This Be the Verse 1/9

This entry is part 1 of 9 in the series This Be the Verse
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Author:  ghostyouknow27
Rating: R, mostly for swearing and violence
Summary: Begins at the start of Season 7, but immediately goes AU. Buffy gets pregnant with Spike’s baby, and it fixes everything that’s wrong in their relationship. Don’t try to figure out any timelines, because they won’t fit.
Disclaimer: Characters and settings belong to Joss Whedon. The prose and plot are my own.
Word Count: Around the 37,450 mark
WARNING(S): There’s not much violence in this fic, but what’s there involves a baby. That’s right, a baby. Also, don’t expect too much happy mushiness. This is Pregnancy-With-Minimal-Plot and does involve consensual non-sex, naughty words and the author’s rather sick sense of humor. Uh, enjoy? Oh, and none of this is beta’d. So reedz at you’re own wrist.

A/N: I’m trying to post before I head off to work, so if there are any tag errors (I’m a bit of a Livejournal novice), I’ll have to correct them when I get home. I won’t be able to answer comments until then, which makes me sad, but I promise I’m not ignoring anyone! And I’ll get the rest posted this evening. :-)

This Be the Verse

Spike pressed his heel a little harder, and the baby’s skull popped gray and red across the linoleum.

Babies had never been his kink. He had killed them every now and again, because Dru liked prezzies wrapped in swaddling, and truth be told, he wasn’t opposed to the taste. Babies’ blood was sweet, inoffensive.

Lacked the fear, of course, due to the limited higher brain function. Didn’t fight back, either. And since fright and fight topped his list of kinks, Spike tended to leave the nappie set well enough alone. Had even saved one or two in his time, when Dru’s flights of fancy threatened to go from exciting and dangerous to, well, dull and dangerous.

He had loved Dru. Didn’t mean he was ready to give her scores of babies, for chrissakes.

Spike ran a weary hand over his face. He was a monster, he was. Knew it. He deserved this lot. But she —

Spike stepped over the doctor’s broken body, doing his best to ignore the still-living girl on the bed. She was unconscious, her pretty little belly still split open. He studied the monitors for awhile, the symbols on them, before he found a button that would distract some dozy bint from swilling coffee and gossiping in the nurse’s break-room.

He looked down at Buffy, swept away some sweat-dampened hair where it clung to her cheek. “Something —” He swallowed hard, mouth dry, as he heard a nurse step into the room. “Something went wrong.”

The nurse took in the battered equipment, the woman left open, the dead surgical team. Then she looked at it, his baby, and she screamed.


“I’m sorry.”

“I’m pregnant.”

Spike looked up, swallowed hard at the sight of Buffy. Bones and hard angles — but with a new heft to her breasts, a large protrusion swelling beneath and between them. Not exactly effulgent, his Slayer. She looked pinched. Unhappy.

He hadn’t exactly expected smiles. An immediate staking wouldn’t have surprised him. But Spike wasn’t some dullard in a dunce cap. He could tell she was pregnant, and not far from popping, either.

He had no right to her. Still stung. Especially when the math did him no favors. When exactly had she started sleeping with someone else? Before she kicked him to the curb? Before he’d —


He ducked his head. “Didn’t drop by to tell you I’m sorry. Can’t ever fix it or make it up to you. Can’t take it back. But I’ve changed. I know something’s coming, Buffy, and I can be of help.”

Spike broke off his speech as Buffy laughed. He stared, dumbfounded, as the sound rippled outward, ringing louder and more bitter by the second. “Would you really?” asked Buffy. “Take it back, I mean?”

“Well, yeah.” Spike shook his head, bewildered. “You can’t honestly think that I meant — I was out of my head. Ripped into you like the monster I am — but I didn’t — I never —”

“But you did.” Buffy’s eyes were bright. Suspicious. “What did you say? That I’d feel it when you were inside me?” She put a hand to her lower belly. “So what, when the rape didn’t work, did you turn to plan B? Work some nifty mojo?”

Spike’s eyes had drifted to Buffy’s stomach, but Buffy’s words startled him. Made him remember himself. “What? No!” He paused. “Well, yes. In a way. But —”

He yelped as Buffy grabbed him by the ear and dragged him across the threshold, which, to his surprise, he crossed easily enough. She jerked him into the parlor, shoved him onto the couch. “I should stake you.”

