This Be the Verse 8/9

This entry is part 8 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?
Thanks to slaymesoftly, who was an invaluable help on chapters 5-9.

This Be the Verse 8/9

Spike tossed back a shot, doing his best to ignore the other patrons at Willy’s. He wouldn’t drink enough to get sloshed – Buffy’d get pissed, and a pregnant Slayer with bloodlust was not to be messed with. Even if he was drinking to forget his fear for her, to erase the sheer, black, empty, howling void that Giles’ words had torn open.

Not like he could fight something going wrong in her body. Spike damaged humans, he didn’t heal them. Wasn’t the disaster that was his and Buffy’s cohabitation evidence enough of that? He should have refused to move in, but even now, after everything, he couldn’t help but chase crumbs, though he knew they’d never lead him home.

There was no starting over. He’d never be part of, or have, or make a family. He’d only tear others apart. Wasn’t it him causing the rift between Dawn and Buffy? Making Dawn lash out? Much more of that, and Buffy could lose custody. So much for protecting the Bit ‘til the end.

Dawn loathed him as much as she had once loved him, and she always would. Buffy was being inexplicably tolerant, but her brain was addled with hormones and bloodlust. Soon enough, she’d ask him to leave. Move on with some human bloke that, though he’d never love her so much as Spike, would also never hurt her as much as he already had.

He closed his eyes, imagining some hulking farm boy usurping his role as father, teaching his son American football and taking him out hiking. His son would prefer the other, of course. What would a human boy want with a vampire for a father? His hobbies involved cheating at cards, killing demons and getting sloshed – things that might make his son a bit of an outcast with the other kindergartners.

“You Spike?” asked an incredibly deep voice to Spike’s left. The vampire squinted upwards, then frowned at the empty air.

“Lower,” rumbled the voice. “Way lower.”

Spike looked down. A skinny little wisp of a demon was looking up at him with saucer-sized eyes. It crossed its pencil-thin, turquoise arms and tapped a three-toed foot impatiently. Spike blinked, but the little demon refused to disappear. “Spike, right?” it bellowed.

Spike sneered, “Who wants to know?”

“Well, all the vampire monks outside,” said the demon. “They’re asking for Spike.”

Spike quickly thought through his options. It didn’t take very long – he didn’t have any. “Not religious,” he said. “And not Spike.”

The little demon shrugged. “Okay,” it boomed, before turning to a green demon with horns. “You Spike?” it asked.

Spike took a second to feel astonished that his lie had worked, then slid from his stool and started to slink out the back way. With any luck, he’d get to the sewers before another patron fingered him.

Spike had forgotten one key fact. His luck had run out circa 1997 – the monks were waiting outside. He braced his legs and raised his fists, lip curling in false bravado. The anticipation, the thrill of the fight – it was still there, but all stringed-up with remorse and guilt and the fear that he still liked violence more than any man should. “Sorry, mates. Don’t think I’m up for another round of ritual.”

Weapons? He wasn’t carrying any stakes – no place to hide them without his duster. But Sunnydale’s alleys always had something an opportunistic fighter could use. Spike spotted some crates piled to his left. He grinned and strode forward, almost like he planned to circle them, but came to a tense stop closer to the crates.

“Yeah, about that,” said one of the monks, a tall, lean-looking vampire with sunken, yellow eyes. “We came to apologize.”

A good kick and the crates would splinter. Throw two sharper pieces and he’d get the closest monks. A longer board could help him fend off the rest when they rushed him. But he had at least a few more boring threats to go before they – Wait. Back up. Since when were apologies part of the villains’ script?

“Come again?” asked Spike, dumbfounded.

“We did some scrying,” said another monk, whose dreadlocked beard almost obscured his fangs. “Looks like the Slayer’s not carrying the Nameless God after all. But there’s this promising half-breed seer we’re looking into –” He stopped talking as another monk elbowed him in the ribs.

“Sorry,” shrugged tall, dark and gloomy. “For what it’s worth, there shouldn’t be any lasting effects from the ritual. Not any bad ones, anyway. The kid’ll just need a bit more, uh, iron for awhile.”

