I’m sneaking on here at work (they block LJ, but I guess DW is too new or too small to make the “social network” radar) to post two more chapters. They’re pretty long, but I think I can fit two of them on one post.
Here are Ch. 3 and 4 of “If That’s What it Takes”
As it turned out, he was more than right about Buffy. Where before the portal they had been friends and slaying partners — in a working relationship that had been comfortable for them both, except for those rare occasions when he slipped and reminded her of his true feelings — she now avoided him completely. She spent all her time learning more about and trying to find Warren Mears, who seemed determined to make her life even more miserable.
After several weeks of very limited contact with Buffy – contact that was just the bare minimum necessary to conduct Scooby business, and in which she rarely spoke directly to him or met his gaze, Spike gave up going to meetings, counting on Dawn to let him know if there was something evil to worry about. When it seemed things were going to be calm for awhile, with no apocalypses to worry about, and the only thing approaching a big bad being a human that Buffy probably wouldn’t have let him kill even if she thought he could, Spike grew tired of watching from the shadows. He knew she could feel him there, but she never asked him to come out. Only when he was walking away and his signature began to fade would Buffy allow herself a wistful stare in his direction. They were stares he never saw as he walked away as quickly as possible, usually to the nearest bar.
In an alcohol-enhanced moment of feeling unwanted and useless, he loaded his things into the DeSoto one night and tapped on Dawn’s window to tell her he was going away, promising to get in touch as soon as he was settled. When she demanded he tell her why, or how long he’d be gone, he just shrugged and smiled at her.
“Think you know the why, Niblet,” he’d said, making no attempt to hide his sadness. “And I’ve no idea how long. Till I’m wanted or needed here, probably. I’ll stay in touch.”
He found himself a small basement apartment in a city far enough up the coast to be well away from Sunnydale, but close enough that he could get back quickly if they needed him. Life in the other dimension had given him a taste for human companionship and routine, so he got a job as a bouncer at a seedy bar that reminded him of Willy’s but without the demons. He’d had to prove himself a few times before the regular customers stopped thinking the new bouncer was too small to be effective, but he now had only to fix a cold stare on most troublemakers in order to quell any brewing problems.
But contrary to making him feel better, being back in a situation so similar to the one in the other world only brought home how accustomed he’d become to having Buffy in his daily life. On the surface, he enjoyed the free drinks, occasional fights and the attentions of some of the regular female patrons, but when he was alone in his apartment he cursed the impulsivity that had sent him running away without so much as a good-bye to Buffy. He wondered how she’d taken the news of his departure, or if she’d even noticed he was gone.
He bought a cheap second-hand laptop and sent Dawn his email address, telling her he wasn’t too far away and to contact him if she or Buffy needed him. Although she had no idea what had really happened while they were gone, Dawn knew that whatever it was, it hadn’t changed Spike’s devotion to Buffy, only his willingness to hang around waiting for scraps of attention from her.
Buffy was quietly accepting when Dawn finally told her that Spike had left town, nodding as if she’d expected it. In truth, she’d noticed that she could no longer feel his presence in the background when she fought, and she’d even peered into his crypt once to see if he there was some reason he wasn’t coming out. Although she’d refused to let herself consider the possibility that he’d been dusted, she was more relieved than surprised to hear that he’d moved away, even if it did still hurt. She shook her head when Dawn asked if she wanted his email address or to know where he was.
“No. I don’t need to know where he is. If he wanted me to know, he’d have given his address to me, not you.”
“Don’t be stupid,” Dawn said. “He was probably afraid you wouldn’t take it. This way, he knows you can find him, without having to admit you might want to.”
“I don’t want to. Why would I want to find Spike? If he’s gone, good riddance.” She tried very hard to convince herself she believed it, that she hadn’t missed his daily presence every day since their return.
“You don’t mean that.” Dawn blithely ignored Buffy’s attempt to be unaffected by Spike’s disappearance. “Before you guys got whisked away to someplace ‘happy’, you were spending more time with him than you were with any of us. You told me you were stuck in that other dimension for a long time – a lot longer than it was to us here. Don’t tell me you didn’t get closer when all you had was each other. Even if you don’t love him like he does you, you like him. He’s your friend, Buffy. Don’t try to deny it.”
“Friends don’t leave town without telling other friends they’re going,” Buffy said, her pain at Spike’s departure having turned to righteous anger now that she knew he was all right and that he’d left voluntarily.
