Author: Lirazel (penny_lane_42)
Rating: PG-13 for Spike’s potty mouth
Timeperiod: post-“Not Fade Away”
Warning: Very non-explicit mpreg
Thanks to: quinara (as usual) for the title, and my betas: snickfic for (subtly! always subtly!) dropping “hints” that I needed to write her mpreg, for getting me to reign back on the internal dialogue, and (as usual) saying, “This really needs an actual arc” (someday I’ll learn how to do that without you telling me I need to!); and angearia for help with Willow-speak and (as usual) writing better dialogue than I can–a good fourth of the dialogue is from her pen. Y’all are so good to me. Thank you!
A/N: This is set in the same universe as Basiare and Infinitas Infinitio Infinitus. It’s not necessary that you read those two, but I think you’d like them! Also, I got started on this too late to give the idea as much of a story as it deserves. But I hope to eventually continue it, though it may be a while. So you can consider this a one-shot if you don’t read WIPs, or if you aren’t bothered by the idea, you can think of it as a prologue to a fic that may be continued at a future date. Cheers!
Summary: “You’re saying this is happening ‘cause I’m too butch and Spike’s a girly girl?”
Actually, when she thinks about it later, the evidence was all there. The sickness in the mornings, the moodiness, the weight gain, the tiredness and backaches, the swollen feet and the weird food cravings–it all could have come right out of a textbook. All of the signs. Right there in front of them, blinking neon-bright (well, all of them except for the skipped periods, but, then that wouldn’t have been possible anyways).
If it had happened to a woman–even her, with her age-defying Slayer powers and her supposedly sterile vampire husband–they wouldn’t have even needed to consult one of those little wands you pee on; they would have just known.
But no matter what Willow mutters under her breath about Achmed’s Taser and simplest explanations being right or whatever, Buffy doesn’t think they can at all be blamed for not figuring it out. Even in their world of people who turn into vampires and then back into people again, sisters that are made of ancient green energy, and apocalypses every spring, this is a little… um, impossible.
Not to mention really freaking weird.
After the silence that stretches far too long for comfort, Buffy manages to swallow, open her mouth and ask. “Willow, are–are you sure?”
Willow nods earnestly. It’s the same earnestness Buffy remembers from her very first day at Sunnydale high, decades ago, an attentive sincerity her friend hasn’t managed to lose, even through losing lovers and falling to darkness, scrambling back into the light again and dealing with gray hair. “The runes don’t lie. Spike’s got a bun in the oven. And yeah, pretty sure in that absolutely crazy way. You know, from checking the spell that one time, then checking the checking which led to more checking and redoing the checking until I ran out of mother’s wart and couldn’t check anymore. Which, heh, irony ’cause Spike’s knocked up.” Then she smiles awkwardly. “Congratulations…?”
Spike makes a noise, low in his throat, that doesn’t quite manage to escape, strangled. Buffy reaches out and grabs his hand, feels it trembling between hers. Truthfully, if it weren’t just about the most gobsmacking news Buffy had ever heard in her life–and being who she is, that’s saying a lot–she’d probably be laughing at the look on his face right now. She hadn’t thought it possible for an animated corpse (she doesn’t like to think about him that way because, well, gross) without any blood circulation to actually grow paler, but he’s managed it. His eyes are so wide they look like they might tumble right out of his sockets, and his mouth is moving, but no sound is coming out.
Willow, though, doesn’t even notice; she’s still rambling on about the magical confirmation of their unprecedented news. “…and it’s actually incredible in a totally impossible way. The odds of this even happening to a vampire… I did hear a rumor about this one time, but I wrote it off. Trust me when I say mystics turn tall tales into ginormous make-believe-a-paloozas. But even that time it was a lady vamp. And this. This is just… impossible. Except it’s happening so clearly it’s possible. I guess not having the girly parts doesn’t really matter ’cause it’s all magic anyways and–”
Buffy tightens her grip on Spike’s hand and decides this is the time for a question about something she really wants to know. “Willow, how?”
At that, Willow plugs up her stream of words and smiles a sheepish smile. “Whoever did this, they’re messing with the natural order in ways I didn’t even know you could. We’re talking power with a capital P.”
A shiver runs down her spine and, overcome with a feeling of dread, Buffy squeezes her eyes shut. “‘P’ as in prophecy,” she manages to say, her breathing shallow.