Spike suppressed a shiver, remembering the agony he’d felt, thinking his kid a monster. The fear and shame in Buffy’s eyes whenever her stomach rumbled and she knew she’d have to face the fridge again. All that, because some cult had made a mistake? Seen a deity in an innocent baby?

“That’s it?” said Spike. “You come here, torture me, make Buffy’s kid drink blood, and now it’s ‘Oops? Had the wrong girl?’”

“We did say we’re sorry,” muttered another monk.

“We just came to tell you that it’s over,” said the bearded monk. “We won’t be chasing after you guys anymore. So no harm, no foul?” His lips twitched in a yellow-fanged, whiskery grin. “Or you could try for a foul, but you’ll be dust before you take two steps. And last I checked, you got a kid to live for.”

Spike swallowed hard. “Suppose I do.”

They were at least forty to his one, and frequent bloodletting hadn’t done much to boost his strength. But the monks hadn’t figured on one thing – soul or no, he was William the Bloody. Slayer of Slayers. And not much for religion, having been forced into one too many convent-raids as a fledgling.

He kicked the crate.

***

Spike hummed under his breath as he stumbled through the Summers’ door. Maybe he hadn’t killed every last one of the Pursuers – but a few survivors meant a few mouths to spread the word that coming after him or his own was suicide.

And leading them back into Willy’s had been a stroke of genius. The fight had quickly devolved from one against forty to a back-against-the-wall bar brawl. Bloody monks had spent too many centuries chanting and spinning around in those girly robes – they couldn’t hold their own against the sorts of demons who’d choose to live on the Hellmouth.

Spike licked at the blood on the back of his hand. God, how long had it been since he’d been that himself? His fists pumelling flesh, cracking against bone? Downright clarifying, it was. When they took him – well, they surprised him, of course – but his heart hadn’t been in fighting back. ‘Cause he deserved it, didn’t he? Deserved more. But in hurting him, they had hurt Buffy. Hurt his son.

The second time ‘round, he’d fought with everything he had, and he’d won. Made a fellow think. If he wanted to protect what he loved, he needed to tap into the thing that meant they’d never love him back. Act like a sodding moron at a self-help seminar and embrace what he was –

– a monster.

A little of his giddiness faded. What did it say that, even with a soul, he still felt most alive in battle? But it had been just that – a battle – not him ripping into innocents for a rush. He doubted he’d get much satisfaction from the latter before his soul started howling.

He trudged to the fridge, pulled out a blood bag and sank his eyeteeth into the cold plastic. Grimaced at the artificial taste overlaying the already horrific pig, even as the blood worked its usual wonders.

He could hear Buffy and the sprog upstairs, the smaller heartbeat tapping its accompaniment to the larger, steadier organ. Needed to talk to the Slayer, but he knew he looked a fright.

Tossing his blood bag in the trash beneath the sink, he turned on the faucet and splashed water on his face. Watched the water run pink. Then he took a deep, deeply unnecessary breath, and stomped up the stairs. Didn’t want Buffy to accuse him of sneaking, did he?

He knocked on her door. “Buffy?”

Her heartbeat sped up. Anticipation – or fear? But her voice was steady and soft. “What is it, Spike?”

Her door creaked at the hinges as he opened it. Buffy was sitting in her bed, her lacy coverlet tucked around her swollen belly. A book lay creased open at her side. The spine said something about demonic infestation. Good to see his girl going for a little light bedtime reading.

“Buffy, I –”

He felt her eyes on him. “Spike! What happened?”

He shook his head, trying not to let her concern touch him. “Ran into the Pursuers,” he said, unable to keep a satisfied smile from his face.

She was out of her bed in an instant, the soft warmth of her hand a shock against his cheek. “What were you doing? Were you alone? Are you okay?” Her eyes narrowed. “Did you go after them on your own? How could you be so freaking stupid? What if you had been staked?!”

Spike stepped back, reluctantly shaking off her touch with a turn of his head. “Didn’t go after them,” he said. “Was just at Willy’s – they came looking for me. Not to fight, oddly enough. Said they wanted to apologize. That they’d got the wrong kid after all.”

Buffy frowned. “No way.”

Did the stupid bint really think he’d make something like that up? “Not lying, love,” he said, wincing at his own testiness.

“No, not even you would try to sell me on that one,” muttered Buffy. “So let me get this straight. You just met these monks at a bar and what? Talked it out? Shook hands? Decided ‘no hard feelings?’”

