Settling (PG13)

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Happy Ten Years to you, happy Ten Years to you, happy Ten Years dearseasonalspuffy, happy Ten Years to yooouuuuu. Bless you, everyone who keeps this ship alive and this comm afloat. You’re marvellous, dammit.

Author Brutti_ma_buoni
Title Settling
Rating PG13
Words 5400
Setting post-series
Warnings this story deals with home birth, considering adoption, found families, and duelling to the death. Not enormously graphic on the first and last.
Inspired by This is a sequel to my last Seasonal Spuffy story So Rudely Interrupted – not really what I intended for the theme but then I got all inspired. You should be able to read this without refreshing the first one, but they probably go better together (and neither is all that long!).


In-laws were new to Spike. Not that he hadn’t been interested in the Summers women in times long past, but they hadn’t ever seen him as family, not as such. Not for a number of reasons.

He wasn’t family now, not yet, by any sane person’s counting. It had been six short weeks since he’d reintroduced himself into Buffy’s life; met with Giles, Dawn and the dragon that’d been trying to drag him and Team Angel back into a hell dimension; killed said dragon and reunited his lips and Buffy’s in a maelstrom of longing and love, and all that.

They should, absolutely should, still be in the ‘delirious shagging, no onlookers required’ phase of their relationship. The Slayer talked a good game, but he’d a pretty shrewd idea she’d not been well fucked in a long while. Mostly because he knew exactly how little enthusiastic exercise his own cock had had in the decade and more they’d been apart. And also her own endless, ecstatic responses to him.

But apparently lost lovers from the past weren’t entitled to honeymoons. There had been repairs to Giles’s place to make good while they camped out in the spare room. Discussing a more suitable rental in London, and getting shot of Buffy’s Brixton pit of depression (no sewer access provided). Not at any point asking too much about the Council, and just how much danger he and Buffy might be in if anyone realised they’d hooked up. Not at any point telling her too much about the things Team Angel had got up to under the aura of dragon control. That much silence took energy.

“Hhhhhgggghhhhhhnnnnn,” said Dawn, interrupting his reverie. “Uhhhhhhggggghhhh.” She squatted, panting hard, and added, “Fuck, these are no fun at all.”

And also, he was going to be an uncle. Quite imminently.

“You’re absolutely certain there’s no need to head for the hospital yet,” Giles asked at this point, in the tones of a man quite certain he would prefer her to do just that, and not risk his soft furnishings any further. (Try not to bleed on my couch, I’ve just had it steam-cleaned, had been the Watcher’s first response to Dawn’s irritated announcement that she was in labour, five days ahead of her due date and with her sister-cum-birth-partner away on Slayer duty. Spike had taken a moment to be shocked at the Watcher’s priorities, but apparently it was something from way back, some reference to the First Slayer, and not an actual statement warranting that smack in the mouth. He’d apologised, given time.)

“Yeah,” said Dawn. “About that.”

Spike’s gut clenched. This wasn’t going anywhere good.


It was possible for two men to (un)live a combined total of over two centuries and never have cause to be at a human birth. It was easy, when you were a demon, prone to killing and eating pregnant ladies rather more than assisting them with the birth pangs. It was also easy when you were a certain sort of toff, Giles-style, more given to bibliomania than physical grapplings.

“I’ve delivered foals,” Giles offered, reluctantly, as Spike denied all knowledge of how to assist with new life. “But I think in this case Dawn might be uncomfortable-”

“Guys,” Dawn said through clenched teeth. “Do you have any idea how many strangers have shone a light up my vagina these past months? Pregnancy and dignity are not mixy things. And I’m sorry Buffy isn’t here, and that I can’t have this kid in a maternity unit, just like you’re sorry. But it’s coming out somehow, and I think it’ll be pretty soon, so could you listen up to what I need and stop bickering, please?”

It might be the power of the Key, or it might just be that being Dawn Summers had been a rapid education in getting yourself out of sticky situations through sheer force of will. Either way, she got the two of them shut up pretty quick. Even Giles’s repeated mantra of, “I’m sure Buffy will be back soon,” didn’t grate the way it had at the outset. She would, but not soon enough, judging by the frequency of Dawn’s bellowing cries. Spike tried to remember what they did in ER in these circumstances. Kill the mother for dramatic effect, mostly, he recalled, unhelpfully.

