This Be the Verse 2/9

This entry is part 2 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.

There was nothing like a hell spawn on the way to make a bloke reevaluate his living style. Spike doubted that, should the sprog prove human, Buffy’d be willing to let him anywhere near the bouncing bundle of shit and milk-stink. But sleeping in a high school basement, never mind one located directly above a Hellmouth, wouldn’t help him win the custody case.

He didn’t want to let himself hope for a real child. Back when he was William, making moon-eyes at every society bint who’d not spare him a second glance, he’d assumed that he’d play progenitor to a whole passle of credits to the family name. But then Dru’d rebirthed him, and aside from savoring the occasional tart with creamy, fetus filling, he’d not given human reproduction a second thought. And now – now –

A baby seemed like an arrival. A sea change. Not just its own, but his as well.

Buffy did seem convinced that her body’d been hijacked by a demon, and there was no lack of evidence to that effect.

Still. Just in case…

Spike needed a place. A real one. But that meant money, and Spike had spent decades scorning honest dosh and squandering what he’d come by dishonestly. He’d need a job, a night shift, and one that wouldn’t require papers. Spike knew he couldn’t take orders from – well, anyone but Buffy, really – much less some git a century his junior. He could settle for something illegal, he supposed, so long as it wasn’t unethical. But those who hired vamps tended to want them for the sorts of jobs that humans couldn’t, or wouldn’t, perform.

Spike kicked the wall, growled at himself. The thought of a tiny, helpless, fleshy thing with his – well, he’d prefer it look like its mother, actually – but still, Buffy was baking him a dependent, and he’d not the slightest idea how care for such a thing.

A job, right. One that wouldn’t shame Buffy or their kid, providing that it was a kid, and not some alien thing with chubby cheeks and fangs.

Spike snarled, stormed out of the basement and set out across town. He needed a drink or a dozen. Something to numb him a bit. Calm him enough so he could think.

He ended up, to his great surprise, at the Bronze, and more or less sober. Something sulfuric teased at his nostrils, and he turned, searching the crowd from his in seat at the bar. Saw Anya chatting up some chit at a little table in the corner.

He put on a smile, one of his more seductive ones, and moved through the crowd to join them.

“Yes,” was saying Anya. “But don’t you just wish –”

“Hello, ladies,” Spike pulled up a seat. “Mind if I join you two lovelies?”

“Yes, actually, we mind very much,” said Anya. “Go away, Spike. I’m working.”

She had been speaking to a young brunette, a bit on the curvy side, who was nursing an appletini. “You know this guy?”

“She does,” grinned Spike.

“We had sex, once. Very quick, very drunk sex.” Anya turned to him. “I’m not having intercourse with you again. You look thinner and much less attractive, and I’m not interested in carrying your hell spawn.”

The brunette’s eyes rounded. She sucked silently on one of those mini straws, feigning disinterest in what she clearly saw as an oncoming train wreck.

Spike rolled his eyes. “Not looking for a repeat performance, love.”

“Good! Because you’re not getting one!” Anya’s eyes narrowed. “But just so you know, I’d rock your world.”

Spike leaned back in his chair. “Understood.”

“I think I outta go,” the brunette slid nervously from her seat. “Maybe we can get lunch sometime?” she suggested to Anya, before bolting in the general direction of the exit.

“Balls,” said Anya, face twisting into a disgruntled scowl.

Spike raised an eyebrow in askance.

“I’m behind on my quota,” she told him. “And now you’ve made me lose another one.” Her shoulders slumped as she stirred her drink, a pink thing that smelled like syrup. “No one told me it would be this hard to return to the workplace. They rules have all changed. And all these people –” she motioned to the crowd – “are screaming for ven–justice…”

“Call it what it is, love. We’re demons. Political correctness doesn’t suit.”

