This Be the Verse 5/9

This entry is part 5 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? And huge thanks to  slaymesoftly, who generously offered to beta the last five chapters. Now, they’re extra spiffy! And readable!

This Be the Verse 5/9

The parasite moved inside of her, a playful sort of fluttering tickling alongside her ribcage, followed by a demanding, if not painful, foot in her spleen. Buffy stared into the open refrigerator, stubbornly attempting to ignore the spawn’s favorite food in favor of normal nourishment. Like Reddi-whip. Or Tostitos.

Bile clogged the back of her throat, making Buffy cough. Stupid spawn. Like making her yack would inspire to drink anything, much less something as yack-worthy as Spike-shake.

She might hunger for blood, but that didn’t make the taste any less gross. Except – it wasn’t about the taste, not really. Every time she drank, something of Spike burrowed deeper. Made her pulse with and in his presence. And that would’ve scared her as much as the spawn did, if not for the looming threat of vaginal birth.

Hence the avoidance of Spike, made only slightly more difficult by the fact that he now lived in her house. Buffy tried not to be alone with him, and since the vampire seemed to be avoiding everyone who wasn’t her, the blood in the fridge was becoming their primary point of contact.

But Buffy was slowly growing more comfortable around Spike. Used to feeling him around her, used to seeing blood-mugs left out and curtains closed.

She heard the front door and felt the electricity of Spike’s presence. Drat, he was home early. And there wasn’t a Dawn or Willow in sight.

Spike entered the kitchen, probably looking for his post-work cuppa. He paused in the doorway and looked her up and down, his expression troubled.

“Spike?” she asked, hesitantly, noticing that he looked even paler and thinner than usual. His cheekbones had always been prominent. His eye sockets? Not so much. She tried to ignore an unpleasant twinge of guilt, located about two inches to the left of the spawn’s thumping foot.She sometimes forgot that this wasn’t any easier for Spike, especially now that he was on the Slayer’s dinner menu.

Spike’s hands twitched at his sides, his sunken eyes flickering. “Giles knows,” he said, simply.

Buffy eyes widened. “I thought you were going to look into it first?”

“Did,” Spike whispered. He gathered himself and spoke more firmly. “Didn’t find anything. And didn’t spill. Giles just sussed it out. Pulled up my sleeve.” He bared his forearm, revealing the telltale traces of bloodletting. Or drug use.

“You couldn’t convince him that you’re just on heroin?” asked Buffy, trying not to think about kissing his wounds worse.

“I’m not the one using, here.” He shook his head, cutting off Buffy’s harsh reply before she could give it a voice. “Look, don’t want to argue. Just mentioned it so you’d know. Come clean with him.”

Buffy let out a long breath, expelling most of her anger with it. Telling Giles was the smart thing, even if doing so smarted, and Spike had only done so accidentally. “I’m sorry,” she said. “I know you’re just trying to do the right thing.”

Spike laughed. “Never quite manage it, though, do I?”

Buffy walked forward, despite her rising apprehension. She raised a hand to Spike’s face, gently stroking her fingers along his forehead. “You’re just out of practice,” she said. “And let’s face it, no one ever really gets it right. Least of all me.” She withdrew her hand quickly, ignoring his pained expression. “Are you hungry?”

“Buffy?”

“You just look hungry,” she said. “I did get you some blood today. Butcher-fresh. I got a deal on some cow blood – is that better or worse than pig?”

His fingers circled her wrist, and Buffy stiffened. Spike quickly dropped the contact. “You’re not mad at me?”

“I’m a little relieved,” she admitted, shakily. “I didn’t think I would be. But now I don’t have to break the news, so, win.” She moved onto the other side of the kitchen island, needing to place some sort of physical barrier between them. “Plus, the hunger – it’s not getting better. The more I drink the more I –”

“Want,” Spike finished. “Afraid that’s the way it works, Buffy.”

“Except, I only want yours.” Buffy bit her lip, unhappy to have said as much.

Spike looked like he was going to say something, but then the air gave a little pop and Anya was there, back against the sink, her arms crossed. “Why didn’t you guys tell me that the Pursuers of the Dark Hope were in town?”

Buffy and Spike exchanged a look. “The who?” asked Buffy.

“No, not The Who, the Pursuers of the Dark Hope,” said Anya. She frowned when neither vampire nor Slayer launched into an immediate explanation. “What, I teleported all the way over here, and you’re not even going to offer me a drink?”

“We have water,” said Buffy. She reached into the fridge, pulling out a gallon of milk and giving it a dubious little shake. “And puss, apparently.”