Spike peered up at her. “You’re not wrong. But I said my piece, and now I’ll be out of your hair. Just answer me this — who did the tupping, Slayer?”

Her anger faded into bewilderment. “Huh?”

A horrible thought occurred to him. “Wasn’t Capwimp, was it?”


Spike bobbed his head, and put his hands to his upper thighs, ready to push off. “Though you know what? Bully for him. Didn’t think he’d have the balls to slip you the sausage while playing Steed to the Peel.”

Buffy crossed her arms over her chest, throwing her belly into greater prominence. “Are you talking about Riley?”

“Like you don’t know!” snapped Spike, jumping to his feet. “Played me for a fool, you did. Just tell me when it was he stuck it to you. Before you blew up my crypt?”

Buffy’s face closed like a fist.

“Because it was a joke to you, wasn’t it? Kick the Spike blue and bloody. Laugh over it while G.I. John puts it to you.”

Buffy shoved him back down. “You. tried. to. rape. me.”

The hatred and rage of the demon thrummed inward. He looked away.

“And now you’re going to sit down, shut up and tell me what you did.”

She knew. Somehow she knew. Spike deflated, body curling forward. “How’d you figure it?”

“Kinda obvious, Spike.”

He sighed. Right, then. “Demon in Africa. Fought some trials. Won it, fair and square.”

Buffy bit out her words. “You think this is some sort of prize?”

“Well, a bit of a booby prize, truth be told.” He studied his knuckles. “Did it for you, Slayer, so I’d not hurt you again. Wanted to be what you deserved.”

“Oh, God,” said Buffy. “Oh God. So you wouldn’t —” She shook her head. “You think that I deserve this? That I want this? Any of this?”

Staking him would have been kinder. Spike stood on shaky feet, eyes darting to the couch, the cracks in the coffee table. Anywhere but at this great and terrible goddess — this little girl — that could scorch him to the bone. “Too late, now. Can’t get rid of it.”

“Well, I know that!” cried Buffy. “I’ve tried!”

Spike stared at her in shock. She wanted — she’d tried to — but that didn’t make a lick of sense. “We talking about the same thing, Slayer?”

Buffy eyes narrowed. “I dunno. I was talking about our ‘baby.’”

“Got a soul,” replied Spike, numbly. And then — “Baby?”

Buffy’s bottom lip trembled. “Soul?”


Buffy jerked back her hand, steadied herself enough to give Spike the mug without jumping at the touch of his fingertips. She was allowed to be nervous around him. She had fought for years, died twice. But no one had ever — ever violated —

She had spent the last five months convincing herself that Spike had done some sort of spell that night, as if a bun in the oven — a piece of him, inside her — would make her love him.

It sounded stupid, now. The look on his face. The blind way he stumbled from the bathroom. Spike hadn’t done this. He had done everything in his power to become a better man, and better men didn’t go for magic pregnancies.

“How long?” asked Spike. The vampire was staring into his coffee — decaf. It was all she had, because caffeine wasn’t good for the spawn, and what wasn’t good for the spawn tended to make Buffy very, very sick.

Buffy shrugged, settling heavily into a chair on the other side of the kitchen table. “We don’t really know. I had no idea I was pregnant until July, when I woke up and was all whoosh.” Her hands moved across her belly, indicating the considerable extent of the whoosh.

Spike nodded, his lips moving with a deliberate quality, like his words had to be handled gently, less something explode. “And you’re sure it’s mine?”

Buffy sighed, feeling the hell spawn kick at things she was pretty sure weren’t meant to be kicked. “We did a bunch of tests. After we ruled out demon spawn roofies and higher being hijacks, Giles did some sort of spell on your duster. Double blue line — we’re pregnant.”

“But vampires can’t. On account of us being dead and all.”

Buffy felt the beginnings of a headache, just another pain for the pile of creaks and aches and out-of-sorts her body had become. She wasn’t meant for this, the normal-womanhood of pregnancy. Not that this pregnancy was in any way normal.

“Except that it’s magic.”

Spike turned the mug in his hands. “And you just decided to keep it?”

Her lower back ached and she was hungry for some unholy combination, like the kimchi and peanut butter sandwiches that made her breath reek for hours, and her feet were swollen from hours working the frier at the Doublemeat, where no one commented on her overnight transformation into waddling impending motherdoom, but looked at her like she was some sort of cautionary tale about slutting it up on the Hellmouth. Which she sorta was. But still.

