I brought. Fancy that."

* * *

"Harder." Ankles clasped around his neck, hands on his ass, she pushed him in, as far as he could go.

"Fuck," he said, reeling at the heat of her tightest hole on his newly sensitive skin. "Fuck..."

"I said, harder."

Drops of his sweat fell onto her chest. "You sure?"

"Don't hold back," she said. "I can take it."

She could, but the thin motel walls could not: at the force of his next thrust, the bed careened into the neighboring suite.

It was unoccupied. And they weren't close to done...

So, when the dust settled, she dug her nails into his skin and said, "Harder."

He gave her a lusty grin. "That's my girl."

* * *

"Look, it's got a bed and a loo," Spike said wearily, ripping down the sign that said TRESPASSERS BEWARE to get to the padlock. "That's all we need, yeah?"

"You're so romantic sometimes."

He yanked it off, opened the creaky gate for her. "Chivalrous, too."

Buffy took a tentative step in to the overgrown garden.

"And now," he put his arm around her, said low in her ear, "I am going to do unspeakable things to you in Angel's bed."

"I had a hunch you didn't bring me here just 'cause it was close."

"Well, it's also pretty," he pointed out as they walked through the courtyard. "Note the rich foliage, the polished marble, the..."

They halted together at the entry, shocked by the gruesome sight before them.

"...People in chains."

Three of them, tethered to the wall, pale, lifeless, pocked with bite marks and mired in their own filth.

One looked up and whispered, "Help."

"Bugger," said Spike.

* * *

"And all of a sudden, they just... combusted," a gaunt young woman recounted in a shaky voice, gesturing at the dusty outlines on the floor. "I thought for sure we'd die here, just staring at what was left of them."

An ambulance siren sounded outside.

Spike touched her on the shoulder and said, "You're safe now."

"Thank you." Without warning, she hugged him fiercely. "Thank you so much!"

Unsure how to handle this outpouring of gratitude, he froze for a moment, blinked at Buffy, and finally returned the hug.

"You saved my life," she said, sobbing. "I'll never forget it."

As the girl cried on his shoulder, Spike felt something odd. Compassion? Whatever it was, it was weird. And he wasn't about to show it. Patting her on the back, he tried a neutral, "There there."

Handing the girl over to the paramedics, he cleared his throat and wiped an escaped tear on his sleeve.

With a smile, Buffy thought, So this is what redemption looks like.

He caught her expression. "Don't look at me like that."

"You're very manly."

"Damn right." As he watched them load the sick onto gurneys, he sighed. "This isn't the only nip-and-sip in town, I'd wager."

Accepting the unsexy task ahead, she nodded. "It's clean-up time."

* * *

"Nobody here but us rats," Buffy said as one scurried out from under the four-poster bed just as she took a seat. Vermin be damned, she was plum exhausted.

In six hours, they'd hit every abandoned building and underground lair in Sunnydale and freed close to twenty victims. Wary of alerting the authorities, she'd enlisted Riley, who organized rescue troops and gave her a radio to stay in contact as they scouted ahead.

The old factory was their last stop. Probably because it brought up uncomfortable memories for both of them.

"Nobody." He paused at one corner of the bed, a broken doll head catching his eye. He picked it up, turned it in his hand. Rats and remnants.

Buffy covered his hand with hers. "Hey."

Not surprisingly, she knew exactly what was on his mind. "Ancient history."

She stopped him from casting the object aside. "You loved her."

He looked away, stroked the doll's hair with his thumb. "She was insane."

"And you loved her. For a hundred years." She pulled him down to sit beside her, forced him to meet her gaze as she said firmly, "I am sorry for your loss."

Brow furrowed, he looked down. He didn't want to feel for his ex. Shouldn't feel for her. That life was long over, and he couldn't be more satisfied with the way things turned out.

But Buffy was wise beyond her years, wasn't she? Wise beyond his sometimes. Staring at the doll head until it blurred, he stopped fighting and gave in to his grief.

Tenderly, she brought him close to sob against her chest. To let out whatever was left.

