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 for the beta-work on this chapter. Any remaining mistakes are the result of my insistent tweaking. :-)
A/N – Guys, if you’re going to hate this fic and maybe call the cops on me, it’s this chapter that’s going to do it. There’s squicky violence and major angst. I’m serious. Be warned.
This Be the Verse 9/9
Spike wrapped the gnarled, crushed thing in his overshirt. The shirt was blue. Little boy blue. But the fabric couldn’t quite conceal the monstrous form of the thing underneath. He curled it into his chest, cradled it, his voice ringing orders he couldn’t quite hear through the screaming in his ears. Something about Buffy. Sewing up the place where their son had ripped its way through her. Making sure she didn’t die.
He had to get it away from her. What if she woke up and saw? No, she couldn’t know what he had done to her. Couldn’t know what they had made. He stumbled out of the operating room, his monster in his arms. He’d bury it. Go into the woods. Smother it it dirt, like he had once been smothered. But there would be no crawling back. He’d hack it apart.
He’d done it before, to babies. Turned their guts into Christmas garlands at Dru’s request, then persuaded her to move to another flat before the rot set in. God, but he could do it.
Dawn stood to his side, her hatred and loathing displaced by worry. “The doctors told us that something went wrong – that Buffy had to go into the operation room. Is she okay? She’s not –”
“She’s alive still,” said Spike. The words fumbled and choked in his throat. “Gotta go, Bit.”
“What? Buffy could be dying and you’re just going to leave her?” asked Dawn with mounting fury. “You think have better things to do? What the hell –” She stopped abruptly. Stared. Spoke soft horror. “What is that?”
Spike looked down. A little curled hand had fallen out of his makeshift swaddling. He moaned, moving in tiny jerks like a wind-up toy as he tried to tuck the thing away.
Dawn moved with unexpected violence, lunging forward and pulling back the fabric. Her face froze over, and she gripped his arm for support as she bent over and dry heaved over his shoes. He hoped she didn’t look too closely at them. “Spike – oh my god – is that?”
He shook her off. “Can’t let her see it,” he mumbled. “Gotta take it outside.” He legs moved as if jerked by string, instinctively moving towards the exit.
Dawn chased after him. “Spike, you can’t!”
“I think I can,” he said.
Spike stopped short, seeing the truth patterned through the window blinds. “Fire,” he said. “Good way to get rid of a corpse, that. Used it before. Smell’s bad, though.”
“Oh no, you don’t!” Dawn grabbed him before he stepped into a white patch of light. “You don’t get to die today,” she snapped, ignoring the puzzled nurses and residents who, apparently wise to the ways of Sunnydale, were slowly backing away from the scene. “I haven’t forgiven you, yet.”
Spike stared down at her. “What?”
“You heard me. If you die now, I’ll regret forever that I didn’t forgive you. I’ll – it will really hurt, that we never made up, and that I never got to say goodbye. You want that on your chest? Or on your dust or whatever?”
“So forgive me already, if it bothers you that much,” Spike gritted out. “Say your bloody goodbyes.”
“No,” said Dawn. “No way. I’m not forgiving you for a long freaking time. You were a total asshole, and you hurt me, and you hurt Buffy, and then you left! I might not ever forgive you. And you don’t get to die until I do.”
Laughter frothed and spilled like sick. “Everything I touch goes bad, Bit. It’s a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done –”
“Now I totally can’t let you kill yourself,” said Dawn. “Do you want me to tell Xander your last words were Dickens?” She latched her arms around him. “Kill you, you kill me.”
Spike snorted, trying unsuccessfully to twist from her grip in a way that wouldn’t hurt her or make him lose his hold on the monster. “That’s pathetically melodramatic.”
“You started it!” volleyed Dawn. “Besides, they gotta have a way of destroying medical waste, here. A cremation chamber, maybe?”
“Oh,” said Spike, after a beat. “Didn’t think of that.”
Dawn loosened her arms and stepped back. “That’s because you’re stupid.”
“What, may I ask, is going on here?” Spike turned to see Giles. “You’ve frightened all the nurses. And I understand that there’s an emergency with Buffy?” Giles stopped, “And what is that you’re holding?”