“That’s just what I mean!” said Anya. “In the old days, when we ripped your guts out, we called it ripping your guts out. Now we have PR people, so it’s all ‘removed intestines after client gave verbal assent.’ And a legal team! I have to pre-approve business expenses.” She waved her drink in the air. “See this? A Shirley Temple, because I’m not allowed to drink on the job. Never mind that, oh yeah, I’m a demon, so it takes a lot more than a daiquiri to make me tipsy.”

“Know what it is?” said Spike. “You’ve been your own boss. Hard to go back to working for the demon after being independent.”

“Yes, except that my business was demolished by a witch on a black magic kick, and you’d be surprised what isn’t covered by your standard insurance policy.”

“Yeah, times are tough all over.” Spike let out a long breath. “Look, pet –”

“I can see it, you know.”

Spike shied at the round wonder in Anya’s eyes. He moved in little nervous tics, uncomfortable under the direct beam of her gaze.

“Figured you would,” said Spike, finally. “It’s not why I’m here.” He was here to get drunk, but he saw no reason to divulge what Anya’d already sussed out.

“How’d you do it?”

“Demon in Africa,” said Spike. “Look, you know about Buffy, right?”

“That she’s with parasite?” Anya blinked, distracted from the sputtering spark behind his eyeballs. “Everyone knows that.” She cocked her head. “Congratulations.”

Spike felt like he could choke. “Congratulations?”

“On the vengeance!” Anya give him a wide, false smile. “Very good work, you!”

“Wasn’t me,” said Spike. “But looks like we’re expecting. And that means I’ve got to take care of them, right?” His fingers itched for a cigarette, but he’d already smoked his last. Couldn’t carry so many packs as he used to, without his duster. Made the nicking of vittles more difficult, too. Or it would have, if he could steal so much as a box of biscuits without feeling the wrong of it. “Saw you here. Wondered if maybe you might know someone who’d hire a demon, from your days at the Magic Box. Must’ve made connections.”

Anya looked dubious. “You want a job.”

“Want dosh the Slayer won’t have to stake me for.” Spike smirked. “Want to buy the parasite pretty things.”

“You do realize that it’s probably evil?” asked Anya. “Mystical pregnancies very rarely end well, even when it’s not just a demon infecting a host with its seed.”

Spike looked away, spoke softly. “Can’t be too bad, can it? If it’s Buffy’s?”

He didn’t like the pity in Anya’s face, the way it softened her. A demon known for pulverizing bad men – the sort that did less than he – deciding fate had done enough justice to suit? The thought wintered.

Anya stood up and shrugged on her jacket. “Anyway, I can’t help you. Go tend bar or something.”


Spike let out a long growl when he sensed the intruder, but he kept his eyes closed. “Best stop there,” he intoned, in a voice meant to make wandering teens piss their Diesels. “Never know what’s lurking in the deep and dark.”

He yelped as the arrow pierced his thigh. “Bloody hell!” He stood up and jerked out the arrow. “What’s your prob –”

Giles grabbed him by the throat and pushed him against the wall. “You really need to ask?”

Spike shoved Giles away, getting a zap to his brain for his trouble. “Piss off, Watcher!” His chest heaved with something too violent and unsteady for breath. “What makes you lot think I’m so baby crazy, anyway? Bleeding unnatural is what it is. No vampire would cast a spell to get the Slayer preggers.”

“But the records indicate that you do like babies,” said Giles, coolly. “Very much so.”

Spike froze, remembering. “Wasn’t me that liked them,” he said hoarsely. “The orphanages – they were Dru’s thing.” He shook his head, anger surging through him as he remembered the crime for which he was accused. “And killing babies got fuck all with making them!”

Giles punched Spike across the face, and the vampire, already weak from inadequate blood and rest, fell to the floor. “You mean that it wouldn’t occur to you to manipulate Buffy’s emotions? To forge a connection so strong that she’d endure your presence for the next eighteen years?”

Spike pulled his upper body upright. “We both know she’s got less time than that.”