“Lay off, Slayer,” snapped Spike, bristling. “And for the record – that was their line. Not mine.” He grinned. “‘Course I didn’t take them at their word. And now that their numbers aren’t so much in their favor, maybe they’ll think twice before messing with mine.”

“I’m not yours,” said Buffy. Her automatic response stung, even if Spike knew the truth of it, but the soft way she took in his bruised face and raw knuckles soothed his nerves. Steadied him.

Her eyes rose to his face, lingering there a bit too long. Spike touched his lips, self-consciously, drew back red fingers. He swore under his breath. He’d thought he’d gotten all the blood – wouldn’t do to tempt Buffy like that, not when her need terrified her. “Sorry,” he apologized quickly, stepping back. “Guess I should have washed up a bit better.”

Buffy stepped back, small arms wrapping around her narrow chest, which looked quite a bit less narrow lately. Not that he was allowed to notice such. “If Monster’s not a god, then –”

“Said that the ritual won’t do anything if there’s no god in there,” said Spike. “‘Cept make you and the baby want hemoglobin donations. Sprog should still be –”

“Human?” finished Buffy, in a whisper.

“Yeah,” Spike agreed softly. He straightened his shoulders. “Well that’s all I’ve got to report. I’ll let Rupert know first thing in the morning, of course. Not going to let my guard down, anyhows. Still think we should keep an eye out. An ear to the ground. Make sure they really left.”

“I still don’t like you going after these vamps on your own,” said Buffy, though Spike could see that her thoughts were haunted. Elsewhere. Didn’t matter. Her concern still made Spike’s arms goose bump.

“Try my best to stay in one piece,” Spike promised, wondering why it mattered to her, one way or the other. He was such a bleeding wanker. Still hoping that she’d someday feel for him, though he knew that night would never happen, not in a week of Sundays.

“You do that,” Buffy’s lip trembled, and then her face collapsed. She swayed on her feet.

Alarmed, Spike guided her to sit on the edge of her bed, the mattress dipping under their combined weight. Buffy winced at his touch – something she hadn’t been doing as much, lately – and her reflexive rejection cut deep. Spike withdrew his hand, but a sudden weakness in his knees prevented him from standing.

She let out a dry sob. “No,” she said. “It can’t be that easy. This blood thing – it hurts, Spike. And I’m afraid that blood-in-a-mug’s not cutting it, anymore. The way I feel – it can’t be a mistake. I shouldn’t be like this!”

“I’m sorry,” Spike said, voice low. “I should go.”

Buffy nodded, then stopped, eyes rising to search his face. “You don’t mean back to the basement, do you?”

“No,” said Spike. “I don’t.” He sucked in his cheeks, trying to find the words he needed. “Buffy, it means a lot to me, that you’d try to keep me safe. Include me in –” he nodded at her stomach. “And I want to be a part of all that, much as I can be. But I don’t need to live here to do that, ‘specially now that it looks like the Pursuers won’t be a threat. Dawn –”

“What? Did she say something?” Buffy caught herself, “I mean, did she say something else?

Said? Not in words, no. It was the in the distrust in Dawn’s eyes before it hardened into hatred, the way she jumped when she saw him.

“She doesn’t feel safe with me here,” said Spike, finally. “And neither do you, Buffy. I’ve noticed how you flinch around me. How you lock your bedroom door at night.” He scuffed his boots into her nice, clean carpet. Mucking it up so he didn’t have to look at her. “Isn’t right, that you feel uncomfortable in your own house.”

“I – I’m not –” Buffy’s mouth thinned. “I’m trying, Spike. Have you noticed me holding your hand? And inviting you to be part of the baby’s life? And, I don’t know, asking you to move in?”

“Yeah, and I appreciate it, but –”

“If I’m touchy, it’s not because I don’t trust you. Because I’m getting there. It’s because I don’t trust myself. Not around you. I was never more ugly than when I was, y’know, with you, and now with the bloodlusty thing –” Her hot, narrow fingers dug into his arm. “But at the same time, I’ve seen how you’ve changed. How you’re trying.”

“Buffy –”

“And I need you here, Spike.”