Spike shifted the thing’s weight. Ten pounds of infant evil. “Not anything for show and tell. Now scamper off, Watcher. I’ve things to do. Places to be.” He shuddered. “Burning baby fish all round my head.” He stepped towards Giles, making the other man – or was that the only man? – start backwards. “Babies start out with gills, don’t they? Think Dru knew, even then? Made me to be her bad knight, but the glow won’t leave.” He laughed like a howl.
“I think he’s snapped,” Dawn said to Giles in a stage-whisper. “He wants to burn the – baby.”
Giles didn’t notice Dawn’s hesitation. “What?!” He quickly removed a large cross from the inner pocket of his jacket and brandished it in Spike’s face.
Spike hissed at the unexpected attack. The thing dropped from his arms and rolled across the floor.
“Good god,” said Giles, staring at the crippled, crumpled thing that had infested the Slayer. “Is that the –?”
A dry sob seized Spike’s throat, and he scrambled across the floor, trying to gather up the ugly little thing, conceal it from view. It was him. The ugliest part of him, given life, made manifest. Until he’d popped its skull. But still. If they saw it, they’d know, as he did, the horror of what he was and what he’d always be, and he couldn’t bear it. “Buffy can’t –” he gasped out. “She can’t see this. Can’t know it was in her.”
She couldn’t see that it had her eyes. Her eyes, embedded in a grotesque face that still, somehow, looked like them.
And to think that he’d wanted this. Imagined it could redeem him. He was a fool. A bleeding fool. One that was better off ash. Maybe Buffy’d do it. Not twelve hours back she’d lifted him up, made him feel – but it was in service to this thing, wasn’t it? The best experience of his life had helped Buffy birth a monster.
He looked hopefully at Giles, “Could we glamour it? Make it look all peaches and cream?”
Giles seemed to understand what Spike was driving at. “And let her mourn it like a human child? That would be obscene.”
Spike’s last hope, that he could somehow hide this from Buffy, sinkholed. “I know. I’ve got to – I’m going to –” His gaze unfocused. The world blurred. Was he crying? He felt dry all over. Drained. Used. “Tell Buffy I’m sorry.”
“I’ll do no such thing,” said Giles, coldly. “You can tell her yourself, when she’s out of surgery. And I’ll take those remains for examination.”
Spike gripped the monster so hard he heard soft things inside it swell and spit. “No. I’ll not let you. You can’t touch it. No touching!” Spike noticed that he had started yelling, and he struggled to get his voice under control. “Doesn’t like it,” he tried to explain.
Dawn looked at him without hatred, and that stung. She shouldn’t look at monsters like that. “Spike? This is a really bad time to go Looney Toons. Don’t you want to be with Buffy?”
And face what he’d done to her? How he’d hurt her? No thanks. “Real passion burns ‘til there’s nothing left,” he said. On a hunch, he put the baby bundle in one hand, a pinch in the fabric creating a blue bag, which he swung gently with his fingertips. “There’s nothing left of me, Bit. And there damn well won’t be anything left of this.”
Spike held the bag in a beam of sunlight from a nearby window. One tiny hand, which looked human, but wrongly so, smoked, and then the fabric erupted into flames. For a second, the baby was revealed in all of its burning, horrific glory, flames spitting from its eye sockets as its body shuddered and sparked into nothingness.
Dust crumbled to the floor, and some of the madness left him. He rubbed his eyes, tiredly. How excited he and Buffy had been, joyous in spite of their fears (because they had shared something so real, so pure, that surely nothing could go wrong?), when they woke up and realized the baby was coming. There had been the hasty gathering of clothes and such – Buffy hadn’t packed a baby bag, which had led to bickering – the frantic drive to the hospital as Dawn and Willow called the others from their cells in the back seat –
– And then, when he’d been in the room with her, holding her hand, and that monster ripped out of her and launched at the doctor –
“Make sure Buffy’s alright,” he said softly. “Stay with her. She’s not going to want to see me when she wakes up.”
Buffy pressed her fork into her pancake, watching syrup well between the tines. She wasn’t hungry – wasn’t sure that she’d ever be hungry ever again, really – but her friends had wanted to do something for her after she came home, all happy-go-lucky and coma-free. So pancakes it was.