And now Spike was here, and saying he wasn’t the bad guy in this. And that he had a soul, now. Buffy rolled that word over in her mind. Soul. Soul. There was a heaviness to the word.

Looking at Spike, Buffy could see the heaviness. And something else, too.

Spike was still fidgety. Electric. Things in his face twitched and jumped. He fiddled with his cup without drinking. But Buffy could sense a sort of depth that hadn’t been there before. Not peace, because there was no such thing, especially for a vampire with a soul. And not stillness, because this was Spike, and if still waters ran deep, they still ran. More like — potential. Like there was something in him that could be still, or be stilled, with time.

It scared her.

“I did try. To get rid of it.”

Spike gave her a puzzled frown. “And what? Couldn’t go through with it?”

Buffy snatched a butter knife from the table and drove it towards her stomach. The knife was dull, of course, but she was the Slayer — in her hands, a loofah was a dangerous weapon. The blade bent, like rubber, against her stomach.

Buffy tossed the ruined knife on the table between them. “Your spawn won’t die.”

“Spawn?” Spike looked stricken. “Is it —?”

Buffy closed her eyes. There was that question again. The one that kept her up at nights. The ultrasounds said it looked human, with all of the normal black-and-white squigglies that the doctor translated into “healthy baby boy.”

But healthy baby boys didn’t whoosh. And they didn’t have undead DNA or generate knife-bending force fields. They didn’t treat their mothers’ insides like punching bags — well maybe they did. But the spawn had cracked a rib that time she’d tried to eat tuna salad.

“Human? We don’t know.”

And that’s when Spike up and ran.


It was too much. To think he’d put a demon into Buffy. But she — Buffy was good. If the — if it was half hers, if she had made it, then it had to be good, too.

He tried not to think about it being half his. Tried not to think at all, really.

But the fear had not abated with time and alcohol. Every second made it sharper. Made it sting. Just one week, and he’d been in agony. Needing to see her but unsure of his welcome. Needing to know how this had happened, but terrified that he had, however inadvertently, hurt her worse in trying to become something that wouldn’t hurt her at all.

So he’d slept, and dreamed, and guarded the high school against rats. Sometimes he dreamed about Dru, about the time with the pie. Or she’d sing that rhyme he’d wrote for her: “Run and catch, run and catch …”

Sometimes he saw a little cherub in an ivory christening gown, crying as the holy water bubbled the skin on its forehead.

Sometimes he saw himself stomping on a red, scaly thing, like an insect.

And then he’d think about Buffy, about how exhausted she must be, what with caring for Dawn, and now with the stress of a demon pregnancy on top of that. No woman should have to carry that load. And he wasn’t being a help to her, as he’d intended. He’d only added to her burden.

It was this thought that finally drove him out of the basement, landed him back on her doorstep. He knocked, and waited, and then she was there, and his throat closed. She was so bloody beautiful, even with pale cheeks and shadows like bruises beneath her eyes.

And bugger it all, she wasn’t alone.

“What’s he doing here?” asked Xander, as Buffy stood back to let Spike enter.

“It’s alright,” Buffy said. “Besides, we should probably question him.” She shot Giles a look. Spike couldn’t decipher it. He hoped it had something to do with skipping torture or being chained in the bathtub, which considering the nearest available bathroom, amounted to the same thing.

Spike kept his back to the wall, out of the way. It didn’t matter. All eyes were on him. Willow, Dawn, Buffy, Xander, Giles. He held up his hands, slow-like, as if they were the worst of his weapons. “Didn’t come to break the peace, yeah? Just — just want to help. Find out what happened.”

“Like you don’t know!” exploded Xander. “I always knew you were twisted, but forcing the woman you raped to carry your baby?”

“Tried to!” interjected Buffy. “He tried to rape me. I stopped him.”

Xander shook his head. “Staking’s too good for you. Setting you on fire’s too good for you. Eternal torment’s too …”

“Good for me, yeah,” said Spike. “What would do it, Harris? Want me to bend before the class, let you give me a good slippering?” He sighed. “’Sides, I took care of the eternal torment bit myself.”

“Yes,” said Giles. “Buffy informed us of your — acquisition.”

“It’s a soul,” snapped Spike. “I didn’t buy out AOL.”