Giles raised his eyebrows, spoke softly. “I suppose we do.”

“Done a lot of bad in my time,” said Spike. “Never left a trail of bastards, though. Wouldn’t start now. Of all the things I’d do, I wouldn’t do this.”

Giles crouched so that he was eye-level with the vampire. “I know.” Before Spike could digest that, Giles stood up and delivered a swift kick to his rib cage.

“Bloody hell! Thought you agreed I didn’t do this!”

“I believe that you are not responsible for Buffy’s – implantation – more than any other father might be,” said Giles. “That kick was for another act, one for which you are wholly at fault.”

“Yeah,” said Spike. “Because an old man kicking me’s bound to sting more than a soul. A soul, I might add, that I fought for.” He lurched to his feet. “Already made my choice of punishment, Watcher, and it’ll burn ‘til it sends me to hell.”

“And you consider that sufficient?” asked Giles. “There’s no ‘punishment’ equal to your sins.” His cold anger seemed to dissipate, if only a little. “Besides, hitting you makes me feel better.”

Spike stared at Giles for a second, and then he made a mad sort of giggle. “You’d be surprised how often I get that.” He limped to the utility closet, opened the door and pulled out a handle of cheap bourbon. “Mind telling me how Buffy’s holding up?”

After that first night, when he’d helped her with the fledglings, Spike had taken to trailing Buffy on patrol. But she never acknowledged him. Never called out to him. He’d be at her side with a word. They hadn’t spoken in weeks.

“Very much so,” said Giles. “I came here to suggest that you leave town.”

Spike raised an eyebrow. “Hate to disappoint you, Mate, but seems I have a sprog on the way. Not about to leave town, now.”

Giles laughed a laughed that wasn’t a laugh at all. “I suppose you think that you’re going to raise a baby?”

Spike shook his head. “I’ll be there as much as Buffy will let me. Can’t imagine it’ll be much. Supervised visitation every other Halloween, most like.” He drank some bourbon, wiped his mouth. “But I’ll be here for them, in anyway they need. Support them. Whatever else, the kid will know I cared.”

He gave Giles a defiant glare before the Watcher could ridicule his softness. “‘Sides, you don’t really want me gone. Not yet.”

Giles’ voice was low and dangerous. It would have sent shivers through a lesser demon. “And why’s that?”

Spike caught Giles’ gaze and held it. “Because if it’s wrong, if it’s a monster, Buffy shouldn’t be the one to kill it.”

Time stretched uncomfortably, like tendons in a rack. Then the Watcher nodded, and Spike felt the tension in the room fall flat, saw a grudging sort of – was that approval? whatever it was, it wasn’t bad – in Giles’ eyes. “Anya tells me you’re looking for a job.”

“You could say that,” Spike held up his hand and started counting on his fingers. “Tried bartending, but got in trouble for telling girls who I’d last seen their bloke with. Not that the brawls weren’t fun. Auditioned for a band, turns out you can’t smash other people’s guitars. Didn’t barely pay, anyway. Self-defense school was hiring, but they opened the blinds and I started smoking. Security at the college didn’t like the look of me.” Spike sighed. “High school asked me how I felt about caning, so teaching kiddies is out. Too many windows, too. Almost to the point of shilling out froofy coffee at the Espresso Pump. Looked into it, actually. No night shift.”

“I wonder why,” said Giles, dryly.

“Me too,” said Spike, too involved in his own thoughts to catch the Watcher’s sarcasm. “Think they’d turn a pretty profit, catering to the night-going crowd. Like an undead eye myself – two shots of espresso in a cup of blood.”

Giles blanched. “Believe it or not, I did not come by to, to discuss your curious culinary proclivities.”

“Say that five times fast,” snorted Spike.

Giles held up his hand. “I have a proposition for you.”

“Why Rupert,” purred Spike. “Didn’t know you felt that way.”