She noticed Dawn’s eyes on her, lifted her gaze and smiled. “These are good, Dawnie.”
“Willow did most of it,” said Dawn, quietly. “I mostly just stirred in the chocolate chips.” Well, that explained the lack of inexplicable and unsettling crunchiness.
Xander reached over and mussed Dawn’s hair, making the teenager duck from beneath his hand with a mock-furious scowl. “But the chips are the best part. No offense, Wills.”
“None taken,” said Willow, easily. “Fluffy goodness can’t compete with chocolate. Everyone knows that.”
“I liked the ones Dawn made with Chips Ahoy and Captain Crunch in them better,” said Anya. “Dawn’s an inventive and sadistic cook. I admire that.” She surveyed the bottles of syrup around the table – chocolate, blueberry, pancake, maple – which had migrated as Scoobies poured and passed. “But the Frank’s Red Hot seems cruel, even to me.”
Dawn looked at the bottle like it had manifested on its own, embarrassed. “I didn’t mean to put that out,” she said quickly. “I guess I just sorta thought – I guess I don’t know what I was thinking.”
Buffy’s hand had drifted to her stomach as she looked at the cayenne sauce. She twitched her fingers away with a shudder, knowing who it was that would have used hot sauce on flapjacks.
Xander looked at her with a knowing, sad look, then quirked his lips into a smile. “It’s not cruel just sitting on the table. Just vaguely threatening, like it could’ve been put in the batter, but we won’t know until we dig in.”
“You’re always contradicting me, Xander,” huffed Anya.
“Who wants seconds?” asked Willow, quickly.
“Another would be lovely,” volunteered Giles.
Buffy tried to ignore the soft look Xander gave his ex-fiancée. She supposed it was a good thing, that her near-death had brought everyone back together, at least to a point. Anya was hanging out with them again. Well, kinda. She had brought Buffy Grapenuts in the hospital and volunteered to use her demon connections to rearrange Spike’s entrails. But it all felt different, now. Like the same pieces were there, but altered, or rearranged in new patterns that didn’t fit quite right.
Buffy stabbed again at her soggy pancake, taking a small, tasteless bite that stuck to the roof of her mouth. She sipped some orange juice and listened halfheartedly to the conversation going around the table. She hadn’t seen Spike since that moment, in the hospital, when pain had blasted through her abdomen – when she’d suddenly known exactly what she had carried –
Slayer-healing had worked its wonders. Her body was her own again, and bore no evidence that it had ever housed a child-demon. In some ways, it made the whole experience seem like a surreal nightmare. A monster had torn through her stomach, and she hadn’t even scarred. Even the agony of the birth had faded, though she guessed that part was sorta normal.
But the aching hollowness within her –
She hadn’t wanted a baby. She still didn’t want a baby. And she definitely hadn’t wanted to get pregnant with a demon via freaky magic shenanigans. So, she didn’t understand why she felt like she had lost something.
She remembered Spike’s hand on her stomach, his soft little speech about the probability of a real baby, and understood a little better.
Buffy had allowed herself to pretend for a little while. Imagined herself into a world where she did have a choice, where she was having a baby with a good man, a little baby boy with blue eyes. Tousled curls. Soft, fat little fingers that would hold tight to her own.
That little boy had never existed anywhere but in her mind. The family she saw herself building around him would never happen. She and Spike –
She watched as Xander helped himself to another stack of pancakes, his knife cutting through them to scratch at his plate. He still loved Anya. And she was pretty sure that Anya still loved him. But there was no going back, and Buffy wasn’t sure if she was watching them move forward – or move on.
Her thoughts exhausted her.
“Thanks for breakfast, guys,” Buffy said. “I hope you don’t mind if I lay down for a little bit? I didn’t really sleep last night, and I think I better patrol tonight. Otherwise those crazy demons will go all kinds of cocky.”
Giles gave her a penetrating look, even as the others nodded their awkward, concerned agreement. Buffy stood up, taking her plate with her, but Dawn was suddenly there at her side. “I’ll get it, Buffy.”