“I think we should just Hoover him,” said Dawn, giving the vampire an icy once-over. “Dusting the deadbeat dad has, like, poetic justice or whatever.”

“We can’t,” said Willow, speaking up for the first time. “If he’s the one who did the spell, we might need something from him to reverse it.”

“Didn’t,” insisted Spike. “Told Buffy that.”

“You’ll have to forgive us for doubting your veracity,” said Giles. “Giving how you’ve always been so forthright in the past.”

Spike raised an eyebrow. “And you think my great and nefarious plan’d be to sic a sprog on the Slayer? Like she’d thank me for that?”

“So, what?” said Xander. “You expect us to believe that Buffy just happened to get pregnant before you waltzed into town all shiny and soulful?”

“I didn’t get pregnant,” scowled Buffy. “I whooshed.”

“Even so,” said Giles. “Spike lacks credibility.”

“Haven’t heard my story, Watcher,” Spike pointed out. “Not here to make trouble. I’ll tell you everything. Do a truth spell if you like.”

“I have stuff,” said Willow. “Give me twenty minutes and I’ll have him singing like a canary. Only — no actual singing.”

“We don’t need a truth spell.” Buffy toddled to the couch. Spike hoped this meant that she was relatively sure that no one would try to kill him. “Spike will tell us what happened.”

“Buffy —” started Xander.

“Let him talk,” she said firmly, and then all eyes were on him.

Right. He quickly explained the request he had made, back in Africa.

There was a moment of silence. And then — “You bloody fool,” said Giles.

“I can’t believe you!” cried Dawn. “What if the demon decided that Buffy deserved you to be a big warty troll? Or that pony she always wanted?”

Spike stiffened. “The demon knew what I meant. Stated it clear enough before the trials.”

“Even if that’s true, poor wording on your part at, at the crucial moment when you expressed — the demon could have extrapolated any meaning. Did you bother to think for one minute — no, don’t answer, I’m being rhetorical — that a demon best not determine what a Slayer ‘deserves?’”

“That’s what I said!”

“Yes, Dawn, except I think Spike becoming a pony highly unlikely,” snapped Giles.

Willow raised her hand. “But what demon would think that Buffy deserves Spike for a baby daddy? As far as evil plans go, it’s kinda twisted. Especially since the baby —”

“Not a baby!” insisted Buffy.

“— Doesn’t leave Buffy vulnerable. Kinda the opposite.”

“The demons can’t kill me, but the running away’s working way better for them these days,” groaned Buffy, resting one hand on her stomach. She gave her belly a small slap. “Stop moving!” she told the thing living inside it.

“Ooh, is it kicking? Can I feel?” asked Dawn.

“What? No!” said Buffy. “That’s like asking someone if you can feel up their tapeworm.”

Dawn made a face. “The pictures don’t look wormy.”

Spike glanced at Buffy. “There’s pictures?”

“Ultrasounds,” provided Willow.

“It appears to be human,” said Giles.

Spike would have let out a breath of relief, had he been breathing. He’d been picturing a squirming, amphibious thing, all tentacles and fangs and inky squidy blackness. A human baby —

Well, now that he thought of it, a human baby sounded equally terrifying.

“‘Appears’ being the key word, here,” said Xander.

Spike frowned, thinking of something, “Couldn’t have been the wish, though. Went to the demon in May. Buffy didn’t —” he couldn’t think of a word that would describe the Slayer’s blowing-up without getting him killed — “It didn’t appear ‘til summer. Might not be mine, then.”

“Oh, it’s yours,” said Buffy, darkly.

“If you really need proof, I can do another paternity spell,” offered Willow.

“The pregnancy isn’t, er, developing at a normal rate,” said Giles. “While Buffy woke up one morning to find herself well into her third trimester, the — growth — has yet to progress any further. It could have remained at some early stage for a few months.”

“Maybe Spike wished-in a delay period so it would look like it wasn’t him,” said Xander.

“Please,” said Buffy. “Spike could be stupid enough to run his big mouth in front of the wrong demon, but there’s no way he wanted to get me pregnant. What vampire would want a baby? To raise, I mean.”

“Maybe he just wanted a nummy treat,” said Xander.

Spike dignified his response with a low growl. “Could think of easier ways. Besides, I’m all souled-up, now. Off the people food for good, chip or no.”

“Says you.” Xander scowled.