With a younger sister’s blunt honesty, Dawn snapped back. “Friends don’t cut their friends out of their lives for no good reason — to where the friend thinks he might as well leave town because he’s not wanted here.”
“I don’t feel good,” Buffy said, holding her stomach. “I don’t want to talk about this anymore. It’s none of your business.”
It was another several months before Buffy had to admit she might have a problem. A problem that everyone else had already figured out, but were afraid to mention before she did. When it was no longer possible to hide her growing (and oddly mobile) belly from either herself or her housemates, Buffy sat down with Dawn, Willow and Tara.
“I guess you guys have guessed by now that I’m not just getting fat,” she began.
“Yeah. We’re kinda glad you finally noticed – before we had to, you know, explain the facts of life to you while you were giving birth.”
“Well, I just…. It took me a while to figure it out. I mean it wasn’t like I was expecting to be pregnant! There haven’t been any prophecies, I haven’t even had a freakin’ date, never mind anything—” She paused, a small frown on her face. “Well, except… but that can’t be it because he’s a— Oh God.” Her eyes grew wide and she turned pale. “We were normal humans – both of us were humans….”
Only Dawn picked up right away on who Buffy was talking about. “Spike? It’s Spike’s baby?”
Willow was almost too busy trying to digest what Buffy’d said to listen to Dawn. But she did catch “Spike’s baby?”
“Wait! What? Spike? You’re pregnant by Spike? How did that happen?”
“Pretty much the usual way,” Buffy said with a grimace as she slumped back in her chair, shaking her head at her own stupidity.
“But, Spike’s a vampire he can’t… Ohmygod. The portal. This is all my fault.”
“It’s not your fault, Willow. It’s not anybody’s fault. It just happened. We were there, and we were married—” Identical “what?”s from Willow and Dawn reminded her she’d never shared much about their experiences in the other dimension past that more time had elapsed there, and that they’d had no trouble fitting in. “Uh, yeah? Turns out the Spike and Buffy there – they were married to each other. Had this cute little house, and lots of friends, and it was really…. Really not something you need to know more about, I guess.”
“Buffy,” Willow tried to keep her voice reasonable. “It was Spike. What were you thinking?”
Buffy stiffened. “I was thinking I was married to this really hot, very nice man who was an awesome kisser and in love with me, and since we had no idea when we’d be getting back here… Look. We did what we did, and I’m not going to apologize for it. I was sleeping with a… a good friend… a man who loves me. If I’d had a one-night stand with some random guy here, you’d be all supportive and sympathetic. I didn’t. I had sex with the man I was married to in that world and I forgot that he could get me pregnant because he’s wasn’t a vampire anymore.”
“A vampire who also loves you,” Dawn said, glaring at Willow who was clearly not ready to give up her objections. “Not really seeing the problem here.”
“I can make it – the problem – go away,” Willow said, trying to ignore the gasp from Tara who flinched away from her. “Magically, I mean. Not in some icky, medical kind of way.” She frowned when Tara continued to move away, shaking her head. “What? I could, you know. It would be easy.”
Buffy wrapped a protective hand around her stomach. “No. I don’t think I want it to go away. This may be my only chance at having anything as normal as a baby. I just need to figure out how I’m going to keep slaying—”
Dawn handed her a piece of paper on which she’d scribbled something. “You know what you need to do.”
Buffy stared at the email address in front of her. “I don’t know what to say to him.”
“Just tell him we—you—need him. He’ll come back.”
“What if he won’t? What if he doesn’t love me anymore? I hardly even talked to him after we got back. I drove him away.”
“And now you’re going to bring him back. It’s Spike, Buffy. He still loves you. And even if he didn’t, he has a right to know about…” Dawn pointed to Buffy’s bulging mid-section.
“Buffy – you can’t seriously be planning to—mmmph! Ow!” Willow stared at Tara in complete astonishment. “Did you just pinch me and put your hand over my mouth?”
Tara blushed and let her hair fall in front of her face, then raised her chin and faced Willow firmly. “Yes. I did. I stopped you before you said anything else that wasn’t supportive of your best friend who is facing an uncertain future and will need help from all of us. And if that future includes the baby’s father…” She stopped and took a deep breath. “Who or what ever the father of this baby is, it isn’t the baby’s fault. If we have to, we’ll make it everybody’s baby.”
She paused, having said more at one time than any of them were used to from her. Willow was staring at her with eyes that were going from shocked to ashamed. Acting on impulse, Dawn hugged Tara tightly and Buffy gazed at her with teary eyes.