Dawn didn’t meet her eyes, didn’t say anything else, but Buffy felt a warm, airy ballooning in her midsection – and this one wasn’t hellspawn-induced. Why mourn an imaginary family, when she had one right here? She reached out and hugged Dawn, maybe a little too hard. “I really love you, Dawnie.”
She spoke to the rest of the gang over her sister’s shoulder. “And I love the rest of you, too.”
“We know, Buff,” said Xander, through a genuine, pancake-stuffed smile. “Don’t we, Willow?”
“Always,” grinned the redhead.
“Thank you,” muttered Anya. “What?” she said, when Xander looked at her. “We were trying to kill each other just a few weeks ago!”
“Geez, Buffy,” said Dawn. “Get a grip. I’m just putting the plate in the dishwasher.” But she didn’t shift out of Buffy’s embrace. If anything, she pressed into it, and Buffy knew her well enough to know that she was trying not to cry.
Buffy pulled back with a smile. “Thanks, anyway.”
“Actually,” said Giles, “Before you retire, I’d like to have a word with you in private.”
Buffy wanted to tuck herself in, sleep off her pancakes. Wake up to that better tomorrow so often promised, the one that never really materialized. But Giles’ look spelled important information, and Buffy knew by now that Slayer’s work is never done. Until it is.
“Sure,” she said, suddenly wanting Giles’ company. “We can go out on the porch.”
Giles turned to her as soon as they stepped outside. “I can’t tell you how glad I am to see you so recovered. But Buffy, how are you feeling? Really?”
“I’m peachy keen,” Buffy declared, before becoming serious. “Honestly, Giles? It’s weird. It’s like I’m not in my skin anymore, which is kinda ironic when you think about it, since I finally am. Or, alone in it, anyway.”
“You misunderstand me,” said Giles, gently. “I meant to know what specific emotions you’re feeling.”
“Oh.” Buffy frowned. “I don’t know. I mean, emotions are usually kinda jumbled, and I’m kinda jumbo-jumbled at the moment. Like someone washed the darks and lights together, and now I need to bleach all my socks.” She sighed. “I’m mostly just glad to be here.”
“No depression? No anger?”
She couldn’t share the part where she was lonely. Where she felt lost, because the person who was so determined to be there for her and the baby couldn’t be there when it was just her. Not anymore.
She went for a tone so chipper it could be sold by Nestlé, but didn’t quite get there. “I’m a little sad, I guess. And not totally happy that an evil thing hijacked my uterus. But no, not really. Not like I was when I was all whacked out on the pregnancy hormones from hell, anyway. Why?”
Giles fidgeted. “Buffy,” he said, “While I wasn’t able to examine the, the body, I did get a glimpse as it was being, er, destroyed – enough to guess at its identity. Some additional research confirmed my theory – I know the origins of the thing that infected you.”
“Oh,” said Buffy. “Do I want to know?”
“No,” breathed Giles. “I dare say you don’t.”
He met her on patrol. He thought he might, sooner or later, but her presence still hit him like a mack truck. He worked his throat a few times. “Out of the coma, I see.”
“Well, yeah,” said Buffy, frowning at him. “I even did a nifty healing thing.” She lifted her shirt, revealing a toned expanse of golden stomach. “See? No scars.” Spike stared at her. She looked good. Bouncy and vibrant. Like the pregnancy never happened.
He shook his head, remembering her split open. Dying. And later, white-faced and unconscious. He’d visited, of course, before she’d wakened. Came in after hours. Mostly he just sat by her bedside, not daring to touch her, hating that he couldn’t help but hurt her.
He’d gone back to the Hellmouth. It seemed like the right place for him. Sometimes, he thought about returning to her. To apologize. To make sure she was okay. Let her stake him, if she saw fit. But then he’d close his eyes and see his child spidering across the floor, trailing blood, and he knew to keep his distance.
Buffy smiled, like her face had a crack in it. “Spike – couldn’t you have come home? I was worried. I thought maybe you’d dusted. You’re always there, and when I woke up, you – weren’t.”
“Infected you with a monster,” said Spike. “That’s what I do. I infect. Shouldn’t be around you. Too dangerous.”