“Says me,” said Buffy. “It was stupid to think that Spike did a spell. Spike would’ve tried to fo—fight me.” It was obvious that she had started to say ‘force,’ and Spike felt crumpled and small, like wadded-up paper, even as Buffy continued speaking in his defense. “Spells aren’t his style.”

The Slayer hadn’t fooled anyone. Spike could smell it — their loathing of him, worse than it’d ever been, because now he understood it, and he empathized.

“So, we’re thinking this isn’t my fault?” Spike asked carefully, trying not to set off a fuse.

“Oh, it’s definitely your fault,” Buffy glared at him. “You’re its daddy.”

“Hey, guys?” asked Dawn. “If we’ve decided that Spike didn’t cast a spell to make a ba—rasite, then, well —”

“What, Dawnie?” asked Willow.

“Doesn’t that mean we have no idea who — or what — did?”


Buffy ducked under a fledgling’s punch, raising a leg and spinning to fend off his buddy, who was trying to grab her from behind. Except that the spawn threw off her center of gravity, and instead of knocking the vampire across the graveyard, she landed an ineffectual blow inches to the left of her intended target.

The first fledge grabbed her from behind as she stumbled, pinning her arms to her side. “Gotta ask one question before I bite you,” said the vampire, lips brushing against her jugular. He smelled like hairspray and graveyard dirt. “What demon got you all knocked up?”

Buffy grunted as she thrust her head back, cracking the back of her skull against the vampire’s jaw and breaking his grip. “Who said it was a demon?”

“Please,” said his friend, throwing a punch her way as she knocked an elbow into the first vampire’s solar plexus. “One day you’re all scrawny, the next day you’re round as a beach ball?”

“And those? So the words that got you killed.” She grabbed his arm, holding him still while she knocked one, two, three punches into his stomach. Then she used her leverage to swing him around, propelling him into the other fledgling. They wobbled, but didn’t fall down.

“You can’t blame us for wondering,” said vamp one. “Plus, pregnant women are kinda a novelty flavor, like cayenne in your cocoa. And Slayer’s blood gotta be like extra whipped cream and cinnamon sugar on top.”

“Oh, so you wanna taste my cream?” Buffy paused. “Please forget I said that.”

“C’mon, Slayer. You’re pregnant,” said vamp two. “You really gonna pretend you’ve never fucked?” He lunged forward, knocking Buffy to the ground with an “oomph.” Buffy knew he couldn’t bite her without his teeth getting knocked into his skull, but his weight on her stomach was far from pleasant.

She wriggled beneath him to no effect, gasping as he wedged a knee between her legs. “You’ve got to be kidding me.”

“You like vamps putting it you, don’t you, Slayer?”

“Aw, that’s sick, man,” said vamp one. “She’s swollen like a zit.” And then he exploded in a shower of dust.

“Miracle of life, Mate,” snarled Spike. “Show some bleeding respect.” He kicked vamp two off Buffy, his motorcycle boot slamming hard into the fledgling’s side. Bones snapped, loud as gunshots.

Buffy laid on the ground, breathing hard, listening to the sounds of the fight. Make that the sound of one vampire pummeling another. She rolled onto her side, pushing up on one elbow to see Spike kicking in the fledgling’s skull, his human face cold and pale and furious. “Not the way to treat a lady!” he was saying. And other things, too, like “monster” and “disgusting thing” and “hell’s too good for the likes of you.”

The fledgling’s fingers twitched against the ground. Buffy thought she saw brains, shining like pewter in the moonlit grass.

“End it, Spike,” she said softly, and with one final snarl, Spike did as she commanded.

He stood there, breathing hard, looking almost bewildered. He addressed her, gruffly, without looking up. “You alright, Slayer?”

The spawn did a little tap dance against her kidneys, apparently performing a victory jig in support of its daddy. “As much as I can be,” said Buffy. “Except I’m not so much with the spry these days. Give me a hand?”

Spike’s cool fingers closed around hers. He gently pulled her to a stand, then stepped back to what he seemed to consider a safe distance — about six feet. “You need to be more careful, love,” he admonished her softly. “Just because they can’t kill you doesn’t mean they can’t —” he visibly faltered, “— make it hurt.”

Buffy brushed off her clothes — a way oversized sweatshirt and a pair of drawstring sweatpants, both black, as if slimming colors would make her look any less like an orca.