Anya made a face. “No Kool-Aid?”

“Blame Dawn,” said Buffy. “Her veins run with Double Double Cherry.” She grimaced as she moved around Anya to pour the sour milk down the drain. “Now would you mind explaining the Pursuers thingy? I’m guessing you’re talking about the vampires who tortured Spike?”

“Tortured?” Anya blinked, directing her gaze at Spike. “They tortured you?”

“Fire, blood, pain,” said Spike. “Wasn’t a tea party, if that’s what you’re asking.”

“That’s not what I was asking,” sniffed Anya. “I was asking if they tortured you, because that would be unusual.”

Spike looked skeptical. “Torture? Vamps? Unusual?”

“Yes,” said Anya. “Well, for these vampires. I spend some time with them, oh, six or seven hundred years ago. I enacted vengeance for a woman by turning her husband into a eunuch – of course, he ended up a vampire eunuch of the Pursuers, and then he ate her parents, but I told her not to vacation in Venice that summer …”

“Anya?” said Buffy, not liking the reminder that she would have to slay a former Scooby, if not now, then soon. “Point?”

“The Pursuers of the Dark Hope worship the Nameless God,” said Anya. “It’s said that the Nameless God will be born to a woman more than human, and that it will restore vampires to their true form.”

“True form?” asked Spike. “Vampires don’t have one. We’re half-breeds. Unless you mean we’re all going to revert to corpses?” Buffy shot him a look – he didn’t look particularly worried about the possibility, which did worry her. One suicidal boyfriend was enough for one lifetime, and she was currently too puffy to herd vampires away from a cliff edges.

“Exactly,” said Anya. “You’re half-breeds. The Nameless God is supposed to un-half you.”

“So they’d be true demons?” said Buffy, remembering the Mayor. “We’re going to need a nuke.”

“Or human,” said Anya. “The lore says that Nameless God could make things go either way.”

“Then why are they pursuing the dark hope, not the hope of Christmas crackers and pudding for all?” asked Spike.

“Because they want to make sure the Nameless God turns them into full demons,” explained Anya. She sighed, looking, for a moment, like she did carry the weight of a thousand years. “Spike – they weren’t torturing you. They were performing a blood ritual to ensure that the baby’s born a monster.”

***

Buffy jumped at the sound of the doorbell. “I’ll – I’ll get that. Don’t go anywhere, Anya.”

“Like you could stop me,” muttered the vengeance demon. Buffy ignored her and walked to the door, opening it to reveal a flushed, panting Giles.

“Good Lord,” he said. “I’m far too old to move that quickly. Is Anyanka here?”

“Yeah,” said Buffy. “And the floor’s pretty much covered in a sea of beans.” She realized that she was pressing her hand to her stomach and flinched, like her belly had burned her palm. The parasite had been awfully quiet during Anya’s little speech, and it made Buffy nervous. She had been prepared to accept that she was carrying a demon – but a god? A bouncing baby Glory would put a whole new spin on the terrible twos.

She walked back to the kitchen, Giles breathing raggedly at her heels. Spike nodded at the Watcher in greeting. “Anya here says Buffy’s carrying a god-without-a-name. Is that even allowed? Hell knows it’s not a virgin birth. Might’ve been conceived at the –”

“Let’s not finish that thought,” said Buffy, with dangerous lightness.

Spike took a step back, swallowing hard, as if suddenly remembering it wasn’t in his best interest to piss off the Slayer who wanted to eat him. “Right.”

“Spike does have a point,” mused Giles.

“Excuse me?” said Buffy. “We are so not discussing –”

“In that you might not be carrying a god,” interrupted Giles. “We only know that the Pursuers believe you to be carrying this Nameless God, not that you are indeed the mother of the prophecy. In which case, the ritual would have absolutely no effect.”

“The holes in my chest say differently,” said Spike.

“Except, of course, to cut Spike into ribbons.” Giles seemed to savor the thought, earning a low, annoyed growl from the vampire.

Buffy rolled her eyes, wondering how they managed to work together. “So how do we know which one it is? I mean, the blood thing didn’t start until after the ritual.”

“But the child, er parasite, also ceased growing prior to Spike’s arrival,” Giles reminded her. “It could be that the mythical nature of the pregnancy requires contributions – life force, as it were – from both parents. I assume you weren’t exposed to Spike’s blood prior to his kidnapping?”

Buffy wrinkled her nose. “No.”