“I’ve started a sort of, of side business while I’m in town,” continued Giles, ignoring Spike’s innuendo. “I did a demonic safety audit for an acquaintance, and word has spread rather quickly. I’m booked through for the next three months.”

“Demonic safety audits?”

“Yes, I evaluate a home or business and make suggestions designed to protect the home from demonic intrusions. And I think it would be, well, useful to employ a demon, such as yourself, for demonstrations.”

“What, I attempt to trick my way into the home and get a stake in my chest?”

“I won’t say that the thought displeases me,” said Giles, with a small smile. “But that would rather interfere with your ability to earn income for my business. No, you’ll simply show our clients how easy it is for a vampire to enter a home. Many still only half-believe that they are in actual danger. A vampire slipping its way in will, I should think, lend my suggestions greater weight.”

Spike mulled it over. He’d be helping to protect, wouldn’t he? Putting a century’s worth of skills to good purpose. And, though he didn’t like to think so, he wasn’t suited to be much more than a creature of darkness.

“I want 50 percent of the cut. Mouths to feed, y’know.”

“You’ll get thirty.”

There’s no other vamp who’ll do the job without snacking on the clientele and you know it. Forty.”


Spike let the Watcher squeeze the hell out of his paw – wasn’t like a human hand could do him any damage. “Just one question, Rupert. Why didn’t you offer the job to Buffy? Not a vamp, sure, but she’s better at fighting them than anybody.”

The Watcher’s gaze was impenetrable. “I did.”


Buffy ran through all the ways she could kill them. A stake through the heart, sure, but that could get messy with non-vamps. Crossbows were always classy, but she needed something that would work at close range. A taser would be nice. She should’ve stolen one from Riley when they were still dating. She’d love to zap the next –

“Oh, look at you – you’re just glowing! When are you due?”

– stranger who touched her stomach.

Buffy gritted her teeth as the old lady patted at the spawn. She took a step back, firmly distancing herself. “Just as soon as I can stab the stupid thing out.”

She ignored the woman’s scandalized look and continued walking to the Bronze. As much as she didn’t want anyone she knew – make that anyone at all – to see her with her demon-bump, Buffy was getting stir-crazy at home. So she’d reluctantly agreed to meet Willow at the Bronze, without thinking about what all that walking would do to her swollen feet. She was pretty sure they had turned into pancakes.

She showed her ID to the bouncer, who laughed in her face. “You’re kidding me, right?”

He’d recover the use of that arm. Eventually.

She saw Willow waving at her from their usual table. Xander pulled out a stool for her, and she sank onto it with a sigh of relief. He rubbed his hands together in a way that could only mean he had just received a paycheck. “So what would you ladies like to drink?”

Willow held up an empty plastic cup. “Refill on the rum and coke?”

Buffy smiled sweetly. “Make that two?”

“Sure, Buff.” Xander nodded in mock-agreeability. “And then I’ll kick you in the stomach a few times. Because that won’t earn me any dirty looks from all these nice Bronze-goers.”

Buffy pouted. “Fine, hold the rum.” She looked down at her stomach, “It’s not even trying to destroy the world yet, and already it’s ruining my life.”

“Not ruining! Buffy and alcohol are unmixy, remember?” Willow gave her a sympathetic look as Xander headed to the bar. “Besides, this is us. Having fun. Sitting the sit of the footloose and fancy-free.”

Buffy shot her friend a look of disbelief. “I’ve got fancies. I’ve got loads of fancies. Fancies galore! Plus, I waddle.”

“It’s a sexy waddle.” Willow assured her. “Besides, Giles and I are still working on the research angle. We’ll come up with something.” She smiled. “And in the meantime, we’re going to have fun.”

“Fun,” Buffy echoed, as the spawn performed step-aerobics against her spleen. At least her parasite seemed to like the music.

Xander came back with their drinks and his beer. “For the two loveliest ladies in the club.”