“Th… thank you, Tara. That’s—“ She burst into tears and sobbed into her hands for several seconds, then shook herself and sat up. “Wow. That was unexpected.”
“Hormones,” Willow said. She gave an apologetic whimper. “I’m sorry, Buffy. I’m being insensitive and a bad friend. We’ll do this. I’m going to look up everything about pregnancy and childbirth and….” She grabbed her laptop and began typing like a madwoman.
“I… Thanks, guys. I appreciate it. I really do. But I think now I’d better bring my back up muscle home.”
“That’s all he is? Back up muscle?”
“One thing at a time, Dawn,” Buffy sighed. “Can I use your computer?” Without waiting for an answer, Buffy walked upstairs and sat down at Dawn’s desk. She swallowed hard, then brought up the email program and stared at the blank screen for several seconds before she typed:
“I need you.
“On my way.”
Spike’s equally terse response wasn’t followed by anything else, and after a few minutes Buffy got up from the computer and went back to her room. She sank onto her bed and stared at the ceiling, her hand absently stroking her belly.
“I hope I know what I’m doing,” she whispered. “For everybody’s sake, I hope I know what I’m doing.”
Her musing was interrupted by a soft tap on the door. Buffy called out her permission to enter without moving off the bed.
“Buffy? I don’t want to sound all bossy, but… have you even seen a doctor yet?”
Buffy shook her head. “I’ve been pretty busy trying to pretend I didn’t know what was wrong.” She sighed and rolled her head to the side to look at Tara while she spoke. “I guess I need to do that, don’t I?”
“You do. The sooner the better. You should probably be on vitamins by now, and who knows what else.” She hesitated. “I can give you a name if you don’t want to use your own doctor.”
“I don’t have one,” Buffy said, sitting up and shrugging. “It’s just too hard explaining away the wounds and bruises that are gone by the next time the doctor sees you. Or, that my body fat is so low because of the exercise I get every night. And that I don’t have regular periods because… well, who knows why it’s because, but it’s all slayer-related. None of us are meant to live long enough to have to worry about birth control, or babies, or any of that stuff.”
“My doctor might be a little more understanding,” Tara said with a smile. “She’s a practicing witch as well as an ob/gyn, so she’s a little more aware of things in Sunnydale than most doctors are. I’m not sure, but I think she’s even treated some demons.”
“Okay. I’ll make an appointment later in the week. I’ve got to go to work now.” Buffy stood up and pulled her Doublemeat Palace uniform off the hanger, making a face as she did. “I wonder if they’ll give me bigger pants if I ask for them?”
“It’s none of my business, but I’ll be surprised if the doctor doesn’t tell you not to be on your feet so much. All that standing and walking probably isn’t…” She trailed off as Buffy glared at her.
“Is your doctor friend going to pay the bills around here?” Buffy demanded as she struggled into her uniform pants. “’Cause unless you see that happening, I don’t see her being entitled to have an opinion about how I spend my days… or nights.”
Buffy slapped her cow hat on her head and grabbed her jacket. “Sorry, Tara. I know you mean well, but things like the Doublemeat Palace and a household that has more outgo than I can bring in… they were a big part of why I liked it so much in the other world. Spike and I could have a cute house and still have money left over to go out once in a while. There was no slaying every night, so no torn clothes, no…. no obligations. It was a nice, peaceful life. And I had someone to share it with.” Without waiting for a response, Buffy walked out the door.
Tara stared at the empty space where Buffy had been standing. “I’m pretty sure you still could,” she whispered, then shook her head. “None of your business, Tara. Just give her the doctor’s name and stay out of it.”
Buffy came home by way of the only cemetery between the Doublemeat and her house, too tired to even pretend she was patrolling. Between slaying every night, trying to find Warren’s hideout during the day, and working as many hours as she could, Buffy had reached the end of even Slayer stamina. She staked one fledgling as he was crawling from his grave and turned for home, telling herself it was a job well done. When the tingle on her neck told her there was a stalking vampire nearby, she groaned aloud.
“Dammit! I’m tired. Just come out and get staked. I’m not in the mood to chase you.”
“Good to know,” said a familiar voice as Spike stepped from behind a tree. “Not really in the mood for running.”
“Spike!” She stared at him, trying to calm herself, knowing he could probably sense the way her heart had sped up when she recognized him. “You’re back.”
“Said you needed me.”
“I did. I do. I just didn’t think it would be so fast… Where were you?”