“Guys,” Dawn said, again. This time with determination more than fury. “We’re doing this, here. My kid isn’t going down on any list, any prophecy, any Council plot, okay? So I need your help.”

“But you’ve had medical care before,” Giles protested. Logical thinking from the panicking old geezer. Spike was impressed. Or possibly Giles had found Dawn using the word ‘vagina’ earlier as squirm-worthy and memorable as Spike himself had. Bloody Englishness. Caught you at the most inconvenient times.

“I have, but not under my own name. The Council don’t know about this.” The gesture at Dawn’s belly beggared belief. She was vast. Apparently Spike’s disbelief was rather too visible, because she eyerolled him and said, “Skype. I don’t go there more than I can help.”

“But you do work with them,” said Giles. “And I rather think we may need allies in dealing with this… unorthodox situation, don’t you?”

Dawn interrupted with a bellow mingling denial and pain, so they lost the thread for a bit. But she picked it up again while transferring herself to the spare room bed. “So, I didn’t tell the Council because I don’t want this kid studied, okay? He’s going to be just a kid. Not the progeny of the Key. Not the fulfilment of anyone’s anything. Not like Angel’s kid. Right?”

“Angel has a kid?” Spike blinked.

“A kid with a great deal of active memory-wiping around him, at least for those Angel has been close to,” Giles said, ruefully. “Interesting to know you’re still affected.”

“And they had to create him a whole new world, curses, prophecies, enemies, you name it,” Dawn followed up. “He’s okay now, I hear, but it was a bad few decades there. So, no. This kid’s going to be normal. Somewhere else.”

“Oh. Oh, right.” Spike blinked at her. Really?

“Yeah. I thought,” she paused for a long, painful period. “I thought I could find a way to keep him. But it’s not gonna work. So. I guess maybe you can find a way to get him to a good home? Or Buffy, but she wants me to-“

And the rest was lost, because she moved from lingering pain to urgent expulsion of the kid from her innards, and Spike spent an hour or more struggling to balance the delicious smell of enchanted Summers blood with the incompetent fear of an unknown medical procedure, untold intimacies with his not-a-sister-in-law, trying to prop Giles up when the Watcher turned out queasy, and many other indignities no well-conducted vampire life should contain.

And, finally, a prize. “You sure?” he said, baffled. Such a risk, she was taking in the offering. Such a risk and a welcome to the family like he’d have never believed.

“Sure. You’re not all bacterial like us humans,” she said. “And I hear it’s good stuff, cord blood, right? You still look like you could do with feeding up.”

So he bit, separating the two of them. And neither smelled like lunch after, but rather family.

“Ah, shit,” he said, quietly. “You shouldn’t have done that, Dawnie.”

She was drifting now, smiling at the kid and at her own cleverness in surviving nature’s painful, dangerous miracle. “You’re not gonna eat us.”

“Nope,” he said, soberly. “But-“

She wasn’t paying attention. He went to break the news to Giles.

“You’re quite certain?” the Watcher asked, but with the leaden voice that said he knew Spike wouldn’t take the mick on a thing like this.

“Oh yeah. Unmistakable,” said Spike. He hadn’t tasted the Slayer much nor often, but he knew the power in the blood. “Not sure what that makes the kid. Key, Slayer, bit of both? But he’s power. And you can’t go giving him to some nice kidless couple in Cheltenham, all unawares. Someone will end up dead. Maybe him. Maybe them. Maybe everyone.”

“Ah,” said Giles, polishing the old specs like there was an answer to be scried therein. As if. “Well, we’d better talk it over with Buffy, I think. But I don’t believe she will see the Council as the solution, any more than Dawn does.”

“Yeah,” said Spike, gloomily. “Got any brandy?” Which he had, though the whisky was better, and besides, neither felt like getting blotto tonight, not with two semi-helpless magical lives theirs for the saving.