Willow nods, her expression sympathetic. “Dawn’s researching some ancient Egyptian texts. There was a cult that worshipped the goddess Isis–still do actually on another plane of existence–and they had this blind priestess who foretold of an impossible birth. Something about an immortal mother and a father of death. She’s double-checking the translations, making sure it all lines up, but if I were a betting witch…”
Buffy gives her a wan smile. “You’d bet it all on black.”
All of that is par for the course and though Buffy’s sure she’ll have to worry about that–and probably stop an apocalypse or two because of it–later, she’s got slightly more surreal concerns right now. “But why Spike? Why not me? He’s kinda lacking the necessary equipment plus also dead, when my babymaker’s all preheated and with nothing to do.” She’s quick to add, “Not that I was looking forward to retaining water or having my stomach blow up to the size of a watermelon.”
Willow straightens and fastens on her ‘I’m about to go on a tangent about something nerdy that no one else cares about but that I find fascinating’ face. “See that’s just it. The prophecy definitely refers to you two, but the Powers just set up the magic within certain parameters–nobody can control it outright, not even them. And when it comes to this sort of thing, the physical doesn’t matter. Magic recognizes the nature of energy, the flow of your life force. So in a weird way it makes perfect sense. You’ve always been the take-charge leader type and Spike’s like your, uh, consort.” Willow sneaks a stealthy look at Spike to see how that goes over with him, but he’s still staring blankly ahead, so she continues. “And wasn’t he all emotionally invested right from the start when you were more into the ‘wham, bam, thank you, ma’am’? Plus you’re more ‘carry-my-pain-alone’ stoic while Spike’s into the nurturing and being emotionally available. Didn’t you ask him to marry you? And he usually follows your lead and he’s always there to support you. You guys have always made with the gender-flippiness.”
Buffy scowls, caught somewhere between perplexed horror and righteous fury. “You’re saying this is happening ‘cause I’m too butch and Spike’s a girly girl?”
“BLOODY FUCKING HELL!”
The chair he’d just been sitting in goes flying across the room, smashing into the wall and shattering to splinters that tumble to the floor. Willow holds out a hand as Spike starts to pace, tugging furiously at his hair. “Now, Spike–” the witch begins, but she’s cut off by a primal roar and the sound of drywall shattering as Spike’s fist introduces itself to the wall, and gives a small Willow-ish squeak as she falls back into her chair.
Buffy, though, has lived with him long enough to know that there’s no use trying to calm him when he’s like this; he has to thunder and bluster his way through this till it fizzles out. So she waits.
“The Powers again! Making me their bitch!” He stops abruptly, spins to face Willow, and shakes an emphatic finger in their face. “Well, I won’t be!” Now he turns his eyes to the ceiling and shouts, “You got that? Not gonna play me this time, you right bastards!”
Aha. So it wasn’t the slight to his manliness that set him off–he probably hadn’t even heard it. He’s just now wrapping his mind around all this. Right.
And then he’s back to pacing and growling out British curses and kicking at the splintered remnants of the chair–she wants to tell him to be careful of the wood, but he wouldn’t take that well right now. Instead she turns back to Willow.
“Thanks, Will. Could you, uh, give us a minute?”
“Oh! Oh, sure, so you two can, you know, and I’ll give you a heads up when the translations are in. So… Bye.” Willow gathers up her papers and books and skirts around the path of Spike’s tornado, closing the door gently behind her.
Spike doesn’t even know she’s gone, as he’s still totally engrossed in wreaking destruction and imitating the Tasmanian devil. But during one furious pivot as he reaches a corner in his pacing, he accidentally catches her eye as he starts in her direction again and Buffy seizes the opportunity.
Feigning indifference, she leans back in her chair, arches a brow, and crosses her arms. “Are you done yet?”
His nostrils flare. “No,” he says, then turns and smashes the remnants of the chair to splinters. Buffy rolls her eyes. Spiteful, her man. He turns back to face her. “Now I’m done.”
At that, the fury falls right off his face and he drops into Willow’s abandoned chair like a marionette whose strings have just been cut. He stares at her helplessly for a moment, then buries his face in his hands.
“God, Buffy,” he moans wearily. “Just when I think I can take whatever those bastards throw at me….”
She feels a pang of white-hot resentment at the Powers who fill up the futures of those she loves with prophecies and apocolypses till tomorrow’s stuffed like a piñatas and then take turns whacking at it, giggling like little kids as the chaos rains down. She tugs her chair forward a bit till her knees are touching Spike’s. Touching is good. Contact has always been her way of reminding both of them that she’s there, that she’s not leaving. The well-worn cotton of his jeans feels good against her bare skin, and she focuses on the familiarity of it.