“God, do you even hear yourself?” exclaimed Buffy, suddenly, gorgeously frustrated. “You told me once that I was addicted to misery, to martyrdom. Well, who’s Mister Martyr, now?”
“That was different,” said Spike, sullenly.
“You’re not stupid,” said Buffy. “So, I think you can understand me when I say that I still need you. That I’m not ready to let you go.”
“Dru and I broke into this orphanage in Greece,” Spike told her, stepping back. Letting the shadows envelop him. “I killed the adults. The matron, some others. Dru went straight for the babies. Told me to keep the cook alive. She wanted a four-and-twenty baby pie. Didn’t understand, see, that even if we’d had a meat grinder, we couldn’t fit that many babies in the pie pan.”
“How Sweeney Todd,” said Buffy, dryly.
“Distracted her with a poem. A new nursery rhyme to replace the old. ‘Bout a lamb snared in a blackberry patch. Then the second verse was about clawing and scratching. Dru liked that bit.” He barked a laugh, “We ended up leaving the babies. Most of them, anyhow.”
“You’re not going to disgust me into leaving you alone,” said Buffy. “I know what you were. I also know that you can come willingly, or you can get knocked out, carried home, and chained up in the basement until you agree not be an idiot. Vampire’s choice.”
“I killed our child,” said Spike.
“It wasn’t a child,” said Buffy. “I saw him. Or it. Right before I blacked out. So don’t even try.” She moved deeper into the darkness, closer to him. “I won’t let you destroy yourself over this.”
“Can if I want,” said Spike, like the stubborn child he’d never have.
He watched as lines etched themselves in Buffy’s face, her mouth stretching straight and grim. Realized she was peeling off a mask. Trusting him with something. “You know, I think I miss him.”
Spike looked at her in horror.
“Not what he actually was. Just – the idea of him. What we thought he might be.” She flicked at something invisible beneath her fingernail. “I never wanted a baby. Even now, I don’t want a baby.”
Spike had. Spike did. Or, he had when he thought it was a possibility. He knew that Buffy hadn’t felt the same, but that didn’t make hearing it less painful. Especially now, when he knew how right she’d been to hate what he’d wanted so badly.
Buffy loosed a long breath. “I didn’t want it, but I was starting to come around on the whole family unit aspect. That’s not something I can really share with the others. That I’m mourning something that didn’t exist outside of tra-la-la dreamland.”
“My fault,” said Spike, the words scraping his throat raw. “You knew. You felt what it was. It was me who made you think it might be different. I just wanted it so bad that I –” he couldn’t continue. “I wanted to make something good with you,” he said, finally. “But I’m just not capable, am I?”
“Don’t blame yourself for this.” Buffy bit her lip. “Spike – Giles figured out what it was. And it wasn’t you. At least, not completely.”
Spike scoffed. “Got some demons in the family tree? Because that thing wasn’t human, and last I checked, you are.”
“It was Willow’s spell,” said Buffy. “The resurrection one. Giles said it gave me some extra life that my body didn’t know what to do with. So, when we, y’know –”
“Brought the house down?”
“Yeah. Anyway, it decided to resurrect a little bit of you. In me. But it wasn’t just physical. The magic also fed off of me, my feelings, and most especially, what I felt about you. It channeled that into the life we were creating.”
He saw its face, it’s tiny, terrible face, and felt gutted. “That thing – that was your feelings for me?”
“It was us,” Buffy corrected him. “My depression and self-loathing. Your hurt and desperation. Our rage.” She sighed. “I still don’t get why we didn’t see it on the ultrasounds and stuff. Giles said it knew what we wanted to see, but it wouldn’t have mattered, since I couldn’t get rid of it anyway. Maybe it just thought it was funny to fool us or something.”
Spike slumped forward, pressing his face into his palms. The horror of that thing would never leave him. And that was how Buffy felt for him! He knew she’d been in a bad place – but that was hell. Worse than. God, how could she feel like that and still look at him? He moaned, a strange animal keening.