“Away,” he said, falling into step beside her. He watched her from the corner of his eye for a while, clearly seeing the exhaustion that could have meant her death if she’d met the wrong vampire or demon. “What’s wrong, Buffy? Are you sick? You look deader than I do. No offense…”
She made a face. “None taken, I know what I look like. I look like I feel. It’s all pretty much part of the package.” She sighed, then remembered she hadn’t told him yet what the package was. “I’ll explain when we get home.”
With her coat wrapped around her, the baby bump wasn’t noticeable, and Spike wasn’t close enough to pick up the rapid extra heartbeat. He just frowned and slowed his pace to match hers. They reached the house and Buffy went around to the back door, saying she always came in through the kitchen so she could grab a snack.
Entering the quiet house, she shrugged out of her coat, bit her lip, and turned to let him really look at her. She stood still, hands at her sides while he looked her up and down, his expression nothing like the usual combination of affection and lust that she was used to. His eyes narrowed, taking in her thickened waist and the bulge where there’d never been anything but flat, taut abs. Stepping toward her, he put his hand on her belly, then grabbed her arm and pulled her close enough for him to hear the extra heartbeat. He dropped the arm as if burned and glared, making no attempt to hide his pain and anger.
“Well, that didn’t take you long, did it? Did you at least wait until I left town to find yourself another—”
“Find myself another wha— Oh, you bastard!”
The sound of her slap carried all the way into the living room, where Tara immediately whirled around and shooed Willow and Dawn back up the stairs.
“You son of a bitch!” Fighting back angry tears, she glared at him. “I should have known you wouldn’t take any responsibility—”
“Responsibility? Vampire here, Slayer. Dead, remember? All of me. Don’t have any live swimmers… never mind that we haven’t even snogged since we got ba—” His face grew even paler. “Bloody hell…” She watched impassively as reality and understanding hit him, as he remembered where they’d been, where he hadn’t been dead, but alive and breathing and, apparently, with a sperm count.
“M… mine?” His expression had gone from outrage to wonder, and he reached toward her stomach again with a tentative hand, stopping before he actually touched her when the stony expression on her face didn’t change.
“No, it’s one of the ten other guys I was sleeping with six months ago.” Buffy’s anger was slowly fading as she watched the emotions on his face, but it wasn’t until she saw the tears he was trying to blink away that she finally weakened. “Yes, it’s yours, you moron. Who else’s would it be?”
He fell to his knees in front of her, burying his face in her stomach as he clutched her thighs. “Not sure what’s stupider, my brain or my mouth, but I apologize for both of ‘em.” His voice was muffled by the fabric of her shirt. “I’m the worst kind of wanker, and you have every right to tell me to get out of your life and never come back.”
“Yeah, well, tempting as that is,” she said, putting her hands on her hips. “I’m not doing this by myself, so you can just forget it. You’re not going anywhere.”
He raised his head and stared. Standing up in one smooth motion, he cupped her cheek with his hand. “You called me back to help you raise your… our child?” The awe and wonder on his face had her backtracking quickly.
“Well… I… No. I haven’t thought that far…. I mean…” She gestured at her thickened body. “Look at me! I’m already having a hard time keeping my balance sometimes. And I’m always tired. Not just I’m-not-getting-enough-sleep tired, but if-I-have-to-take-another-step-I’m-just-g
“And you need the muscle. Got it. No problem.” He turned away and moved toward the door. “I’ll just let you get some sleep then. I’ll hit a couple cemeteries tonight, and tomorrow we’ll do a good cleaning out, yeah? Good night, Buffy.”
He’d said all that without once letting her see his face or eyes, leaving her chewing her lip and frowning as he closed the kitchen door behind him.
“Okay. I don’t think that went as well as it could have….”
She sighed and shook her head. “Where’s a portal when you need one?” she muttered, taking the milk out of the fridge and pouring herself a glassful. She chugged the milk, grabbed an apple and headed for stairs. At the last second, she remembered to lock the door and walked back into the kitchen. With the inside light now off, she could see into the yard. Just barely visible under a tree at the edge of the yard, Spike’s blond hair caught the light from the almost full moon.
“Back to being a stalker,” she said automatically, then cringed at having such an uncharitable thought. She knew Spike too well not to understand he was standing guard over the house containing the mother of his unborn child. She gave a small wave as she locked the door, turning away before he could respond.
She was asleep before she’d even finished taking off her uniform. Outside, a still figure stared at the house, only the occasional glimpse of a lit cigarette indicating he was anything but another shadow.