Buffy got home about ten a.m., late enough the night’s dew was clearing from the grass.

“Show me, show me,” she said, bouncing. “Auntie Buffy in the house!”

Sweet, where everything else about this was fucked up. He could tell, after, that Dawn had told her too, that the kid wouldn’t be sticking around. She was all flattened and careful. Like she’d been before Spike came back into her life. Too beat down for Buffy Summers.

“I get that it’s the sensible thing,” she told Spike, mouthing the words like one who’d learned this lesson too often. “The Council isn’t a place I’d want to see a kid raised. But- Spike, he’s so cute. His little toenails, they’re so perfectly toenaily, and I want to nibble them. You know?”

“Yeah,” he said. Lying. Eating any part of the kid was something he wasn’t planning on joking about any time soon. Besides, there was news to be broached. “So… did Dawn tell you what she let me do?”

“Yeah,” cautiously. “Tasty snack time for helpful vampire midwives?”

He nodded, probably smirking just a little. Tasty was the word. The baby’s blood and Dawn’s were working in him still. “Well… I tasted power. Not just hers. That baby’s not just special cos he’s a new Summers generation, Slayer. And I don’t reckon giving him up is going to answer. Not with a buzz like that about him.”

She was supposed to go all quiet and thoughtful, seeing the problem, the way the Watcher had. Instead, he watched, sinkingly, as Buffy started to glow. “Really? We can’t give him away?”

We. Godammit. And she looked so hopeful.

“No,” he said, grimly. “No, doesn’t look like we can.”


They registered the baby as Rupert’s and Buffy’s. Which wouldn’t do either of them any good with the Council’s morality clauses, but someone needed to be a human willing to own the kid, and Spike and Dawn weren’t eligible on their own counts. Spike wondered if the Registrar detected just how much Giles wanted to run screaming from the problem when they all three sat at the grim little terminal in Gloucester register office. Not exactly the glow of mature fatherhood about him, there. Or maybe they assumed (rightly) that given the age difference between the registered parents, there was an embarrassing unsuitability to the situation, and Giles’s huffing was just a part of coping with having done the naughty where he shouldn’t.

No one called the cops, or the Council, anyway. So it was a cautious win.

After, they sat around looking at Sam, all four of them. He slept, unworried.

(Why Sam? Nobody knew. Any votes for William, Rupert, Hank (yeah, no), Alex (yeahhhh, noooo), or “or perhaps you’d like to reflect his father in the choice of name?” (“Giles? Shut up.”) went nowhere. It was Buffy who said, meditatively, “Does he look like a Sam, or am I insane?” But everyone had agreed, and so it was.

Sam Summers. Okay. It wasn’t perfect. But it was legal now.)

“So, to sum up,” Spike said, because somebody had to. “Plan A and Plan B went up in smoke. We need a Plan C. Which-“ because everyone was ignoring him, “Can’t just be keeping him quiet here and hoping everything works out because he’s a widdle cutie.” Buffy frowned. Dawn nodded. Giles blushed (really, who’d have thought the old man had so much baby talk in him?). “Which means we need protection. Or, Sam does.”

“What kind of protection?” Buffy first, flexing her arm. “Because I’m pretty tough, still, and you-“

“Invisibility,” he said, simply.

Dawn shook her head, visibly still tired and occasionally in pain from the birth. Didn’t, in Spike’s humble, excuse the drivel she said next, though. “But an invisible baby, that’s just going to be awkward. I mean, diapers, and feeding-“

“I’m fairly certain Spike means a form of invisibility to the Council,” the Watcher said with patience Spike had to admire. “Or, perhaps and, to all the various cults and demons who might want a piece of a Summers child with his mother’s powers. I’d ask you all to consider that although the Council are not your ideal ally, they might be better able to protect you-”

“No.” And that was Dawn’s voice. Buffy hadn’t even spoken, just looked like a gorgon faced with a bitter enemy. Petrifying, that.