Buffy wrapped herself around him, her face tucking itself beneath his chin. He felt her tears against his chest. Remembered when she’d last been this close to him, the stupid, stupid joy he had felt in her arms. He’d felt loved, or close to it. Closer than he’d been in centuries, in any case.
But he had been lying to himself. That thing – such a mindless, degenerate, monstrous thing! – couldn’t come from her feelings for him. Not if she cared.
But she had said that it was them. What they’d been to each other. And wasn’t his love for her the best part of himself? What did it mean, that he could pour his love into her, and have it form a monster?
“You know the worst part?” Buffy whispered, lips butterflying against black cotton. “If I had hated myself less, if I had – let myself – we could have made something else.”
“Wasn’t soulled at the time,” Spike said, squirming from her embrace. He wanted to absolve her. Believe that she hadn’t funneled her feelings into the face that still mocked him when he closed his eyes. Believe that it wasn’t their feelings, but his demonic nature, that had created a monster. And to think, he’d once been so guilt-ridden over the latter possibility.
Oh, God. It’s face. Had there been accusation in those clear, small, hate-filled eyes that so resembled Buffy’s?
If they’d started with the same raw materials as anyone, if it was them that twisted the monster into something wrong – wasn’t it a victim in this? A helpless putty? They had put themselves into that creature. Filled it with so much hurt and hate that it used its first moment of life to lash out.To kill.
“I know you didn’t have a soul,” said Buffy, softly. “What was my excuse? How could I let things get that bad?” She made a strangled sound, caught somewhere between a sob and laughter. “Who am I kidding? I made them that bad! Maybe your feelings started out twisted, but I didn’t do anything to straighten them out. I used you. I beat you.”
But he’d tried to pull her into the dark, hadn’t he? He hadn’t known someone else was along for the ride. “Love,” he said hoarsely, not sure if he was addressing her or naming the curse that plagued him.
“For what it’s worth, I don’t feel that way anymore. Not about life, and definitely not about you.” Buffy’s lips twisted in a wry almost-smile. “It’s like all that nastiness got balled up inside me, then pushed out. Those feelings just aren’t there, anymore.
“Giles said it was probably siphoning off me for awhile. Even last spring, when I started to heal – part of it was the pregnancy.”
She turned her head when he couldn’t reply, her little face a half-moon in profile. “I guess you lost some feelings, too.”
It wasn’t that. Never that. But the horror of what – of that thing – that had been them. A hungry, destructive impulse warped into being. There’d been nothing good, there. Nothing soft. Cord just cut, and it had been all murder and mayhem.
Seeing that, he couldn’t lie to himself anymore. Couldn’t trust himself to love her.
“If we made that baby today – not that we can, it was a one-time thing –” Buffy fumbled, gaze shy, yet searching, meeting Spike’s with alarming, unacceptable honesty. “I don’t think it would be what it was. I think it would be – better. Better than both of us, maybe.”
She was fooling herself. Spike understood the impulse. All his existence, he’d wrapped himself in goosedown fictions. About himself. His place in the world. His boneheaded, grandiose ideas about his own capacity for love.
He couldn’t do it now. Not when reality had left him raw and wounded, and he couldn’t summon enough hope to balm the wound.
Buffy watched him expectantly.
Time passed, taking the moment, and whatever promise it might have contained, along with it. Buffy reached out, took his hand, and squeezed their fingers together. Her mouth worked silently, and she said nothing, and finally, her fingers slipped through his.
Spike legs tensed, readying themselves to step forward, to follow her as she walked away, same as he always followed her. He longed to lift her up. Kiss her in that tender, offhand way that she’d only allowed the once. He closed his eyes. He was already dreaming again. Already wanting the bloody impossible.
Except – what had she meant, when she said that they’d make something better, if they could have another go?
No. He couldn’t read into that. It hadn’t been a confession. And even if it was, the only good they’d ever shared had been built on the back of a monster. Had involved her sucking his blood, for chrissakes. Could it – that good – be real, even so?
Did he want to live in a world where it wasn’t?
When Spike looked again, Buffy had diminished into a pinprick, a dim glow against the dark.
He pulsed, and stirred, and stayed where he was, until the rosy glow of dawn made its petty paces and called him –
Originally posted at http://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/387590.html