“Thanks, Xan,” Buffy smiled. She was trying, god was she trying, but she was exhausted. It wasn’t like the spawn had given her time to adjust to carrying a beach ball around her middle. Nope, she had just woken up one morning all puffy, with her center of gravity misplaced and a whole lot of extra weight pulling on her spine.

And it was terrifying – she would never let her friends know how much – to so completely lose control of her own body.

“Earth to Buffy.” Xander wiggled his fingers in front of her face.

“I guess I did space out, huh?” Buffy smiled, sheepishly. “I’m sorry, guys. Just a long day at the Doublemeat, I guess.”

Willow sucked on her drink through a straw. “Any luck finding another job?”

“No,” said Buffy. “And I can’t really look right now. I can’t afford COBRA, and there’s no way I can go uninsured until I get on a new employer’s plan,” She patted her stomach. “Knowing my luck, it’s probably going to jump out like that thing in Alien, so I’m thinking stitches. Maybe a donor torso.”

“I’d go with robot parts,” said Xander. “You know a Bionic-Buffy’s gotta kick ass.”

Buffy screwed up her face. “I’m kinda anti-robot …” Her voice trailed off.

Willow followed her line of vision. “Buffy, what is – oh. Oh!”

Xander’s face darkened. “What’s he doing here?”

“Flirting, apparently.” Buffy fiddled with her soda, drawing designs in the water beading on the cup’s surface. She hadn’t spoken to Spike for weeks. She knew he followed her on patrol, but he never stopped hiding. Never tried to talk to her. She didn’t get it, but she hadn’t wanted another exhausting confrontation, so she’d let it go.

“Uh, that doesn’t look like flirting,” said Xander, as Spike led a blonde towards the back exit. “That looks like feeding.”

“But, soul! And chip!” said Willow. “Maybe he’s just smoo –” She paused, seeing Buffy’s stormy expression. “Maybe he’s just calling her a cab?”

“From the back alley of the Bronze?” Buffy lurched to her feet and grabbed a stake from her purse. “If he’s killing, I’m going to have to stop him. Watch my stuff?” She didn’t wait for her friends’ assent before making her slow, laborious way to the exit.

She slid quietly out the door, listening –

“You bloody stupid bint! I put a paw on your arm, and what, you didn’t notice my lack of body temperature…”

“I just thought you had cold hands!” said the girl, in a trembling voice. She couldn’t be more than seventeen. Which, hello? Gross! Spike was over a hundred years older than her!

“Well, I do! Because I’m a vam– former gang member! Which you also would have noticed if you’d looked for my reflection in your glass. It’s almost like you’re asking to be dinner.” Spike seemed to catch himself. “Dinner for cannibal gangs on PCP!”

He gave the girl the once-over. “No, you’re definitely asking for it. Those heels? Couldn’t catwalk out of this alley. Something tries chasing you, you’re done.”

“I have mace,” the girl said meekly.

“Great,” said Spike. “Carry a salt shaker, too, why don’t you.” He lit a cigarette – Buffy could see the red end bobbing in the shadows. “Look, if you wanna stay safe, check body temperatures, look for reflections, wear trainers and for God’s sake, don’t follow strange blokes into the back alley of the Bronze!”

The girl crossed her arms over her chest, “Well, how was I supposed to know that Daddy was setting me up?”

“I look twice your age. You shouldn’t flirt with my like anyway.”

“But I’m way too mature for high school boys!” The girl started to protest.

Spike slipped into game face and roared – causing the girl to shriek and flee back into the relative safety of the Bronze. Unfortunately, Buffy was in the way, so the girl’s line of flight led Spike’s gaze directly to Buffy.

He stared at her, an almost dumbfounded look on his now-human face. Buffy shuffled uncomfortably – not because of him, but because her feet hurt – until her frustration and annoyance became unbearable. “Tell me, Spike. What the hell was that about?”