Spike’s muscles twitched with indecision. He couldn’t go. Not when she was asking him to stay. But that wasn’t right, was it? Buffy couldn’t really need him. It was the bloodlust talking. Making her think –

“Monster – he wants you to feed?” asked Spike.

“Straight from the vein,” admitted Buffy, withdrawing her hand from his arm. “The need never goes away. It just gets worse and worse. Sometimes it’s all I can do not to –” Color rose high in her face.

“Doc said we should give him what he wants,” said Spike, slowly. “ Wish those monks never did this to us, but don’t see a lot of choice here.” He tried to lift the mood. “Always knew I’d be the kid’s meal ticket, anyhows.”

“I’ll hurt you,” protested Buffy. “I don’t want to do that.”

He burned at that, her casual tenderness. “You won’t,” said Spike. He spotted a metal nail file on her dresser and moved to retrieve it. “Look, I’ll just make a tiny scratch. No arterial blood, yeah? Nothing to fuss over.”

Buffy rolled her eyes. “Yeah, why should we worry about a Slayer drinking vampire blood?”

Spike sighed, walked to Buffy’s door and closed it. Then he turned to face Buffy with a expression that didn’t allow for argument. “Lady’s choice. Wrist or neck?”

“Wrist,” said Buffy, automatically, but her eyes fixed to his jugular. Spike took the nail file and drove it hard – harder than he’d implied he would – into his neck. He gritted his teeth, Adam’s apple bobbing as he tugged out the metal.

But then Buffy was there, rising on tiptoe, lips fixing to the injury. Spike gasped, at the overwhelming, fiery feel of her around him and inside him, consuming him.

The room looked different. Buffy had turned them around, was walking him back to the bed. The back of his knees hit the mattress and he sank like a ship, Buffy falling in a wide-legged kneel over his torso, hard belly pushing into his torso as her mouth sucked him deep. He moaned, pained and thrilled and lost, his hands kneading at the blankets, his body arching backwards to allow her better access.

And then Buffy’s embrace changed, her tongue and lips becoming soothing to his skin. Spike pulled himself upright, arms banding around the woman in his lap, holding her as close as her swollen stomach would allow. Her fingers danced over his chest and shoulder. His hand rose to cup the back of her head.

Spike could feel himself in her, circulating through her, nourishing her body and the child it housed. Dark shocks burst behind his eyes, golden light beamed from his fingers and curling toes. He didn’t think he was screaming, but sound rushed from and through him nonetheless. And somewhere, at the heart of his ecstasy, his soul pulsed in haloes of expanding brightness, moving to the life beat of Buffy’s pulse.

Another moment and Spike knew his mind would fragment, but he cursed the creeping darkness, struggled against the unconsciousness he knew was coming. Never had he felt so alive, so complete, so warm, so close, so –

– at home.

***

When Spike woke up, he was still fully clothed, his body curved around Buffy’s. He froze in fear, squeezing his eyes shut. After all, this was an old pattern, wasn’t it? He’d opened to her, felt alive and new. Couldn’t last. She’d kick him out. Tell him it all meant nothing, that he meant nothing.

The body in his arms trembled. He drew back.

But Buffy turned around, if a little laboriously, and he saw that she was smiling, even as she shook. She reached for him, hugged him, her golden hair tickling his nostrils. “That was, uh, kinda, well –” she laughed softly into his neck, where her lips had pressed. “I don’t know what that was, exactly, but it wasn’t bad. It couldn’t be bad, I felt so –”

A lopsided grin broke out across his face.

“Spike,” said Buffy, breathlessly. “I think I felt your soul.”

They separated just enough that they could readjust, come back together, her mouth making a slow slide across his.

“Stay,” she whispered, and Spike nodded wordlessly. She smiled at him – a fleeting, beaming thing – and turned her back. Spike eased into her warmth, one leg slipping between hers, his arm curling around her belly. He stroked the hot, stretched skin with his thumb, pressed a series of soft kisses into her nape, told her loved her.

“I know,” she said, sleepily, and his every muscle relaxed, his entire body uncoiling in an unneeded exhale, as he floated in the peaceable sea of her acceptance. And he wondered at how good it was, and how much better it would soon be, and whether a creature like him could survive so much happiness.

Originally posted at http://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/387362.html

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