When they woke up a few hours later, he put Drusilla to rest by ravishing Buffy in their old bed.

More to come...
Chapter #24 - Harts Content

"Real estate," Spike declared, chewing on a stick of mint. "Buy the old vamp lairs, spruce 'em up, flip 'em out. Five years time, this berg's gonna be -- Hey," he snapped his fingers, "eyes over here."

"Pay attention to Spike," Anya said purposefully. "He's talking about money."

Tearing his gaze from the vicinity of Buffy, Xander said, "And if I had more than six dollars and thirty-nine cents in my bank account, I'd be all ears."

"But you can fix things," Anya realized with a gasp. "You should work for Spike!"

"Okay, that's never gonna happen," Xander made absolutely clear.

"He's all talk anyway," Buffy said. "We have enough for that condemned beach house, that's it."

"Not if we do it right, pet."

With a snort, she said, "Two episodes of On The Market and you're a mogul."

"You'll thank me when you're filthy rich," he threw over his shoulder as he went to answer the door. It was Rupert. "Give us a hug, Dad."

"That's 'Mister President' to you." Ignoring Spike's outspread arms, Giles thwacked him with a manila envelope. "Congratulations, you're a real boy."

"That quick? You do have clout." He waved the envelope at Buffy. "Good news, love. You'll be an honest woman soon."

"Ooh. What's your new name?"

"Let's see. The official appellation is..." He ripped it open. "William Thurston Hart. They couldn't have used a better picture? I look like death."

Xander peered over his shoulder and patted him on the back. "You can make a leopard human, but you can't change his ghoulish, pasty stripes."

"Spots," Giles corrected, hanging his own coat. Couldn't change the leopard's hosting etiquette either, apparently. "I did ask you for a photo. Without one, they had to improvise."

"Right. That Polaroid session didn't quite go as planned." He winked suggestively as he handed the passport over to his own personal Playmate. "Did it, Miss November?"

She snatched it out of his hands. "Never speak in public."

"Rupert!" Joyce greeted him. "I hear congratulations are in order."

"Chance Summers-Hart," Buffy tried out.

"Hart-Summers, you mean."

She scoffed. "It's not even your real name, what do you care?"

"What is your real name?" Xander asked.

"None of your bleeding business." He pointed at Buffy. "And don't you even think of telling him."

"It's that embarrassing?" He put his hands together in prayer. "Please tell me it's 'Honeypiffle' or 'Featherbush'."

"It's worse," Buffy said.


"Oi!" He snapped his fingers at Xander again. "Eyes!"

"I didn't mean to-- I thought she was done!"

"All eyes free to roam," Buffy said, buttoning her blouse. "Mama's milk shop is shuttin' down."

"About time," Anya huffed.

"No kidding," Joyce was saying to Giles. "Did you hear that, Buffy? 'Take A Chance on Me' is the Song of the Lilin backwards."

"Its mirror image," Giles elaborated. "The exact reverse of Lamashtu's power chant."

Xander shook his head. "Someone oughta tell Tipper Gore she's been bleeping up the wrong tree."

"Let's not talk Lamashtu anymore," Buffy said, lips in a pout as she nuzzled with Chance. "Let's talk Lamasht'potatoes."

"Ah yes!" Giles held up a bag of potatoes for Joyce. "I'd almost forgotten."

"Oh! You're my hero," said Joyce. "Is Dr. Patel on her way?"

"She, uh, won't be joining us tonight." He glanced at Buffy. "She decided to stay in England for a while. It's a lot to take in."

"Poor sod. Can't even convince the slutty ones to stick around."

"Spike? What did I just say about talking out loud?"

"Can't remember, you were half naked." He tipped a bottle of Glenfiddich in Giles' direction. "Drown your sorrows?"

"Homemade pumpkin pie comin' through," Willow announced cheerfully, Tara in tow. "Just like the pilgrims ate before committing mass genocide!"

"How apropos," Giles noted.

Spike peeked into Willow's bag. "Has it got marshmallows?"