He blinked rapidly, as if coming out of a daze. “What was – oh. Giles didn’t tell you?”

“That you’re picking up high schoolers at bars? Must have slipped his mind!”

Spike scowled. “I’m here on business, Slayer.”

Buffy’s eyes widened. “Oh my god, you’re not – you haven’t become a, a whore, have you? And that girl wasn’t a, uh, John, that you decided to warn –”

“What? No!” Spike growled. “Know I’ve no self respect, but I’ve not fallen that far.” He reached a hand into his jeans and pulled out a crumpled piece of paper. He came forward to thrust it in Buffy’s hand. It was, or had originally been, a business card. Buffy read the type:

William Pratt
Defense Specialist
RG Safety Consultants

Buffy frowned. She didn’t like this. She didn’t like this at all.

Spike’s last name was Pratt?

“Working with Giles on his demon consulting project,” Spike explained. ‘Cept to keep it legal, we say ‘gangs’ on all the papers.” He shrugged, taking a last draw on his cigarette before crushing it with his heel. “Bloke was so impressed with our work, he said he’d give me extra to scare some sense into his stupid cow of a daughter. Not sure if it stuck – not much I can do to improve IQ, y’know?”

Buffy vaguely remembered Giles mentioning a side business. She’d thought he’d been talking about something old. And boring. And British. Besides, he couldn’t cover her health insurance, and it wasn’t like she could let Dawn go without dental. Her sister practically lived on Pop Tarts and gummies.

“You’re working with Giles.”

“Well, yeah.”

“You’re working.” Buffy couldn’t keep the disbelief out of her tone.

Spike scowled. “It’s my sprog, too, Buffy. Not going to let it grow up on Doublemeat Medleys because its mum can’t afford proper food.”

“It’s not going to grow up at all,” said Buffy. “I’m going to kill it. Because it’s evil.”

“You don’t know that,” said Spike. “Besides, I can’t nick things anymore, and I need someplace to stay that’s not a crypt, and that’s not a high school basement. Few more jobs, and I’ll be able to put a down payment on an apartment.” His chest puffed with pride, or the front of it. “I’ll have enough money to help you out with nappies and the like.”

“Have you gone completely insane?” Buffy’s voice took on a hysterical edge. “There aren’t going to be any na – diapers! Or bottles or blankies or Baby Einstein.”

Spike scuffed his boots against the pavement. “Well, can’t hurt to prepare for everything, can it?”

“Aren’t you just a regular Boy Scout?” Buffy jumped at the sound of Xander’s voice. “Hi, Buffy. You’ve been gone for awhile. Willow and I were worried.” He glared at Spike. “Scum of the Earth need staking?”

“Not tonight.” Buffy laid a hand on Xander’s arm. “Xan, I’m tired. Take me home?”


Buffy heard a thump in the hallway and padded her way to the source of the sound. Her door was open, and there was a body slowly crawling its way across the floor. “Spike?”

“Hi, Buffy.” The vampire made a loose, rattling sort of cough, like bones had come loose and were batting around his insides. They probably were. Buffy hadn’t seen Spike this damaged since Glory.

Both eyes were swollen and his nose had been flattened, his lip split. She saw cross-shaped burns and splatter-pattern burns over his arms. His fingers went in all directions. She didn’t even want to know what he looked like under his T-shirt and jeans.

Buffy tried to kneel so she could lift him, then quickly realized that wasn’t going to work. “Spike, can you get up?” She ignored his baleful look. “If you can stand up, you can lean on me and I can get you to the couch. I can’t really get to the floor anymore.”

“Oh, right.” Spike let out a low moan as he got to his hands and knees, then yelped when he took her proffered hand and was pulled upright. “Bloody hell! Watch the digits!”

