Back in June I wrote a Spuffy fic with shanshued!Spike: A Picture is a Thousand Words…. This fic is like a FitB to that story, telling of what happened when Spike and Buffy’s twins were born. (Yes, it is baby!fic. But I think I’ve managed to convey a fairly accurate picture of what it feels like to become a parent – the good and the bad. Although there is a twist…)
Also I’m very pleased that I’m posting this on Spike’s birthday, because that makes me feel less bad about this story being so focussed on him. Couldn’t be helped I’m afraid. Oh and it fits in *perfectly* with the ‘new beginnings’ theme. :)
Title: I didn’t know it’d feel like this.
Pairing: Spike/Buffy (duh!)
Setting: It’s 2012. Spike shanshued post-NFA, and he and Buffy have been married for almost 5 years now.
Rating: Um… PG-13?
Word count: 2800 words approx.
Beta: kathyh. Don’t know how I’d cope without her!
Disclaimer: Nothing is mine. Which is tragic.
Feedback: Pretty please? This story really means a lot to me. You’ll see why.
Dedication: For caliente_uk! *hugs*
“So… worse than dying?” Spike tries to keep his voice light, and isn’t quite sure if he succeeds.
“Oh god yes! Dying was fast!” Buffy replies immediately, then closes her eyes against the next contraction. Swallowing, Spike prepares for his hand to be pulverised yet again. He wants to remind her that he’s only human now and pain is a lot more acute than before… but he can’t really do it.
And it’s not just the hand crushing that’s causing internal conflict. His Victorian half is saying that this is all ridiculous, and why can’t they just have a nice, simple home birth – babies were born for millennia without all this medical fuss. Hadn’t done him any harm to be born at home…
But his other half wants to go looking for the best paediatrician in the whole place and chain him-or-her to Buffy’s bed, along with a small medical team, just in case anything goes wrong. Because Buffy is having his children… and twin births, everyone agrees, are more complicated. Why didn’t they just decide to have Caesarian?
He can’t remember ever being this terrified.
And what the hell is up with this taking hours and hours? In the movies and on TV the women always go “Oh no, the baby is coming!” and then two minutes later someone is telling them to push. And it’s been eight hours now since her waters broke…
Gently he brushes a lock of hair off Buffy’s sticky forehead and kisses her.
“I look awful, don’t I?” she says ruefully, and if he was capable of being objective, he’d have to say yes. But he’s never been objective. And as he looks at her now, he feels only admiration for his wife – the word still makes him shiver with joy – who’s been struggling all though the night… it’ll be dawn in less than an hour. The midwife has said that the babies will probably be arriving in not too long, and it feels right – new day, new beginning.
And then suddenly lots of things are happening all at once. More people arrive – including a paediatrician – and funnily enough it doesn’t make him feel any safer. Quite the opposite in fact, and Buffy begins to look as worried as he feels, before shrugging it off and getting on with her job. And all of a sudden there’s a wail and he’s holding a tiny bundle.
He stares down at the little face and can’t quite grasp what this means. He’s been so focussed on Buffy that somehow the babies never really became real. And now… the little fella is hardly the most beautiful individual he’s ever laid eyes on, being somewhat squashed and bright red, but it makes no difference. Softly Spike takes hold of a tiny hand and sits down on the side of the bed to show Buffy how amazing their son is.
Their eyes meet, and they don’t need any words. Then she presses hers tightly shut, getting ready for the second one.
And then there were two.
The midwife happily obliges when they ask her to take a few pictures, and it’s all in all the most amazing day in Spike’s entire life…
He sits by Buffy’s side as they study the perfection that they’re holding and try to see if their two little boys can be told apart. One of them tries a yawn, waving his little hands in the process, and they’re sure no baby has ever been this amazing.
The big influx leaves and the midwife is quietly cleaning up as they sit discussing names and plans. This new adventure is incredible – frightening and exhilarating in equal measures – and they’re trying to work out where they go from here.
Spike isn’t quite sure how to deal with this – this love. He thought he knew all about love, in all its shapes and forms. But here he is, watching two little boys barely fifteen minutes old, and he knows that there’s nothing he wouldn’t do for them. It feels like… like all his insides have been rearranged. No one ever told him that becoming a father was such an immediate, total surrender – like falling in love. Yes, he decides, that’s the only description that fits.
He reaches out, strokes a cheek so soft that rabbit fur is like wire wool in comparison. And then…
His hands, blood-smeared and nails painted black, holding a screaming infant. A moment’s consideration – then he rips its throat out.
With a gasp he is back in the bright white of the hospital room, heart beating wildly and cold shivers going through him, and both Buffy and the midwife are looking at him worriedly.
“William – it is William, right? – are you a’right? When was the last time you had anything to eat?”