* * *

"Her hand is a net, her embrace is death," he said in soft, soothing tones. "She is cruel, raging, angry, predatory. A runner, a thief is the daughter of Heaven. She touches the bellies of women in labor--"

"When I asked you to read something to the baby," Buffy took the binder out of Giles' hands and replaced it with The Bunny Book, "I meant something not terrifying?"

"Ha!" Anya said after casting a glance at the replacement book and sitting down to channel surf. "Speak for yourself."

"Sorry," Giles said to Buffy. "Joyce wanted to hear it."

"That was an ancient incantation against Lamashtu," Joyce informed her, seated on the arm of the chair beside Giles. "Can you believe how much intel the Council had on her? This file could have saved us a lot of trouble. I mean, those people died protecting this information, and for what?"

"Well, the Council has always-- Did you just say 'intel'?"

"What was I thinking?" Joyce said, slapping herself on the forehead as she stood up. "I'll be in the kitchen, churning my own butter like a slayer's mother should."

"All I'm sayin'," breezed Buffy, flipping through the report.

"Now, then: The Bunny Book," Giles said, and opened the picture book to read it aloud to Chance. "The daddy bunny tossed his baby in the air. 'What will our baby be when he grows up?' asked -- oof!"

"She," said Spike, picking up his tiny kicker, "will be first striker for Manchester United." He kissed her cheek. "Won't you, Bitesize?"

Giles chuckled as he nursed his aching jaw. "Those little legs do pack quite a wallop, don't they?"

"Runs in the family," Buffy said with a shrug. "Or, you know. Rabbit trait."

"Speaking of..." Giles removed his glasses to buff them clean. "Are you two planning to tell her about her, uh, unique history?"

"I don't know." Buffy sat down on the couch. "I mean, how exactly do we break it to her? 'Guess what, honey, you shouldn't exist! Dad was a vampire, Mom was a vampire slayer, and oh, did I mention?" She turned a page on the subject of her rabbit conception toward Giles. "She was also the 'Mary Toft of her time'.'"

"God, will I ever hear the end of that?" Anya threw her hands up. "It was an accident!"

Giles squinted at the former demon. "What?"

"Mary Toft," she explained, muting the television. "Sweet girl. All she wants is her bastard father to leave her alone. I suggest evisceration or a good old-fashioned quartering, but no, 'I just wish he was a big, fluffy bunny rabbit,' she says. How was I supposed to know he could still attack her that way?"


"Long story short, she starts popping out these gooey little rabbit children, one after the other after the other, with razor-sharp claws and long floppy ears and twitchy pink noses and ugh," she shuddered. "I still have nightmares."

"Wait, so that's why you fear bunnies?"

"Wouldn't you?"

Unable to argue, Buffy looked to Giles, who said, "Believe it or not."

* * *

"There are approximately six hundred remaining species," Giles informed the two slayers, snuggling on the couch beside him. "Portaled through dimensional rifts or brought about by evocation, reanimation, interspecies unions..." He couldn't help but glance at their lovechild, snoozing in her baby seat. "That sort of thing. Many of them are, not surprisingly, here in Sunnydale."

"Why would they stick around? I mean, they've got to know we're here."

Spike fondled her hair, caressed her neck. "You're the honey all the big bad bees want to eat."

She peeled his hand off of her breast. "Says the bee who only thinks with his stinger."

"I believe they've settled on the Hellmouth," Giles offered. "Become domesticated, as it were."

"I am a trend-setter," Spike acknowledged with a burdened sigh, idly squeezing Buffy's hip. "I wonder if any of my poker buddies made the cut."

"You are not playing poker with demons."

"And you are so cute when you boss me." He pursed his lips to send her a kiss. "You play, Rupert?"

"Why yes, I'm actually rather good at--" Giles met Buffy's gaze and closed the binder. "Anyway, until one makes an offensive strike..."

"I'm 'Buffy, the Just-in-case-they're-stupid-enough-to-try-anything Slayer'."

"Yes. You, Faith and Spike are essentially inactive. The irony isn't lost on anyone, I assure you."

"No more vampires at all," Spike said. "The mystical whatz-o-graph confirmed it?"

"None. Excepting Angel, of course."