Giles coughed lightly. “Right. Well, if not that, perhaps there is a solution in the way Angel’s son was protected. I never did get to the bottom of that-“

“No.” That was Spike. He’d had time to ask his erstwhile buddies-in-arms. “You need a warlock. And he gets way too much power over you. Besides, didn’t think we wanted to weave the kid an alternative life. Just let him live this one.”

Dawn said, quiet but firm, “Nobody is making this kid a fake life. Maybe a paper trail, but Sam’s going to know who he is. Who we all are. The truth.” Rupert and the Slayer looked a little sideways at that, so maybe Dawn had got a lot less raw about the Key these past years. But to Spike, remembering her in mid teens, bloody and slashed and desperate to know herself, it made sense. He nodded. “So, what do we need?”

“Bleeding fairy godmother,” said Spike. A little hopelessly, or hopefully. He looked at Giles. “Got any books on the subject?”


Turned out research was no more fun than Spike remembered, and not greatly facilitated by a mewling, puking sidekick five days past birth.

“I’ll take him,” he finally said, after Dawn gave up on feeding as a solution to the grizzles. Anything to get away from the books.

Giles’s place wasn’t so bad, even at this back end of the year. The living room curtains were drawn back, and the view was pretty good. Mist in the valley, and twinkling lights of the three nearest villages just making it through the dark. “Can you see?” he murmured, ignoring the kid’s shrieks. “Wyre, that is. Horrible place. Decent church tower, mind, but they aren’t places I go to for fun, so I prefer looking over from here. Even in this parky night, you know. You could see my breath if I could breathe. You’d look like a chuffing steam engine, yourself, if you don’t mind my mentioning.”

Sam gulped and paused in the howling a while. Good. Spike kept up the chat, as long as he could, till Buffy slipped into the room to tell him they’d maybe found an option.

It had been a long while since Spike sat in a schoolroom, but you didn’t forget the good stories. Especially not the ones with the real bad boys playing a starring, cross-dressing role. “The Good Goddess? Are you fucking nuts? I’m not going up against a goddess that only talks to women. All else aside, I make a bloody unconvincing girl, Slayer, and I don’t want to suffer Clodius’s fate, either.”

Buffy looked at him patiently, with that look that twentieth-century schooling gave to people when someone with a real education started talking. Obtuse and a wee bit pissed off about all this unknown knowledge. Giles sighed, and clarified. “I’m not entirely sure this is the classical Bona Dea, Spike, and in any case, I don’t believe anyone had suggested you were going to be our lead in this instance. Buffy is more than capab-“

Spike accidentally squeezed Sam hard enough to get a squawk out of him. “Sorry, kid. But your on-paper-daddy’s talking bollocks. Happens a lot. Like I’d let the Slayer head off to appeal to a goddess without backup. He should know better after all these years.”

“Well,” said Giles, idiotically, “After all these years I wasn’t certain that was how you saw it.” Ouch. Striking right in the decade-of-absence there, Rupert. Spike almost flinched.

“Some things change,” he shot back. “That one won’t. I’m going with her.”

There was a tapping of Slayerly toes, and a folding of Slayerly arms. “When you guys have finished arguing over my head, about my mission,” said the Slayer, glorious in her wrath, “I need to know what we’re stepping into, and I’m absolutely taking Spike, and probably the rest of you. Goddesses weird me out. So shut up, unless you’re giving me intel.”

The most unpropitious circs for a shag, this, but god, he wanted her at that moment. Sam gave a little snuffle, and dribbled on Spike’s neck, and even that didn’t do a lot to shift the instant boner. And she knew it, judging by the smirk that came his way.

Later, when Dawn had taken the bag of smells and exudations off for some motherly time, and Giles had gone to the shops to stock up after their “incredible depredations” of his larder and cellar, she rode Spike into the mattress, hair flying and eyes fixed on the ceiling, looking onwards and upwards to the point where climax lay. He felt used, in the best of ways, and laughed up at her as she flew.


Less fun, the lengthy days of preparation for bearding a goddess in her hidden eternal den. Laurels and tunics and abstention (“Not that that’s a big problem for me right now,” Dawn had said, reading it out, making a face at Buffy and the proceeding to tell them all about the state of her innards, to a degree Spike could very much do without. He could smell the good part on her anyways, didn’t need the diagram.) A week’s worth of work to even talk to the bitch, and she wasn’t playing ball when they showed, either.