“If I stop patrolling, the evil really wins.” She shrugged. “Or something like that.” She gave him the once-over, noticing that he looked thinner, like he’d been worn too long and the threads were starting to give way. “I noticed you’re not staying at your crypt.”

“Looked for me, then?” Spike perked up for a second, then deflated, as if he’d remembered that he didn’t get to hope for that sort of thing anymore. “You’re right, I’m not.”

She looked at him expectantly.

“At the high school,” he said finally. “Seemed like the place to be.”

Buffy sighed, one hand against her sore side. “Trust me, the Hellmouth? Never the place to be.”

Spike laughed. “Should know it well enough now, shouldn’t I? But I keep on flying into the bleeding bug zapper.” He shook his head, smiling ruefully. “Not really up to crypt-living these days, and the school basement does me as well as any other. Got the boiler to keep things cozy. Hot and cold running rat.”

Buffy eyed him, really hoping that he was kidding. “The school basement,” she said slowly, “also contains a hole that leads directly to hell. I can think of better amenities. Like cable. Central air.”

“I’ve nowhere else to go, Slayer,” said Spike. “And I’m not asking you to save me. Made my nest, so to speak. I’ll be fine.” He cocked his head, “Know women don’t go in for confinement anymore, but the graveyard set could do without the free show.”

Buffy crossed her arms over her chest. “If you tell me slaying’s not good for the ‘baby,’ I will hurt you.”

“Know you want it gone,” said Spike. “Forgive me for not wanting you to go with it.”

“Like that will happen,” snorted Buffy. “Unless Giles finds some way to magic it out of me, I think it’s going to stick around until it decides to come out.” She blanched, picturing a squalid, squalling thing the size of a watermelon crowning between her thighs.

“Then what?” asked Spike.

It was a good question. One that Buffy had been trying to avoid. “I don’t know. If it’s evil, I guess I’ll have to slay it.” The spawn thrust a fist or food somewhere unpleasant, making Buffy grimace. “It hasn’t let me have real coffee or chocolate in months, so I’m thinking evil.”

“No doubt.” She watched Spike’s throat move as he swallowed, feeling oddly fascinated by the white skin she saw there. It was a good place to stare, she decided. No danger of meeting his eyes. “But what if it’s good? Human?”

Buffy groaned. She ached all over, and she was tired, and the thought that the spawn was not a spawn, but a baby, was one she had been trying to avoid. She shuffled towards Spike, who stood frozen until her hand grasped his elbow. He shuddered under her touch — which annoyed her, because she wasn’t the rapist, here — but didn’t move away.

“Buffy?” He made her name a soft puff of excited air.

“Walk me home?” she asked tiredly.

He nodded, allowing her to lean her weight against him. Buffy stared determinedly forward, her words gaining momentum as they progressed across the cemetery. “If it’s — a baby — it’s going to be a target from the minute it’s born, just because it’s ours. It’s going to need protection.”

“If it’s a baby, it’ll get it,” said Spike, with something of the old steel in his voice.

“But then there’s all the regular baby stuff,” continued Buffy. “I get health insurance from the Doublemeat, but I can barely afford the co-pays, and do you have any idea how many times you have to take the baby to a doctor? Well, neither do I, but I think it’s lots. Lots of times. I can barely afford to feed Dawn, so I’ll need a second job if we want to keep the house, except now I’ll also have to pay for daycare. And then there’s — there’s a baby. What am I supposed to do with a baby, Spike? I’m destined to kill things, not raise them to be solid citizens.”

She let out a long breath. They walked in silence, but it was the noisy, unsettled sort, full of things left unsaid.

Spike paused as they reached her back porch, stopping her with tightened fingers around her upper arm. “Don’t think I’m qualified for parenting, either,” he said. “But if — if it comes to that, I won’t abandon you. Or it. I’ll help, love, in any way I can.”

Buffy peered up into his face, saw shadows. “I know,” she said softly. “I just don’t know how much you can. Help, that is.” She petted his arm, trying to soften her words. “Babies can’t really spend daddy’s visitation days directly over the Hellmouth.”

“Right.” Spike slipped liquidly from her grasp. “Best go in, then, Slayer.”

“Spike —”

“It’s fine, love. I get it.” Spike turned and started walking off, but there was a hitch in his step, like he didn’t really want to leave. Or like he’d been lamed.

“We’ll probably have to kill it, anyway!” she called after him, then wondered why that seemed like the better option.


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