"But there's no way he can lose his soul now," Buffy said. "Right?"

"We can't be sure of that either. That's why I'm to give you this." He opened his briefcase and presented a glass container. Inside of it, an opaque crystal shard. "As long as this crystal stays dormant, Angel isn't a threat."

Buffy inspected it closely. "What does it look like when it's un-dormant?"

"I'm told that you'll most certainly know."

"Here's a fun idea," Spike jeered, "let's showcase it on the mantelpiece so we can think about Angel every day! It'll be like he never left!"


"I don't want that thing in our house," he said, resolute.

"You're right. It's not fair to you." She returned the shard to Giles. "Think you can hold on to it for us?"

"Of course." He tucked it into his briefcase, then handed them four British Airways tickets. "All expenses paid, whenever you're ready."

"Free honeymoon?" Buffy shrugged. "I'm ready."

"One question. Will they be conducting the voodoo rites before or after they harvest our organs for cloning?"

"No one is harvesting your organs, Spike. This is merely a mission to get everyone acquainted and on the same page."

"Giles is in charge of the Council now, we're totally safe." Buffy wafted the tickets at him. "And again I say: free honeymoon, with baby and bonus babysitter. It'll be fun! You can show me your old haunts, where you were born, where you died, where you drove a railroad spike through your first bosom-heaving lass..."

Cocking a brow, he said, "You really want this."

"Well, come on." Her lips grazed his. "What's not to love?"

He touched her face, inhaled. "Can't think of a bloody thing."

* * *

The roving hand under the table got another swift slap. "Stop it."

Undeterred, he went for it again, making her giggle and squirm in her seat.

Noticing that they'd attracted attention, Buffy and Spike willed their faces straight.

"Xander, why don't you love me like that?"

"Huh? What? I... What?"

Joyce put her wine glass down. "I'm sorry, Rupert, you were saying?"

"A line was rubbed off the etchings," he said, carving the turkey. "It was 'hair of wolf', not 'boulder'."

"That coulda narrowed the scope a little," Willow said.

"She had a baby and he still wants to have sex with her," Anya continued her rant. "And marry her! That's devotion."

"Well I haven't popped the question yet," Spike leaned in with a wink. "Still time to set the old girl out to graze."

Buffy smacked his arm.

"Be nice," he teased, and placed something on her empty plate. "I might worry you'll say no."

The table hushed, and she blinked at the small velvet box. "When did you...?"

"When I first laid eyes on you, baby." He got down to kneel beside her chair.

She smirked at him. "And here I thought you just wanted to mutilate me."

"Well I did," he said, recalling their initial meeting. "But I also wanted to shag you senseless. You know, before the death and dismemberment part."

"Okay, honey? You're no good at this."

"I am! Open it and you'll see. Don't turn me down yet."

"I asked you first, I can't turn you--" Jewelry was never Buffy's thing. She'd never understood the whole diamonds-as-friend phenomena, but this heart-shaped stone thoroughly took her breath away.

"Buffy Summers," he began, taking her hand and pressing it to his chest, "you make me feel alive."

She broke into a grin. "Good one."

"There's more."

Impressed, she let him speak.

"My heart," he said, eyes locked with hers, tone low and earnest, "is in your hands. I beg you: take a chance, take this ring, and marry me."

After a second, he added, "Please?"

She laughed through her tears. "You had me at 'dismemberment'."

"Anya's right," Xander said, having noticed all the female swoonage in the room as they kissed passionately. "Couples like you make the rest of us look bad."

* * *

"Xander? Spike has something he'd like to ask you."

"No I don't." He spun on his heel.

"Yes, he does." She grabbed him by the sleeve.

"I'm gonna kill you," Spike muttered.

"You can do it, sweetie." Buffy pushed him toward Xander.

Spike rolled his eyes, exhaled noisily. "Will you be the... you know."

Xander squinted. "The 'you know'?"

"My... The guy."

"Your 'the guy'?"

"For bloody's sake, Harris, will you be my best man or what?"

Once he got over the shock, Xander was tickled. "I get it," he laughed, "You have no male friends."