“A child deserves protection,” shouted Giles into the howling void.

“Perhaps,” came back the treacliest, sweetest, most sink-into-and-dissolve voice of motherhood, but at 100 decibels and reverberating right through your guts it wasn’t the most nurturing experience Spike could remember. “But all mothers think so, or all those worthy of the name. You are not exceptional. So I make no exceptions.”

“We’re not all the mothers,” Spike protested. “Some of us are the evil dead, and we also think the kid deserves a fair shot.”

There was a pause. “…Yes,” said the goddess, eventually. “That is exceptional. Are you the child’s champion, then, to fight for him to death and beyond?”

She had to add that ‘and beyond’ part, didn’t she?

But there wasn’t any question here. Not for Spike and the Summers family. “Yeah,” he said. “If that’s what it takes.”

“Then show it,” said the ‘Good’ Goddess, a title Spike was going to have words about at some point, since she promptly magicked up a seething ball of snakes and dropped it on his head.

“Fucking ow,” was all he had time for initially, but snakes weren’t ever the worst, and he got through with a few slashes of his new best friend, a machete Buffy had pressed on him as “sharper than you’d believe, trust me”.

“Very well,” said the Goddess. But any sense of relief arising was swiftly extinguished. “Who else wishes to challenge for the soul of the Slayer Child?” And he was on the sands of an arena, and the bays were full of critters, and he was going to have to fight all comers, seemed like. Or Sam would be theirs, with the goddess’s blessing, assuming they could get across Buffy’s dead body to grab him.

It wasn’t news, exactly. They’d expected most of it from the scriptures, and more from the general rule that meaningful protection spells demanded fighting and someone else’s blood. They’d hoped Buffy might be allowed to fight with him, perhaps, not being technically the mother, but apparently that loophole wasn’t available. And they’d not expected anything about the baby’s soul being on the block.

But that part really wasn’t new. Spike had fought for souls before now. On sand, in darkness, against fire and death and despair and bloody big rocks flung right at your head. The trick was, keep on fighting, keep on outlasting, and in the end the prize would be won.

It took a bloody long time. Bloody very much the operative term, as it happened. Most of the exsanguinations on the sand weren’t Spike’s, else he wouldn’t still be standing, but he was getting woozy when things changed. Starting, not to worry, but at least to wonder how long he could hold out, how many more waves of- Oh look, sinking sand and hydras underneath, lovely.

But he could still see Buffy, wasn’t wholly submerged, and didn’t need too much brainpower to keep on fighting the wriggly-but-blind foe. So he saw her surge to the edge of the arena, and shout, “Spike! You don’t have to do this.”


He appreciated the thought, and all that. But really? A little trust wouldn’t go amiss around here.

“Yes I fucking well do,” he panted, hacking off a pair of snake heads and hurling them in her general direction. “Thought I was family? Not about to let family down.”

She got it, mostly, but he could see she still wasn’t registering he was actually pissed off. Saved his unbreath till the hydras were vanquished and the sand once more semi-solid under his feet, before swinging himself up the arena wall to get into her face. “Love you, Slayer. You and all yours. I’m not about to walk away from helping you. Not again.”

Buffy said, “Oh,” a little radiance breaking on her face, and then, “Oh! Uh, vampire! Behind you!”

“Seriously?” he was almost annoyed. Apparently the Good Goddess couldn’t be bothered to calibrate her lengthy trials to her actual challenger. And it wasn’t even a decent vamp, more of a fledge with some gymnastics in her training. Didn’t know to go for a bite first off – not that it would’ve benefited her given his bloodless state, but it was the principle of technique that mattered.

“Lil help here?” he shouted, because the arena didn’t abound in wooden objects. A stake landed in his outstretched hand almost before the shout ended. Bloody marvellous woman, that. “Sorry, kid,” he said, staking in the old familiar way. “Met your match here.” Not her fault, and she dusted neatly enough, no complaints.