He stares back at the woman, trying to gather his thoughts. She’s a hospital midwife, not the one they’ve been seeing throughout the pregnancy, and they only met her last night. There was some sort of explanation for this odd way of doing things that he can’t quite remember, except that he thought it idiotic at the time, but right now he’s just grateful that she doesn’t know that his nickname is ‘Spike’.
“Yes… William. And…” he frowns, trying to think, but Buffy thankfully answers the question.
“We’ve not really had anything since last night. And then we just grabbed half a slice of pizza each because we were rushing out the door.”
The midwife smiles; calm, reassuring, slightly overbearing. “Don’t worry, it’s not the first time I’ve had a new father going faint on me. They never realise that they have to look after themselves too. Tell you what William-” she glances at the large clock on the wall, “the cafeteria should be open now. Why don’t you go down and have a good solid breakfast? I’ll make sure to look after your wife, promise!”
He looks at Buffy, who nods firmly. “Go. Eat. Relax.”
He knows the look in her eyes, and they share a kiss before he hands over his baby to the midwife.
“And,” Buffy says, “I have people to call!” She points towards the phone in the corner and smiles mischievously.
He smiles back, trying not to show how unstable he still feels. Then he grabs his denim jacket, checking to make sure that his mobile and wallet are still in the pockets, and, with a last lingering glance, leaves.
He knows where the cafeteria is, but heads towards the main entrance instead, stopping only to buy a breakfast bar and a can of cola from a vending machine. Quick energy, because he does need something.
The cool morning air hits him as he goes through the automatic doors, and with a smile he sees that the sun is almost peering over the horizon. He walks along the large building until he finds a nice secluded bench, and enjoys the first rays of sunshine as he swiftly eats. It is still a thrill, this living in the light, that almost ten years of being human have yet to diminish.
Then, knowing that not all the sunshine in the world can cancel out the darkness of his past, he takes out his phone and dials Angel’s number.
It takes a while before there’s an answer. Finally however Spike hears a click and a muffled “Hello?”
“Hello,” he answers drily, “it’s supposed to be evening where you are, how come you’re still in bed, Lazypants?”
Angel says “Spike?”, but then there’s a sudden rustling noise, and Faith’s eager voice comes across clearly.
“Spike! Have the babies arrived? How’s Buffy?”
He smiles and answers her excited questions, before finally getting one of his own through. “But tell me Faith – how come you and the mighty broody one are sharing a bed? Decided that all the ‘being friends’ was gettin’ old?”
There’s dirty chuckle, and then a sigh. “We’re here incognito, and are posing as a married couple. But – apart from stealing the covers – he’s been the perfect gentleman. You know what he’s like.”
Leaning back on the bench, Spike grins wickedly. “As far as I recall he was a drunken, whoring layabout who never did an honest day’s work in his life!”
Faith guffaws, then replies archly, “I wasn’t talking about Angelus!”
“Neither was I!” he counters, then takes a deep breath, knowing he can’t postpone the real reason for the call much longer – and remembering a certain conversation from many years ago, he knows what to do about Faith’s problem. “You want things to… develop, buy him a bullwhip and take it from there!”
Having momentarily made her incapable of anything except spluttering, he asks if she could hand Angel over, and she does so obligingly.
Angel proceeds to wish both him and Buffy many congratulations, and then bids good-bye to Faith, who’s off to find something eat.
“OK, she’s gone,” Angel says, and Spike sighs deeply, closing his eyes and letting the cool early spring sun caress his face.
“How do you do it?” he asks simply, and there’s a long pause at the other end.
“Which part?” Angel finally asks, and Spike sits forward, studying his right hand in the clear light… it is warm, alive, with a couple of scars gathered in the last few years. And yet it is the same hand. The same hand that-
“The part where you love them so much it chokes you, and you realise just what you did every time you stole a child from their parents…”
He can’t continue. Tears are burning behind his eyes, and he wishes fervently that Dru hadn’t had a thing for children…
“Have you… talked to Buffy about it?” Angel asks cautiously, and Spike shakes his head.
“She’s overwhelmed enough, even without me reminding her that I used to think of children as handy, portable snacks.”
Self-loathing rips through him, cold and harsh, as memory after memory resurfaces.
A little girl – maybe 3 – in a simple, oft-mended dress, drained and then discarded by the roadside; a baby boy of only a few months, with soft, downy curls on his head and dimpled cheeks, who spent three days as Dru’s ‘living doll’ before she tired of him; a tiny infant, torn from its mother for sport and then casually ripped apart…
“There were so many…” his voice is barely above a whisper, and it takes a while before Angel replies.
“I thought you said that the memories were fading?”
“They are. I can’t even remember them all anymore. But shouldn’t I? No one else ever will… I ought to remember them!”