Her apparent disgust must have irritated Spike. “Sure, act like you don’t swallow.”

“Just because I do doesn’t mean that I like it!” snapped Buffy.

“Are we talking about blood or semen?” asked Anya. “Because mystical babies are picky on body fluids, and the difference could be important.”

Buffy eyes widened. “Blood! Just blood!” She almost expected Spike to point out that she’d never objected to swallowing the other, either, but the vampire was busy studying the kitchen linoleum with a tight, anguished expression.

Anya shrugged. “I was just asking. And it’s not like you don’t enjoy the pleasurable exchange of bodily fluids. You <i>are</i> pregnant.”

Buffy felt the blood rise to her face. “It was complicated and – and – magic baby! Can we talk about the magic baby?”

“Please, I beg it of you,” said Giles. “Cleaning my spectacles does so little to obscure my hearing.”

Buffy watched from the corner of her eye as Spike cautiously allowed his attention to move from the floor. “How do we find out what Buffy’s carrying?” he asked softly. “Seems like there’s an awful lot we don’t know.”

Buffy nodded. “And what do we do in the meantime? I don’t think not, y’know, drinking, is an option. I really don’t want to be pregnant forever.”

“More research is needed.” Giles pinched his nose. “Continue – allowing the child to grow. Let me know if anything changes. And for God’s sake, try to avoid these Pursuers.”

“Thanks for the advice,” said Spike. “I you hadn’t said anything, I’d have roped the lot into a pool game.”

“Shut up, Spike.” Buffy suddenly remembered the shooting pain in her feet. She shifted her weight. How long had she been upright? Far beyond what a heavily pregnant woman, even one with superpowers, could stand. Harhar.

“Need a lie down?” asked Spike, almost immediately, and Buffy had to ignore a rising sense of gratitude. However inadvertently, Spike had done this to her – no way was she going to feel grateful just because he noticed she was tired from lugging around his demon spawn.

“I have work tomorrow morning,” she said, directing an apologetic look to Anya and Giles. “And it doesn’t sound like there’s anything we can do tonight.” She tried to ignore the fact that there wasn’t anything to do at all – the parasite wasn’t coming out on anything but its own timetable. Monster or nameless god, she was stuck with it for the duration.

“I don’t care,” said Anya. “I just want to get out of town before every vampire in Sunnydale goes giant snake.”

“You can teleport,” Buffy pointed out. “You can watch all of us become demon chow and then pop off to some other dimension’s Bermuda.”

Anya looked hurt for a second, then disappeared.

“Maybe you shouldn’t piss off the one giving us information, Buffy,” said Spike. “Demon girl didn’t have to help.” He stared at the place where Anya had stood, in that slow, obvious way that said that wheels were turning. He shook himself, finally, attention returning to those present.

“I’ll apologize next time I see her. Y’know, if she’s not doing anything I need to slay her for.” Buffy sighed and started walking towards the stairs, cursing mildly at the pain in her legs and feet. Sure, the bad guys got to go all Harry Potter while she was stuck in extra-wide Mom shoes.

Buffy shuddered as she wished Giles good night, earning a sympathetic look from her Watcher. What Giles didn’t know – that Buffy was reacting to images of Mom jeans dancing before her eyes – wouldn’t hurt him.

She made her slow way up the steps, then sat on her bed. She leaned back on her pillows, toeing off her shoes with a contented sigh. Of course, the parasite chose that moment to shove hard against some easily-bruised inner organ. Buffy eyed her alarm clock. She had six hours to fit in eight hours of sleep, as per usual. And she wouldn’t even get a start on that until Dawn came home.

“Love?”

Buffy rubbed her eyes. “Do we really have to do this now?”

“Suppose not,” said Spike. But instead of turning around and going to his basement, the vampire walked in and sat on the end of her bed, his weight making the mattress dip and creak. “But it won’t be any easier in the morning.”

“Maybe not,” said Buffy, with a false smile. “But we Slayers like our beauty rest.”

She twitched at the unexpected feel of Spike’s fingers circling the soles of her feet. Touching was bad, and confusing, and could lead to – well, the things it had led to. But Buffy’s mind refused to conjure the nightmarish images she needed to stiffen under Spike’s touch, to ignore the delicious things his hands were doing to her feet. It all seemed so far away, now.

“Not big on prophecy,” said the vampire, after a few minutes.

“Guh?” asked Buffy, still mostly focused on the way her feet weren’t killing her.

“Don’t have any big destiny laid out for me, far as I know,” said Spike. “I’m a bit player, and I know it. Just tend to sleep my way around powerful people.”