He could swear the Good Goddess was embarrassed by that being the grand finale to her trials. For so it proved to be. She rolled up into the arena and did the Beneficent Deity gig, “Your champion has proved worthy, your cause is just, name your conditions,” blahblah. Luckily she took the list from Buffy, rather than making Spike recite it. He had enough to do staying standing with relief dripping from every pore. That, blood, and a little bit of ire.

“Didn’t think I meant it, did you?” he shouted, as they faced eternal nothingness again for the trip home. “Thought I’d just dropped by for a decent shag and some good old times, but I’d be up and off and, what? Hanging out with the cool kids in LA, is it?”

“No, I-” Buffy shouted back, but even if eternity hadn’t been swallowing her syllables, he was pretty sure she didn’t have much of a comeback.

“Newsflash,” he bawled, “Me and Team Angel had a long disagreement about dragons, and how badly we need to be free of them. For me? It was always about you. Better than ten years of knowing I’d come back for you, when I was free of that shackle. Never a doubt in my mind, so long as you had a place for me by the time I got here.”

The Slayer grabbed hold of him in the tumult, and shut him up in the best of ways.


“Went well, huh?” Dawn’s voice came from surprisingly close and clear. And there was no more howling to speak of, bar the occasional baby whimper.

“Quite well, thank you,” said Giles, and you could hear the microfiber on convex plastic, he was polishing his glasses so hard. It started to harsh Spike’s rising mellow. “Perhaps we should leave them to-”

Reluctantly, Spike and Buffy broke the kiss. Stood, wet-mouthed and wanting, inches apart. In, as it turned out, Giles’s library. Which made a nice retro touch, if you liked.

“Hi,” said Dawn, brightly, like she was still fourteen and fresh as hell, not a mother making the sacrifice of her life. “So, are we good?”

He let Buffy tell her it was so. “Well, good,” said the Key, Dawn Summers, portal goddess extraordinaire, and Spike had never admired her more. She kissed little Sam, and passed him to Buffy. “Better get Skyping.”


It was hard to tell on the small screen, but the Slayer Council didn’t look like a fount of evil. Not if one overlooked the scythe, the scythe that should be Buffy’s, mounted above the meeting table, like a Fuck You Summers totem.

“Hi guys,” said Dawn, normal as you please. “Thought I should check in, see how the portaling needs are going. Sorry I’ve been a little absent lately, but family stuff’s been… hectic.”

“I’ll bet.” The President of the Council bent forward, red hair lolling and coiling round her elegant shoulders. “So, you gonna introduce us?”

Dawn swallowed, just one loud click in the quiet room, and then- “Sure. This is my nephew, little Sammy. And his mommy wanted to say hi too.” She shifted the screen around to show Buffy and Sam, all good pictured maternal devotion and no hint of the hostile way things had been bare weeks before, at least in Buffy’s telling of the Council’s relations with her.

“Oh my GOD,” squealed Willow, President Willow, apparently not the worst thing that had happened to the Council lately, but still not forgiven for the past. “Buffy had a baby! He’s so cute, you guys!”

Buffy smiled, and tilted Sam’s face up to the screen, and waved his baby hand (specially gussied up in a tiger onesie, for maximum cutesification, Spike noticed). Helloed all those former friends, former foes, and the newer Slayers that never knew Buffy Summers and her mission. “I totally did have a baby,” she said, eventually. “And it made me think it’s time to get past old arguments, isn’t it? I just want my family to be safe.” Said it so smooth, you’d never know how much it had cost her to agree to this. The anguish in her eyes when Dawn first asked it, and the calculation after.

There was a little to and fro banter about Slayer/Watcher inappropriateness, and Spike briefly looked forward to Giles suffering apoplexy right there on Skype as he agreed it had all been very unsuitable and must never happen again. Till Buffy said, “You have to lay off Giles, guys. That was a- It was an emotional time. Not happening again.”

(Giles’s quiet, “Amen,” mercifully didn’t appear to reach the laptop speakers, and nobody on the other end blinked.)