Buffy swayed unsteadily as she looped his arm over her neck and slowly teetered her way to the couch. She dropped him on it with a sigh of relief, prompting another yelp of pain from Spike. She was going to need things. Bandages, gauze, scissors. And blood. She didn’t have any in the house. She’d have to call Dawn, ask her to pick some up on the way home from her study-session at Janice’s.

By the time she fished the first aid kit out of the upstairs bathroom and returned to the living room, Spike had shifted onto his back. With his eyes closed and swollen mouth slack, he looked like the world’s ugliest corpse. Which he kinda was. Buffy scooched him back a few inches, so she could sit on the very edge of the couch.

His scratchy voice startled her. “Best start with the nose and fingers first, love. Don’t want them to heal crooked.”

She peered at his face. “Your nose is squashed, but I don’t think it’s crooked. I think it’ll be okay after the swelling goes down.”

“Good to know I’ll still be pretty.” Spike coughed again, and Buffy could tell that moving his chest was agony.

“Maybe you should just not talk.”

“No, want to stay awake for a little longer yet.” He gasped as Buffy moved his pointer finger into alignment and started wrapping it around a splint. “Was vamps.”

Buffy secured the gauze with tape and moved onto the next finger. “Vamps, really?” Spike had never had trouble holding his own against vampires before.

“Lots of vamps,” Spike emphasized. “Odd types. They wore robes. Chanted their questions at me.”

“Old?” asked Buffy.

“Older than me, anyway.”

Buffy bit her lip. There were holes in his T-shirt, revealing patches of raw, burnt skin. She’d have to cut it off. She fished through the first aid kit, pulling out some sticky, perforated plastic sheets that Giles had said were good for burns and a jar of petroleum jelly. She’d skip the antibiotics – it wasn’t like Spike could get infections. Oh, she’d need a needle, too, to get the liquid out of any blisters.

“Buffy, they wanted information about the sprog.”

Spike lapsed into silence as Buffy lanced the blisters on his arm, smeared the burns with the jelly and laid the plastic over the damaged skin. She started winding the gauze around his arm to hold everything in place. Finally, Buffy spoke, “What did they want to know?”

“Where it was. How far along.” His swollen eyelids nicitated as he tried and failed to open them. “Spoke about a prophesy. About a vampire who chose his soul. Said the babe’s important for some ritual or whatnot.”

Buffy started cutting through Spike’s T-shirt. “Of course it is. Mystical babies are never important for their wicked decoupage skills.”

“Well, that would really be scary.” Spike growled as Buffy made him sit up so she could move some of his ribs back into place. “Called themselves The Pursuers.”

“The Pursuers of what?”

“Didn’t say. Just said, and I quote, “The child of the vampire and the Slayer will rule The Pursuers.”

Buffy frowned. “I really hope I’m not going to give birth to a ruler. They’re so – measury.”

“They’ll come for you,” said Spike, his swollen mouth slurring his words. “Think they’re not ready to take you on just yet. Thought I was the weaker link. But if they want the kid, they’ll come up with some scheme or another.”

Buffy secured the bandages she had wrapped around his rib cage. “Legs?”

“Got loose before they got that far,” said Spike. “Buffy, you have to call Giles.” He groaned as he lowered his upper body back into the sofa cushions. “Bloody hell. We had a job tonight. He’s gonna kill me.”

“You’re already dead, Spike,” she said, crisply. Now that he was wrapped in gauze like a mummy, Buffy could stop focusing on Spike as a mass of injuries and start focusing on Spike as a person – a person she wasn’t too sure about. But there were still things to do. Phone calls to make. Buffy was halfway to the kitchen before she heard his whispered reply.

“Haven’t forgot.”

She turned on the faucet to wash off the jelly and Spike’s blood. Blood. There was a little smear of it on her thumb, already dried. Without thinking, Buffy licked it. She froze in realization, the blood bursting against her tongue as the parasite drummed frantically against her.

Buffy wrenched her thumb from her mouth and plunged her shaking hands under the running water, an alien hunger still unfurling inside her.


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