Spike was gone by morning, of course. Buffy slept late, coming down feeling more rested than usual and greeting Willow and Tara with a smile. She looked back and forth between them, wondering if she’d interrupted some kind of argument, but in too good a mood to ask.
“Thanks for getting Dawn off to school. I don’t know when I’ve slept so late.”
“Neither do I, but I’m guessing the arrival of the slaying help had something to do with it?” Tara smiled at Buffy.
“You know he’s back?”
“He came here first, looking for you. Dawn told him you were probably on your way home from work and he went to meet you.” Tara walked to the sink and began to wash out her bowl and cup, leaving Willow to continue the conversation.
“So,” Willow said, studying the napkin she was playing with. “How did it go? I thought I heard a… a sound last night.”
Buffy flushed and bit her lip. “You heard me slap him when he forgot who was the most likely candidate for Dad of the Year and tried to get all huffy about my condition.”
“Ah. You, um, straightened him out, I guess?”
“Yeah. It didn’t take long for him to remember that he spent some time in a much less dead body. Then he was all sorry and happy and…” Buffy gave a sad snort. “And then foot-in-mouth-Buffy managed to screw that up.” She looked up at Willow’s “sympathy face” and shook her head. “Don’t worry about looking sorry for me. I’ll find a way to make it up to him and it’ll be okay. Spike’s never stayed mad at me.”
Tara cleared her throat and ducked her head. “Okay,” she said slowly. “Not really a Spike expert here, but I think there’s a difference between mad and hurt.”
Willow nodded her agreement. “And if I know—” She stopped herself, but not quickly enough.
“And if you know me, I probably hurt him. Is that what you were about to say?” Buffy’s good mood was rapidly evaporating.
“Well… maybe? Something like that only a little more tactful?” When Buffy’s expression settled into a cold glare, Willow hurried on. “I mean, I didn’t think much about it at the time, when you first came back, I just figured you and Spike were sick of each other after spending so much time in that other place, and that’s why he wasn’t around as much. But now that I know what you guys were doing there….”
“There, we were married. Here, we aren’t. It’s different. And he’s not human anymore.”
“Were you different people? Didn’t you remember who you were?” Tara’s words were all the more disturbing for the more gentle tone she used.
“Of course we did! Otherwise, how would we have known to step through the portal when it showed up?” Buffy snatched the napkin out of Willow’s hand and began shredding it.
Willow picked up the thread again. “So, when you were sleeping with Spike, you knew who he was. You knew you weren’t really married. And you knew he was in love with you in this world.”
“He knew that stuff too!” Buffy said, anger fading into embarrassment. “It’s not like I gave him any reason to—” She dropped her head and sighed. “That’s not true, I guess. I did. I gave him every reason to think I was falling in love with him – and then when we came back, I treated him like a stalker. No wonder he left me.”
“Was he leaving you, or leaving the place where he wasn’t allowed to be with you?”
“When did you get to be so smart?” Buffy muttered, glaring at the remains of her napkin.
“Hey, genius I.Q. here, thankyouverymuch.” Willow waited for Buffy to give her a small smile, then said gently, “So, what happened here last night? Wasn’t he happy about it?”
“Oh yeah, he was. At least he was until I let him think I’d called him back to… to make a family and then told him I just needed him to patrol for me.”
“Yeah. Big ouch. I’ve seen him go through some fast mood swings before, but I think he set a record last night. Really mad, scary happy, and really hurt – in less than sixty seconds.” Buffy stood up and got the cereal from the top of the refrigerator. She poured herself a bowl, cut up a banana, and added milk before she spoke again. “I guess after I eat, I’d better go find him and do some groveling.”
“Don’t you think you ought to let Giles know what’s going on?”
Buffy sighed. “Yeah. I’m really looking forward to that conversation… Hey! It was your portal. Maybe you should tell him?”
Willow squirmed uncomfortably while Tara stared at her, arms folded. “I… well… I kinda thought we’d just…” She sighed. “There’s no way to tell him what happened to you without, you know, telling him what happened to you, is there?”
Tara and Buffy shook their heads.
“Nope. ‘I’m pregnant by Spike because of something I can’t tell you about’ just isn’t going to fly. Not with research-guy.”
“Terrific. More lectures about how I shouldn’t be fooling around with—” Willow shook her head. “Nuh uh. I’m not telling him. I’m going to be busy working on my excuses.”
“Fine,” Buffy grumbled. “I’ll call him. Eventually…”
Originally posted at http://seasonal-spuffy.dreamwidth.org/799362.html