“But it did make me realise it was time to reconcile with Spike,” said the Slayer, all sweet-smiling, like she wasn’t treading mine-infested soil now. Like she wasn’t returning to the source of her quarrel with the Council, their decision to let him and his die, for the sake of the world. Like any of them had known he was even alive till this exact moment, though none of them was recoiling in surprise, and something was wrong there, if convenient. The hand that wasn’t snuggling Sam found Spike’s own hand, drawing him into the screenshot – and keeping him there, like iron bands on his wrist. “It’s been too long denying what I really wanted,” Buffy said, flagrantly untruthful, rewriting history-

Oh, fucking hell. That was just what she was doing, he realised. Rewriting history. Using the Good Goddess’s protection spell for Sam to cover Sam’s little found family. Rewriting her own quarrel with the Council, in their minds – and that could only be for the good, he thought, if Buffy was prepared to let it ride in the greater cause. Rewriting where Spike had been for the past decade, and obfuscating any mention of dragon-curses and near-Armageddon that Spike and the gang may have potentially been waggling over the Earth.

Buffy’s fingers tightened in the moment, dragging him back to play his part. “That’s right,” he said, wrapping an arm around her and freeing his other hand from her grip to boop the baby’s nose in an appropriately stepfatherly fashion. He hoped. “We’re going to muddle through together, aren’t we, Slayer?”

She giggled at him, eyes wide with love and hope – he hoped, right back, that most of it was true. Cheers for springing this on me, he telegraphed at her. She wriggled one shoulder, a tiny shrug. “Whatever it takes,” is what she said, and it was an answer of sorts.

The chat degenerated into terrible stories of baby shit and sleeplessness, promises to send gift blankies and other needless faffery, and even a little truce over Buffy’s patrolling. (“I don’t want to get rusty, you guys. Not when I have such great help with Sammy. So, you let me know where I can help, ‘kay?” And the Council rolled over like lambs.) Not a word about any suspected special powers for Sam. Not a ripple of a tremor of doubt that Buffy Summers might have produced this kid. Nothing for Dawn to look askance at, and she wasn’t mostly, though her hand trembled as she gripped her mug of tea for comfort while the chitchat ground on. The Good Goddess’s magic would out, it seemed.

When they cut the call, Spike waited till they had also powered off the laptop and moved to the living room before speaking out about his speaking part in the family scene. “Thanks for the warning, love,” he said.

She grinned at him. “You shoulda read all the conditions in the draft,” was her riposte. “I was totally ready to scrap that idea, make Giles the long term babyfather like we agreed, but you were being all self-sacrificing protector, anything for me and the family, so I thought- Screw it, you know? Let’s make you official. Make you and me part of the Council family too, for safety. Make us official too. You don’t have to do night feeds and diapers-”

“Like I’m not already,” he pointed out, weakening his own sense of outrage as he considered just now much he was, in fact, prepared to do to help out with the kid. The baby. The child he just sort of swore to raise, before Slayer and Council, not the least of whom was an extremely powerful Wicca who wouldn’t take kindly to him letting down her once-and-now-again-friend.

Well. There was commitment. Buffy-style commitment, no holds barred. He contemplated the terrifying not-terrifyingness of it. Sounded, sort of, all right. If a little demeaning to the pride of your former Master Vampire in its domesticity and goddess-guaranteed personal protection. But he’d got over plenty worse. Part of a package now. Committed, all in, there for Sam, there for the Council if they deigned to throw him some work… there with the Slayer.

“You okay, Dawn?” Buffy was already moving on to other business, seeing to her sister in all her loss. Rightly. Taking him and his support for granted. It felt… It felt like luxury.

Ask him in another three months when the kid had colic and he had to smoke in the gutter if he hadn’t been forced to quit wholesale, maybe Spike would feel differently. Maybe he’d turn out a shitty husband and father. Maybe the Good Goddess wasn’t as powerful as they were banking on and their castle in the air would fall to earth, breaking them and Sam with it. Maybe his dark past would resurface and use this domestic happiness to drag him back down. Likely, on all counts. But giving it a bloody good shot? Like a fucking rocket, he was in.


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