She examines the destroyed furniture with a rueful sigh, then grins. “So was that whole violent mood swing tantrum ’cause you’re pregnant or ’cause you’re you?”
He jerks upright, sending her a stung look. “May be funny to you, Slayer, but this is pretty bloody serious from where I‘m sitting. This is my innards we’re talking about. Some parasite’s squirmed it’s way inside, mucking around where it’s not supposed to be, just because the sodding Powers decided to jerk my chain. It’s a joke all right, except the joke’s on me.”
She bites her lip to hold back another quip; after all, male pregnancy has pretty much always been treated as comedy, but the last thing Spike needs at the moment is a Schwarzenegger joke. Instead, she decides to be serious.
“Is it–is it really so bad?”
His stare says more clearly than words ever could that she must have completely lost her mind, but he’s no more surprised than she is herself. That was the last thing she meant to say.
“No, you’re right. Who do the Powers think they are, playing with our lives this way? I mean, we dropped an entire town right on top of the First Evil and no one’s heard from it again. They can’t be all that much bigger and badder than the First was, but they decide that our lives aren’t complicated enough, and this is just what we need, something this crazy and scary and–”
“Bloody unnatural?” he suggests with an edge.
They stew a moment in silence, a defiant look hardening his face, and she knows she has an expression to match. They’re a pair: defying conventions, both of them, even before they met, and now they fight all the harder to make their own choices now that they’re together.
If they decide to defy the Powers now, well, she’s pretty sure nothing could stand in their way.
Except suddenly she can’t help but remember the warm weight and powder-fresh scent of Dawn’s daughter Joy when the little girl climbs into Aunt Buffy’s lap and demands a story. And the sight of the grin on Spike’s face when he would scoop up their nephew Stephen and swing him high into the air, the boy’s whoops of delight the most joyful sound Buffy ever remembers hearing.
The memories are nudging her towards something, an epiphany, maybe. It’s almost close enough to touch, but she needs to reach just a bit more. Spike will help her get there, if she can only figure out the words. But it’s a struggle, as it always is when she’s trying to figure out what it is she really feels, to find words. The trouble is, she’d figured out long ago, that she feels things so deeply that words can’t seem to contain them.
But she has to try. “Spike…“
“Putting aside the, uh, unique physical situation–”
He snorts, interrupting her. “Pretty impossible to put aside, all easy like that,” he mutters.
She rolls her eyes. “But putting that aside, would you hate it so much, being a dad? You’re a great uncle, Spike. You’re amazing with Dawn’s kids.”
“Being an uncle’s a hell of a lot different than being someone’s old man. For one thing, the little sprogs don’t live with you and you can always send ‘em packing when they get out of hand. Nappies start to smell and you give ‘em back to their parents. And Dawn expects me to try to corrupt the nibblets. But when they’re yours, you gotta be the adult and make sure you don’t screw ‘em up. Being responsible for someone’s whole life? Pretty terrifying, Slayer.”
All true. Once, while trying to round up the kids to take them home, Dawn had turned to her, harried and breathless, and said, exasperated, Before you have them, you think it’s all Kodak moments–home runs and Christmas mornings and singing them to sleep at night. Those are the things that make it worth it, but there’s a hell of a lot of wading through dirty diapers and temper tantrums to get to the good stuff.
“I guess you’re right,” she says slowly, still feeling that itch of insight lying just beyond her reach. “But this is… it’s different somehow.”
“Yeah. This is…” Her brow furrows as she battles to find the words, then smoothes when something clicks into place. “This is life, Spike. After all these years of death and destruction and sacrifice. After being stuck in the dark for so long, we can give something back. Something pure and beautiful and… alive.”
He’s holding himself very still in that way he does when he doesn’t know what to make of something. She can tell he doesn’t know where this is coming from, and if she’s truthful, neither does she. “It won’t be that simple, Buffy. I can’t ever be a normal da. Can’t go out with ‘em in daylight; I’d never be able to cheer on the sidelines at the football pitch, which is probably a mercy because God knows I don’t belong there. I was part of the Scourge of Europe! Slaughtered thousands of innocents! I dunk my pancakes in blood, for God’s sake!” He reaches out and takes her hands in his. “Buffy, all this blood on my hands. All the things I’ve done. I don’t– I can’t– I don’t deserve this.”