"Mine are all recently deceased," Spike said, eyes narrowed. "What's your excuse?"

"Look, buster, I don't have to say yes."

Spike turned to Buffy. "I'm not gonna beg."

Xander shrugged. "I'll settle for a 'please' or a 'you're my only hope'..."

"I'll ask Soldierboy." Spike grabbed a beer from the fridge. "Least he's quiet."

"All right, all right, I'll do it," Xander said. "As long as I'm not expected to fund the bachelor party."

"Shyeah," Buffy said.

"Right. I'm not allowed one of those." Then he mouthed, 'We'll talk later.'

* * *

As Giles serenaded the guests on the porch with Pete Townshend classics, Buffy went searching for Spike.

She didn't have to go far -- he'd dozed off on the living room couch, Chance on his chest, The Bunny Book in his grasp and grazing the floor.

Heartwarmed, she watched Chance rise and fall from Spike's intake and exhalation of breath, thinking, My two miracles.

Careful not to wake them, she gently wrested the book free, kissed them both, and returned to the porch.

Behind closed eyelids, Spike dreamed.

"You've always had wings, haven't you?"

* * *

Desolate, bereft, the last vampiress on earth stared through bleary eyes at the miniature city sprawled below her, teeming with life. How could a vision that once held such boundless, delicious promise so easily decay into a suffocating bog of ashes and loss?

There was no one left. No place for her. She was the end. The Only.

Streaks of red hued the horizon, and she stretched to her full height.

It was time, the voices told her.

As the sun rose over eastern China, Drusilla dove off the Jin Mao summit head first, her long sleeves billowing behind her like gleaming black wings.


Epilogue next...
Chapter #25 - Epilogue: Second Chances

A/N: A lot of readers have expressed concern for the welfare of Clem. The official answer: even though he never appears in this story, I heart Clem too, and I always considered him spared in the cleansing. He's not evil enough to be one of Lamashtu's creations. (Also, it's kind of telling that there's an uproar about Clem, and yet no one gives a rat's ass that Dawn doesn't exist in this 'verse. Poor unloved Dawn. I guess it was all the whining.)

Spike was on edge.

The weather was perfect. Chance was content. Xander hadn't lost the ring. Giles gave his surrogate daughter away -- willingly, even. Most important, Buffy had yet to run screaming; and Angel, bless his flammable little heart, couldn't possibly interfere due to the hot ball of fire hanging in the sky.

At least not in the physical sense.

He'd witnessed this exact scene before, in a demigod's doctored vision. But in this version -- the real one -- he was the lucky blighter she chose to have, hold and shag for as long as they both shall live.

No question, he'd hooked the grand prize, scored the golden ticket, stolen the World bloody Cup of Existence in a dark horse victory of epic proportions: Somehow, he'd convinced this extraordinary girl to love him.

Now, all she had to do was say yes.

Please don't come to your senses and realize you're making a horrible mistake. Please don't look at me and say, "I can't do this."

Buffy was surprised by his anxiety. Did he really think she would have second thoughts now? Had he been present since their daughter was born?

It was her turn to speak. Did she take him as her hot He-Slayer of a husband?



Buffy threw her head back, vocalizing in hot, secret whispers as her muscles spasmed. "Yes! Ohhh, yeah!"

"Shit," he said, suddenly seeing a glitch in the genius of this spontaneous tryst. "Where do I come?"

She hissed over her shoulder, "If you get anything on my dress--"

"Yeah. Yeah. I know. Blasted dress." The dress was the reason this was happening. One look at her all satin-dolled up just for him and he couldn't help himself. "Not hard to fix your lipstick, yeah? I'll make it up to you, please, just--"

"Fine." She pushed him off, dropped to her knees and warned, "Don't touch the hair," before getting her blush-pink lipstick all over him.

As he erupted with a stifled roar, she held fast and swallowed until he was done.

Looking up at him fixing his tuxedo, she said, "You're not gonna clean that off?"

He shrugged. "I'm thinking of getting it tattooed. 'For Buffy's lips only'."

She looked down at her crumpled dress. "You weren't even supposed to see me."