Buffy tried to withdraw. “What’s that supposed to –” She froze, wondering who else Spike had slept with. Were there prophecies about Dru? Surely Harmony wasn’t big with the fate?

“Just mean that I know I’m not the one there’s plans for,” said Spike. “And I’m thinking that’s alright, cause I get to make my own.”

“Must be nice.” Buffy closed her eyes.

She could barely remember a time without destiny’s shackles. Even her death – her young, violent, saving-the-world, not-coming-back-this-time death – was a done deal. Prewritten. A matter of time.

“Maybe. Know you’ve got the whole Chosen thing going on, and I’m just drifting. But the babe’s ours, Buffy. Which means it’s a bit mine, and I think that means it gets a choice. That we get one for it.”

Buffy flinched. “Believe me, I’m totally aware of my lack of choice in this.”

“Not what I meant, Buffy.” Buffy met his eyes, saw an unfamiliar steadiness, felt it quiet her. Spike continued, “Just – let’s name him.” Something in Buffy’s face must have revealed her shock, because Spike’s words became quick and short and too close together. “Can’t be nameless if he’s named. Can’t be a god if he’s just a baby.”

“I can’t think of it as a baby until I know for sure.”

Spike’s eyes shone. “But we do know, don’t we?” He moved a little closer, cupping his hand against her stomach. “This, in here, it’s you and me, Buffy.” He smiled, almost shyly, and Buffy noticed, not for the first time, but for the first time in a long while, how long and dark his lashes were. How blue-blue his eyes. “Mostly you, I hope.”

The spawn pressed against his hand. Buffy tried to ignore the idea that it felt drawn to its sire’s blood. “These things are supposed to be fifty-fifty,” said Buffy, dryly.

“Then he’s only getting the good parts of me. And anything good in me’s your doing, so it all amounts to the same thing.” Spike small smile widened into a tremulous, lopsided grin. “So what do you say? Could go traditional. Call him Milo. Or Herbert. Never met an evil Herbert.”

Buffy giggled in spite of herself. “In that case, let’s call him Happy Go Lucky Rainbow Pillow Pony Puppy Buttercup Ice Cream Summers.”

“Bit of a mouthful.” His fingers tapped against her belly. Her belly tapped back. And Buffy felt an inexplicable desire to believe Spike, to see herself and the thing inside her as Spike saw them, all glowy and good.

“We could call him ‘Monster,’” Buffy suggested, then watched as Spike’s eyes dulled. “I didn’t mean it like that,” she scrambled. “I just mean –  he’s going to be mischievous, right? And, and –” She couldn’t say it right, but she needed to try. “And you know, it makes it a joke, so it’s not so scary. Like Cookie Monster.”

“Monster,” agreed Spike, giving the word an affectionate lilt. “Least ‘til he’s born. Gives us time to come up with a good, strong, English name, y’know? Not Rupert,” he said quickly, as if Buffy had ever seriously considered the possibility.

“C’mon,” said Buffy. “With his genes? No way is our kid losing his lunch money. Even if we do name him a good, strong Californian name. Like Phoenix or Rocco.”

“Rocco?” Spike shook his head. “Nah, our Monster’s gonna be a little spitfire. But the good sort. We’ll have to give him double the money or he’ll go hungry, donating his lunch to save the rain forest and cure cancer in puppies.”

“And then he’ll grow up to be an astronaut. Or a doctor. A doctor-astronaut!”

“He’ll be a good kid. And he’ll grow up a good man.” Warmth, and a sort of longing, infused Spike’s voice and expression. “We’ll make sure if it.” He looked a little sad, a little lost, and Buffy realized, with some surprise, that her hand was holding Spike’s to her belly. She gently traced the bones and veins in his fingers, the back of his hand, exploring this small piece of him. He was so vulnerable, she realized. Resilient and hard to break, but easily hurt, and unable to hold himself back from caring.

He loved Monster, or his idea of Monster, already. He couldn’t help himself. Just like Buffy couldn’t help but hold back.

Wishing hadn’t caused Buffy’s pregnancy, and wishing wouldn’t give her a human child if a monster-god had already taken up residence. Wishing would only make it hurt more, when the inevitable happened, and Buffy had to face the parasite that had made her its host.

“Hey, now,” said Spike. “None of that. Monster’s only going to bring us joy. You’ll see, love.”

And looking into his gentle, pleading eyes, Buffy couldn’t bring herself to disagree with him.

Originally posted at http://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/386597.html

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