She hears him. Hears the terror, and feels it wriggling insistently inside her own stomach. But now that she’s figured out what this is — a desire for life after all these years of death — it feels as though a dam has burst and a yearning she must’ve unconsciously locked away deep inside, first because she knew she was going to die young and later because she knew it wouldn’t be possible with Spike, is pouring out.
“And I’m not sure if I‘d be a good mom. I mean, I can think of a hundred different ways I could royally screw up a tiny little innocent human being if I was normal Buffy, let alone Buffy-the-Slayer, and that’s scarier than the thought of the Master in a speedo. And when I think about Dawn’s teen years…” They shudder in sync. “And I hate the idea of prophecies trying to bend us to their will as much as you do. But now this is here. And…”
She can’t quite say what she‘s feeling, but he’s always been able to speak the words when she can‘t. He studies her intensely for a moment, and she makes herself meet his gaze. It’s still sort of terrifying to make herself vulnerable like this, but she’s learned to do it with Spike. Learned to trust him that much. And he always earns that trust.
“You want to do this, don’t you?”
Her voice is as soft as his when she answers him, hope exquisite as pain blooming in her heart. “I think maybe I do.”
He lets his eyes sink shut for a moment, and when he opens them his smile is a bit strained but real nonetheless. He pokes his forefinger at her. “You’re the one changing the diapers, Slayer–you’re not the one with a supernaturally sensitive sense of smell!”
A huge grin splits her face, and she suddenly feels giddy, lightheaded and weak-kneed. She’s glad she’s sitting down. “Try saying that three times fast!”
“And I want more answers. About how this is happening, and why. I don’t have the plumbing for this–how’s it even alive? Is it alive? Is it human? I want to know.”
She leans forward to give him a quick kiss. “We’ll get everyone on it.” At the look of horror on his face, she backtracks. “We’ll get the ones we trust on it. Dawn and Willow and Giles. And maybe we can go away for a while.” She knows what he’s thinking: nightmares of Angel’s smirks and Andrew’s narration are dancing in his head. “Take a vacation–we haven’t had one in a while. Just me and you. In the mountains somewhere, maybe, while all this is happening.” His pride’s always been a fragile thing, as his protests that he’s still the Big Bad prove. Of course he isn’t going to want anyone to see him with his growing belly and…
It’s at that moment that it hits her, like a blow between the eyes. Their baby. Their son or daughter. Inside him. Her hand steals out and tentatively rests against the soft cotton of his t-shirt. He’s gained just a little bit of weight, but definitely not enough that his belly feels different than it ever has. Still, she knows that somewhere underneath that taut, muscled flesh, their child is growing. And will keep growing and growing and–
She can’t help it: she giggles.
“What?” he asks defensively. “What’re you sniggering about now?”
“Oh, Spike. No more swagger for you–you’re going to waddle like a penguin!”
“I bloody well am not!”
“Yes, you will! We’ll have to dig the duster back out again–it’ll look like tail feathers and you all black and white! And daddy penguins are the ones that sit on the eggs! Penguin Spike!”
“Oh, I see how it’s gonna be. You’re all gung-ho about this because you aren’t the one who’s going to blow up like a bloody zeppelin. You just get to kick back and laugh at me and mock me while I turn into the Great Pumpkin.”
He’s teasing, she knows, but there’s a real hint of fear in his eyes. Of course there is. This is scary, especially for him.
She sobers and grasps his hand tightly. “Together, right? You and me.”
This time his smile is smaller, but it’s genuine. “Always, Slayer.”
She leans towards him and he meets her halfway, capturing her lips with his, speaking in the one language they’ve both always been fluent in. She sighs into the kiss, letting him deepen it, the familiarity of his mouth and tongue, his taste and scent, his Spikeness lighting a fire that burns much less flashy but much deeper than the one he stoked in her when she hated him and herself and she reveled in him because he was taboo.
This is familiar and real and right, and if they’ve managed not to bollix this up, as he would say, after all these years, she’s pretty sure they can do right by a child of theirs.
She’s raising her hands to start pulling his shirt off when he jerks back abruptly.
“Buffy!” His shouted interruption makes her jump, and she stares at his face, pale and taut with almost laughably intense terror.
“What? Spike, what is it?” She’d thought he’d moved past this stage, and the idea that they’re going to have to cycle through it again is less than exciting.
But he stares at her with pleading eyes, and when he speaks it’s all she can do to keep from dissolving into giggles again. “How’s the bloody thing gonna come out?”
Originally posted at http://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/423266.html