"Wasn't supposed to live past the roaring '20s either," he said, smoothing his hair back in the mirror.

Then he heard her whimper.

Buffy was crying into the bedspread, lovely coif threatening to loosen, yards of white satin bunched around her on the floor.

"Baby, what is it? What's wrong?" He crouched at her side. "If this is about last night, I swear, there were no strippers. Just poker and booze--"

She shook her head. "I don't care about that."

"Well... I'm sorry I saw you and you know, debased you, but your dress is fine, and it's only superstition--"

She was shaking her head again, and said through sobs, "My life is too good right now. Something is about to go horribly wrong, I just know it."

"Hey." He turned her chin toward him. "Cross that bridge when it crumbles, pet. You and me and our baby girl, we got each other now and we won't give any of it up without a fight. Right?"

She bit her lip and nodded.

"Waiting for the worst to happen, that's no way to live," he said. "Give the good life a chance and I promise you I'll make it worth your while."

She sniffled, wiped the drying tears from her face.

"So." He stood and gave her his hand. "Still want to go steady?"


Buffy chuckled at her groom, so endearingly racked with insecurity since she'd stepped up to the vine-covered altar.

"I do," she told the world. "I really, really do."

* * *

"We're a happy family, we're a happy family, me, Mom and Dad-dy!"

Was that Spike... singing? Clasping her towel closed, Buffy peeked out of the bathroom door to see him serenading their daughter with a jaunty punk rock tune.

"Sittin' here in Queens, eating refried beans, we're in all the magaz--" He caught a glimpse of Buffy standing against the doorframe, watching with a smirk. "She likes it."

"Are ya sure? Her 'happy' face and 'about to spit up' face, kinda similar."

"Now pet, don't be jealous." He gently returned Chance to her crib. "You get to play with Daddy all the time."

"True," she said, sauntering up to him. "I get all the best play."

He eased the clip out of her hair, let her upswept locks tumble down. Tugged her towel off and slid his predatory gaze over her supple skin. "Daddy's suddenly feelin' playful."

She traced the outline of his growing hard-on. "Mommy can tell."

They melted into one another, and he lifted her up slightly to fondle her ass, then dipped a finger into her wet slit.

"Mm-mm," she tore her lips away from his, and he continued to kiss her neck. "Not in front of the baby."

"Right." He wrapped her legs around his waist and carried her to the honeymoon suite's hallway. "She can't see us here."


He hoisted her up on his shoulders and cleaved his tongue into her, immediately silencing any protests.

Effortless acrobatics. One of the many perks of having a Superslayer for a boyfriend.

She moaned and writhed and shimmied in mid-air while he fucked her with his tongue, licked from bottom to top, side to side, whatever made her freeze up and hold her breath, her signal for 'don't you dare stop what you're doing right now, or else'.

When he finally suckled on her clit, he was rewarded with a throaty cry and a gush of tangy come.

Spent and gasping, she went limp as he pushed her up against the wall and very vocally relished every little ooze of her.

One thing she'd learned since he turned human? His obsession with her bodily fluids wasn't a vampire thing -- it was a Spike thing. He loved her so much he wanted to consume her, and who was she to deem it wrong when it felt so very, very right?

He slid her down to eye level and said, "You sweet, succulent thing."

He kissed her -- loved to share her flavor -- and must have shed his pants along the way because she was swiftly impaled on his naked cock.

Defying gravity, him standing, her legs coiled around his hips, they fucked each other into a frenzy, until he flattened her on the carpeted floor and pulled out just in time to shoot his load onto her stomach.

Just as he was about to collapse on top of her, Chance began to wail.

"Oh, hey," Buffy said, panting. "Timing improvement."

"We had a talk, she and I." Breath ragged, he sat up, picked up the towel to wipe himself clean and tossed it to Buffy. "I said I'd teach her all the songs in the Ramones catalog if she'd let us shag for a full seven minutes."

"Negotiation tip?" She mopped up the mess and crawled to her robe. "Push for ten next time."