There is silence at the other end. Spike swallows. “Sorry… didn’t mean to dump it all on you. It’s just… I didn’t know it’d feel like this. And there’s no one else.”
“I know,” Angel replies, then after a small hesitation continues. “The last thing Darla said to me before-” He stops, starts again. “The last thing Darla said to me was, ‘This child – it’s the one good thing we ever did together. The only good thing.’ Spike… we can never make up for what we did. But your children – they are a chance to do something right.”
Spike slowly nods as the words sink in. “Thank you.”
“No problem.” Angel pauses, then continues, voice lighter. “We should be done here in another week or two, and we’ll head right back to England and come visit. And… what exactly did you say to Faith? She gave me a really weird look before she left.”
Spike almost smiles. “Consider it a little helping hand – don’t worry, you’ll soon see.”
“H’m.” Angel doesn’t sound convinced, but Spike takes a deep breath and gets up. “Sorry mate, have to get back. And… you sure you’re going to be OK, just the two of you?”
He remembers a little about their mission, and it seems a fun, but foolhardy, adventure. Angel however is upbeat about it, and a moment later they say good bye.
Spike stops for a moment by the glass doors, watching his reflection. He’s used to it now, the way he is followed in every mirror and window by a shadow…. like there’s two of him – new and old, living and dead, good and bad. But which is which he’s not really sure.
Shaking off the strange thoughts he goes back inside, turning off the mobile as he does so. And musing on Angel’s mission, he figures that he really has adjusted to human life – because although he would once have given his eye-teeth to be in on the fun, now he can’t think of anywhere he’d rather be than with his family, despite the distinct lack of fighting and death-defying stunts.
And then he’s rushing up the stairs to see his little boys again, because with a jolt he realises that he’s been gone for 15 minutes and that amounts to maybe a third of their lives.
He finds Buffy in the middle of devouring a full English breakfast. Sitting down next to her he steals a hash brown and a sausage, being somewhat famished still. The babies are snuggled up in little clear plastic cots that are pulled right up to the bed, and for a while all they can do is just look at them. It’s been only the two of them for nearly eight years, and all of a sudden being twice that number is going to take some serious getting used to.
Then Spike shifts his attention to Buffy, who looks exhausted – and yet triumphant. Hair a mess and make-up smudged, she looks just the same way he’s so often seen her after a big battle… And that’s what this is, he realises – a battle. If a very different one from those she’s fought so far. And he has the strangest sensation of the world having simultaneously grown bigger and smaller.
Buffy looks at him, her smile is a little wobbly.
“We can do this, right?”
He thinks back to his conversation with Angel, to all the things he’s been told about Connor… the miracle child, named in numerous prophecies – the lives of countless people manipulated and destroyed to bring him into the world. ‘Born’ in an alley in the rain, fought over by worshippers and killers alike, stolen away, raised in a helldimension…
And he thanks the Powers that his children aren’t ‘special’.
Silently he pulls Buffy into his arms, and she’s such a perfect fit – as always. He can’t begin to describe all the things she is to him – saviour, lover, wife, mother of his children… Together they have faced down the armies of hell, so surely they can do what every other parent of the planet does. Fighting against the lump in his throat, he answers. (A chance to do something right…)
“Of course we can.”
Buffy sighs deeply and rests her head on his chest. But he knows that in reality he’s the one drawing strength from her. Silently he looks over her head, taking in their little boys in their cots and knows that they’re all theirs. Their – his – responsibility.
He has held the fate of the world in his hands, died to save creation, and yet that burden had been easy to bear. He smiles as he remembers Buffy’s words from earlier on… because dying had been fast. This burden however is one he’ll be carrying every day for the rest of his life, and it’ll be nothing as simple as swinging a sword or burning up. ‘Of course we can’ still rings in his ears, and he’s not at all sure he can do this. All the things he’s done and been – can he be a good father? Can he teach these boys what’s important in life, be a good rolemodel? His own father died when he was young, and his only major male influence later was Angelus…
For a moment he feels overwhelmed, but then takes a deep breath and clamps down on the feeling. He owes it to Buffy and his boys to cope. And he owes it to every child he ever killed to be the best father he can.
For a while they sit together in perfect stillness, almost falling asleep in the quiet peace. Then abruptly the calm is interrupted when one of the twins starts crying. A second later the other one’s eyes snap open, and then there’s a chorus of screams…
Three weeks later, Spike can vaguely recall that he had some noble motive or other attached to this fatherhood thing. But the only thought that his hazy, barely-functioning brain is able to process is a fervent, desperate prayer: ‘Dear God, for the sake of all that is holy – please, please let them sleep for more than half an hour!’
Not The End
Originally posted at http://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/194349.html