"Now you know that's a deal breaker, isn't it, Bunny?" Chance continued to cry in his arms. "You want Mummy, do you? I agree, she does have the tastiest sippies in all the land. Just remember to save some for me."

She took the baby. "I should be disturbed by that."

He ran his finger down her nose, then Chance's. "But you're not."

"Just do me a favor tonight, and try not to discuss any more of your kinks with members of the Council?"

"What?" They'd spent the day at headquarters, where he was treated like a rock star. Couldn't blame him for going Behind The Music when they were all so bloody interested. "She wanted to know about changes in my eating habits. For the sake of scientific comparative evaluation and what-all."

"She wanted to know if you still had a taste for blood, not breast milk." She hrumphed and muttered, "And if you ask me, there was nothing 'scientific' about the way she was evaluating you."

He gasped. "I knew it! I knew you were jealous of her."

"No, she's jealous of me, okay? I'm the one who gets to sleep with her idol." Over his sniggering, she said, "Little Watcher tramp. She is not sitting next to you at dinner."

"Keep talking like that," he said, "and we're staying in."

"Oh, no. We're going." She put her snoozing daughter down. "You're gonna whisper French nothings in my ear and act like I'm the only woman in the world, while outright ignoring her and her oh-so-wonderbra-enhanced cleavage."

Gazing at her adoringly throughout her rant, he said in French, "You are the only woman in the world," and kissed her.


One Week Later


"No," Buffy pleaded with the stick in her hand. "No! No! No! This can't happen!"

Spike opened the bathroom door only to be attacked by soaring plastic. "Ow! What's--?"

"Your fault!" She threw the box at him.

He caught it in motion, squinted at it, then picked up the stick, white with a blue window at the end.

Wait. Blue? He looked at the box again, and back at the stick. Positive?

"Is this--? Are you--?"

"Blue?" Hand on hip, she sassed, "Stick don't lie."

"But... how?"

"Well you see, when a human boy and a human girl don't use protection because the boy is a stubborn jackass who can't stand to let anything get in the way of his all-important pleasure, miracles like this can happen." She began to pace, hands in her hair. "'I'll pull out just in the nick'? Why did I trust you? Why didn't I go on the pill? And wipe that horny smirk off your face; I'm not going through this again!"

The smirk became a wicked grin as he flung the testing apparatus aside and rubbed his evil hands together. "Three full months of round-y, slow-moving-airplane Buffy."

"You did this on purpose!" She chucked a mini shampoo bottle at him. "You tricked me!"

"I swear I didn't!" He laughed, deflecting more tossed items. "It's not like I ever had to worry about this before!" His demeanor shifted into horny overdrive again. "My gorgeous, gestating goddess."

"Shoo!" She darted out of the bathroom.

He shadowed her at a firm, menacing pace. "My fertile font of fecundity."

"Okay, those F words?" She backed away from him, trying to remain indignant. "Not sexy!"

"Hmm." His nose feathered against hers. "Then why are you getting wet?"

"I'm not--"

"Let's find out." He tossed her onto the honeymoon suite bed, then jumped on top of her, flinging her legs over his shoulders. He slid two fingers under her panties and showed her the glistening result. "What's this?"

"Don't change the subject!"

"Nothing more to say." He rubbed her dew on her mouth and kissed her. "Daddy's gonna fill you up with Slayer babies."

"No he will not!" She couldn't help but squeal as he nipped and growled at her neck.

"Two and counting. I'm on a bloody roll."

"I don't think so, Energizer Bunny." Fingers on his chest, she pushed him up. "After this one comes out, you are not touching me unless you are swathed in Kevlar. Swathed! Kevlar!"

"Right then." He yanked off her panties, gave them a quick, deep sniff and tossed them aside. "Better make the most of it."

"I mean it, Spike! This is the last one, ever! You got that?"

"Whatever you say," he pushed into her slick folds, "my wet..."








A/N: Yes! That really is the end of "Heart Don't Lie"!

'But Nauti', you say to me, 'what about those loose ends you left hanging about?' To which I say, 'That's what sequels are for!'

Stay tuned for the sequel, "At It Like Rabbits" - Coming Soon!